Yesterday, as the spicy smells from a last day of spring pork stew wafted from room to room, my thoughts were on ice cream. In particular this lavender ice cream. It’s all gone now but I can’t stop thinking about how, like a kid, I enjoyed every drop whether it was in a bowl or piled atop a sugary, crunchy cone.
Ever since my kids pitched in a few years ago and got an ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid I have reveled in making ice cream from scratch. There is’nt a summer that goes by when I don’t get excited about the ice cream variations to be made. One summer the kids and I made cookies and cream ice cream that was loaded with huge chunks of oreo cookies, which was fine with us because that’s how we like it. No little scraps of cookies here and there. I like the freedom of making ice cream from scratch. I decide what goes into it and how much. As long as it’s creamy, cold and satisfies me on a hot summer day the choices are mine. Or my kids.
Making ice cream from scratch is in my blood. When my siblings and I were younger my mom would venture carefully out to our front porch after the second good snow fall of winter, scoop up bowls of white, newly fallen snow and make sweet, slushy ice milk. We thought this was the best thing ever. During summer cookouts she would pull out the hand crank ice cream maker and strategically place it so it was in a shady area away from direct sun. She’d pour the ice cream base, made earlier, into its cylindrical container and place in the funny looking silver thing that reminded me of a washboard. Once everything was sealed up she’d fill the area around the container with ice and pour over kosher salt. Any kid that wanted to my mom would let have a chance to turn the little handle attached to the side of the ice cream maker. Even the laziest among the bunch looked forward to the vigorous work of churning the ice cream. When it was my turn I would position myself so that I was leaning into the ice cream maker the better for me to see the ice as it noisily moved up and down in a series of waves. In between making sure everyone was well fed and seeing if my dad needed to put more food on the grill she’d check on the ice creams progress. All of us kids after filling our bellies with hot dogs, burgers and potato salad would run around throwing water balloons or kicking a ball and inevitably we’d end up back at the ice cream maker to finish the churning but mostly to see if the ice cream were ready.
Now my kids look forward to summer and the moment when I take out the ice cream attachment and place it in the freezer where it will stay all summer long ready for a fresh batch of custard and any extras we feel like putting in. I must admit that I kind of feel like it’s a short cut to making ice cream. We no longer have to do any hand turning. I just place my custard into the frozen bowl attach the bowl to the KitchenAid and switch it on. For the next twenty minutes or so the bowl goes around and around and slowly thickens the custard as I busy myself doing other things. I do miss the communal feeling of hand churning ice cream and feeling like I literally had a hand in the final product. And although I will never complain about hand churning vs machine churning while I am licking away the remains of ice cream made from scratch I think I may have to purchase a hand crank ice cream maker if only to show my kids what my mother showed me.
Lavender Honey Ice Cream (adapted from a David Tanis recipe)
Note: The pepita seed brittle is my garnish left over from a batch I made earlier from a Martha Stewart recipe
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon dried lavender
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup honey
6 large egg yolks (preferably organic)
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a stainless steel pan, warm the milk to just under a boil. Turn off the heat and add the lavender. Let steep for 15 minutes, until the milk has a faint lavender flavor.
Strain the milk and return it to the pan. Add the cream and honey and warm gently.
Beat the egg yolks with the salt in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of the warm milk mixture to temper the yolks, then add the contents of the bowl to the pan. Cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring diligently, until the mixture thickens slightly.
Strain this thin custard into a large bowl and cool. Chill in the refrigerator.
Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to your brands directions. When the ice cream is ready transfer it to a container, cover and store into the freezer until firm.