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ice cream

Aug 8 2016

The Great Indoors

by Dea Anne M

Despite my abiding love of gardening and the ocean, I’ve never been what you’d call an “outdoorsy” sort of person. While I was growing up, my decided preference for indoor activities never presented much of an issue except when it came to my yearly summer visit with my maternal grandmother. Every summer, my brother and I spent several weeks away from our parents and with grandparents and a wide assortment of aunts, uncles and cousins. Mostly this was a wonderful time and something to which  I greatly looked forward – the only hitch in the unalloyed pleasure for me being the fact that Grandma was of a generation who resolutely believed that all children (along with other animals), belonged outdoors. This was fine with my brother and cousins who spent the days happily outdoors coming inside only for lunch.

I, on the other hand, preferred reading and drawing to almost any activity available outside. Anytime of day presented its problems – afternoon (sun!), dusk (mosquitoes!), nighttime (slugs!) and unless it was early morning, or we were at a pool, I opted for the indoors every time. This presented a dilemma for Grandma who truly needed for there to be no children “underfoot” in order to do her daily housework but who also had a genuine desire to help her eldest grandchild (me) enjoy the summer. So, I wound up inside tucked away with my book or drawing pad in an unobstrusive corner. Grandma eventually even stopped commenting on how odd it was any child would rather be inside rather than out in “the sunshine and fresh air.”Actually, I think Grandma wound up enjoying my company, especially when it came to watching her “stories” each afternoon. Usually unenthusiastic about most contemporary culture, Grandma sure enjoyed her daily soap operas although she often reminded me that the shows were better “back before aliens or the FBI started showing up in every episode.”

Well, I don’t keep up with the soaps anymore, but these days I still venture outside as little as possible, at least between June and sometime in late September. As a gardener, I have to devote daily time to my plants but this happens in the early hours of the day. Other than that, you’ll find me inside and happily so.  Maybe you feel the same way but need some suggestions for new and different ways to “nest” when it’s ridiculously hot outside. Well, allow this list give you a few ideas – along with suggestions for resources available from DCPL.

1. Practice preservation.

Canning has changed, a lot, from the stress-filled and steam-weary marathon sessions of decades ago. Small batch canning is entirely possible now – and even more desirable for many of us who don’t possess the large living spaces and their attendent storage options that people once had access to. Say you return from a local farmers marketpreserve with an extra pound or two of peaches or a gardening friend planted a little more okra than she could use herself and gifted you with some of it. With a large pot, a few ingredients and some sealable jars you can turn that surplus into jam or pickles in quantities that won’t have you renting a storage locker for the overflow. I recommend America’s Test Kitchen’s excellent Foolproof Preserving: a guide to small batch jams, jellies, pickles, condiments and more to provide you with all the tips and recipes you’ll need to keep your own pantry stocked with just the right amount of luscious and useful treats.

2. Organize something!

Most of us have a closet, a shelf or a drawer somewhere inside of our living space that could use some rethinking and persona blazing hot day might be the perfect time to pour a cold glass of lemonade and tackle the job. And don’t think that you need to purchase a lot of tools and supplies in order to get organized. According to Marie Kondo in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you already have all the space, tools and containers that you need to organize perfectly. After applying Kondo’s method to my own clothes closets and all of my bookshelves, I have to say that I think that she’s right. Kondo’s method has worked well for me, but some of you may find it a little more off-beat or time-consuming than feels comfortable. Check out The 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds or Stacy Platt’s What’s A Disorganized Person To Do? for practical tips and bite-sized projects that anyone can tackle, and feel good about, in record time.

3 Rediscover the power of cool.

Remember going to the refrigerator for a glass of ice water that hot July afternoon when you were nine years old andpops finding the chocolate wafer cream cake resting on the middle shelf atop Grandma’s special cut glass platter like a treasure hunt prize? “Don’t you touch that cake!” Grandma (who seemed to have eyes everywhere) yelled from upstairs. “It’s for after supper!” Remember playing with your cousins out in the backyard when someone would hear the distant lilt of the ice cream truck playing its music from a couple of streets away? Remember running to meet it with everyone clutching their change and jostling to be first in line? Recreate those days with Icebox Cakes: recipes for the coolest cakes in town by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan or Cesar and Nadia Roden’s Ice Pops!: 50 delicious, fresh and fabulous icy treats.

