Monday, May 24, 2010

Spring and Food, Inside and Out: Introducing the Veggie Gardens and Chocolate Ice Cream

Things have been bustling in the yard these days, and we've had productive nights and weekends around the homestead.  We made progress in the food-growing areas, and even a little in the front yard.  We ripped out some horrible bushes and will plant something new once we manage to dig these out.

The chives are bursting.

We bought a little hanging strawberry plant and it's managed to be quite productive so far.

My father came to my aid with his amazing vintage tiller and made me two promising growing spaces.  The first is the same raised bed as last year, which we've beefed up with extra top soil and compost.  The other is the west side of the yard.  They both get strong sunlight, but each at different times. 
Someday, that tiller will be mine.

 I managed to plant some tomatoes in the raised bed and have started some other seeds in the plot along with some kale seedlings.

This dog has discovered that dirt is soft and warm.

I go out there every night and go like this for a little while. It's pretty great.

Oh, and it's peony season, too. 

Though it's still May, these days feel more like summer than spring, and farmer's market brings cheap high-quality eggs, so I decided to break out the ice cream machine.

Being the only chocolate lover in a house of vanilla people, (I was also the only lefty) I learned to be satisfied with "chocolate" ice cream made by stirring chocolate syrup into vanilla ice cream.  Now, I am a grown-up and I get to chose what ice cream to make, and even what kind of chocolate to use.  In this way, getting older has been favorable.  

This ice cream uses only cocoa powder, because that's all I had on hand, thus it's not the super-rich double dark chocolate ice creams you might know.  It almost tastes like hot cocoa or milk chocolate.  Use the best eggs you can find and your desired blend of milk/cream.  My recipe is a rough take on Alton Brown's. 

Chocolate Ice Cream

Combine in a pot over medium heat,
1.5 oz. (around 1/2 c.) cocoa powder (spend some money here.)
4 c. milk/cream (I used 1/2 heavy cream and 2% milk. The more fat the better)

Bring to a simmer then remove from heat.
Meanwhile, take eight egg yolks and whip them with a whisk until they're light and fluffy.

Then, whisk in up to 
9 oz. (~1 1/8 c.) sugar, to taste.

We want to add the egg yolks to the milk mixture, but we can't do it quickly or the yolks will scramble.  Instead, we want to slowly heat the eggs so they thicken our ice cream without cooking into solid pieces of egg.  So, we temper the yolks by adding a small amount of the warm cream mixture and stirring.  Then add a little more, and then slowly stir the yolk mixture into the pot with the cream.

Return this to heat and slowy bring it to 170-175 degrees, or until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, stirring occasionally.

Pour this into a bowl, cover, and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.  Run this through your ice cream maker, and enjoy.  This ice cream is very creamy and chocolaty, without being too sweet or bitter.  Really, ice cream is a case where it's worth it to make your own.  It's so easy and cheap.  This makes around a quart and a half of solid ice cream.

Make some ice cream, grow something, and enjoy the spring!


Ally @ Sweet & Savory said...

Yummy ice cream!

Okay, I've seen those hanging strawberry plants and I was just convinced that they wouldn't produce anything...but your's are! Do you think I should buy one? And how long did it take until you saw some strawberries?

Alicia said...

Hi Ally!
We paid $25 at a local nursery, and it has done well so far! It had a few green strawberries hanging off it when we bought it. They should be started by now. It's actually quite pretty hanging from a shepheard's hook!

kate said...

Homemade chocolate ice cream sounds fabulous! My sister emailed me a recipe ages ago, I really should make some soon.

Elizabeth said...

yummmmmmm. I will be stopping by asap for a scoop :)

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