I’ve noticed something changing over the past couple of months. It’s been gradual, and yet it feels as if my life has become… better. I found myself telling Neva, “I love you” as I played with her in the living room, or when I gave her a squeeze after finding her snoozing on the couch, or just walking past her while I was in the middle of a shoot. I’m not one to withhold saying “I love you” when I actually love an individual, but I didn’t say it very much in Neva’s early years because she made me absolutely insane and because I wasn’t sure that I really loved her. Now, I’m saying it many many times each day because she has gone from a sweet, but crazy girl to a sweet, crazy, but good girl. It’s been a slow process. This kind of behavior modification doesn’t happen overnight. But after getting Neva back from dog training camp four months ago, and working with her on the things Claire recommended, we are seeing such amazing progress now. Neva is definitely a happier pup when we give her instruction and she has learned to focus on us instead of spiraling out of control becoming a frenzy of anxiety and excitement. Best of all, on our most recent road trip from Crested Butte to Nederland, Neva didn’t drool a drop and she was even relaxed enough to chill out just watching traffic and scenery (she used to drool like a spigot and turn circles in her bed for 5 hours).
wildflowers going gangbusters in crested butte
our regularly scheduled evening rainbow in crested butte – no big deal
a paddle with jeremy on the taylor park reservoir
cinquefoil in bloom
the car is moving and neva isn’t upset about it
We returned to the Front Range in time to overlap with the tail end of my aunts’ visit with my parents in Boulder. I had not seen my dad’s younger sister in almost 30 years and it’s been over a decade since I met with my dad’s older sister. It made me so happy to see them both looking healthy and well. The next day, Jeremy left for the airport at 6 am to fly to the East Coast and I took Neva on a hike. Hiking with Neva has always been an ordeal because she gets so amped up in the high country that she pulls and cries and acts like a nut. It’s hard to manage that kind of behavior while hiking above 10,000 feet, so Jeremy (my high altitude mountain goat) typically wrangles Neva while I just hike and help as needed.
I took Neva by myself, resigned to deal with whatever happened. Of course, within the first ten minutes, we encountered three bull moose on the trail. Neva LOVES moose, so was very excited to see and smell them. I made her sit and wait as we gave them an opportunity to cross the trail without feeling threatened by our presence. Instead of pulling against her leash and baying loudly as she has done in the past, Neva sat, her tail wagging furiously, and cried softly as she watched the moose feed. But she remained by my side! WHO IS THIS DOG?!?!?! We eventually continued on the trail past the moose because they decided to hunker down and enjoy some willows for breakfast, and Neva was so damn good! It wasn’t a perfect hike, but Neva was the best she’s ever been with me on a solo hike. I couldn’t be happier.
dinner with my folks and my aunts
two of the three moose we encountered on the trail
neva takes in the smells while i take in the views
selfie on the ridge with my happy pup
dog as wildflower
dim sum with my folks
Whenever we go to Boulder to have dinner at my parents’ place, I almost always bring dessert because I like to make it and they like to eat it. For dinner with my aunts, Mom texted me that I shouldn’t bother making anything and to simply purchase something at the store since we just got home. But I had already planned on bringing ice cream – two flavors. The first was a lovely roasted strawberry ice cream that I had made a few weeks ago and the second was a recipe I had tested in February and decided it was too good not to make and share this time: huckleberry cheesecake ice cream. The huckleberry cheesecake ice cream is actually a very straightforward and easy recipe compared to my usual custard-based ice creams. Seeing as today is National Ice Cream Day, this is the perfect summery treat to share.
the berry swirl: huckleberries, lemon juice, water, salt, cornstarch, sugar
the crust: melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon (not shown: pinch of salt)
the base: cream cheese, milk, cream, bourbon, salt, sugar
I know huckleberries can be hard to get if you don’t live in a place where they grow or don’t know how to find them. You can order them online (frozen) from places in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and other blessed states that have wild mountain huckleberries. Or, you can substitute its cousin, the blueberry, which was the fruit used in the original version of this recipe. I’m just saying if you can get huckleberries, they are a billion times better than blueberries – and I love me some blueberries. [EDIT: I have added modifications for a strawberry cheesecake version in the recipe below. It’s also a winner!]