4. Stretch your boundaries.

Awhile back, one of my co-workers told me that she sets herself a challenge every summer to read at least one book countthat falls outside the scope of her usual preferred genres. I have yet to try this myself, but I think that it’s such a great idea. Say you read almost exclusively books about science or military history – why not try a western or a contemporary romance? Do you only read young novels? Try a collection of political essays or a work of popular history such as How to Be a Tudor: a dawn to dusk guide to Tudor life by Ruth Goodman. And remember, summer is a great time to dip into a classic such as David Copperfield by Charles Dickens or Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Christo.  Or you could try a few titles from a well-regarded list such as Books All Georgians Should Read or the American Library Associations list of Banned and Challenged Books.

I don’t know about you, but I believe the height of summer seems like the true inclement season here in the Southeast, and I plan to stay inside. What about you? What’s your favorite way/plan to while away the hot weather days?

 

 

 

 

 

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Jun 10 2016

Your Favorite Flavor

by Dea Anne M

icecream2There was almost always ice cream in the refrigerator while I was growing up and it was always a welcome treat. All of us liked it…on that we could agree. What my brother and I could not agree on was what flavor of ice cream was the best. My brother championed chocolate. For me, it was strawberry all the way. I realize that this difference of opinion is about as important as who gets which side of the back seat of the car (and that ongoing discussion was a whole story in itself) but be assured that the two of argued about it often enough that my poor mother sought a respite by buying something called Neapolitan ice cream. If you’re unfamiliar with this “flavor” of ice cream, it’s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry layered side by side. My father would sometimes volunteer the opinion that Neapolitan was ice cream “that can’t make up its mind.” He also ventured to suggest that the whole point of such a thing was that one could have a sampling of all three flavors in one bowl or even in one spoon. Of course my brother and I knew the truth. The genius of the side-by-side format of Neapolitan lay in its ability to provide each person with her or his favorite. The physical evidence of our mutual conviction was starkly revealed when, on more than one occasion, an adult attached to the household would open the carton only to find a ridge of vanilla rising up from the bottom like a desolate mountain peak abandoned by time and humanity.

Okay. I’ll admit that I’ve already written about ice cream – as have other DCPL bloggers such as in this worthy entry and this one. I can’t help it though. When the weather gets hot, my culinary yearning turns (as in really sharp uey) toward the smooth, the sweet, the cold and I know that I’m not alone. One of my favorite websites, The Kitchn (and yes, I’m spelling that correctly) has been running a feature called “My Favorite Pint”  wherein they ask a variety of people about his or her favored ice cream. The results are, as you might imagine, all over the place. Blogger Joy Wilson, otherwise known as Joy the Baker, likes Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Author Rainbow Rowell is partial to Talenti’s Mediterranean Mint Gelato. (Talenti gelato pints come, by the way, in brown-lidded, clear plastic canisters that make, once empty and clean, surprisingly elegant containers for spools of thread and other small crafting supplies).  J. J. Johnson, chef at acclaimed Harlem restaurant The Cecil, likes plain vanilla Hagen-Dazs but he likes to add potato chips for, as he puts it, “some extra salty crunch.” And lest we veer too  close toward the readily available, pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of that delicious hybrid the Cronut, loves the olive oil gelato from Otto in New York City. The pint costs $13 and you can only buy it from the restaurant but hey, when it comes to ice cream, one’s true love can never be denied.

I’m fortunate enough to own a small electric ice-cream maker and to sometimes have the time to make my own custom treats. However, I buy plenty of ice cream too and I most often find myself purchasing…vanilla! Like your never-fail wardrobe basic, vanilla just seems goes with everything from fresh strawberries to chocolate cake. When I make my own, I’ll either use seasonal fruit or search the internet or books for new ideas. Speaking of ice cream resources, here’s a few from DCPL.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is a lovely volume from Laura O’Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen and Pete Van Leeuwen. The trio are the founders of the popular Brooklyn ice creamery whose empire includes a fleet of yellow ice cream trucks  in New York and Los Angeles. There are recipes here for vegan ice cream and granitas as well as dairy treats such Ceylon Cinnamon and Blueberry. Or try Lindsay Clendaniel’s Scoop Adventures: the best ice cream of the 50 states for intriguing sounding recipes such as Balsamic Fig and Popcorn as well as a peek inside ice cream parlors across the nation. Finally, check out Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream by Sally Sampson for delicious recipes which really will keep you supplied with a different frozen treat for each week of the year.

