After I made the lemon ice cream I remembered that I am obsessed with frozen custard. How could I have forgotten that I am obsessed with frozen custard? And by frozen custard I mean specifically the kind they sell in the middle of Illinois. With lots of eggs. It doesn't really exist out here, far away from cornfields, fireflies, and summer nights that stay so hot you go to bed hot and you wake up hot. Inspired by this recipe, I set out to attempt it (but even eggier, because I like eggs) when we had friends 'round for dinner Saturday night. I think I got it.
Frozen Custard like You Get in the Middle of Illinois
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
With a sharp paring knife, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center and scrape the seeds into a medium saucepan. Add the bean pod itself and the half-and-half to the pan and warm over low-medium heat until it just barely simmers.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar by hand or using a stand mixer (I used the mixer). Slowly pour a very thin stream of the hot cream into the eggs while continuing to whisk; this will temper the eggs and keep them from scrambling. Continue to pour the cream in a thin stream until half of it has been incorporated. Transfer the eggs/sugar/cream back into the pot with the rest of the cream. Heat on low-medium (do not overheat here, or you will still scramble the eggs) while whisking continuously until the custard is thick and smooth, like pudding. Remove the vanilla bean and rinse it off; let it dry and put in a mason jar with some sugar which will give you some yummy vanilla sugar in a few days.
Prepare an ice bath: Fill a 9"x13" baking pan halfway with ice cubes. Find a smaller pan or a bowl that will fit inside of the 9"x13" baking pan. Place the smaller pan or bowl in the larger baking pan and nestle it into the ice so it doesn't fall over. Gradually add the heavy cream to the custard in the saucepan and whisk the mixture until it is smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the smaller pan or bowl that is in the ice pan. Let it sit there (you can stir it occasionally) until it is cold. (I do it this way because I don't have that much room in my fridge and I don't want to heat up my refrigerator trying to cool this stuff off.) It will take a couple of hours for it to get cold. Following the instructions for your ice cream maker, spin this into delicious frozen custard, serve with fresh June strawberries, and eat it up. You can transfer it into another container (with a lid) and freeze it if you don't finish it right away. But I think this is best when it's just out of the ice-cream maker.
As far as ice-cream makers go, I know nothing, but I took Amanda's recommendation last summer and bought this one, and it is wonderful. Ice cream in thirty minutes (though you do have to freeze the bowl overnight, at least).
Speaking of freezing, the mornings dawn quite cold and the afternoons heat up to almost 80 degrees. It reminds me of Montana, where I walked to school every morning wearing a heavy sweater, then left it in my office by afternoon when it got to about 90. At some point (when I ran out) I had to bring the truck to school to retrieve the gigantic pile of sweaters in the office because I couldn't carry them all home. We've been changing clothes here twice a day. I cleaned out my dresser and closet this morning. I usually do this twice a year, in spring and in fall. I think I'm the opposite of a hoarder. A reverse hoarder. If I don't have space in my spaces I get very uncomfortable and twitchy and huffy. I can't stand it when every empty space is filled. It leaves no room for inspiration to strike. In spite of my tendency to shed (and I don't think I really have that much stuff anyway), everything I own is completely disorganized and ridiculously wrinkled at the end of each six months. I'll have socks, dresses, pants, underpants, tights, and a bathing suit all in the same drawer. Dresses, in a drawer. It's really weird. Well, my closet is the size of a small bathtub, with two pretty much unusable shelves above my head which hold, for the most part, an empty computer box, one of those gigantic plastic foot spas that you plug in to make your feet jiggle (for about five minutes until you get sick of it), four gigantic pleather purses, and my English riding hat, none of which I ever use but can't seem to part with. Though now that I mention it I think I'll go right back upstairs and get those purses down immediately. I guess there are just some days when I literally stuff whatever is in the clean laundry basket into the most empty drawer, slam it shut and call it done. I don't know why I do that but I always have done. (Speaking in Britishisms now, since watching about eight episodes of Restoration Home over five days.)
Speaking of, I'm embarking on a new (old) decorating trend: Early '80s country. Everyone I've mentioned it to (two people) is appropriately horrified. "You mean like my ex-husband's parents' house?" Probably!!! I'll keep you posted. ;)