Thursday, August 05, 2010

Solving a problem the old-fashioned way

Anybody who ever looks at me knows I like food. I like to cook. I like to eat. I like to eat what I cook. And, as a result, I like to get recipes and ideas from all over the place, for the day when I can afford to buy really good ingredients, instead of ramen noodles and the like.

It seems that most of the cooking sites I surf through (and a few of those who send me stuff in my e-mail) have decided that the summer heat has prompted everybody to want to make ice cream. Of course, not everybody has an ice cream maker. I have three different ones, of two distinct types, one of which is completely useless (the electric crank puppy I bought at auction is older than I am, and I wouldn't feel safe plugging it in to a d-cell). The others are the sorts for which you put a canister in the freezer and, when you're inclined, dig it out and occasionally give its paddles a crank. They're easy to use, a pain to clean up if you want to make multiple batches.

But I kept looking at all these bizarre solutions for ice cream making coming from people who think the only answer is a blend of ice cube trays and blenders or food processors. Nuh. Too much mess, not enough pleasure. And, I'm actually too darned cheap to invest in an effective food processor, when I could (and did) pick up a heavy-duty blender and a batch of very nice knives at auction for under $10. Sadly, I have no electrical outlet into which I can plug the blender, so I've had to lend it to somebody until I can afford to get an electrician to... heck, let's be real, until I win the lottery.

On the other hand, nearly every kitchen -- even my ill-equipped one -- has a set of inexpensive nesting metal mixing bowls, or a bunch of bowls that can serve the same purpose. Or, if you don't have a set, you can pick them up at a dollar store or some discount shop, dirt cheap. And they can be used for more than just this task, which makes them desirable, no?

So, anyway, as they used to do a century or more ago, one takes the largest bowl and fills it about an inch or so deep with ice and a little rock salt. Set in the center of this, the bowl a couple of inches in diameter smaller (you need a little room between the walls of the bowls), then start pouring in layers of ice and rock salt (be careful you don't dump salt, etc, into the inner bowl, or you'll have less-tasty ice cream), until you've made a good, icy nest...

Pour your ice cream concoction of choice into the little bowl, and then start to stir it slowly with a good wooden spoon, a heavy spatula, or whatever you have that's available (probably not so ideal to use a bamboo whisk, though). Stir the creamy mixture from the edges into the center, letting the stuff set at its own steady pace.

It's a helluva lot cheaper -- and easier to clean up -- than all those machines.

Still, I like my little Donvier Half-Pint when I crave my yoplait deeply-chilled and in a cone.

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