It feels so good to say that.
Thank you for your immensely kind comments last week, friends, and for waiting patiently while I plowed through a few deadlines. It’s always so nice to come back to this space after a little while away. It is also very nice, I hear, to sit on the couch with a good book and drink a beer. I hope I still remember how to do that. I also hope to clean the baseboards around our apartment sometime soon, because you would not believe how much dust those things can accumulate. Or maybe you would? Seriously. They’re like little tiny shelves – Barbie™-sized, almost – only instead of holding useful objects like tiny plates or tiny books, they hold tiny dirt.
Wow. It really is good to be back.
Now, I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but my birthday took place recently, in the midst of all the hullabaloo. It was a week ago yesterday, and it was my thirtieth. I’m not sure how that could possibly be, but seeing as my birth certificate says 1978, I’ve decided to go with it. Anyway, I don’t really mind the thought of entering another decade. A number of people have told me that their thirties were a very peaceful time, mellow and forgiving, and I like the sound of that. I’m ready. I also think that my thirties might be the time for a pair of red heels. My grandmother loves red shoes – she says they go with everything – and I do have her genes, after all.
But what I really wanted to tell you about was what we ate that night, last Sunday night, the night of my birthday. The refrigerator was almost empty, so we decided to go to Cafe Lago. It was late when we got there, and the kitchen was closing, but we managed to grab an order of ravioli and a serving of lasagna, along with a glass of prosecco for me and a beer for Brandon. Our friend Carla was working that night, and she kept us company while we ate. But when our plates were cleared, she sneaked away – she’s very sneaky, that Carla – and a few minutes later, she emerged from the kitchen with a wide, flat bowl. Inside it were two halves of a grilled peach, topped with a scoop of honey ice cream.
Needless to say, we did not protest. We picked up our spoons and dug in. The peaches were warm and tender, having been cooked over apple wood until their juices went thick and sticky. They were lovely, perfectly late-summer, but in truth, the ice cream was even better. Sitting atop the fruit, it was melting quickly, forming a milky puddle at the bottom of the bowl, so we spooned it up like soup. Then we scraped the bowl. Even soft and half-melted, the ice cream was superlative: silky and delicate and surreally light, and faintly floral from the honey. I asked Carla how she had made it, and she smiled a little sheepishly. The recipe came from Alice Medrich, she said, and it was ridiculously easy. You just scald some milk, let it cool, stir in honey and salt and cream, and freeze it in an ice cream machine. Ba daa! The end. Happy birthday to me.
I made some yesterday, just to be sure that it really was that simple, and of course, it was. Which is why I am telling you about it today. So hurry up! Go make some. And while you’re at it, maybe grill a few peaches to go alongside? Or make a plum crisp? Or how about a cornmeal cake? Or no, wait, how about this: bake a batch of ginger cookies – the soft, chewy kind with a crinkly top – and turn them into ice cream sandwiches. I might even do that myself, come to think of it, if the couch doesn’t claim me first.
Honey Ice Cream
Adapted from Pure Dessert, by Alice Medrich
The original version of this ice cream calls for ½ cup honey, but I found that to be a bit too intense and sweet. I think, however, that it’s mainly a question of what type of honey you use. I used blackberry honey, which has a fairly strong flavor. If I had used something more dainty and mild, I think the result would have been more balanced. So, that said, I guess I would recommend starting with a bit less honey, no matter what type you use. Then taste and adjust to your liking.
½ cup whole milk
1/3 to ½ cup honey (see note above)
Slightly rounded 1/8 tsp. salt
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer gently around the edges. Pour it into a medium bowl, and allow to cool completely. (This will prevent curdling when the honey is added.) Add the honey and salt, and stir well to dissolve the honey. Stir in the cream. Taste, and adjust the amount of honey as needed. Cover and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream maker. Then, before serving, store the ice cream in the freezer until hard enough to scoop, at least 3 to 4 hours.
Yield: about 1 quart