Saturday, July 28, 2012

Homemade Ice Cream (Non-Dairy)

It's ice cream season! This rich and satisfying version is our family's staple. We usually just make vanilla (with the occasional mix-ins), but the chocolate variation is a nice treat.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream (Non-Dairy)

1 can regular coconut milk
1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk of choice (almond, soy, rice, hemp)
1/2 cup sugar
2 TB arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 TB vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

Combine coconut milk and non-dairy milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Before it gets too warm, pour a little of the mixture (1/4 to 1/2 cup) out into a small bowl, add arrowroot/cornstarch and whisk together until combined. Add the sugar (and scraped vanilla bean, if using) and bring the mixture in the saucepan to a boil. Once it boils, turn off the heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry and the vanilla extract. It will thicken as it cools. Cool in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours or until completely chilled before freezing in an ice cream maker for about 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate variation: Add 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 cup chocolate chips to the saucepan along with the sugar.

Mint-chocolate chip variation: Add about 15 fresh peppermint leaves to the coconut/non-dairy milk mixture and allow them to steep as the milk heats; strain leaves out before chilling the mixture. (Alternatively, add 1TB peppermint extract after boiling.) In last few minutes of freezing in the ice cream maker, mix in 1/2 cup finely chopped non-dairy dark chocolate chips.

Serving suggestion: Try this with Rich Chocolate Fudge Sauce for a truly decadent dessert!

Recipe adapted from The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler del Toro

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Today was my birthday, so I took the day off work and we had a wonderful day celebrating. We started off with a trip to a nearby farm for blueberry picking and a picnic lunch.

We have gone every year since C was very small, and this is the first year that we were able to concentrate on harvesting since C&D were content to sit in one place eating all the blueberries they could see. We still managed to bring home about 4lbs, a pretty good haul for us!

The weather was lovely, so we spent the afternoon at the beach, then headed home for dinner and ice cream sundaes for dessert. Pretty much a perfect day!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Garden Update, Summer 2012

Time for an update on our garden progress! Unfortunately, this year hasn't been quite as good as last (perhaps I can blame it partly on the moody, cool weather). There will be no homegrown watermelons or popcorn or broccoli gracing our table this fall; the spring lettuces never came in; the one artichoke that grew was infested with aphids. But, I remind myself, this is all part of the learning process. And besides, the season isn't over yet; we are still holding out hopes of harvesting a few tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, and maybe even a pumpkin or two (if we're lucky).

Rather than listing what didn't grow, it might be best to focus on what did, both for reasons of positivity and practicality (it's a much smaller list). One great success has been the fava beans. These were planted as a cover crop and have flourished. Here they are taking over the back hugelkultur bed:

For contrast, here's a similar view this spring, when we were building the bed:

The kids had their own garden this year. The soil wasn't optimal, since it was just a section of torn-up lawn, but the snow peas grew well, at least:

The overwintered garlic was also a success. We harvested 40-some heads, which are now curing in the basement. We'll see how long those last! (Some cloves will be replanted this fall, for next year's garlic.)

And perhaps the greatest transformation has been our front yard. Here it is before landscaping, at the end of last summer:

And here it is mulched with leaves, with the new paths and a couple of plants put in:

Here's the dwarf pear tree, when it was newly planted:

And here is the same area today!

Here's the pear tree, flanked by fava beans:

We also set aside a corner of the yard to be a little "hideout" for C&D. This is what it looked like last fall:

And here it is today, sheltered by a row of sunchokes:

This time of year, the crocosmia and hydrangeas are at their peak. Yes, it's all coming together nicely!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Through the Trees

The four of us (today playing the roles of Master Craven, Martha, Mary, and Colin) went on an afternoon excursion to the "secret garden." The ever-thoughtful Master Craven made sure to bring a scarlet umbrella in case of rain, which was not used for its intended purpose but nevertheless became a welcome member of the party. Once arrived, Mary and Colin took to the trees, playing house and dashing around on the adjacent lawn. A merry excursion indeed! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Weekend at Home

Summer has finally come to our neck of the woods! Although we didn't get out much this weekend, we still had many adventures at home, including:

Hanging the laundry out on the line for the first time this season,

Folding paper cranes (and making nests for them),

Playing with (and in) a big pot of water,

Eating beautiful food,

Setting a lovely table for dinner outside,

And enjoying iced tea and a good book while the children played happily (my idea of heaven!).

Wishing everyone a lovely week!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Jam Session

One afternoon, we got out all our musical instruments and had an epic jam session. D has been trying out his new birthday piano (love!) and C wanted to play guitar with her daddy (bonus points if you can guess what her favorite color is). It was fun, but quite the cacaphony!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sandy Toes

We went on an outing last Sunday to a new-to-us beach park. It wasn't warm enough to swim, but it was just perfect for wading--which resulted in some sweetly sandy toes!

There were many attractions at the park--a large playground, a boat launch, tree-lined promenades, a lookout tower... but C&D seemed to enjoy their time playing in the sand the most (and watching this beautiful butterfly flutter around us for a while was certainly a highlight for all of us).