Life sometimes has moments of pure perfection. They can be the simplest, smallest things that bring us pure pleasure or monumental events we’ve been waiting our whole lives for. Maybe we expect certain events to hold this perfection or perhaps we are caught off guard by the joy something brings us. Regardless, we treasure these moments, taking pictures, telling our friends, writing about them in diaries, hoping we never forget them and that maybe, just maybe they can be replicated again in the future.
I love the moment when I first wake up after a great night’s sleep. No stress or worries, aches or pains, the sun shining in the window. A walk on a perfectly warm and sunny day, a light breeze blowing, nothing but time to walk for as long as I like. Shopping with Mom, looking around, trying clothes and shoes on, finding things to buy is another favorite activity, destined to lead to perfection. There’s nothing better than when that image straight from the movies of walking out of the mall, arms full of bags, actually happens. Of course, it’s only Mom’s company that makes it perfect. All the Christian Louboutins in the world couldn’t replace Mom!
This past weekend, one of those perfect moments happened. Mom and I went to the farmers’ market for some fruit and vegetables before heading to Hallmark for their ornament debut (yay! Snoopy ornaments!). Then we picked up Dad at home and went to a local fruit orchard for some more fruit and vegetables. They also have horses, goats, donkeys, and ducks on the property; we enjoyed watching them wander around. It was such a perfect, warm, sunny summer day, not a cloud in the sky, that Dad wanted to drive through Kensington Metropark on the way home. It was such a great idea! Looking at the water and the boats, all the trees – it was pure bliss. It is a day I am grateful for, will treasure forever, and really hope to replicate. It was such a simple day, nothing overly exciting happened, but I think that’s what made it special.
This Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is also pretty much perfect. It’s exactly what you think of when you crave vanilla ice cream. Tons of flecks of vanilla bean, it is smooth and creamy with pure vanilla flavor – nothing artificial here. It’s delightful as soft serve, straight from the ice cream maker, as well as after it hardens in the freezer, as it doesn’t freeze rock hard like some ice creams. Yep, this treat is definitely part of the equation to a perfect summer.
2 cups milk (I used almond, but I think anything would work)
2 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
9 ounces granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod and seeds reserved
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cream and vanilla bean pod and seeds over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and then remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until they lighten slightly in color and texture. Slowly add the sugar while continuing to whisk. After the cream has come to a simmer, slowly add it to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Once about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been added, add the remainder, before returning the entire mixture to the saucepan and placing it back over medium heat.
Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. It also should reach 170 – 175 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour the mixture into a heat proof container and allow to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place in the refrigerator to chill, covering after four hours. Chill until completely cold. I typically chill overnight.
Remove the vanilla bean pod from the mixture. Process the chilled ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat as is or freeze to harden. Store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown