We have lots of wonderful local and national parks around us that we visit often. One, in particular, has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid - and it is now the favorite of my children. It's spectacular!
There are awesome hiking trails - varying in degree of effort needed to traverse, though none is too laboring. There are picnic areas tucked into private corners. There is a weeping garden full of so many varieties of weeping plants and trees. Hundreds of tree and plant species are marked for your learning convenience (which was so very handy when The Boy was studying for the Science Olympiad Forestry category earlier this year). One of the most unique areas of the park is the herb and flower garden. We are fascinated by it and have learned so much about culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers. And I can't say enough about the Nature Center - holy moly - it is packed to the gills with displays and interactive learning centers. The park rangers and volunteers are the kindest, and they are brimming with information. Wow, can you tell it's a very special place for us?
This park is always such a joy to visit! And no matter how often we go, it is always an adventure and always, always fun.*
Here's the recipe:
Our park grows several varieties of mint that we love to smell and taste. This summer I decided to grow spearmint two specific reasons - 1. this most delicious Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream, 2. and Mojitos (recipe coming soon!). Enjoy!!
Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
(adapted from David Lebovitz)
2 C milk
2 C heavy cream
1 C granulated sugar
1/2 t salt
2 C packed fresh mint leaves
5 egg yolks
1 C chocolate chunks (or mini chips)
Ice cream maker
In a sauce pan, heat your milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt, and mint. Stir until all of the sugar is dissolved and he mixture is hot and steaming, but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a lid and allow the mint to steep for an hour.
Strain the mixture to remove the mint leaves. Squeeze the leaves to get out all of the flavor. Return the infuse mixture to the pan and begin to reheat over the stove on medium-low heat. While the mixture is rewarming, whisk your egg yolks in a separate bowl. To temper the eggs, slowly stream a cup of your warmed milk into the yolks while constantly whisking. Pour the warmed yolks back into the sauce pan and continue to cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Strain the mixture into a clean bowl and allow to cool 15 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and placing into the refrigerator to chill completely. Once chilled, pour into your ice cream maker following the manufacturers directions. And your chocolate chunks during the last five minutes of churning. When the ice cream is finished, place into an air tight container and freeze until firm. Enjoy!
*If you live in, or plan to visit, the northeastern part of Ohio and would like to visit this amazing park, please email me and I'll give you the low down!!