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I can honestly say I am overwhelmed daily by the generosity of the Food Blogging Community. People are supportive of new ideas, helpful when you ask, and it doesn’t take long to feel like you have a whole world of friends out there. One day I have dreams of traveling around the world, and meeting up with all my friends from the community of foodies I have met online. So what does this have to do with this picture of ice cream? We will get to all of that, in due time…

It is almost a year since I began this journey into food blogging and it is one of the best things I ever did with my time. It has helped me re-affirm my passion for food and has made me realize that food and networking with other foodies is where my future lies.

I am getting married in less than a month, so I will continue to post regularly until the first week in April (- after which I am taking a 3 week hiatus), but I may not be able to make my normal rounds to all my favorite blogs. Just know that it is nothing personal and I can’t wait to see you all again in May! Thanks for your support! :) Also be sure to read the end of this post with an update about The Foodie Blogroll! :)

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Anyway, back to the point of my post…making friends in the blogosphere…so a while back, if you are a regular reader of Valli’s blog, More Than Burnt Toast(and if by some crazy stretch of the imagination, you aren’t a regular reader of her blog – GET ON OVER THERE!) you will have read that she and I did a little foodie exchange. I was enamored of her birch syrup (my favorite tree) and she wanted to try tamarinds. So we decided to have a little exchange! Well I gave her the wrong address and so it took a while for the birch syrup to get here – but it did, along with some delicious maple sugar – I love that stuff!!! Recently my mom gave Roberto and I a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker as an early wedding present (THANKS, MOM!)– so I decided to christen the ice cream maker by making Birch Ice Cream (recipe to follow).

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Then the next day, the postman comes a knocking AGAIN (– he must wonder what in the world we are up to at our house!). I am looking at this package and I see a familiar name: Nuria! A package all the way from Spain – and inside a wonderful apron with an octopus on it (I LOVE THEM – how did she know???) and a vacuum sealed package of her prized Iberian Acorn Ham. If you don’t know Nuria’s blog, Spanish Recipes (and again shame on you!!!) check it out and you will see how much she loves this stuff! But she sent this wonderful surprise to Roberto and I as a wedding present! I think we are going to enjoy it best this way.

So thank you Nuria and Valli from the depths of my heart! You two really made my week!

BIRCH ICE CREAM

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INGREDIENTS:

2 1/3 cups whole milk
2 1/3 cups half and half
½ vanilla bean
3 large whole eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tsp birch syrup

METHOD:

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Combine milk and half and half in a medium saucepan. Use a sharp knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using the blunt edge of the knife scrape out the seeds. Stir seeds and pod into the milk mixture. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, then turn down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine eggs, egg yolks and sugars in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer on medium speed whip until the mixture is thick and yellow (about 2 minutes).

Remove vanilla bean pod from pot and discard (throw it in your sugar bowl to make vanilla sugar). Measure out one cup of the hot liquid and slowly, with the hand mixer, mix into egg mixture. When thoroughly combined, pour egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture and stir to combine.

Cook, stirring occasionally over medium low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a heat proof bowl and stir in the birch syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool.

Pour chilled custard into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions! Enjoy a little northern gold! :)

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Now as for The Foodie Blogroll Update. Sorry to throw this in at the end of this post, but my posting days are limited heading into wedding time and I want to make sure everyone is caught up to date on the latest!

As some of you may have noticed, newer members (like the past 2 weeks) have different links in the blogroll displayed on their page than older members. One of the big concerns in the past was, what if your blog title came towards the end of the alphabet? How would you get exposure? So Roberto has implemented code so that there are the 10 most recent blogs and 10 random blogs showcased every day. This way, everyone has a change to be randomly showcased.

If you do not have this newer code (that is, if you have not joined the FBR in the past 2 weeks), we will be getting it to you soon, likely in May. That way you can begin to show this new blogroll on your blog. You will receive an email from me with a new code – this code has an ID – that will correspond to your blog, specifically. This will allow you to enjoy other features on FoodieBlogroll.com, like statistics.

Also FoodieBlogroll.com will feature Top Blogs - those blogs that get the most views – members can also vote for their favorite blogs, as well as a randomly generated Blog of The Day and Blog of The Month - that will also be featured on the blogroll displayed on each member’s page. You will also be able to login to FoodieBlogroll.com and change your profile, searchable tags and see your stats. We are also going to start giving away monthly prizes to random members. So if you have not joined yet, you better get on over there and become a member today! We are closing in on 2000 members now! With over 700 on The Forum!

So there is a lot that is going to be happening on FoodieBlogroll.com! We are really excited about this and can’t wait to implement it all in the coming months! So stay tuned! :)