It finally feels like summer around here, and Owen and I have been celebrating summer with daily (and sometimes twice daily) trips to the beach. This kid seriously loves the beach, and I love how the combination of sunblock, water, and sand makes him feel like a Brillo pad when he sits on my lap.
In all seriousness, I love that he loves the beach, because I grew up loving it too. Just to be clear, we’re not talking about the fine sand and surf of the ocean; we’re talking about lake beaches, in all their washed-up-seaweed glory.
Fun fact: Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.
source: The Internet
My childhood home was less than a mile from a beach, and my siblings and I spent our summer days there, sand-castling, swimming, and beseeching our poor mother, for the hundredth time in an hour, to “Look! Look! Watch this jump!” (Some of the more competitive among us would ask her to “score” our jumps, gymnastics style, which she did by calling out numbers between one and ten…for hours.)
But for as much as I loved and love the beach, some of my most traumatic early memories include swimming lessons. I listen to my friends with swimming-lessons-aged kids talk about their kids’ pool lessons, and I literally have to stop myself from launching into a rant that begins with, “Well, when I was a kid….”
It started off harmlessly. When I was really little, I remember classes ending with instructors spinning each of us around in a rousing game of “Motorboat, Motorboat.” But then, it just got ugly. There would be cold, windy, cloudy days, and we’d all stand there shivering, covered in goosebumps, dreading those first few steps into the water.
And then there was seaweed. Maybe it’s because my younger brother and his cronies would chase me around the beach, flinging seaweed at me, but I sort of hate seaweed. So imagine, learning to dive off the deep end of the pier, and diving straight into 4′ of seaweed growing up off the lake’s bottom. Let’s just say I learned the art of “shallow diving” pretty quick.
And probably when I am old and senile and repeating stories from my life to the chair next to me, I will tell it all about having to swim from the end of the pier all the way out to the far buoy. I’d be doing the front crawl, into the wind, as our instructor called out super helpful tips like “Keep kicking!” and I’d come up for air, only to be hit in the face with a wave. I’d splutter a bit before continuing on to the freaking buoy which seemed to be drifting away from me. I’d finally get there, touch its slimy exterior, and then have to come back, only to find that the waves had somehow turned on me, and were eager to challenge my breathing techniques on the way back too.
And the end result of all of this? I still love the beach. And I can totally keep myself alive in the water. But I’m not so much a speedy swimmer…in fact, one time, in high school, I participated in a sprint triathlon, and I’m pretty sure the rescue rafts were circling in on me during the swim portion. (It may have had something to do with the fact that I was taking frequent breaks from the frontcrawl to
swim float on my back to just get a few big breaths.)
But you came here today to hear about fruit dip, not so much the trauma of seaweed-filled swimming lessons. So, onward. This fruit dip is simplicity at its finest: cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and its sweetness makes what is otherwise healthy fruit into an awesome, totally justifiable dessert. Strawberries, raspberries, peaches, nectarines, apples – pick your fruit of choice and go to town on this dip! It’s what every fruit wants to be paired with (much like the cute high school guy swim instructor).
(recipe by Carpé Season, courtesy of my sister-in-law Vicki )
(yields just under 2 c. of dip)
This easy three-ingredient dip makes any fruit into party fruit. So sweet and creamy!
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar or brown sugar*
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*What you see pictured above is dip made with white sugar. It is much prettier than its brown sugar alternative. However, the brown sugar version gives this dip a maple-y kick that is fabulous. The white sugar version is similarly good, just in a different way. So I'd say, if you're presenting this to your in-laws, go with white; if you're eating this for breakfast by yourself, go with brown.
With a mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until throughly combined and irresistible.
Serve with fruit of choice: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, apples, bananas, orange slices, canteloupe, honeydew, pears, grapes, kiwi, mango. Anything goes!
Keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.