Strawberry-Vanilla Goat Milk Ice Cream!

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“All we need is here on Earth, about every other day…”

My love of homesteading sprawls at the root of persistent creativity and spur of the moment living. I wake up to a smattering of orange on the wall, or pink tangerine sherbet, and as my eyes flutter to keep open I examine the palette in an attempt to accurately guess what time it is based on the color scrawl. I look over to see Ben’s eyes closed and hear his breath is still rested deep in a dream some place. Before we have murmured good mornings with lips meeting, before our feet have smudged the wood which will carry us, we are met with a day which already welcomes us with great opportunity. “What will I make today? How will I honor this day of life which flourishes before me?”

Homesteading is a craft of ultimate creative living. Each day my people and animals need to be fed, we all need love, and we all need to work together to keep the ship not just afloat but thriving. At the center of it all is the gift of free will and a question which begs of us, “What will you do with this time alive?” Will you let it whither by the wayside? Will you spend it contemplatively among the corn? Do you need extra rest to help fuel you later in the day, or to prepare for another project? Will you roll around in the pleasure of simply being? Will you let the lamb fall asleep nested on your thighs? How deeply will you live and love? What will you do driven by desire?

Any day I spend creating, to me, is a day well spent. That does not have to manifest itself in what others may measure as greatness. Greatness often sweeps its way of pleasure through the conduit of sweet simplicity in my life – an adoration for the common. My most treasured moments and textured elements of life are the low lying fabrics of detail typically passed over by the casual eye that is too busy roving onto the next field of sight to appreciate the veiny splendid underbelly of what lies before us in the moment.

“All of this for an ice cream recipe?” is what you may be thinking, and the answer is yes. All of this for an ice cream recipe. When I make anything, love is the greatest fuel behind it. I love the grain of the strawberries in my hand as they seed onto the board. Their tartness enlivens the juices of my mouth. As I handle the stem I recall the excitement of what it is like plucking them fresh and taste the anticipation from when I once saw them a pale green waiting on time to ripen them crimson. I get enraptured by how the fresh goat milk ice cream will make Ben feel when he comes home with muscles sore, for that moment when he gives a deep, “Mmmmmmmmm!” – and how he needn’t say more for me to truly know. I get excited that our roommate Sam will be able to pause in her day from rescuing animals and farming to come in and let the sweetness be an accent to her day. If I can make folks feel better in a day, in a moment, or cared for at all, then I figure I have done a good job as a human.

Making food, fibers, prints, scents, and so much more from the ground up (truly, from the ground) is infinitely more rewarding than a quick purchase, ready made from the store. Living my life by hand is a way I intentionally thrive in order to weave as much creativity into this time I am blessed with and I am fortunate to be living. It is a great weaving of love. The more time and love I invest into any project sustains a savor so rich it cannot be plucked from a shelf. When you taste this ice cream, I hope you feel similarly and that you are in touch with the gifts of the Earth and animals. Remember you are creating for yourself and those you love. Indulge in the pleasure and treats of the world!

 

Goat Lovin’ Ice Cream!*

 

1.5 lbs fresh, unfrozen strawberries

4 cups raw goat milk

1 cup heavy cream

1.5 cups sugar

1 (long) vanilla bean

3 eggs

*The ingredients I use are farm fresh, raw, organic, or locally produced. I encourage you to support your local farmers and seek similar supplies for a more natural, healthy, and high quality treat for you and your loved ones; however, if any of these resources are more difficult to find near you, you may substitute as needed. 

Chop up your strawberries to a degree in which they will blend well. We have a Vitamix which blends everything quite excellently but I still chop into small pieces. After you are finished chopping the strawberries pile them up in the Vitamix or blender.

Add the raw goat milk and heavy cream in with the berries in addition to adding the sugar and eggs. Blend on a low speed until everything is mixed in well together.

Take your vanilla bean and split it lengthwise down the center. With your fingers, uncurl the sides of the vanilla bean while taking a spoon and scraping out the granulated beads of the vanilla bean. Smell your fingers. Isn’t that delicious?! Mmm…You may now add it to the blender and mix well after enjoying the smell.

Blend it all up together.

Using a thick bottomed pot (so as to avoid scalding the milk) set the heat on low and add the mixture into the pot. Gently stir the milky magic mixture to keep any ingredients from settling to the bottom of the pot. Do not let the mixture boil or burn – keep the heat low and gentle as it marinates all of the flavors together.

Let the mixture sit in the fridge until it cools.

When your mixture is cooled it’s time for the ice cream magic to ensue!

I use a Cuisinart ice cream and sorbet maker which uses a frozen canister for churning the ice cream. Use whatever machine or hand process you are most comfortable with to complete your recipe. Get the ice cream to a consistency you like the best and then it is ready for enjoyment by all!

I like to cut up extra berries to serve on the side or on top of the ice cream. Sometimes I like to chop up different varieties, simmer the fresh berries in a little bit of sugar, and then add to the side. Today’s version is clad with a sour cherry grown from my Momma’s tree and hands.

Cheers! Taste the Love.

Mmmmmmmmm!

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Don’t forget to thank the goats, the ground, and your strawberries! 

Company of the Country Wave in Wellington, Illinois

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The country wave keeps me company in these transitions of days. This morning I stood on the lawn braiding my hair and a man took it upon himself to pull over and grant me kind words about my twisting red hair before continuing his country cruise.

