Vanilla and Roasted Cherry Ice Cream

We are getting ready for a birthday party around here today.  Kid #2 is having a few (7 - !!!) friends over for water balloon throwing, cupcake eating, silly game playing, piƱata breaking fun... D and I are praying that we make it out with enough energy to end the day clinking our beers together.
I have to admit that I am an epic fail at birthday parties.  I don't enjoy them first of all.  I have done almost nothing or as close as I can get to it for the last 2 or 3 years with both my kids.  They always get whatever they would like at home... ask for a cake... what's your favourite meal... here's a great present... that kind of thing.  But when it comes to getting a party together I fizzle completely.  I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that I'm basically anti-social.  I don't know why but there it is.  Kid #1's birthday is on December 31st.  This year it was an overwhelming disaster.  I don't know if I'll ever be forgiven.  After that recent debacle I felt like I had some serious birthday redeeming to do and so embarked on organizing a party for Kid #2.  (I'm already working on getting my head around Kid #1's twelfth birthday coming up at the end of this year, don't worry).
There is nothing that I would love to do more than run to the beach, meet my friend for a coffee, hang out in a bookstore, go for a loooong run or simply hang out in bed.  But instead I am baking cupcakes and icing them, cleaning up my back yard, getting loot bags ready and stringing up streamers outside.  Kid #2 is beyond excited and Kid #1 has the games handled (bless her 11 1/2 yr old heart!).  D will be taking pictures, assisting with the management of water balloons and generally keeping me sane whenever needed.
I won't be posting any food from the party because I'm not making anything worthy of posting.  They are having hotdogs (given from good animals, I assure you), chips (don't ask about that one), watermelon, kool-aid (I'm a monster) and cupcakes.  I'll spare you the details.

Instead I made something for me... the adult.  I have made a few freezer bags of roasted cherries.  I decided that on one of the hottest days of the years I would roast some cherries... dumb.  But they taste amazing.  I supplemented mine with a little dabble of rum which I picked up a small bottle of... totally worth it.  In my opinion, I did not use enough cherries so I would encourage you to add at will.  Honestly, I could take or leave the chocolate shavings but I suppose on a hot day if they start to melt just a little then it would be nice.
So while the kiddies are screaming and enjoying kool-aid, hot dogs and cupcakes, I will be sitting back and boozing up with my boozy ice cream... which they won't want to go near because it has fruit in it (since when did fruit in ice cream become a bad thing?) and of course they won't know it has chocolate (because I won't be telling them).  Happy Birthday Kid #2.

Vanilla and Roasted Cherry Ice Cream adapted from 'epicurious'
makes about 5 cups or 900 g

4 cups cherries, halved and pitted
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp rum (or maple syrup)
smallest pinch of salt

4 lg egg yolks
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk (not skim or low fat)
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean

1 cup dark chocolate (about 55% cocoa solids) finely chopped or shaved

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
Place the halved and pitted cherries on the baking sheet in a pile.  Mix in the sugar, rum and salt.  Stir around until the cherries are covered with sugar and also evenly spread on the baking sheet.
Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes or just until the sauce thickens but before the cherries start to burn.  Stir frequently if needed (i.e. the edges start to really stick and/or burn).
Remove from the heat and cool.

Halve the vanilla bean, folding back the sides and scraping out the inside of the bean using the blunt edge of a knife.
Heat the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan only briefly.  Stir in the cream, milk and vanilla bean (scrapings and all) and begin to heat over med/low heat until the mixture is barely approaching a simmer but definitely not a rolling boil.  Turn the heat down to low.
Add a ladle full of the warm cream mixture to the egg yolks and whisk until incorporated.  Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the cream mixture that is heating on the stove.  Stir constantly (to prevent sticking and/or burning) and after a few minutes test to see if the mixture will remain separated when you do the wooden spoon test.  Once that's settled pour the mixture through a sieve, cover completely with cling film (right down onto the top of the custard otherwise it will get a tough skin on top) and cool to room temperature.  Then place in fridge to cool for another 4 - 24 hrs depending on your time.  You do want the entire mixture to be very cold but not freezing.
Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions.
Once it's done remove the implements from the ice cream and take the ice cream off the stand but keep it in the ice bowl.  Gently stir in about 2 cups of roasted cherries (if it looks like it needs more to you then feel free to add at will) and all of the chocolate shavings.
Spoon everything into freezable containers and freeze to harden up (about 2 hours or so).

