The jury is still out on whether or not catapulting ourselves into hosting a three day party after six weeks straight of long days in the fields will be repeated or not. We went to bed after midnight for three nights in a row last weekend which is just not a thing us farmers are used to doing. The theme of the last week has been not being able catch up on sleep no matter how hard we try. I’m still blaming the allergy season that gives me a tickle in my throat and congested sinuses for the irregular sleep cycles and saying it has nothing to do with our super fun party.
The good news is much fun was had by all, and for the first time in recent memory we spent a weekend with more people than plants. It was exhilarating. And comforting. And necessary. So very necessary.
The other good news is that the farm did not implode in our absence. Something that I have to be reminded of every time I leave for an evening, a whole day or even a whole weekend. Yes, the farm needs us, but it can also survive without us for a moment or two. Yes, we’re small business owners and we’ll always be thinking about the farm and obsessing over the tiny details that make our business run smoothly, but we can also find time for fun. Yes, we might have to work really hard before and after the break to make up for lost time, but the break is still always worth it. The break is an essential part of balancing this crazy life we’ve chosen for ourselves.
This particular break was filled with all the things I love. There were multiple bonfires, farmer friends who brought awesome homemade desserts (like this Japanese dome cheesecake with black raspberry sauce!) and a seriously packed, seriously hardworking grill (and hardworking grill master!). There were card games and bean bags and infinitely too much beer. There was a bike ride, loads of kids running around the yard, sparklers (thanks Jessica!) and a leisurely Sunday brunch followed by a farm tour with friends I’ve been hoping to get to know better for literally years.
It was, essentially, the July 4th weekend I’ve always dreamed of. Old friends and new friends and farm friends and family, all hanging in the yard with little more to do than finish a keg and lounge in the sunshine over good conversation and no muss, no fuss quickly prepared foods.
Our menu was beyond simple. On Friday evening we braised some pork ribs with oranges, apples and ginger then grilled them until charred and dressed them in a homemade BBQ made by just simmering the braising liquid with some ketchup and apple cider vinegar. Alongside these delights, we grilled up snap peas, cabbage, scallions, venison chops, and T-bone steaks. We dined family style and fought over the grilled cabbage.
The next day was even easier. Friends helped me throw together a quick broccoli salad (yes this one!) and coleslaw then we prepped more veggies for the grill: fennel, zucchini, more scallions, more cabbage and more snap peas. We boiled brats in beer and threw them on the grill as well as a couple dozen 50/50 venison/ground beef burgers with all the accouterments.
Then, then there were the ice cream sandwiches. These weren’t so simple but with three days mostly away from the farm, I obviously needed a project.
Sweet, creamy homemade(ish) roasted strawberry and rhubarb ice cream sandwiched between crunchy sugar cookies coated in toasted pecans (or colored sprinkles or silver sprinkles or some combination there of). It was the most delicious summer food I’ve ever created. I also sandwiched ice cream between these delectable brown butter oatmeal cookies from Bon Appetit but ultimately found them too difficult to work with (though certainly the crowd favorite at our little bash). Whichever cookie you choose, these are without doubt the most fun, most silly, most delicious way to end a party.
All my sweet-toothed love,
P.S. Pay no attention to my gnarly thumbnail in certain images. I’m a farmer and can’t help all the bumps, bruises and scratches.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB ICE CREAM SANDWICHES
Cookie recipe barely adapted from the lovely and beautiful Molly Yeh
This awesome scoop makes these ice cream sandwiches a breeze. I used it both to scoop the dough (ultimately baking perfectly-sized and very even cookies) as well as for scooping up small manageable amounts of ice cream that easily smooshed down between the cookies. It went from being a putzy project to a pretty simple one. Without the scoop, you’ll do fine but expect a little more mess and for things to take a little more time.
Make 22 sandwiches + some leftover ice cream (you won’t be sad about this)
Takes some time, about 5 hours if you adequately cool things (maybe 1-2 hours of active time), but this recipe is DEFINITELY done best in stages in between cleaning your home for a super fun event or even over the course of a couple days
1/2 pound rhubarb, sliced
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
3/4 cup sugar
1 quart favorite vanilla ice cream
7 tablespoons melted butter
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Diced pecans, oats or sprinkles, technically optional (but shouldn’t be!!!)
- Make your cookie dough. Combine melted butter, softened cream cheese and brown sugar in the bowl of stand mixer. (Yes, you can do this by hand but it’s going to be a lot harder to get a smooth batter). Start the mixer slow and then beat for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until smooth. Add vegetable oil, egg and milk and stir until incorporated. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and gently stir in, stopping once or twice to fold in the sides with your spatula. The dough will be smooth and yellow and beautiful but VERY soft. At this point, I put my dough in the fridge to chill for an hour while roasting the fruit and doing other things.
- Roast your fruits. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine strawberries and rhubarb in a 9 x 13-inch pan or casserole dish. Sprinkle with sugar. Roast for 25 minutes until very juicy with slightly dried fruit on the top. Mash with a fork or potato masher so that fruit pieces are bite-sized. Leave fruit to cool while you start on the cookies. Feel free to throw it in the fridge.
- Bake your cookies. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Pour diced pecans, oats or sprinkles into a shallow baking pan. Using your awesome cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop round-ish balls of dough. Dip or roll in desired coating (aka pecans, oats or sprinkles). I like the look of the cookies totally rolled in sprinkles but this also uses a LOT of sprinkles so do what feels right. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown. The cookies will be quite soft but that will work better once frozen. Leave to cool for 3-5 minutes on baking sheet before removing to cool. Now that the cookies are done you have more clean up time around the house. The last thing you want is to put warm roasted strawberries and rhubarb into ice cream, melt it and then put that already melted ice cream onto warm cookies. You will have a real mess on your hands. If you’re in a hurry, cool the fruit and cookies in the freezer for an hour. If you aren’t, do these steps the day before or in the morning. You can also stir the fruit into the ice cream right away and not care that it melts a little if you are doing these steps the day before.
- Make your ice cream. Take the ice cream out of the freezer 30 minutes before you’re ready to mix in the fruit. Once melted along the edges, remove all with a spatula into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add fruit and all the yummy juices and stir to combine until well incorporated. Put it back in the freezer to get a bit more firm if making the cookies today. This step can also be done in advance. check on it every 15 minutes or so. You want it to be scoopable but not at all melty. The ice cream needs to hold together.
- Assemble your sandwiches. Clear enough room in the freezer for a baking sheet. Using the awesome scoop or a tablespoon put two scoops into the center of a cookie. Place another cookie on top and squish it down very gently just until the ice cream comes to the edges of the cookie. If the ice cream looks drippy and melty at all, stick it back in the freezer and wait to make the sandwiches. Build your ice cream sandwiches one by one and place them in the freezer immediately so they have no time to melt. Let set for about an hour or so and then enjoy! Or wrap in plastic to enjoy later!
Editor’s note: This post not endorsed by that awesome scoop available at Macy’s. I just love love love it.