Feeling thankful and happy and full to the brim here. Dan’s birthday yesterday, mine today, and Wendell Berry’s words about life beyond expectation or prediction or typicality are on my mind tonight.
Well, that and ice cream. Back soon with more. xo
I see that the life of this place is always emerging beyond expectation or prediction or typicality, that it is unique, given to the world minute by minute, only once, never to be repeated. And this is when I see that this life is a miracle, absolutely worth having, absolutely worth saving. We are alive within mystery, by miracle.
– Wendell Berry, from Life Is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition
Having a birthday that comes on the tail-end of berry season means, as I’ve mentioned before, that shortcake is my dessert of choice when it comes to celebrating another ride round the sun. This year was no exception and my stepmom the recipe master once again delivered on a buttery, not-too-sweet, perfectly crumbly cake. It was mounded with freshly whipped cream, a cascade of berries was spilled over top, and it was perfect.
But I’m not here to tell you about that.
Rather unexpectedly, I want to talk ice cream. Rather specifically, I want to talk strawberry ice cream. It’s not normally my thing – but this, friends, is not normal ice cream.
When last Thursday’s CSA pick up gave us three pints of perfect-ripe berries, on top of the three I had just picked up at market, Jacob and Lucas and I had some considering to do. We sat down and ate one pint straight up while we discussed our options: strawberry freezer jam, strawberry sauce, strawberry shortcake or strawberries in our salad? Yes to all. And what of the rest? Strawberry Ice Cream, said Jacob. We hadn’t made it before, but we knew just where to look for a recipe. And boy did we find a winner. With no further ado, then …
This ice cream is, if you’ll allow me, just … it’s incredible. I love berries with sour cream, and this is like some wonderful sexed up fantasy version. When Kyle first tasted it, he started to ask me if it was yogurt; there is a definite and delightful tang from the sour cream. But as soon as he formed the question he backtracked, because while the strawberries and the tanginess hit you first, what lingers is the intense, almost indecent creaminess. No yogurt I’ve yet had can match this brilliantly rich, beautifully rosy scoop.
David recommends eating this as soon as it is churned, and we did. It has an addictive vibe that way, but is also pretty rad after freezing for a while. Just be warned that it is high in berry goodness, and those berries can get icy. We found that while it was still delicious on the second day, it had lost its incredible.
I cut the sugar down by almost 1/3, because my berries were so very sweet that macerating them in that much sugar seemed totally unnecessary. But feel free to take it up to David’s 3/4 cup/150 grams, if your berries need to be helped along. He promises that “Macerating the strawberries beforehand magically transforms even so-so berries into fruits that are brilliantly red.” He’s David, so I believe him wholeheartedly. We also omitted the kirsch, because we didn’t have it on hand. If you do, 1 tablespoon can be added with the sugar.
1 pound fresh strawberries
Generous 1/2 cup sugar (more if needed, up to 3/4 cup)
1 cup sour cream (regular, not low fat!)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Rinse, hull and slice the strawberries. Mix them in a bowl with the sugar, stirring gently until the sugar dissolves. Cover and let the mixture stand at room temperature for one hour, stirring a few times.
Pulse the strawberries and all accumulated juices in your blender or food processor with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice until almost but not perfectly smooth. (Note: my friend Liz has apparently done this by hand, with a whisk, and says it took about ten minutes. More power to you if you want to go for it!)
Refrigerate your (bright! pink!) mixture for at least one hour, until well chilled. Freeze in your ice cream maker (we have this one) according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and serve soon after it has been churned.
* It is worth noting that David doesn’t mention a “Perfect Pairing” for this treat. I don’t think it’s an error: I think he realizes that this ice cream is a real standalone. Sometimes gilding the lily is called for, and sometimes it really is too much. A simple sugar cone to hold your scoop might be nice here, but save your chocolate and sprinkles and marshmallow cream for a dessert with less to say. Because this one, she’s chatty, and charismatic, and charming. You want to let her get in all she’s got. No distractions needed.