If you could invent your own ice cream flavor, what would it be? What’s your current favorite? Just for fun, here’s a quiz, again from The Kitchn, that reveals what your favorite flavor says about you. It is, as the writers admit, “strictly scientific.”

 

 

 

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As July ends so does National Ice Cream month. What better way to celebrate than to make some ice cream. Last year, I had a friend that shared all of the different flavors she was creating. Some of the flavors that she created were your typical vanilla, chocolate, etc. However, she did make a bacon ice cream that made me intrigued on what other unique flavors might be available.

I remember as a child, making ice cream by putting the ingredients in an ice cream maker, placing rock salt and ice around the bucket. One of us would sit on the top of the machine while someone else used the hand crank to make the ice cream. If you haven’t made ice cream in a while, the new machines can be quite easy. I purchased one last year where you just put the ice cream bucket in the freezer for twenty-four hours, add the ingredients and then plug it in for about about twenty minutes. This year so far, I have made vanilla, lime and mint-chocolate chip.

Looking for recipes for ice cream or frozen yogurt? The library has a few books that might inspire you.

If you are looking for a cozy mystery to celebrate National Ice Cream month try I scream, you scream: a mystery a la mode by Wendy Lyn Watson. Ms. Watson has a series of ice cream parlor mysteries. Finally, what is your favorite ice cream or the weirdest flavor you have ever tried?

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May 25 2012

…and the livin’ is easy.

by Veronica W

“I don’t need no stinkin’ grill!” he stated emphatically, with an impish grin. He then proceeded to dig a hole in the backyard, fill it with charcoal and other combustible stuff and top it with a purloined, foil wrapped rack from the oven.  This was his ritual for the first barbecue of the summer.  It was something his dad did when he was growing up and that, along with buying the first watermelon of the season, signaled the beginning of summer for him.  Of course after that, the “stinkin’ grill” was pulled out and used with frequency until Labor Day.

Memorial Day is the official beginning of summer and the parks and pools fill with people who have waited for this starter gun.  Yet there are many folk who don’t feel that summer has arrived until they until they have, do or experience something.  As a child , I knew it was summer when I heard the ice cream truck coming down the street.  Part of the fun was scrambling for change and then racing after the truck, yelling “Wait! Wait!” as it started to pull away.  Nothing tastes so good as a creamsicle (orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream) that you’ve had to work for.

As an adult, I’m not so easily pleased (if  lack of dignity and good knees would allow me to race after an ice cream truck).  However summer has arrived for me when I am not awakened by the rumbling of school buses. I also have one very sheer, “floozy” skirt that I wear only when it’s very hot. I’ve had it for years and fortunately it has an elastic waistband.

If you need some help slipping into the season, listen to any rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime and check out these books to get you in the spirit:

Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue –  100 recipes for backyard cooking

The Ultimate Ice Cream Book – wonderful recipes for ice creams, sorbets and more

10 Best of Everything National Parks –  top selections of parks

Perhaps, however,  there’s something else that helps signal summer for you. If it’s not digging a hole in the backyard, we’d like to hear what it is.

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Jan 13 2011

What Is It For?

by Dea Anne M

Take a guess as to what this is.

Its components are described as: “…falling chocolate trunk filled with frozen chocolate powder, on a forest floor of lime-and mint yogurt, with almond praline, puffed quinoa, and green-pistachio streusel.

…or how about this…

Some of its (many) ingredients include frozen green pine cone powder, green pine cone “infusion”, and liquid nitrogen.

Give up? Both of these are desserts from Spain’s famed El Bulli restaurant. Set to close in 2011, the restaurant is considered by many to have led the way in innovating the most advanced of avant garde techniques in cooking today, and El Bulli’s pastry chef , Albert Adria, is one of a handful of chefs whose work is profiled by by Adam Gopnik in the article “Sweet Revolution: the power of the pastry chef” in the January 3rd issue of The New Yorker.

