Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Peas & Carrots & Ice Cream?

Like peas and carrots
There is nothing like the taste of fresh, just-harvested fruits and vegetables, especially when they are gathered at the peak of ripeness.  I often eat fresh greens, beans, asparagus, squash, cucumbers and other tempting treats while working at Heart & Sole Gardens.  Ripe cherry tomatoes, warm with sunshine, are addictive and I dream of tomato season as I harvest the last sugar snap peas and carrots.

Part of our growing strategy at the farm is that Richard and I try to plant enough to "share" with pests.  Although we planted hundreds of sugar snap pea seeds, many of the young plants were decimated by deer, those doe-eyed, nocturnal eating machines.  With the first few blossoms, I despaired of an abundant harvest and just hoped for enough peas to enjoy with a few meals.  Finally, the deer seemed to vanish (at least for the moment) and pods formed on the remaining plants.  Plucking the first tender mature pod from a vine, I popped it into Richard's mouth.  As he savored the sweet vegetable, he remarked, "I really can't blame the deer.  These are delicious!"

One of my favorite small kitchen appliances is a one-quart electric ice cream maker.  In a matter of minutes, this machine churns a few simple ingredients into a concoction that reminds me of the homemade ice cream we made at my grandparents' home when I was a child.  For an easy dessert, just mix whipping cream, seasonal fruit, a little sugar and vanilla flavoring, pour it into the frozen bowl and plug in the machine.  In about ten minutes, the ice cream is ready.  The other night, I planned to make vanilla ice cream and serve it with wild blackberries, but when I looked at the baskets of sugar snap peas and baby carrots I brought home from the farm, plans changed and I decided to experiment. After all, what goes together better than peas and carrots?

I will admit, sometimes when combining ingredients to develop a new dish, my efforts fall flat.  Such was the case when I used the deep-purple broth of red mustard to cook rice.  I hoped for a beautiful lavender color, but instead, wound up with rice that looked like dryer lint.  Unappetizing, to say the least.  Thankfully, "Peas and Carrots" ice cream was a success.  With the vegetables' natural sweetness, I used less sugar than the basic recipe and noted the frozen nuggets have a nutty texture and a fresh-vegetable explosion of flavor.  If you try this recipe, be sure to save the pea pods for another use.  They are terrific added to stir fry or lightly seasoned and sauteed in a splash of hot oil.

For a healthier holiday treat, make this ice cream and serve it with my grandmother's carrot cake recipe.  Warm from the oven, topped with a serving of vegetables, the kids will never realize this dessert is good for them.  Oops, gotta run.  I think Ben and Jerry are calling . . .they should call it "Peatah Rabbit."

Granny's carrot cake recipe at in Spring recipe section

 Peas & Carrots Ice Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar (the vegetables' natural sweetness means adding less sugar than the original recipe's 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh sugar snap peas, shelled
1/4 cup fresh chopped carrots (I whirled these in the food processor, for easier preparation)

Combine ingredients and pour into electric ice cream freezer bowl.  Churn for about 10 minutes, until cream is firm.
*Note: Between uses, store the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer.