coconut milk and cherries

It’s been two years—two solid years since I came over here to this little space, logged into my WordPress dashboard and made the Big Announcement, alongside a recipe for cherry chocolate ice cream; two years since I’ve clocked into an office; two years since I’ve had coworkers nearby; two years without steady paychecks; two years with a much lower income (and two years with a much simpler life); two solid years since I did the thing I most wanted to do, which was also the thing about which I was most afraid; two years since I took one of the biggest leaps of my life: become a full-time freelancer.

cherries cherries

What I remember most about that hot and hopeful June of two summers ago, along with feeling free and like the future was wide-open before me, was feeling curious. From the moment I approached my old boss about becoming a contractor to the day I got into my car and drove away, for good, I remember wondering what would happen, where I would find work, if freelancing could possibly sustain me and for how long. I wondered if I’d end up moving or if I’d switch careers. I wondered if I would like it, this new lifestyle of casual workdays and variable pay. I didn’t know what to expect, and, in the same way that now Tim and I look at our future together, wondering about our lease ending in August and if we’ll have children and when, in the same way we hope for things, like a house and a garden and fruit trees, there’s something about knowing you don’t know that is both humbling and exciting and terrifying and good.

making homemade chocolate

I mean, don’t get me wrong: this isn’t the same thing as saying I like uncertainty. Most days, I just want a blueprint, a ready-made map that directs me from point A to point B and says why. I like direction. It’d be great if life were like that: Take three steps forward into a new job opportunity. Be at that coffee shop at 10 AM and you’ll meet a lifelong friend. Jump into the unknown, just you and your laptop and a lot of hopes and dreams, and you’ll make it, don’t worry, and two years from now you’ll be writing another blog post, thankful and happy and surprised.

cherry chocolate coconut ice cream

But the thing I realize most when I look back, knowing that it’s so much easier to see the truth when you’re two years removed from it, is that even when I felt unsure, even when everything seemed unknown, I was never abandoned or alone and so I never really needed to fear. These whole two years, with their ups and downs and maybes, I’ve always been OK, always provided for, and so I have every reason to trust.

Maybe that’s the whole point of the not knowing—because if you could see everything that’s coming in front of you, even all the good things, you’d never get the gift of learning faith.




Cherry Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen’s roasted strawberry version
Makes right around a quart

In honor of that cherry chocolate ice cream of two Junes ago, we’ve made this new version that has a base of coconut milk and a taste that’s so addictive, sweet and tart and plump with homemade chocolate chunks, once we put some in the freezer, you can count on me to keep returning to it until it’s gone.

Ingredients:
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup Sucanat (natural cane sugar)
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
1 1/3 cup pitted cherries
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped chocolate (recipe for our homemade version below)

Directions:
In a blender or food processor, puree the cherries until they’re a chunky liquid. Set aside.

While heating in a double boiler, mix two egg yolks with 1/3 cup of Sucanat (if you like your ice cream sweet! then add more, but we liked it this way). As it’s mixing, add a tablespoon of the coconut milk to help it blend. After it starts to thicken slightly, add the rest of the coconut milk and cherry mixture, and keep stirring until it thickens more, about five minutes. Next, place the bowl in the fridge to cool.

When ready to blend ice cream, pour mixture into ice cream maker. Add chocolate just before ice cream is fully set.



Homemade Chocolate
Makes about 1/3 cup chopped chocolate

From Tim: We like to make our own chocolate so that we can use natural sweeteners like honey, as well as raw cacao that hasn’t been overheated; also, using coconut oil allows us to make the chocolate softer, which is better for a mix-in consistency (not to mention, these ingredients are all great for your health!).

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
3 tablespoons raw honey
2 tablespoons organic extra-virgin coconut oil

Directions:
Combine ingredients in a slightly warm double boiler (try not to get it too hot in order to preserve as much of the raw properties as possible) and stir until well blended and the consistency of thick paste. Spread into a parchment-lined freezer-safe container. Stick in the freezer to chill for about 20 minutes. When ready to use, remove to a cutting board and chop right on the parchment paper.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Stacy

    YES. All of this I needed to hear today, in the midst of a solid time of knowing-I-don’t-know myself. I, too, would like the map, but I know you’re right: trust, faith, learning, and it will be good in the end, indeed. Thanks for the reminder (and the ice cream — I always love fruit+chocolate).

