Frozen grape salad…

sunflowersI’m originally from a small rural community in northeast Nebraska and this time of year always makes me homesick for my little hometown. It’s nearing county fair time and the fair always reminds of beanwalking. ( In case you have never heard of “beanwalking”,  it’s where a person walks through a field of soybeans and takes a hoe or corn knife and cuts out the weeds )

It’s a hard, buggy and very dirty job and it’s strange when I think of my experience with it when I was growing up. I would expect to feel a sense of relief that I never have to do it again. But you know, around this time of year,  I actually  get the yearning to go back to the beanfields!

Now , don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish for the experience with the all the bugs. I swear there was every shape, size and color of bug out there that just seemed to wait and then jump! out at me when I least expected it.  I don’t miss those bugs, but what I do miss is the feeling of being out in the fields…

Watching the sun come up…

early sunrise

sunrise

Even the weeds out there can look beautiful in the morning light…

wild flower

weed

Back when I was in high school, the whole beanwalking experience would start off this way…

The phone would ring and  our hearts would sink as we’d hear Mom say, “Beanwalking? Well sure!  The kids would love to help out. What? Sure…they’ll be there at 4:30 a.m. and ready to go!”

So before dawn, we’d get ready and ride out to the beanfields. When we would get out of the car, the air would be thick with that heavenly  moist smell of damp earth, weeds and alfafa. We would stand outside the car, look out across the beanfield we were going to conquer that day and then… the part I hated most began, climbing over the barbed wire fence to get into the field!

soybeans

 

For some reason, I could never get over the fence without ripping my pants on the barbed wire. It was such a common occurence I could feel the hesitation of the leader as he would pause to hold the wire down so that I could swing my leg over the fence. It was almost like he was thinking “okay…wait for it…”   Rip. Okay, now her leg is over the fence, the whole group can get into the field.

 All a person could hear out there were the birds singing… or maybe the faint sound of a tractor in the distance…or one of  my favorite sounds, even to this day – the rustling sound corn leaves make when there is a breeze..

cows

 

wildflowers

grass

 

When bean plants are small and about knee high, it’s easy to spot the weeds and the beans are easy to walk through but when they get tall…

soybeans

…they become very difficult to walk through. When they are as high as your waist, the beans will start to lay down and sort of grow together so you will literally have to begin pulling yourself through the rows of beans as you walk. You can’t see your feet or what you are stepping on or tripping over underneath the beans…

windmill

storm clouds

One year, it rained and rained. When the fields were relativey “dry” , we ventured out. Every step we took, we could feel the suction of the mud pulling on our legs and feet. By the time we reached the end of the rows, our shoes and pants were so caked with mud we couldn’t even see our shoes, they were literally just big round balls of mud!

 In fact, one time we all sat down on break and laughed when we noticed how incredibly dirty we were. ” I can’t even see my shoes!” someone commented and then someone replied ” Yah, I can’t see my shoes either, wait – ” and he wiggled his feet, ” I think my shoes are gone…” He scraped the thick cake of mud from his feet and said “Yep, they’re  gone!”  

Sometimes we would be invited to a farmplace for lunch and that would be such a treat after being out in the stiffling hot beanfield. I always enjoyed the drives up the long lanes to the farmhouses. It always seemed so peaceful…

lane

Once we reached the house, there may have been a cat or two to greet us by showing off his excellent claw sharpening skills…

cat

cat

…or a beautiful garden filled with flowers and vegetables…

pink flowers

red flowers

 But one thing was for certain, if we were going to be served a lunch, there was no doubt it was going to be an awesome meal!  My favorite thing was a frozen salad. Nothing could top that after being out in the hot sun all morning…

 So today, I thought I’d share a recipe for a frozen grape salad! This salad doesn’t have to be served frozen, but in the summer, it can be a real treat served that way!

Frozen Grape salad

Wash and dry:

      4 cups red (or green) seedless grapes

Place a clean dish towel on a cookie sheet and then pour the dry grapes  on the towel, spread them out  and freeze until firm. ( Freezing them on the towel prevents them from freezing to each other or onto the cookie sheet)

Into a  large mixing bowl place:

      1 c sour  cream

      1/4 c brown sugar

      2 teas maple flavoring

Whisk until smooth and the sugar has melted. Add the frozen grapes and gently stir until the grapes have been coated. Serve in about 10 minutes, this will give the grapes a little time to thaw so that it will be easier eating them…

You can also spoon the coated frozen grapes into little plastic cups and return them to the freezer. About 15 minutes before you are going to serve them, take them out of the freezer. Then add a sprig of fresh mint and/or sprinkle toasted chopped pecans over the top as a garnish…

Whether you spoon the frozen grapes into beautiful martini glasses or pre-make them in plastic cups, these grapes make a lovely salad, appetizer or even a cool refreshing dessert for a hot summer’s day…

Strawberry Shortcake Ice cream

red generanium

Doesn’t  it seem like the best tasting ice creams are always rock hard right out of the freezer? And in some cases, so hard  you bend your spoon trying to dish some out of the container?

