Buttermilk lemon balm ice cream

Buttermilk lemon balm ice cream

When I was in college, my friends used to call me “little miss sunshine.” I’m sure it was ironical, at first, but somehow it stuck. Yesterday I felt more like “little miss tornado warning.” For no real reason I felt discouraged, I felt cranky, I felt like going back to bed till late May. Funnily enough, there was a tornado warning yesterday! The day was wild! It was dark and broody, with strange patches of bright sky, and just when you decided to walk out the door, brief heavy squalls of rain. The clouds raced over head, the wind rattled everything in its path. The storm is always forcast to hit right at the time I walk over to get the boys from school. But it didn’t. And we were all safe in our house, with the world wilding all around us. The boys made masks out of paper and cardboard – just because they felt like it. David and I shared a scottish beer and ate punjabi mix. I made a good dinner, and David liked it. At every little thing, my mood lifted – it’s always the little, every day things that make a person feel better. I think that must be true, no matter who the person is. No matter how stressful and important their job may be. I forget that sometimes, and it takes an effort to notice the moments that are like balm to a sore – that comfort and soothe and restore. And then…Isaac made a giant lizard mask for David. It fit him like a hat, and he wore it pushed back on his head. He stood in our small yard looking up at the dark racing clouds, at the wild, tangled branches that swayed in a pale frenzy, showing the pale undersides of their leaves. Isaac came into the kitchen to look out the window and giggled. We made two kinds of ice cream. The rain came suddenly, in a dark downpour, and we headed upstairs to read books.

I’m crazy about this ice cream!! It all started when we got a bundle of lemon balm sprigs from the CSA. No – it started farther back than that, when I got a brand new ice cream maker! I’m so excited. It’s almost exactly like my old donvier, except that it has a little cage that goes round, and a motor. I decided to turn the lemon balm into ice cream. And I decided to use buttermilk to make it, because I had just bought a big container to make something else, which I’ll tell you about another time. Buttermilk is so lovely and creamy, with just a tiny tang. It curdled when I first put it on the heat, but it all came together beautifully when I added the eggs, sugar and flour. I steeped the lemon balm leaves in the buttermilk. So there’s a lovely lemony flavor, a slight buttermilky tang, and a beautiful creamy texture. You could easily make this with other herbs – mint would be nice. I’ve heard of tarragon ice cream, so I might try that. I’ll let you know!

Here’s Nina Simone with Balm in Gilead

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Pastry cream ice cream

Apricot – cassis ice cream

I’m absurdly excited about this! I feel like it’s a major culinary breakthrough! I’m sure that either people have been doing it for centuries, or there’s some reason they haven’t that I’ll discover eventually, but for now I have a new medium to explore. As I’m sure you’ll recall, on the last episode of As The Ordinary Turns, we made apricot cassis pastry cream to accompany a cake. Well, there was quite a bit left over, and the mad scientists of The Ordinary developed quite a fiendish gleam in their eye. They headed into the kitchens with their bowl of pastry cream, ready to hit it with their freeze ray!! I love ice cream, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s my favorite. My first and longest lasting job (to this day!) was as a soda jerk. I recall, back in those days, I noticed something interesting about the various brands of ice cream we carried at the ice cream parlor. Some turned nice and creamy and smooth as they melted, some melted into a weird sticky jelly-like substance. Since those days, I’ve made my own ice cream, many a time, and I’ve always had trouble making it thick and creamy. It always melts into something like milk. Well, here was a conundrum. How to thicken it without adding guar gum or carageenan or whatever else commercial companies add? A few months ago, when I discovered pastry cream, and developed a little admiring crush on the creamy substance, I began to ponder the possibility of freezing it. When you make ice cream, you generally start with a custard, and then you add unwhipped heavy cream. (At least that’s how I’ve always made it.) What is pastry cream but a thicker, more substantial custard? Why shouldn’t it freeze nicely? And why not lightly whip the cream before you add it, for an even creamier texture? So that’s what we did. It worked!! It’s thick and creamy. You can actually scoop it with an ice cream scoop, and it stays in a little ball!! I’ve never been able to do that with home made ice cream!! I use an old donvier ice cream maker, but I wonder how this would work on a more fancy one. I’ll have to try it some day and find out – there are so many different flavors to try!!

**update** We tried this again last night, but we didn’t whip the cream before we stirred it in (Malcolm’s suggestion). It might have turned out even creamier. If you whip the cream it’s like a frozen mousse, which is nice, but if you don’t, it might feel more like authentic ice cream. Nice both ways!

Here’s Ice Cream Man by Jonathan Richman.
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