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Ice cream in the victory garden

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Summer and ice cream seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter and family dinners on Sunday. I have eaten ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a stand-alone meal — trust me, it’s divine! I will gladly skip birthday cake for an extra scoop of creamy goodness.

Ice cream is a perfect refreshing summertime dessert — or snack or meal. The cold, sugary treat seems to go down extra sweetly in the hot summer months. So, what better time to explore all the fun things we can do with it as we tiptoe into July and get ready for the summer’s heat?

Since I’m in love with herbs, fresh produce and most anything that has sprouted from earth, I wanted to explore the bounty from my garden and look for new ways to use plants in my everyday life. This just so happens to be a fun and tasty indulgence that is already making my mouth water!

I’ve thought of some lovely, fresh garden flavors to mix into our ice cream. This is bound to beat the repetitive rocky roads, mint chocolate chips and cookie dough ice cream you’ve been munching on — I promise! There is something about the creamy, homemade dairy that marries natural flavors so nicely.

The first combination I’m trying is this fruity, floral blend: blueberry-lavender.

This is all kinds of yum! This is a scrumptious balance of botanic purple flowers with acidic, plummy berries. Since lavender has strong, floral tones, it pairs perfectly with citrus and berries. Of course, there are other flavors lavender could be combined with, like cherries, strawberries, pears, peaches and blackberries. Heaven on earth, y’all!

The second most mouthwatering ice cream flavor I’m mixing up is lemon mint.

Naturally, I am a huge fan of minty, cooling flavors. And to add in a zesty, citrusy kick? Double yum! This is the perfect flavor combination for those who love a clean, refreshing taste.

Another member of the mint family to try is rosemary. Rosemary pairs deliciously with citrus and is especially yummy with oranges. Perhaps you’re searching for the fresh touch of mint with the sweet syrupy goodness of a fruit. Common mints like peppermint, rosemary and basil are often paired with blueberries, strawberries and even peaches. So, these variations make delectable and interesting ice cream flavors, as well. Sprinkle white chocolate chips for real decadence.

Whatever flavors you try, I recommend swirling in organic maple syrup or honey. This is the best way to prevent too much acidity from your citrus!

Another personal favorite is a delicious strawberry-mint combination. Add some cucumber and you have the perfect summer treat — it sounds unusual but it is so, so good!

Your options are truly limitless. Watermelon, honeydew, passion fruit, kiwi — almost all fruits pair well with a member of the mint family. Have fun and get creative with your pairings!

Making ice cream and making memories are not canceled this summer. I hope you’ll take some time to make staying at home a treat. It’s never too late to start a victory garden and enjoy your harvest and your journey.

Happy planting!

DeeAnn Rivera is a Spring Hope resident and garden enthusiast who blogs at www.VictoryGardenGal.com.

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe is lighter and fluffier than classic ice cream methods, which I think makes it perfect for the fresh flavors you can blend in.

To start, gather the following ingredients:

2 quarts half-and-half cream

1/2 pint heavy cream

1 1/2 cups white sugar

4 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

Then, follow these instructions:

Mix all ingredients together.

If you have an ice cream machine: Churn according to the maker’s instructions. Once your mixture is thick, store it in a freezer-safe container.

If you do not have an ice cream machine: First, store the ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe container and let sit for an hour. Afterwards, remove the mixture from the freezer and churn vigorously with a spatula, whisk or electronic hand mixer. Repeat every 30 minutes for the next 2-3 hours, until frozen.

If you love creamy dessert, dig in. It just gets better overnight!

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