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Family Central: School’s Out, School’s Out

When I was growing up, the last day of school was always one of my favorite times of the year. Not only was it the day we played “field day” games outside all day and enjoyed tons of homemade treats from our room mothers, it also marked the first day of three months of feeling as free as I possibly could imagine.

Those were the summers of sunbathing, swimming and riding bikes with my friends. None of us were worried about having to work or take summer school to get ahead for college. There weren’t any summer traveling sports teams, and the highlight of our nights was playing kick the can in the woods until our mothers called us home.

This was also the time of year my family and I often went blackberry picking. I used to complain and drive my mother crazy so she would let me run home, but believe me I was always the first in line to enjoy her cobbler or my all-time favorite, Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream. The tangy buttermilk adds just the right flavor with the sweetness of the berries and the custard ice cream.

Summer nights are meant to be spent together with family and friends, preferably rocking away under a ceiling fan on your front porch…and a big bowl of homemade Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream in your lap.

Blackberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups fresh, ripe blackberries
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 Tbs water
1 cup half and half
5 large egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk, chilled in the freezer for at least 20 minutes (not fat free)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium-low flame, simmer berries, 1/3 cup sugar and water. Using the back of a wooden spoon, break up the berries as they cook down, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree. Carefully strain puree into a small to remove the seeds. This will take a few minutes, and I use the back of the spoon to help push the juice through. Set aside.

Pour the half-and-half into a saucepan, and simmer until very hot, but do not let it boil.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1/3 cup sugar until pale yellow. SLOWLY pour in the hot half and half, whisking constantly as you go.

Return mixture to saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, coating the back of a spoon. Do not allow it to curdle.

Strain again through a fine sieve into a metal bowl, pushing through any solids. Stir in chilled buttermilk, vanilla extract and berry mixture. Chill for one hour.

Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately for a softer ice cream or place in freezer for at least two hours if you like your ice cream harder.