Currently viewing the tag: "ice cream"

Somehow we are already on the front steps of 2018. The door is open, and another January welcomes us in with a glorious smile, reassuring those waiting out in the cold that right inside, just through that open door, things will be better. The new year will bring hope, and change. So we resolve to evolve, and put our faith in the dropping of a ball, a countdown from ten, and then number one. Two weeks in, however, we realize it’s still all the same, January is December, minus the Christmas tree. The list of resolutions gets shoved in a drawer, we turn on the news and are still groaning, trying to find our voice. There was no wizardry to wash away the sins of the previous year. We remember about the importance of time, and hard work, and continuing to keep at something even though no one is watching.

But although the New Year doesn’t contain magic, it’s a good idea to make a cake at the end of it all anyway. We can still celebrate the previous twelve months: observe how far we’ve come, make plans for the coming days, or just share time, enjoying ice cream, with those we spend our days. And while I walk into this next month knowing everything is not new and fresh, I will still look around for hope, and change, and progress, and help propel those things forward as best I can.


I’ve teamed up with Land O’Lakes for a few posts over the rest of the year. I’ve been a big fan of their butter for years; I love how my baked goods turn out with it, and as they are a Minnesota-based company, it seemed like a natural fit. I’m happy to report that the Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream is delicious, too – here it’s used in the chocolate no-churn ice cream, but I also use it in whipped cream, cheesecake, and any other application, both sweet and savory, where I need heavy cream.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

-Neil Gaiman

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My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp North, without declining West?
Whatever dies was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or thou and I
Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die.
-John Donne, The Good-Morrow

This past week I found volumes A-F of the Norton Anthology of English Literature at my local thrift store, and I gleefully tucked them into my cart and took them home to read. I had a gigantic hardcover anthology that I carried around all through college, but since graduating the books have been updated tremendously (YAY), and I’m happy to find better translations, women authors, and helpful commentary. I’m a sucker for sixteenth century literature; I fell in love with Shakespeare in high school and enjoy reading the poetry from that time period (as you can see in the above poem). However, I’m starting at the Middle Ages and working my way through. It’s always a good sign when you pick up a book before an iphone; I haven’t enjoyed reading this much in quite awhile.

I also received a new cookbook recently – Hello, My Name is Ice Cream, by Dana Cree. This worked out perfectly, because Williams-Sonoma was very kind and sent me a Breville Ice Cream Compressor in August, and I have been making waaaaay too much ice cream with it. (Side note: I LOVE the ice cream compressor. It’s dreamy and quiet and so fun to use.) I decided to make my chocolate chip cookies into ice cream, and the results were, as you can imagine, delicious.

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‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’ – Henry James

I have to agree with Mr. James here; summer is magic. With my littles at home and days filled with swimming, reading, long walks, trips to the library, canoeing, hammocking, lego building, and not homeworking, I am entering August on tiptoes, knowing there are only four weeks of leisure left. ‘Twenty-nine days!’ my seven year old son lamented today as he counted on the calendar. ‘Only twenty-nine days left of summer! I’m doomed!’ I tried to reassure him it was plenty of time, but August does have a reputation for flying by too fast. Or, as my friend Kate put it, ‘August is the Sunday of summer. June is Friday night, July is Saturday, and each day of August quietly whispers, Monday is just around the corner.’

So we made ice cream cake. Because the weather is warm, and we still have days left to celebrate our freedom. Raspberry crème fraîche no-churn ice cream with chocolate cookie crumb and toasted meringue topping, to be exact. It was decadent, and delicious; it cooled us to our toes and made us momentarily ignore that yes, we are doomed.

‘All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.’ – LM Montomery

This post is sponsored by Driscoll’s and the Minnesota #BerryTogether Sweepstakes. Did you know Minnesota is the number one consumer of raspberries? To celebrate, Driscoll’s is giving away a Minnesota exclusive getaway Madden’s Resort & Spa in Brainerd, MN for 4 from now until August 31st. Click here to enter.

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smores cake

First of all, I want to say thank you, oh my goodness thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I had so many kind emails and comments and tweets yesterday;  your support of my upcoming book is overwhelming. I wouldn’t have this book without that support, and I am forever grateful to you, dear readers. Thank you for following along here, and for being so wonderful.

And, here’s a recipe from the book! Today happens to be my birthday, one that I am slightly freaking out about, as I seem to be getting close to large numbers I didn’t think were possible. I will be celebrating today, however, with this S’mores Ice Cream Cake. It’s fairly simple to put together (especially if you go the store bought ice cream route), with a layer of toasted graham cracker crumbs, vanilla ice cream, more graham crackers, chocolate ice cream, and then a pile of meringue that is lightly toasted. An indulgent way to enjoy the fading of a near perfect summer vacation.

