Summertime Memories in a Bowl

I don’t know about you, but for me, there are certain smells and/or flavors that shoot me straight back to the Summer days of my childhood. The scent of freshly mowed grass, for one. Sunscreen- that particular baby oil-type smell- is another. And then there’s all the foods that speak loudly and clearly of Summertime: freshly cut watermelon, tomatoes, right off the vine with a little salt sprinkled on them for additional flavor, BBQ of any kind- chicken, beef, pork, ribs, with whatever type sauce you like (mustard or tomato based, with or without vinegar), potato salad, the list goes on and on… And heck, you can’t forget about hot dogs with all the fixins’! THAT’S Summertime, for certain!

And then there’s my favorite Summer dish of all- one that brings up visions of lazing on the front porch, twisting round and round on the swing that hung from the big oak down by our front gate, and evenings spent gathered together after dinner, watching the fireflies dance about, and making a little music for them to dance to, on an ever-shifting combination of guitars, banjo, fiddle, and voices coming together. That dish? Homemade strawberry ice cream. The best there ever was.

We had a small patch of wild strawberries in our front pasture, winding around the thatch of oaks there. But we also grew larger domestic strawberries in our garden, out behind the dog kennels. There, we grew all sorts of vegetables and fruits- everything from squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and corn to melons and strawberries- all surrounded by an odd assortment of fruit trees: cherry, apricot, and apple, with a few almond trees thrown in for good measure.

It was one of my chores to weed and tend to this garden. Also to support the various vegetables and fruits to make sure they didn’t rot before ripening. And to harvest, gathering in various-sized baskets of peas, corn, tomatoes, whatever was ripe and ready for eating. Oh how I complained. Except for whenever I had anything to do with the strawberries: tending to them, harvesting them, eating them, it was all a pleasure.

Every year, we always had a bumper crop of pretty much everything. So we did a bit of canning, and gave a lot of produce away to neighbors nearby. But not the strawberries. I would have really complained then! Nope, what we did with our ‘extra’ strawberries, throughout the Summer months, was make up quart after quart of lovely, tasty, sweet strawberry ice cream.

We’re having friends over tomorrow for dinner, and I’d just picked up a few pints of gorgeous red ripe berries. So, wanting to surprise our guests, I cut a few cups of berries up and tossed them together with sugar and lemon juice. Then I made up a batch of creamy custard, and after that cooled, folded them into our ice cream maker- one of those balls that you roll around or shake for about 10-15 minutes until the ingredients you’ve placed inside turn into ice cream. So simple, so easy, and a bit of fun exercise, really!

Just the scent of those fresh berries mixed with the custard brought me right back to those sunny Summer days. I could feel the years lift away, and any worries I might have been feeling earlier today simply disappeared. Talk about sweet therapy 🙂

Here’s my strawberry ice cream recipe. Please try it out for yourself- you’ll be glad you did!

Ruby’s Homemade Strawberry Custard Ice Cream

1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4″ pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 egg yolks

Mix berries, 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl. Refrigerate while you make the custard.

In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 1/2 cups of the whipping cream over medium heat until the edges begin to bubble. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar with egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream. Gradually pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and heat over medium-low until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about five minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

Once the custard is thick enough, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool down. Once cooled to room temperature, fold the strawberries into the custard and stir until well mixed together.

Fill an ice cream maker with the custard and follow manufacturer’s specifications to make your ice cream. Then enjoy a little bit of childhood heaven!

Thanks for stopping by. Until the next time, keep it tasty!