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In Search of Wisdom and Coconut Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

April 21, 2014

Vegan Coconut Milk Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I recite this–the Serenity Prayer—daily, often many times each day. The last line often provides the biggest challenge.

Prayer and meditation in various forms are a regular part of my life though I’m not particularly religious; something six years of Catholic schooling didn’t change. Dad never went to church. He was likely agnostic for all I knew. It wasn’t something we talked about. When I entered my twenties and answers to those kinds of questions started to matter, he was dead. Mom was Catholic, the go to church for Christmas and Easter variety. In spite of or maybe because of her reluctance to be a Sunday mass regular, she made me go. On nice days I’d spend the hour at the playground near the church swinging from the monkey bars in my skirt and ruffled bobby socks. When the church bells tolled it was time to go. Then I’d sneak in the side door of the church and grab a bulletin from the table at the back—the requisite proof of attendance that mom would demand when I returned home. Some days I’d forgo the charade, embracing the peacefulness that the big stone church with its enormous vibrant glass windows offered instead. Father Leon’s gentle voice punctuated with the low murmur of “Amen” was a stark contrast to the soundtrack of barking dogs and shouting matches at home. I sat in the back pew where I couldn’t feel the pitying glances of parishioners who wondered why a young girl was sitting in church alone.

As an adult when peaceful moments were easier to come by, I stopped going to church. The communal aspects never appealed to me, not as a child, not as a grown woman. My backyard is my favorite place of worship today. I can find spirit in a single daffodil, blooming where snow fell only the day before. I can also find it in that first sweet creamy spoonful of homespun ice cream. Spirit is with me when I feel Greg’s hand in mine on an early morning walk. Or when my god daughter wraps her tiny arms around my neck and whispers, “Aunt Bobbi can I have some lip gloss?”

Lately I’ve been praying more than usual. It happens when life’s current lesson isn’t obvious and my purpose grows a little fuzzy and recedes a bit into the distance for only God and my cosmic joker to see. I’m moving forward but it feels like I’m pushing a boulder uphill. History has shown me that I’ll reach the top eventually without being crushed under the rock. It’s also taught me that more valleys and mountains will await me after I do. My spiritual teachers Eckhart Tolle and Eknath Easwaran would remind me to focus on the rock, the moment, now. The past, both mistakes and triumphs, and the future—that mountain top view—exist only in my head, taking up residence with the gremlins there that say, “You can’t do this. You won’t do this.” My heart grows heavy when the voices are loud. Before I succumb to the role of victim and reply, “Why me?” I must remember that I give them the power to run amok in my monkey brain, and only I can take that power away. Sometimes in prayer I find this strength. And sometimes the voices just get louder. In those moments I always return to the Serenity Prayer, desperate to find that line between casting my ego aside and surrendering to spirit–to accept the things I cannot change, and taking action–to change the things I can.

The wisdom to know the difference is often what eludes me. Where is the line between surrendering and copping out? Between taking action and trying to control something that I’m not meant to control? Navigating the space in between requires every bit of patience I can muster. It’s also where I know I’ll eventually find grace. And so I shift my focus away from the blurry future (and a second bowl of coconut ice cream!) and back to my rock and the earth beneath my feet.

Coconut Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

This is the vegan ice cream recipe I promised you in my last post. It’s become a freezer staple over the last month. We topped our last batch with chocolate sauce and toasted coconut–like a Mounds Bar all grown up and more delicious. Play around with the amount of sugar if it’s not sweet enough for your liking. If it’s too sweet the coconut flavor is less pronounced.


    2 cans coconut milk
    4 teaspoons cornstarch
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 vanilla bean


  1. In a small bowl whisk together a little coconut milk and the cornstarch to create a slurry.
  2. Combine the remaining coconut milk and granulated sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the bean and seeds to the pan. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a gentle boil and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
  3. Let cool then chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.
  4. Freeze in your ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2014 9:34 pm

    It sounds to me like you’re quite religious. You have regular practices where you consciously connect with the divine. You have guides that help you sort out life’s meaning and your place in all of it. That’s more than a lot of people who sit in church once a week can say.

    This ice cream sounds delicious, but sitting in my fridge are multiple egg yolks, separated from their whites, that are crying to be made into some kind of custardy wonderful ice cream. I have two ice cream freezers–maybe I’ll make two different kinds of ice cream! Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. April 22, 2014 7:34 am

    It is time for a spring get together. We have much to catch up on. Email me to schedule a date. I miss you.

  3. April 22, 2014 12:01 pm

    Bobbi, I love stopping by here and reading up on your thoughts. Today’s post really cut to the center of what I have been feeling in my own life. I have been very prayerful lately as well, in hopes for answers for what I should let go of, how I should move forward, and getting those pesky thoughts of sabotage out of my head. I will read this post again, repeat the Serenity Prayer (something as a kid that I loved, despite not being religious) several times today, and think upon your words. Thank you, xo!

  4. April 27, 2014 8:15 am

    Ah, the tricky part is always having the wisdom to know the difference! It trips me up more times than I care to admit. What a lovely spiritual post. Your post has stayed with me for the better part of a week now, giving me much to think about. And, coconut ice cream as a bonus. What could be better than that?


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