Summer in a Glass

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It’s officially summer and Debbie Duncan is going all-in on a concoction she says is summer in a glass.

What does summer taste like?

I thought I’d have to dig deep for my answer, because many of the foods I remember from my 1950’s and 60’s childhood summers came out of a can or a freezer pouch—peaches, green beans, even corn. To be honest, those flavors kinda blended together. So did the taste of cherries when they swam with other bits of so-called fruit in a syrupy sauce poured out of a can and called fruit cocktail. My mid-century space-age suburban family did not eat seasonally or locally.

But we did have a station wagon. And one of my dad’s favorite things to do after dinner on summer evenings was drive my brothers and me to the new Southern California drug store, Sav-On, for ice cream cones: five cents for one scoop, 10 for two. I had a feeling Mom didn’t approve of Dad eating ice cream, but when he was out with us, he indulged in his favorite flavor, chocolate chip. I always ordered strawberry—two scoops of creamy strawberry ice cream melting over a sugar cone.

I’d forgotten about that glorious taste of summer until a couple of weeks ago, when I tested a recipe for something called strawberry milk: Cut farmers market strawberries up into a blender and sprinkle with sugar. Stir them a few times over the next hour until nice and goopy, then puree until smooth. Add good, whole milk and … buttermilk. Stir. Let the mixture steep in the fridge overnight, and oh my goodness!


The result is summer in a glass. It’s two scoops of circa 1965 Sav-On strawberry ice cream eaten on a warm summer evening in the rear-facing seat of the station wagon, minus the cone. (I’ve gone gluten-free.) It’s undoubtedly healthier than its 1960’s version: it has buttermilk. I make it for myself. I make it for my family. I will make it for anyone who comes through my kitchen for as long as strawberry season lasts.

Strawberry milk takes me back while also providing comfort.
And I, and most people I know, can use a few sips of solace this summer.

With a Perspective, I’m Debbie Duncan.

Debbie Duncan writes and reviews children’s books. She lives on the Peninsula.

Ingredients for strawberry milk:
About 1 pound strawberries
½ cup sugar
3 cups whole milk
1 cup buttermilk