Gloria’s sugar-free twist on a summer favorite

Published 8:48 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2019


The Amish Cook

We’re home again. It was a great vacation — or do you call it a vacation while you have a full-time job caring for five little darlings?

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For months, we had planned on going on a little trip with Daniel’s brother John, his family and a couple of our friends, Mary and Carolyn. Mary was Julia’s first-grade teacher and Carolyn is a dear friend and next-door neighbor. These two friends proved to be a tremendous blessing and asset in helping with the children.

The children thought the trip would never happen, now at last it became reality. A gentleman who lives a couple hours south purchased furniture that Daniel and John made. He used it to furnish rental cabins and invited us to use it at a smaller fee.

As planned, we spent five nights in this cozy cabin, nestled among the trees. Within walking distance was a nice pond where we spent time cooling off, swimming and splashing in the water. The children had a blast, and Austin was especially impressed when Daddy taught him how to swim with his life jacket. I was quite impressed. Julia can swim like a fish with her safety vest. Rayni is a natural water lover and so is Jesse; they are both extraordinarily athletic for their age and love water play. Elijah preferred to walk at the very edge of the water, digging his plump little toes in the sand. I was fine not swimming much myself, it was a treat to watch the children have a blast.

We took turns serving meals, that way we all had a vacation with meal preparation and clean-up. We had decided on having brunch at 10:30 a.m. and an early supper at 4 p.m. I prepped some dishes at home, then finished it at the cabin. Among the food we provided was chicken enchiladas, corn chip salad, grilled chicken, fruit pizza, mountain pies and of course plenty of homemade chocolate.

How would vacation be without ample servings of healthy chocolate to eat with ice cream or any dessert, for that matter? Now talking about some deliciously healthy ice cream — my sister-in-law had churned two gallons of sugar-free ice cream for the occasion. Yes, it was sugar-free, but I’m not talking about bland, no-flavor stuff. Virginia knows how to make the most tasty sugar-free dishes I’ve ever had. Yes, there was plenty of ice cream for all of us, and it even served well as a bedtime snack after everything else had quieted down.

One day we had Children’s Day. This spring, after Mother’s Day Julia had suggested that we also have a Children’s Day. Daniel immediately latched onto it. What time could be better than the trip for this special occasion?

In the forenoon, we went to a park where they spent time swinging, sliding and the likes. They had me worn out in no time playing tag. I’m just not up to running games like I used to. It also takes some practice, I discovered, to use monkey bars. John was offering anyone a dollar who use all eight monkeys bars and shuffle their way back, hand over hand without letting go. I like trying new things, but imagine how silly I felt as I clung to the bars for dear life with everyone — but John — cheering me on, telling me I could do it. As I reached the very last bars on the way back, I lost my grasp and jumped down. I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Soon after everyone was busy in conversation, I whispered to Daniel, “I’m gonna try it again.” I did and to my delight, I did it with much greater ease and hooted as I hopped to the ground. And yes, I did get my dollar, and sheepishly stuck it into the pocket on the stroller.

Before leaving the park, Daniel and I randomly met up with a girl who spoke with the voice of experience on what life was like for her as a foster child. We listened with keen interest as she shared her insights. Hopefully, we’ll have the chance to meet again some day.

After our return to the cabin, most of us took brief naps. Next came the treasure hunt. I prepared a simple little treasure of juices, homemade party mix and some candy. Daniel wrote and hid all the notes. To make it more special for the children, we parents accompanied them on their trek of searching. Soon we were going from one end of the property to the other, following the bidding of the notes.

The children all took turns finding notes. After trekking up hill and down, burning calories, I guess, after all our good food, we came to the treasure on the picnic table where we enjoyed a relaxing time together followed by story time for the children.

Funny how it works: We had a nice time, but for Mom and Dad, it felt like a vacation to just be back home again and have normal nap schedules for the little ones with everyone sleeping in their own beds. For the foster children, it seemed to be especially disruptive to their routine, but it’s all coming back together again.

Check out this sugar-free homemade ice cream recipe.

Sugar-free ice cream


8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

3 tablespoons vegetable glycerin

cup erythritol

2 teaspoons pure powdered stevia

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

5 cups milk

4 cups cream


Cream together cream cheese and glycerin. Add erythritol, stevia, vanilla, and salt, mix well, then slowly add milk and cream, blending together well. Freeze in a one gallon ice cream freezer. Enjoy!

Note: If you prefer, you may substitute erythritol and stevia with sugar or any other sweetener of your choice.