I received The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon cookbook in the mail not long before we moved to our new house, and I remember lying in bed and bookmarking pages I was excited to try but also feeling overwhelmed with where to start: the truth is that this summer has been a relatively low-inspiration / low energy time in the kitchen for me. I’d been chalking it up to pregnancy but when I think back and if I’m honest with myself, my cooking style tends to be very easy and produce-driven during these warmer months. I rarely break out complicated recipes, instead relying on fresh tomatoes and corn or zucchini and homemade pesto to guide me. But last night I cracked open Sara’s book and pulled out a few peaches I’ve had sitting on the counter, fearing their season may be nearing its end. This morning as I was making coffee, I sliced up the peaches, toasted the pecans and churned away — having a bite (or maybe two) before getting it into the freezer to firm up.
If you haven’t yet peeked at The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, it is all “bowl food” which is really, instinctually, my kind of eating and cooking. In other words, it’s filled with salads and grain bowls, noodles, oatmeal and fruit crisps. It’s food that is meant to be eaten simply, out of a bowl — you won’t find constructed courses here or fancy staggered meals. I’d go out on a limb to guess that this is the way many of us eat anyway if left to our own whims, and Sara’s recipes are always fresh, healthy and inspired. I have a few pages bookmarked to make and freeze for us to have after Sprout is born: Smoky Black Bean Chili and Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce. But first, this ice cream.
This summer has been a special one for peaches in Seattle. Collins Farm is a local farm that sells pears and apples in the fall and stone fruits in the summer (among other things). This year in particular, their peaches have been outstanding and I’ll often make a special trip out to one of the markets now just to pick up a bag. I find myself hoarding them and hiding them from Sam; they’re that good. I’m slowly starting to sense the season coming to a close and because we have a few busy weekends coming up I have a feeling this may be our last batch of homemade summery ice cream. That being said, with this one in the freezer, I think we’ve really gone out with a bang.
Sara mentions in her notes that she wavers between having the peaches in the ice cream or serving them on top, so ultimately she opts to do both. The peach flavor is much more subtle when the fruit is frozen, so serving a handful on top is a really nice touch. Peaches aside though, the ice cream base itself is worth making all on its own: it has a quiet tanginess from the buttermilk, the perfect amount of sweetness, and a subtle warmth from the cinnamon. In fact, it occurred to me that this is the perfect “bridge dessert” as we slowly look towards fall: the fragrant cinnamon in the custard is a slow tease as to what’s to come yet the juicy, bold peaches remind us of where we stand right now.
Megan’s Note: I made a few tweaks to this recipe based on what we had in our cupboard which I’ll mention here so you can make some choices based on what you have at home. Sara calls for brown rice syrup which is nice because it has a really mild, subtle sweetness; we were out so I used honey instead. I opted not to use the 2 tablespoons bourbon Sara calls for and it was delicious as is; I imagine it’s even more so with a splash so do as you like. Last, I used cream cheese instead of the mascarpone because we had some leftover from another recipe. If you’d prefer the slightly more decadent flavor of mascarpone, just substitute it in for the same amount of cream cheese. My small changes are reflected in the recipe below.
The only thing I’ll do differently next time is dice the peaches smaller than I did. Big hunks of fruit can feel kind of hard and icy in ice cream whereas little bites are bright and add flavor and texture, so do take the time to do a nice fine dice. If your cream cheese is very firm, you may want to whisk in a quick splash of milk to loosen it up a bit — I ended up doing this just to help it incorporate more easily.
Lightly adapted from: The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon
Mix the 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, honey, sugar and salt in a large saucepan or pot (at least 4 quarts). Bring the mixture to a very gentle simmer over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
Bring the mixture back to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, another minute.
Gradually whisk in the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon and bourbon (if using). Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for two hours or until cold. If it chills too long, a fat layer will separate to the top. Remove this piece before churning* (see note below).
Churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s directions. In the last minutes, add the toasted pecans and half the peaches. Spoon the mixture into the storage container and freeze until firm.
*Just a note on chilling: I chilled my mixture overnight and it was absolutely fine. Mascarpone has a higher fat content than cream cheese, so if you go the mascarpone route, Sara’s suggestion on not chilling too long will likely apply. But the recipe as written here can be chilled overnight.
