July 21, 2011
Imperfect, but Joyful
Here's the thing: I love food. I love creating with food and making something out of scattered ingredients. I love taking inventory of what I have on hand and creating a delicious dinner. I love harvesting new onions and the smell of the soil mixed with their onion scent, mud dripping onto my shirt as I carry them out of the field. Picking basil while its heady scent fills the air, crunching into a cucumber seconds after it has been picked, and transforming milk into tart yogurt.
I love making and sharing food here. This creative process for me is very imperfect, but joyful. Challenging but nourishing in so many ways. Honestly, though I'm not sure what shape it will take, I've realized more and more that growing and creating food is what I hope to make my life's work.
You'll notice that my offering today is a little lopsided. The cardamom ginger ice cream was soft and spreadable when I sandwiched it between two ginger molasses cookies (also it was at least 90 outside and probably 80 in the kitchen, not to mention the humidity). They didn't freeze into the dreamy perfect ice cream sandwiches that I imagined when I thought of making them. They did make for just the right treat on another very hot evening, complete with sticky fingers and dripping ice cream here and there.
Sometimes, I wish I was a perfectionist. When it comes to creating I am never as focused on the perfect result as on the process, messy though it can be. I could hand you an ice cream sandwich and, most likely, you would appreciate the cool sweet gingery cream tucked between the chewy cookie layers. We would enjoy the summer evening and not even notice if it was lopsided or dripping a bit. When it comes to creating something edible, how it tastes is crucial but to taste it on this screen looks matter even more. I can always throw myself into creating without thinking twice, but my skills at executing (and photographing) the best of what I have made often fall short.
I have a strong desire to learn more about cooking and writing and photography (and sewing and farming) which I will work to fulfill. Still, for me, it is always about the process. This seems to take a meandering path, a winding road that doesn't go directly from one point to another and I can't always see what is around the next bend.
For now, we have cardamom ginger ice cream sandwich cookies. I had some frozen ginger molasses cookie dough that needed to be baked and decided that they should be paired with ice cream. I love ginger and a hint of cardamom, so I thought that would be the right match for the cookies. The recipe takes a bit of time, but a few of these in the freezer will make a heatwave a little more bearable.
Ginger Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies
This ginger molasses cookie is perfect for making these ice cream sandwiches (but you can use your favorite recipe, too). The ice cream does not need the cookies, it is great on its own (the cookies are too) but they both go well together. Although I love the simple smooth cardamom ginger ice cream, it would also be really good with some chopped crystallized ginger stirred in (maybe 1/4 cup?).
There are several steps in the process of making the ice cream and the cookies, but you can make and freeze the cookies one day and make the ice cream another day. I like to refrigerate my ice cream bases overnight so they freeze well in my ice cream mixer. Once you have mixed the ice cream, freeze it for a couple of hours but take it out and spread it on the cookies before it gets too hard. Freeze the ice cream sandwiches until the ice cream is solid and then enjoy!
Cardamom Ginger Ice Cream
I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream recipe.
1 cup whole milk
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 cardamom pods
1-2 inch piece of ginger root
2 cups heavy cream
5 egg yolks
Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Grate the ginger root and add it and the cardamom pods to the milk. When the mixture is hot but not close to boiling, remove from heat, cover, and let infuse for one hour (if you are leaving it for longer than an hour, keep cold in the fridge). After the cardamom and ginger have infused the milk, strain out the cardamom pods and grated ginger.
Place a 2 quart bowl into a larger bowl that is filled with water and ice. Place a strainer on top of the bowl and pour in the cream. Whisk the egg yolks together. Rewarm the milk and pour a small amount into the egg yolks, whisking the yolks constantly. Add a little bit more of the milk and continue whisking the yolks. Pour the egg yolks into the saucepan of infused milk and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the eggs from over cooking. When the mixture thickens, remove it from the heat and pour it through the strainer into the bowl of cream. Stir to combine and refrigerate it until you are ready to mix the ice cream according to the instructions on your ice cream maker.