It’s strawberry season on Cape Cod! If you take a walk around the community, you’ll see an abundance of perky little red berries peeping out from under their lazy green foliage in many of our gardens. If we can get to them before the deer and rabbits, then we are bound to have some scrumptious desserts here in the Convent, which is a rare and welcome treat!
Summer on Cape Cod usually conjures up images of days at the beach followed by ice cream and sunsets. We are fortunate to have cream from our Jersey cows, freshly picked strawberries, and a generous donation of agave nectar, so I set out to make a creamy homemade strawberry ice cream. I found just the recipe to pull all of these together. Start it the day before as it needs to chill before transferring to your ice cream maker. Enjoy this on a hot and humid summer day and you are sure to feel refreshed!
Homemade Strawberry Agave Ice Cream
- If your strawberries aren’t already pureed, do that in a Cuisinart (I used a potato masher to leave some good chunks). Add lemon juice and set aside.
- Beat eggs and egg yolk together very well. Set aside.
- In a heavy pot, heat half and half and agave nectar over med-high heat until temperature is 180 F. Stir frequently.
- Drizzle ½ cup of hot mixture into eggs, whisking briskly. Add another 1/2 cup in the same manner. (This keeps the eggs from scrambling).
- Then, drizzle egg and cream mixture back into the pot, whisking briskly.
- Turn heat down to med-low and bring to 190 F, stirring bottom constantly. To check for doneness, dip a metal spoon in the pot. Remove. Run a finger through the custard coating the spoon (like parting the 'custard sea'). If the custard stays on either side of the stripe (doesn't run in to fill the space), then it's done.
- Strain into a 2 qt. bowl and add all but 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree to this.
- Cool in an ice bath and then transfer to fridge overnight.
- Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is done, take the remaining 1/3 cup of the strawberry sauce and swirl it directly into the finished ice cream. Freeze again, if needed, before serving.
If you should be up and around at 5:30 every a.m. you are apt to see two young sisters making their way down the road to the barn to milk our 3 cows. These gorgeous brown guernseys keep us well supplied with quality fresh milk every day. This makes it possible for us to produce our own yogurt and soft cheeses which we have doing for some time. Only recently however, have we begun to use the Crockpot method which results in a wonderfully thick satisfying yogurt with little to no effort. Combine this with our homemade granola and some fresh fruit and you have a beautiful, bright, healthy breakfast that is a favorite at the convent.
We decided to offer it for our last oblate retreat and it was met with such overwhelmingly positive response from so many we have decided to serve it again in the near future. Perhaps you would like to give it try even if you don’t have any cows of your own. Healthy Summer Breakfast!
Homemade Granola with Yogurt
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cool Time: overnight
Ready In: Next day
Crockpot Yogurt -
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes approximately
Cool Time: 3.5-4 hours
Cure Time: 10-12 hours
Drain Time: 2 -4 hours (if thicker yogurt is desired)
Ready In: Next day
What You will Need:
Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
A Wisk or Fork
Muslin, Plyban Cheescloth or some woven type of woven cloth
Bath towel or woolen scarf
Oven or Other draft free warm location
- Heat the first four ingredients (through the vanilla) in a skillet,
then add the next 2 items (oats and cinnamon) and mix well
- Spread evenly on paper lined sheet pans. Bake 1 hr 15 min on 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Leave granola in oven overnight and package the following day --
mixing in the raising first and breaking up chunks
- Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk
slowly until the milk is between 180 Fahrenheit - 190 Fahrenheit it is vital to heat
the milk to at least 180 Fahrenheit.
- Allow the milk to cool to 110 Fahrenheit (takes 3.5 - 4 hours). Milk should not be
a higher or lower temperature. There may be a skin formed on the milk
(if you are using non homogenized or raw milk). If so, carefully remove it.
- Place 1 cup of the warm milk in a separate small bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of
starter yogurt to the cup of milk. (no more than 2 Tablespoons - that is all you
- With a fork or whisk, gently stir the starter yogurt into the milk.
- Next, pour the milk back into the crock pot and stir gently from side
to side. Do not stir in circles, use a careful and slow up and down
lifting motion across the length of the crock.
- Lift it out of the electric base and place it in a cool oven. Lay a
bath towel or shawl around the crock and leave it undisturbed
overnight or for 10 - 12 hours. You want the milk to stay nice and
warm. An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works
great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. After
10 -12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the
top. If you like thicker yogurt, you'll need to drain or carefully
pour off the whey by pouring it into a colander lined with cheesecloth
that has been set on top of a large pot.
