I boinged out of bed in the pitch dark today... well okay, it wasn't exactly a "textbook" BOING like say, this
(©Lori Anderson) (airborn dad & me upon first glance down the "aisle" on wedding day)
And I suppose it wasn't quite like this either
(©Dana Jinkins) (Note champagne nonchalantly standing by in lower right corner...)
Anyway, I was up and very awake well before dawn with my "milker guy" (his self-coined title as of 9:07 last night when he was all tucked up in bed, informing me that really, contrary to my giggling wonderment, 9 was a perfectly suitable bedtime for "milker-guys" like him...he is just trying to milk these last few days of "winter" because when real summer strikes we don't even think about coming in for dinner until 9 when it is beginning to get dark!)
Milker guy had other living things to attend to today
So ole twinkle eyes made his way out the door, chuckling at me as usual. As for me, other than the fact that my hip is in questionable form after some surprise pre-dawn Chuck Norris-esque roundhousing (in my case the result of a fit of unpredicted excitement rather than defense of the universe) which took place well before the copious dose of espresso that I am now flying on, March has been astonishingly majestic
Pictures speak louder than words.
I will presume the above home-cured maple & sage bacon on a backdrop of sprouting ARTICHOKES, cilantro and Etc., lures you into accordance with aforementioned buoyant antithesis of peaceful slumber.
Contrary to my (hero) milker guy, visions of fresh, delicious, hard-earned, organic latte (... or more accurately his responsibility to do his part of the chores over the hill at the family dairy farm) were not actually what levitated me out of dreamland at an ungodly hour.
Maybe it was knowing that there are finally two prosciuttos evolving in the basement (a personal dream of mine)
Maybe it was guessing that, with a forecast of 78, Popsicle Season 2012 may well begin today.....! (and managing to relish in that joy without it being overshadowed by the sheer terror of the implications of climate change... for a minute anway...)
(Fresh garden strawberry and non-garden mango-yogurt-ginger popsicles, Popsicle season opening day, June 2011)
Or the existence of other Spring things
such as the arugula forest thriving in the greenhouse
Delectable overwintered parsnips... The ground is unfrozen to the depth of at least 1ft in one of the gardens... as I didn't even have to pull out the Hercules card to dig these beautes on Saturday...
The baby onions and leeks are literally growing faster than the weeds
(It is so cool how they sprout up––like they are touching their toes––then they straighten up from the "waist" and stand tall...does that make sense?)
But really, it was probably The List. No matter how efficient I think I am metamorphosing to be, my list of to-do's grows exponentially each day. I suffer from a (beneficial in some cases) parasite by the name of chronic ambition. And another by the name of NO PATIENCE.
AND then there is the maple gelato that I made the other day, that was and is burning a hole in my mind... the deep, tree-y, sweet, smooth, outrageous-tasting dessert, all perfect in its little jar with a hinge top and spicy glazed sage-y pecan garnish...
That is what dreams are made of.
And dreams, of course, would not have been possible without milker guy and the milk that he brought home with the three inches of cream on top. You might be wondering why I didn't just go with milker guy to help harvest my key ingredient...
(other than the fact that I have about 8 actual jobs including such pressing tasks at the top of said list as editing a couple of books ((not my own)), planning a wedding ((not mine, obviously), figuring out how to come up with the "match" part of the matching grant that we just became the lucky recipient of, not to mention frantically ordering the fruit trees and wondering if I shouldn't plant things in the garden two months early... what if winter comes in August this year!?!?...etc., etc., etc.
Well, because I did just that, twice; tried milking. Rest assured that I do understand, in detail, where the milk comes from... Due to the multifaceted capacity of the white elixir in the realm of culinary magic... and the fact that I just like to try things, and the fact that for someone (me) who would rather eat gelato (& regular old ice cream in some cases) than anything else, with cheese being right up in the top 5 most adored consumables, I thought it was ridiculous (especially being the wife of "milker guy" who grew up on a dairy farm, and being from* a state who boasts more cows than people ((which is rumored not to be true anymore)) not to have even tried milking a cow in my 28 (at-the-time) years of age...
So once upon a time I did go with him.
... As evidenced by this vintage photo of my dashing saucy. emblazoned coverall-sporting milker guy.
I, did find out however, that I am not a milker gal.
I also found out that I believe everyone who enjoys dairy products should try milking cows.
And, I think that milk should be a lot more expensive. And I have 0 patience for animals, zero. Oh yeah, sure, baby animals are cute. But notice how SMALL they are... think about their brain size...
...I also am one of those people who recommends trying things, even if you have a preconceived notion of what it will be like, well, especially if you have one of those.
