Yesterday, we had a very quiet Memorial Day. We stayed home and listened to the rains come and go throughout the day. All weekend long, I couldn’t help but think of my dear friends and their family as they remember their brother who gave his life for this country last year. Up until last year, Memorial Day had a more distant meaning to me. A day to honor and be thankful for those who gave their life for this country. Coming from a family with many relatives in or retired from the armed services, of course I was proud and thankful for all the sacrifices they had given as well as all the other thousands of soldiers and families of those who defend this country. I realized how fortunate my family has been. My dad who served is alive and kicking. Uncles, cousins, and cousins’ spouses – all are alive today. My brothers who both served and were deployed various times, came back home to us unharmed. I guess I didn’t realize just how lucky we were until I witnessed the unending pain and grief that a family close to me is feeling. The loss of this great young man rocked his quiet home town and our school community. The loss of this hero came with an awful feeling of how close to home this is. His family is steadfast and strong, but they feel this pain every day. It’s a reality no one can ever imagine going through. Their brave brother, who was a husband and father to four young children gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country and the freedoms that we often take for granted. I can’t help but have a pit in my stomach thinking about the loss they feel every day and yet they move forward. They celebrate the life their lost soldier had. They celebrate his bravery, his illuminating smile, and his contagious sense of humor. They share their stories with his children and niece and nephew so that he is not forgotten. He can never be forgotten.
At the dinner table, we discussed the importance of the day and the meaning behind it. My husband who has a way of remembering numbers, told the girls the number of soldiers lost in the civil war, WWI and WWII. I want our girls to be aware of the true heroes our country’s military has. But more importantly, I want them to know how they are so much more than soldiers. They are husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. They are the brother of your babysitter, they are your uncles, your cousins. They are your neighbors, the teenager at our church. They are strangers who you’ll never meet. These are real people who choose to defend our country and all of us that they may not even know. They are true heroes. They put their lives on the line and sacrifice so much that we shall be forever grateful.
Yesterday afternoon, as I was thinking about what I had planned for supper, I wanted to make a tasty dessert, but something simple that wouldn’t take too much effort! Homemade ice cream seemed to fit!
There’s something about that fresh taste of homemade ice cream that hits the spot. When I was a kid, it was a real treat when my parents would bring out the old hand crank ice cream maker and we would enjoy fresh vanilla or orange crush ice cream! When I decide to make homemade ice cream, I usually make vanilla and then a second batch of another flavor. I like to do at least two batches of ice cream at once since I have the machine already out and that way I don’t waste the leftover ice and salt in the machine from the first batch. This time, I made good old vanilla and another flavor that I’ll share with you later in the week! This vanilla recipe is from my mom. She’s used it for years and it’s a great basic recipe. You can always add to it and build countless flavors from the basic vanilla so it’s a “Keeper” recipe for sure!
Vanilla Ice Cream – makes around 6 C or 1.5 qts of ice cream
2 C Heavy Cream
2 C Half and Half, or you could use 2 % or whole milk, or a combination. I used 1 C half and half and 1 C of 2 % milk
2 TBS vanilla. I used fresh vanilla bean plus a little vanilla extract.
1/2 – 3/4 C sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
2 eggs – beaten
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or pitcher and mix well.
Pour into a chilled ice cream canister and process per ice cream maker’s instructions. Mine is an electric ice cream maker.
I let it churn for about 20-25 minutes, or until set. Once the ice cream is set, transfer to a freezer safe container and place in freezer.
If you simply can’t wait, you can enjoy the ice cream immediately, but it will be pretty sloppy for ice cream cones until its hardened up a bit in the freezer.
My taste tester approved!