I’m feeling adventurous.
I tend to get into ruts. I’ll get settled into a routine without realizing it and then boom! I get bored, and then I get restless, and then I kind of freak out. I get desperate for something new- some kind of change. I might rearrange all of the furniture in the house. I might purge the closet of clothes I no longer wear. I might even get bangs.
Lately, my routine has been having no routine. And I’m starting to freak out. I have learned I function more productively on a schedule. I’m working on that. But the restless feeling is here. Maybe it’s because we just spent 5 days with friends, living their fun life, that got me motivated. Maybe it’s because we’ve been watching a TV mini-drama called Hatfields & McCoys, and women in it don’t know the meaning of the word ‘lazy.’ Instead of getting bangs, I headed to the kitchen.
Last week, I forgot about Meatless Monday. This week, we doubled up. John (and a hungry assistant) grilled an incredible halibut dish on Sunday, and he showed me how he makes eggplant involtini. Scrumptious.
Yesterday, we had more eggplant roll-ups, and I had a wheat flatbread crust in the pantry that I wanted to use. Inspired by Nancy’s ability to just cook (sans recipe), I decided to wing it. I drizzled a little olive oil over the crust, sprinkled a light layer of freshly grated parmesan, and added a few dried herbs. I caramelized some shallots with a few random seasonings and added mushrooms and sliced garlic to the pan at the end. I sliced a zucchini like pepperoni slices, added a bit of mozzarella, and created a pretty little vegetable flatbread.
It tasted as good as it looked, proving that often in the kitchen, simple is good.
OFTEN, but not always.
My next mini-adventure was to use the rhubarb that Nancy sent me home with from her garden. I found a recipe for rhubarb-strawberry ice cream and thought, perfect! I can try a new recipe (#35), use the rhubarb, AND cross off Life List item #4! Look at me go!
I picked up the ingredients, got my kitchen all situated, and pulled the ice cream maker down from the top shelf in the pantry. It was a housewarming gift from one of my best friends and her hubby, and it was still in the box. As I unpacked it, I was flooded with memories of my childhood when we’d have homemade ice cream at my grandparents’ house. Fresh peach was a favorite flavor. I remember the whir-whir-whir of the electric version, but even before that, we kids took turns helping my Grandpa turn the crank or pour ice and salt around the wooden container. When I pulled out the Cuisinart machine, it looked nothing like what I remembered. Hmm.
I started on the fruit. I simmered chopped rhubarb with wine and sugar as directed, then blended it with chopped strawberries. The fuchsia color brightened the kitchen and it tasted yummy. After straining it through a sieve, this step was complete. So far, so good.
Here’s where the ‘less-than-simple’ part comes in. Before diving into what appeared to be a custard base for the ice cream, I decided to read the ice cream maker instructions. Good call, Genius. I learned that the freezer bowl must spend 16-24 hours in the freezer before it could be used. Rookie mistake! I wrapped up the fruit mixture for what was now a two-day undertaking. I told myself that good things come to those who wait.
This morning, I was excited to finish the recipe. I warmed the cream and milk, whisked the egg yolk and sugar, combined them as directed. I have never made a custard before, and am not sure I did it correctly. But with these ingredients, how bad could it be?
After it cooled, I mixed in the rhubarb-strawberry mixture and got the thumbs up from my taste-tester. (Let me translate the look on his face: “Mmmmm!”) I must be doing something right.
Time for the machine.
I poured in the sweet mixture and switched it to ON. It might not look like the ice cream makers I remember, but it sure sounds like it. My home was filled with a comforting whir-whir-whir that I suspect will become a familiar summer sound in this household. 20 minutes later, I checked on my concoction, which had started to actually resemble ice cream! As I poured it into its freezing vessel, it was like soft serve. This time John tasted it, I got a kiss on the cheek.
Fast forward to this evening. Totally worth the wait!
I think the ice cream recipe I selected was more complicated than most. Now that I know the basics, I can’t wait to stock the freezer with my own concoctions. (John is on board with this plan). New recipe for the week? Check. Used up the rhubarb? Check! Successfully made homemade ice cream? Cross it off the list! Sarah and Cordell visit on Thursday evening, and I’m excited to show them what I did with their gift! I hope there’s enough left to share…
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some ice cream to enjoy.
What is your favorite homemade treat for summer?