Saturday, August 25, 2012

4th New Thing ~ I Scream

You should never let yourself run out of staples: bread, milk, butter, eggs, ice cream.

Ice cream.

I eat ice cream every night. Just before bed. Some nights with a brownie or chocolate cake or berry crumble or tart cherry pie. But always ice cream.

For me, ice cream is a staple. And it's easy enough to pick up on the way home. But it's better when it's homemade.

I never really thought about it until I started my list but ....I've never made homemade ice cream.

When I was a little girl, I'd help my grandma fill the wooden bucket of their ice cream maker with layers of ice chunks and rock salt. Waiting for what was 'forever' in Little Girl Land. Seriously, it seemed like days before that ice cream was done. But when it was done, I watched as she popped the lid and pulled the paddle out, covered in beautiful, soft, creamy, dreamy ice cream. I'd swipe a big finger full of ice cream off that paddle if I could get away with it. It was the best ice cream. I was really good at eating it but I've never made it.  We had it every summer when I was a kid in Yakima. Hot Yakima. Even so, it was a treat. Homemade ice cream. A luxury.

Until just recently, (Ciara made me Lavender Honey Ice Cream for my birthday) I haven't had homemade ice cream in years. In fact, strangely enough, the last memory I can pin down is from August 1977, staying in Davis, California, with my aunt & uncle. Kay made peach ice cream. It was incredible. Lounging by the pool, homemade peach ice cream and what is that I hear??.....Barry Manilow's "Looks Like We Made It" piped through the stereo speakers?
I think it is! Good times.

So, in the name of a quieter and creamier New Thing, and because of the 90-plus degree weather we'd had recently, I made home-made ice cream for the very first time.

I know this isn't a big huge New Thing, but I was oddly intimidated. Part of me wanted to just open my freezer door and pull out my Tillamook Vanilla Bean and skip the 'work.' I had to make a deliberate decision to look at it as a New Thing kitchen adventure.

First I procured two ice cream makers. (Thank you, Jill and Ciara.) Two completely different kinds of maker. I am not sure what each style is called but I liked them both:

  • The sassy, shiny, 'newfangled' red one that looks like some sort of space shuttle sitting on my counter with a clear lid so you can watch the paddle spin and the liquid cream mixture get thicker and thicker. A modern wonder right out of the Star Wars saga. 
  • The nostalgic, Old School model that allowed my hands to go through those childhood motions of layering ice, then salt, ice and then salt. Watching the metal drum collect frost, eager to see what it looks like inside. I spent a lot of time thinking about my Grandmother. Aluminum lawn chairs. The house I adored out in Cowiche. 

The two recipes I used were from a new book at the library:
Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream by Molly Moon Nietzel and Christina Spittler.

There was a wide variety of ice cream flavors to choose from.
Some were quite novel: Maple Bacon Ice Cream, Olive Oil and Toasted Pine Nut Ice Cream. Now I'm sure these are some tasty treats or they wouldn't be in the book, right? But on the surface and without having tried them, it just sounds like a mean thing to do to ice cream.

Which flavor should I try?  I debated: peach, cherry, blackberry? All good. But I really don't eat ice cream in those flavors. My favorite dessert is a Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae.
Brownie (no nuts), Vanilla Bean ice cream and hot fudge.

So the flavors I decided upon were vanilla and chocolate. You saw that one coming, I'm sure.
I chose, of course, the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream recipe (page 104).
And the Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream (page 84).
Although I altered this a bit, thinking I'd be all 'ice-cream-edgy,' right? Right.

Both ice cream makers worked great. Easy and a quick clean-up.

The vanilla was wonderful. With the traditional homemade texture that you can NOT get in store-bought ice cream. How is it that homemade ice cream seems colder than store bought? It may be as good a vanilla ice cream as I've ever had. And I've had my share.
I've done side-by-side store-bought vanilla ice cream taste tests. And this stuff is amazing. Perfect.

