It's hard to believe we're nearly half way into summer. A good portion of the well intended herb garden we planted has succumbed to the heat, the "beach body workout plan" has fallen victim to lazy warm afternoons and copious amounts of guacamole, and the list of summertime projects (thank you notes, garage sale, call an old friend, etc.) expands by the week. Vacation is of course fun, but often leaves us needing another post-vacation recuperation for the purpose of recovering from dehydration and dreadful nights on the air mattress.
As we anticipate summer's arrival, discussion of vegetable gardens, camping trips, barbecues with old pals, and ambitious projects are regular. It is, then, a bit disappointing to realize that yet again, just like last summer, we just can't fit it all in.
However, as maturity continues to influence my perspective (albeit slowly but surely), I see that enjoying summer is not about the nagging lists, big vacations, or guilt about neglected chores. It is about the little moments. The kind of moments that have nothing to do with how much money was spent, or how clean the carpet might be, or even what the evil snails may have done to the basil plants.
Watching the kids jump from one water-filled vessel to another, listening to them gleefully shriek as they feed their popsicles to the dog, and taking long walks as a family at dusk: these are some of the "moments" that will occupy my best memories of this summer. I am ever amazed at the influence children can have on life. Their outlook is simple, always facing forward. They don't waste their time holding grudges or lamenting failures, and all they really want is to hang out and be happy together. They are the pioneers of summer fun!
While your summertime agenda continues to evolve, take time to be inspired by the young ones in your life, and use food as a mechanism to enjoy your time together. At least around here, food brings us all to the center of the house, and it sure is fun to enjoy the process of bringing ingredients alive. Even kitchen bloopers can become a "moment" you'll all remember.
The following recipe is ridiculously easy, and it's a hoot when you do it with the help of a few kiddos.
And when you're done making ice cream orbs, e-mail me with a great "moment" of your summer thus far. It just might inspire a new recipe in this column!
E-mail Amanda De Jager Freidman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RECIPE: ICE CREAM ORBS
1/2 gallon good vanilla ice cream
1 package of chocolate sandwich cookies
1 cup roasted peanuts
1 cup M&M candies
Hot fudge or caramel sauce
Real dairy whipped cream
Parchment or wax paper
Directions: using a metal ice cream scoop, make large round balls of ice cream. Continue shaping the ice cream until it is as round as possible, and just a bit bigger than a baseball. Place the ice cream "orbs" on a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Working quickly, repeat until desired amount of orbs are made. Place orbs in freezer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Using a food processor, chop cookies, peanuts, and M&Ms, SEPARATELY. Do not over-chop. Place each ingredient in its own shallow dish.
Remove ice cream orbs from freezer, and with two spoons, roll each ball of ice cream in cookies first, then peanuts, then M&Ms. Press M&Ms into the orbs with your hands, if necessary. Once again, work quickly so ice cream does not melt, and repeat with remaining orbs. Place them back on the parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and then put them into the freezer until you are ready to serve.
To serve: place each orb in an ice cream dish, drizzle with fudge, caramel (or both!) and top generously with whipped cream. Enjoy. Eat veggies for dinner tomorrow night.
Recipe idea from Tyler Florence's "Ice Cream Boulders" on foodnetwork.com