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blood orange + chocolate shakes | the vanilla bean blog


blood oranges | the vanilla bean blog


blood orange + chocolate shakes | the vanilla bean blog
‘I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.’
-Gary Soto, ‘Oranges’

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no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog

no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
“The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;
now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog

In between squirt-gun fights and the jingle of bells on kid-sized bikes there is the faintest whisper, a warning. I wake up each morning knowing the sun will set a few moments sooner. The murmur, the rumor of change I choose to ignore, clinging instead to fire pits, swimming pools, canoe rides, and the blistering humidity that has reigned here all week. Let’s keep all this going, just a little bit longer. Please?

Our patch of mint has taken over the space made for it, plus the spot set aside for the basil. The tall stems are sprawling into our driveway, their muted purple flowers tickling our feet under the picnic table each time we take a meal outside. I’ve had good intentions of using those green leaves in plenty of dinners, but mostly it has just grown unruly, alive for the sole purpose of filling our house with the smell of toothpaste every time it rains. This weekend I finally took my scissors to the madness and put the plant to good use. An end-of-summer ice cream it has become; my favorite no-churn recipe that makes the whole sweet process quick and easy. You’ll now find us outside, enjoying all the melty drips while we still can.
no-churn mint ice cream | the vanilla bean blog

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espresso semifreddo | the vanilla bean blog
(1) Turn off the Radio.

(2) Read all the good books you can, and avoid nearly all magazines.

(3) Always write (and read) with the ear, not the eye. You should hear every sentence you write as if it was being read aloud or spoken. If it does not sound nice, try again.

(4) Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else. (Notice this means if you are interested only in writing you will have nothing to write about…)

(5) Take great pains to be clear. Remember that though you start by knowing what you mean, the reader doesn’t, and a single ill-chosen word may lead him to a total misunderstanding. In a story it is terribly easy just to forget that you have not told the reader something he needs to know – the whole picture is so clear in your own mind that you forget that it isn’t the same in his.

(6) When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think is my best, is the rewriting of things begun and abandoned years earlier.

(7) Don’t use a typewriter. The noise will destroy your sense of rhythm, which still needs years of training.

(8) Be sure you know the meanings (or meanings) or every word you use.

From the letters of CS Lewis: TO A SCHOOLGIRL IN AMERICA (who had written, at her teacher’s suggestion, to request advice on writing)

I would never classify myself as writer per say, but writing has always been an important part of my self expression, for better or worse (worse being a stash of badly rhymed love poems written in my high school years that are stashed away where no one will ever find them). I’ve always best articulated my musings via the written word. This past year has been quite busy and full of change (moving and cookbooking, especially), and I’ve found myself struggling to write words, or even find words to help move my thoughts along. The good news is I’ve been reading more, mostly in hopes that someone else will have the sentences I’ve been looking for.

I stumbled upon CS Lewis’ book of letters. I had just finished reading Dorothy Sayer’s, and then Tolkien’s, and have discovered in the process that reading other people’s mail might be my favorite past time. Lewis’ book is quite a read: he starts off an athiest and ends up religious (which makes for an interesting storyline that may not be everyone’s cup of tea) but along this personal journey are letters of his travels, pages and pages of books that have inspired him, notes to young readers, tips on writing, thoughts on the death of his father and then his wife, mentions of tea-time, walking tours, and all of the other in-between times a day holds. There were moments reading when I nodded along in agreement, and then times I threw the book down in frustration (his views on women: two thumbs down). There were letters where I loved him, and letters where he absolutely annoyed me. But over the course of the book he made me want to ask more questions, and read everything, and never stop writing. A mark of a good teacher, I think.
espresso semifreddo | the vanilla bean blog

espresso semifreddo | the vanilla bean blog
Espresso Semifreddo. I tried to think of something clever to tie the above paragraphs to this dessert, but I’ve got nothing. I’ll just say that Linda Lomelino’s Ice Cream book is a gorgeous read, and while it may not send me to my desk with pen and paper, it does impel me to grab my camera and do a better job at capturing the beauty around me. Also, it absolutely inspires me to make ice cream.

