To Strawberry Ice Cream, With Love

It has happened.

I’ve had plenty to say about lentils and garlic scapes. I’ve been filled to the brim with musings on bran muffins and mushroom flatbread. And now I can’t find a thing to say about strawberry ice cream. I’ve totally blanked. Stymied by ice cream.

Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, recommends when you are suffering from writer's block—when the words just aren’t flowing (and perhaps after you’ve freaked out and thrown stuff)—to sit down and write a letter to a mother, a son, or a childhood friend. I realize Lamott likely didn’t mean to suggest a note composed to an ice cream flavor, but in a way strawberry ice cream is like a long lost companion. And so I begin ...

My dearest strawberry ice cream,

I blame you, in all of your innocence, for my confusion with how to deal with you. You’re a frozen slurry of hope, simplicity, and sadness. Like a well worn one-eyed teddy bear, in dessert form.

You’re a cannon ball into the beginnings of summer. You remind me of balmy nights chasing fireflies just after dusk. Of putting on the screen doors for the season. Thinking of you opens up the shutters and lets the fresh air in. As I write this, I find myself humming “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts. You’re blowing through the jasmine in my mind.

But also, you don’t try to pretend to be something you’re not. What you see is what you get: a light pink hue with bright strawberry bits that have sat stewing in their own juices before being mixed into cream sweetened with sugar. Some may view you as boring. But you’re more classic than clichéd.

I feel bad for you too. You’re often a cast away, the left behind flavor in Neapolitan ice cream and overlooked by most anyone past the age of eleven. Saying this now makes me realize you’re probably in need of a good therapist. You’d likely benefit from spending some time discussing your inner demons lying down on an oversized sofa. I know you have some. You’re nestled in many childhood memories, where adult-sized problems often begin. Like it or not, you probably come with some baggage.

But it’s okay. You represent flip flops and the dreams of summers past. You’re adored by tattered sentimentalists and are eaten by adults with youthful hearts. So I will think of you fondly, for always.

With sugar cones and spoons,


Strawberry Ice Cream

1.25 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped out
8 egg yolks
3/4 cup honey
~1/4 cup sugar (plus additional depending on the sweetness of your berries)
~1.5 pound strawberries, cleaned and stems removed
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rose water
~1/4 cup framboise

In a medium saucepan combine milk and cream; add the vanilla bean seeds and pod and cook on medium heat until bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan, being careful not to let the milk burn. Remove vanilla bean pod.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and add in honey and sugar. When the milk and cream mixture has started to bubble, as mentioned above, slowly add the hot liquid to the egg mixture, whisking in a little at a time to make sure the eggs don't start to curdle. Once fully combined, return mixture to the stovetop and heat on medium, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (about 6-7 minutes).

Remove the mixture from heat, strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, and set aside. Blend 3/4 of your strawberries in a food processor and then strain out the pulp; add strawberry puree to the cream base, along with the pinch of salt. At this point, you may want to taste the mixture again and whisk in additional honey, if needed. Quarter the remaining strawberries and combine with lemon juice and rose water. Place both the quartered strawberries and strawberry ice cream base in the fridge to cool, ideally overnight.

After mixture has cooled, freeze the strawberry ice cream base according to your ice cream maker's instructions, (typically this takes about 30 minutes).* Meanwhile, strain out any juice the quartered strawberries have released. About half way through the freezing process, add the strawberries and about 5 minutes before the ice cream is done, add in the framboise. Place in the freezer to finish the ice cream hardening process, ideally 2 hours or more.

Makes about 1.5 quarts

-*Though I froze this mixture all at once, I'd recommend freezing it in 2 batches if you can. It will freeze better with less mixture.

-The framboise helps to deepen the berry flavor, while also helping the ice cream remain softer in your freezer.


  1. I am now desperately craving strawberry ice cream and not just any-this! OMG it looks so good!

  2. I love the addition of rose water in this recipe. I'm craving some strawberry ice cream right now!

  3. this letter was absolutely beautiful. My boyfriend ALWAYS gets strawberry ice cream and we joke hes such a little kid for ordering it. I like your wording "adults with youthful hearts" much better indeed.

  4. I love strawverry ice cream! It's one of my favorite ice cream flavors, along with dulce de leche and hazelnut. And I eat it all year round, not just during the summer hehe. I think I will love your version even better, particularly because of the framboise ;)

  5. Strawberry was my absolute favorite ice-cream flavor as a kid, and I loved Neapolitan ice-cream. I don't have access to an ice-cream maker right now, but maybe it's time for a trip to the grocery store?

  6. I love the note the ice cream :) And you made me really want some strawberry ice cream!

  7. Such a lovely post and what a great recipe. Love the addition of rose water. Will definitely have to give it a try very soon.

  8. I wish could invite you all over for some! 'Moderation' with the amount I have left has been ... umm ... a challenge. ;)

  9. Hmm. Strawberry ice cream's subtle charms have a hard time competing for my attention against the crazy chunks of chocolate, veins of caramel, and nuggets of peanut butter and toffee in trendier modern flavors. But your post makes me realize that I've criminally neglected strawberry since maybe 1991. I used to really love strawberry milkshakes at a particular natural foods deli I went to as a kid. Time to revisit the past?

  10. I love this post and strawberry ice cream, too! If this is what you come up with while suffering from writer's block, then you must be beyond impressive when in tip-top shape!

    I hope you had a great trip to NYC and that the Red Rooster lived up to the hype...Maybe you got to try the cornbread; sadly, the kitchen was closed when I was there.

  11. strawberry ice cream is way unappreciated. interestingly, it was the one thing i craved and enjoyed after i had my wisdom teeth removed, and i've loved it ever since. great post. :)

  12. What a great idea for writer's block. And what a beautiful ode to that ol' summer treat.