Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Making life worthwhile... with a bowl of peach buttermilk sherbet

Is getting what we want a measure of success? I have wondered about that lately.
If so, I am widely unsuccessful, as I have wanted to do so many things, including posting here more regularly, in vain.

This idea of “success” seems to miss the mark for me. An outside judgment on our lives, one that matters for a moment, and doesn’t matter in the end.

Every time I think of what a successful life might be, I fast forward to my 99 year old self (should I be so fortunate as to get that far). What will I ask myself, then? “Have I been successful in my life?” Perhaps. But I have a hunch that what will matter most, is whether it was worthwhile.

So what is the difference? A “successful life.”  A “worthwhile life.” A “successful day.” A “worthwhile day.” It doesn’t feel the same, does it? It’s not the same life. Not the same day.

For me, a “successful” day would go something like this:

I’d probably start it with oatmeal instead of brioche. (Need I say more?)
I’d answer agents’ requests for a book deal, before writing a brilliant blog post that’s brilliant and clever at the first draft. Pablo would be in a perfectly good mood all day from all my perfect mothering (ha!). Everything would get done quickly, efficiently. I’d cook a very sophisticated dish perfectly the first time around, and it would come out just like the picture in the recipe book.  

A worthwhile day, on the other hand, would go something like this:

We already know what breakfast would be ;-) Then I rack my brain to make extra time from work and daily duties in the coming week to think about, let alone write the book about food and life that I want to write. Perhaps I do find the time to sit down and write a blog post, but I stare at the blank screen in frustration. Then I write a few random lines, and they help me make a connection, a thought perhaps worth sharing. Pablo has started a new school, has a tantrum when he comes home. I’m hungry, pressed for time, I feel impatient and frustrated, I don’t want to be tested right now. It’s hard not to snap. I do snap a couple of times, and I catch myself. I remember. I take a breath, and sit with him through his big feelings the best I can, letting all his pent up emotions come out. I talk myself through it, because it’s hard to not just want it to be over. It’s hard to be present. I catch up on Skype with my dear friend in France, sharing ordinary bits of our daily lives; time flies, disappears.
I had planned to make corn chowder for dinner, but now I can’t, I have too much work, a deadline to complete. I am grateful for my mother’s help, for her art in making the simplest ingredients shine. I still have work tonight, so many things I didn’t get done today. Yet we sit down on our terrace and eat together. We talk, listen, laugh, share, connect. We notice the days are getting shorter. For dessert, we feel the evening gently descending, over a shared bowl of buttermilk peach sherbet.

Successful speaks of objectives, results, speed, and looks good from the outside.

Worthwhile speaks of process, slow and meandering, of struggles; it feels right, real, from the inside.

In the end, life is not for show. Life is for living, learning, feeling, connecting. Not necessarily in that order. 

Summer is coming to an end, and this sherbet is one way to make it last just a touch longer... If you can grab the last peaches or nectarines of the season, then I highly recommend you try this sherbet, another foolproof recipe by the incredible Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle & Vanille. The flavor is the taste and essence of peach, so refreshing and sweet. Pure delight. A last stronghold of summer before pumpkins and apples take over our kitchens...

Peach buttermilk sherbet

From Small Plates and Sweet Treats by Aran Goyoaga

Yields 1 1/2 quarts approx
Time to prep: 30 min prep + overnight refrigeration prior to churning + abt 30 mn churning

Age for babies: 6-8 months 

1 cup cane sugar
4 large peaches or nectarines (I have never tried it with canned peaches, but I suppose it would be okay, as long as they're rinsed, otherwise, the sugar amount needs to be adjusted).
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp salt

In a small pan, cook the sugar and 1/2 cup of water, until the sugar is dissolved. Pour in a bowl and let cool.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a cross on the bottom of the peaches or nectarines. 
Prepare a large bowl with ice water.
Plunge the fruit in the boiling water for a minute or so.  Immediately place them in the ice water. 
Then peel the fruit, the skin should come off easily.  Then cut the fruit and remove the pits.

In a blender, mix peaches and lemon juice. It'll turn into a puree. 

Transfer to a large bowl, whisk in buttermilk and salt.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. (I usually place the freezing element of my ice cream maker in the freezer at the same time the night before churning,)

Churn in your ice cream maker, until solid but creamy. Freeze for a few hours before serving. (I have kept mine in the freezer for 2-3 months with no problem).

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  1. Hi Helene, hope you and family with cute Pablo are doing fine. Thanks for your lovely blog. I have a quick question. Can you please suggest me a ice cream maker machine to buy? I haven't seen anyone using one or know anyone using at home. Thanks a lot for your help. Love your blog. Take care..

    1. Hi there, I use the Cuisinart Ice cream maker, if you look in the recipe above, and click on the words "ice cream maker", it'll take you to a link of the model I use. Thanks so much for your kind words! Take care :-)

    2. Thanks a lot for the quick reply Helene:)

  2. Hi Helene! Just sent you a pic of my ice cream maker that I love! You words always touch me so deeply. Thank you for writing when you can. You are such a beautiful mother, daughter and friend! It seems strange to me to use buttermilk in ice cream, but it looks so delish, I'll give it a try! Keep as cool as you can and make sure your

  3. Mom drinks enough water in this weather! Lots of love, Elizabeth Shahbazi. Thank you again for sharing your heart with us.


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