Picture this. It’s summertime. You’re outside and have your hand up over your eyes to protect yourself from the bright glare of the sun. You hear kids playing and laughing all around you. A sprinkler is watering the lawn and someone is gardening nearby. Your skin feels warm and, for a fleeting second in time, everything is perfect.
It’s hot and slightly humid outside and you start looking for cover. Shade. You find a big oak tree out back and press your back up against it and hide for a moment in the soft cool shade. And for a few short months a year this is yours. All yours.
I often talk about my affinity for summer weather and activities. When I take time to reflect on what it is about summer that draws me in, I realize it’s the moments and memories that are firmly attached to a day or time from the season. It’s not the heat or warm breeze as much as it is that one thing that can’t be duplicated. My summer recollections. They’re mine. Only mine.
Almost of the images from my mind’s eye which were stored there years and decades before involve friends. That or food. And sometimes, particularly as I aged, there were spots where the two crashed into one. When you’re young and carefree and you’re surrounded by good friends with loving parents, you often create life-lasting moments almost everyday. Almost.
For instance, the times being in the kitchen as a young lad throwing the flour everywhere on the counter top as I escaped from the pressing heat outside. Maybe sitting in the backyard tent that was put up for me as a teen to see what it was like to live outside. For a night. In the cool, late August evening weather.
I remember all of them.
There were particularly hot days on the courts playing tennis with the crew I grew up with. Competing with and practicing with. And at the end of the match we sat on the bench outside the rusty fence and sipped on ice cold lemonades that one of their mom’s dropped off. And we laughed. The battle was over so we sunk back into the friendship that united us.
On the hotter weekend nights the four of us would play tennis long after the adults left to move on with real life. Responsibility. For us, tennis was all the real life we needed. We played round robbin tourneys until the lights overhead abruptly shut off.And then we played some more using the street lights as our guide. After that we drove to the nearest ice cream shop for sandwiches and dipped cones.
There were invitations to neighbourhood pools to swim. Jumping off the diving board knowing any second I’d be crash into that crisp cool water refreshed and alive. After a while my friend’s mom would bring out lunch and lemon loaded iced tea. Cold and welcome like the pool.
I’m fond of summer because of the fondness I had for it as a child. As a young man. Running through sprinklers or chest diving onto the lawn after a warm rainfall created small puddles that seemed big enough to swim in. I was blessed with opportunities. And opportunities were all I ever asked for.
All of those summertime retreats, excursions away from the safe inside of my house, were fantastic and memorable and life defining in one way or another. All of them. And usually, at the end of a get together or celebration or activity, we shared cold drinks and cold treats.
I can’t pinpoint the best of those memories. They all helped me be who I am today. Madly in love with life and the most important person in it, slightly foolish at times, and nostalgic. Nostalgic for the food, the people and the chances. And in love with summer.
Picture this. It’s one of the hottest days of the summer. You’ve been out back in the yard and you start feeling uncomfortable. Perspiration is running down your face. You duck for a spot in the shade with an ice cream sandwich. This will be a moment that you look back on in years and remember with fondness. And for a fleeting second in time, everything is perfect. Everything.
Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 200 grams non-salted butter (7/8 cup)
- 200 grams brown sugar (1 cup)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
- 300 grams all-purpose flour, sifted (2 cups)
- 1 tsp. baking powder, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 200 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Add lightly beaten eggs and beat thoroughly. Add in the flour, salt and baking powder and beat again until smooth. Next fold through the chocolate chips until combined.
- Roll out two tablespoons of the cookie dough into balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Press down to flatten.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on trays. Makes a dozen cookies.
Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups pitted chopped cherries, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 125 grams of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely
- Warm milk, heavy cream, sugar and cherries on the stove in a medium pot over medium heat. Add vanilla and salt. Once it froths up a bit, lower heat and warm for about 10 minutes.
- Pour into a large bowl and chill for an hour in the fridge.
- Put the mixture into your ice cream maker. Churn the ice cream according to your maker directions.
- Once churned, and with the ice cream still soft, fold in the chocolate. Put the contents into a freezer safe container with lid and freezer for several hours, or until cold and solid.