I’m not sure about you, but these last few months have been pretty tough. With the increase in temperatures and the decrease of restrictions I can feel the sense of playfulness retuning to our household. We are ready for the fun to return, not just the kids, the whole family.

Looking for something fun to do over the weekend, we stumbled upon our Softshell Ice Cream Ball that we picked up last summer. “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream,” we shouted as we busted it out for the first time this season. It was a gorgeous day and everyone was eager to get outside to play, so patience for an elaborate recipe was a non-starter. Luckily making ice cream is one of the easiest desserts on the planet with ingredients that I can guarantee almost everyone will have on hand. In less than five minutes we had our three ingredients in the ball and we were ready to roll, literally.

When I discovered these balls last year I was thrilled. If you’ve never seen them before the design is very simple and streamlined. One side of the ball opens to a canister that you fill with your recipe and the opposite side houses a canister that holds the ice cubes and course salt. Take my advice, if you do intend on giving it a try be sure to seal the canisters well. Seems obvious, but I stress this point only because in our first game my face was splattered with milk, clearly I had not tightened the lid well enough.

The reason that I was so drawn to this ball was that it helps everyone in the family work toward the targeted 60 minutes of moderate exercise that is recommended for greater health benefits (guidelines set by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) while having a ton of fun together. Not only that but after just 30 minutes of working up a sweat we’ve got a delicious treat that makes everyone happy. I also love the fact that you can take the ball anywhere, to the beach, park, camping, you name it. It’s a win all around, or so it would seem.

In reality after 15 minutes of play this past weekend, the question of, “Is it ready yet?” came out about every 30 seconds, then my husband tapped out because he whipped the ball so hard he thought he sprained his fingers…oops. Despite injury and loss of patience the game had to go on, after all, the final goal was ice cream. The girls got creative; they decided that their slide would be perfect for keeping the ball rolling with less effort. With one girl positioned at the top and the other at the bottom, they still had to catch and pass, but the slide kept the momentum going and energy high. When the timer rang everyone cheered. It was time to reveal (and taste) our creation.

The ingredients and the flavours can change every time which is also part of the fun. This time, we made strawberry ice cream from the last of our frozen berries that we’d picked from Mountain Farm U-pick (in River John) last season. It was delightful.

Homemade Ice Cream

Ingredients
1 L milk (can substitute rice milk, almond milk, yogurt, half & half)
¼ cup sugar (can substitute honey, or maple syrup)
1 tablespoon vanilla (or any other favourite flavours ie. peppermint)
Optional: ¼ cup chopped strawberries (or choice of fresh fruit, chocolate chips, other family favourite additions)

Process
Mix all ingredients together and fill the stainless steel canister on the ball. Fill the opposite canister in the ball with ice and cover with salt.
Keep the ball rolling for 25-30 minutes.
Open, scoop, top with your favourite ice cream garnish, and enjoy.
If you do not have an ice cream ball, not to worry, you can simply blend the same ingredients, pour the mixture into a pre-chilled stainless steel pan and pop it into the freezer until it’s ready to serve (could take from 6 to 24 hours).

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Tracy Stuart
As the fall colours make their debut and the vegetable garden gives us our last offerings, Tracy looks to the garden for inspiration. She tells us that her beets are absolutely gorgeous this time of year and their remarkable ability to boost athletic performance is a secret that must be shared. It’s been ten years since Tracy stood on the podium at the summer Olympics in Beijing; in this issue Tracy shares some of the science behind winning that comes from an unassuming vegetable, the beet!