Have you ever taken a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco up California’s Highway 1? Also known as the Pacific Coast Highway, this stretch of road is one of the most stunning five hundred miles you can spend in a car in the United States. It hugs the Pacific Ocean almost the entire way. Is the PCH the quickest way to make this trip? Definitely not. Taking the short cut of Interstate 5 shaves off over five hours, but you miss the coastal beauty. How often do we skip the scenic route and just get to our destination as fast as possible?
Beverly Sills, the famous opera singer has been quoted as saying, “There are no short cuts to any place worth going.” I know she was probably talking about the hard work and discipline of being an artist. In many cases, I agree. Scenic routes, successful careers, learning a new skill - yes, let’s take the long road. In looking up the Beverly Sills quotation, I wasn’t able to find a single quote where a short cut was being praised. Isn’t there anyone out there rooting for the short cut? Me! If you read All Good Things regularly, or you know me even the slightest bit, you know I’m out to find the good in things…
Short cuts are an investment in time. They allow us to prioritize our very limited twenty-four hours and ‘buy’ time to devote to something that is more important. Taking short cuts is really just a negotiation. It’s not cheating, it’s not being lazy, it’s not skipping steps. It’s making a choice to give more time to another area of our lives. Wise and well planned short cuts strengthen nearly every task at hand.
When I am hired to cook weekly food for families or to cater a special event, I cook on a clock. I want to make using a personal chef as cost effective as possible for my clients. We ask for help in so many areas of our life, why not in the kitchen? I keep my business as an affordable service, not as an extravagant luxury. How do I do that? I have a budget to which I need to adhere so that means being really efficient with my time and resources. How do I do that? Short cuts! I decide what store bought, ready made items will enhance my menus. Sometimes I buy a sauce or marinade from a bottle so I can splurge on a more expensive cut of meat. Almost all pastry comes from the store so I can put my time and their money into homemade fillings. In certain recipes, canned beans save hours and hours of soaking and boiling the dried ones. My list of culinary short cuts goes on and on…
When I was a kid growing up in the mid-west, if we wanted real ice cream and not some ice-milk from a cardboard carton, it was hand churned with a lot of ice, salt, and a hand crank. That was one thing that was worth investing the time and real ingredients into for the most delicious reward. Ice cream has come a long way since my childhood and some of the most decadent creamy frozen treats can be bought right from the grocery store these days. High quality milk and sugars are used, and ingredients from far-flung parts of the globe are mixed in. Ice cream has become an artisanal food item like cheese or beer. Today there are so many handmade food options, we don’t have to settle for the grocery store brand of something. Artisans, like Beverly Sills, are not taking short cuts.
I am an ambassador for the dried fruit company StoneRidge Orchards in Washington State. I develop recipes for their website using their products. One of their latest creations is a dried strawberry dipped in dark chocolate. Talk about nature’s candy. Perfectly ripe strawberries are picked and dried, concentrating their pure berry flavor. The rich chocolate coating seals in the berry flavor and the combination of the two is a match made in tastebud heaven. We’ve all had chocolate covered dried fruit, but StoneRidge Orchards is worth tracking down in your market. What they're doing in Royal City, WA is really special. Their products are all-natural, and always without sulfites, artificial preservatives, colors, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup.
When it was time to develop a recipe for these berries I couldn’t wait to chop up those little guys and swirl them into some homemade ice cream. I was gifted an electric Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker a while ago and this kitchen gadget is one of my favorite (All Good)Things. It is a short cut worth investing in. I achieve the hand cranked homemade silkiness from my childhood ice cream in minutes of electric churning and then a few hours of freezer time.
You don’t have an ice cream machine? You don’t want to wait two hours for it to set up in the freezer? You have my permission to take a short cut and buy your favorite vanilla ice cream, soften it, and mix in the chopped chocolate covered strawberries. But here’s the thing, promise me you’ll take the time you saved using store bought ice cream and devote it to doing something or spending it with someone you really love. Make it quality, make it count. Short cuts are time management tools that everyone needs in their arsenal to get to the end result of something worth while. Saving time with short cuts in the kitchen allows more time at the table with the people we love. And you can quote me on that!
Chocolate Strawberry Chip Vanilla Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup StoneRidge Orchards Chocolate Covered Strawberries, roughly chopped
- Whisk all ingredients together until sugar dissolves.
- Pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Add chopped chocolate covered strawberries in the last minute of mixing in the ice cream machine.
- After the ice cream is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve.