By Jill Greenwood
Summer . . . I fall firmly in the camp of “Please, dear lord, deliver me from this heat and this humidity and please let that be sweat dripping down my ass and not an ant” as far as this season is concerned. Pretty sure that I’m one of a very select group of teachers who don’t particularly care for this season. Trust me, I’ve thought over the merits of the sun shining, but I’m convinced that my family’s genes long ago beat any kind of sun worshipping firmly out of our people. Don’t get me wrong. Plop my ass down on a beach chair in say the Bahamas, and I’ll not move for hours . . . provided that I have a) shade, b) a gentle breeze, and c) someone willing to schlep me a few drinky poos. But overall, I could take or leave summer except for one thing: ice cream.
Yes, I know you can get it year round. And, yes, I know that Ben and Jerry’s does a fine job of keeping me in the good stuff. Hell, even Graeter’s is now selling down the street from my house. But come summer, I break out my ice cream maker and make it myself with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream At Home. Which is really odd because to make the kind I love, you have to boil the milk and stir it for about four minutes. And I don’t have air conditioning of any kind. Not central air. Not window units. Not anything. So, imagine someone prone to turning red at the mere thought of the temperature going north of 75 degrees, standing in a kitchen that’s about 85 degrees, carefully stirring and whisking a pot of boiling milk. All you’re missing in this visual is the hair net to keep my shaggy bangs out of my eyes. And why don’t I need it, you might be asking? Because I’m sweating my fucking ass off and my damn hair is plastered to the sides of my cheeks, that’s why.
But we’re not done on this ice cream adventure . . . oh, no . . . not by a long shot. Next, I have to whisk the boiled milk into the cream cheese mixture (seriously, you should just buy the damn cook book; it’s genius) and then transfer it to a gallon Ziploc and let it cool for a half hour. Most sane people would take the time to sit down, sip some iced tea (or whiskey), put their feet up. But I figure, I’m already hot and sweaty and disgusting that I may as well vacuum the carpet or some ridiculous shit like that. So after it cools down – the ice cream mixture, not me (clearly) – I can have a tasty treat, right? No. Not unless you like slightly thickened milk with a little bit of flavor. Spin that baby in the actual ice cream maker for about 30 minutes. Which means I can take a shower. Again, that sanity issue creeps up, so it’s over to the sink to do those dishes (and if I don’t have air conditioning, it’s a safe bet I don’t have a dish washer; when you buy a house built when Woodrow Wilson was President, you buy it for charm . . . like a dumb ass).
When those 30 minutes are up, and you’re looking down as a mass of *almost* ice cream, it can get you a little emotional. No longer are you seeing a baggie full of nearly curdled milk. It’s gone beyond the chilled, thickened milk phase. You have bona fide ice cream . . . if you’re willing to wait about four more hours. Because right now, after the 30 minutes of spinning and churning, it’s not quite ice cream. So lick your fingers since getting the ice cream packed into a container is messy work and take a shower because you’ve sweat enough for most people in the tri-state area and put your feet up. Dream of taking that first bite. Practice your scooping technique. Figure out when you can make another batch (because the cookbook is chock full of favorites). And get ready to scream.
Why don’t I make ice cream in the fall when the temperature dips to a more acceptable level? I have no clue. There’s no good reason, at least not one that makes sense. Do you have any treats that defy rationality? Anything that you could buy much, much cheaper at the store, but for some reason, it’s worth it to sweat like a whore in church and make it? I’d love to know that there are other sanity-challenged people out there. So . . . dish it. What’s your “must have” treat of the summer?
*If you’re celebrating Independence Day, happy 4th, y’all! I’ll be the idiot at the fireworks with her fingers jammed so far in her ears that her brain will start to tingle. Hate. Loud. Noises.