Winnipeg is a city of extremes. Crazy up and down extremes. Nothing here is done in moderation. When the city has a success, it’s hugely successful and celebrated with wild abandon and notoriety, and when they have a failure, it’s an earth shattering failure that is ridiculed and shunned.
When a local sports team is in a slump, they are reviled and criticized, until they win a game and then they are raised on a pedestal where they attain deity status with their 1-27-2 record.
It’s the same with the weather here. Just two months ago we were knee deep in snow with darkness and freezing temperatures, and now the sun comes up at 4am and goes down at 10pm with 30°C + temperatures and 92% humidity and vegetation up to our navels.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the 2 weeks of summer we get here, it’s just the extreme temperature and humidity shifts that this city goes through that can be exasperating (This year could see an 80° difference between winter and summer).
In Winnipeg, gardens abound, mostly due to the amazing nutrient rich soil, but because of the short growing season, gardening becomes EXTREME gardening and some years are better for some crops than other.
I remember the first year the strawberry plants were planted, they weren’t exactly prolific. In fact they were EXTREMEly unprolific. I would look at the plants with no berries and think they were the worst plants that ever existed and how worthless they were and how they should go back to Atlanta where they came from and…. wait… is that a strawberry? Oh my God, it is! You are the best plant ever! Hooray for plant!
Over the next few days I would watch the berry ripen and plan some kind of gourmet breakfast around this solitary marble sized strawberry, and when it came time to pick it one morning… it was gone… and there was a big squirrel, in a nearby tree, chattering at me with red stained lips…
Garden strawberries tend to get stolen by squirrels or blue jays, and even when this human manages to get a ripe strawberry off of a plant, it has to be eaten right away because they have a short shelf life unlike their mutant GMO styrofoam cousins in the supermarket. But when you do manage to pry one away from the backyard wild life… Oh My God they are tasty…
This year, for whatever reason and for the first time, it was a bumper crop of strawberries.
There were so many strawberries that the squirrel in the tree was upside down, gorged, and moaning in his red squirrel language “oooooohhhhh…. too many red things…” Even after the rodent had finished, there was still a ton of fruit left on the plants. For the last few weeks of June and first weeks of July, about a pint a day was coming off of the plants.
After awhile, I was in the backyard upside down, gorged, and moaning in my Winnipegese “ooooohhh…. too many squirrel berries…”
The sweet produce was starting to pile up on the counter so a large portion had to be frozen, but there was still the conundrum of what to do with all this fruit. A pie, a batch of jam, some kind of strange strawberry curry infusion?
I stared out the front window pondering this one day as I saw a confectionary truck playing a merry calliope tune being chased by all of the neighbourhood children who were being teased by eight dollar popsicles and dilly-bars.
Then it hit me while I licked my fourteen dollar frozen fudge bar… I could make ice cream or frozen yoghurt with those strawberries.
Ice cream is actually very very easy to make. You don’t need one of those fancy-dancy instant ice cream machines, or a double tub full of rock salt and a hand crank that gives you blisters. All you need is a mixer of some sort, three ingredients, and a freezer.
Stupid easy ice cream inspired by the over priced frozen treat truck that makes the children scream.
1 liter or quart of cream
2 cups of fruit or berries
2-4 tablespoons of honey or sugar.
The higher the fat content of your cream, the less ice crystals you’ll have, the faster it will freeze and the softer it will freeze. Don’t go lower than a 2% milk, but use at least a half and half. I went with a table cream but probably could have gone with a whipping cream.
Put your berries or fruit in a mixer or use an immersion blender to mash the fruit into a pulp. If you are using raspberries or blackberries and you don’t want any seeds, push the mash through a sieve and discard the seeds.
Add the cream and honey (or sugar) into a large mixing bowl and mix until…. um…. mixed.
Take a taste and add more honey if needed (some fruits may need more sweetener to offset tartness like raspberries or lemons).
When the desired sweetness is obtained, pour concoction into containers and freeze.
If you prefer frozen yoghurt to ice cream, use a liter of cheesecloth drained yoghurt or a hard yoghurt like greek and follow the same instructions.
If you used a high fat cream, it will freeze in about an hour.
Now I think I’ll sit back with a couple of scoops, play Camptown Races on my iPhone, and let the cats chase me around the room until I stop to sell them some for ten bucks.