Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream

Blackberry Chip Ice Cream

This is, perhaps, the BEST ice cream on the face of the planet, and I know my ice cream.  It is Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream, which is a famous chain I was introduced to while living in Ohio.  It’s their most popular flavor, and for good reason–it is amazing.  It’s deep purple, perfectly sweet-tart and their chocolate ‘chips’ are really giant boulders that melt in your mouth despite the freezing temperature.  The only recipe I’ve ever found was a recreation Pioneer Woman made and is published in her second cookbook, but not on her website.  I swear, in the time it took me google and NOT find hers’ or one that someone–anyone–else had typed up already, I could have typed it up myself!  I’ve made it myself twice, (read about it here) and have even experimented with tempering (or untempering) the chocolate to ensure it melts in your mouth.  In fact, I have some homemade in my freezer right now.  Greater’s does ship, in case anyone is interested.  Now, without further ado (just take enough time to grab your ingredients), here is PW’s recipe:

2 pints blackberries

1 1/4 C sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 C half-and-half

5 egg yolks

1 1/2 C heavy cream

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

1.  Combine blackberries, 1/4 C sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.  Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until blackberries are syrupy.

2.  Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl.  Force as much as you can through the sieve and discard the rest.

3.  Heat half-and-half and remaining sugar in saucepan over med-low heat.

4.  Whisk egg yolks until pale yellow and thick in a separate bowl.  Temper egg yolks by splashing a small amount of the warm cream and sugar mixture in and whisking constantly.

5.  Pour tempered yolks into saucepan with the rest of the sugar and cream mixture and cook for about 5 minutes, still on low heat, until thick.

6.  Pour heavy cream into bowl with blackberry mixture, then add custard and stir to combine.

7.  Freeze mixture according to your ice cream maker’s directions.  After frozen, add chocolate chips* and incorporate.  Store in freezer and let harder for four hours.

*It is preferable to buy a block of chocolate and melt it, then spread on parchment and allow to harder in freezer.  Once solid, break into small pieces and use that to incorporate into ice cream.  I believe this helps lower the melting point of the chocolate, thus allowing it to ‘melt in your mouth’ despite being just out of the freezer.

my first moosewood

A couple weeks ago, Andrew and I went to Ithaca for a getaway.  While there, we dined at the famous vegetarian restaurant, Moosewood, and I instantly fell in love.  Not surprisingly, I can’t say the same for Andrew.

As tonight was ‘Meatless Monday’ and I knew I had more white beans in the freezer to use, I thought I’d check what the good ‘ole Moosewood cookbook could recommend.

I found their Texas BBQ Bean Soup and found I had all the ingredients, minus the celery.  It was fate.

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I whipped up a giant pot of it tonight, along with Pioneer Woman’s Skillet Cornbread.  A word of advice: go easy on those chipotles in adobo!  They are HOT!

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Andrew’s first comment was: “It’s getting increasingly harder to pick around the beans.”  Yes, sweetie, it sure is.

a valentine/anniversary getaway

As luck would have it, I had a four-day weekend that encompassed Valentine’s Day, the 12th (!!!) anniversary of the day Andrew and I began dating, and President’s Day (a.k.a. two days off of school).  Suffice it to say, we decided to take advantage of the long weekend and get away.

And away we got.  (Except that we managed to see Andrew’s dad–TWICE–on our trip.)  But other than THAT, we got away, and let me tell you–it was a blast.

We chose Ithaca, NY, as it’s just three hours away and somewhat of a ‘destination.’  (Not really, but it was to us.)   Ithaca is a college town, home to Cornell and Ithaca University, which means there’s tons of yummy ethnic eateries and fun things to do.  We scored a great room at the local Marriott, borrowed some snowshoes and started scoping out where we’d eat.

Disclaimer:  We’ve actually been to Ithaca before (myself only a couple times and Andrew has been tons) as his father is from there and his grandmother still lives in a nursing home there.  But, we’ve never really ‘done’ Ithaca, so it was mostly new to us.

And can I just say–Ithaca is my new favorite place.  It’s close, you can’t beat the college town atmosphere, Cornell is absolutely gorgeous and the food options were endless.  I’m already counting the days until we make it a trip in the summer.

We arrived in time for dinner, and as it was Friday, decided to order pizza.  We brought it into the room and watched HGTV on a king bed while sharing a half-hawaiian, half-banana pepper and sausage pizza and birch beer.

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I came prepared each morning with things to do in the 2+ hours between the time I wake up and Andrew wakes up.  Necessities include: coffee creamer, snacks, devotions, schoolwork and workout gear.

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I’d called ahead and found the local YMCA to be just minutes from our hotel and FREE to me as a Buffalo Y member.  I swam 2,000 yards in 40 minutes before I dashed back to the hotel with wet hair in a snow storm!

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We headed to the Ithaca Commons, which is the cute downtown area with shops and eateries, to explore and eat.

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Our first stop was Collegetown Bagels, which is part of the Ithaca Bakery chain.  I got a Cayuga Cocoa (hot chocolate with coffee) and a strawberry cheesecake brownie (in honor of Valentine’s Day).  I didn’t need it but every bit was worth it!  Andrew snacked on a cappuccino and TWO bagels.

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All day Saturday was the local chili taste-off, in which restaurants brought out vats of different chili and offered tastes in exchange for tickets.  We didn’t taste any, but man, did it smell good outside!
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We stopped into multiple outdoor stores (Ithaca is know for its gorges and trails and hiking and such), an organic home store (Ithaca is also pretty crunchy-granola, if you know what I mean) and a paper store.

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For a late lunch, we stopped into the famous Moosewood Restaurant, a vegetarian place that is just fantastic.  I can’t say Andrew was their biggest fan, but my meal was wonderful–lasagna with olives and capers!

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Andrew did, however, help me with their famous fudge brownie with homemade ice cream.

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OK, he did more than ‘help.’

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Afterward, we decided to try a walk around Cornell’s campus, but were hampered by a white-out as we drove around.

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After some aimless driving around, we decided to stop at the footbridge and brave the snow anyway.

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Good thing we did; the snow stopped and we were able to enjoy a (chilly) walk to the famous clock tower.
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So, Andrew thought it would be funny to take pictures of me trying to walk through the snow in my Uggs (who knew I’d need my Sorels to walk around downtown and then on-campus?!)…

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Cornell truly is beautiful.  The architecture is stunning and–as much as I hate to admit it–blows Penn State out of the water.  I can’t wait to go back and really walk the campus.

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After a visit with Andrew’s dad, Aunt Kathy and his grandma, we decided Thai would be our cuisine of choice Saturday night.  We tried Taste of Thai and were not disappointed.  In fact, Andrew has already said he’d go back on a future trip.

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Sunday morning, I awoke and went downtown for a massage I’d scheduled.  When planning our weekend, I told Andrew I wanted two things: to swim laps and a massage.  And to go snowshoeing.  Guess that’s three.

After the massage, I grabbed bagels and a blueberry muffin to-go at another Ithaca Bakery location on the way back to the hotel and we enjoyed brunch in bed, with a little HGTV/Food Network.  Our next stop: Hal’s Deli for corned beef before our afternoon of snowshoeing!

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Now, I cannot tell you how much I love Reubens.  They are, hands down, my absolute favorite sandwich ever. Perhaps my favorite menu item ever.  It’s pretty hard for me to pass up a Reuben.  So, when we hear of a Jewish deli in town, it’s a must-try.  Between the perfectly not-too-sweet Dr. Brown Black Cherry soda, the tiny waitress who kept calling us ‘honey,’ and the sandwich, I was quite the happy camper.  Andrew liked his sandwich and was a huge fan of the coleslaw–not too creamy with a hint of vinegar and sweetness.

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Afterward, we headed out to find a trail for snowshoeing.  Neither of us own snowshoes yet, but I see them in the (perhaps very) near future.  So much fun!

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We trudged around, and even up and down a hill, in the woods outside Cornell’s campus.  I really like that its something Andrew and I can do together that doesn’t really take much skill, has almost no risk of injury and requires little equipment or cost.

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The local ice cream joint, Purity, is currently undergoing renovations, so they scoop under a red awning out front on the weekends.  Talk about hard-core!  I just about froze while I was waiting for my cookie sundae–I can’t imagine how cold the girls get who have to stand out there for hours!

Andrew surprised my by getting something other than vanilla or the hot apple crisp sundae; he chose Boomberry (a fruity ice cream) in a waffle cone.

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We ate the ice cream in the warmth of our car while driving up to Taughannock Falls to see the frozen waterfall.

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We would have hiked up to it, but between thawing out after our snowshoe and then eating ice cream, we were done with the cold weather.

After warm showers and naps (that cookie sundae did me IN!) back at the hotel, we got dressed, paid another quick visit to Andrew’s grandma and then headed back to the Commons for dinner.

This time, it was viva Taqueria, a local Mexican place that makes their own chips daily.  THOSE were worth every calorie, I can tell you that much!  Andrew opted for the fajitas (his usual) and I chose a combo platter so I could try an enchilada and a tostada.  You know what the best thing about going for Mexican with Andrew is?  I get his sides!  He doesn’t eat the refried beans, rice or guacamole, all of which always come with fajitas.  My problem:  I like everything, and sometimes what I want doesn’t come with gauc or rice or beans.  We’re just a match made in heaven, aren’t we?

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Still feeling full from the night before, I headed down to the hotel’s workout room Monday morning to study and elliptical before we headed back home.  I’ve pretty much become a pro at reading while stepping.

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Our last stop before hitting the highway?  Ithaca Bakery–AGAIN.  I wanted to make it three-for-three, and when I was in the day before picking up bagels, I got a huge craving for an eat-in, toasted bagel with veggie cream cheese.  I had to have it.

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Cutest little bakery ever.  I tell you what–if we lived in Ithaca, I’d be there all the time.  Andrew got a sticky bun, an everything bagel and a cappuccino, while I opted for a fun coconut-almond americano with a ‘california’ bagel (whole grain, seeds and raisins) topped with veggie cream cheese.  I think I inhaled it.

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We had an hour before we hit Corning, NY, which is home to the Corning Museum of Glass (of Pyrex fame) and somewhere I’ve wanted to visit since I used to pass through on my way to visit Andrew from Philadelphia.  Out came the binder again.

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At the glass museum, we were able to see displays of glass through the ages:

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We also saw glass-blowing, breaking and flame-throwing demos.  It takes the glass-makers 4-5 years just to become proficient.  It was pretty neat to watch.

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We had one last stop before home: the Babcock Ladder Co. in Bath, NY.  Yes, that is my husband examining ladders in their office.

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Actually, it’s pretty neat.  Babcock is one of the last-remaining all-wood, family-owned, good-ole’-made-in-the-USA quality ladder companies around.  We’re down a couple step-ladders (the metal ones just end up breaking after awhile) and their prices were incredibly reasonable.

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Andrew’s souvenirs:

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Holly’s souvenirs:

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And, no trip would be complete without the pizza-in-front-of-the-TV-dinner!  Hadrian was too tired from playing at puppy camp all weekend to even beg!

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