Homemade Mayo. Easy.

Ugh - I just finished this book.  I did it.  I'm a better person for it.  I was a hard read.  It was also a slightly depressing read but I feel like I read something real and deep and wide and rich.
There is simply so much to take in while reading that I feel like I need to read it again.  I never ever ever read books twice unless I'm researching something (which is not the case here).  I've got a thing about it and always have.  I must have been 10 or 11 yrs old when I first articulated the idea in my mind.  When the idea became more than just random preferences.  I was wandering around in a bookstore and found my way (inevitably) to the 'classics' section.  I didn't know where to start.  I had to start with the oldest thing there (that I knew of at least).  I'm trying to remember what I walked out with - possibly Nathanael Hawthorne or Jane Austen and definitely not the 'oldest' thing in the section - but I can't recall.  I had this sense of just how much was out there floating around in the world at large and that knowledge held me back from taking the time to read something again.  At the time it seemed like stealing from the next great book - and I guess in a weird way it is a little like that.  Of course now I know that I'll never read through everything out there, not even once... probably.  But this book... well, it feels important enough to read again.
I think that what has made a most lasting impression is the idea that we need to stop looking at this planet from the perspective at the top of the pyramid or the top wrung of the ladder.  In fact,  looking at our world as something that has a top and bottom wrung at all needs to exit our brains.  If we could get our heads around the idea of just being another animal in the cycle that is life and death, participating fully in the taking and giving of it... well that would change everything.  What if every time I 'took' (a breath, an animal life, nutrients from the ground) I thought about how to 'give'.  Ultimately, of course, giving my body back to the ground to feed the life around it again.  The book has made me think long about how much we've (I've) extracted with no thought of giving back.

I'm going to change gears abruptly here and start talking about mayonnaise.  I haven't bought mayonnaise in years.  D hates it.  Passionately.  And no one else actually likes it except me.  I just couldn't justify having this stupid jar hangin around the fridge and then not getting used quickly enough and then... aw... you know.  I hadn't even ever thought about making my own which is dumb because I make almost everything else.  It just never occurred to me and when it did I thought it would be difficult.  And then I found this recipe and it changed my life.  I have now made mayonnaise.  And it was easy.  And totally worth it.

I used olive oil this time around and apple cider vinegar.  Didn't work for me exactly.  I found the olive oil too strong and the cider vinegar not strong enough.  In future I'll use some other oil with less taste and a vinegar with more taste but preferably just lemon juice.  I was pretty generous with my salt and dijon as a result but I think you should go easy and add extra only if you taste it and find it lacking.
This recipe will take you no longer than a minute.  Yup.

I'm finding some great ways to use the mayo up... this was my first thing.  Oh yeah.
Now that I've finished the book I've got to find a way to move on.  To continue deciding on a daily basis whether I want to be radical about this or just nominal.  I think that this is something that deserves being decided on a daily basis because it's so counter to everything that we currently live in every conceivable way.  It's not something I can just decided today and it will stick forever and ever.  It's huge.

Homemade Mayo adapted from 'Well Preserved' and Gordon Ramsay
made about 1 1/2 - 2 cups mayo

2 egg yolks
200 ml of oil (I used olive but I recommend using something with less taste - canola or something)
1 full tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice (I used apple cider vinegar which I found a little too subtle so I ended up using more regular vinegar - start with maybe 1 1/2 tbsp regular vinegar  - or something strong - and see if you need more)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Immersion Blender Version:
Throw all the ingredients into a tall, narrow container (I used the one that came with the blender).  Starting with the blender at the very bottom begin to blend on low speed and slowly work your way up.  It took about 20 seconds for everything to happen.
Taste and adjust if necessary.  You can blend again for a few seconds or just whisk in by hand.
Put the mayo into a jar with a lid and refrigerate.
Will keep for about 1 week.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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