Tuesday, July 31, 2012

RECIPE: Julie's Fruit Buckle of Awesomeness and homemade vanilla ice cream

What is summertime, exactly, if not swimming pools and sweet corn, tomatoes warm from the garden and fireworks, blueberries and ice cream? One of my favorite memories of a book is from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, when she described Almanzo and his brother and sisters using up all the white sugar to make ice cream in their hand-cranked ice cream freezer when their parents were gone visiting relatives for a week. White sugar was a valuable commodity in the 1870s and those naughty Wilder munchkins emptied out an entire barrel of it in their lust for sweet, creamy frozen yumminess. Almanzo had to do the majority of the cranking because he was the youngest. Eliza, the bossy one, put herself in charge of beating the eggs, I believe, so what the young Wilders were eating was actually frozen custard rather than frozen ice cream.

What I've got for you here is frozen half-and-half, although if you want a sturdier result, you could substitute heavy cream with no problems. I do use an ice cream freezer: I think my husband and I received it as a wedding gift back around the time when the Wilder kids were growing up; they asked to borrow some of our sugar after they used all of theirs, but we told them no. You can also use a freezer method that involves whipping the ingredients with an electric mixer, pouring the mixture in a 9x13 dish and then freezing it for something like eight-thousand hours, but honestly, ice cream freezers can be had for such a small outlay of money, I'd buy one if you don't already have one. My freezer is not a high-end model and it churns (noisily, my gosh, the thing could deafen you) for forty minutes and you have ice cream before you can say Bob's-yer-uncle. If Bob is, indeed, your uncle.


4 cups half and half
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into the freezer container of an ice cream maker. Proceed according to manufacturer's directions. When ice cream has finished churning, remove from freezer container and pour/scoop into an airtight tub of some sort (I just use Rubbermaid). Place in freezer for two hours to finish hardening.

Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to half and half mixture and one teaspoon of cinnamon, if desired.

Add one cup of chocolate chips, Heath toffee chips, Butterfinger chips, etc. when ice cream is finished churning. Stir candy into soft ice cream and place mixture into a Rubbermaid container. Put in freezer to continue hardening,

Add two cups of mashed ripe blueberries, peaches,strawberries to mixture. Omit cinnamon, unless it just sounds good to you.

Add one cup of crushed peppermint candies to mixture

Purchase a log of chocolate chip cookie dough. Using about half the roll, cut into small chunks: refrigerate until firm. Prepare vanilla ice cream according to directions. When ice cream has been churned, remove it from the freezer container and place into a bowl; stir the chunks of cookie dough into the soft ice cream. Scoop into a Rubbermaid container and place in freezer for two hours to finish hardening.


The dessert recipe actually belongs to my friend Julie P., as much as I would like to claim it as my own. It is delicious, it is easy, it is cheap. It's comforting and homey on a cold, wintery evening and it's absolutely delicious with that homemade ice cream pictured above. Julie claims that it is actually a Paula Deen recipe, but Paula's recipe contains an extra stick of butter, which Julie felt was too gooshy. I tried it Julie's way and it was so good, I almost fell out of my chair in a happy little dessert coma, so I'm fine with just the one stick too.

1 can fruit pie filling, any flavor
1 can of crushed pineapple or pineapple tidbits, your choice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spritz a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the undrained can of pineapple into the baking dish and spread it around to cover the bottom. Spoon out the fruit pie filling onto the pineapple and spread it around as well. Open the cake mix and distribute it on top in an even manner; pour the butter across the top, criss-cross, back-and-forth, up and down.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar if you'd like. Serve warm and prepare to be revered as a goddess.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to Know When Your Daughter's Boyfriend is Officially Part of the Family

Bobby and Meelyn haven't been a couple for long, but they seem rather permanent, which just goes to illustrate that when you know, you know. My husband and I are great believers in knowing, since we got married six weeks after we met. Bobby's parents got engaged after their third date. My parents showed a certain measure of restraint by waiting for something like eight weeks after they met before they tied the knot, but that's only because all the Saturdays at the church in Mt. Summit were already reserved. And considering that we've all been married, respectively, twenty-one, twenty-five and almost-fifty years, I think we have a good track record for being People Who Just Knew.

So when Bobby isn't working, he's usually here. He does the kinds of things other family members do, such as sitting on the couch eating Pringle's potato chips, drinking a Coke and commenting loudly on the stupidity of whatever movie we're watching on Netflix. Or he's engaged in a debate about who, exactly, is going to get in the car and drive to the nearest Redbox to rent a different movie after we all give up on Netflix. Or he's making poop jokes while we're eating dinner, which has possibly done more to endear him to my husband than anything else I could think of. Or he's yelling, "SHUT UP!!! GEEZ!!!!" at the dogs, who deserve it.

But the other day, something happened that confirmed Bobby's place in our family, which has suddenly not just added another person, but also added a lot more heart, although you may wonder if I've lost my mind when I explain the circumstance that marked him forever as One of Us.

It was an almighty hot day and my husband was at work and Meelyn, Bobby, Aisling and I were hanging around the house, drooping limply over the furniture. I was so bored, I thought I was going to implode, and since I'd already done three loads of laundry and cleaned up the kitchen TWICE, I felt like I deserved a little break. So I grabbed my keys and said, "Who wants to go to Starbucks? I'm buying."

The resulting stampede nearly knocked me out the front door and down the porch steps, and after we finally sorted ourselves out and shooed the dogs back inside (they're not allowed to drink coffee, even though all three of them like it and will totally slurp it right out of your mug if you don't keep a close eye on it) and got the people inside the hot van, Aisling and Bobby had started one of those pointless arguments that sounded like this:

Aisling: No, it didn't.

Bobby: Yes, it did.

Aisling: No, it DID NOT.

Bobby: Yes, it DID TOO.

Aisling [witheringly]: Nuh-uh

Bobby [unperturbed, toying with her]: Yes-huh

Aisling [yelling]: NO IT DIDN'T!!!

Bobby: [raising his voice, mocking] YES IT DID!!!!


[brief moment of silence]

Bobby [very, very quietly]: youuu got in trouuuuble....

Aisling [goaded beyond endurance] SO DID YOU, YOU STUPID BUTT!!!!

See what I mean? You can get to know people and you can really like them and all, but you will never really get them and they will never really get you, but they're very nice all the same. Then there are those people who can come to your house and fall in love with your daughter and eat your potato chips and know exactly how to torment her younger sister, giving her the opportunity to have the older brother she never had, and you can  think, "Here are my kids. My three kids," and share that thought with your husband, who will say, "I know just what you mean."