Twice this past week, I’ve been asked about our July 4 weekend plans and each time, I felt a bit awkward before responding we had none. The feeling of awkwardness is more uncharacteristic than any worry of not having plans, because plans are easy to make if I’m interested, or prodded by those who are challenged in this area which is most often the case.
The feeling of awkwardness makes no sense.
It’s been forever since we’ve made a big hoo-haw over July 4th. Having a child with a birthday on the 2nd has put the focus more on that for 18 years, and this year he’s at school, so we’re without that as well to have an excuse to party. My extended family feels a bit strung about the country right now, my older boys always seem to work on busy holidays, and my husband’s family is in need of a cheerleader to rally them into one big get together for these occasions.
Before you have any thought of my gearing up for an all out whine, you have to know I’m the last person to feel badly about not having plans, which gets me back to the awkwardness. I don’t get it. But I’ve written a list for my husband of what we might do this holiday weekend because he loves having plans for any reason whatsoever. Call him the original Party Man.
Party Man’s Fourth of July Weekend To-Do List:
- Take the beach umbrella & book/iPad/beverage/munchies to the water either this afternoon, tomorrow afternoon, or Sunday afternoon. (Check — Friday evening)
- Shopping. There are lots of great sales on this kind of weekend, and maybe we can find a killer deal on something. You know, because you always need something, right? (Party Man went by himself Saturday. Check.)
- Picnic dinner (packed in the picnic bag we never use) somewhere for the 4th. Choose a spot we’ve never been depending on where the fireworks are — like the Embarcadero or something. We could walk to the Cove again which would be fine with me. Either pack the picnic bag, or pick a place in town to eat, then walk to see fireworks. (Looks like an impromptu BBQ with family on the 4th. Check.)
- You could rent a beach cruiser and I could finally use the bike Mom gave me to cruise all the way around Mission Bay from Crown Point Drive at the end. I need to figure out how to get that bike in my car anyhoo. (Does renting a sailboat count? Saturday with friends. Check.)
- Do the “make like a tourismo thing” on Coronado, in Encinitas, Ocean Beach, or you name it which means “goose necking” in the shops, having lunch, and enjoying the sunshine.
- Choose a place tonight and go on an impromptu road trip up the coast like Malibu or something. Stay one night. Nothing fancy. So, Saturday and Sunday. It would be fun! (Not — Catsitting my brother’s cat)
- Help me figure out how to build a fence for the patio, because I’m pretty sure I can do it. Maybe. (Check — consulted with someone who had good ideas)
- Choose a place in San Diego — like downtown — so I can walk around and take photos. Balboa Park would even be okay. You can hold the camera stuff. (Does Mission Bay count? Saturday with friends. Check.)
- Want to see the Padres? Not high on my list, but relaxing. I like the ball park. (Not — they’re in Seattle this weekend.)
- Walk to the boardwalk when the holiday is in full gear just to gawk at all the crazy beach people.
This is what you get to do when your kids are grown and there are no invitations. Make your own party. Freeing, to some extent, and certainly nothing to feel awkward about. Just different. We’re not very good at it yet, but we’re working on it. No sooner had I sent this list to him than he remembered Tour de France begins tomorrow. Nice.
Because a summer holiday weekend calls for ice cream at some point, I say make it a smoothie instead — or an ice cream smoothie pie. This one isn’t complicated, but does take a bit of planning ahead.
Happy Independence Day!
Fruity Ice Cream Smoothie Pie
- Make one batch of this vanilla ice cream or use a purchased quart of your favorite.
- While the ice cream is processing, make the pretzel crust.
- While the ice cream is in the freezer, make the fruit purees.
- Assemble the pie after the crust is completely cooled, the purees are chilled, and the ice cream has been in the freezer at least 1 hour post processing.
Pretzel Crust Ingredients
1-3/4 c. crushed sourdough pretzel nuggets
1/4 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.
- Crush the pretzels in a food processor until coarse crumbs, no larger than the size of oatmeal.
- Add the brown sugar and butter and pulse until ingredients are evenly mixed.
- Lightly spray an 8″ round pan with a removable bottom with oil, then pour the pretzel mixture into the pan.
- Using your fingers or a rubber spatula, press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and up the sides about 2 inches.
- Bake the crust 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and press against the crust lightly with a rubber spatula, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
2 ripe mangoes, cut into chunks
8 oz. raspberries, fresh or frozen
3-4 nectarines, about 8 oz., chopped
3/4 c. sugar, divided into 1/3 quantities
- Puree each fruit separately in a blender or food processor, each with 1/4 c. sugar.
- Chill separately until ready to use.
- Divide ice cream into 3 equal quantities. If it has been frozen for quite a while, allow to soften before continuing.
- Add one flavor of puree to a third of the ice cream in 1/2 cup quantities. Stir to blend well, add an additional 1/2 cup and blend again.
- Pour into the completely cooled pie crust and place in the freezer about 30 minutes.
- While the first layer is chilling, make the second.
- Add 1/2 of the second flavor of puree to a third of the ice cream, blend well, then add an additional 1/2 cup and blend again.
- Pour this mixture over the top of the first layer and smooth evenly with spatula.
- Chill the two layers 30 minutes.
- Follow the same procedure for the third puree, adding to the remaining third of the ice cream 1/2 cup at a time, mixing, then adding another.
- Finish assembly by pouring the last layer over the other two and allowing to freeze at least 1 hour before serving.
- To remove from the pan, run an very hot wash cloth around the exterior of the pan a couple of times, then gently insert a butter knife along the edge to loosen it. You may have to do this more than once before you can release the pie from the pan.
If desired, make a caramel sauce which uses some of the leftover nectarine puree before serving.
Caramel Sauce Ingredients
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. creme fraiche
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. nectarine puree
- Cook sugar over medium heat until caramelized.
- Add the creme fraiche while stirring, then the puree and lemon juice.
- Stir until smooth.
- Cool completely, then gently warm when ready to serve.
- This recipe was developed for the Daring Kitchen. Stop by to read about some of my summer memories — and if you’re willing, share some of yours below.
- If you think about it, the entire thing can be made from purchased ingredients, but the ice cream recipe is the best vanilla ice cream I’ve had with no egg base, and how can you go wrong with fresh fruit puree?
- It sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. It’s more about planning ahead. Because the ice cream base needs to steep for 1 hour, and then needs to chill completely before and after processing, this takes the most amount of time. You can take care of that a day ahead.
- You can also make the fruit purees ahead of time — one or two days in advance. Keep them in the fridge in a sealed container and they’ll be ready to use. About the purees — sweetness of fruit depends, so taste your fruit and adjust your added sugar gradually. You don’t want to go overboard.
- I’ve been wanting to make a pretzel crust for a long time and it was worth it. It’s sturdy and it’s a great texture/flavor contrast to the ice cream fruit layers. It may be a bit puffy after the cooking time and the sides may shrink. You can either use foil filled with dried beans or pie weights to hold the crust in place as it bakes for the first 10 minutes of cooking time, then remove it, or follow my directions above which worked just fine.
- If you decide to use a 9″ pan, it’s fine. The ice cream layers will just be thinner. In fact, you might decide to use a regular pie pan and mound each layer in the center to make it a “Mile High Frozen Pie.”
- On the caramel sauce — It’s not a smooth sauce like a normal caramel would be because of the nectarine puree, but that gives it an interesting flavor. I adapted this sauce from this recipe which I made the first time exactly as written. Either way, it’s an interesting sauce, and a great topping for this pie.
- If you want to get crazy, you might consider layering fresh fruit or berries between the ice cream flavors and finish with a whipped topping.