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Stacy. Reading your comment makes me think how much we all need to hear this kind of thing from each other. Because as I tell you my uncertainties, and you share yours, we gain a kind of right perspective that’s hard to have in the midst of it.

  2. brandi

    i love this. all of it. i’m in that phase of trying to figure out what i want to do, just knowing that what i’m doing NOW isn’t it. but jumping without any safety net is terrifying.

    this – ice cream and all – is exactly what i needed this week.

  3. MaryAnn

    Uncertainty is hard for us all, I think. It’s disturbs that part of us that longs so incessently to be in control. I know rationally that control is an illusion but the events of 2012 so far have forced me to vocally & consciously acknowledge the illusion over & over. I told my husband just the other night that I’d rather have bad news than to hear nothing & keep waiting (my job situation is very up in the air right now; today I have a job, next week, maybe not). But we don’t get the map & faith must be exercised to develop fully. So I wait & struggle to trust & hope. Cherry chocolate ice cream could make the wait a bit more pleasant, for sure (I gotta get an ice cream maker!!).
    By the way, it has been a joy to read over your journey & see how the Lord has blessed you with talent & success. I’m sure the future holds many more good things from His hand into your life :-)

    1. Shannalee

      You describe it so well, MaryAnn. Control IS an illusion and so knowing we don’t have it is in a lot of ways more honest, even if it does make us uncomfortable. We’ll keep waiting and struggling and trusting and hoping together, knowing we can do this because of the One in whom we hope.

    1. Shannalee

      We started doing homemade chocolate because a friend of ours had some chocolate-chip ice cream and our house and picked the chocolate chunks out, saying how they hurt his teeth. We were like, huh, maybe we should find a way to make it softer. At this point, Tim’s a pro. And it’s cool because you can really tweak it to texture you like best.

  4. Amanda Mae

    Ooooh…. you’re making me want to take that step to be all freelance. Currently I have TWO part-time jobs, AND I’m a freelance photographer AND a freelance graphic designer…. I’d love to knock out my two jobs and go all freelance, perhaps this is a sign…… maybe I should just DO IT!

    Congrats to you on your accomplishment. You’ve gone two years and that is awesome! Cheers to what’s ahead for you guys!

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Amanda. And everyone reading your comment should know, hello, all of that ON TOP OF BEING A MOM is beyond amazing. From following along at your blog for years now, I strongly believe you could take the leap. So consider that your push.

  5. Alejandra

    This is such a beautiful post, and I can completely relate to it! I remember when you made that announcement and I definitely think it was one tiny part of what inspired me to make my own leap about a year or so later. I remember reading your post and thinking to myself “I need to do this, too.”

    Congratulations on taking that first step and on being so brave to carve out your own way. (This ice cream sounds absolutely tempting–cherries and chocolate together are one of my weaknesses.)

    1. Shannalee

      Aw, really? I love thinking that we are inspiring each other in this blog community, giving each other the guts to go after what we love. So proud of you, too, then, for taking the leap and for carving your way and for, you know, doing it.

  6. Amanda I

    Shanna, thanks for this post. I’ve needed this reminder lately… That I have always and will always be provided for, and that this new unknown Andy and I are approaching is not unknown to our Father. As much as I want a blueprint too, at this point, I think that blueprint would freak me out a little :) His “Do not be afraid” is exactly what I need to right now.

    Hooray and congrats for 2 years!

  7. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    Shanna, with each new post of yours that I read, you are reaffirming why your blog is my absolute favourite. Not only do you feature amazing food and gorgeous photos, but the way you write and speak is incredibly heartfelt, eloquent, and always topical. It’s as if you’re speaking directly to me and to what I’m thinking/experiencing and I know by reading other people’s comments that they feel the same way. Love this ice cream and the beautiful story behind it.

