I have an embarrassing confession to make.
I hate traveling.
Okay, so maybe not traveling so much as flying. Full disclosure: I find airplanes to be downright terrifying. Sure, long car trips can be tedious, and statistically, are much more dangerous than traveling by plane, but as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I’m not necessarily a reasonable person who is easily swayed by facts, math, or logic. Rather, I tend to follow much more reliable indicators, such as the feelings of sheer panic and general barfiness I experience each time I step onto a plane.
The entire air travel experience makes me anxious, from the removal of my shoes and jacket (and consequently, my dignity) in the security line, to boarding the plane, to the actual flying, right up until that sweet sweet moment hours later when the plane touches the ground and slows to a gradual halt without incident.
But the absolute worst part? Taking off. Those few moments in which the plane first ascends into the air are the most complex and fear-ridden of my life.
In addition to a life-long struggle with motion sickness rearing its ugly head, I’m plagued with thoughts of dread and impending doom. So imagine nausea, coupled with anxiety, compounded by my fear of the plane crashing, then topping it all off with thoughts of “omg, I hope I don’t have to actually use this barf bag.” Welcome to my air travel experience.
While other passengers busy themselves pretending to switch their small handheld devices into airplane mode, I listen to the safety information speech, intently, taking detailed mental notes of all exits and the individuals manning those areas. I look them up and down, thinking, “Does this person look responsible?” I assess their competence based upon appearance. Argyle sweater vest? Okay, that’s a good sign. Sweater vests are a sure sign of reliability and hidden heroism.
But Miss Yoga Pants, over there? Nope. No way. This broad’s about as reliable as a car with no brakes.
After the plane takes off and starts aggressively gaining altitude, I enter what I like to refer to as my Any Minute Now stage. As in, any minute now the engine is either going to fail or explode and my fear-stricken body will go crashing to the ground. Once the plane stabilizes I relax a little, moving from a state of sheer panic to a mode of General Suspicion (so still on guard and aware of my surroundings, but not plagued with heart-racing anxiety). I tend to stay in this state until final descent, at which point I’m so emotionally enhausted I just close my eyes and hope the landing gear (and the pilot) does what it’s supposed to do.
The sad thing about all of this nonsense? I actually consider myself a well-traveled individual, at least domestically speaking. But no matter how many business trips, destination weddings, or vacations I take part in, I can’t shake those irrepressible feelings of panic and doom that I associate with air travel.
However, there is one thing that I love about traveling by plane: the airports themselves. I love how each airport, to a certain extent, represents the city in which it resides. I love the local art and murals, and the hustle and bustle of busy folks off to exotic places. I love the trinket shops full of mugs and pens and shot glasses, and those little souvenir collector spoons that look like they were made for itty bitty ice cream sundaes.
But above all, I love the standard, run-of-the-mill Hudson News-type shops filled wall-to-wall with books and magazines.
One of my very favorite things about traveling is spending copious amounts of money on said books and magazines, then pouring over the pages to help distract me from my unavoidable feelings of dread and gloom while on the plane.
Despite the recent influx of technological devices that are designed to assist with the consumption of information, I still really love books and magazines in their natural states. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but there’s something about a good old fashioned piece of paper with words or pictures on it that I find extremely therapeutic.
(It’s especially comforting during those times when your fate rests in the hands of a yoga-pants-wearing twenty-something slurping on a venti Frapp).
During our travel this past weekend, I took the opportunity to splurge on a few of my favorite foodie magazines, which were chock full of luscious summer desserts, particularly those of the strawberry persuasion. My favorite article though, was one about ice cream floats in Bon Appetit, featuring the fancy summer treat shot against bold and brightly colored backgrounds. I was instantly inspired, and found myself sufficiently distracted for the rest of the flight.
I forgot about these themes of strawberries and floats until we returned from our trip late Sunday night, and I realized that Blog Post Day (typically Monday or Tuesday) was right around the corner but I had no energy or time to plan for ice cream. As I gazed at my glossy new magazines strewn across the floor, a lightbulb went off. I thought, hey, why not make a float?
I’m actually surprised that this is the first time an ice cream float is making an appearance on the blog – I love floats, because they’re basically just sparkly milkshakes. I brainstormed some ideas, because I wanted to make a fancy float like the kind I saw in my magazine. But alas, I’m really not that fancy, so I decided to make something totally fun, old fashioned, and delicious: strawberry shortcake!
This ended up tasting exactly how I wanted it to: creamy, boozy, and full of sweet summery strawberries. The addition of Grand Marnier added a nice depth of flavor, and the cookies got all mushy and fabulous in the ice cream. I think this may be a new summer favorite!
Making this float is easy as pie! (er, shortcake). Start with an empty glass:
Add some strawberry compote and cookie crumbles, plus a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream:
Then, add in your booze and soda:
Add more ice cream, strawberries, and cookie crumbles:
Top with delectable vanilla whipped cream and garnish with cookie crumbs, and voila!
I think this recipe may have opened the float floodgates, because I can’t wait to make more! They’re super easy, customizable to whatever ingredients are in your kitchen, and require very little planning, which is awesome for a lazy summer day.
Side note: I’d like to point out that this is the second fruity dessert that I’ve posted in two weeks. AND it has alcohol. I think I’ve pretty much achieved grown up status.
What’s your favorite summer float combo?
Happy scooping 🙂
Boozy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Float
1 pint vanilla ice cream
2 cups roughly chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tsp cornstarch
Splash of Grand Marnier (or, to taste)
1 cup Blackberry Izze (or other berry sparkling soda/water)
1/2 cup pound cake or sugar cookie pieces, broken into bits (I prefer sugar cookies…they hold up better in the ice cream)
whipped cream (vanilla is awesome, if you have it)
- Make the strawberry compote: Place the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle with sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing some of the larger fruit pieces against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the cornstarch, cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a tall glass or mason jar, layer a spoonful of the strawberry compote, then follow with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with a sprinkling of pound cake/cookie crumbles. Follow with another spoonful of strawberries, then ice cream, then cookies, and so on and so forth.
- Once your layers are complete, pour the Grand Marnier, followed by the blackberry soda, over top of the ice cream. Since the liquids can immediately start to melt the ice cream, I like to add an extra scoop of ice cream on top, followed by whipped cream and cookie crumbles to garnish.
- Stick in a straw and enjoy 🙂