Has the following ever happened to you?…

While grocery shopping, you come to the frozen food section and start eyeballing one of those little expensive containers of ice cream. You think  heh, that would make a nice treat for the drive home! You swing by the deli counter and pick up a plastic spoon for a little taste of that ice cream when you get into the car… (I’m chuckling as I am writing little taste. How many of us have polished off most of that little carton before we have even pulled into the driveway at home?)

When you get to the car, you thoroughly search each and every bag for that little tub of frozen goodness and then - your heart skips a beat –   there it is!  buried beneath the bananas and package of weenies…

You take the ice cream out  and casually carry it back to the driver’s seat because afterall,  you don’t want to draw attention to yourself and that ice cream. People might think as soon as that car door is shut you are going to dive into it… ah! Boy, are they right! Now where’s that spoon?…

You slam the car door, start the car, search for the spoon in your purse, pry off the ice cream lid, stick in your spoon and then snap!  The spoon breaks off!  

Now,  I ask you, IS there anything more frustrating than the sound of that snap?? All your dreams of “sampling” that ice cream…gone… and now all you are left with is a broken worthless piece of spoon in your hand… 

ice cream cookies

Rock hard ice cream. You love it, you despise it!  You chisel and saw, dig and prod and what do you have to show for all your work  after 3 minutes? This itty-bitty piece of ice cream finally breaks off as your reward! 

But you know, I bet the ice cream was worth all the frustration, wasn’t it?

strawberry shortcake ice cream

The following ice cream is filled with fresh strawberries, ripples of homemade fudge, and crumbled vanilla creme-filled cookies  and ooohhhhh…is it yummy! 

It has a very creamy smooth texture, but it is very hard out of the freezer. So to avoid any frustration, be  kind to yourself and your spoon, set it out on the counter for awhile and just…walk away. Try not to think about that ice cream, oh!  and don’t listen to it when it starts calling your name after the first 2 minutes of sitting there! :)

Your patience will be rewarded after about 20 minutes. The strawberries will still be nice and frosty…

strawberry

 The vanilla cookies will be soft and the ice cream and fudge will yield perfectly to your spoon!…

Happy Summer to you! 

strawberry shortcake ice cream

Strawberry Shortcake Ice cream

You will need:

      3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

      10 vanilla creme sandwich cookies, crumbled or coarsely chopped

Into a small heavy saucepan, put:

      2/3 c heavy whipping cream

Scald the cream ( heat the cream and then as soon as it begins to boil, take it off the heat)   Take the pan off the burner and then add:

      2 T  butter, at room temperature

      2/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Stir slightly then let it sit for about 5 minutes (the warm of the milk will melt the chips). After the 5 minutes has passed, take a whisk and gently stir the mixture until it has a smooth, dark and glossy appearance.  Set it aside while you do the next steps…

Into a medium-sized mixing bowl, put:

      2 c heavy whipping cream

Beat it until it forms stiff peaks.  Set aside.

Into a large mixing bowl, put:

       1 can sweetened condensed milk

      4 egg yolks (be sure your eggs are clean, uncracked, Grade A)

      1 t  pure vanilla extract

Stir together.  Fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the layers of your ice cream, you will need about a 2-quart size freezable container that has a lid.  Pour approximately  a third of the whipped cream mixture into your container.   Then drop in about 3/4 cup of the fresh strawberries and half of the chopped cookies.  Then drizzle half of the chocolate evenly over this.

Cover with another third of the whipped cream mixture, another 3/4 cup or so of the strawberries and the rest of the cookies and the chocolate.  Follow up with the rest of the whipped cream mixture and top with the rest of the strawberries. Seal up the container so that it is air tight and place it in the freezer. Freeze until firm.

