Macerated Berries with Vanilla Ice Cream / by Alexa Arnold

With all of the heartbreak that's happening in the world right now, it almost feels wrong to sit here and write a blog post about sugar berries. I feel sick, outraged, horrified and devastated. I feel unsure of what my role in justice should be, yet responsible and desperate to do something, anything. We live in the midst of wildly atrocious events, and I know a lot of people are hurting. I'm trying to make sense of it all and I'm trying to listen. I'm trying to learn how to do more than just name my privilege – trying to understand how to use it to propel the voices of those who are least valued and most hurt by the system forward. I'm trying to move past my inclination to retreat into silence, and speak up, even though my words might be imperfect. 

The kitchen always offers solace and room for contemplation. As I sit here in the comfort of my own home, a bowl of berries on my lap, feeling entirely helpless, I can only do what I know: demand radical, structural changes; refuse to feel numb to the violence; and use food as a tool to comfort, love, connect and heal. Food breaks down barriers and grounds us. Food is learning, sharing and understanding. This recipe is not groundbreaking, or any kind of metaphor for how complicated the world feels, and is in no way an answer to the injustices that need to be addressed. It's simple, because that's the kind of food I turn to for comfort. 

Less than a week ago – before the world fell even more apart – I ruined a pie crust. I had big plans for this crust, but with the oven cranked up high on an already sweltering day, plus a heavy dose of impatience, it quickly softened, stuck to the counter, and refused to be moved onto the pie plate. I felt defeated. I tossed back several handfuls of the perfectly-ripe berries I'd picked up earlier at the market before I remembered that dessert needn't be so complicated. I set the crust aside and thought of the desserts of my childhood: Breyer's vanilla bean ice cream with Dad, and strawberries dipped in sugar with Mom. Both have remained favorites throughout all of my life, both are not complicated, but the exact opposite of complicated. And that's what I like about them. 

I piled the berries into a bowl and coated them in a thin layer of sugar. You don't need much. Stirring occasionally, I watched the berries soften and their juices start to form a puddle in the bottom of the bowl. I pulled out the ice cream and scooped a small dollop into my serving bowl, then drizzled the berries and their juices on top to serve. 

Macerated Berries with Vanilla Ice Cream

Serves 4-6.

> 4 cups mixed berries
> 3/4 cup sugar
> 2 pints vanilla ice cream

1. Rinse the berries and place in a wide bowl. Combine with sugar. Let sit for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Softer berries, like raspberries and blackberries, won't hold up as well if you let them sit too long – though I enjoy them when they've turned to liquid, too.)
2. Serve over ice cream. (Though they wouldn't be out of place ladled over greek yogurt with a handful of granola.)