- It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and
about 3 or 4 hours to make a Greek style yogurt. Next, yogurt can be
stored in a refrigerator or cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some
people prefer a tart yogurt and leave it out at room temperature for
over 24 hours. The longer it stays at room temperature, the tarter it
will become. Save a little back for the next batch!
*(any kind of yogurt, but must have both the active
and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus
thermophilus. Read the label to be sure that you have the right
Yogurt can be sweetened with jam, sugar, honey, or whatever you like.
At the convent, we received a wonderful donation recently of Agave
nectar. This natural sweetener has made some lovely batches of yogurt
for our guests!
What’s cool, fun, beautiful to look at, satisfying, refreshing, easy to eat, pleasing to young and old alike, simple to make, nutritious and delicious?
A smoothie of course! They have definitely established themselves in our normal everyday diet. No longer unusual as they originally were.
Recently a group of friends wanted to do a little something more than just give a gift to someone on their 60th birthday. This “someone”, having many friends and well wishes had already received a number of invitations to lunch, dinner, tea and coffee hours. What would be an appropriate way to enhance the giving of their gift? Aha! A “smoothie break”. Just right. Perfect in every way.
They knew their birthday girl loved fresh fruit so they arranged a beautiful basketful as a center piece. Then they blended up a tray full of assorted smoothies. For hers, they combined strawberries, bananas, mangoes and peaches, all her favorites. It was a tremendous success! She loved everything about it and made it very clear that it pleased her as much, if not more, than some of her more elaborate expressions of care. What a rewarding experience for all.
- Add ingredients into blender and blend until smooth.
- You will have to turn the blender on and off intermittently and stir to help the blending process.
- For variety: You can add any amount of yogurt, ice cream, mint, orange zest, honey or mint in any combination that you desire.
- Also fruit can be fresh if you prefer.
Years ago when I was younger and had more energy, I frequently made a marvelous chocolate cake. It was really superb, but very labor intensive and time consuming. For example, it had to be baked in a pan lined with a well buttered brown paper bag cut to the exact size of the pan. This was essential to its success.
It required sour cream, butter, lots of brown sugar and many squares of dark chocolate melted to a very specific temperature and then carefully beaten for just the right length of time into a rich velvety fudge frosting.
At the moment I am unable to locate this precious old recipe originally clipped from a worn yellowed newspaper. I am sure it will show up again someday. Until then I have put together a recipe I like making. It doesn’t begin to compare or compete with Miss Simpson’s authentic prize winner, but it is fast, easy, has ice cream baked into it and satisfies many chocolate lovers who have never tasted the old favorite one I used to make.
Suppose we just call it Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Sunday Cake.
Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Sunday Cake
Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream Sunday Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Follow cake mix directions on box.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and while still hot cover top with at least 20 marshmallows sliced in half crosswise.
- Let melt and cool.
- Remove to serving plate and pour hot ganache over the top and down the sides.
- Sprinkle with your favorite nuts.
- Heat half and half in top of double boiler to scalding point. Do not boil – add chocolate chips and stir until thoroughly melted.
- Add flavoring and pour immediately on to cake.
- Tip: If you melt the chocolate chips first and then add cold half and half the chocolate will seize up. The half and half needs to be the same temperature as the chips before heating or warmer.
It is now Lent. And I should be writing about very Lenten things like soups and bread, not desserts. That will follow later in the season. I’m hoping to do my favorite beef mushroom barley soup in a couple of weeks. So even though a lot of us give up desserts for Lent, I’d like to share my recipe for bread pudding, which can double as a great and satisfying breakfast. It is so wonderful served up warm with whipped cream, or cut into shapes to serve as individual desserts, or as a great snack in the middle of the afternoon. I wanted to make it the way I remember us making it in the early days of the sisterhood, which was to mix up the cubes of bread with butter and cinnamon sugar before adding the eggs and milk or cream. We also used whatever bread was leftover and saved — white and whole wheat, rye… you name it when making the bread pudding. I do love a homemade white bread for this, and especially something like brioche, which I will sometimes make up in large batches and have in the freezer for this sort of use. But that did not happen for this bread pudding, so I was really happy to find a loaf of the cinnamon swirl bread that we gave as gifts for Christmas! But you can use just about any firm white bread for this.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter a 9 X 13 casserole.
- Place bread cubes in a large bowl, add melted butter and mix well.
- Mix together 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon, and add to bread cube mixture again mixing well, so all the cubes are coated.
- In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, milk, eggs, cream and vanilla, then stir into bread cube mixture.
- Pour all into prepared pan.
- Top with additional cinnamon sugar.
- Bake in 350 oven about 45 to 50 minutes and pudding is puffed and golden.
- Cool slightly. Can be served warm, or chilled and served cold.
- Top with whipped cream if desired.