Cheat’s “Homemade” Strawberry Ice Cream

I’ve made ice cream a few times before with cream or condensed milk and it is always a tad tricky, remembering to whisk it every hour so the ice crystals don’t turn it into sorbet, but I’ve decided I need an ice cream maker!

Strawberry Ice Cream

My latest attempt was to tackle one of Nigella’s recipes containing 8 egg yolks, cream, etc. so pretty much the real thing, but I completely ruined it because I would get busy with other things and forget about “the great hourly stir”. Too bad as it had such potential, but never one to stay down for long, I came up with another plan…and copied the ice cream shop at the strawberry picking farm we visited the other day.

They simply blitz the ruby-red gems and mix them with good quality vanilla ice cream. Now I don’t mean the French vanilla type, or the really expensive boutique ones, or even the ice cream with vanilla seeds. Just use good old Tip Top vanilla (for my Kiwi friends) or a nice creamy plain equivalent.

The ice cream has to be soft enough to mix evenly, but not melted. I left it out of the freezer for a few minutes and it was just right.  Too long and you risk getting those blinkin’ ice crystals returning when you replace it in the freezer. Better yet if you mix and serve immediately. The crowds will adore you!

ingredients:
500 g fresh strawberries
1 kg creamy vanilla ice cream

  1. Clean, rinse, hull and chop the strawberries.
  2. Add them to the softened vanilla ice cream and stir to combine.
  3. If too soft to serve, return to the freezer for a few minutes, taking care that ice crystals don’t form.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

 

Strawberry Ice Lollies

Many of us will know that having a sick child is never fun, but having a child sick with something undiagnosed where the symptoms keep changing is a rather frightening experience. Last week I went back to work and our little man spent a couple of days at a local holiday programme. On Friday evening we met up with friends at one of the local beaches for a BBQ picnic and a game of cricket, but he wasn’t very happy at all, was tearful, cold, argumentative and wanted to go home and generally just not like himself at all. Once home we noticed his shoulders and back were sunburned from his time at the holiday programme and put his unusual behaviour down to too much sun.

Strawberry Ice LolliesThe next day he was sleepy, very odd for the middle of a Summer’s day and after a nap of a few hours, he woke with a temperature of 40.5°. Sunday passed by in a blur of cold flannels, medicine and a cold bath to try to bring it under control, but by Monday morning it was off to our family doctor. He diagnosed a form of heat exhaustion as couldn’t find any other symptoms to tell him differently. The temperatures continued, medicine continued, another wakeful, shivery, overheated night later and we noticed he woke with very red eyes. By mid afternoon a rash appeared all over his face, neck and upper abdomen and as we still hadn’t been able to get the temperature under control without medicine, we went back to the doctor – we’d have to get blood tests to check all sorts of things so he could make an accurate diagnosis, but possible illnesses could include the likes of German Measles, Glandular Fever and Measles, but given he’s had his shots, measles was unlikely. Or it could just be a nasty viral bug and the rash a sign that his body was dealing with it and would soon send it on it’s way. Oh, and now we needed antibiotics…just in case.

Have you tried to get a child to sit still to have blood tests? I imagine it would be like trying to wax a cat…a lot of movement, noise, tears and a mother left feeling like I was torturing my child. One bent needle in a tiny arm and 3 nurses trying to hold him down made for an eventful afternoon. One I’d rather not repeat, but blood tests, at least, were done.  We returned home to wait…

We managed to get through until 4.45 am on Wednesday before the temperature struck again, but after more medicine and sleep, he woke with slightly whiter eyes and the rash, although still evident, seemed to have faded  – Welcome Day 5!

Thankfully the test results all came back clear so 6 days of thinking the worst but hoping for the best came to an abrupt end, pretty much as quickly as it had begun. No more temperatures, no need to take the antibiotics and a smiley hungry cuddly boy asked if he could play Xbox.  All is once again right with the world! But I feel for parents of children who are diagnosed with cruel, hideous illnesses. I’m thankful he is once again healthy and we’re all looking forward to a full night’s sleep!

And I’m very glad I had a few of these tangy but sweet healthy strawberry ice lollies in the freezer. Not the post I had thought would accompany these delightfully bright tasty morsels, but when the weather is hot, you’re hot, the sun is shining and need a healthy snack treat to cool everyone down, try one of these. Made with some of the fresh strawberries from our strawberry picking trip and blitzed in the liquidiser with the tiniest amount of sugar. No need to add any liquid as ripe strawberries contain enough of their own gorgeous juices – it would be a sin to dilute it.

If you don’t have ice lolly moulds, invest in some! I can honestly say that they are well used over the warmer months and you can experiment with anything from sorbets, frozen jellies or juice, or combinations with fresh fruit. Plus they aren’t very expensive at all.

ingredients: (makes 6 – depends on the size of your moulds)
750 g – 1 kg fresh ripe strawberries
1 Tbsp castor sugar (more if you prefer them to be very sweet)

  1. Rinse the strawberries and remove the stalks and leaves.
  2. If they’re very big, remove the white inner hull too as it can be hard and bitter.
  3. Chop the strawberries roughly and put them in a liquidiser. If you don’t have one of these, I’m sure a stick whizz mixer would also work – the kind to purée soups, baby food and smoothies.
  4. Add the sugar and blitz until relatively smooth and liquid.
  5. Pour into the moulds, insert the handles or sticks and place in the freezer. Make sure they can stand upright and don’t topple over.
  6. Freeze for a few hours or overnight.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Hello my friends, been a little over a week since I last wrote and I’ve missed you, but I’ve been thoroughly enjoying our Summer break. Summer finally arrived with a vengeance, reaching 31 degrees in our little bay earlier this week! Very unusual for us way down south on our beautiful island, but we aren’t complaining.