Start with the berry swirl, because it needs time to cool before you can incorporate it into the ice cream. It takes all of five minutes to simmer before you get a syrupy berry sauce that smells (and tastes) like the best thing you’ve ever had. Because huckleberries are smallish, I tend to only smash about a third of the berries because I like whole hucks in my ice cream. If you are using blueberries and they are large, then you may want to smoosh a larger fraction of the berries. Just use the back of a spoon and gently press the berries against the side of the pan. Let that cool while you mix the graham cracker crust. Use graham cracker crumbs like I have here, or you can crush your own graham crackers to retain a chunkier texture.
mix the huckleberries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, water, and lemon juice
combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and melted butter
Making custard-based ice creams requires more work and time than cream cheese-based ice creams. The custard requires separating eggs and cooking the custard, then straining and chilling before you can churn the ice cream. Cream cheese ice cream whips up in seconds in a food processor and you are churning the ice cream before you know it! There is a huge difference in the flavors of the ice cream bases. Custard tastes of egg yolks and is rich and smooth and mellow. Cream cheese imparts a tanginess to its ice cream that I don’t necessarily love on its own, but absolutely love with all of the mix ins.
blend the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the food processor
add cream, milk, and bourbon and blend until smooth
pour into the ice cream maker
churned to a soft-serve consistency
As soon as the ice cream base has churned, you are ready for assembly! I’ve made this ice cream three times now (much to Jeremy’s delight) and find that it works best to layer half of the ice cream, berries, then graham cracker, then repeat the layers with the remaining half. Right before you pop it into the freezer, give the batch a little swirl with a spoon or knife. Two passes work well – any more than that and your ice cream will start to turn pinkish-purple.
huckleberry sauce, cream cheese ice cream, graham cracker crust
spoon the berry sauce over the ice cream
layer the graham cracker crumbs on top
drag a spoon or knife around a few times to mix the layers a bit
it’s ready to scoop when it is frozen through
Let me state for the record: 1) I am not a huge fan of cream cheese 2) I like cheesecake, but I’m not crazy about it 3) I prefer custard-based ice cream to cream cheese-based ice cream. That said, I freaking LOVE this ice cream! When Jeremy and I tasted the base on its own, we were pretty “meh” about it. But adding the sweet and tart huckleberries and the cinnamon-kissed graham cracker crust lifts this ice cream into the stratosphere. It’s like ice cream and huckleberry cheesecake had a delicious, creamy, fruity baby. You can easily substitute other kinds of berries or make it gluten-free by using gluten-free graham crackers. This recipe is a crowd-pleaser AND it’s not that hard to crank out. So on this national day of ice cream, I say go forth and eat ice cream!
that’s a bowl for two people
a great way to keep cool and happy
1 cup fresh or frozen huckleberries (or any berries)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps cornstarch
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
graham cracker crust
heaping 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (or coarsely crushed graham crackers – as you like)
1 1/2 tbsps granulated sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tbsps unsalted butter, melted
cream cheese ice cream base
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp bourbon (optional – but yes, please)
Make the huckleberry sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until the cornstarch has been completely incorporated (no lumps). Turn the heat to medium and stir for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and the berries give up their juices. I like some whole berries in my ice cream (because huckleberries are small), so I only smash about a third of the berries with the back of a spoon. If using other berries, mash as you see fit. Remove from stove and let cool completely. Set aside.
Mix the graham cracker crust: Place the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and mix together. Pour the melted butter over the crumbs and use a fork to make the mixture uniform. It should look like wet sand. Set aside.
Make the cream cheese ice cream base: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cream cheese, sugar, and salt together until smooth. With the food processor running, add the milk, cream, and bourbon (if using) through the pour hole until blended. Churn the cream cheese ice cream base in your ice cream maker according the manufacturer’s instructions.
Assemble the ice cream: When the ice cream is churned to soft-serve consistency, spread half of the cream cheese ice cream into your vessel. Pour half of the huckleberry sauce over the ice cream. Sprinkle half of the graham cracker crust over the huckleberries. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Take a knife or spoon and run a few swirls (figure 8 works well for me) along the length of the ice cream, making sure you reach the bottom of the vessel. Freeze for several hours until firm. Makes about a quart.
STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE VERSION: Use strawberry sauce (below) instead of huckleberry sauce, and swap 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier for the bourbon in the cream cheese ice cream base (above). Then make the ice cream just as you would in the huckleberry recipe.
2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries (semi-thawed), medium dice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
Make the strawberry sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the cornstarch has been incorporated (no lumps). Stir occasionally as the berries release their liquid. Bring to a boil. The strawberries will foam, just keep stirring. If they foam to the point of overflowing, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer or gently boil the strawberry mixture until the liquid thickens slightly and darkens in color a shade. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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