And no, don't get any ideas, I don't mean try everything ie: do not try out things like lying or drugs, or Blue mountain Dew but DO try things like milking cows and combining unexpected flavors and tasting things that sound really strange and throwing hay bales and smiling a lot and being thankful and learning from every experience and quitting a habit like TV or cigarettes and putting all the $ and time you save into a piggy bank and using it to go on a cool adventure
Ok, you're right, we've never had a television habit (or a television actually) nor a cig habit, well, except for one night
We had it all and more that night. Even a camoflauge PBR holster. Check out those nails; my sister and I split a packet of them.
It took us 3 days to get out of character after that NYE party... (and to get those nails off) habits are apparently hard to kick.
How did I get from MILK to Virginia Slim menthol light extra lengthy-you've-come-a-long-way-baby-120's?
No matter how little I used to appreciate milk, after tasting that slim, I can think of only a few items with a more heinous flavor. From where is menthol derived?
Not that I condone addictions, but if you are going to have a fetish for a dessert item, the following one is actually quite healthy for a sweetie... and definitely worth a taste AND I know you can make it, even if your kitchen track record is less than stellar, you can do it, go on, give it a try. It is quick, simple, and amazing.
(*And, oh, the only thing that might make this MORE delicious, is the addition of a bacon topping... which we will cover in the next post... all sorts of interesting hog-related antics.)
Majestic March Maple Gelato
1 cup maple syrup (as dark as you can find... I roll with grade C or at least B for that Fiiiine powerful unmistakably maple flavor)
2 cups milk (ideally whole, raw, organic––trust me there is a HUGE difference in flavor and nutrition)
2 cups cream (see above recommendations)
generous pinch good sea salt (I like sel gris)
4 egg yolks (preferably organic & pastured)
I have made this with varying ratios in the milk and cream dept. and it has been wildly successful each time. If you change the ratio to 3 cups milk : 1 cup cream, you will have a slightly icier texture, especially if there is any left that you end up storing in the freezer (doubtful). If you go with 3 cups cream and one cup milk, you will have a denser, creamier texture. All ratios are delicious. I think all gelato is better when it is freshly churned and soft and billowy.... I don't understand why most recipes tell you to freeze it for awhile before eating, which is impossible with this one anyway, it is way too delicious; I recommend starting the churning right after dinner and voila' 20 mins later you will be ecstatic. Oh, AND contrary to popular belief, gelato is so simple to make. If you curdle the yolks by accident, just bust out the immersion blender and buzzBuzz the mixture for two seconds and it will be back to smooth.
1) Pour 1 c. maple syrup into a small saucepan and heat over medium at a simmer for about 5-7 mins, until it reduces slightly. Add the 2 c. milk and 2 c. cream to the pan and continue heating over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 7 mins. Remove from the heat.
2) Separate your 4 eggs and place the whites in a jar in the fridge for later use... (Im thinking meringue for a springy key-lime tart...) Place the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium-size bowl if you have a hand-held beaters.
3) 4) Beat the 4 egg yolks with the whisk attachment (or by hand) until they are light yellow and frothy. Very gradually pour your hot milk into the yolk mixture while the machine is running.
5) Pour the whole shibang back into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 mins). If you over do it and the eggs scramble, as I said above, just buzz with the immersion blender for about 2 seconds until it is a uniform liquid again.
6) Chill for a long time... if you are short on time start it in the freezer for the initial cool-down and then move to the fridge before ice crystals start to form. You want it to be cold before you put it in the ice cream maker.
7) Retrieve cold custard from refrigerator (it won't be really thick like an American idea of custard) and pour into your ice cream machine. I have the one that attaches to the kitchenaid. I turn it on and pour in the mixture while it is running or else it will freeze up! (Or follow the directions for your machine).
While it is churning, make these simple and amazing nuts. I would recommend quadrupling the recipe and using them for a snack, as a cheeseboard accoutrement...
Spicy, Sweet, Sage-y Party Pecans (can use walnuts and or rosemary here!)
2 cups pecans or walnuts (or any mix of nuts!)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp (or more to taste) minced fresh sage or rosemary or a combination
Drizzle of maple syrup (approx. 1/8 cup)
1) Preheat oven to 375. Rub a baking sheet with butter if you don't want it to be caked with maple syrup crystallization.
2) Place ingredients in a dish, drizzle with maple syrup, spread evenly on the sheet.
3) Bake for approximately 10 minutes; do not walk away like I always do or else you will have black nuts and have to start over...
4) Watch them like a hawk, they are ready when they begin to smell delicious. Remove from oven and cool.
5) Scoop ice cream into dishes and top with nuts. Swoon.