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Conquering Fear

July 19, 2008

The Puerto Rican bought me an ice cream maker for my birthday three years ago.  I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  I had visions of making ice cream every weekend, knowing that homemade ice cream is superior to anything purchased.  Our first attempt was vanilla.  Things didn’t go too well, the “custard” wasn’t hardening or showing any signs of thickening.  The Puerto Rican and I didn’t want to write the ice cream off as a failure, so we chopped up some fresh strawberries and started dropping them in the ice cream maker as it was churning.  No big deal.  The manufacturer’s instructions declared that this was the time to add goodies to the custard.  Unfortunately, the strawberries and unhardened cream mixture  overflowed while we were in the dining room eating dinner… and burned out the motor!  

We replaced the maker and tried again.  This can’t be hard.  People have been making homemade ice cream for decades, if not centuries.  I think two crafty women can figure it out, right?  Right?  Wrong.  We attempted vanilla again because we figured this would be the easiest to make.  Still we made scrambled eggs, non-thickening, almost popsicle consistency custard.  The Husband and Columbian occasionally waltzed through the kitchen making snarky comments about two grown women being defeated by the enemy ice cream maker and thanking God that we couldn’t deploy with them.  After all, if we can’t figure out a contraption such as the ice cream maker… what else could we not figure out?  All fun aside, we failed again.  

There were a few more attempts over the years, but each one was met with absolute failure.  I gave up.  When we moved from North Carolina to Kansas I strongly considered putting the maker in the “donate” pile.  After all, what use is it to me?  It was just one more thing to pack up and find room for in the new house.  I gave a deep sigh, wrapped it up, dropped it in a box and brought it with me.  When I unpacked at the new house, I put it in the most unused cabinet (you know the one, above the fridge).  Out of sight- out of mind.  

Last month, The Husband went to the prestigious Air Force Academy to purposely jump out of planes.  As all MilWives know… the chow hall, uh yeah.  Nasty.  The Chow Hall is filled with congealed eggs, vats of instant mashed potatoes, overcooked green beans… bleh.  No respectable MilWife would stand for what The Husband did to me when he came home.  He went on… and on…. and on… about this stupid pistachio ice cream at the Chow Hall that was amazing.  “Would you pleasepleaseprettyplease make me pistachio ice cream honey?  Please?  I know you hate the ice cream maker, but you can’t let something like that defeat you.  You are strong.  Wonderful.  You. Can. Win!”  Uh, huh.  After 7 years, the man knows how to challenge me.  You’re telling me the Chow Hall served up something that was so wonderful you want me to make it!  Oh, it’s on baby.  It’s on.  

I dug the ice cream maker out of the cabinet, took the (oops) packing paper out of the canister, washed it up and stuck it in the freezer.  I did a dance similar to the one Rocky does before a big fight.  Grabbed the pistachios, and shelled… for an hour.  (Dude- you still owe me a manicure!)  I must have repeated 1,000 times that day as a mantra, “I will not be defeated.  I will not be defeated.”  Well guess what!  I did it!  The Husband and The Mom believe that I have absolutely no patience.  My pistachio ice cream begs to differ.  Of course, I had to research it, and trusty old Epicurious came to my rescue, once again.  Now that I am an IceCreamMaster… I’m making chocolate pudding ice cream today.

Pistachio Ice Cream

1 c unsalted pistachios (I couldn’t find unsalted)
3/4 c sugar
2 c milk
1/2 t almond extract
4 egg yolks
1 c cream
3/4 c pistachios, toasted, coarsely chopped

Finely grind 1 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup sugar in processor. Bring milk and ground pistachio mixture to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat. Mix in almond extract.

Whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Cook over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Strain into large bowl.  (So, The Husband was in the kitchen when I strained this, I asked him to chuck the strained particles in the trash and he balked.  He made me mix them in with the ice cream, and it was pretty good.)  Chill until cold, about 2 hours.

Stir 1 cup whipping cream and chopped pistachios into custard. Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container and freeze. Ice cream can be prepared 3 days ahead.

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