As I sit at my computer tonight, I hear the rain outside, hitting the window, sloshing on pavement as cars drive by. It smells fresh, earthy, like your hands deep in soil when you’re working in the garden, yet clean, like the glassy drops of dew on grass in the morning. It reminds me this is the time of year when things green, when they begin to grow. All the storms and pounding rain bring us tulips and lilies, leaves on trees, buds on branches.
And it’s funny how, a few months ago, when I scraped ice off my car and skidded down the expressway, I didn’t believe this time would come again. At its darkest, winter was unending, hopeless—in that way, a little like life, sometimes.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about dreams lately—the big ones we make as children, unashamedly, be they astronaut or firefighter or surgeon. Everything’s sunshine and rainstorms and possibility, then. But as we get older and things seem more difficult, it becomes easier to lose yourself to discouragement, to long, cold afternoons under blankets in bed, metaphorically or not.
Come spring, I think of the cycles of life, the beginning and ending and beginning again. And I see a precious truth that no matter how bad things can seem, they can change.
I recently received a copy of Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes, written by Tessa Kiros. It’s a thick, hardcover cookbook filled with memories from the author’s heritage, which includes a Finnish mother, a Greek-Cypriot father and residences that changed between London, Africa, Athens and Mexico. My immediate reaction, opening it, was a happy sigh—kind of like my response to warm sunshine on my drive home—as it could, quite possibly, be the most beautiful cookbook I have ever seen.
Photography was done by Manos Chatzikonstantis, and it is like all the best of Tastespotting and Foodgawker and your favorite food magazine rolled into one, filled with full-page color photographs that will have you running to the kitchen.
To begin, I chose the recipe for milk, honey and cinnamon ice cream. It seemed a perfect way to celebrate spring and, in a less obvious way, the future. While my experience with the author’s cardamom buns would prove to be incredibly frustrating (possibly due to my converting measurements from fresh yeast to active dry), the ice cream was exactly the opposite.
I tasted the mixture before freezing it, when the warming smells of honey and cinnamon proved too hard to resist, and I immediately thought of a Greek dessert. You know the kind? Layers of phyllo dough with honey and cinnamon and whipped cream? Like baklava, but lighter. Once it hardened, the ice cream scooped out nicely, never quite freezing into a total solid, rich with the taste of honey.
I’ve been to Greece once, on a quick trip during my senior year of college, where I ate savory chicken souvlaki and walked through ancient ruins and saw preparations for the Olympics being built. If you’d asked me this last December if I’ll ever return, I’d have said, No, probably not, right before I went to watch a D.V.D. and drink some tea. But ask me now—or about anything, for that matter—and I’m open-minded. Anything can happen, I remember. I just have to look outside and see the ground come alive again, and I know.
Milk, Honey and Cinnamon Ice Cream
Adapted from Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes
There’s no need to worry if you don’t own an ice cream machine; this recipe gives you guidelines for making it completely by hand or with a hand mixer. There may be a few more steps involved as far as the pulling out of the freezer and whisking without a machine, but overall, it’s a snap.
2 3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup honey
Heat the milk, cream and cinnamon in a pan over low heat, mingling the flavors. Add the honey and increase the heat until the mixture is just coming to a boil; remove from heat and cool. Transfer to a freezer-proof bowl with a lid, cover and put in the freezer.
After an hour, remove the bowl from the freezer, give an energetic whisk with a whisk or an electric mixer, and return to the freezer. Whisk again after another couple of hours. When it is nearly firm, give one last whisk,, transfer to a suitable freezing container with a lid, and let it set in the freezer until it is firm (depending on the type of honey you use, your ice cream may not freeze completely solid).
Alternatively, pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and freeze, following the manufacturer’s instructions.