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chocolate magic shell
“But the kitchen will not come into its own again until it ceases to be a status symbol and becomes again a workshop. It may be pastel. It may be ginghamed as to curtains and shining with copper like a picture in a woman’s magazine. But you and I will know it chiefly by its fragrances and its clutter. At the back of the stove will sit a soup kettle, gently bubbling, one into which every day are popped leftover bones and vegetables to make stock for sauces or soup for the family. Carrots and leeks will sprawl on counters, greens in a basket. There will be something sweet-smelling twirling in a bowl and something savory baking in the oven. Cabinet doors will gape ajar and colored surfaces are likely to be littered with salt and pepper and flour and herbs and cheesecloth and pot holders and long-handled forks. It won’t be neat. It won’t even look efficient. But, when you enter it you will feel the pulse of life throbbing from every corner. The heart of the home will have begun once again to beat.” — Phyllis McGinley
sarah kieffer
My theme for this New Year is kitchen-as-workshop; I love the picture painted above: you and I will know it chiefly by its fragrances and its clutter…the pulse of life throbbing from every corner. Too often I find myself daydreaming about how to make my kitchen space bigger and better, ignoring the simple beauty in what my hands have put together on well-worn counter tops and aged appliances. The memory I hold to from my Grandmother’s kitchen is not of her posh center island or one-of-a-kind dishware, but of her long, wrinkled hands gracefully kneading bread dough on an old, wooden cutting board. There was soul in that wood, soul that just can’t be bought. The heart of the home will have begun once again to beat.
Almond Ring

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roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
“Fish tacos with pomegranate salsa tucked into warm corn tortillas, happily made from scratch by the kiddos. Homemade crème fraîche. Rainbow slaw packed with purple cabbage, green apple, radish, and orange. A pot of smoky Midnight black beans. Watermelon punch with fresh lime and crushed mint. This is supper at our home. Friends chat, kids play, and we eat simple goodness…”

This is how Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper Cookbook begins. It’s a gluten-free book, but one of those special books that work for many types of eaters. The recipes are mostly simple; easy to put together but packed with flavor. As someone who can (and does) eat gluten regularly, I found this book a great addition to my kitchen.

“I see our kitchen as a place of possibility, a place of play, experimentation, and delight. I write this book hoping to bring a little extra joy to all of our kitchens, to inspire us to cook for ourselves and our families, and to remember that cooking need not be laborious, overly complicated, or full of wheat to be delicious.” – Erin Scott
roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
roasted peaches with crème fraîche caramel sauce | the vanilla bean blog
One lucky reader can win a copy of Erin’s new book! Just leave a comment below in the comment section with your email, and I’ll announce a winner sometime next week. Good luck!

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chocolate pudding cakes with no-churn basil ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
“I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do.” -Anne Lamott
chocolate pudding cakes with no-churn basil ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
pudding cakes with no-churn basil ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
chocolate pudding cakes with no-churn ice cream | the vanilla bean blog
Three years ago to(almost)day I started The Vanilla Bean Blog. I don’t have a grandiose paragraph to write about this space, but I have to say that I never imagined all the wonderful opportunities that have come my way would happen. When I began blogging, I was a stay-at-home mom with two small children looking for a little outlet to help keep my whirling, never-quiet mind slightly sane. Now, I am a working-from-home mom with so many good things filling my plate.

It’s been a lovely adventure.

And I have to thank YOU (yes, you!). So many beautiful people have come into my life because of this small space, and I am blown away by your kindness and encouragement. So here’s a little giveaway to give you my thanks. There will be 4 winners for these four items: a copy of Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, a year subscription to Pure Green Magazine, a bottle of Lavender Extract from Hatchery, and a copy of The New Artisan Bread in Five. I’ll pick the winners in one week, just leave a comment on this post with your email address. (And much thanks to Cooks Illustrated, Pure Green Magazine, Bread in Five, and Hatchery for donating such lovely gifts!) (Also, because the items are being shipped from the companies listed, the giveaway is only open to US residents.)
vanilla bean blog giveaway
And, of course, there’s chocolate pudding cakes with basil ice cream. This recipe is actually one of my very first posts, but I decided to re-do it. I’ve changed the recipe a bit here and there, and since it is one of my most favorite desserts, I thought it deserved another chance to shine (not buried away deep in the archives).

And! Minneapolis peeps! Recently I asked for your help in voting for me in the Saveur Food Blog Awards, and a good friend commented that if I won, “I bet she’ll make us chocolate cake!” I agreed, and now want to follow through on my promise. If you are a Minnesota local (or will be around here this Thursday) would you like to join me for chocolate cake and some sweet door prizes at Forage Modern Workshop? We’ll also be celebrating the Vanilla Bean Blog turning three. RSVP only, so if you’re interested in coming, please email me at and I’ll give you all the details. I’d love to meet you and say thanks!

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