Maple walnut ice cream (no chunks!)

The other day I tasked my husband with buying “Organic Grade B Maple Syrup, but only if you can find it for cheap,” and he came home with this enormous jug for something like $12. Yahtzee! Clearly, I needed to use it for everything. Including ice cream. But while maple walnut was the first obvious choice, I wasn’t so sure about that…

See, thanks to growing up with my nut-obsessed dad, I finally developed a taste for the flavor of nuts, even though I didn’t care for the texture as a kid. I’ve figured out how to tolerate the texture as a grown-up  — both the texture of nuts themselves, and the fact that chunks of nut would ruin for me the texture of an otherwise perfectly creamy and smooth dessert (think fudge or ice cream). However, I generally prefer to avoid them unless I’m having a weird protein craving.

Hence, I desired to make maple walnut ice cream that tasted like maple walnut, without actual pieces of walnut in it. I remembered that I had come across a recipe that involved simmering the maple pieces in milk and then straining and using that milk to make the custard, so I decided to do the same. I Googled around and loosely based my concoction on this About.com recipe, but I swapped around the proportions a bit. Here’s roughly what I used:

1 1/2 c 2% milk, non-homogenized (this may have been a mistake)
1 cuppish chopped walnuts, covered in butter and sea salt and toasted in the oven for a while
3/4 heavy cream, which I whipped and folded in later
4 eggs, separated — I used the yolks in the custard but beat the whites and folded them in later

Well, I didn’t read the recipe so closely, and I wound up combining the maple syrup with the milk and walnuts to simmer. (Fun fact: if you Google “Does maple syrup curdle milk?” the first hit is this. Confusing, yet helpful.) That was an awful, ugly, curdled-up mess! But I managed to salvage it somehow, though the ice cream had a weird texture in which the fat sort of stood out from the other liquid. I think this is a function of both the curdling and the fact that my milk wasn’t homogenized. (I’m trying to only buy the hippie milk in the glass jars on which you pay a deposit, but I might reconsider for certain purposes after this adventure!)

Either way, it all turned out OK in the end! (And I’m omitting photos of the nasty curdled nutty mess because it looked kind of like someone threw up in a saucepan.) Thank goodness for eventual ice cream success — and no added sugar!

Leftovers, sweet leftovers

In addition to, you know, eating nothing but turkey and stuffing for like a week, we had a few other leftovers to contend with in terms of ingredients aftermath. I had asked Grant to pick up buttermilk even though I don’t think I actually used it for any of my recipes, and I also had a bunch of chives, a tub of sour cream, various veggies and of course a giant turkey carcass. What to do?

One of the obvious answers is “make buttermilk chive biscuits,” but that just seemed too easy. Besides, we have loads of leftover pumpkin cheesecake which I actually don’t much care for, and I was jealous of Grant eating dessert without me. (And while I usually just eat delicious tangy cranberry sauce with a spoon, well… it’s almost all gone now.) So I wanted at least the buttermilk or sour cream to go towards something sweet.

I eventually settled on David Lebowitz’s recipe for Lemon-Buttermilk Sherbet, from The Perfect Scoop. I modified it slightly by straining out the lemon zest and whisking in a tiny bit of lemon curd from a nearly-empty jar, so I imagine my version is a tad richer and smoother than his.

There was some leftover gingersnap-pecan crust crumbles from my Thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecake that I had saved in the freezer, so I mashed those with some melted farmstead butter to make some little crust-cuplets. The combo, as I suspected, was lovely (though I think I might also try the sherbet with some cranberry sauce!).

I also made a proper stock out of my turkey carcass and remaining drippings, which eventually became a hearty turkey barley soup with carrots, onion, herbs (including chives), and spinach. This was even better with our short and heavy but delicious whole wheat homemade bread. And I have loads of stock and even a glaze to freeze and season my cooking for the next few months, yay! I’m glad I took the time to save the bones and everything after our meal. Leftover success!

The true mark of age

So I just heard a strange, music-like noise in the background as I was half-watching the Simpsons, half-reading the mail. It sounded like someone else’s cell phone ringing in another room, but I’m home alone so it couldn’t be. And then I realized – it’s the ICE CREAM TRUCK!!! For a minute I had this giddy childish excitement and I poked my head out to look, and I even considered buying something for a brief second, but I promptly realized it would “spoil my appetite for dinner”.

Yep, I’m a Quarter of a Century Old now, all right.