|From Drop Box|
I took a little break from blogging these past few months, and before I knew it, I wasn’t baking nearly as much as I used to either. What had been a daily occurrence was reduced to a weekly activity, until having decorated cupcakes under the cake dome or ice cream in the freezer was almost unusual.
My lack of blogging saddened me, but no matter how strictly I berated myself or how generously free time came to me once on vacation, I didn’t have it in me to write.
Fortunately, blogging has become too great a part of me to disappear completely. Even though I don’t bake as much, every time I gather ingredients or set cookies out on a plate, I find myself reaching for my camera. My hands automatically style the food, and I look for the softest, most diffuse light in the room without thinking. Blogging is a habit my subconscious won’t let go of, and it’s a habit my conscious knows it shouldn’t abandon.
Months had gone by without new blog posts, but I didn’t feel pressured to write any, because I was under the impression that I had time. I cringed upon realizing that this would be only the third post of the year.
Time passed in much the same fashion while on vacation at my grandparents’ house.
It passed so quickly, in fact, that reality just didn’t feel credible. It gave the illusion that everything had a slightly inauthentic quality to it, as if it didn’t really exist. It was as if I’d entered another dimension, or was walking around in a video game simulator. Everything looked the same, and I could sense perfectly well–my fingertips still felt rigged with their network of nerves and were as sensitive as ever, I could see the lilies in the backyard glowing clearly with the intensity that only overcast days bring, and the strawberries from the farmer’s market were so sweet I savored their taste long after they’d disappeared –but all this I sensed with a certain degree of detachment.
I found myself pressing a little harder than usual into the pillow at night in hopes of breaking through the illusory video game simulator that time had set up in its haste to keep ticking.
It must be evident that I’ve become fascinated by the concept of time. I often feel that it moves of its own accord. It’s like a broken cassette tape whose stop button doesn’t work, whose rewind button fast-forwards instead. It may be uniform as a whole, but the sections that it is made up of seem to flow in a dimension that isn’t linear at all.
Years, months, and seasons are stable – they’re linear and logical, while still marked by passing time. Apples are crispest in the fall, oranges are best in winter, and blackberries are at their plumpest in late August depending on the heat. But the weather rarely changes to suit the new season on exactly the 21st of each month. Buds sometimes bloom a little later, and strawberries appear in early summer instead of late spring.
We were lucky to catch the last of the Pacific Northwest strawberry season while at my grandparents’ this year, as we usually miss it by a couple months.
The strawberries were so sweet and laden with juice, that during the two weeks they were at their prime, I fell so in love with them that they replaced blackberries as my favorite fruit.
|From Drop Box|
I hesitated while preparing to puree the hulled strawberries to make ice cream. It seemed almost a waste to use fruit that was so perfect on its own to make ice cream, but David Lebovitz’s recipes have never once been a disappointment, and this time wasn’t any different.
The recipe is one for unadulterated strawberry ice cream. It needs no embellishment. It tastes best made when strawberry season is at its peak, so that the light freshness of the fruit counters the rich custard into which it is churned. I realize that strawberry season has already come to an end, but you can substitute frozen strawberries for the fresh ones if you’d rather not wait another year.
Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 lb. fresh (or frozen) strawberries, hulled, pureed, strained, and mixed with ¼ cup sugar
¼ of finely chopped strawberries to mix in (optional)
In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl. Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath.
Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir the strawberry puree into the cooled custard, and mix in the strawberry bits.
Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.