Homemade Soft Serve Frozen Yogurt for Hot Summer Days


It’s a bloody hot day in Nashville, a Wednesday, the kind of day where walking the 50 or so feet from your kitchen door to the mailbox means beads of sweat forming fast on your forehead and upper lip. Tim and I are inside, working, I at my laptop on the dining room table, he from his computer on the sofa. When I look up from the article I’m writing, I see him straight ahead; when I turn to the right, it’s all blue skies and beating sunshine above our front yard.

I want to be sitting in the grass, I want to be having a picnic, I want to be sipping lemonade while rocking on a giant front porch.

Then I remember the heat, and I change my mind: I want to go swimming.


“What time is it?” I say to Tim. He tells me it’s half past noon. “Too bad,” I answer back. “Wish we had time to go to the lake.”

And then we look at each other from across our freelance perches, and he says what we’re both thinking: oh yeah, we do.



So we finish our work and throw some towels in a bag and drive 20 minutes to Percy Priest, the manmade lake that makes Nashville feel a little less landlocked. We haven’t been there since last summer, when we were still engaged, on a Saturday that was loud and crowded and earned me a sunburn on my back.

Today it’s quiet, just a few dozen people grilling or swimming or soaking up sun. We stretch our blanket out in the green grass, sandy shores ahead of us, the smell of charcoal in the air. We step into the water and it’s warm, like a bathtub, and I don’t have to shudder when I dip my toes in first.

We’re only there two hours, but it’s two hours that feels a million miles from life—a few hours that feels like a summer vacation in the middle of the day. We walk, hand in hand, to the water; come back to the blanket to dry off; go back to the water; come back to the blanket. It’s so peaceful, so relaxing, so like Wisconsin or Florida.

I finish the book I’ve been reading, “Writing Down the Bones”, in which Natalie Goldberg talks about one of her favorite writing prompts for students: to talk about a time when you were happy. She says this is worth doing because,

“Stories stay with us … Our stories are important … To begin with, write like you talk, nothing fancy. This will help you get started.”

I look up from where I’m laying on my stomach, elbows propping me up, and a little girl runs past us in her bathing suit. I hear voices laughing in the water. I see Tim laying next to me, a smile on his face. We go back into the lake, and the way I talk to him, while we’re standing together, water coming just above our shoulders, minnows swimming past our feet, is with a breathless, “This is so fun!”

We come home, taking showers and sweeping up sand and unpacking our towels, and we make frozen yogurt. It tastes like soft serve—the kind I used to get at places like TCBY, perfect for piling high with toppings like fruit and coconut and nuts, perfect for eating on the couch with your husband after an afternoon at the lake.

Homemade Soft Serve Frozen Yogurt for Hot Summer Days


And I want to tell you here, the way I’d tell you if we were talking, how much I like this day, how much I love laying by the water on a weekday, surrounded by forests and swimmers and picnic tables.

Homemade Soft Serve Frozen Yogurt for Hot Summer Days

Homemade Soft Serve Frozen Yogurt for Hot Summer Days



But then I think about Natalie Goldberg and about writing how we talk, and all that comes out is “It was wonderful!” and “I love this” and “This is so fun!” So then I think, you know, sometimes, maybe that’s exactly right.

Homemade Soft Serve
Makes a full quart
We tested this recipe one more time after Wednesday to get it to the right blend of sweetness with a hint of unmistakable yogurt tart. The version below is our favorite: every time I have a bowl, I want three more.

16 ounces plain Greek yogurt (we used Olympus)
8 ounces cream
8 ounces milk
3/4 cup raw honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Hefty dash of cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in strong blender or Vitamix; pour into ice cream maker and follow instructions. The frozen yogurt will still seem soft when it’s done, like soft serve, but it does firm up some after it’s been in the freezer.

Disclaimer: We were sent a case of Greek yogurt from Olympus, some of which was used in this post.

33 thoughts on “Homemade Soft Serve Frozen Yogurt for Hot Summer Days”

    • It’s been a little better lately—still hot, but bearable—but really, I can’t complain about the heat with days like this! : )

  1. I love the idea of writing about a time when you’re happy. Sometimes I think that’s actually harder than capturing the darkness. This post manages it though, a perfect description of a perfect summer day (and a bowl of frozen yogurt to go with it).

    • I know just what you mean, Kathryn. I’ve often thought it’s easier to write about the hard than the good, and I don’t know why. Thank you for your kind words!

  2. A day by the water is one of the more simple, but completely perfect bits in life. Definitely get you on that one. Glad you had a wonderful day by the lake and some AMAZING frozen yogurt to boot. It looks so good, Shanna, seriously.

  3. I sit here working on freelance stuff, reading your blog, and look out the window. We’ve had thunderstorms for the past few days, but today the sun is shining. Your post has inspired me to pack up my stuff and head to the pool. 🙂

  4. Writing like you talk, going swimming when you’re hot, simple frozen yogurt. I’m always amazed at how simplicity always seems to be the answer… It’s like decluttering our spaces and our minds. I shall declutter with that frozen yogurt very soon 🙂

  5. I have never ever made homemade frozen yogurt – but now I definitely want to give it a whirl. Because I’m a texture fiend, sometimes, when I eat a sundae, I wonder whether I do it for the crunchy toppings or the actual ice cream/frozen yogurt. With toppings like shredded coconut and strawberries and nuts – it’s hard to know which I would look forward to more!

    • A girl after my own heart! That’s one of the best parts about frozen yogurt, I think: loading it high with toppings. Makes it so fun! : )

    • oh, sara, too nice! words like that are always powerful, but especially coming from someone as gifted as you. thank you.

  6. Ok. That sounds like the perfect summer day. I’m so jealous!
    My husband and I have decided we need to make friends with someone who has a pool! haha

  7. Love the idea of making soft serve at home! It’s actually quite cool here in San Francisco, so I loved reading about your hot summer..it sounds dreamy 🙂

    • Ah, Kasey, that is just the perspective I need to hear! I’ll miss these hot days soon enough, won’t I? Thanks for reminding me to enjoy it! : )

  8. Hi Shanna,

    I love your post! Lucky dawg!! 😀

    Just wondering, what kind of ice cream maker do you use? Do you like it? I REALLY want one and I think I’m gonna ask for one for my birthday. I just don’t want anyone wasting $60 on one that’s bad quality. 😉


      • Thanks a lot!! Maybe I’ll combine birthday money and make the splurge! 🙂 Do you find that since the machine is a gelato machine that it doesn’t make ice cream as well?

        • Actually, the main reason Tim liked it was because it’s supposed to beat less air into the mixture and thus make it more creamy (you know how a lot of ice cream makers tend to make icier versions?). So we love it and I mean we LOVE it (as evidenced by our constant use of it this summer, ha!).

          • Sorry if I’m bugging you with all these questions. I read some reviews and some people had problems with the thin blade in the compartment. Did you ever have a problem with that? Sorry again. Thanks for being so helpful. 🙂

          • Oh, feel free to ask away! We honestly haven’t had any problems with the blade—it’s cold when the ice cream is done, so it’s always a fun task pulling it out, but it’s worked wonderfully. If you have any other questions, feel free to write me at shannalee [at] foodloveswriting [dot] com. : )

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