Some of my readers and friends (and even my mother) have questions about why I’m writing a blog.They gently inquire, “Do you want to to be a chef? Do you have ambitions to host a Food Network show?” Or “Are you trying to publish a cookbook?” And even, “Are you trying to get free products sent to you?” I don’t blame my confused readers. I myself was very confused about blogs when they started popping up in my life nearly a decade ago. But what I learned from the people I know who blog and what I think is so terrific about blogging is that everyone does it for their own personal reasons. And sometimes, where you start your journey is not necessarily where you end up.
My good friend Hollye Harrington Jacobs started her blog because she got cancer. She realized the first week after being diagnosed that it was exhausting to try and explain to everyone what was happening in her life. As the unanswered emails and phone messages piled up, Hollye realized she had to find a way to stay in touch with all her caring friends without using up every ounce of her survival energy. So she sent out a message to everyone giving us the link to her new lifeline, a blog. She created a healing ritual for herself of posting every day from her brookside cottage letting us know how and what was going on in her life as a cancer patient.
No one, especially Hollye, could have imagined what came next. Her words not only healed herself and informed her friends, they touched the world. A mere three years from diagnosis, Hollye’s book “The Silver Lining: A Supportive and Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer” is available for worldwide pre-order. Hollye documented everything she wanted to know when she was going through the experience herself and packaged it in a stunningly beautiful book with photography by the talented Elizabeth Messina. The book is a gift in every way. Hollye's blog, called The Silver Pen, reaches readers everywhere offering the things Hollye needed most during her darkest hours of treatment...advice, encouragement, and an open ear.
I am so proud of and excited for my friend.
Along the journey with Hollye, I discovered she likes caramel. Or LOVES caramel is a more accurate description. When she was in the depths of chemo and could barely keep on weight, sweet treats were welcomed. Two of the things I made that she loved most were Maya’s Momma’s Caramel Cake (you can read about it here on her blog) and Caramel Ice Cream. Using words that Hollye would say, she literally did a face-plant in this ice cream every time I made it for her.
The recipe came to me from a lovely Australian friend that I met when living in the Bay Area of California in the late 1990s. I was taking a History of Furniture and Design course (one of my numerous creative interests) at a local college and she was my classmate. She invited me to her house for lunch one day and she had made this ice cream for dessert. Sadly, I lost touch with her when she moved away shortly after our class ended. But fortunately for all of us, I didn’t leave her house that day without the recipe!
But back to the question about why I blog. There are many reasons and I will list the most important ones, followed by the recipe for this delicious Caramel Ice Cream!
First, I love to write. I wrote my first “book” at age nine and dedicated it to my 4-year-old sister even though she annoyed me beyond belief! One of my favorite classes in High School was creative writing and I was encouraged to keep writing by Mr. Cullen and my A+ final paper. I stopped loving to write for a long time when I had to write papers in college about topics I didn’t care about and later when I worked writing and editing articles that I also wasn’t passionate about. During my working years, when I was commuting or waiting in lines, I often composed stories in my head. While I raised my three children and spent much time sitting on park benches, waiting for school pickups and watching sporting events, I composed stories in my head all the time. And once I got my own computer, I even wrote a few of my stories. Now that I’m an empty-nester, I can’t stop writing.
Second, I love to cook. I’m not a trained chef, but I have gained lots of time in the kitchen in the last thirty years so I want to document the recipes that have worked for me and my family.
Third, the blog gives me a format for my stories and recipes and a way to organize them with photos. It is a really great tool.
Fourth, I am so happy to document all the stories of my life and friends and family. Even if my children don’t read them all now, someday they will get a good chuckle or cry over them. And they won’t have to sort through the thousands of pieces of paper in my kitchen to find their favorite recipes.
And finally, it is really exciting to have people read my stories and try my recipes. Sometimes, people even tell me they like them. There is nothing better than to know someone is listening. Maybe that is why Hollye’s blog struck such a chord with so many readers. And why Hollye's book is such an important guide. Everyone has moments when they are blindsided by something. It could be illness, or fear, or grief or joy. Whatever you are feeling, it is really nice to know that someone out there is listening. So before you do a faceplant in this ice cream, let someone know you are listening and make their day.
"Only on the Internet can a person be lonely and popular at the same time." -Allison Burnett
Caramel Ice Cream for Hollye
1-1/4 cups sugar 1/4 cup water 1 cup heavy cream 2 cups milk 5 large egg yolks 1 tsp vanilla
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar and the water. With a pastry brush dipped in water, wipe down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan as you bring the mixture to a boil. Cook over medium heat without stirring until the syrup begins to darken and caramelize. Carefully swirl the pan over the heat until the syrup is an even golden brown. Remove immediately from the heat to prevent burning the caramel. Allow to stop boiling and gradually stir in the cream. The caramel will harden so return to heat and reheat gently, stirring continuously until the caramel is smooth. Remove from heat. In another saucepan, heat the milk until small bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until thick and light in color. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and then pour the mixture back into the pan, cooking over low heat while stirring constantly until it has thickened slightly into a custard. Do NOT boil. Strain the custard into the caramel mixture and stir until blended. Cool and stir in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate overnight before freezing in an ice cream machine.