Sunday, November 12, 2017

Before it's too cold

Hello! Happy Sunday. I haven't been here much since I posted the Link Party last weekend. I've been really busy keeping the children occupied while they've been home from school. It wasn't for a vacation or anything fun, though. Their school had been having a new wing added onto it since last spring and the classrooms were finally ready to move into, so they closed school for a week to allow the teachers to do so. I have many Feelings about this situation, but I won't express them here. We muddled through, and life is resuming as normal. Thankfully.

I've generally felt kind of out of sorts for a little while. Life has been just plain hard lately, for a bunch of reasons. I'm feeling anxious and worried. We have a lot of medical stuff for the LB going on right now, including a new health challenge we didn't know about until recently. Guess what that means? More begging, pleading, cajoling, and arguing for me. I'm getting better at keeping my calm when I deal with the bureaucracy, though. There's no sense in making myself upset, you know? It will be fine, it always works out.

So what's good? I'm keeping busy with my crafts, trying to see friends and continuing to try to make time for walking. These things make me feel calmer and happier. I'm even about to start a new blanket, if you can believe it. Maybelle is completely finished, and I'll share it here soon. The new blanket will be for the living room, where we could really use a new one. I think it will be my real winter project.

I treated myself to a very good pair of winter shoes and about ten new pairs of socks (when did socks get so fun? I hadn't bought any new ones in about twelve years, so maybe sometime since then). I'm looking forward to wearing my shoes when it's colder out; right now I'm still wearing my lightweight Skechers BOBS most days. I've even been out in flip-flops a few times recently. It's cool and crisp right now, but not all that cold yet, just perfect weather.

I'm finished with most of my Christmas shopping. It's almost my birthday. I am excited about eating Thanksgiving dinner in a restaurant for a change, since the holiday is also my birthday this year and I was so not looking forward to all that work on my birthday.

Today, I'm roasting a chicken for dinner (leftovers will become tortilla soup later in the week) and since I have a surfeit of apples again (a blessing to be sure), I'm going to bake an apple crisp. I'm going to start attempting to photograph giant Maybelle and working on my post. I'm almost done with a full morning of laundry. I have nothing left to clean. I have a new houseplant, for the kitchen, because my little ivy in the living room is almost a year old now and encouragingly alive.


Speaking of winter projects, thanks to all who joined in with November's party. I hope we'll have more people want to join as the winter progresses, but I'm very glad to have anyone along who wants to participate. As in past years, I'll be posting the link party on the first weekend (usually Saturday) of each month. I don't want anyone to feel surprised by the parties showing up, so please look for them then.


I wanted to share an ice cream recipe today, which I've been hoping to share since the summer but just never got around to doing it. I found it on Pinterest when I was looking for really good chocolate ice cream; chocolate was one flavor I'd never tried making and it seemed like a good idea to give it a shot. I'm not a chocoholic, but I do enjoy a good chocolate ice cream now and then. It took me a bit to wade through all the recipes that came up, and when it did, it was helpfully titled "The Very Best Chocolate Ice Cream." How about that? If only I'd thought to use those words as a search term. I know we're getting close to winter in parts of the world, and ice cream isn't necessarily high on your list of things to eat right now, but I really enjoyed this easy, fast recipe and I know some of you love to make ice cream too. Maybe you'll want to give this one a try at home yourself.

The Very Best Chocolate Ice Cream
(adapted from The Suburban Soapbox blog)
Makes 2 pints

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks (I used 6 yolks from my own hens' eggs, which are a bit small)

In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream and cocoa powder. Bring the mixture to a simmer over med-low heat and then turn the heat off. Stir in the chocolate and vanilla until the chocolate has melted.

Add 3/4 cup of the sugar to the milk mixture and bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is slightly thickened and light in color. Slowly, add 1/4 cup of the milk mixture to the eggs while whisking constantly.

Continue adding the milk to the egg mixture 1/4 cup at a time until all the ingredients are combined.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and place a medium bowl in the ice bath. Place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl.

Transfer the cream mixture to a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard into the bowl and allow to cool.

Refrigerate the custard until cold or overnight.

Pour the custard into the freezer can of an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is the consistency of soft serve. Transfer to an airtight storage container and freeze.

This was my first time using semi-sweet chocolate in bar form. I think you could probably chop up semi-sweet chocolate chips if you wanted to. I don't cook or bake with chocolate often, so I wasn't sure what to buy. I looked at fancier types of chocolate, but I went with Baker's because I had a little experience with the brand in the past. I used regular (bitter) Baker's chocolate many years ago when I baked a flourless chocolate cake for a gluten-allergic friend. Half of this bar remained after making the ice cream, and I'm looking forward to using it again. It was softer than I'd expected, and kind of fun to chop. For the powdered cocoa in the recipe, I used a combination of Trader Joe's house brand (what I had remaining in an open package) and Hershey's to supplement.

The ice bath seemed a bit superfluous to me at first, but it's an important step. The custard was like the richest homemade chocolate pudding after the second cooking step - incredibly thick and lush. I may have cooked it too long because it was too thick to strain effectively. I don't think it mattered much; the custard was so thick, egg bits were probably not very noticeable. I was hesitant about all these steps - cooking, ice-bathing, cooking, straining - but the effort was worthwhile. The process was fascinating, actually; I'd never made an ice cream base that solidified so much before it was even frozen. I assume it had mostly to do with the egg yolks, but even before cooking with the eggs, the milk-cream-chocolate mixture was thick and creamy, almost a milkshake consistency. This recipe was interesting, you could really see it taking shape as you moved through each phase.

