Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is that Ice Cream I Smell?

I think I've mentioned before that my son Elijah, who is now 4, has an attention span that rivals that of a gnat.  It's true, he can make a hummingbird look like a master concentrator.  Unless he's watching TV, then nothing and no one can compete with his ability to focus.  Since I'm not video taping myself trying to teach him to cook, I have to deal with the Tazmanian Devil version of him instead of the zoned-out version.  Because of the attention span issue, I've been on the hunt for something that is quick and easy, but also good enough to engage his interest.  He's still a little scarred from the purple cauliflower incident, so I'm trying to make it up to him.  It hit me the other night as I was watching him lick his ice cream bowl clean in utter ecstacy.  Ice cream!  Why didn't I think of it before?!?!

It's the perfect thing for him; it's quick, easy, uses a machine and is loaded with his favorite ingredient, sugar!  On the surface, choosing what kind of ice cream to make seems simple.  Just go with his favorite flavor, right?  I just have one small dilemma.  My grocery budget is used up, so going to the store is not an option.  I don't have eggs, cream or half-n-half -- the main ingredients in most ice creams.  Now what?  I spent about an hour scouring with no real luck.  The only recipe that matched my needs used 6 cups of milk.  I do have that much milk in my fridge, but I need it for my kids for the next week.  Finally, I turned to my trusty ice cream book. (Yes, I have an entire cookbook just for ice cream.  Don't judge me.)  In about 2 minutes I found the perfect recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream.  It used 1 cup of milk and a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Perfect!  Don't worry, Eli doesn't have a favorite flavor of ice cream.  He loves all desserts equally.

We had some strawberries that needed to be eaten in the next 24 hours, so I had Eli help me prep them by pulling off the leaves and washing them.  I cut out the core and threw them in the Cuisinart.  I would have let him try to cut out the core with his little kiddie knife, but was pretty sure that would just result in a few totally mangled strawberries and red juice splattered all over the kitchen.  Besides, I was trying to keep up with a dwindling interest.  Both Eli and Abby got to learn a valuable lesson about handling the very sharp blade that goes in the food processor.  Thankfully they got to learn the lesson through me.  Few things are worse than cutting your thumb right by the fingernail just before you need to squeeze a lemon.  At least I didn't have to deal with the shock and horror (theirs, not mine) of one of them cutting themselves.  After a thorough inspection of my new wound and promises to never touch the Cuisinart, we got back to the business of pulverizing the strawberries.  Their fascination with the food processor never gets old.  Every time I bring it out, I'm reminded of that presentation I attended on getting your kids in the kitchen.  That amazing woman had a salad shooter.  Remember those things?  I can't decide if it's good or bad that we don't have one of our own.  Probably good.  If we did, we would have salad coming out of our ears, and most likely all over the kitchen floor.

We all agreed that ice cream without seeds was best so I got saddled with the task of removing the seeds from the strawberry pulp.  Not a difficult process, but definately time-comsuming.  I sent them both outside to run around the yard a few times while I pushed the pulp through a sieve.  They both returned panting just as I finished up.  The rest was easy.  Eli dumped in the sweetened condensed milk and the cup of milk, (pre-measured, of course) Abby measured out a 1/4 cup of sugar and I squeezed in a tablespoon of lemon juice.  We let Elijah stir it all up and then I poured it into the ice cream maker.  Both of them were riveted for about 45 seconds, and then the questioning began, "Is it ready yet?  Is it ready yet?  Is it ready yet?"   I finally kicked them out to go play for awhile.  They each came back to check on it about 600 times, and after about 20 minutes I reached my limit.  The mixture looked to be as frozen as it was going to get, which put it at the consistency of a loose milk shake.  If I could have waited another 10 minutes it may have been a bit thicker, but I was tired of them coming in and out of the house and never closing the door.  I gave them each a small cup of the strawberry shake and poured the rest into a plastic container and put it in the freezer.

In truth, the process was so quick I felt like we really didn't do anything at all.  I think I've become accustomed to more lengthy projects that involve some sort of cooking.  This was fun and a nice change of pace.  It was perfect for a four year old who is physically incapable of sitting still.  Although it was a little trying for me at the time, I can see now that even the act of running back and forth to check on it's progress was perfect for him.  Unlike having to peer through the oven door and wait for something to cook, he was able to turn waiting into an activity.  Ice cream is practically a staple at our house; we eat it all year long.  I don't know why I feel like we have to wait for summer to make our own.  Now that I know you can make a pretty yummy ice cream without having to cook a custard base first, I'm sure we'll be making it more often.  And for the record, I prefer Tazmanian Devil Eli.  I'm used to seeing him as a constant blur of motion.  Zoned-out Eli kind of freaks me out.

1 comment:

  1. I also prefer the Taz version of Eli, however, I have yet to even see the very rare zoned out version!