Friday, July 18, 2008

I Scream You Scream for Homemade Ice Cream!

Oh. My. God.

You have not lived until you've made your own vanilla bean ice cream (and then eaten it). Oh, sure, you've been to Paris, you've driven on the Autobahn, you've trekked in Nepal, touched the tip of Patagonia, partied with Madonna...but never had your own vanilla bean ice cream? My dear, you simply MUST!

Here is the recipe. It is, of course, "just a custard base" as our friend Annie says. But having never done it myself, I had to read and research and compare a zillion recipes. I am very pleased with how this came out.

Vanilla Ice Cream
(fills a 2-quart maker 2/3 full)

2 cups milk
2 vanilla pods, sliced down the middle (you can probably get away with just one)
8 egg yolks (save the whites for a Pavlova - more on this tomorrow!)
8 oz granulated sugar (weigh it!)
2 cups double/heavy cream

  1. Pour the milk into a large saucepan and bring the pan slowly up to boiling point.
  2. Place the vanilla pod into it and leave to infuse for about 20 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, beat and mix together the egg yolks and sugar until thick.
  4. Carefully remove the vanilla pod from the pan of milk and scrape out the seeds into the milk.
  5. Pour the milk into the mixture of egg yolks and sugar while stirring.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently, stirring until the custard thickens - DO NOT BRING TO THE BOIL OR IT WILL PROBABLY CURDLE.
  7. When you can see a film form over the back of your spoon it's time to remove the saucepan from the heat.
  8. Leave to cool. (I got impatient, and so put the bowl in an ice bath - a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and water)
  9. When the custard base is cold stir in the cream.
  10. Transfer the whole mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
I used two bags of ice cubes and 2 cups of rock salt.

We served this with Berry Apple Crisp. Absolutely divine. I look forward to the day when the Mercantile is finished and we have our own ice maker. That way all power to make the ice will come from the sun and wind, and the water will be rainwater. Delish!

And another thing: birds have been so happy in the Mercantile. Three robins fledged from a nest in the "kitchen" earlier this spring, and right now we have two house wren nests way up in the eaves. Yesterday Tom, Thomas and Kurt pointed out a swallow building a fabulous mud and grass nest on top of one of the electrical boxes in the dining room. Fortunately we have lots of time before Kurt needs to wire that box - the babies should be hatched and fledged by then!

Kurt kept saying "zoom in, zoom in!" but I wanted to show some sort of context. What was REALLY cool was how the pair would fly in (the building is still open on all sides) and make a couple of circuits of the room. They have the most beautiful coloring!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


When you woke up this morning, desperately curious to know what 10-lbs of blueberries actually looks like, did you ever think you would find the answer to your dreams right here? Sigh. Life is pretty darned grand, eh?

So check this out:

The box measures about 12" x 10". On today's menu:

For breakfast Homemade Granola with fresh blueberries


Blueberry Crisp with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Tomorrow: Blueberry Lime Jam and Blueberries in Gin Syrup. Recipes posted early next week.