Having given up sweets, both at homes and at restaurants, Gopnik begins to puzzle over the purpose of dessert. Certainly,  humans seem to be hard-wired, for the most part, to gravitate toward the sweet in food. At its most basic level, sweetness indicates  ripeness and serves as a marker for what food is good to eat. However, up until fairly recently, substances that make food sweet were scarce and were used sparingly and mostly by the rich. All of that changed during the seventeenth century with the advent of what Gopnik calls a “hideous invention” (an assessment with which I agree) of the West Indies sugar plantation. Cheap sugar led to a revolution in dessert cuisine in France with, as Gopnik describes it, “the pastry chef as hero.” At New York’s WD-50, Gopnik speaks with pastry chef Alex Stupak who says: “I happen to not like sweets. It’s an idiosyncrasy of mine. I decided to become a pastry chef because it gave me autonomy. Whether you think your desserts are manipulated or not, they are!…Pastry is the closet that a human being can get to creating a new food.” It’s clear that for this chef creating dessert is creating art.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Jul 14 2010

I scream. You scream.

by Dea Anne M

Lately, I find myself having thoughts like “Whoever invented air conditioning should have received a prize.” (something on the order of a Nobel is what comes to mind). I also ask myself the idle question “How did people cool off before air conditioning?” knowing full well that most of the world’s population gets along without what many of us consider an utter necessity. Of course, what we eat and drink can go a long way toward making us feel more comfortable in sweltering weather. Much of the planet’s citizens know that hot peppers, due to their sweat inducing properties, can help conquer the heat. Many of us would put in a vote for a frosty bottle of beer. Of course, a lot of us hard-core Southerners will vow that nothing beats a tall glass of iced tea.

For me though, the supreme heat soother is ice cream.  What’s my favorite flavor? All of them! I maintain a fond nostalgia for the garish purple color and Nehi flavor of the grape ice cream that I always ordered at the ice cream parlor of my Orlando childhood. I remember too a more recent ice cream experience. The flavor was basil (unusual but delicious) and it followed a bouillabaisse that featured a tiny squid tentacle sticking up out of the bowl (unusual and not delicious).  But the ice creams I enjoy the most are the ones that I make at home.  Making ice cream is a straight forward procedure and most ice cream makers come with instructions plus simple recipes. To help with your more ambitious, and delicious, ice cream projects DCPL has some great resources.

For making ice cream, check out these titles.

The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks and More by Bruce Weinstein

The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas,  and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz

Do you like a little history with your ice cream?

A Month of Sundaes by Michael Turback

…and remember…kids love ice cream too.

Ice Cream Larry by Daniel Pinkwater

Give it a try! So what’s my favorite flavor today? It would have to be Brown Sugar Peaches and Cream.  I made a batch this weekend. It was delicious…if I do say so myself.

Maybe next time I’ll invite you over.

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Aug 3 2009

Dog Days of August

by Vivian A

Since July was National Ice Cream month and the Dog Days of August are from July 3 through August 11–why not celebrate with homemade ice cream for your DOG?  Sure you can probably buy it at the grocery store but nothing says loving like homemade ice cream. Here’s the recipe for doggy ice cream. Take 32 oz. of vanilla or plain yogurt, 1 well mashed banana, 2 T. peanut butter and 2 T. honey.  Blend in a blender or food processor, pour into small paper cups and freeze until solid.

While you’re waiting for your pup cream to harden, you can ponder the  Dog Days of Summer which occur when the Dog Star is easiest for viewing. Or you can read the book Totally Fun Things to do with your Dog by Maxine Rock. She’d probably suggest serving your new creation at a Paw-ty.

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Jul 6 2009

I scream, You scream, We all scream

by Vivian A

for ice cream.  Creamy, yummy, good for the tummy – July is National Ice Cream Month. Americans have been celebrating National Ice Cream Month since 1984 when President Ronald Regan designated it as a special occasion.

In fact, the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day (July 19th this year.) President Reagan felt that since ninety percent of the nation’s population enjoys eating ice cream, we should celebrate!

The International Ice Cream Association (IICA) encourages celebrating because ice cream sales account for twenty billion dollars in sales each year and provides thousands of jobs. Nine percent of all milk produced is used in making ice cream. (I bet some kids wish they could have an ice cream cone instead of a glass of milk.)

Whether you like the fancy stuff or plain vanilla (the most popular flavor.), there’s something out there for you. If you were interested in making your own, check out Ice Cream by Pippa Cuthbert and Lindsay Cameron Wilson. (641.862 Cuth) or Ice Cream and frozen desserts by Peggy Fallon, (641.862 Fall.)

That’s the scoop on National Ice Cream Month. Be sure and have a sundae on Sunday, July 19th.

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