Strawberry Smoothie

Needless to say that means we’ve been out and about a lot more than usual taking full and absolute advantage of our surrounds, summer activities and this gorgeous weather. One activity I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now but never got round to it was to go strawberry picking. Our strawberry season lasts from about November through to February with these ruby-coloured juicy jewels in abundance. Nothing nicer than fresh sweet strawberries in season when you aren’t being forced to pay a fortune for them.

Strawberry picking 3Anyway, I  digress, our trip strawberry picking was another gorgeous day and we headed out to meet some friends. Our boys have known each other since they were 2 and 1 respectively so have a very special little friendship. I have to admit that it was tough limiting ourselves as the fields do literally seem to go on forever and there are rows and rows of these plump little gems – it is quite addictive, hypnotic even as your bucket fills up but you spot another one over there, then see one hidden under a leaf and oh dear! there’s a perfect looking one just within arm’s reach!!  Oh well, almost 3 kgs and $20 later, we returned to the main buildings to enjoy the enormous strawberry ice creams this particular farm is well known for.

Strawberry picking 2Bringing that much ripe fruit home at once can mean only one thing: strawberry smoothies, desserts, ice cream and ice lollies so the next few posts will be about strawberries so please accept my apologies if it isn’t strawberry season for you, but perhaps you’ll find the need to go out and buy some frozen ones as they’ll work just as well.

Breakfast smoothies are a favourite in our home as they are quick and easy, not to mention healthy and the added bonus is, I get to enjoy most of my daily fruit quota in one go.

ingredients: (makes 2)
200 g strawberries
1 large or 2 small ripe bananas
½ cup plain natural unsweetened yoghurt
1 tsp runny honey (optional – although if the strawberries are ripe and sweet there is no need for the honey)
500 ml low fat milk

  1. Rinse strawberries to remove any dirt and remove green stalks and leaves, halve or quarter if they’re quite big.
  2. Peel and roughly chop the bananas and add to the strawberries.
  3. Add the yoghurt, honey (if using) and milk.
  4. Blitz with a stick whizz mixer,  use a liquidiser or perhaps you have one of those fancy new smoothie machines, whatever – blend until relatively smooth.
  5. Split into two glasses and enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Sunshine Salad

There is something about Corn in a salad that always makes me smile – it’s a little like having Sunshine on a plate. This is by no means a traditional Mexican salad but it has enough of the basic ingredients and spices so I think it qualifies. The rest is pretty much what I had in the fridge at the time and it’s amazing how fresh ingredients work really well together so you don’t end up having to throw veges out after being in the fridge too long.

Mexican Chicken Sunshine Salad

Use your imagination, get inspiration from the fresh produce lining the supermarket aisles, it’s also cheaper using seasonal ingredients, so this (or various versions of this) has become one of my all-time Summer fave’s. Served warm or cold, both are equally good.

ingredients:
2 firm ripe tomatoes
half a cucumber
1 red pepper (capsicum)
1 cup corn (frozen will do or use 2 fresh ears of corn)
1 tin chickpeas
2 Tbsp oil
2 large chicken breasts or 4 deboned thighs
8 asparagus spears
Mexican seasoning (or make your own – see below)
Corn chips

  1. Wash and dice the tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum into similar sizes.
  2. Cook the frozen corn in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water on the stove for a minute or two. Drain and set aside.
  3. If using fresh ears of corn, either boil them until cooked or sear them whole on a hot plate. When cool enough to handle, carefully cut all corn off the husk and add the corn to the chopped veges.
  4. Drain the chickpeas well and add to the bowl.
  5. Dice the chicken and depending on how spicy you like your salad, sprinkle the chicken with the seasoning or coat liberally – up to you.
  6. Heat the oil in a skillet and gently fry the chicken until cooked through but not tough – that’s why I prefer to use thighs as they retain moisture better than breasts. Don’t let their darker colour put you off. Thighs are a darker meat than breasts and I think they are a lot more full of flavour!
  7. Drain the chicken on a little kitchen towel as you don’t want an oily salad and add to the bowl.
  8. Sear the asparagus in the same skillet in the juice from the chicken, or, if you prefer, steam or par-boil them, but please don’t overdo it as there is nothing worse than limp over cooked asparagus!
  9. Cut into 2 cm lengths, drain if necessary and add to the salad.
  10. No need for a dressing as the juices and flavours on the chicken and asparagus will coat the rest of the ingredients.
  11. Serve with a bowl of corn chips and a little sour cream if you like.
  12. Voila! or !ahí está! in Spanish (or so I’m told).

Mexican seasoning:
½ tsp each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp each: chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder (or dried fried onions)
1½ tsp each: crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, ground cumin
2 tsp: paprika
1 pinch each: ground cinnamon, ground cloves

  1. Mix all of the above together in a bowl and store in an airtight container away from direct light or heat.
  2. Use as needed.
  3. Add more or less chilli to suit your taste.

Enjoy!

 
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