Two weekends ago, we took off on an adventure in the countryside! It was the day after my half marathon, and the boys woke up painfully early for a Sunday morning (kids do not believe in weekends!). I had been gone for a lot of the previous two days with all the race events, so I was itching for a fun family activity. A bit of google searching led us to Monroe, Washington – east of Seattle, and out to Bolles Organic Berry Farm!
Since we’ve lived out here we’ve picked blueberries, apples, and pumpkins – but never strawberries. One thing Casey and I both really loved about this farm is that it was the real deal. While I love a good family-friendly activity, some of the local farms can be a bit over the top with all the kiddie rides and entertainment, and feel a bit…staged?
This was a tiny farmhouse way out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but local honey for sale and a giant field of berries ripe for the picking.
They gave each of the boys a small empty pint, and the parents were given an empty flat to fill. Cullen and I have gone blueberry picking every summer since he could walk, and in the past every berry has gone straight into his mouth. I was hopeful that this year he’d finally understand the idea of saving a few to take home.
He was really into it, and he loved finding the big juicy red ones to fill up his basket. He still ate his fair share, but he also found a lot to add to the family box.
Graham, on the other hand, was determined to eat the whole field (as expected).
He is at such a wonderful, fun age (20 months <—HOW?) and he has such a hilarious personality. He is a total mama’s boy and I secretly love it. I sat back and just watched him explore and pick berries, and stuff his mouth until juice dripped down his chin.
And for as much as I love Graham in this older toddler stage, the older Cullen gets I see how awesome it is to have bigger kids! For so long I feared my kids growing up and not being babies anymore, and of course now that we are baby-less I see all the freedom and fun that a few years can bring.
Not that he doesn’t have his fair share of three-year-old moments and meltdowns and a level of defiance that makes me question my sanity on a daily basis. But most of the time he’s like hanging out with a buddy, and it’s pretty incredible to see how quickly those babies turn into real people.
The boys were super focused on the task at hand, and Casey and I pretty much just watched and helped and enjoyed it all.
We spent the car ride home talking about what we should make with all those delicious berries. We considered a pie or a crumble, but given the ridiculous heat we’re having so far this summer, we landed on the only thing that sounded truly refreshing – ice cream.
So a few days later, while Graham was napping (he’s not quite at the ideal sous chef age just yet) – Cullen and I set out to make the best vegan strawberry ice cream ever. And I’m pretty sure we did!
We based ours off of this recipe, which I found through a bit of googling. We used the following ingredients (and used her cooking instructions!):
- 2 (15-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk (we used Thai Kitchen brand)
- 1/2 cup amber honey
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 5 full sheets graham crackers, crumbled
One of the reasons we chose to make ice cream is that these berries are really best immediately after picking them. They were so juicy they were basically falling apart, and I thought cooking them down would be the best way to maximize that flavor.
Cullen picked out all the best ones and handed them to me while I trimmed the tops and icky parts off.
Then we mashed them with a potato masher and cooked them down with just a bit of cane sugar. We used way more strawberries than the original recipe called for, because too many strawberries isn’t a real thing, right?
The ice cream base was made from full fat coconut milk (which also included a coconut milk slurry made with cornstarch), vanilla extract, and a 1/2 cup of honey. So simple and SO tasty.
We’ve had our ice cream maker for years (we have this model) but we don’t use it all that often anymore. Cullen was SO excited to watch the ice cream come together, although the whole “wait and let it freeze” concept was quite stressful for him.
Once Cullen and I made the base and the strawberry sauce, we put both in the refrigerator to cool for a few hours. After dinner, we busted out the ice cream maker to watch the magic happen! The boys shared the stool and very patiently watched it churn, begging for tastes as it got colder and colder. While it was churning, I decided it needed a bit of crunch and texture, so I put a few sheets of graham crackers in a baggie and let the boys go to town on them with wooden hammers. Best idea ever.
The ice cream maker got it nice and cool and creamy, but it needed to be put back into the freezer for a bit to really firm up. But the boys were not capable of waiting any longer, so I spooned them each a small bowl before letting the rest finish freezing. Cullen picked out his mini Reds hat so he could make a “helmet sundae” like they serve at the baseball games.
And Graham, well, I think this says it all…
It was a really neat experience to share with the kids – from the berry field to our own kitchen, and Cullen keeps asking what kind of ice cream we will make next. I didn’t get any good pictures of the final frozen product, but I did snap a quick one for Instagram.
It was some of the best vegan ice cream I’ve ever had, and we’ll definitely be making more again soon. Super creamy without that icy effect that non-dairy ice cream tends to get, and the graham crackers really put it over the top. Beyond delicious!
I’m thinking about making a s’mores ice cream this week to share with friends who are coming in for the fourth! Happy Monday!