Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Grandmother R's Ice Cream

My grandmother's ice cream days are not quite over, but she's started to pass the torch on. I think I'm starting to get it right.

Grandmother R's ice cream was one of those summer memories sacred to our childhood. The hum of the ice cream churn in the background of supper meant good things. Plain was heaven; gilded with sweetened peaches made it sublime. Her recipe is custard-based, which means you can make it in a sorry ice cream churn from WalMart (like mine), and it's still creamy and delicious.

I'm making this for our fourth of July, but I thought I'd give anyone a day or two in advance so that they could also try their hand at it. I'll add pictures later so everyone can see my ugly pink churn. :)

Grandmother R's Ice Cream (with a few changes)

this recipe came from Grandmother R's mother, G-Grandmother W, From Charleston.

For a 4-Quart Churn:
1/2 Gal. Whole Milk
6-8 eggs
2 c. sugar (though if you're watching it, you could get away with less-- 1 1/2- 1 3/4)
a rounded 1/2 t. or 3/4 t. salt
1 T. vanilla extract, or 1/2 a vanilla bean
1-2 c. whipping cream

OR--- Per Quart of Milk: (If you have a larger churn)
3-4 eggs
1 c. sugar
a rounded 1/4 t. salt
1 to 1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream

Rock Salt
Lots of Ice

(My grandmother said that if she were making a whole gallon of ice cream, she could cut the eggs to 1 dozen and the sugar to 3 cups. Just don't skimp on the vanilla and the cream and everything's safe.)

I usually churn ice cream outside. It's pretty messy, and the salt-sludge isn't good for your pipes. I pour it out somewhere in the yard where I don't want anything to grow.

Traditional Directions:

Mix together milk, eggs, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Cook until thickened. Take off heat; mix in vanilla. Place in refrigerator until cold, 6-24 hours.

When ready to freeze, place ice cream mixture in churn. Mix in whipping cream; follow manufacturer's directions for freezing in your ice cream churn.

But-- most basic ice cream churns--the ones with the motors on top, and a bucket for ice/salt sludge--work like this:

Layer ice, then salt, in a ratio of 4 parts ice to one part salt. (This is more of a general direction than specific; I usually just layer in the ice, then heavily coat it with Rock Salt.) Repeat until area around churn is filled. Check ice often; when level of ice and salt is down, layer more ice and salt. When churn stops running, ice cream is "soft-serve". At this point, you have two options: 1) Dig in, or 2) make your ice cream firmer.

If you wish to have firmer ice cream, you can empty the ice sludge from around the ice cream bucket, once again pack it with ice and salt, and let that sit for an hour. Or you can wipe off the ice cream bucket and throw it in the freezer for an hour.

RAW Variation:

If you're like me and have raw milk and want to keep it that way, you can still make custard ice cream. Instead of mixing the entire 2 quarts of milk into the saucepan, mix 2-3 cups with the eggs, sugar, and salt. The custard will be a little less stable. You'll have to watch it more carefully, but it's worth it to get raw ice cream! After you've made the custard, add in vanilla, and place in refrigerator to cool.

When it's time to make the ice cream, get out the remainder of the two quarts of milk as well as the cream. Mix both into custard. Churn as directed above.

Vanilla Bean Variation:

Start out with 1/2 a vanilla bean per quart of milk. Cut the vanilla bean in half; scrape the insides to release the beans inside. Place both beans and pod in custard mixture before cooking, and exclude other vanilla. Cook Vanilla bean and outside pod in custard. Pull out the bean pod after cooling, just before you mix milk/cream/custard in churn. Test before churning-- you might want to add a little more vanilla extract for extra oomph.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Where I'm From

Based on the children's book Mama, Where Are You From?

I'm from a knee-high grass field full of weeds and wildflowers. Chasing my brother and sisters through the harsh grass; chasing fireflies while the sun sets.

I'm from the sewing machine which made patched doll clothes, and where I made my first dress. From pricked fingers and ripped-out seams.

I'm from bluegrass and gospel played in the car on a country road. I'm from Bach and Mahler and Copeland--shaking the house with the blare of symphonies and string quartets and sonatas.

I'm from the land of bumps and bruises, scrapes, cuts and gashes, thanks to good ole' clumsiness.

I'm from the family who thinks the right word--no matter how big--is important. I'm also from a book which manages to state everything important in life in the small words of the common man.

I'm from grace--both in my teaching and in my life--because I would not be teaching still if it were not for the Grace of God.

I'm from a hot kitchen, stirring, simmering and baking my way to sanity after a long day.

I'm from frustration to giving up--in the good way. Realizing that I cannot do it on my own--I must rely on the Holy Spirit in order to get me through. Realizing the control I so carefully construct is nothing; the creator of Heavens and Earth is the real guiding force.

I'm from God, who before the foundation of the world called my name. I know because I hear His voice calling me now.

Reflection--on lotsa stuff

I'm sitting in class watching my prof develop another blog--just when I'm trying to minimize and downsize! The worst part about switching from Xanga to Blogspot is that I've lost the comments--so I don't think I'm going to close down my xanga site. I'll leave the link up so that anyone who wants can search through the old posts.

It's been an interesting experience, looking over my old blog posts. I was either a lot more cheerful than I am now, or I was afraid of appearing too somber. I know I was a little afraid of being too honest. (Who wants their faults and failures spread across the 'net, anyway? --Despite the fact that everyone has them... ) Either I don't care as much, or I don't plan on tons of people looking at this? I'm not sure which.

I know I'm different than at the beginning--you can't go through four years of teaching and not be a different person from when you started. (Not unless it's your 20th year.) But how have I grown? I hope it's in ways that matter, but I can't guarantee it.


Today Rebecca was trying to talk me out of Master's classes. I don't blame her; I've been pretty miserable. It's worse during the school year. I feel as if I simply have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. My teaching suffers from it also--and pray tell, which is more important? Your JOB, or your sort-of education? I'm not so miserable now--but things keep happening to me-- a "B" when I should have gotten an "A", a misunderstanding with the professor (actually accused of cheating)--difficulties which make little or no sense. It seems the signposts would be pointing in the direction to quit.

But I'm struggling with the idea of quitting. I didn't know this before now, but I'm not a quitter. I may not like something, I may complain, but I usually don't quit--especially in things which may affect another person's (a.k.a. principle's) opinion of me. I don't care about the money, but I do care about how my betters view my work.

And then I run across this from the New York Times: an article on what a Master's Degree is worth. Not much unless you're a teacher, according to them. And for most teachers, it's the money that draws them in.

So where do I go from here? Pray, and wait. I'll finish up the summer courses, file my "bachelor's plus eighteen" hours with the state department, and hopefully, somewhere between now and August, the answer will become clear.