Thursday, 31 December 2009

Where I've been...

Nearly 2010? What!? Where did the year go? As someone in the office commented a few weeks ago "it can't be nearly 2010, that's the future!"

I was hoping I'd make it to 300 posts before the year was out, but it tu
rns out the fates were against me, so I shall finish the year on 298, with some reflections on where I've been, and a totally random recipe for some damn fine ice cream. Because despite what N says, there is no weather too cold for ice cream, especially not when it's your first ever homemade batch, it's rather tasty, and you're tucked up on the sofa with cricket highlights!It's been quite the year here in the North London Kitchen. It was the year I went public with the blog, and as a result I have met some really special and lovely people. I thank you for coming into my little corner of the interwebs and coaxing me out of my comfort zone to meet you, or write to you. It goes without saying that this blog wouldn't be what it is without the people who pop in and say hello. You have made the year very special indeed. Thank you.

In the wider world of the North London Kitchen it's been quite the year as well. I managed to travel to three countries, sell my products on Covent Garden, watch one of my closest friends get married at the most beautiful wedding, and then watch the newly married couple cut a cake I had made in fr
ont of their guests. All the while in the background I was hurriedly battling with words to meet my PhD deadline (done! wow!), whilst trying to learn even more about gardening, and thinking about where on earth my future might take me. I got my first ever 9-5 job, and somehow still managed to learn how to quilt and continue on my knitting and sewing quest (don't ask about the knitting, I still have yet to make a successful garment, although my scarves and gloves are coming on some!).

I'm not sure how I managed it all, and reading that back I'm beginning to understand why by body has given in to a bad cold and forced me into bed for the final day of the year. Now I get why I feel exhausted!

This week I made my final and controversial act of the year, which perhaps implies where I might go next. In a dramatic change of form I had my hair cut. Not just trimmed, but chopped off a full eight inches! It went from my waist to just below my shoulders. If I'd have done that this time last year I'd have cried and cried to see it gone. But right now it feels like the right time.And on that note I give you ice cream, because it's always the right time for ice cream!

I was very lucky as Father Christmas (the northern branch) left me a Kitchenaid ice cream bowl for Christmas. It is something I had long admired, and so have spend a year collecting any and every ice cream recipe from magazine, "just in case." My patience won out, and on Boxing day we tucked into fresh homemade damson ice cream! I had damsons tucked away in the freezer for such an occasion, but if you don't you could use plums, or any deep rich berry.
This recipe if very loosly adapted from a Nigel Slater one. What's below is for a very small batch, but it can easily be doubled.

Damson Ice cream - serves 2 generously

250g damsons
2 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
125ml double cream
125ml natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons of champagne or dry white wine

Place the damsons and wine in a pan and cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, or until you have a good amount of juices. Push the mixture through a fine sieve until you only have the stones and skins left. Leave the puree to cool completely.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Warm the cream in a saucepan and then add to the egg mix, stirring constantly. Rinse and dry the saucepan, and then return the egg and cream mixture to it, and heat gently to form a custard. Stirring constantly so it doesn't get too hot. It is ready when just thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Immediately transfer to a bowl in shallow sink of cold water, again, stirring the whole time. This will stop it curdling. Leave until cold.

Mix together the damson puree, custard and yoghurt. The pour into your ice cream maker and freeze as per the instructions and then transfer to the freezer. If you don't have an ice cream maker, place the mixture in a tupperware and put in the freezer. Remove every hour and beat the frozen edges into the middle until desired consistancy is reached. It won't be quite as creamy as that made in a machine, but it will still taste great!

I found that it needs to be removed from the freezer a good 30 minutes before serving, in order to be soft enough to scoop.


  1. I cut my hair off this year too!! It is a sign of growing, change and courage, I reckon; sometimes we need to look a little different to see other things differently. I hope you enjoy getting used to it!

    It sounds like you've had an amazing year, and i wish you all the best for 2010 - keep posting amazing recipes and I will continue to use them :-)

  2. Here's to 2010 and ice cream makers, and cutting off your hair!! I too cut mine when I took a little trip out of Alaska in October. I also got an ice cream maker last summer. Just so you know, Alaska has the highest consumption of ice cream of all the states in the United States. Yes, the coldest state. I love my ice cream maker.
    Sounds like we both have been having a bumpy (yet productive)2009. Hope to be in touch more in 2010.
    I still have River Cottage on my life list...

  3. Summing up the year like that really does indicate how stunning it has been. I've so enjoyed reading all year, and looking at the pictures too. I may not have made many of the recipes, but have enjoyed reading them and benefitting from eating some of the results!
    Here's to a wonderful 2010......although I too am not convinced it can really be 2010, 2000 still seems like it ought to be the future to me !