Countdown to XMAS – 25.5 hours left… 33.5 if I count sleeping.
The lead-up hasn’t been too bad this year. Shopping misery kept to a minimum. No leave in the lead-up to XMAS, which has worked out well too.
Last-minute gingerbread baking might not have been the best plan I ever had, but the result was worth it. Even if it made the regular ice-cream run a bit more of a stretch in turn.
I’m one batch of ice cream short of complete, so that’ll easily be done tomorrow.
And then I can rest.
Also, no gym for a few days on account of “closed”. Last class before XMAS was a punishing Kinesis class in which I managed to get carpet-burn on my knee, and not even the fun kind. But worth it… it feels good to be able to do nothing but sit for a little while I think.
It started one year when I got an ice cream maker over Christmas (which is in summer over here, for the record). Since then, every year over the holidays I make batches of ice cream.
This year, my Gingerbread House Making (here, here, here, here and here) has limited the amount of time I have available so instead of 20 litres I only am making 7 litres this year. This includes gifts as well as batches for personal use.
This year I am making:
3 batches of Coffee-Ferrero ice cream
1 batch of Chilli-Chocolate ice cream
1 batch of lactose-free Mango ice cream
1 batch of Rocky-Road ice cream
1 batch of Mango-Berry ice cream
I create all these on a custard base. A hand-made custard that is. It took a little practice the first time I made custard. It’s very easy to end up with boiled-egg-crumbs throughout if you try to go too fast.
Step 1 – put milk and cream in pot and simmer short of boiling
Step 2 – put sugar and egg yolks in bowl and whisk together
Step 3 – slowly whisk hot milky mixture into frothy eggs
Step 4 – very slowly heat combined mixture in pot
What is tricky is that at the end of step 4 it feels like the custard is still much too runny. It may cover the back of the spoon just fine, but it just still feels like liquid. Don’t panic… once it cools down it will get thicker.
For the Coffee-Ferrero I also need Ferrero obviously.
Step 1 – get plenty of Ferrero
Step 2 – unwrap all Ferrero
Step 3 – freeze and crush Ferrero
Next important step is to cool the mixture thoroughly before trying to freeze it in the machine. If you don’t chill it as much as possible and put it in the machine, you’ll end up with runny custard… then slightly thicker custard… and then runny custard again. It’ll never get creamy and thick.
Step 1 – get all the pieces for the machine
Step 2 – assemble and run the machine
Step 3 – decant (scrape) into container
Tomorrow I can get another 2 litres finished, and over Monday/Tuesday I’ll finish the remaining 3 litres. Prioritising them by order in which I need to deliver. Just enough time to get it all done.
I missed my yoga class this morning and I felt a bit bad about it. It’s part of my routine, and the day and weekend just don’t feel completely complete without it.
Walking to the shops for my usual coffee seemed like a great way to make up for it. Turns out, walking to the shops the long way clocks up 10,000 steps all by itself, and I hadn’t done anything yet.
The rest of the day was spent showing our Dutch guest around a bit more. Which added another 8,000 steps. And this after Nikki killed me at the gym yesterday with lots of leg work as well. I am so aware of my muscles that I can without hesitation pinpoint exactly where my ass is at any given moment.
So, what does one do at the end of a weekend like this?
Well, one makes ice cream. Obviously.
I am making relatively quick batches this weekend. Nothing too fancy, because it all ties into the deadline for next weekend. I have to complete a gingerbread house, and make dark chocolate ice cream and banana ice cream. And I have to fit it in around my work trip to Melbourne for most of the week. So that means I have today, and next Saturday morning essentially.
Oh, and I have to wash some shirts or I won’t have enough clean ironed shirts to take to Melbourne.
Once again I don’t think I’ll have any trouble sleeping, because I already really want to right now.
I still have the after-effects of Rhino-whatsit-virus, which has now morphed into an annoying cold. It makes my brain feel like cotton wool. Sufficiently so that I headed home early from work to have a lie down.
I probably should not have come in, but my e-mail gets lonely without me.
That could have easily been the most riveting part of my day.
Luckily for the blog, there was a birthday for me to sniffle my way through. The local town centre is actually quite pleasant on a Thursday night, with a few pretty decent restaurants on the main road.
So dinner was Tapas.
And dessert was Gelato.
Meaning that the most interesting part of my day today was the consumption of one scoop of Rum & Raisin and one scoop of Hazelnut.
It happens once a year around the end of this month. Not XMAS. Not NYE. Ice cream! Moreover, handmade ice cream. I can’t quite remember when we got the first machine, but I do recall we got a second one shortly after so that we could produce larger volumes.
Now it is practically tradition. And some of the family are actually expecting ice cream for the season. Not that there is anything wrong with that; it gives me license to experiment with special flavours.
The part I still dislike the most is the repeated cleaning of the hardware involved. Making a 1 liter batch of ice cream involves a lot more dirty pots, spoons and machines than you’d imagine. Maybe this is why I prefer making whole batches at a time, because cleaning is less of a chore when it is brief and concentrated.
The fun part is the actual experimenting with ingredients… there is the basic custard recipe I’ve gotten really familiar with, but the fun is adding alcohol and/or nuts and/or fruit and/or whatever else to the mix. I’ve also started to branch out into sorbets a bit more since the Earl Grey / Mint / Lemon sorbet worked out really well last year. Very refreshing.
So far I have four flavours finished, with about six more to go before I call it quits until a bit later in the summer season. The flavours so far haven’t been too out-there (shown above from top to bottom and left to right: Passion-fruit Pistachio, Cinnamon-Chilli Chocolate, Cosmopolitan Float and Chunky Peanut-butter).
But there are a few more interesting options to come; Brown Sugar and Bourbon, Chai Tea and most interestingly, Goats Cheese.
There will be reviews of all the flavours as they get un-boxed and eaten.