Coconut Chocolate “Ice Cream” (Dairy Free!)

I love making ice cream at home. We have tried many combinations over the years, pretty much settling on a standard base that we mix up with different flavors. In the summer, peach is a favorite, as well as fresh garden mint with cookies. Fall leans towards brown butter or whiskey or something else rich and delicious.

This weekend I wanted to try a dairy free “ice cream” and modified our standard base to accomodate. Coconut chocolate seemed to fit the bill.

Last time I attempted a coconut milk base it turned out a little more grainy than I prefer, so this time I added arrowroot powder. Also note, this is not a vegan base since it does feature rich homegrown egg yolks.

Verdict: this was pretty much perfect! I am looking forward to mixing it up again with different add-ins all summer long!


Coconut Chocolate “Ice Cream”

  • 4 cups full fat coconut milk (we use cartons from our local Asian market)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks


In saucepan, heat HALF the coconut milk with sugars, cocoa, oil, and arrowroot powder, and salt until heated through, stirring or whisking constantly (not boiling). Temper egg yolks with some of the hot chocolate mixture, and add to pot. Continue cooking until the consistency is of thin pudding. Add in vanilla extract and remaining 2 cups of coconut milk.

At this point I choose to pour the ice cream mix through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps, but this is optional .

Cool ice cream base in the fridge until cold, overnight is ideal. Churn in ice cream maker for ~20 minutes or until done. Freeze in containers for at least 30 minutes before serving.



Tea Time: Digestive Biscuits Recipe

If you have ever been to England, you probably know the tea time staple: McVitties digestive biscuits. Crisp and substantial, sometimes covered in chocolate, these are a unique treat somewhere between graham crackers and shortbread…but really, quite different from both. They are getting easier to find here in the US, but I stumbled upon a copycat recipe and decided to give it a try. Verdict: amazing. These are light and crispy and exactly what you want with tea. I expect they will be on regular rotation in our house.


Digestive Biscuits

Makes 12-14 cookies. I recommend doubling the batch as these go fast!

3⁄4 cup whole wheat flour

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄4 tsp salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1⁄4 cup wheat bran

5 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons brown sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons half-and-half

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar with a pastry blender. Mix in sugar with the hand pastry blender (food processors or mixers will work, but the crumb and texture will not be as flaky in the final product). Mix in fats with the pastry blender. The mix at this point should be crumbly and uniform. Mix the vanilla in the half-n-half and add to the mix. Mix with pastry blender until it is uniform and resembles soft, crumbly playdoh. Do not overwork the dough.

Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle. Roll out dough between two pieces of waxed paper to approximately 1/8″ thickness. Cut into rounds with cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Transfer to cookie sheets with silpats or parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes (adjust the baking time up to dry them out more if the biscuits are too soft and fluffy), or until golden. Let cool on wire rack.

Optional: spread the backs of the cooled biscuits with melted chocolate and let harden.


Tuna Pasta

Although the vines may not look like much, the tomatoes on them are oh so good! (I guess next year we need to right-size cages so the tomato plants are actually supported!)

With another dose of rain on the way we picked two huge bowls full of red goodness. One bowl turned into dinner, the other into sauce for the freezer. Cooking two different meals at the same time helps us streamline putting up food (a feat we are still figuring out) so that none of this harvest goes to waste.

This year our favorites were Old Germans and Milanos. We planted 15+ varieties and are going to plant more selectivly next year with just our favorites. Old Germans are a great heirloom slicing tomato with epic flavor. Perfect for tomato salad with feta or mozzarella. Milanos are a good Roma for sauce…much like San Marzanos but seem to do better up here in the PNW. Finally, Sun Sugars have become our favorite cherry variety.

Dinner was our favorite: tuna pasta. Sounds simple, is simple, but really far from ordinary. It is good any time of year with cherry tomatoes, but with a variety of fresh picked flavors and high quality tuna in olive oil, it is divine.IMG_7433[1]

Tuna Pasta

2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

½ yellow onion, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans tuna, packed in olive oil

Olive oil

Fistful of fresh basil

Salt and pepper

Stabby pasta of your choice (we like penne and rigatoni)

Fresh Romano or parmesan cheese

Hot pepper flakes (optional)

Preparation: In medium sized skillet, cook onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook until tender. Add tomatoes and oil from the tuna, and simmer until water is mostly evaporated and tomatoes are falling apart. Cook pasta separately in salted water. While pasta cooks, add tuna to tomato sauce and heat through. Tear basil into sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over pasta with ample cheese and hot pepper.

Solstice Strawberry Jam

A few weeks ago, I came home to Matt running frantically around the kitchen in the midst of his first jam making experience. He had run out of jars, was confounded by the amount of sugar in all the recipes, had way more berries than pectin…you can probably see it. I jumped in the car to procure more jars (thank goodness town is only 5 minutes away).

When I returned the scene was much calmer. The jars we had were filled, and the jam was the perfect level of sweet. We washed the final few, added the jam and off to the freezer they went. Fresh picked strawberry freezer jam round one was a success!

IMG_4546[1]As I mentioned, that was a few weeks ago. We have already plowed our way through two jars of this delicious treat; using it on toast, ice cream, in lemonade or milk…it is seriously awesome. So when the opportunity to pick more strawberries came up we jumped on it.

June 21: summer solstice. We picked another 18 lbs of bright red Shuksan berries on a weekend trip to Whatcom County. The season is winding down and the berries are smaller, but still oh so sweet and bright. IMG_4788[1]

We drove back to the island, took care of the chickens and sat down to an evening of hulling berries and watching Netflix. 18 lbs is a lot of berries, and we already had 17lbs made into jam, so we froze half of these. Today Matt turned the rest into round two of freezer jam. This time around we had enough jars, the right amount of pectin and a lot more confidence. Our freezer is full of sweet, solstice goodness.


