Sometimes I feel like I was meant to live over 100 years ago. The idea of being self-sufficient and living a simpler existence is so attractive at times. I know if the women of that era could travel to our time and see our washing machines, SUVs and water dispensing refrigerators, they would probably be perfectly happy to trade places. It's just another case of the grass being greener on the other side.
My pioneering spirit has long desired to make ice cream from scratch. I received a hand-me-down ice cream maker this past winter and have been waiting for the scorching days of summer to bust it out. While traveling in North Carolina and Virginia this month, we ate a LOT of ice cream and some of it was homemade. There was definitely a difference! I couldn't wait to return home and make some for us. I decided that cherry vanilla would be our first flavor since it was my husband's favorite when he was a kid. I bought my ingredients only to come home and find that the metal container that holds the ice cream was missing the lid! In desperation, I went to Kohl's but could only find an ice cream maker that made 1 1/2 quarts. What is the point? There are four of us! It would take two batches just for all of us to have a bowl. I hit Target next and found one that could make a gallon and was the old-fashioned style with the wooden bucket. I was back in business! Our first batch was amazing, though the kids didn't like the actual cherries in it very much. Did they take into consideration the fact that I hand-pitted 3 cups worth for this ice cream and had red-stained hands the rest of the day? Of course not. There may have been too many cherries and I didn't chop them very small so they were pretty icy when you bit into them. My next batch was to be vanilla bean. I decided that I would use the finest ingredients to make the best vanilla bean ice cream possible. I already had good eggs (the recipe called for 8 yolks) and just needed some cream, half and half and vanilla beans. I went to Whole Foods so I could buy organic dairy products. Straus Family Creamery's adorable glass bottles beckoned me. They cost about 40 cents more than the other organics but I decided to splurge. While checking out, the cashier asked if I knew about the bottle deposit. Um....no. Apparently it costs an additional $1.50 per glass bottle which is refunded if you bring the bottles back to the store. Too embarrassed to want to take them back and switch out for the cheaper cardboard cartons, I opted to pay the extra $3.00. Did I mention the glass bottles were adorable? In all my obsessing over the dairy ingredients, I forgot to buy vanilla beans. Not wanting to trudge back to Whole Foods, I hit my local Albertson's. This being my first purchase of whole vanilla beans, I was totally shocked to discover that they sell for $7 for ONE! Fortunately they were on sale or else I would have had to pay $10! Although my recipe called for two beans, I settled for bringing home one giant spice jar with one skinny crinkled bean. At this point, it was almost a $20 gallon of ice cream; I had totally lost my mind. I wish I could say it was the most amazing ice cream ever, but sadly, it was so rich we could barely eat it. At least it made a good berry milkshake and I have learned a valuable life lesson that just because something costs more, doesn't mean it's better.
This last week I signed on to the Bountiful Baskets produce co-op. Several of my friends have already been purchasing through it and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. This Saturday morning, I was standing in line behind a warehouse and holding an empty laundry basket that was to be filled with a mystery assortment of fruits and vegetables. The process is actually very simple. You contribute on Tuesday morning towards the upcoming Saturday delivery. It is $15 for conventional produce or $25 for organic. There is a one-time charge of $3.00 added to your first order. Drop points are located around town and you select the one that is most convenient for you, then arrive at the scheduled time to pick up your produce. They have co-ops in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Texas and Washington. For more information check out their website here. I was very happy with amount I received and the overall quality was acceptable except for a little too much mush in one of the tomatoes and some slightly wilted lettuce. The lettuce did perk up once I put it in the fridge. My first organic purchase consisted of:
5 cameo apples
4 black plums
Somewhere between 2-3 pounds of white seedless grapes
1 pint blueberries
1 bunch celery
1 bunch of lacinato kale
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 head cauliflower
2 heads brocolette (A longer, thinner broccoli, it looked like what we grew at home)
You only participate when you want, so there is no obligation to contribute every week. I can't wait to see what my basket will have next week, and it also nice to have a laundry basket not filled with dirty clothes for a change.