In California, the temperature yesterday was 108, (42C) and today it was 100 (37)! A lot of the horrible fires have subsided, but the air is still smoky. At the peak of fires, I felt like I was living on Mars, with tons of soot flying through the air, the skies covered in a brown haze, and the sun a blazing red. Between this and Covid, I noticed a lot of depression in the children around me, as not only has lockdown inhibited their ability to get out and go to parks or museums, but on top of that being outside was downright dangerous with AQI (air quality) readings that were soaring among the worst in the world. Tomorrow the forEcast is just as hot with high winds, a recipe for more fires–praying it doesn’t get any worse!

Bastani Sonnati

If you go to the supermarket, you would be hard pressed to find ice cream that has less than 10 ingredients. Propelyne glycol, high fructose corn syrup, carageenan, sodium benzoate, and a ton of other nasty ingredients you would never find in nature end up in colorful tubs beckoning you in the freezer aisle. No doubt about it, this processed ice cream pays a heavy price when burdened with these extraneous chemicals and additives. If you eat ice cream in the Middle east, Iran, or Europe, the ice cream has a different texture all together. Instead of a chalky ice cream, you get a smooth and creamy mouthfeel with each bite. The flavors also taste real, with no aftertaste. From vanilla and pistachio, to banana and more exotic flavors like pomegranate, it seems like the seller just plucked the fruits that morning and swirled them into the ice cream.

Rukab’s Ice Cream: Ramalah Palestine

In times like these, when one feels generally hopeless and helpless to make the situation better, it is little family projects that add cheer to the day and build cherished family memories. This one particular day when the air quality got a little better, I thought an ice cream sandwich party was in order. Now I am not saying that we should all drown our sorrows in ice cream when things get tough (Lord knows I have done this too many times to count)- but, once in a while activities like this create opportunities to bond, as well as learn about other countries. The children loved learning about Iran’s own special ice cream, called Bastani Sonnati. Originating back in 500 BC, this Persian ice cream usually has a base flavor or vanilla, accented with saffron and rose water. If served as a sandwich, the ice cream is tucked between two wafer thins, then rolled in either crushed pistachios, rose petals, or both.

Now you can make this special ice cream with only 3 base ingredients, and no ice cream maker! If you don’t have wafer thins available, use any kind of cookie or biscuit you like. This recipe is smooth and creamy, with a delicate touch of rose and saffron– an exotic way to end the summer without having to travel anywhere. To see my latest video on the easy technique, click on the video below:

Bastani Sonnati

1 cup heavy cream (NOT half and half)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 – 2 tsp rose water

Dash of saffron (optional)

1 tsp Arabic gum (optional)

Wafer thins, and crushed pistachios or freeze dried strawberries for rolling the sandwiches

Whip the heavy cream, vanilla, and optional Arabic gum until stiff peaks form. Fold in the condensed milk gently until well incorporated. Freeze for 4 hours. To make sandwiches, put about 1/3 cup ice cream between 2 wafer, roll into the crushed pistachios or strawberries, and freeze for another hour or two. Eat immediately after serving.


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