Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

Because of the drought, my garden looks like this:

...instead of this:

So, I'm supplementing our indoor bouquets with grocery store flowers.  One that I've didn't use to like, but now do, is astroemeria.  The flowers can look 'plastic' in the wrong setting, but put them in the sun...

They're one of the most inexpensive flowers you can buy, too!  Lovely!

Several weeks ago, I bought a few ornamental pepper plants for their bright, cheerful leaves.

Soon they flowered...

And then the flowers closed up as tiny peppers started to form.

Now my pepper plants are covered in tiny purple peppers.  I'm so glad I bought them!

We are definitely in the dog days of summer, and most of the time we feel like this:

Our situation was greatly improved when a friend brought me an almost-new machine from the thrift store.  It was originally $11...

...but she had a coupon.  So, I got it for $5...

My very own ice cream maker!  It was barely used and worked perfectly.  Making ice cream from scratch is ridiculously easy.  Make sure your ingredients are cold and the ice cream maker's inner canister is frozen.  Pour in your ingredients and hit the ON button.  Wait 25 minutes. You then have the equivalent of soft serve ice cream.  If you like your ice cream firm and 'scoopable', just freeze it for a few hours.  Done!  

 For my first batch of ice cream, I decided to go DECADENT...rich chocolate ice cream made with 5 egg yolks, making it taste like rich, creamy gelato.  

It was wonderful, but I couldn't help but think of just how fattening a half cup was...and that took away a bit of the enjoyment.  I decided to find something a little healthier.  I discovered that putting chocolate pudding and some evaporated milk into the ice cream maker yields something that tastes a bit like a Wendy's Frosty...that's a good thing when you use all low-fat ingredients and make your pudding from scratch.

But I decided to compromise between "healthy" and "coronary" with the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Book.  First, I took the eggless cookie dough recipe from this blog entry and mixed it together, rolling it into indecently large balls and putting them into the freezer while I made the ice cream.

I took one of B & J's basic vanilla recipes and substituted egg beaters for the eggs.  Once it was done churning and had reached the soft serve stage, I stirred in the frozen cookie dough balls and ladled the ice cream in to a large container to freeze.

Best. Ice cream.  Ever.

I've made two batches in four days and it hasn't lasted long enough for a staged photo, just a photo of us scraping the bottom of the container for the last remaining spoonfuls.

I love making my own ice cream with my own pure ingredients, no worries about additives or preservatives.  The ice cream only has five ingredients, too, which you probably already have sitting around!

Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Ice Cream
Makes one quart
Slightly modified

1/2 cup Eggbeaters (or 2 eggs)
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (NOT imitation, this will keep it from freezing!)

Mix together...pour into ice cream maker...stir for 25 minutes...stir in your cookie dough balls...ladle into a bowl...and enjoy!

I'm already thinking of other stir-ins...brownies?  Oreo cookies?  Fruit puree?  The sky's the limit.  I HIGHLY recommend getting your own ice cream maker (this model retails for around $40) and starting your own experiments.  Just don't forget to pick up a gym membership while you're at it!  ;) 

Have fun!

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