Friday, August 21, 2015

Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream (Ice cream maker optional)

     When I was a little girl, there was an older couple who lived nearby. Their children were all grown, but I never forgot their kindness to the neighborhood kids. Sometimes they would get out their ice cream maker and invite everyone to bring a spoon for an ice cream party. The wife provided bowls. The sweet creamy texture of simple homemade vanilla ice cream on a warm day was unbeatable.

      While not a blueberry fan myself, I knew the men around here would enjoy this variation on the theme. It was so easy to make and kept really well in the freezer beyond just a few days. I used my ice cream maker, but if you can also use a stand mixer if you don't have an ice cream maker. I'll post two methods.

     Also, this was easier as an overnight project. If using an ice cream maker, you can do the blueberries the night before and make the ice cream the next day.

Start with: 2 cups coarsely chopped blueberries

Bring blueberries, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ten minutes, stirring often. Cool for 30 minutes, and then cover and chill for two hours. I did this step the night before.

For ice cream maker: 
Whisk together:
1 (14 ounce can) condensed milk
1 (5 ounce can) evaporated milk
2 cups whole milk
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Cover and chill for two hours.
Pour milk mixture into 1 quart freezer container and churn for about 20 minutes. Remove container with ice cream and freeze in the container for 30 minutes.
Stir blueberries into the mixture and transfer to a loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil. Freeze for 3-4 hours.

Using a stand mixer:
1 Pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1 (14 ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla extract and sweetened condensed milk. Pour heavy cream into a mixing bowl and whip on a high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly add the vanilla mixture to the mixing bowl. Once combined, stir in blueberries and pour into a loaf pan covered tightly with aluminum foil. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight. 

This was a hit, but you don't have to take my word for it.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Best Intentions

     Does anyone else have a constantly messy house this time of year? No need for a public confession, everyone put you head down and discreetly raise your hand if you do. I'll look around and feel a solidarity with those of you brave front line mamas with a hand up.

Sunflower shadows dance on my wall.
 Thankfully, it's summer, when nothing can rattle me for long. There's little that a fresh tomato sandwich can't cure. I decided to intentionally enjoy every minute of these hottest months and let a few things fall by the wayside this year. I'm just getting by until school starts, making due with the minimal, and finding it a source of joy. It's been a lesson on one aspect of simplicity:  Simplicity isn't the austerity of a perfectly picked up home or perfectly organized life. It is prioritization, and the freedom of making unique choices that work for you and your family. 

School's still out. Amish school playground, Lancaster.

When our lack of a garden this year cut me short on canning and freezing our usual vegetables, I cherished our bramble berries even more. I decided to do what I could, without pressure, and have enjoyed filling the jam shelf in our pantry, making pie fillings, and have had more than enough to keep me busy. It's been peaceful to made do with what I have and to indulge in canning little extras. Projects I've always wanted to put away but never had the time for in the face of endless beans.

     There have been times when I've had to remind myself that I am choosing to focus on the joy of this season, and not let the small stuff distract from the beauty of the green fields and sunshine. For instance, the five mile trip to pick up my canning peaches which turned into a seemingly endless journey when traffic cut off a direct route. A back road was the scene of an auction that just ended. Cars, buggies, scooters, things you never knew were street legal were pouring out of a driveway. Under a clear sky with a windmill glistening in the sun, I dodged a wagon full of tourists on a buggy ride and took a deep breath as I hoped that some other side road would lead me closer to the fruit farm. Puttering behind a line of traffic for the last two miles, I finally reached my destination at exactly the time I had told my husband to expect my return. I need to savor this moment, I reminded myself. There will not be another moment like it for a year. There will not be another perfectly gorgeous summer day where I will be picking up peaches against a scenic back drop and the anticipated satisfaction of filling jars.

No, really, there were a lot more cars than this on the road.

The Little Mister & Ruthie

Back at home, my back hurts as I lay on the wood floor with Little Mister. We're playing with his farm set, which I brought out because I wanted to see if he really still plays with it. It turns out he does. We're making the goat do silly things like stand on the roof of the barn and drive the tractor.

I need to savor this moment, because there will not be another moment like it, ever.  It is truly the day that the Lord hath made.


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