Grapefruit & Thyme Soda

My garden and I did not start the month of August off on the right foot. While I was being bombarded left and right by dishes and posts featuring beautiful tomatoes, the plants in my garden taunted me with green orbs of various shapes and sizes that refused to ripen. I obsessively checked them twice a day. I even had a dream that, amidst a bit of chaos involving Doctor Who (David Tennant, not Matt Smith), the air traffic controller from season 2 of Breaking Bad, and a woman who insisted she must go to Paris for “jewelery season,” I uncovered a vine of perfectly ripe tomatoes at the edge of my much-nicer-than-it-is-in-waking-life backyard.

While my tomato plants refused to cooperate, my garden did manage to redeem itself with a bounty of herbs, including an overabundance of thyme. I don’t know why, but the smell of thyme makes me thirsty. I love adding it to drinks and it works well with a number of things (lemon, blackberries, pears, etc.), but thyme + grapefruit = THE BEST. I was introduced to this combination nearly a year ago at my favorite Burlington restaurant, and I have been obsessed ever since.

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Chocolate, Roasted Cherry, & Salted Almond Ice Cream

There are three full quarts of homemade ice cream in my freezer, and I can’t eat them. What cosmic forces have conspired to leave me in this terribly unfair situation, you ask? Those would be the forces that bring about family reunions, and that also lead me to interpret my mother’s request for assistance with dessert as the green light for me to plan an ice cream social. And because I thought it best to spare my mother the nervous breakdown (hers, and possibly also mine) that would come from preparing four different batches of ice cream in her kitchen by Saturday afternoon, I decided to make three of them beforehand. But what I didn’t think about is the fact that I would have to NOT EAT THEM. Very, very unfair. (I didn’t even get to eat the ice cream from the photoshoot — I put it back. I hope no one in my family reads this until after the reunion . . .)

This batch is, by far, the hardest to resist. This was my first time making chocolate ice cream, but I’ve worked enough with chocolate to know that when it’s the star flavor, high-quality ingredients are the way to go. I even decided to spring for the Valrhona cocoa powder, despite the fact that spending $14 on less than 9 oz. of chocolate powder seemed a bit crazy to me. And since only 3 tablespoons of cocoa were going into the ice cream (in addition to 5 oz. of bittersweet chocolate), I almost talked myself out of it. But I went for it, and I’m glad I did. When I opened the bag later that evening to see what all the fuss was about, I was instantly convinced it was worth every penny.

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