Scooper bowl
There Is a Season, Churn, Churn, Churn
July 27, 2005

I've been addicted to most ice cream treats at some point or another -- Drumsticks, Klondike bars, soft-serve cones dipped in caramel (a magical feat I still would love to learn the trick behind), your basic ice cream sandwiches, Chipwiches, Dove Bars...I could go on and on but that last entry reminds me that I'm really peeved at Dove right now. I've been salivating over these commercials, announcing Dove's newest line: pints of ice cream that have been sealed with a thin, hard layer of Dove chocolate. Every store I went into, I scanned the frozen section for the damn things and had no luck. When I checked their website I discovered something truly awful: they aren't selling those delectable chocolate-sealed pints in California! Bastards.

Then there were the Blizzards years. God, I loved those things. I started off snarfing down the Oreo -- sorry, Hydrox -- Cookie ones exclusively, branched out into German Chocolate, discovered Turtle, and ended up with one that had crunchy peanut butter things in it. There was even a time in high school that saw me haunting the local Dairy Queen nearly every lunchtime. Ah, my sixteen-year-old metabolism. Now -- in order to maintain my foodie lifestyle -- I have to beat myself up with long hot walks and runs and intense yoga positions that tear my arms out of my sockets. No, no -- I'm kidding! I LOVE yoga. Yoga is GOOD! Yoga is SOOTHING! Oh dear -- I seem to have angered the Yogods. I'll have to do four Three-Legged Downward Dogs and eight Namastes as penance.

Yes, I love me some ice cream and now, after two years of thinking about it, I can finally make it at home. Yep -- I went out, braving two San Diego malls, and got a Cuisinart ice cream maker. It was one of the ones Cooks Illustrated recommended and that's always good enough for me.

There was never a question in my mind which flavor would be the first to be mixed up. See, just as I judge a Vietnamese restaurant by its Imperial Rolls, I judge any ice cream store or company by its vanilla. It's the most basic flavor level on which so many more are built, and if the pros can't get it right, I don't have much faith in them as a purveyor of Things That Go Well on My Tongue. Plus, I love vanilla, so it seems like a really good place to get my churn on. On ice cream day, I did all the carefully cooking of the eight yolk custard, the loooong cooling off of the Carefully Cooked Custard in the fridge, and finally, the pouring of the CCC into my brand spanking new ice cream maker.

The churning process was awesome. I ran into the kitchen every ten minutes to check the resulting grain and crystal structure. When the stirred custard that was in a mere liquid state such a short time ago started to thicken a bit, I screamed at Mathra to come and take a look. We scrabbled at each other to hold the other one back from sticking impatient fingers into the maker and grabbing a taste. We looked wildly around the kitchen and suddenly all these flavor worlds burst open to us. "Cookie dough ice cream!" "Lemon ice cream!" "PORT ice cream!" "Water CRACKERS ice cream!" "BACON ICE CREAM!" Okay, so we got a bit carried away, but you can understand why -- the vanilla bean is quite the intoxicatant.

A full 30 minutes later, I pulled apart the ice cream maker and marveled at the sight. For a full 0.5 milliseconds before Mathra started licking the (removed) churning arm and I started piling the soft serve stage ice cream into a freezable container. As I scraped the down to the thin dregs of the ice cream maker's freezeable bowl, the ice cream started to get a bit sticky -- very close to the freezing element, don't you know -- so what did my scientific husband do? He filled the sink full of hot water, stuck the freezing element in and started to scrape anew as the sticky cream loosened a bit. He was determined to get every last scrape of newly churned ice cream.

Now, a big ol' container of soft serve is in our freezer getting to that harder stage known as OH MY GOD, OH MY PRECIOUS GOD, CAN I DIE NOW PLEASE? Seriously, this is some damn good vanilla ice cream. We're taking *some* of it over to Sep and Brit Boy's tomorrow for a formal taste test. And if they don't like it, they are probably Cylons.

Tub o'cream

People have been emailing me to ask how Hunca Munca and Poppadum weathered the transition down to San Diego. Well, I can tell you this much, Poppadum loves the furniture.


No, seriously, she REALLY loves it.




Update: Mathra took the ice cream leftovers into work where it was a huge success. Oh, and Sep and Brit Boy also liked it, so they are probably not Cylons.

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