Field Work Friday – Ice Cream in a Bag

 
June is National Dairy Month, and with the heat we’ve been having, I’ve been craving ice cream!  We decided to head to a local park and make some.
 
 

First, though, we had to get some energy out and work up a good sweat.  Who can eat ice cream when they’re as cool as a cucumber?

Next, we had to hike over to the new dock and throw a few rocks and pine cones in the lake.  Really, who could possibly concentrate on cooking when all that cool water is beckoning?

Finally, we were ready to make ice cream.  This recipe is super simple and can be prepared in about 20 minutes.  You can make it one of two ways:  in nested freezer bags, or in nested coffee cans.  The cans are my favorite because you can then roll the cans back and forth and make the work into a game – but the bags work just as well.

First, in either your small can or one quart freezer bag, pour 1 cup of whipping cream (or any non-homogenized cream), 1/2 cup of sugar, and a splash of vanilla.  Seal it tightly and put it into the larger container – either the larger coffee can or a 1 gallon freezer bag.

Layer ice and rock salt in the outer bag or can and then seal that.  If you are using the cans, start rolling them back and forth.  If you’re using the bags, turn on some music and have a dance party!  The idea is to keep that cream moving, moving, moving, until it thickens up into ice cream.  Don’t let the cream stop moving!

This guy turned his bag over and over and over and … well, you get the idea.

When it has reached the consistency you like, open the bags very carefully – you don’t want to get the salty water from the outer container in the ice cream! – and scoop out your ice cream.  Add any toppings you like – but it’s really great plain, too (and I don’t even like vanilla ice cream!).

I meant to take a picture of the finished product … but we were too busy eating it.  I forgot.  It was really yummy.

Next time your kids are hot and a bit bored, get out some bags, crank up the music, and make some ice cream!

Book Club, Girls’ Edition: “Understood Betsy”

 
Understood Betsy
 
When I was a little girl my grandmother gave me a copy of “Understood Betsy” by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  As winter approached and we began to make plans for our January book club, I knew this was the perfect choice.
 
Understood Betsy is the story of Elizabeth Ann, a young girl who is being raised by her maiden aunts – at least, she was until one of the aunts takes sick and needs to go to a warmer climate to recover.  Elizabeth Ann is sent to live with other relatives nearby, and when their circumstances change, as well, she is shipped off via train to live with those Putney cousins in Vermont.  On this mountainous Vermont farm, Elizabeth Ann begins to think for herself – and has all sorts of adventures.
 
Undestood Betsy is a fantastic story – one you’ll want to read again and again.  We had a great time celebrating this book Betsy-style – and we hope you will, too.   
 
 
After talking about the book, we built a fire with a flint and steel.  Since there was a polar vortex happening outside our Southern home, this was quite appropriate, and we appreciated the warmth of the fire.  It made our meeting extra special to be cozied up to the fireplace!
 
 
 Next we made butter from cream.  None of the other girls had done this before, and they quickly got tired of shaking the jar. 

 



They appreciated the finished product, though, and enjoyed squeezing out the buttermilk like Betsy did, although they didn’t like the taste of the buttermilk!

Since we weren’t sugaring, and it wasn’t snowing, there wasn’t an easy way to recreate Betsy’s waxing of the maple syrup in the snow.  I did learn a few things about New England and maple syrup from visiting my grandmother as a kid, though, and so we churned our own vanilla ice cream.  While the churn was going, we did a blind taste test of real maple syrup and a fast food restaurant’s syrup.  (The real stuff was identified by nearly every child by appearance alone, and every single one choose it in the taste test.)  After our ice cream was ready, we topped it with maple syrup, New England-style, and headed back to the fire for our snack.




In the book, Betsy and her friends make a new outfit for a little boy in the hopes of helping him get adopted.  While we’ve taking on several simple sewing projects, I opted not to try to make pants.  Instead, we knotted scarves for a scarf mission in Scituate, Massachusetts.

When each girl finished making her scarf, she decorated a simple card to go with it.  They were really creative with these!


