The older I get, the more I find myself staying home on my days off from work.
When I was in college, a day off meant sleeping 'til noon, then drinking 'til sunrise in a friend's garage, while Gwen Stefani blared from a radio, with zero regard for my 9 a.m. Literature Theory class that morning.
Nowadays, a day off means a Frasier marathon and homemade strawberry ice cream.
I work with a lot of kids, and by that I mean people of the 16 to 19-year-old variety. (I used to absolutely hate when my mom called grown-ups "kids." Anyone under the age of 30 was a "kid" to her. And now that I'm nearing that number, I find myself doing the same thing with anyone under the age of 25. Scary!)
The kids I work with are so full of energy, it renders me speechless some days. They're wide-eyed, fresh-faced and ready to work a full 8 hours, then party all night. I know I used to be exactly the same but lately I'm having a hard time remembering what all that energy feels like.
They poke fun at my general fuddy-duddiness, considering it comedic fodder that my idea of relaxing is playing a few rounds of Candy Crush, catching up on back episodes of Masterchef and going to bed at 9:30.
I'm sure they think that I don't know how to have fun. But let's not confuse having fun with relaxing. I may not be partying 'til dawn with a red Solo cup in my hand anymore, but when it comes to putting my feet up and unwinding, I'm an old pro. Give me a cup of good, quality coffee and a Vivaldi piece on NPR and I'm set.
Closing my eyes and envisioning a golden orchard while listening to the strings of "L'autunno" from The Four Seasons - now that is my idea of a good time.
This strawberry ice cream is the physical manifestation of my passion for relaxing. I made on a Sunday off from work, and being as I don't have an ice cream maker, I had to churn it by hand once every hour, making it a labor of love throughout the entire afternoon.
But oh was it worth it. The strawberry flavor is so fresh, like a burst of summer. And I just love the color - a delicate pink dotted with black Madagascar vanilla beans. So lovely!
Although it took much of the day to complete, I took it slowly, step-by-step and got into a sort of Zen-like zone. I find that making ice cream without a machine is like making bread without a breadmaker - a full afternoon commitment that somehow doesn't feel anything like work but more like accomplishment.
The feeling that I've created something exactly as I envisioned it in my head? It may make me just an old fuddy duddy but at this stage of my life, I can't imagine anything more thrilling than that.
Fresh Strawberry & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
This is one of those recipes where good, quality ingredients really make
the difference. I recommend using the reddest, ripest strawberries you can
find and investing in whole vanilla beans. Your taste buds will thank you.
Makes about 1 quart
1 pound container of fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 & 3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons golden corn syrup
1 vanilla bean (I used a Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean but any variety will do)
pinch of salt
for the strawberry puree:
Hull the berries and puree them in a blender with the sugar until very smooth.
If you don't mind seeds in your ice cream, move forward to the next step. But if you'd like the ice cream to be seedless, let the puree sit in the blender for 20 minutes (at room temp) to allow the seeds to separate from the liquid. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing the puree through with a spoon. Discard the seeds.
Place the puree in the fridge until ready to use.
for the ice cream/custard base:
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs well and set aside. You'll want the yolks to be fully integrated with the whites.
In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, add the cream, milk, sugar, corn syrup, and salt and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it just reaches a simmer. Remove from heat.
This next step is the most important one when making ice cream: Temper the eggs by slowly drizzling 1 & 1/2 cups of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, while whisking the eggs vigorously. You want to be very careful not to pour the liquid in but to drizzle it, because it's so hot that too much of it at once will cook and scramble the eggs. If you need to rest your whisking arm (and I'm sure you will), be sure to stop pouring the hot mixture while you rest. Scrambling the eggs will render the ice cream inedible and force you to have to start all over. No pressure!
Gently and slowly pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot cream mixture while whisking the contents of the saucepan.
Place the saucepan on medium-low heat and cook until the mixture reaches a temperature of 180 degrees F. Be sure to stir constantly and keep your eye on the thermometer.
Once the custard reaches the right temperature, remove it from the heat and immediately pour it in a large bowl that is sitting in an ice bath. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then stir and pour into something durable enough to go into the freezer (I used a shallow ironstone dish, as you can see in the above photos but you can use any casserole dish or stainless steel bowl).
After about 45 minutes in the freezer, you're ready to add your strawberry puree and vanilla beans. Take the ice cream out and transfer it to a large bowl if you feel the dish it's in isn't deep enough to stir (mine wasn't). Cut the vanilla bean down the center with a sharp knife, then scrape out all the delicious, microscopic beans inside of it. Make sure you get all of them so you don't waste any - they're pricey! Whisk the vanilla and the strawberry puree into your custard, breaking up any bits of vanilla that may have clumped together.
Pour back into your freezer vessel and let it cool in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Note: Ice crystals will form throughout unless you break them up, so if you want a smooth, creamy texture without any crunchy bits of ice, make sure to set a timer every hour so you can take the ice cream from the freezer and whisk it vigorously to break up any crystals. Do this every hour until you are ready to serve.
Once the ice cream is completely frozen (after about 4 hours) cover it until ready to serve.
Slightly adapted from this recipe from One Acre Farm.
Welcome! I'm a pie-baking, dog-loving, antique-hunting patriot. I'm a fan of rustic home cooking, the Yankees and scenic drives through the mountains.