Desmond starts kindergarten a week from today. He's been asking me about summer, and I've explained that it means a couple things. There's the summer that's a season when it's hot and we eat peaches. We still have more than a month to go of that summer. And then there's kid summer that is the time between school years when we just play and go to the beach. That one ends in 7 days. I feel more than a little panicky.
On the one hand, we are all so ready for some structure. This summer has been incredibly free form. The children have taken to playing pile-everything-in-the-house-on-top-of-the-couch. They call it Inventing. I finally put a stop to it yesterday after the red sharpie with it's cap (against all odds, somewhat still firmly in place) hooked through the hand crocheted baby blanket whipped past my computer and knocked it off the table. I yelled. And then we spent the next three hours putting away everything in the house. And inventing a new game.
So, we're totally ready for some structure. But on the other hand, this is it. He's starting kindergarten. There's no going back. I was looking at the district calendar for the year and when I came to the SATs, I knew we'd be there in 5 minutes. I should probably put it on the calendar.
Did I tell you that I forgot to teach both of my babies baby sign language? I meant to. Just all of a sudden they were three and they were starting preschool and communicating just fine and it wasn't really necessary any more. I did that twice. But now one of those babies is almost six and we should probably start making vocabulary cards that say bucolic and penultimate, not to mention sign up for Spanish lessons and piano before it's too late.
I'm feeling a little panicky.
We had a big to do list at the beginning of the summer too. We were supposed to go to the Hollywood Bowl and the Getty and hike at Monrovia Canyon and pick berries and cucumbers at Underwood Family Farm. We were going to swim at the high school pool every Saturday night. We didn't do any of that.
We mostly stayed home and played (hence the increasing inventiveness of their games), and went to the beach, and ate ice cream. I've checked off the really important items, I think. Salt water and ice cream and couch forts are what (the kid kind of) summer are made of.
We made a lot of ice cream. We made Hannah's excellent (secretly avocado and tofu based) pistachio. (Do you know what's crazy? She has a whole new book all about ice cream, and I haven't had a chance to check it out yet. Have you? Is it super delicious?) We made Nathalie's luscious cashew lemon. We made chocolate almond butter ice cream and vanilla chocolate chip. We even made ice cream adjacent treats like watermelon lime granita. We went through boxes and boxes of ice cream cones. I even looked at recipes for cones and considered buying a special ice cream cone maker, before I was saved by the realization that the cake cone is the superior receptacle for ice cream. It's like an edible bowl. It allows the ice cream to steal the show and it only tacks on about twenty crunchy, flaky, lightly sweet calories. You can set it on the counter while you dish up another one which makes it totally essential if you have more than one child and are trying to maintain brotherly harmony.
We sat in the backyard and had ice cream cones every night.
And so, at least where dessert is concerned, I have no wistful end of summer regrets. We did ice cream. I'm totally ready to move on to Fall and Pie.
But before we do, just in case you haven't made ice cream this summer, and really, even if you have, here's my (current) very favorite milk chocolate ice cream recipe. If you let the mixture chill in the fridge for at least a day and preferably three, it gets a wonderfully subtle malty undertone that reminds me of the ice cream part of chocolate malted crunch, and that flavor makes me feel six again standing outside of Thrifty's with our twenty cent cake cones, thinking I've scored when my brother offers me the bottom of his, only to discover that he doesn't know how to use his tongue to push the ice cream down to the bottom so that it lasts as long as your cone does. My kids totally know how to do that. This summer has not been in vain.
And someday Desmond will taste something that reminds him of this, and he'll say,
"Remember the summer that we had an ice cream cone every night?"
And I'll say,
"Yeah, you hadn't even started Kindergarten yet."
Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
Also, If you need ice cream right now, and the bowl of your ice cream maker is all ready to go, then you can cut the recipe in half and skip the chilling. Even though the mixture may be warm from the blender action, your ice cream maker should be able to handle cooling and freezing this reduced volume just fine.
makes: 2 pints
takes: 5 minutes active plus overnight chilling and 25 - 30 minutes of freezing
- 3 cups milk (I prefer half rice milk and half unsweetened soy milk.)
- 1 1/2 cups cashews or 3/4 cup cashew butter*
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- pinch of salt
Blend until smooth. Chill overnight or for as long as three days. Freeze as directed in your ice cream maker.
*If you have a really powerful blender, the whole nuts will blend up fine, but if you don't think your blender is quite up to the task, then go with the cashew butter.
So, this ice cream is pretty great on its own, and perhaps even better as the chocolately foundation for the flavor of your dreams, like...
- rocky road - add marshmallows, toasted almonds, and finely chopped chocolate
- chocolate cookie crunch - stir in crushed chocolate sandwich cookies
- chocolate candy cane - (for your leftover Christmas cookie ice cream sandwich needs) add crushed candy cane (duh?)
- chocolate peanut butter swirl - swirl in some peanut butter in the last few minutes of freezing
- chocolate pretzel peanut butter swirl - as above, but add a big handful of crushed pretzels too
- What else!? Leave a comment with your favorite chocolate-based ice cream flavor!