Tuesday, June 14, 2011


When I first had children, there were very few signs that those squirming, pooping, and screaming creatures were related to me. There might have been a familiar eye color or expression, but that was about it. And then as toddlers they just seemed like crazy drunks.  There was no time to even think about what we had in common with all their drama and my constant fatigue. 

But now that Bella is older, I can't stop seeing myself. There's the arch of my foot, the curve of my shoulder, and the diagonal line of my tricep. When Bella sits, she crosses and then double crosses her legs just like I always have.
When I was Bella's age, a crazy hormonal monster used to wake me up early in the morning. So I would read to pass the time. This same monster has been visiting Bella for about 6 months. Thank god she loves books or she would just be staring at the wall until the sun came up.

Early yesterday morning, I went in to kiss Bella and she had already been reading for an hour. I stroked her hair, rubbed my finger against her check, and said, "Happy summer." And then I got all goofy and full of pride and excitement about her love of reading and I told her that something really exciting would happen if she read 100 books this summer.

"Like what will happen?" Bella asked.

"Um. Like something hella awesome." I hadn't had coffee yet. 

"Mama. Wait. 100 books is a lot. How about 60?"

"Deal, my love."

She skipped lunch and finished A Wrinkle in Time by dinner. 

Oh how I love Bella's ability to focus. It's just like her daddy's. 

And I love summer. Dash's optimism. My husband's support. Anchovies. HBO's Treme. New York City. My kids' faces when I give them ice cream (intake of breath, huge smile, pink cheeks).

A few months ago, babble.com asked me for an original recipe. I decided it was time to explore ice cream.  We haven't stopped churning batch after batch of eggs, cream, half and half, and sugar.

Over-the-knee boots. Harold McGee. My husband's sense of humor. Michael Ruhlman's Sex and Chicken article. Ina May Gaskin. Warm ice cream base.

The enhancements (flavorings, chunks, toppings) vary, but our base is always the same. And that base—just thickened, poured through a strainer, cooled in an ice bath—is one of the most comforting things I've ever spooned into my mouth. 
My mortar and pestle. Parents as grandparents. Avocados. Truly Madly Deeply. Heirloom tomatoes. Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. Writing. Caramelized onions. Crimes and Misdemeanors. Homemade chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

We made some mistakes in those early batches. Too much cream. An overcooked custard. Not enough sugar. But now we've got it down.
My camera. Adele's voice. James Joyce. Pandora. Nigel Slater. Annie Hall. Yoga. My nephew. My old dog. Martinis. Cooking for my husband. La Tur cheese. Vanilla bean ice cream licked right off the mixing paddle.

"You learn from mistakes" is one of those expressions that no one wants to hear. Recipes are a really safe way for kids to explore this annoying message. Trial and error. Sometimes entire batches of ice cream are thrown out. It's okay. We start again.

Sardines. Birth. Pizza. Sardines on pizza. Writing recipes. Crème fraîche. Chocolate.
Check it (my new favorite expression from my friend Jen). My recipe for Creme Fraiche Stracciatella Ice Cream is over at babble.com in a feature called Meals for the Family: Over 50 Best Recipes from the 100 Best Food Blogs. Thank you babble.com. You brought ridiculous amounts of ice cream and joy into my home. 


  1. This ice cream looks so delicious! I love the texture of cold, crispy chocolate shavings in creamy ice cream.
    I agree...making ice cream with kids is the best. I will be trying this recipe out with my boys very soon!

  2. I'm a writer, 1st time pregnant (37 weeks), and foodie. I don't like mommy blogs but stumbled on yours just a couple weeks ago and can't stop reading. Gorgeous language, a fat thread of science and a strong sense of humor keeps me coming back. Thank you.

  3. so beautifully written! especially the part describing how you see yourself in Bella!

    great post!


  4. Your ice cream blog entry reminded me of our recent adventures making ice cream. We had an amazing visit to Vermont last summer and came home with a new love: maple creamies... We have recreated it at home using maple syrup as the sweetener in the icecream base and crumbling maple sugar over the top. Tastes best served soft. Delicious.

  5. I love you...but you knew that already :)

  6. I am completely smitten with your blog. Your writing is so beautiful and your photos are so stunning...plus the ice cream? Pure yum.

  7. Phyllis - there is such richness and depth of flavor in your food and life. I love it all!
    And I need to learn from all your ice cream making. P wants an ice cream machine for his b-day this year. He'd love a handcranker. Any thoughts or suggestions on whether or not the machine makes a difference?
    Cannot wait to see you soon.

  8. Best Food Blog Ever...Woody Allen movie references, random swearing, amazing food, adorable children...what more could one ask for? nothing!

  9. YES! Phyllis, you know I've been waiting for an ice cream recipe from you. My beast of ice cream maker with hideous faux-wood paneling thanks you.

  10. so beautiful. I once through ice cream across the kitchen when it didn't turn out right but now that I have kids, I so desperately want them to learn that lesson that experimentation sometimes means throwing things out. That's not failure at making ice cream, that''s success at experimenting! And I love your list of favorite things. Anchovies are disgusting, but I'm with you with the other things.

  11. Alex also loves A WRINKLE IN TIME, and a friend recently gave us another of L'engle's books and recommended many of them, which our friend loved as a kid. I think there are some that aren't sci fi, too. Now... I am very curious as to what the totally awesome surprise is going to be... do tell when it comes to pass!

  12. Reading. A great, great skill and hobby. I love how you have written about how you see yourself in things she does. So beautiful BUT...

    what is going to happen after 100 books?

  13. what lovely comments. thank to all of you. and i don't know about the reward. she is on book number 12 after 6 days. so i had better think of something soon!

  14. Can't believe I almost missed this post - your mom told me about it. my favorite yet! i adore the expansiveness of it -- how the love of ice cream grows into so much more. Yay over--the-knee boots! (funny, my word verification is PREGR. Yay birth!)

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