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Volume II
June 30, 2004

Ice Ice Baby

             To keep party punch bowls chilled, not watery, use an ice block or ring instead of small cubes or crushed ice. Create your own blocks by freezing water, juice, or punch in large containers such as plastic storage boxes, square or round cake pans, a bundt, loaf pans or a large mixing bowl. To be on the safe side, make sure the container you choose fits into your punch bowl before you create your icy masterpiece.

             For added ambiance, color your ice by for theme-related parties by adding food coloring to the water prior to freezing (pink for Valentines, orange for Halloween). Adding greenery, herbs, flowers, fruit slices, party favors, or miniature flags creates sensational showstoppers in your punch bowl. To create, fill your container half full of water and freeze until firm. Arrange your decorations over the ice. Add an additional 1/2-inch of water and then carefully return to freezer. When decorations are frozen under that thin layer of water, fill the remaining container with water and freeze again.

             When ready to serve your punch, put the ice block in the bowl first. This will help prevent spattering and overflowing. Dip the ice mold in hot water briefly, and then carefully slide the ice from the container into the bowl. Pour in your well-chilled beverage (room-temp drinks will melt your ice faster) and add the ladle!

             For individual ice cubes with flair, freeze mint leave, flowers, slice of strawberry, or any other party-themed ornament inside of the cube. If using water from the tap, boil and cool it before freezing for a less cloudy cube.

             Ice isn't the only beverage chiller in town. Fruit cubes are moving in to make colorful, nutrient-packed cubes that won't dilute your drink. Imagine frozen raspberries atop your raspberry lemonade and it all comes together! To make fruit cubes, choose fruits that freeze well, such as strawberries, grapes, peaches, pineapple or watermelon. Freeze berries whole, but cut the other fruits into 3/4-inch chunks (peel, core, and seed as needed). Dip the chunks into fresh lemon juice to keep their color fresh, and then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid and then remove them to a resealable freezer bag until needed. Use these cubes in any fruit beverage to double as both a chiller and a garnish.

* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *

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