Last Friday night when I was making granola bars at 9:30pm to take to a bake sale the next day I thought to myself, “when was the last time a man was ever in this situation?”
I marched out to the living room and posed the question to Sorin who was reading or watching TV. I can’t remember which, but whatever it was it looked relaxing. I wasn’t ranting to him; I was happy to make granola bars that were raising money for a good cause. Just as I was happy to put work aside for a few hours on Wednesday to help with a craft project at O’s preschool and later that night bake garlic bread for my monthly book club potluck dinner (which I did while supervising O brushing her teeth, which involved lots of sprinting between the bathroom sink and the oven and only half a loaf of burned garlic bread).
My point was, men don’t socialize in the same way women do, like requiring that everyone read a book and cook food before we get together. Nor do most men participate in all the extras of parenthood in the same way that moms do. That bake sale for charity and those hand print turkey cards that the preschool is delivering to a retirement home? All of it orchestrated by moms. Busy moms, exhausted moms, moms who are completely overextended. And yet, we keep showing up and baking things and organizing fundraisers and social events and planning holidays to make them extra-special as if we have all the time in the world.
Sorin reasoned that I didn’t have to do any those things, they’re all voluntary. And he’s right. Plus, he added, there are lots of women with kids who never get involved in things like bake sales. He’s right about that too, I could just say no. But I like being involved in the community I’ve met since having a child. I also like giving back to the greater community, which is something I had good intentions to do all through my twenties and early thirties but never really did even though I had all the time in the world. Ironically, now, when I’m busier than ever, I’ve found the time to volunteer and raise money and get involved.
I mean, really, what the hell was I doing with my time before I had a child? I wasn’t volunteering. I wasn’t baking for any bake sales. I had a job and I exercised and socialized and slept a great deal more and read the entire Sunday Times but that still leaves large swaths of time that are unaccounted for. Why are there still so many classic novels I haven’t read? Why isn’t my career more established by now? Why are there so many continents I have never been to?
This insanely busy time of my life makes me feel perpetually behind and guilty of neglecting so many things I can’t quite get to, but I’m thankful to have such a full life. I would rather be crazy busy than have endless weeks of long days with nothing to do. I would rather be constantly surrounded by people and pulled on by a toddler than feel alone and lonely. This year I’m giving thanks for the chaos, embracing it instead of resenting it. Embrace the chaos! I think that might just have to be my mantra for the next 20 years.
Easy Sweet Potato Ice Cream (without an ice cream maker)
This ice cream is a new version of what was originally a recipe for chocolate ice cream. It’s made with sweet potatoes (a vegetable!) but tastes just like pumpkin pie. The flavor is subtle, it’s not overly sweet and it’s a cinch to make. Because of all the sweet potato in there, I think, the ice cream is slightly icy and freezes harder than the original chocolate recipe. Just give it a little time out of the freezer to soften up.
Serve the ice cream in bowls at Thanksgiving, or pour it into a gingersnap pie crust or sandwich it between cookies. The recipe makes around 3 cups of ice cream.
You can also add maple-glazed pecans if you want, recipe is at the bottom.
Oh, and I also give thanks to David Lebovitz from whom this recipe is adapted.
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled (about 3 or 4 potatoes)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, or more to taste
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes, put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork. Drain the sweet potatoes and let cool to room temperature.
Puree the potatoes in a blender or food processor with the cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Stir in 1/2 cup of the whole cream.
Use an electric mixer to whip the rest of the cream and the vanilla into soft peaks. By hand, gently stir together the whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk, sweet potato and a pinch of salt.
Pour into a bowl or other container. (If you want to add pecans to the ice cream before freezing it, see recipe below)
Freeze the ice cream for 3 to 6 hours, until it reaches the consistency of ice cream.
Maple-Glazed Pecans Recipe:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup pecans
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325 F
Bake the pecans for 10 minutes until toasted.
Heat the maple syrup and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan. When it comes to a boil stir in the pecans, then cook until the syrup returns to a full boil. Stir the nuts for 10 seconds or so, then remove them from the heat and let cool. I usually sprinkle more salt on the pecans at this point. When cooled, they will still still be a little sticky.