Freeze up some summer fun, cubed

Posted: July 12, 2007

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Many baby boomers can recall blazing-hot July days, sitting on a porch step, licking a homemade popsicle.

Long before refrigerators had ice makers, children cooled off with frozen treats that took hours to make. Mom would make a pitcher of Kool-Aid, pour it into an aluminum ice cube tray with a removable cube separator, and stick in it the freezer. When children returned from an afternoon of playing in the nearby creek or neighboring field, homemade popsicles were waiting.

Those vintage ice cube trays with the release handle are long gone, replaced with molded plastic ones, and then ice makers, and now ice in the refrigerator door. But if you still have a few ice cube trays, there are lots of fun things you can do with them.

They're great for freezing small amounts of homemade tomato sauce and broths, and any beverage you can concoct. Today's ice cube trays come in a variety of shapes such as stars, hearts, seashells, dolphins, penguins, apples and strawberries.

Online, you can buy trays that shape ice into mice, guitars or diamonds. Crate & Barrel has ice stick trays for making flavored ice cubes that chill drinks without diluting them. Use lemonade cubes for lemonade, coffee for iced coffee.

Hosts and hostesses use decorated ice cubes to jazz up party drinks. To make: Place a small piece of fruit (strawberry, cherry, melon ball, raspberry, lemon or orange twist) or edible flower or flower petal in each section of an ice cube tray. Cover with cold water that has been boiled and cooled; freeze until firm. Use small lemon wedges or mint sprigs for iced tea, or a whole raspberry or blueberry for fruit punches.

Ice cube trays also can be used to make snow cones. Here's how: Freeze any flavored juice in ice cube trays. Blend 5 cubes in the blender until they have a shaved-ice consistency. The shaved ice will keep its consistency if kept frozen in a container.

It's summertime. Why not make some memories for those who have never seen a vintage aluminum ice cube tray?

Lemonade With Berry Ice Cubes

Makes 8 glasses

1 can (11.5 ounces) frozen concentrate strawberry or any berry mix juice

24 raspberries or 8 strawberries, sliced

2 quarts water

11/3 cups sugar

11/3 cups fresh lemon juice

8 lemon slices

8 mint sprigs

1. Pour juice concentrate and 1 can of water into a pitcher. Mix to combine, then pour the juice into two ice cube trays, adding raspberries or strawberries if you wish. Freeze.

2. Combine the 2 quarts of water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir to combine. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Strain the lemon juice through a fine sieve into the sugar syrup. Chill. Slit each lemon slice once, from center to rind, then press the slits onto eight glasses. Fill each glass with three berry ice cubes and the lemonade. Garnish with a mint sprig.

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