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Friday, July 3, 2015

Homemade Ice Cream

I very honestly don't think there is anything that tastes better than homemade ice cream.  I remember when I was a kid, our neighbors Ernie & Maxine had the old hank crank ice cream maker. When their grandchildren would come over, it was always a treat to make and eat it.  Since I was little, I didn't do much making, but I always loved the eating!

We had one and would pull it out every once in awhile.  It still needed the ice and rock salt.  Every time we would make it we would say "We should do this more often!"  And, of course, we never did.

We had good friends that had a countertop ice cream maker, but as the recession was waging, spending a lot of money (I think it was over $200) on an ice cream maker seemed ridiculous.  It had been a wedding gift for them and they loved it-- as did we!

So flash ahead to last summer.

We were living in my mother-in-law's house while our home was being built.  She and her husband spend their summers at his cabin in the mountains.  She has a lovely house that had no one in it, was down the street from the kids' schools- perfect fit.  We could put everything in storage and live in her furnished home.  And that's what we did.

I didn't even think about my kitchen.  I packed everything up.  I have a lot of cooking stuff.

My mother-in-law recently remarried and merged her kitchen stuff with her new husband's stuff.  They split cooking duties.

She had a lot of stuff in her kitchen.  Just nothing that I used.

And naturally, I had no idea where anything was.  And naturally, because she was letting us graciously stay in her house, I didn't want to move anything.

My mother-in-law will tell you without a doubt that she is a dinner maker and I am a cook. 

So when I couldn't find a lemon zester, while it was frustrating, it wasn't the end of days.  During cherry season, there was no cherry pitter.  And she had no plane grater.

Tragedy, right?

But after a few months of living on top of each other, the frustration of building a house and the horror of mortgage paperwork, things like not having a zester started to get to me.

Who am I kidding?  Everything was getting to me.

We ate out.  A lot.  Nearly every meal.

Now to my credit, when it's 110 in Vegas, most people eat out, so that wasn't too unusual.  But it did start to get out of hand. 

And I couldn't really complain because here I was building our dream home, living rent free and we had that miraculous sale of our old home to a great family. 

It was bothering me that it was bothering me.  I am a big girl.  I've been completely broke and come back.  I've been heartbroken and moved on.  I've seen abject poverty in the US and abroad.  I'm above material possessions.  The lack of a cherry pitter can't bring me down. 

Or so I thought.

Because at some point, I snapped and decided that we NEEDED a cherry pitter. 

Sad, but true.

And a zester and a few other things.  I assumed that my mother-in-law could keep them as a thank-you after we moved out.  Because life is better with a cherry pitter (and yes, I know we could just SPIT the pits... I lived for years without one... but we really eat an unusual amount of cherries in the summer...).

And where do you go when you are stress shopping for food items?


Because I knew they had the weird things I wanted.

I walked in and there in their "Summer Fun!" display was a countertop ice cream maker.  A Cuisinart.

For $39.99.

Not $299.99.


That was it.

We had no room at my mother-in-law's- the stuff we did bring was on top of her stuff and like I mentioned, she had recently merged her stuff so buying a small appliance was absolutely ridiculous.

We had room for a cherry pitter and a zester.

The ice cream maker, not so much.

So I bought it.

I, the one who is spending 5 months researching my next car purchase, impulse bought an ice cream maker.

If you thought the pitter and zester were ridiculous...

I walked in the door with it and my husband stared at me.

We have been married a long time.  I think he saw the crazy in my eyes.  He said something to the tune of "Well, that's interesting..."

Normally he would have said "Where the hell are we going to put that?!?!"  But he knew.  Wise man.

I replied "It was $39.99 and I wanted some home made ice cream."

Well alrighty, was the look on his face.

That night we made ice cream.  It was really fun.

It was also delicious.

In fact, one of my favorite memories of that time we spent living on top of each other stressing about our house is making ice cream.  Blueberry.  Strawberry. Frozen yogurt.  Chocolate.  Banana.  Chocolate chip.  Peanut butter chocolate chip.

It was just as fun as I had remembered.  When I think about last summer, I don't think about how I couldn't find anything or how stressed out I was.  I think about how much fun we had making ice cream. 

When we moved into our new house, the ice cream maker, no longer on the counter because we have space for it, took a rest in the pantry.

But with the summer heat, I brought it out last week.

And we are on a kick.  We all decided the vanilla is by far the best.  We can make it into whatever we want.

It's so easy to do.  And I know what's in it- milk, cream, sugar and vanilla.  Not a bunch of crap I can't pronounce.  And it tastes better- FAR better.  Fresh made vanilla ice cream with summer time blueberries?  There are no words.

It's ridiculous.  It's not necessary.  But the $39.99 machine is priceless.  It's not just ice cream- it's the fun of making the ice cream with my kids.

So, with tomorrow being the 4th of July if you have one of these sitting in your cabinet, unused and unloved.  Bring it out.  Throw that freezer bowl in tonight and tomorrow you can have some fun and ice cream.

Before you say "it's a pain"- here's the Cuisinart recipe for Basic Vanilla Ice Cream- it won for our favorite every time:

Mix 1 1/2 cups whole milk with 1 cup sugar until dissolved.

Add three cups cream and 1 1/2 tablespoons (we use 2) of vanilla (and get the good stuff- not that nasty imitation crap- trust me).

Pour it into your ice cream maker and 30 minutes later you have ice cream.

Of course, freezing it overnight is a bit better, but right out of the maker...melty, yummy goodness... life is good, isn't it?

I think so.

And as a side note, my "thank-you" gifts-- my mother-in-law returned them all to me as "stuff I think you forgot" because I'm sure she saw it and thought "Who the hell needs a cherry pitter?  Just spit out the seeds for crying out loud..."  which is exactly why I love her.