I repositioned the fuscia-mauve foxgloves three times contemplating  the best arrangement for passersby to catch visual hold of their spotted middle splendor. I could not succeed at pleasing each direction though they bounce now in the soft Wellington, Illinois breeze with their freckled middles bare to anyone caring enough to focus inward. Their bells are a delightful burst among the acres of greening growing corn which lays in rows at my feet. With my legs stretched outward I can see a rowed home for each of my thighs through the corn sprouts that seem to stretch on forever- even past the silos in the distance, past that other homestead, and the other; further through the prairie my body runs on. Last night we traipsed through these thigh high grasses with Sunny bouncing in between while we breathed in the sunset.

Within my hour and forty-five minute drive from Antiquity Oaks in Cornell, Illinois to Wellington, Illinois I attempted digesting where I have been, what was, and where I was headed – which, of course, was too dense of a meal to chew through in a minimal amount of time. I found it more advantageous to find a neutral space between the clouds, crepuscular rays, and the weather systems far reaching their dance among the fields. Contagious weeps of sun touched down to the fresh green fields while tornadoes of dust kicked up a previous season’s forgotten corn husks, catching and whipping against my vehicle writhing in the wind. The strength of the atmosphere threw birds backwards in flight. I watched them struggle forth before submitting to the current, but they all eventually swung back with the greater rhythm of the earth. There was a nervousness in the grip of my steering wheel and how I would swallow my saliva. It was as tenuous as the rest of my surroundings.

Each time I find myself in a new space the first week is what I refer to as The Million Year Week. Routine is null, everything is new. Exhilaration, terror, and delight co-create a stretch of days to garble time. The bruises of my body linger from the goats and awkward stumbles working at Antiquity Oaks. The indigo turned tertiary islands and continents are a physical stamping reminder of the path walked for months before arriving to this space. The hearty spinach in my bed of eggs, grown from these nearby Iroquois County fields, are a reminder of how I got to Wellington yet again. It is a place I never thought I would return to, yet is now a place where I rest my head at night. The interconnection of this life and world is sometimes too eerie and synchronicity too bold to ignore. With the pull of a heart it is absolutely why and how I find myself here today with thighs extending into the rows of corn.

For me, it is easier to live guided by the heart when there is a great pull in one direction or the other (as I am sure it is easier for all of us in this way). When the frequencies get fuzzy, however, so can the inner turbulence of the path traveled. The pressure rises to make a decision, to make the Right One. I have learned that all steps lead to another and so in this way each heel in the dirt is the correct press, even if it leads to discomfort or pain, it is part of one’s path. Sometimes all you can do is make stillness your move and listen in again for how the frequencies have settled and reevaluate direction of path. One of my quotes is from Lao Tzu, “If you are depressed you are living in the past, If you are anxious you are living in the future, If you are at peace you are living in the present.” (I know this quote is not apt for every situation, but sometimes it helps me to realize if I am wrapped in a negative mental pattern born of habit.)

My coffee shines an oil from the buttered egg that met my lips at breakfast and it swirls with me now. Each time I find my heart and mind in that space of Problem Solving I cycle through a series of questions and meditations for self soothing – back to my inner core of comfort, a consultation of the gut, focus on the present moment. Or, I engage in an externally peaceful activity like planting flowers with my fingers in the dirt, weeding, or catching Sunny’s chocolate eye color in a decisive ray destined for his face to glow outward to me and melting me in the middle. These moments of presence connect to my contentedness, even while feeling many other emotions simultaneously. These moments are my breath in the whirlwind of change.

I met a woman this week who bestowed us with flowers to plant, seeded from her own; buckets of bulbs that will be five or six feet by autumn with bright red caps, irises, columbines, and so many others I have forgotten the names of. What I do remember is her tight hug and how our bellies touched as we gripped one another like we both really needed it. Her body felt known to me, like a great Aunt who has taken me under her wing for years. She said that no church could bring her as close to God like she feels when she is in the dirt. I told her this week I bent over the soil saying to myself, “Weedin’ is good for thinkin’, weedin’ is good for thinkin’,” and that’s where I find my universal comforts – among the land and animals, and tending to Love.

I do not have any big answers right now. I have a mixture of insights and inquisitions as garbled as time. I have one foot forward and then another. Some periods of time are not meant for figuring out, but instead require only our simple observation. Stillness and observation are some of the greatest steps despite their perceived companion of inaction.

A cloud drifts across the cornfield and its shadow darkens the greening leaves and deepens the off kilter yellows. It grazes the prairie and wildflowers and touches down its blanket across the cottonwood trees. A train sounds its incoming and unfurls like a prayer flag across the prairie, antiqued with imprints of cross country travel. With its double stacked shipping containers it ribbons like the making of a quilt through the corn. Riffs from a country version of Spanish Harlem blare from a vehicle as the driver throws me another neighborly wave while I check the blooms on the newly planted flowers and smile at their hard work of blossoming overnight, or perhaps opening early morning to give us an early reward for the day. Two bees hover forth sensing new nectar, and Sunny bleats his still young song as a request for chest rubs and companionship with his mama – which I answer to with satiation. He falls asleep in my lap as a result making small nasal whimpers like he did in the rocking chair as a baby. I start soaking the lentils for supper and thawing the meat for others to eat. I cut quilt squares to prepare as a gift for the woman who gifted us beautiful flowers.

Step by step, meal by meal, chore by chore, conversation by conversation, love by love, making by making, observation by observation. Inquisitions will always remain, but simply being present in these moments is my guide for now. In the distance, someone plays a harmonica, which feels like a hug from my Grandpa Coleman, a moment in which I can just sit and sip the nectar thereof, while life continues on.