Orange Vanilla Frozen Kefir

It’s funny how that happens…I took one bite and all of a sudden, I’m 7 years old again, sitting on the back porch with my younger siblings sipping on Orange Julius smoothies. The heat was beating down on us, deflecting off the concrete slab into our flushed faces. Even the breeze was hot, like it often is here in Oklahoma, but we weren’t bothered by it. We had icy orange drinks to cool us off after a long, dusty (and imaginary) wagon trail ride. (I don’t think we ever played with our swing set the way normal kids did. We took the swing seats off, used the swing chains for reins, and had an imaginary draft horse team that took us all over the Wild West.)

I remember having Orange Julius a lot as a child. The combination of milk, orange juice concentrate, and vanilla is unforgettable, but for some reason the recipe faded into the background along with our trusty Belgian horse team, Rusty and Rowdy.

I brought it back by accident, with a tangy twist and in the form of frozen yogurt. The taste is unmistakably “Orange Julius” and SO refreshing as the temperatures push the high 90’s and 100’s.

IMG_0069The milk kefir can be substituted for plain yogurt, better yet, Greek yogurt and, if you’re feeling wild, you can drizzle chocolate sauce on top. It’s amazing!

Frozen Milk Kefir with Orange and Vanilla

  • 3 1/2 c. milk kefir
  • 1/8 c. honey or 1/4 c.  sugar (We like it super tangy, so if you want sweeter go with 1/4 c. honey or 1/2 c. sugar, or more to your taste. To be quite honest here, I prefer it made with sugar. :))
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • juice of 2 oranges

I pour all the ingredients into a jar and just shake it up. You can leave it in the frig until ready to churn. Pour into a 4 qt. ice cream maker and churn until it reaches frozen yogurt consistency. We enjoy eating ours like this, but you can put it in a container and freeze it for harder ice cream.


This would also make great Popsicles. I think I’m going to try that next.


Take a Trip Down County Road 98

Photos of War Eagle Mill from

We went there several times to that old mill by the stream. It was on our way – in a round about way – to our grandparents house on the other side of Norfork Lake in Elizabeth, Arkansas.

I always dreaded that trip. It only took 7 hours, but they were the longest hours in my life. The first part of the drive wasn’t too bad, but not far into the Natural State…well, I’m convinced those road building Arkies wanted to make themselves a roller coaster. And they succeeded, as far as I’m concerned! I got motion sick more times than I care to remember.

I remember the War Eagle Mill being an oasis from an age long car ride. We’d get out and stretch our tired legs, look over into the river and then head into The Bean Palace for a hearty lunch.

I don’t recall that beans were a favorite meal of mine as a child, but The Bean Palace made the best bowl of beans I’ve ever had and I loved them. Served along side house coleslaw and a hefty slab of cornbread with butter and honey…what more could a kid want?

Well, maybe we were extraordinary kids…

The Mill has an interesting history that began four years before Arkansas became a state. Built by Sylvanus Blackburn in 1832, it was washed away by floods in 1848 and rebuilt only to find itself in the middle of the Civil War. Grist Mills were targeted during the war since they helped provide food for soldiers. Five of Blackburn’s 8 children joined the Confederacy and the family moved to find safety in Texas. Ironically,  the Confederacy burnt the mill to the ground in 1862. Rebuilt in 1873, it lasted 51 years before being burnt down again. Built again in 1973 it stands as the last remaining grist mill in Arkansas and the only working waterwheel in the nation.


It must have been the pot of pinto beans I put on the stove to soak… Suddenly, I wanted a warm cup of Bean Palace legumes in hand to reminisce the years gone by. Cornbread with that, and a side of coleslaw. Maybe I have some southern blood in me after all.  Just maybe….

The beans simmered in the crock pot – on low – for a day and a half. Slow cooking at it’s best. The last four hours of cooking, I added smoked turkey bacon, salt, pepper, garlic powder and a few bay leaves.

Mmmm…the smell was amazing! I grabbed our wrinkled, falling-apart, War Eagle Mill Cookbook and found their coleslaw recipe on the back page…well, what is now the back page for our book.

It’s a simple recipe, much like the one we traditionally use. Shredded cabbage and carrots, vinegar, oil, organic cane sugar (Or honey…I like honey better.), salt, pepper, and celery seed. Tangy and sweet, just the way we like it.

I decided to do something different with the cornbread and spooned the batter in a buttered waffle maker. We usually make it in cast iron skillets, but there’s never enough of the crunchy edges to go around.

Smothered with organic butter and honey from local hives. Some dreams come true…

I love how food can take you for a trip down memory lane. One taste or smell can bring back little treasures that have been tucked away in the dusty attics of our brain. Brush off the cobwebs and smile.

What meal do you remember most from your childhood?