The chocolate was less wonderful but worth a shot. I should have stuck with the regular chocolate recipe. This one called for cinnamon. Plus after surfing recipes online, I thought I'd be so smart and modify it with just a pinch of chili pepper. You know, like the hot chocolate scene in the movie Chocolat. I don't know what I was thinking. It was homemade chocolate ice cream, for heaven's sake. Why did I find it necessary to mess with what is already a GREAT thing? The spicy chocolate end-result is fine but I'll not make it again. It's a novelty. I don't need novelty in my ice cream. You're welcome to some. There's a pretty big container in my freezer right now.

So not feeling all that adventurous about my choice of ice cream flavors, I decided to also make homemade hot fudge.  And I don't mean chocolate syrup warmed up. I mean goopy, thick, decadent hot fudge. (Page 98 - 99 Deep, Dark Hot Fudge.)

I'd never thought of making hot fudge at home before. It's so easy to just buy a jar. But, you know what....much better homemade. I've never looked at the list of ingredients on the jars of hot fudge from the store because I was afraid. Afraid that I wouldn't recognize most of the list as actual food products. And then I'd have had to decide if I continued to eat it. You know, sometimes maybe it's better not to know.

But now that I've made my own hot fudge, I know what I've been missing. The recipe made a large amount, it keeps for weeks in the fridge and it's so rich and thick that I don't need to use nearly as much as the store-bought stuff so it will last me a good long time.

One ice cream lesson I learned is quite practical. DO NOT buy vanilla beans without shopping around. Not thinking at all about comparing prices, I stopped for ingredients late at night on the way home. Last minute. The store I went to only had one brand of vanilla bean and to get enough for just one batch of Vanilla Bean Ice Cream cost me $26. It was easily the most expensive vanilla ice cream I've ever eaten. (Good thing it turned out so wonderful.) I later discovered that if I'd have picked up bulk vanilla bean in a different store it would have been only $11 for the same amount. Vanilla Bean Lesson, learned.

Another lesson I learned is "Don't mess with a good thing." Homemade chocolate ice cream is probably the picture you see in the dictionary next to the words "Good Thing." Okay, I know the dictionary doesn't work this way but you get my point. There was absolutely no reason to get screwy and clever with homemade chocolate ice cream.

To be completely honest, I have to keep fighting the urge to defend here in the blog, the making of homemade ice cream as a New Thing. Especially when compared to the ride on the Harley or the afternoon of Autocross. They are such completely different things. I'm hoping that admitting this to you is enough to fend off my need to defend. I want to breathe and honor whatever New Things speak to my heart and feels like the best thing for me. Even if they do not all seem 'impressive' or surprising. But the internal struggle I'm having turns out to be rough. Intellectually I know I want all ends of the spectrum with these New Things, but still feeling the need to explain myself here.
I'll stop now. Show you pictures, instead...

Seriously, doesn't this look like something that would have been sitting on Aunt Beru's counter? You can add ingredients through that star-shaped opening, while the ice cream is still churning near the end of the process...

Rock salt & ice chunk nostalgia, truly missing my grandma...

One of two crazy-expensive vanilla beans....

Me, having my ritual fantasy about finding a Golden Ticket each time I unwrap a chocolate bar...

One scoop Vanilla Bean & one scoop Mexican Chocolate........naked...

...then dressed in glorious Deep Dark Hot Fudge....

Last bite of vanilla and hot fudge that day.....

My 4th New Thing ~ Making Homemade Ice Cream 


  1. OMG that sundae looks delicious! My husband makes homemade ice cream at least once a year. He's talking about making it tomorrow, (Labor Day/Birthday party). I told him not to bother ice was on sale at Freddy's, and it is a hassle for me to look up the recipe, buy the ingredients, and then have him in MY kitchen. :) But after reading you blog....dairy isle here I come! Thanks for making this one of the 50!

  2. Cyndi, this is a compliment, indeed.
    Ice Cream Inspiration.
    On a warm summer holiday weekend.

    What flavor did he make? ~ B