Childhood, nostalgia and very berry sherbet

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ICT

In general, children in my little corner of the world didn’t grow up with abundance; in particular, the kind of childhood treats that my husband often took for granted growing up were few and far between for us. To put it another way, treats were indeed treats, rather than something which we could buy whenever we wanted. To us, chocolate was something to crave for several weeks (if not months) before we could get a bite of it. I never ever had a chance to eat the whole bar of chocolate as a kid. It was saved for several days, so I could enjoy it one precious cube at a time. After eating one cube, I would wrap the rest of the candy bar up neatly with the golden foil and save it for later. The same general procedure applied for ice creams – you could not just gobble up a whole cup of ice cream – you ate a few spoons and back it went into the freezer.

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During summer (which was pretty much two thirds of a year), we had ice cream-walahs in our para (neighborhood) who would come pulling their wooden carts, shouting “ice cream” “ice cream”. On the infrequent occasion that we had enough money to buy one, we ran with our life to catch him. They were cheap, super cheap but they did not feel cheap back then. I memorized all the flavors, colors and tastes. My favorite ones were orange and coconut. I can still feel the coconutty taste in my mouth, and I used to lick the orange ice cream as hard as possible so that my tongue took on the color completely. I would then go to Maa and to my friends and stick my tongue out at them.

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Anyhow, such were the simple joys of my childhood life. Happiness was an easy thing to achieve. The demands were simple (although they seemed huge back then) and when they were met, it felt like heaven. Life has moved on, moved far away from the simple joys that only children can know. Now, if I think about those ice creams, I think about carcinogens in the food coloring, diarrhea, calorie, hygiene and what not. Except the nostalgia, there is nothing happy. I became cynical. Whenever I buy food in the US, I actually don’t buy food anymore; it’s more like a chemistry field trip for me. Going through the list of chemicals, looking at the serving size and the calories, calories from fats, dietary fibers 3% vs 30%, artificial flavors vs. natural ones, hormone injection, homogenized or pasteurized, local or California-grown, artificial color, preservatives and organic or inorganic and the list is frustrating. I feel like I am losing the fun of eating. It’s so complicated. I wish I was uneducated and couldn’t read those labels. I wish I didn’t know what recombinant bovine growth hormones do to you, or that the red color in my “all-natural” strawberry ice cream is not from the strawberries but from beetroot extract.

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Finally, my cynical brain has also started refusing to appreciate store-bought frozen yogurts. They taste chemical-y. They definitely do not taste fresh. I still eat them once in a while but the craving is gone. I still crave for frozen yogurt and ice cream in summer but not the ones from chains with neon lights and toppings from cans or bottles. After hesitating for a year, I finally gave up and bought an ice-cream maker to pamper my cynical brain. To put in it, I picked berries from the local orchard, deep red raspberries, purple blueberries, blackberries, juicy, sweet and slight tangy. I never knew that delicious, additive-free ice creams, sherbets and frozen yogurts are so absurdly easy to make! If I close my eyes and let my mind wander a bit, I can almost see myself waiting for the long-lost ice-cream man, and even my cynical brain is happy once again.
PS: sherbet is a compromise between a sorbet and an ice cream. It’s creamier than a sorbet but less so than an ice cream.

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Recipe:

Ingredients:
Mixed berry: 4 cups (I used: Strawberry and Blackberry one cup each and two cups of raspberry). You can choose any combination. You can make it with one type of berry as well.
Sugar: 1-2 cups depending on how sweet/sour your berries are.
Salt: one pinch
Flavored vodka: 2 tablespoon (optional). I used lemon mint flavored. You can use flavored liqueur too.
Mint leaves: 6-8 depending on the size. If they are big leaves, use 4-5-ish.
Milk: 2 cups (I used whole milk). If you choose to use 2% milk, your sherbet will have more crystals. DO NOT use fat free milk, there is no point wasting the effort.
Lemon juice: 1 table spoon.

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• Blend the berries along with the milk and one cup of sugar to a smooth paste.
• Strain the puree through a sieve and discard the seeds and any solid chunk of the fruit.
• Taste for sweetness. If needed, add more sugar.
• Chop the mint leaves finely.
• Add the salt, the lemon juice, mint leaves and the vodka/liqueur and give it a good stir.
• Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least half n hour.
• Churn it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instruction (usually 20-25 minutes).
• Freeze it in a shallow freezer box for several hours-overnight. Mine was frozen overnight.

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8 comments on “Childhood, nostalgia and very berry sherbet

  1. Beautiful post, it took me back to my own childhood which was pretty similar 🙂 That sherbet looks absolutely divine! I need to get me an ice-cream machine next summer!

    • Naina/spiceinthecity: I think it’s a story of many more. Ice cream maker is well worth it…buy it…you’ll not regret. You can do it without the machine but it’s just TOO much work. 😦

  2. Avishek says:

    লেখাটা পড়ে অনেক কথা মনে পড়ে গেল। এমনিতে আমি কখনই মিষ্টিভক্ত ছিলাম না, তবে সারা জীবনে একবার (হ্যাঁ, একবার) দোকানে গিয়ে খালি একটা ছোট ৫-স্টার কিনব কিনা বাবা কে জিজ্ঞেস করেছিলাম। বাবা কিনে দিয়ে বলেছিলেন “এটাই শেষ, বাজে অভ্যেস করো না।” সেই যে আমার মনে ঢুকে গিয়েছিল কিছু কিনে দেওয়ার আবদার করাটা হল “বাজে অভ্যেস” তার ফলে আর মনে পড়ে না কখনো কিছু চেয়েছি। 🙂

    ছোটবেলায় বাড়িতে ডিমের ডালনা হলে এক বেলায় অর্ধেকটার বেশী ডিম কারোর জন্য বরাদ্দ থাকত না। যদি না কনো পার্বণ-টার্বণ থাকে – তা’লে একটা পুরো ডিম খেতে পেতাম। সেই একটা পুরো ডিম খাবার যে তৃপ্তি সেটা এখন মনে হয় পেট ভরে বিরিয়ানি রেজালা খেলেও পাই না। 😦

  3. You write so beautifully and take prettier pictures! I can relate to you saying that treats were treats back then. We did not go to a supermarket chain and grab ice cream every week, right?!
    Nice recipe too!!

  4. I can totally relate.. in my family, chocolate and especially ice cream were not daily treats and if I wanted dessert I had to bake it from scratch… I think this made it all the more special and delicious when I was allowed a sweet treat though. This sorbet looks delicious too.. Thanks for the great recipe.

  5. huntfortheverybest says:

    i love raspberry–this looks so good! i agree, one does have to be a chemist today to understand food labels!

  6. Wow. very nice recipe and awesome photos. Thanks for sharing.

  7. […] of fruit and sugar, has only a little bit of cream – and a whole lot of flavour. And this mixed berry sherbet would be my favourite to wrap up a great meal of dairy dishes for lactose-intolerant […]

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