Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Second Week: Chiro And Custard

You know the kind of day I mean. If you’re old enough for anything I have thus far said in this blog to make even a modicum of sense, you’ve lived long enough to have one of these days. The kind of day when your get up and go decides to get up and go without notifying you of the fact, or worse, fails to show up at the needful time, and it’s now nine hours or more into the day when you most needed it to be there for you.

Today, on such a day, I visited my chiro.

The chiro whose oft-repeated suggestion and subsequent anecdotes are the impetus and inspiration behind this grand experiment on which I’ve embarked, that chiro. I had an appointment with this worthy person today.

Between self-injunctions to breathe, to relax, to allow myself to receive the blessing of repetitive down-pressings, out-stretchings, and occasional painful, sustained pokes at allegedly tight structures, I continued my litany of pain. Then, as I was gathering my glasses, my current paperback book, my cellphone in its waist clip, and my Eeyore back pouch made specifically for someone much younger than I am, I informed my chiro about my grand experiment, interrupting myself to comment on the photo of a chubby-cheeked, happy-faced little one Given that my chiro, a gentle-souled being, is the co-progenitor, the expression on the face of the offspring makes great good sense. I was delighted to see the offspring. The chiro was excited at my news.

I’ve brought that worthy being up to date on my progress so far, and now it’s time to update you, too. This past Sunday, two days ago, I ate some mac and cheese. Now this happened as a result of me bringing home, among other tasty food items, a huge chafing pan of homemade macaroni and cheese from an after-church dinner to celebrate their Men’s Day. I resolved to taste only a little of the cheesy pasta, but I ate rather more than I should. By the passage of several hours, I wished I hadn’t. I was headachy, and I felt extremely irritated and agitated. It was a most uncomfortable feeling.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the cornbread sticks that came home with me, of which I had a little nibble, just to taste one. Those are waiting in the freezer until Thanksgiving, when I will be called upon to make stuffing. Since my family prefers cornbread stuffing, they’ll have it made from the crumbs of actual cornbread this year. I’ll do my best to make sure it comes out well, and I have no reason to think it will do otherwise.

So how do I feel? Well, it all goes back to that rebellious get up and go I mentioned earlier. I started writing this an hour after waking up from a nap that lasted nearly three hours. My thinking is much improved, and I’m sure that now I’ve gotten into me a salad of romaine heart, sliced tomato, leftover barbecue chicken bits, and mayonnaise, I’ll start to feel more like a person physically. I just hate that it took this long into the day for that to happen.

As for any noticeable effects of the experiment, I do notice that, no matter how long I’ve been still, once I determine to get up, it is becoming easier to do so, and I get moving more quickly once I’m upright. My gait is still fat-arthritic person moving, but my speed of transition from long stillness to movement is more akin to normal person rising leisurely. And it’s a consistently noticeable thing, not something that’s hit-and-miss. I told my chiro that I wasn’t yet convinced of the supposed good benefits of being starchless and sugarless, but I must remember to mention this improved movement at my next visit.

And I’d like to now share with you a bit of culinary good news: You can make ice cream without ice cream makers, ice-filled coffee cans, and those crazy throw-balls that are supposed to encourage the more indolent among us that we should earn the right to eat the creamy goodness by pouring it into a contraption filled with ice and using it to play dodge ball or something while the ice freezes it for us. And you can make it without refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Go set up your mise en place (remember, that’s French for “get you mess in place”) and do like I tell you :-).

First, find a metal mixing bowl and your beater blades, tie them up in a bag, and put them into the freezer. Why? Because Alton Brown said so. Go ask the people at the Food Network who that is. Now set out six eggs and 1 C agave nectar. You’ll also need on hand at least a pint of milk, vanilla flavoring, a quart of heavy whipping cream, plastic wrap, and enough plastic freezable containers with lids to hold two quarts of finished product.

Set out a saucepan. Pour in 1 ½ C milk. This is ice cream, and I’m your cook here, not your nurse. Use the full-fat stuff. If you have lactose intolerance, you’re going to use the lactose-free full-fat stuff. Your tongue will thank you for the richness, and your stomach and fellow residents will thank you for the belly ache you won’t have. Don’t turn on the heat just yet, unless you’re experienced at what I tell you to do next.

Separate six eggs and put the yolks into another bowl. If you don’t know how to separate eggs, you can do one of two things. You can crack the egg and pour it carefully from one half shell into the other, allowing the white to run out until only the yolk is left. Or you can do it like the aforementioned Alton Brown and carefully pour out the whole egg into one hand, then carefully allow the white to drip from between your fingers as you pass the yolk from hand to hand until the white has dripped away. At this point, our beloved Bro. Brown would pick up a whisk and start whailing away at the egg yolks until they became light and fluffy, and that’s what I did, too.

I suppose you could save yourself some aggravation and beat the things with a mixer, but well beaten should be the end result. Once you achieve it, slowly pour in a cup of agave nectar while continuing to agitate the well-beaten egg yolks by your chosen method.

Now you can turn on the heat under the milk if you haven’t done it yet (and you won’t have done if you have any sense.) It doesn’t take that long for the milk to get warm enough for you to just be able to touch it for the heat, and you only want it just that hot for now. Remove it from the heat and begin tempering the egg yolk mixture. If you’re new to tempering, it’s easy. Scoop out maybe ¼ C milk, and while vigorously employing your whisk, slowly pour the milk into the egg mixture. Do this until you have maybe half the milk whisked in, then return the saucepan to the heat and slowly pour the tempered eggs into the saucepan, stirring continually. Make sure the heat is on medium-low at this point, and continue stirring your milk mixture while it cooks, When it coats the back of a metal spoon it’s ready. You should also notice that if you stop stirring for just a moment, it thickens up some.

At this point, you now have custard. Remove it from the heat, stir in at most a tablespoon of vanilla, transfer it to a bowl, put plastic wrap over it so that the plastic touches the surface of it, then put it into the refrigerator. It will need to cool thoroughly before your next step, so you have time to romance your lovely other, put the offspring down for a nap, catch up on the parts of this blog you haven’t read yet, watch a movie or two, or whatever else you want or need to do. It’s going to take a few hours at least.

When your custard is thoroughly chilled, remove your bowl and beater blades from the freezer and immediately pour in 2 ½ C heavy whipping cream. Quickly attach your beater blades and whip the cream into peaks that stand up when you remove the blades from it. It’s okay if it still moves around a little when you gently tilt the bowl. Get out the custard and fold it into the whipped cream, a little at a time, but with as little delay as possible. Pour your cream mix into the reserved containers, put on the lids, and put them into the freezer.

In my case, the resulting frozen custard cream was a little firmer to the texture upon freezing than you may find ice cream to be when you buy it from the store or make it in an ice cream maker, but it melts readily enough. I found the taste to be akin to caramel just before it burns, which some say is the exact way caramel should taste if it’s done right. I attribute this to the fact that I used raw agave nectar, which is why I plan to use the lighter nectar next time, but in the final analysis it’s quite delicious.

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