Is there anyone out there who still has romantic notions regarding summer equalling sunshine? We all hope for a few rays, don't we? We stock up on suncream, dig out our shorts, and ponder over whether we need a new pair of sandals. I always need a new pair of sandals. Even if I end up wearing them in the rain because we've reached our quota of sun for the year. But we don't need to let those showers stop our fun. Rain needn't stop play. Well, when you have two young children, you can't let anything stop play.
Case in point was a cold and rainy Wednesday morning when, having seen a friendly-looking sun on the previous evening's forecast, I'd promised to take my four year old fruit picking. We did not wake up to warmth. But armed with a punnet, we went anyway. He was so happy. We left with an ample supply of blueberries, gooseberries and the last of the crop of strawberries ... and slightly damp feet and cold bones from the torrential downpour. There's a reason why you can't see another soul in these photos.
We held ourselves back from polishing off the strawberries in the car on the way home, heating on full blast to thaw out, as we had plans for them. Incredibly grand plans. Plans so grand that my four year old didn't even attempt to sneak a single strawberry while my eyes were on the road.
Having recently taken delivery of a Sage by Heston Blumenthal Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker from Amazon.co.uk's weather reactive #NowItsSummer store, and eagerly awaiting the start of Wimbledon, we decided to use our pickings to make a bespoke strawberries and cream ice cream.
And oh my goodness, it was delicious.
Creamy ice cream, bursts of semi-frozen strawberries, and a little crunch from the addition of a meringue nest or two.
Admittedly, we're a family that finds little wrong with any variety of ice cream but there's something quite special about choosing your own fruit and ingredients and waiting patiently for them to churn and cool in front of your eyes.
I realise that not everyone has an ice cream maker to hand but if you do, or if you're planning to purchase one in the future, here's our strawberries and cream ice cream recipe for you to enjoy.
Freshly picked strawberries and cream ice cream recipe
- 250ml whipping cream
- 250ml whole milk
- 160g sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 small strawberries
- 2 small meringue nests
Method (timing-wise, it takes about an hour in total):
1. Place the cream, milk, condensed milk and vanilla extract in to a jug and mix together.
2. Pour the mixture in to the ice cream maker, set to the desired consistency (gelato is my personal favourite) and churn.
3. Chop the strawberries in to quarters and crush the meringues - you want small chunks rather than crumbs.
4. Add the strawberries and meringue to the machine when it beeps to notify you that it's ready for 'add-ins'.
5. Wait for the mixture to be churned to the correct consistency and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It should last for up to a week.
Or eat it straight away ... while sitting in the garden ... enjoying the British summer.
Don't let the rain stop play, now it's summer. Although we're waiting for the sun to come out again before we put our lovely hammock and pitcher jug and tumblers set to the test in the garden. But with a little help from Amazon, you really can have fun whatever the weather.
This post was written in collaboration with Amazon.