I am a girl who goes through schools like other girls go through boys. (And to be honest, I think I have been with more schools than I have boys…)

I had a rocky start in my relationship with post-secondary education. My first year of college was spent at Washington State University. Let’s just say that WSU and I weren’t a good match. At the time I thought that is what I wanted (back in the day when I dreamed of being an architect) and when I was in high school it was the only college I applied to. Surprisingly, it turns out you don’t really know what you want when you are 18 years old. It liked to party and I was a wallflower. It was big into the Greek system and I was (and continue to be) fiercely independent. It was into school spirit, sports and activities and I am more of the theater rat sort. I wanted to stretch my brain further and in new directions and wasn’t interested in having a typical “college experience.” WSU just couldn’t give me what I needed. So we split after a year.

But that year of my life left a permanent scar on my psyche.

(It also brought amazing ice cream sandwiches, but I’ll get to that later)

South Puget Sound Community College was my rebound school. I was there for a year, going to school full time, working part time at the dental office and dancing with the local ballet company, Ballet Northwest. And while it was not true love, it was a solid sort and got me back on my feet again. It was there that I learned how to write, speak in public and articulately form arguments against religion. I fulfilled all the requirements for an Associate’s of Arts and was on my way.

I fell in love hard with Evergreen and while I was there, with science and the prospect of a life in research. A quirky, independent, non-traditional learning experience. My first true love. It was there I felt a sense of academic and social community and a staunch motivation to learn. I stayed with Evergreen even after I fulfilled all of the “requirements” for a Bachelor’s of Science and got a second Bachelor’s degree just because I wasn’t ready to part ways just yet.

But I eventually outgrew Evergreen and moved all the way across the country to Duke and its Ph.D. program. The longest and most serious relationship in my academic life. I mean, I was invested and completely absorbed into Duke and what it had to offer. In some ways my time at Duke has completely defined me. Exactly like how some girls are defined by the guy that they are with. And now that I am no longer with Duke, I’ve been trying to parse out my own feelings from the feelings at Duke about what it means to be in science and have a life in academics (and possibly a life outside of academics).

Now I am at the University of Minnesota. I don’t have that much to say about it. By the very nature of a post-doc, it’s not going to be a long-term relationship. I am kind of biding my time until something better comes along. Heaven forbid that I not be at some sort of academic institution. I am that girl who constantly has had a “boyfriend” (and by boyfriend, I mean school). It is what it is. But it is not going to last long, especially when I have an actual significant other at the University of Florida.

Will I find my life-long companion in an academic institution (a tenure-track position)? Or will I continue to flit through universities in a non-committal sort of way? Possibly this story will end in divorce and I’ll leave academics. At this point, it could go either way.

It’s been a long time since I was that lonely freshman at WSU, hating my life. But I was brave enough then to change my course and make my life what I wanted. There was however, one other bright, shiny light during my time at WSU – grabbers. Grabbers are ice cream sandwiches with oatmeal cookies, loaded with homemade ice cream and are sold at Ferdinand’s, the school creamery. Strawberry ice cream with oatmeal cookies? Talk about a fantastic combination.

I’ve been thinking a lot about grabbers and feeling like a freshman again as I try to decide what to do with my life. I’ve recently acquired an ice cream maker and for my maiden voyage I whipped up a batch of rhubarb ice cream (because that infatuation is going strong). Then I sandwiched it between two oatmeal cookies.

Dare I say it’s even better than Ferdinand’s?

I think I do.

Rhubarb Ice Cream Oatmeal Cookie Grabbers

Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from The Essential New York Times cookbook
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oats (not quick cooking)
Rhubarb Ice Cream
4 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup sugar, divided
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks

For the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking soda cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

Beat the shortening and sugars in a large bowl just enough to blend well. Add the egg and vanilla. Continue to beat until thoroughly mixed.

Add the oats and mix again. Drop the dough by tablespoon fulls onto the cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 12 – 15 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

For the rhubarb ice cream:

Cook chopped rhubarb with 2/3 cup sugar over medium heat, until soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to blender and puree until smooth.

Heat milk and cream in small saucepan over low heat, until steam starts to rise off the liquid. Take off heat.

Meanwhile, beat egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup sugar together until light yellow.

Take a little bit (~1/2 cup) of the hot cream and whisk into the eggs. Whisk in the remaining cream. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook the custard until thick, about 5 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon. Mix in the rhubarb puree and transfer to a spouted batter bowl. Chill completely.

Set up and turn on the ice cream maker. Slowly pour chilled custard into ice cream maker and churn for about 25 minutes.

Take about 1/3 cup of the soft-serve ice cream and scoop it onto an oatmeal cookie. Top with a second oatmeal cookie. Wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze for a couple of hours to let the ice cream ripen.

4 responses to “Grabbers

  1. I too went through three schools on the way to a bachelor’s degree. In my case, it was largely because I was raised and schooled by people who were clueless about higher education (and a whole lot else) and accordingly gave me terrible advice. Like you, I applied to just one school, and I left after just one year, because I was unhappy with it.

    Unlike you, I also went through three schools on the way to a doctorate (I have two superfluous master’s degrees). Alas, I can’t say I ever found “love” where academic institutions are concerned. I liked some of the work I did, but I never did really like the universities. If I had, I suppose I might still be an academic today,

    As usual, your recipe and photos are making me hungry!

  2. Pingback: The Return of Rhubarb | Puck and Kudzu

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