Summer’s best

photo-525We’ve reached the moment when everything is bursting-ripe, tomatoes and peaches and corn and melons, green beans and zucchinis and plums. Summer itself is dwindling, shadows are lengthening, but such glory in these final days.

My summer book bag has slowly emptied. I was inspired by Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing by Daphne Miller, M.D. (Here’s an interview that gives you some sense of her work.) Alice Munro never fails to transport me, and I savored Dear Life. And after seeing my dad and stepmom both reading it, I picked up a copy of The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen of Growing Power – if you’re interested in sustainable urban farming, it’s a good read.

We’re all still so full-up with goodness from our time in the mountains. I can’t really stand to type it, but last week our almost-100-year old family camp was gravely damaged in the Rim Fire. Like many others, we are grieving for a place we love. We are thankful to the firefighters and residents who worked so hard to save what they could. And we are extra grateful this year for the peace-filled, unwired, granite-bound week we spent under the dogwoods.

dahlias

Other summer highlights, in no particular order:

This Summer’s End mix from Brian at Dreams in Audio is officially three years old, and still getting regular time on our rotation.

We have dahlias in the garden at our new house. I first fell in love with them many summers ago, here, when it was just me and Kyle, rambling up Highway 1, the road stretched out before us. We’re planning veggies and fruits for the flower beds, but I think we’ll let the dahlias stay. If you’re up that way this month, stop for a visit and say hi for me.

lucas and peach

Stone fruits abound, and we’ve had a jammy summer. Plumberry butter and apricot jam and cherry preserves with plums. (Did you, too, go way crazy on jam production? Spread some over Chelsea’s yeasted sweet dough, roll, bake. Have friends over for brunch. Feel bad-ass.)

Jacob and peach

My friend Chloe made some wonderful images these past months. I had a few summer moments like this one. But I try to imagine myself into this one.

If you’re having folks over for a last summer’s night, you might play this. (Although if your friends are small children, this one might be better.) A bottle of this (thanks Andy & Alanna) will make it that much more special. (Or for the small children, try this.)

J and cucumber

Other tastes of this summer: slices yes, yes, but also this way with watermelon; an old peach-plum favorite; Friday night grilled pizzas (last Friday, Kyle actually had to ask someone in a meeting to repeat something, because his mind had wandered to grilled pizza and gotten stuck there); herbs and green onions in the salad! (It’s probably lentil salad, with  sherry-shallot vinaigrette please); and lastly yes, we’ve officially made half the frozen treats in this book. We’re looking forward to the second half, summer or no.

those funny tomatoes

If we had to name one ice cream flavor that captured our summer best of all, we would argue about it. Jacob would say chocolate, and then say “Actually, I liked the chocolate better in the book. Can I have vanilla?” And Lucas would say “I want my own! I want do it my self! I have hice-cream! I Ludis Ma-wehl Hayer!” And Kyle would say “I always love vanilla … but that fresh mint one was really good … and the chocolate … and the strawberry-sour cream … and the one with cherries in it …”

But I think eventually we would all settle in the same place. Rosemary Ice Cream is one you should definitely squeeze in, in these final sun-drenched days. It needn’t be your last dance with your ice cream maker for the year. (Though it will perhaps have you humming that you’ve never felt like this before.) (Kyle just heard me making that link and said “Are you for real?!” Oh yes. Now he’d better ask me if I want to dance. Summer memories live forever.)

rosemary

I hope your ending days of summer are beautiful and bright, full of the quiet summertime things and the loud ones, the moments that make you glad. We’re taking our last few hurrahs before school starts, celebrating a new year, and looking forward to this new season dawning. See you soon.

xo

Rosemary Ice Cream
Adapted from the recipe for Fresh Mint Ice Cream in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.

