Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Land of the Freeze

I do so love time off work. (Who doesn't?) And to have a holiday mid-week, breaking the work week into much more manageable chunks... well, if I weren't already celebrating for Independence Day, that little holiday breather would certainly give me reason to jump for joy!

And what could be better for the Fourth of July than a traditional American favorite with a local-foods twist?

No, it's not hot dogs or hamburgers, and though I might make potato salad tomorrow, that's not it, either.

I'm talking ice cream, Dear Readers, and I'm talking gooooood.

After purchasing those luscious black raspberries from the Cheerful Lady at Saturday's market, I've been thinking about what I wanted to make with them. And I keep coming back to ice cream.

Now unlike some Dear Readers or other food fans, I don't have an ice-cream maker (not even the traditional hand-cranked version that might be more appropriate to what The Gentleman is amused to call my neo-Luddite hippie crunchy granola lifestyle). I've tried making ice cream without said device, and I just wasn't happy with it.

So I'm going to share a secret with you. The easy way to make homemade ice cream is... to use someone else's ice cream.

I bought a pint of premium vanilla ice cream made by a local ice cream company and set it out to thaw. Meanwhile, I dumped about half the black raspberries into my mini food processor, along with a sprinkling of lavender, and pureed the lot into a shimmeringly sloppy mess.

Take one bowl, one big spoon, all the ice cream, and all the pureed berries, and stir.

Once the berries had been fully blended into the ice cream, I refilled the pint container as well as a serving dish and tucked them both back into the freezer.

A while later, I just couldn't stand it any more, and I pulled the dish out of the freezer, ready
to tackle that berry creamy treat. How can you resist a frosted, old-fashioned glass parfait cup filled with fresh local berries and rich local ice cream? I know I can't!

There are a lot of things we Americans celebrate on Independence Day and a lot of different ways we choose in which to celebrate. Though I'm fond of a good band concert and a fabulous fireworks display, I find a lot more meaning in celebrating "freedom" in a different way: by showing my gratitude for what we're free to enjoy. And one of the things I'm most grateful for is the freedom (and responsibility) to be a participating citizen in my local community. By choosing to support local foods, I feel like I really have some say in shaping the future of this community and in steering it towards a sustainable, dependable path.

Who knew ice cream could be so powerful? Am I attaching way too much importance to a simple dessert? Maybe, but it sure feels good to know that enjoying good local food can actually be part of a larger effort to build a vibrant local economy and to support my neighbors.

Our nation began as an agrarian society and grew from the toil of farmers. What better way to celebrate the Fourth by paying tribute to their legacy through eating local foods?


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