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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ice cream, sorbet and gadgetry

Last year for the holidays I received an ice cream maker.  To be quite honest, I wasn't sure that I'd use it very often and thought that it would just sit in the kitchen cabinet.  Then we decided to try it out because, well, we're trying to eat less extra "stuff," so if we made our own then we'd know what was in it.
The basic recipe for sorbet is sugar, water, a dash of salt and whatever fruit you want for flavor (we've got frozen pureed watermelon from our garden and I'm looking forward to having it in the middle of winter).  For ice cream, it's sugar, heavy cream, milk, dash of salt and whatever flavor you want.  We've been experimenting, of course, and don't want to just stick to the booklet that came with the machine.  We've tried the norms - strawberry, chocolate - but then we tried other flavors that you can't find too often at the store - green tea, peanut butter, mango, violet, and lavender (which Jaimie thinks tastes like soap).  I'm snacking on violet ice cream right now, and we just made peanut butter. We do love our ice cream at this house. (Our toddler loves her sorbet, because she is lactose intolerant, but she needs a treat too).

For being someone who hated being in the kitchen except for the annual holiday baking parties, I have changed drastically.  My go-to dinner used to be frozen pizza, because really, it doesn't get much easier.  I've had the fortune of living with different good cooks over the years, including my sister and my husband.  I admit that those years (and these years) I was spoiled.  I still didn't bother learning from them, but at least now I like to bake and create, though still not fond of cooking.
I am fond of kitchen appliances though.  For wanting to live simply, I like our kitchen gadgetry.  I inherited my sister's Kitchen Aid mixer, with attachments.  We have a bread maker, which we only use for mixing but not actual baking (it's been a full year now since we last regularly bought bread from the store).  We have a rice cooker, a slow cooker, an immersion blender, a quesadilla maker, a waffle iron, a food dehydrator, a NuWave oven, and more, and we use them all regularly.  I'd blame it on Jaimie, but I'm equally at fault for being an appliance hoarder.  Oooh shiny.  And people thought that giving appliances was not cool.  One of my husband's favorite gifts was the immersion blender. 

I'm loving our kitchen stuff, and the yummy food it all makes.


  1. Hi, I'm Jaimie's cousin Brian from Seattle. My wife and I love homemade ice creams and sorbets. Actually, we cook tons (and preserve, and bake, etc...). We probably have lots in common. You inspired me to share a few recipes we love for ice cream and for sorbet.

    For sorbets, I'm particularly partial to sorbets made with fresh blackberries (pulverized and strained first to remove the seeds). Blackberries here are more common than dandelions, and thus both free and delicious. We like our ice creams and sorbets low sugar where possible, so we'll mix about 4c of blackberry juice with 1.5 - 2c of sugar total, some of that being honey, a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Chill for a half day or so, and put in the machine. Delicious! I also love concord grapes when in season done the same way.

    My two favorite ice creams so far are both pretty mainstream. For a truly delicious vanilla, I beat 4 egg yolks, slowly drizzling in 8ozs of sugar until it's very thick. Seperately, I heat 4c half and half (or some similar combination of milk and cream, and flavor matters so use the most flavorful you have access to) and 1-2 vanilla beans, scraped. Heat that to 160 or so, and slowly temper the egg mixture with it. Return it all to the pan, and cook it gently (medium-ish) to 170 or so. Pour it in something to cool, grate a fresh nutmeg into it (or half one if you prefer) and after a half hour or so cover it and refridgerate it for a half day or so. Fish out the bean pod(s). Mix in your machine, and enjoy with any fruit or fruit desert! :)

    My other favorite is good old mint. Freeze some chocolate mint candies (optional). Pick a BIG bunch of mint from your garden, chop it very roughly (multi-inch pieces, stems and all), and put in a pot with your dairy as above. Mix your egg yolks and sugar (as above), strain the mint mixture when cooked to 160 or so for a bit, and temper the eggs with that. Cook that to 170 or so as above, then take off the heat to cool for a half hour. Put in fridge for a half day or so. Mix in the machine, and if you like chop or destroy the mint candies into chunks or tiny bits, and add to the ice cream when it's thick and filling with air. De-licious!

  2. Brian, that sounds great. I think we'll be trying those soon, especially the mint because we have tons of that left.
    I wish that blackberries here would grow like dandelions. We have plenty of dandelions! We'll be testing out your recipes. We've also tried a recipe for Guinness ice cream if you are partial to beer. You take a 12 oz bottle and reduce it by 1/3 to 8 oz, then follow your vanilla recipe above sans beans and nutmeg.