Fresh herb ice creams sound – I don’t know. A bit fancy? Or perhaps Moroccan? Maybe even trendy. But please don’t shy away from this one. For my Princeton pals, think of Simply Nic’s. Do you remember the first time you had one of her rosemary shortbread bars? You bit into it – buttery-rich and creamy, not too sweet, with the rosemary not front and center as rosemary is wont to be but skimming across through the background, delicate but definite. Kyle took his first bite of this and said, “This tastes like Simply Nic’s!” There is a rich creaminess above all, and gentle sweetness, but the kiss of herby green brightness in the background makes it taste somehow even more creamy, more rich. For a recent gathering here we served four ice creams: fresh mint, chocolate, vanilla, and rosemary. It was the rosemary that people have emailed me about, reminisced about at the playground, and eaten straight from the freezer with a serving spoon. Not naming names on that one, just saying – this is a special ice cream. It’s a standout from a summer full of good ice cream. (Have you been keeping score? Because I count three ice creams in my last four posts. And I’m not one bit sorry.) But this rosemary one – it’s a keeper. It’s a winner.

It’s summer’s best. Enjoy it while it lasts.

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and the salt in a small sauce pan. While it warms, look over the rosemary sprigs and wipe off any dirt or dust. Add the rosemary sprigs to the warm milk mixture, stir until they are immersed in liquid, then remove from heat and cover the pan. Let sit and steep for 1 hour.

Strain the rosemary-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Press on the rosemary to extract as much flavor as possible, then discard the sprigs. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl, and set the strainer over top.

Rewarm the rosemary infused mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the five egg yolks. Pour the warmed rosemary liquid slowly into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan.

Stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, warm mixture over medium heat. Scrape the bottom as you stir, watching until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the spatula. (You should be able to draw your finger through and leave a line in the custard; it should be barely steaming and definitely not boiling.) Pour the warm custard through the strainer and into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (overnight or at least several hours). Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

12 thoughts on “Summer’s best

  1. Rosemary ice cream sounds so intriguing! I don’t often think of rosemary in sweets, though I guess I need to broaden my horizons a bit. Lavender works, so why not the piney sharpness of rosemary?
    I’m so excited that you’re working with my Nana’s sweet roll dough! Rolling up plum or apricot or a dozen other jammy flavors into that supple lovely dough sounds like a perfect late summer treat. I wish we lived closer. I’d be over for brunch in a flash.

    • So interestingly, Simply Nic’s also makes a lavender-honey shortbread … clearly you are thinking on the right track! That dough of your Nana’s is a treat to work with – thanks so much for sharing the recipe Chelsea.

  2. Hannah, Hannah, Hannah! I came here to leave you a link to a recipe that just might squeak into your ice cream line-up. Then I realized I’ve missed several of your latest posts and now I have more than half dozen new tabs open with things I must read before I can possibly think of getting to bed. I am in awe of how fully you live your life, not only making the time to savor it yourself, but to put it in words here with gorgeous pictures and links. Yours is such a lucky family to have you chronicling it and so beautifully. I wish I had even a tenth of your energy and your big-picture perspective.

    Hugs,
    Nivedita

    P.S.: Here’s the ice cream recipe: http://sevenspoons.net/blog/2013/9/10/arms-wide-big-grins

    • You make me blush N. Thanks for your kind words. Big picture is much easier on paper than in the moment, but we try :) I love Tara’s blog and have not seen her latest ice cream recipe (clicking over now … ) but I do have printed out somewhere an ice cream sandwich recipe she posted a while back. Will have to try this one! (I’m waiting with baited breath for *you* to get an ice cream maker, since I have no doubt you will put it to good and inspiring use!)

      • Kind words: figure of speech, I know anmaker I use often. But actually quite unkind to say something one doesn’t genuinely feel. No? So no kindness involved whatsoever. :-)
        I remember that sandwich recipe from Tara.. Looked good!
        Hah! Nice try. I’m still not getting an ice cream maker. I need to first train myself to work out consistently and stay out of the kid’s snacks.

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