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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream - Grandma Boos Style...

Many years ago. Many, many years ago. My sister Danette and I returned to Edmonton from Vancouver during summer vacation to visit our 4 grandparents (maternal and paternal) and in doing so we stayed with Grandma Boos (you all remember her baked beans don't you?) and took in all the sights and sounds that were a part of that house on Calder's 115th street. When language turned blue, a good donnybrook broke out, Wisers was poured and cards were tossed in the blood sport called cribbage a good time was had my some, not all, but some, and the Sunday afternoon gathering was underway.

It was prior to the starting of the usual Sunday afternoon gathering that Grandma suggested making some homemade ice cream and my sister and I wholeheartedly agreed with her.

After gaining our acceptance she headed to the kitchen to begin the process that is, making ice cream, and with the clanging of pots, a smoking of a few cigarettes, a lot of off-key humming and perhaps a gallon of coffee she took on the task with 2 little miscreants cheering her on in anticipation of some sweet, smooth, cold scoops of joy.

Finally after what seemed like forever she announced the ice cream is ready to churn.

"Churn?  What is this churn you speak of old woman?" my inside voice asked.

The next thing we see is a galvanized bucket with a handle attached placed on the table and Grandma shaking some ice cubes into it, then she placed handfuls of salt onto the ice cubes. We were mystified. Salt in ice cream? Who'd a thunk?

Once the salt was delivered into the bucket she poured the liquid she had been working with on the stove into another bucket also inside the contraption, flipped down a hinged lid and then looked at me and my sister and said, "You'll have to take turns cranking the handle" and then proceed to give us a demonstration of what cranking the handle looked like.

Once we had our demonstration I took the handle in hand and began to crank, and crank, and crank, and crank, in fact I cranked until my arm seized up and then it was Danette's turn. She cranked and cranked and cranked until she was worn out at which point it became my turn again. And cranking I did.

The cranking continued for a bit longer at which point I yelled out to Grandma, "it's ready" and she replied, "NO it's not, keep cranking!!"

 I can't remember if it was Danette that started whining first or if it was me, nor can I remember who started crying first, but crying was part of the cranking too and it complemented the whining perfectly. Between the whining and crying however, the cranking continued and after 229 hours, or so it seemed, Grandma came in to check on us, took a look in the bucket and declared, "It's ready!".

The handle was removed, the inner bucket removed from the outer bucket, and finally a spoon went into the inner bucket and scooped out two bowls of wonderfully, gloriously delicious, cold and creamy vanilla ice cream. It was a definitive life moment for me.

The taste of that wonderful home ice cream stuck with me all my life, as did the memories of the cranking, the muscle cramps, the crying and whining, but mostly the cranking, and I vowed I would NEVER do that again, but I did find another way to enjoy homemade ice cream years later that did not involved cranking, or whining, or crying but tasted just as glorious. It follows below. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup white sugar
2 cups Whipping cream
¼ tsp salt
1 vanilla bean

4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place a 3-quart sauce pan over medium/low heat -  add sugar, heavy cream, milk and salt and heat, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a near boil, then remove from heat.

Split the vanilla bean, press open the scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean.

Add the seeds to the hot cream mixture along with the bean pod. Stir well, then let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove bean pod once the time has elapsed.
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

Remove 1 cup of cream mixture from pot and slowly drizzle into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly as you do (this is called tempering the egg yolks).

When completed, slowly pour the tempered egg/cream mixture back into the remaining cream mixture in the saucepan, whisking constantly.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until the mixture thickens (180? F). If a spoon is placed into the mixture (now a custard) and then removed, run your finger across the back of the spoon and the line it makes in the custard should not run.

Pour the finished mixture through a fine-mesh colander placed over a medium size bowl.

Stir in the vanilla extract, then place the bowl in an ice bath until the mixture is cool. Ensure no water gets into the cooling custard.

Pour cooled mixture into a container and cover with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely chilled, 4 hours or overnight.

When custard is completely chilled freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. However, regardless of your machine, the volume of finished product should be at least 20% larger than when you poured the custard into the ice cream maker to indicate it is ready (see bottom picture below).

Place ice cream into the freezer for an hour or longer to have it tighten up. Most home use machines complete it to a very soft serve consistency and it needs a bit more freeze before serving.

Eat it as is or serve with whatever you like; berries, chocolate syrup or my favourite - hot fudge sauce (see recipe in the next posting).

No whining or crying!!!!!

Snowy Palms Resort

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