Moments of happy...
1. He's 14. Already. Time just won't stand still. Austin made sure to remind me how close he is to being able to drive. *Sigh* My outdoor, nature-loving, adventurous one. I love you so, Austin. Always and forever.
2. Chocolate cake. He wanted chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Pie In The Sky to the rescue. (A wonderful high altitude baking cookbook in case you or someone you know ever decide to move to the mountains.) He settled on a two-tiered Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Bittersweet Chocolate Icing. Thank you, thank you, Son. You come by your deep and abiding love of chocolate honestly.
3. And homemade vanilla ice cream. This is the best homemade ice cream recipe I know of. And it's the easiest, too. This is a Philadelphia-style ice cream, meaning there are no eggs in the recipe and no cooking the ingredients into a custard before freezing. Super simple.
This recipe uses Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, so you know it has to be a winner! Most ice cream recipes that use Eagle Brand, call for one can. This makes for an ice cream with a good flavor, but an "ice milk" mouthfeel. The texture is all wrong, especially if you are used to eating premium ice cream (Blue Bell!). So, to make the texture more creamy, you have to double the amount of Eagle Brand. 'Cause the only thing better than eating one can of Eagle Brand, is eating two.
SIMPLE HOMEMADE VANILLA ICE CREAM
2 cans Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 quart half-and-half
4 T. good quality vanilla
Stir the Eagle Brand milk, half-and-half, and vanilla together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until throughly combined.
Chill the ice cream mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Pour the ice cream mixture into the bowl of a 2-quart ice cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
Serve immediately for soft-serve ice cream or freeze for several hours until firm.
Makes one half gallon.
Note: I risk sounding like The Barefoot Contessa, but because the vanilla takes center stage in this recipe, it is important to use a good quality vanilla. And, yes, you really do use 4 T. of it. I love Adams Best from Adams Extract in this recipe. I can't find it anywhere here in Steamboat, so I order it by the half gallon online. I keep it stored in the refrigerator, and it lasts us over a year.
4. The Howler. Steamboat Springs Alpine Slide. This is something we've been wanting to do since we moved here, and Austin's birthday was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. The slide is located on one of the town's ski hills. We took a chair lift up the mountain, selected our sleds, and coasted down the mountain on a windy track. We all drove our own sleds and had a blast. This is a great summer activity to enjoy here. We'll go back before the snowfall, for sure.
5. Barefoot in the grass. Soft. Cool. Fluffy. At the base of Howelson Hill where The Howler ends. Emma couldn't resist slipping her shoes off and wiggling her toes. She sighed and giggled. Now I want to pack a quilt and a picnic lunch and go sit on that grass, watch the clouds roll by, and just breathe. Summertime. And the livin' is easy.
"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything."