The thing is, I'm going to start planning to have a baby soon, and the idea can be a little bit scary.
(Sorry to start right in like this, dear reader(s), but this conversation is already going full swing in my head, so you'll just have to catch up.)
I want to have a baby. I do, I do, I do. I want to expand my life with Paul into a family. I think I can do it, and be good at it, and just the word "family" can sometimes bring me to tears, it's such a powerful, beautiful thing. And to CREATE family would be the most amazing challenge ever.
But, holy crap, it scares me.
Not the pregnancy part. Not the delivery part (I was with my sister for the birth of both her children, and it was some crazy stuff -- but women are tough, and I am a woman). I'm not even scared about finances or owning a house first, because my family sure didn't have much and we were very happy.
What scares me is losing any or all of the things that I love about my life now. I'm scared that I won't be able to travel enough, or have enough time to write, or read books for hours on end. I'm scared that my job (which I love) is the opposite of mommy-friendly, in that I'm freelance and often work 12-hour days.
I like my life, and I'm scared to lose it. This is the by-product of starting families later in life, I guess; when I was 23 I hadn't handmade my life into the thing it is today.
But it doesn't mean I'm scared enough to reconsider starting a family. It's just that these days I kind of look around my life with a different perspective, eyeing the peripheral things that will probably be sacrificed, wondering if I'll be able to do and be and have all the things I want to do and be and have. I find myself almost pre-mourning this life as I prepare for the next one.
But, there are other times when this pending-parenthood perspective makes everything around me more alive. I'll read a good book, and think about how that same book will be on the shelf in 15 years when my future teenager might pick it up and read it.
And of course, each new recipe I make seems to come with a dash of premature nostalgia, as I dream about its potential to be a family favorite. And this is what supersedes any fear I might have about losing this life I have now. Because the truth is, the only thing I can imagine better than what I have is adding a family to it.
At the farmers market on Sundays, there are always so many brand-new families out with strollers, the mothers and fathers picking fresh produce to feed their families. And this Sunday, along with the strollers, there were strawberries. As far as the eye could see... and the smell was like summer.
So I bought strawberries. And I turned them into the sweetest, creamiest ice cream (with my glorious new ice cream maker!). And I imagined dishing it out to tiny little hands holding tiny little spoons for their first bowl of summer ice cream. And I suddenly wasn't so scared.
This ice cream is custard-based, but actually really easy to make. Just keep an eye on the stove, keep stirring and make sure it never comes to a boil. (If you manage to become distracted and the custard does come to a boil, stick the milk and egg mixture into a blender, and that should save it.)
I left the strawberries pretty chunky, which means bits of frozen strawberry. I'm cool with that, but if you prefer yours smooth, just blend it longer and you'll have perfectly pink scoops. I also added lemon zest after the straining, because I think it makes it taste brighter. But that's up to you.
Also, this recipe makes a lot of ice cream, which makes it perfect for a dinner party, or, a family.
Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
9 egg yolks
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled (about 2 1-pint baskets)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Combine milk and cream in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to simmer. Remove from hear and cover; let steep one hour.
Bring milk mixture to simmer. Whisk yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture (not too fast, and be sure to whisk, otherwise you'll get scrambled eggs). Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium heat until custard thickens and leaves path on the back of spoon when finger is dawn across, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Strain into a bowl. Add zest of one small lemon, if adding. Cover and refrigerate custard until cold.
Puree 6 cups berries, corn syrup and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in food processor. Mix puree into custard. Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to container and freeze. (Ice cream can be prepared 2 days ahead.)
Yield: about 8 cups