Glimpses of Spring
We returned home from San Francisco on New Years Eve just in time for dinner, and craving greens -- or anything other than baked goods and pizza (ohhhh San Francisco, how I love your bakeries. And citrus. And winter sunshine). Instead of driving straight home, we stopped at our co-op where I ran in for some arugula, an avocado, a bottle of Prosecco, and for the checkout guys to not-so-subtly mock the outlook of our New Years Eve: rousing party, eh? They looked to be in their mid-twenties and I figured I probably looked ancient to them, sad even. But really, there wasn't much sad (or rousing, to be fair) about our evening: putting Oliver to bed, opening up holiday cards and hanging them in the kitchen, and toasting the New Year with arugula, half a quesadilla and sparkling wine. It wasn't lavish. But it's what we both needed. (Or at least what we had to work with.) Since then, I've been more inspired to cook lots of "real" food versus all of the treats and appetizers and snacks the holidays always bring on. I made Julia Turshen's curried red lentils for the millionth time, a wintry whole grain salad with tuna and fennel, roasted potatoes, and this simple green minestrone that I've taken for lunch this week. Determined to fit as many seasonal vegetables into a bowl as humanly possible, I spooned a colorful pesto on top, as much for the reminder of warmer days to come as for the accent in the soup (and for the enjoyment later of slathering the leftover pesto on crusty bread).
It turns out shopping for wedding dresses is nothing like they make it appear in the movies. Or at least it hasn't been for me. Angels don't sing. Stars don't explode. Relatives don't cry. There isn't a sudden heart-stopping moment that this is, in fact, "the one." To be honest, I always knew that I wasn't the kind of gal for whom angels would sing or stars would explode but I did think I'd have some kind of moment where I could tell I'd found the best dress. Instead, my mom flew into town and we spent three (yes, three!!) days shopping for dresses, and since then I've been back to the stores we visited -- and I'm more undecided than ever. Tomorrow morning I'll return with my friend Keena to try and tie this business up once and for all. Cross your fingers.
When I was single and living alone in the Bay Area, I made virtually the same thing for dinner each night. I ate meals quickly while in front of the computer. Or even worse: the television. This most often included what I call "Mexican Pizzas" which were basically glorified quesadillas baked in the oven until crispy. Sometimes, if I was really feeling like cooking, I'd whip up a quick stir-fry with frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's or a mushroom frittata using pre-sliced mushrooms. Mostly, though, it was Mexican Pizzas -- a good four or five nights a week. Today, thankfully, dinner looks a lot different. Meals in general look a lot different. How would I explain that difference? I think that ultimately how we feel about our life colors how we choose to feed ourselves and the importance that we place on preparing our own meals.
Today was 75 degrees in Seattle and it seemed the whole city was out and about drinking iced coffee in tank tops and perhaps not working all that hard. When we have a hit of sunshine like this in April (or, really, any time of the year), we're all really good at making excuses to leave the office early -- or, simply, to "work from home." I just got back from LA last night, unpacked in a whirlwind this morning, and took Oliver to meet up with three friends from our parents group at the zoo. The only other time I'd been to the Seattle zoo was once with Sam a few years ago when we arrived thirty minutes before closing and ended up doing a whirlwind tour -- sprinting from the giraffes to the massive brown bear to the meerkat. The visit today was much different: we strolled slowly trying to avoid the spring break crowds and beating sun. I managed to only get one of Oliver's cheeks sunburned, and he even got in a decent nap. A success of an afternoon, I'd say. Coming home I realized we didn't have much in the fridge for lunch -- but thankfully there was a respectable stash of Le Croix (Le Croix season is back!) and a small bowl of this whole grain salad I made right before I left town. It's the kind of salad that's meant for this time of year: it pulls off colorful and fresh despite the fact that much of the true spring and summer produce isn't yet available. And for that reason, I make a few versions of it in early spring, often doubling the recipe so there's always the possibility of having a small bowl at 1 p.m. while the baby naps in the car seat, one cheek sunburned, windows and back door open -- a warm breeze creeping into the kitchen.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.