A Delicious Taste of Island Summer
The world may be going to hell but a small rectangle of tangled vines in our Vineyard Haven backyard is pumping out delicious, plump, juicy, red strawberries. The smell. The taste of freshly picked strawberries. Heaven.
Over the past months of quarantine, I tackled cooking projects that I never thought about in the past. I made bread (along with hundreds of other bored Islanders) until yeast and flour followed toilet paper and disappeared from store shelves.
I even made bagels. It was not that difficult and they came out awesome, once I got the kinks worked out — By the way, never, ever put the bagel dough on waxed paper to proof. It will stick.
With so many strawberries to eat it was only natural that I would think about making strawberry ice cream. So I turned to my cooking bible, the America’s Test Kitchen “The New Best Recipe” cookbook.
Those of you who are familiar with the America’s Test Kitchen cooking show on PBS will know that every recipe is the product of enough research to launch a brisket into orbit.
The first step was to amass about three cups of fresh strawberries. No problem. My wife Norma crawled around under the netting used to deter squirrels and birds picking strawberries off the vine.
Then I went to Cronig’s for heavy cream. Not surprisingly, the parking lot was crowded with vehicles sporting New York and Connecticut license plates. Shopping there is a rite of seasonal visitor summer passage.
Dodging women in summer Annie Hall hats and wandering investment bankers in ball caps, I made a beeline for the dairy case. A quart of Hood cost only slightly more than a pint of the stuff from cows that scored well on their SATs so I opted for the savings.
The ice cream is made with a custard base so I needed six egg yolks. Note to self: egg whites do not pass through a drain strainer.
Cooked up the custard base. Mashed and cooked up the strawberries. Let everything cool in the refrigerator overnight.
The next step was to crank up my Cuisinart ice cream maker. It took about twenty minutes for the mixture to start solidifying. I added the strawberries last.
Then I packed two containers and placed then in the freezer. Licking the ice cream from the plastic mixing insert gave me a taste of what I could look forward to later.
The reason for the two containers was so I could give one to Tom Robinson. Generosity had nothing to do with it. It was a preventive strategy. I knew we would eat it all if it was in the freezer.
That night Norma and I enjoyed venison sausage, asparagus, and homemade strawberry ice cream. Ah, summer on Martha’s Vineyard.