When serving, please remember to take the container out of the freezer at least 20 minutes before indulging…

Cinnamon ice cream sandwiches

cinnamon ice cream sandwichesThe other day I was in the kitchen when I heard a rapid thumping noise followed by a loud “thud”, then lots of laughter from my little kids.  Then I heard it again and as every parent knows, a loud thud and then lots of laughter coming from little kids warrants a peek at what is going on…

When I found them, the kids were just standing in the hallway, laughing. Nothing appeared broken or knocked over and the only thing in their hands was a large piece of bubble wrap. “What’s up?” I asked. “Mommy, you’ve GOT to see this!” my little daughter shrieked and took off up the stairs. She threw down the piece of bubble wrap, sat down on top and before I could even say anything to stop her, there she went! Down the stairs, riding the large sleigh of bubble wrap! Now, it was my turn to shriek! My little boy was squealing with excitement watching her go down the stairs – as I held my breath that she’d make it to the bottom in one piece! She did, thankfully!

After I explained to them that sledding down the stairs on a piece of bubble wrap probably wasn’t the safest thing to do, I have to admit the kid in me eyed that bubble wrap just for a second or two…

Just between you and me, it did look like fun! In fact, just for a second after they went on to play with something else, I wanted to give it a try myself! But then  imagined what I would have to tell my kids, or my husband, or even the paramedics when I regained consciousness. What would I tell them after they found me at the bottom of the stairs with a broken leg and that bubble wrap clenched in my hands?

But here’s something fun for ALL of us – kid and adult!  Ice cream sandwiches!  I love these because they are so simple to make and they “hit the spot” on a hot summer day!

Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches

Line a 13×9 inch pan with aluminum foil…

making cinnamon ice cream sandwiches

Place cinnamon flavored graham crackers in the bottom of the pan…

Slice a half gallon of vanilla ice cream ( or a different flavor if you wish)  open so that the brick of ice cream has been exposed…

cinnamon ice cream sandwiches

Then taking a large sharp knife, slice the ice cream into about 1 inch thick slices…

ice cream

and then place them on the layer of graham crackers…

making ice cream sandwiches

Now, decide how big you would like your sandwiches to be and break the remaining graham crackers into the desired shape and size ( I wanted them to be in squares, so I just broke them in half).

Then place them on the ice cream layer and leave a small gap between each square. (By doing this, it will be easier to cut them into servings later…)

making ice cream sandwiches

Freeze until firm and when it is time to indulge, lift the foil out of the pan and cut into the desired amount of servings!

I hope you all have safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!  And along with getting together with our families and friends this weekend, let’s  all remember  those who have sacrificed so much so that we could have freedom and  live in our beautiful United States of America.

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

 

St Patrick's DayI was trying to think of something fun to put on my blog for for St. Paddy’s day…

So, how about a drink called “Irish Cows”?  :)

 It is a frozen drink made with Oreos, ice cream and Irish Creme liqueur. Yum! My brother made this for me years ago and it has stuck with me… It was his own creation and I thought the name was so cute! So thanks, Carl, for the inspiration!

I wish everyone a safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Irish Creme frozen drink

Irish Cows

Put into a blender:

      1 qt. vanilla ice cream

      1 c milk

      1 c Irish Cream liqueur ( more or less depending on how much celebrating you plan on doing! :)  )

Blend until smooth and creamy. Stir in:

      12 crumbled Oreo cookies

Pour into serving glasses ( makes about 3-4 glasses). Enjoy!

Irish Creme frozen drink

Cherry Almond Ice cream

cherry ice cream

Nothing tastes better on a hot summers’ day than ice cream, don’t you agree?

cherry ice cream

frosted pail of ice creamThis time of year, my thoughts start to turn towards the 4th of July, picnics and cherries…

cherries

cherries

cherry juice

So in honor of my beautiful country’s birthday, July 4th, I thought a recipe for cherry ice cream would be perfect!

cherry ice cream

The first thing you will want to do is find some nice red sweet cherries…

cherries

 Wash them well, then remove all stems and pits.You are going to stain your hands when you do this so if you don’t want all the cherry juice under your fingernails, you might want to wear plastic gloves. Roll a knife around the outside of the fruit, then use your fingertips to pull out the pit.        

Slice the cherries into small pieces until you have about 3-4 cups of cherries, depending how cherry-filled you would like your ice cream…

cream

         Cherry Almond Ice cream

2  cups heavy whipping cream 

4 egg yolks

2 teas almond extract

1 can sweetened condensed milk

red food coloring, optional

3-4 cups of pitted, sliced cherries

Beat the cream until stiff peaks begin to form. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, put the egg yolks, extract, and condensed milk. Mix well,  then fold in the whipped cream. Add some red food coloring, if you desire a pinkish color to your ice cream then fold in the cherries. Pour mixture into a freezable half gallon container, with a lid and freeze until firm.

This is a very hard ice cream straight out of the freezer so set the ice cream out at least 20 minutes prior to eating then – enjoy!  :)

cherry almond ice cream