We had a great time celebrating Understood Betsy style, and we really packed a lot into the few hours that we had.  This is the perfect winter book – and since it takes place about a hundred years ago, there are many skills to practice throughout the reading.

Have you read Understood Betsy?

Book Club, Girls’ Edition: “The Smuggler’s Treasure” An American Girl Mystery

Disclosure Pic
 
 

Smuggler's Treasure

 It’s book club time again!  We ate well this month after reading The Smuggler’s Treasure, an American Girl History Mystery set in New Orleans during the War of 1812.

 
I had the chance to visit New Orleans a few years ago – back before Katrina – and so we talked about the culture and what makes the city unique – the Cajun culture, the heat and humidity, the architecture – and then we talked about the food.  Food is always fun to talk about, but especially when the book you’ve read is set in a bakery!
 
Our club meeting just happened to be scheduled for Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, and while that wasn’t mentioned in the book, beignets were – and since I come from an area where doughnuts are the traditional way to fry the fat and sugar out of your cupboards before Lent, we decided to do the same.
 
 
First we got our dough ready.  Beignets use yeast, so we talked about the science of how yeast makes bread rise as we watched it wake up and act.  The girls seemed to think that was pretty cool.
 
 
 When the dough was ready, we rolled it out and used a pizza cutter to shape the squares.  I wasn’t sure we’d have enough at this point, because we really wanted to be able to share outside the club, so we started on another batch.

 

Then we moved them to a tray so we could roll and slice the second batch …

and while all of the dough was rising, we headed off to talk future careers.  The main characters of our story were torn – one wanted to run the bakery someday, while the other wanted a different life.  After the girls each shared their dreams for their own future, they thought about how they would market their bakery – if they had one.  Each girl came up with a name and logo for her bakery – except for these three.  They decided to work together and did the project jointly.

 

Next it was time to fry the beignets.  The girls watched from a safe distance, and then after they drained, we dropped three into their bags on top of a small pile of powdered sugar, just as they’re served in Cafe du Monde now.

 

Then it was time to do the happy beignet dance and shake that sugar all over the hot pastries!  My Little Man couldn’t bear to be left out of this fun, so he grabbed a bag, designed his own logo, and hopped in line.

 

The girls polished off these beignets and some wanted more, so we tried them in the more traditional Amish style, dusted with regular sugar:

Both were great.  This was definitely a fun way to bring a bit of New Orleans’ culture into book club – and it’s one we’ll be repeating again. 
 
What are your kids reading now?
 
Bring the culture of New Orleans to your event with these fun products:
 
 

Book Club, Girls’ Edition: “A Surprise for Lily”

Disclosure Pic 
We are currently experiencing both the best and worst of times in our book club this month.
 
http://anestintherocks.blogspot.com/2014/05/book-club-girls-edition-surprise-for.html
 
The best, because we had a really wonderful time reading and interacting with A Surprise for Lily by Suzanne Woods Fisher.
 
The worst because this is the last in the series.  There are no more Lily Lapp adventures to read.
 
Because Lily had so many outdoor adventures in this book, we decided to make our club meeting a whole-family affair and moved it to a local park.  

 

My husband manned the grill.  Although Lily usually roasts her hot dogs on a stick over the fire, that wasn’t possible for us in the park.  We enjoyed our freshly roasted hot dogs, anyway.  He makes a great grillmaster!

 

The girls enjoyed eating together and discussing the book, although they were really anticipating our next adventure …

boating!  We decided to take to the lake the way that Lily and Hannah did in the family rowboat – hopefully, though, without capsizing.  Together our families rented two canoes and two kayaks.  The kids took turns canoeing around the lake with some dads in charge …

while some of the older kids were able to kayak on their own.  They really loved this part!

 

Afterwards everyone played a spontaneous game of baseball.  The kids get along well together.  We’re happy not to have any rocky Lily-and-Aaron relationships at this point!

We have enjoyed reading this series together.  I’m sad that our time with Lily is ending.  Perhaps Suzanne Woods Fisher will write another great kids’ series.

You can read more about our other Lily Lapp book club adventures here:

“A Big Year for Lily”  by Suzanne Woods Fisher



What are your kids’ favorite books?