Then it was just the eating. Man, this ice cream was good. It was so chocolatey, with strong flavor and a rich, dense texture, almost like frozen fudge, but only very lightly sweet; there isn't all that much sugar in the recipe. I love most kinds of chocolate, so I wasn't concerned at all about the lack of sweetness, but what I didn't expect was how little it mattered. The flavor was so intense that sweetness seemed beside the point, to me. This was my first homemade chocolate ice cream and I'm really glad I came across this recipe. It's an instant keeper.


  1. Sounds like you've been kept busy recently, Jennifer. Fingers crossed that LB's health problems don't cause too many problems. I hope you get some time to yourself soon.

  2. So sorry to hear about the new health challenge for your LB, I know how very hard it must be for you all. And to have to deal with all the admin and paperwork as well. I do hope all will be well. This is just the right time of year to start a new blanket I think. I have a very small one on the go for the living room, although I haven't really knitted at all this autumn because of the puppy. The chocolate ice-cream sounds absolutely delicious. I do love that dark chocolate taste with not too much sugar. I shall definitely write down the recipe in my notebook. I have a few of yours in there now! I hope you have a good week and that things are easier for you and the anxiety and worry eases. Sending you a cyber hug. CJ xx

  3. Hi Jennifer. I’m so sorry to hear that you have even more challenges with the LB‘s health. I know how nerve-racking and scary that can be for a mom, let alone all the paperwork and bureaucracy to deal with too. I will keep you and your little family in my prayers.

    How fun to be able to go out to dinner on Thanksgiving for your birthday. We are driving to Moses Lake, Washington to have dinner with our friends there. They are the same little family we went to the pumpkin patch with a few weeks ago. Since they have no family close by either, it’s nice to get together.

    Well done on having your Christmas shopping done already. I’ve made a big dent in mine but I still have a few things to get. I’m normally done by now, I don’t know what’s happened to me the last few years. I’m not nearly as organized as I used to be.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what pattern you’ve chosen for your new blanket. You always make such beautiful projects that I’m sure it will be lovely. I hope you have a most wonderful week my dear friend. Blessings always, Betsy

  4. I'm sorry to hear about LB. It's so hard to deal with any health issue, especially when it involves your child.
    That ice cream looks awesome!

  5. nice ice cream! I am so sorry for the struggles you are having! Lord have mercy! that's really rough. Winter blankets are a real blessing! I look forward to seeing the one you just finished! am going to light a candle for you all and your concerns!

  6. I'm sorry to hear about LB's new health problems, it's so challenging and worrisome as a parent when our little ones are unwell without having to deal with all the bureaucracy so I hope it all gets sorted out soon. The ice cream looks delicious, it certainly seems as though you've found The Very Best Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.

  7. So sorry you have the worry of LB's health problems to deal with. I hope you manage to wade through the bureaucracy to achieve what you need for him.
    I fully intended to join your linky party this month, but I just didn't find the time to write a post to link. I will try to do better next month. It is lovely to see everyone else's projects taking shape.
    Kate x

  8. I am so sorry to hear LB has additional health problems and I hope these can be resolved very shortly. As if worrying about the health of your child was not enough, you also have to deal with the bureaucracy of a private health system, which sounds daunting. I can't offer to take this burden of your shoulder but I am thinking of you. Starting a new blanket at this time of year is a good idea, it will occupy mind and hands and you'll have a cosy addition to your living room, too. I have a secret to share regarding the purchase of socks: I have quietly moved some of my husbands socks to my drawer over the past year or so (they more or less fit).. he hasn't noticed because I do all the laundry. Wishing you a peaceful week. xx

  9. Hi Jennifer! It seems like November is a "thinking time" and as I look back on my November posts I see the gaps and the gaps tell me that I was sorting and thinking and feeling.
    I'm glad you won't be cooking the feast on your birthday/Thanksgiving. So glad.
    I'm not cooking the turkey this year. Our son in law is smoking it and I'm just bringing stuff to THEIR house! A switch! All of our kids and grands will be in attendance and THAT is a thrill and a comfort.

  10. Sorry to hear that the LB is having more health problems, maybe the insurance company will grow a heart and help you work through it all.
    OH that Chocolate looks fantastic.
    My sister's birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving, hers is on the 25, so not this year.

  11. Sorry to hear about LB.. I hope everything will work out for the best.. with minimal begging and pleading.
    I haven't made ice cream since we moved to the new house and it's been four years since.. that chocolate ice cream looks so rich and delicious.
    Happy Birthday in advance.. here's to not having to work on your special day.

  12. I am so sorry to hear that your son is having more health problems. No wonder you're feeling out of sorts! Perfectly understandable. Life is really tough and sad and unfair sometimes. I hope that things start to look up and that you're able to enjoy your birthday and Thanksgiving. {{hugs}}

  13. I am sorry for the challenges you are facing with LB, Jennifer, and the other hard things in your life, but I'm very impressed with your line of attack for coping and conquering. Thanks for sharing the ice cream recipe that looks perfectly delicious. I look forward to seeing your new blanket pattern and I hope to participate in the Winter Project Party, too.


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