They say that animals can tell when a really hard winter is coming. Squirrels hoard acorns. Chipmunks gather seeds. Beavers store away…you know, whatever it is that beavers eat.
We must have one doozy of a winter coming, because I’ve been stockpiling ice cream.
This week, while searching for a particularly elusive package of bacon, I discovered that my two freezers, combined, contain 6 pints of superpremium ice cream, four half-gallons of mediumpremium ice cream, about a quart’s worth of various homemade ice cream concoctions, and one sad quart of rainbow sherbet, about which Mr. Bear has been heard to say “All the flavors are good, but I like green the best.” The fact that my husband thinks “green” is a flavor is so upsetting that we’re just going to move on until I can figure out how to discuss it calmly.
For those of you who are mathematically challenged (and don’t think that I didn’t have to resort to Google Measurements for this myself), that’s 26 pints of ice cream.
That’s approximately 26 POUNDS of ice cream.
That’s three babies worth of ice cream.
In the time it took you to read this, I probably ate your baby and those of both your neighbors. Assuming they’re roughly newborn and made of ice cream, of course. Don’t take it personally. You just happen to make delicious offspring. Really, you should be proud of yourself. You could go into business.
Point being, that’s a lot of ice cream. Like, A Lot, a lot. And just to cement the extent of my shame, let me remind you that there are only two people in our household. And one of us is on a diet. Needless to say, it’s not me.
I’ve been trying to figure out how this hoarding situation happened, and I’ve come up with three options.
Option 1 is that I’m just a shameless glutton with eyes bigger than her stomach who wastes half the household funds on frozen dairy products which she then forgets about. Although how you could ever forget about Phish Food, I’ll never know. Tiny chocolate fish in a marshmallow swirl should be a fairly unforgettable phenomenon. Anyway, I don’t like Option 1 very much. It makes me seem shallow and wasteful. Which is why I'm exercising my veto.
Option 2 is that none of this is my fault at all, and that I didn’t even buy this ice cream. Option 2 is that my pints are breeding in there. Now, normally we would all know that this is ridiculous. Everyone knows that food products are carefully sterilized before leaving the manufacturing facility. But I suspect that the sainted hippie ice cream gods might have made some changes. Maybe ice cream sterilization has gone the way of bovine growth hormones and cage-produced eggs. Maybe I have fertile pints. Maybe the literal next generation of flavor development is taking place in my very own freezer.
Although this does sound a little far-fetched, even for me.
Which leaves us with Option 3: I’m a superhero. Perhaps I was bitten by a cow some time in infancy, and now I know subconsciously when milk reserves are about to run low. Sure, it’s the lamest superpower ever. Clearly, I was at the back of the line when they were handing out the capes and x-ray vision. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pay attention to my mutant-like skills. Perhaps I’m storing up ice cream to get me through some sort of dairy-related apocalypse. A cowpocalypse, if you will. For those of you who subscribe to the 2012 Mayan end-of-the-world nonsense, this would be the time to panic. I’ll wait.
I’d advise everyone to stock up on dairy while they can. It’s possible that the cows are about to rise up against us. It’s too late for the freezer section: I’ve cleaned those shelves out. Sorry about that. But if you can scrape together a little milk and heavy cream, you can make yourself this little gem of a treat which, if I’m going to be mindblowingly honest, might even be better than Cherry Garcia. In fact, you should definitely make it. Goodness only knows if you’ll ever have the chance again.
Cherry Stracciatella Ice Cream
adapted from Closet Cooking
by Kevin Lynch
Stracciatella is the Italian version of Chocolate Chip. Instead of dropping chunks of chocolate into an ice cream at the end of the freezing process, the chocolate is melted and then slowly dribbled into the ice cream maker as it spins. It freezes on contact and is broken up by the movement of the machine. Instead of the hard frozen chunks of chocolate seen in chocolate chip, this results in an ice cream that is finely freckled with crisp bits of chocolate. This recipe alone is well worth the price of an ice-cream maker: it may be the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. And considering the stash in my freezer, that’s saying a lot.
Fresh Sweet Cherries [ pitted and chopped, 1 cup ]
Sugar [ ½ cup ]
Heavy Cream [ 1 cup ]
Whole Milk [ 1 cup ]
Egg Yolks [ 2 ]
Vanilla Extract [ 1 teaspoon ]
Bittersweet Chocolate [ chopped, ½ cup ]
1. In a small pot over Low heat, cook Cherries and Sugar for 10 minutes. Cherries will be firm-tender, and will have given off some juices. Sugar will have dissolved.
2. Set aside.
3. In medium pot, heat Heavy Cream and Milk over Low heat until small bubbles form around edges of pan.
4. Whisking constantly, slowly add 2 tablespoons of Milk Mixture to Egg Yolks.
5. Whisking constantly again, slowly add Egg Yolks into pot of Milk Mixture.
6. Cook over Low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
7. Mix Cherry Mixture and Vanilla Extract into Milk Mixture.
8. Chill mixture thoroughly in refrigerator [this could take several hours].
9. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
10. In a small bowl, melt Bittersweet Chocolate in microwave.
11. Shortly before ice cream is finished freezing, pour melted Chocolate into the ice cream maker in a thin stream.
12. When ice cream is finished, pour it into a lidded bowl and place in freezer for several hours, until completely firm.
[Note: Make sure that you don't wait too long to add the chocolate. My
ice cream set up faster than I expected, and by the time I added in the
melted chocolate, the ice cream was too thick to allow the machine to turn.
I fudged it by pushing the ice cream around with a spoon, but it would have
undoubtedly been more even-textured if I'd added the chocolate earlier.]