Whenever I think about ice cream balls my mind immediately returns to favorite friends in Boulder, Colorado. Our family moved to Colorado from Minnesota during my high school years. Moving from Minnesota to Colorado gave me a brand new set of friends and the opportunity to learn about what people outside of Minnesota ate and enjoyed. For special occasions the mother of one friend always made ice cream balls with a super tart lemon sauce that contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the ice cream. Ice cream balls were a favorite request for birthday parties. Much later when I moved to Placer County and learned about Placer’s Satsuma mandarins and Meyer lemons, it made sense to make the recipe and replace the Eureka lemon sauce with mandarin and Meyer lemon juices. The trees in our Auburn garden provide an abundance of mandarins and lemons during the months of December, January, and February, and each year we freeze several quarts of both kinds of juice. Generally the mandarin juice is frozen in one or two-cup containers, and I fill smaller half-cup containers with lemon juice. Also, we fill several freezer ice cube trays with lemon juice so there are smaller portions always available to add a taste of lemon to recipes throughout the year. Once the lemon juice cubes are frozen solid, place them in a zip-lock freezer bag and defrost them as needed. Make this recipe using a rich vanilla ice cream. Or for a nice change, use double chocolate ice cream. The chocolate and mandarin combination will literally melt in your mouth. Joanne Neft is a longtime Placer County agricultural advocate. Learn more about Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny’s “Placer County Real Food” project and cookbook at www.placercountyrealfood.com. __________ Ice Cream Balls with Mandarin and Meyer Lemon Sauce Sauce 1 cup sugar 2 cups mandarin juice 2 tablespoons cornstarch 4 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice 3 tablespoons mandarin zest Blend sugar, mandarin juice and cornstarch. Whisk in a double boiler until thick. Remove from heat. Add butter to melt. Add lemon juice and mandarin zest. Chill. Ice Cream Balls ½ gallon French vanilla ice cream ½ cup pecans, diced ½ cup walnuts, diced ½ cup graham cracker crumbs 8 mandarin slices Let ice cream container sit at room temperature until ice cream is easy to scoop. Combine diced pecans and walnuts with graham cracker crumbs. Set aside. Once ice cream is softened, make eight small balls or four large balls. Roll in diced pecans, walnuts and graham cracker crumb mixture. Place balls on metal tray and immediately place in freezer. If using large balls, slice in half immediately before serving. Top with sauce and a slice of mandarin.