Ice cream’s glorious month

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July was the National Ice Month and, of course, not in India. But I have realised that I often live in other countries, through food blogs, to participate in their blogging and cooking events.

Wanting to participate in this month’s ice-cream making fun and with no ice-cream maker and just a vague notion of how often to whip up the ice cream, I decided to venture into an area I hadn’t earlier thought about. I try hard to say fearlessly but it’s taken me almost a month to post about my crunchy ice cream.

Why are we so afraid of failures? So hesitant to try again? Conditioning? Something deeper? What is so wrong to get some stuff wrong? Or get all stuff wrong?

Ok. I had not seen that coming.

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My first foray into ice cream had to plain, good old vanilla. A term depicting simple, unvarnished and clear. Often used in conjunction with simple financial products without any frills, it does no justice to the true flavour.

Vanilla, in ice cream, was always picked last. It was always bought to augment something else – fresh fruit, fruit salad, chocolate sauce, cakes, cookies and even muesli. But just a plain bowl of vanilla ice-cream, to me, wasn’t even dessert.

So I found it strange that I was hung up on making vanilla ice-cream. In India, you get some strange synthetic liquid called vanilla essence. While it does smell of the real thing, it’s not dark, dreamy extract I was dreaming about. My mind tussled with my vanity.

Make vanilla, said my vanity. The first attempt should be a basic flavour. Should be a flavour you can improve and better with other finer nuances.

Forget about it, my mind piped in. See that tiny bottle in the chill tray? That’s what will go in your vanilla ice-cream. Do you truly want to waste all that effort and all those egg yolks on thaaat?

Only I know how sneaky I can be and when I could certainly could not afford it, I went ahead and sneaked in a purchase of 3 vanilla beans. The real deal and Indian to boot! Expensive it certainly was  but now my mind agreed with my vanity and gave me the permission to make the vanilla ice cream.

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Despite hanging out at David Leiboiwtz’s often and lusting after his book, I still picked a not-as-rich recipe for my first time.

It was simple: there was sheer delight in separating eggs as was in making the custard base. I loved those leeetle black flecks and in that excitement completely forgot to add the essence. But it was not missed.

I cooled the custard, added the cream and put it in a box to freeze. Took it out of the freezer a couple of times and whipped air into it.

But the next day morning as I eagerly opened the freezer, I saw icicles before I saw the ice-cream. I was so completely heart-broken. I wanted to throw the box into the sink and lash out at the fridge. But I resisted. All day I stayed in a funk. Then, I called an aunt who is also a veteran ice-cream maker. And promptly discovered my mistake. Air tight box, woman, not some wimpy plastic replacement you used to freeze the ice cream.

The sense of failure faded. I even tasted it. Delicious, creamy and a trifle sweeter than I would like. But hey, I made ice-cream. It didn’t even matter that folks at home preferred synthetic brands to my glorious, egg-based,vanilla-flecked ice cream.

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