|Photos in this post thanks to Ann Viveros, mandala artist, Jamberry Nail rep, and soul sister. Click her name to get to her website.|
I'm back. Hopefully this time, back on a weekly schedule. I've certainly stacked up plenty of projects and whims and gourmet goodness to write about for months to come. I wasn't too busy, I just hadn't the heart to write much this past year. No big trauma, just burn-out from the crazy schedule of publishing the five issues of 365 Being, while still blogging at least twice a week, and working on three children's books. Even Lucie the adventure mouse has been on the back burner most of the year. Wait! Not literally. I promise, not cooking up mice!
Anyway, my love of wordsmithing is back, and I've been cooking up some lovely stuff, and itching to write about it. Lately, since it's the Icky-Sticky days of summer in Minnesota, I've been making ice cream for my friends, instead of the usual soup. I'm not one to collect fancy kitchen gadgets, as those would displace all my fancy mismatched china that I collect, but the ice cream maker was only ten bucks at the thrift store, and the memory of childhood summer nights with my father at the crank washed over me as I stood gazing at it. This memory, coupled with the fact that this machine came with a cord instead of a crank (no dad muscle required), made me forget I was there to buy a few paint shirts, and instead I came home with a gadget.
Which I promptly stuck in the back of a cupboard and forgot about for a couple of years.
I'm not that much of an ice cream eater. However, every summer there always comes an evening, when I've worked a long day, and on the way home, I stop to get a pint of something wonderful. That day came, but wonderful was not to be found. Sure there are a jillion decadent indulgences in the freezer section, and many that started as little companies, then got bought up by the mega giants, thus making them available in ever wider varieties. So lots of choices, but not one without artificial ingredients. Even the premiums.
Now, to be fair, I was at a small grocery, and I am way beyond reasonably picky. I'm sure there were lots of flavors with ingredients that even in massive doses wouldn't hurt you. But I don't eat chemicals. Period. Except when friends and clients feed me. I do not eat antifreeze. I do not eat artificial colors, and I completely fail to understand artificial flavors, especially in high priced (used to be)gourmet items. What am I paying for if not the exquisite best the world can offer? I was grumpy. I was incredulous. I was disheartened. I was
A few days later, I pulled out the machine, dusted it off, and read the directions. After another round of grocery store label reading, I had vanilla without weirdness (WTH Watkins??? You still have the rep of being all natural, but you are most definitely NOT), cream without corn syrup and diglycerides (Don't assume that a one-ingredient staple is what it says it is), milk, eggs, and cane sugar, plus my friend Kae's childhood favorite recipe. I made her vanilla frozen custard, then tried Strawberry ice cream, Peach Sorbet, Almond Joy ice-milk-less, Chocolate shower ice milk, Rockin' the Road ice milk, Rose frozen custard, and Raspberry Rose, as well. I am suddenly more popular than ever on the potluck circuit.
Am I saving money? No. By the time one buys clean ingredients, plus ice and rock salt for the freezing process, and a bunch of extra containers to package it for give-aways, Godiva is a bargain. Having gone chemical-free, I've resigned myself to buying expensive groceries and thrift store clothes (which actually can be a bargain, but the $120 sweater for $10 is a story for some other post).
Am I eating ice cream three meals a day? Thankfully, no. When my heart finished its mending, a month or so back, I totally lost the craving for sugar-sweetened comfort, so luscious pints are stacked in my freezer, ready to go to friends, paint clients, and folks who do me favors, and 20 pounds has fallen from my frame. I only crave a bite or two, when a long, hot afternoon melts into soft evening, and the sound of the crickets conjures the rhythmic scrape-scrape-whirring of Papa at the crank, the buzz-buzz-slap of mosquitoes being dispatched by sleepy-eyed onlookers, and the natural goodness of summer chilled to icy perfection.
My friend Ann requested Rose ice cream, and even brought a bottle of rose water down from the city. We took it to Friday Open Studio at Maureen's (Maureen Carlson's Center for Creative Arts), where Kae, who usually hates anything not "Iowa food" moaned for ten straight minutes. Thus, the name...
Annie's Orgasmic Rose Iced Custard
6 eggs well beaten
1 1/4 cup sugar
6-10 cups whole milk
1 Tablespoon rose water
Add sugar to eggs in the top of a double boiler and add as much milk as will fit with room to stir. Place over simmering water and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, about 12 minutes. If you aren't sure, dip a clean spoon in. It should thickly coat. You want to do this slow and careful, or you'll have curdled egg in a milk bath*. Pour the cooked custard through a sieve (there will be a few rubbery lumps, so just do it) into your ice cream maker's container, and add as much milk as you like. On the 6 cup end, you have rich custard, on the 10 cup end, you have a lot more to feed your friends, and I think it's more refreshing. Stir in the rose water. Yes, 1 T is enough. Taste the mixture before churning, if you don't believe me. Freeze according to your machine's directions. Then place in cartons in freezer for at least 2 hours before eating.
Best to freeze in pints, as after several hours, homemade ice cream is harder than store bought (no anti-freeze, and not much butterfat in this particular recipe), and needs to soften a few minutes before scooping.
* If you do curdle it, pour it through the sieve and freeze the sweet, rosy milk anyway. Serve it within a few hours of churning, for best scoopability. With no fats, it will freeze quite hard.