Pastry Triangles

Friday night was supposed to be a dinner party with good friends. After a rough, long week it was something Matt and I were looking forward to. Then our guest cancelled. We pressed on and made it a great evening for two. And to be honest, we needed that anyway.

We had a huge vat of chili simmering all day on the stove to go with yogurt cheddar cornbread. To stick with the southwest theme Matt wanted to make fried dough for dessert. Fried dough? I guess you could say I was skeptical. I guess I should learn to ignore that default response. His experiments are usually amazing.

This one was the best yet.

I love how well Matt understands ingredients. He understands ratios and ingredient properties to a degree that I don’t even consider when cooking. Interested in learning that yourself? He credits most of his knowledge and insight to two book series. He claims that if you want to truly become a high caliber kitchen stud, these two book series are the only references you need. He has collected these classic collections from thrift stores and garage sales over the past 10 years.

  1. Foods of the World series
  2. The Good Cook series

Both are from TimeLife in the 1970s.

Last night’s epic dessert was not a recipe, but rather a creation based on technique and insight from these books. They look like beignets, but don’t have yeast. Ingredients like pie dough but added eggs, less fat ratio and are kneaded to develop gluten. They really are just a fried dough of Matt’s own creation. And they were EPIC. Light and clean, with flaky layers and caverns of air pockets perfect for scooping up whipped cream. The simple dough paired perfectly with the honey glaze, especially when the glaze itself was elevated with an unexpected (and utterly exquisite) pop of flavor from rice vinegar.

We served them on our blue china plates with a side of fresh whipped cream.

Pastry Triangles with Honey Glaze

Serves 4-6

1 cup flour
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs to ¼ cup water

Powdered sugar


Honey glaze

Cut butter into ¾ cup flour. After dough starts to stick together, add additional ¼ cup and incorporate. Add salt and egg yolks until incorporated. Add 2 Tbs water and incorporate, kneading in additional flour and water until dough does not crack around edges (like and pie dough would). Kneed well (5-8 minutes by hand) and make dough into a ball and chill for at least an hour. While chilling, make the honey glaze.

Roll chilled dough flat, folding over on itself at least 15 times (think puff pastry), final rollout flat very thin (just under 1/8 inch) and cut into random triangles.

Fry dough in oil heated to 375 degrees until dough puffs and is golden brown.

Dust pastry with powdered sugar, honey glaze and fresh cinnamon. Serve hot with fresh whipped cream for dipping.

Honey glaze
¼ cup water
1/2 sugar
2 tbs honey
1 tsp rice vinegar

Dissolve ingredients in small saucepan until sugar fully dissolves. Cool before glazing pastry.

Brown Butter Ice Cream

This weekend was full of house projects. Sometimes home ownership is exhausting. And sometimes it is stressful…Sunday was both for us. We have been working hard on our decks, and realized halfway through cleaning one that our deck door is still leaking and causing water damage in the downstairs bedroom…where we just got drywall fixed. The project list is getting reshuffled and now the focus is replacing that door and fixing the leak before fall. Sigh. It was a lot to juggle through.

But we celebrated a glorious summer weekend with fresh garden veggies and homemade ice cream. That helped.

Brown Butter Ice Cream

This ice cream is so decadent (calories in homemade ice cream don’t count, right?!) but so good. The brown sugar gives the custard base a complex caramel flavor. I imagine that it would be a cleaner “brown butter” flavor with white sugar but we loved this ice cream. The recipe I referenced called for corn starch instead of an egg but we liked this less processed approach.

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs corn syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, browned
  • vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt

Place the butter in a wide stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Let the butter melt then let it cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is quite brown and smells toasted. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Mix the milk and cream in a heavy saucepan. Whisk the sugar and corn syrup into the milk mixture in the saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved, being careful not to let the milk boil over. Simmer lightly for about 5 minutes, then temper egg yolk and whisk to combine into hot milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, for about one minute. Remove from the heat.

Combine the cooked milk mixture with the cooled brown butter in a blender or food processor. Carefully blend milk at high speed, adding brown butter slowly until completely mixed and emulsified. Add in the vanilla and blend for another 30 seconds.

Cool the milk and butter mixture in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to instructions. Add the salt into the ice cream maker in the last few minutes of churning.


Home Grown Mint Cookie Ice Cream

Last weekend we broke in our ice cream maker. It was a wedding gift and really needed to be put to good use. We perused ice cream flavors and settled on homemade mint with crushed cookies. I found a few variations and eventually make my own take. Verdict: awesome! The mint flavor of freshly extracted mint is not like store bought or mint extract…it is much earthier and floral. Perfect for enjoying after a farm fresh meal. Even better out of antique bowls.

Garden Mint Cookie Ice Cream

2 cups cream

2 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks (though next time we plan to use 5)

1 cup sugar

2 cups fresh mint leaves and flowers

1 pinch salt

Crushed oreos or other sandwich cookies (we used Newman’s Own)

1. In saucepan, combine 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk. Add mint leaves and flowers. Heat until steaming and then turn off heat. Let sit 3o mins. Then reheat to steaming and let sit another 15 mins.

2. Pour mint liquid through a strainer to remove leaves. Return liquid to saucepan.

3. Add sugar and salt to the mint mixture and heat until just steaming. Temper egg yolks and add. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 mins.

4. Remove from heat and add in remaining 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk (both cold). This will stop the cooking. Put mixture in fridge for at least an hour before putting in ice cream maker.

Churn in ice cream maker for 20 mins or until nearly done. Add cookies and churn until desired consistency.