  8. Jacqui

    I can’t believe it’s been two years already since you took the leap into freelance! I was just talking to some coworkers about that huge storm two summers ago, and I remember now it was around the same time you left your job. Can’t believe how much has changed since then, and still we’re chatting in this space, and I love that.

    1. Shannalee

      You and I and our little blog children have been through a lot together already—engagements and marriages, new jobs and abandoned ones. I was telling Tim last night that when I read your post on moving, I felt so hugely, weirdly happy for you and I was almost embarrassed. But you know, it’s because we’ve been in this together for four (!) almost years now, talking and listening and sharing our lives. And I love that, too.

  9. Joanna

    I can’t believe it has been two years. This post was definitely timely in my life, and I can see from other comments, that I am not alone in the sentiment. My boyfriend and I are looking at making some scary/exciting choices, and I hope to look back at this challenging time with thankfulness, joy, and increased faith. There are some exciting things in my future I’m sure, it is hard sometimes to step out of the comfortable and into the unknown though. I have a completely uneventful day tomorrow so I was going to bake something, but I think I shall give this a try. It is crazy hot right now, so I think ice cream would be perfect. And I LOVE cherries.

    1. Shannalee

      I’m so glad to hear that, Joanna—hoping these uncertain days lead to good things ahead! Thanks for your consistent encouragement over here these years. Hope you enjoy the ice cream! (It’s crazy hot here, too. 108!)

  10. sarah kate branine

    I remember that! I remember that post so clearly and I cannot believe that it has been two years! Congratulations!

    I was doubly excited about this post because I’ve been wanting to make some home-made chocolate but haven’t taken the time to look the process up. And two, I was given cherries from my friend’s cherry tree this morning. I do not have an ice-cream maker, but you might have just sold me on buying one. I mean, really, what are friends for if they don’t encourage you in the right things of life! : )

    ps. we really need to meet in real life!

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Sarah, and I totally agree: I would love to meet. Tim’s so used to my talking about your blog that we both feel like we know you, ha. Seriously though, I mean this: I love your site.

  11. Marissa

    “Maybe that’s the whole point of the not knowing—because if you could see everything that’s coming in front of you, even all the good things, you’d never get the gift of learning faith.” – Yes!!!! The ‘unknown’ – that terrible wonderful part of living. Congrats on two years of embracing a deliberate life. + Would love a bowl of that ice cream right now.

  12. Heather

    This is just what I needed to read today. Today, particularly, has been a struggle – trying to figure out what I am doing, where I am going. Currently, I’m working on getting my Masters degree in Food Studies while working full time, and trying to balance work, classes, homework, and my home life has been trying at times. I feel like I need guidance, direction, hope and encouragement. This post spoke to me in tremendous ways. Thank you.

  13. sara

    yum! I can’t wait to try a cherry version. LOVE cherries. I wish we could hug. I’ve been feeling similar sentiments – wishing for a plan so I don’t have to worry, but looking back and seeing that I’ve never NOT been ok. He has always given me more than I could have thought up myself. I hope someday I can settle with that. Beautiful post.

    1. Shannalee

      exactly. I read an article a few months ago where the author talked about all the times he’d worried and yet how there had never been a time when he hadn’t been provided for (i.e., never a time when he actually needed to worry)—so convicting. He knows just how to stretch us, each of us, individually, and what it takes to make our faith grow. slowly learning.

  14. sarah

    This is such a beautiful post. The last sentence is wonderful, and has given me much food for thought. The unknown is always what we get hung up on, driving us to fear or faith. I’m working on finding peace with the latter.

  15. Rikki

    I’ve been freelance my whole career so when I think about it, I have no clue what it’s like to have a full time position working with one company. I recently got approached and asked to do so but couldn’t give up freelancing! It is unstable at times but in the end everything seems to work out and the most exciting part is seeing how it falls together.

    And I’ve been looking for a good homemade chocolate recipe, I love this one, thank you [:

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