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It’s snow cone season!

Submitted by on Sunday, 17 May 2009 No Comment

homemade_snow_coneThousands of dollars of training and where the heck’s my bartender when the serious heat wave hits?

Oh yeah, that’s right. Army training, which leaves me to my own devices when it comes to making cool summer treats. That’s truly a tragedy in the heart of strawberry season – not that the guys drink daiquiris. They do love slushees, though, but I’m not fond of paying a couple of bucks at the local stop and rob for a vat of antifreeze.

Enter the Back to Basics snow cone maker, which was $29.99 this weekend at our local Target. It’s an appliance that wouldn’t be necessary if I were even marginally competent with a blender, but I’m not.

We bought – I say “we,” because left to my own devices an immersion blender would have gone into the cart instead – the two-cone electric model. There’s also a hand crank version for around $15 – don’t quote me on that, though, because I wasn’t paying that much attention. The hand version has the advantage of portability to parties at parks and other outings.

The electric model is easy enough to figure out that someone as challenged with directions as I am could get it going quickly. It takes a few minutes to start chewing up the cubes from our ice maker, but I work around that by starting with crushed ice. Every second counts when you have two people at your side flapping their jaws like hungry baby birds.

We also bought silicone snow cone cups at four for $4.99, because I don’t like the idea of throwing away paper all summer. I gave into pleas for anti-freeze syrup, but I’ll make it from now on because that’s a lot cheaper than $2.49 for a 16-ounce bottle or $6.49 for a three-pack. At least the Back to Basics blue raspberry has neither Yellow Dye #5 or Red Dye #40, which are the two we try to avoid.

Homemade is really simple, though it is a challenge when you’re avoiding some yellow and red dyes. Notice that I said “avoid,” not rule out. Sometimes I wink at avoidance, particularly if he hasn’t had any asthma symptoms that the dyes tend to intensify:

  • One package of Kool-Aid mix
  • Two cups of sugar (I’ll use less)
  • 3/4 c. water

Boil sugar and water; remove from heat and add Kool-Aid.

I haven’t perfected the consistency on the slushees, though I have convinced the guys to accept them with orange juice, cranberry juice or DaVinci strawberry syrup instead of the high-fructose corn syrup antifreeze.They taste watery to me, but the guys aren’t complaining so far.

And when our bartender gets home, there’s a bottle of Torani pomegranate syrup waiting. It kind of annoys me that they add Red 40 to a fruit notorious for its staining powers – even the grenadine in our fridge left from bartending school has Red 40 – but unfortunately DaVinci doesn’t make pomegranate in its naturals line.

I have found a line of dye-free snow cone syrups I might try once our current supply is exhausted. At $30 for six, 12-ounce bottles, it’s way more expensive than syrup with dye or even Torani and DaVinci, though.

The whole project has wound up being more expensive than I thought, by the time you add $30 for the machine plus $5 for the cones plus $2.50 for the syrup. I’m calculating it will take 13 times avoiding the ice cream truck or 10 convenience store stops diverted to cover the tab.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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