When I was a kid we used to go on these epically long camping trips every summer – so long that my brother and I would almost forget there was any other routine besides waking up, taking a swim, going on some kind of crazy caving adventure or mountain hike, toasting marshmallows and falling asleep in front of the campfire.
We used to go all over in the beginning, then finally settled on a yearly excursion to Terrace PinesCampground, in Center Ossipee, NH. It was (still is) a super pretty, clean, secluded expanse of woods on two big lakes that were crystal clear and super deep – they were actually extinct calderas…I think. I can’t remember how I came across that information…it might just be a legend that grew all on its own as the years passed and the camping memories multiplied between my family and my parents’ best friends, the Bouleys, and their four kids – our camping partners in crime. There are lots of legends from those trips. Like the legend of Squirrel Ice Cream.
|View of the lakes we camped on, from a tiny mountain.|
When we’d be up in NH, sometimes we wouldn’t leave good old Terrace Pines for days. There was no need to really – we had the lakes, our tents, bikes, hiking trails, kayaks, canoes, snorkels, dominoes, even a shotty arcade with an 80s juke box, and most importantly each other…and the whole affair was graciously catered by my parents and the Bouleys. So when the elders would convene and decide that it was time to leave the campsite and go out for ice cream in town, we would go bonkers.
There was this one night we were ironically cognizant of our reactions, and our excitement lead us to pretending we had been camping for so long that we were losing our minds (might have been true). For some reason I will never forget Jessica, the younger Bouley daughter, crazily crossing her eyes and saying, “I hope they have chocolate, and vanilla, and WHAT’S THAT PINK KIND!?” It is embedded in my mind. We all concurred that the pink kind was Squirrel Ice Cream. And forever, still to this day, we refer to the ice cream shop we frequented that night and ever forward, as Squirrel Ice Cream. I have no idea what the shop is actually called – I can look at the sign again and again and never see the words correctly. My legend wins out in the end.
Consequently, every time I see ice cream that is pink in color, to this day, I think of this awesome and hysterical memory, and then *all* the camping memories come flooding back and it makes me super happy. I love how the human brain works – it’s so full of treats when it wants to be.
And speaking of treats, just look at that innocent lil pink bowl of ice cream in the photo above. What’s that pink kind indeed? It looks so sweet just sitting there, maaaaybe it’s made of squirrels, maaaaybe not. I thought about this story the whole time I was making it, eating it, and as soon as I looked at this photo just now. And the great thing about this ice cream is that it also tasted like another ultimate treat from my childhood, because I made it with milk that Fruity Pebbles had been soaking in…ahhh!
You read it right. Fruity. Pebble. Milk. Ice Cream. And you can thank the magical goddess of Momofuku Milk Bar, Christina Tosi, for inventing it. I’m certainly thanking her because it is not only ridiculously flavorful and so so delicious, but it also brought me back to one of those impossible-to-return-to childhood places…which really only the magic of food can do.
Fruity Cereal Milk Ice Cream
from Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, 2011
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 recipe Fruity Cereal Milk (see below)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup milk powder (there is no substitute for this - if you don't use it your ice cream will not come out the same as mine, and you will be sad.)
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling it over two tablespoons of cold water and letting it hydrate for 3-5 minutes.
Warm a bit of the fruity cereal milk in a small sauce pan and whisk in the bloomed gelatin to dissolve. Pour mixture into a large bowl and whisk in the remaining fruity cereal milk, sugar, salt, milk powder and corn syrup until everything is fully dissolved and incorporated.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. This ice cream is amazing fresh out of the machine, but you can keep it in the freezer and it will be good for up to two weeks.
Fruity Cereal Milk
from Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, 2011
2 cups Fruity Pebbles
3 3/4 cups cold whole milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Crush Fruity Pebbles into the texture of coarse sand or gravel. Pour them into a large glass pitcher. Add milk and stir vigorously. Let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, collecting milk in a medium bowl. Tosi notes that the milk gets thicker and starchier towards the end, and recommends using the back of a ladle to push the milk out of the Pebbles, but don't press so hard that you're getting Pebble bits into the bowl with the milk. Discard wet soggy Fruity Pebbles in a way that you see fit.
Whisk brown sugar and salt into milk until fully dissolved. Store refrigerated in a clean pitcher or milk jug if not using right away - keeps for up to 1 week.
*Thanks Em Davis and Nick Hubben for photographing the ice cream after I left it at your house!