You know how sometimes you'll stop by a favorite blog and find a post that starts out, "I've been trying to write this post for a while now...?" And then the author talks a bit about the writer's block s/he's been suffering, or the conflicting feelings s/he's been wrestling with about broaching a particularly touchy subject, or even all the extraordinary busyness of ordinary life that has conspired to keep him/her away from the computer.
This is that post.
Except that this is very much not that post.
My excuse for not having written this sooner is not one that I ever see brought up in other blogs. At least, not the blogs I read.
I have been having trouble getting this post to you because I keep falling asleep.
No, I do not have narcolepsy, or mono, or even an inordinately exhausting life.
I simply have a child with a bedtime routine that routinely puts me to sleep, as well.
Every night, I lay down with Wylie until he falls asleep. And snuggling with my little boy at the end of the day, in a cozy bed in a dark room, is apparently exactly what my body needs to trigger my own sleep mechanisms, despite my best efforts to stay awake. If I wake up at all, it is often not until 10:30 or 11pm; too late to begin writing for a mama who needs to be up at 6:45 the next morning. Sometimes I wake with a start when I hear the front door shut and the dog start doing her excited, tail-wagging wiggle dance; Josh has arrived home, so it must be closing in on midnight. Definitely too late to write.
To compound the problem, evenings are the only time I get anything that resembles a block of kid-free, uninterrupted time to write. Preschool ended up not being a good fit for Wylie right now, so he's back at home every day, and my promising pastry assistant is no longer working at the restaurant, so the little bit of daytime freedom that was opening up for me has abruptly disappeared.
I'm actually okay with this, usually. Decisions were made that were in the best interests of all involved, and I'm enjoying having, for the first time in both of our lives, regular periods of one-on-one time with Wylie.
But at 11 o'clock at night, groggy and grumpy that I have missed yet another night of "me" time? That's when I realize that part of this system is broken.
Wylie and I need to find another way to get him to sleep. One that is nurturing, efficient and unobtrusive to Kalen (they share a room), but that allows me to stay alert and awake and productive past the kiddo bedtime hour.
I'd like to propose a trade. Not with Wylie, necessarily, although wouldn't it be wonderful if he was rational and mature enough to barter his way to a mutually agreeable bedtime routine? No, I'd like to trade with all of you. Josh and I have talked about some strategies that we think might work, but really, we're just stabbing at the dark here; Kalen's transition was under very different circumstances. I'd love to know how other families have transitioned their little ones to independent sleepers, especially when said little ones are really not so little at all anymore, and are in fact around the ripe old age of three.
So, you tell me all your secrets and tricks, and in exchange I'll give you the recipe for perfect cinnamon cream cheese ice cream. Perfect because it's quick and easy, and stays smooth and creamy in the freezer for weeks, but also because it tastes perfect. The cinnamon is warm and cozy — as it should be — not high-pitched and biting like a Red Hot®, the way some cinnamon ice creams I've had are. And the tang of the cream cheese makes you realize that this is a real, sophisticated Flavor, not merely some cinnamon garnishing vanilla ice cream.
In fact, this ice cream may be the only one you need as we approach the holiday season, with so many pies in our future waiting to be à-la-moded, and baked apples and cranberry-pear crisps wanting to get in on the action too. Just another nod to its perfectness.
At the end of the week, Josh and I are heading off on whirlwind four days of eating our way through lower Manhattan. Yes, that's right, folks: a kid-free vacation. One that involves air travel and reservations at fancy restaurants and late-night drinks. It's a bit mind-boggling to imagine myself doing such adult things, for days in a row, after so many years of being a constant parent. Mind-boggling and exhilarating, for sure. And when we get back, after the pain of missing my children has worn off, the Wylie-Tara Sleep Project will commence. For now, simply making the commitment to change what has become a well-worn (and worn out!) habit is enough for me. But very soon, I'll need some concrete plans.
Here I am, ready and waiting for your suggestions, friends. And, to prove to you how serious I am, I'll go ahead and keep up my end of the bargain: The Recipe.
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Yields 1 quart
This recipe is really just a variation of my Vanilla-Brown Sugar Ice Cream recipe, with a few tweaks here and there. And while the tweaks may seem minor, the end result is a different product altogether. Where the original ice cream tastes of the simplicity of my childhood summers, this version is all grown-up, with extra tang from more cream cheese and the richness and heat of quality cinnamon. For me, if I'm going to be eating ice cream in the colder months, atop my slice of apple pie or alongside a fudgy brownie, this is the one I want.
360 gr/12 fluid oz whole milk
360 gr/12 fluid oz heavy cream
120 gr light brown sugar
8 gr light corn syrup
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp best-quality ground cinnamon
large pinch kosher salt
55 gr cream cheese, room temperature, in a small bowl
Have ready a metal bowl set over an ice bath.
Combine everything but the cream cheese in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a fast simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to the metal bowl in the ice bath. Whisk a small amount of the mixture into the cream cheese until the cream cheese has dissolved, then whisk the cream cheese mixture into the ice cream base. (I find an immersion blender works especially well for fully incorporating the cream cheese.) Once the ice cream base has cooled, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill until very cold, up to overnight.
Strain the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the churned ice cream into glass storage containers (or use a metal loaf pan), press plastic wrap or parchment directly onto the surface, cover tightly, and freeze. Ice cream keeps for up to 3 months.
Posted by Tara Barker at 12:57 AM