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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Food: Soup and Ice Cream

Really, there's no point in calling it Food Friday when it's darn near Monday. Well, between a VERY busy weekend and a computer which has been relocated to a less accessible spot in the house, I don't get as much log-in, log-on time as I'm accustomed to. More's the pity.

But I haven't forgotten my blog. Heck, I have a whole backlog of things that I keep meaning to say. I'll get to some of them. Eventually.

Okay, so the week's food adventures. First, I wanted something new to do with beets. Only two members of our household (C and yours truly) like beets, so our harvest goes far. I intended to try my hand at making borscht, but on my way to looking up a recipe, I found one for "chilled beet soup" from Rose Eliot's Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. I think the full title is "with dill", but I didn't use the dill. (What? Me...not adapt/revise/reimagine? Don't be silly.)

C was totally on board to help. Here he is showing off his mad skilz with a "real" knife.

It was a big step, and he handled it very well. (And just for the record, despite this pose...he did manage to cut with the sharp side down. LOL)

There's really not much to the recipe. Saute some onions, add stock and chopped cooked beets and boil, then simmer, puree, and chill.

And no, I did not stage a fancy photo with the swirled fresh cream and sprig of something green. We'll all get over it.

The soup is thickened with cooked potato (I subsituted leftover mashed potatoes because I am thrifty that way) but in the final analysis, I would omit the potato altogether and adjust the beet-to-broth ratio. The soup is tasty, but very thin. And I'd prefer it thickened with the actual feature veggie rather than a generic "cream soup" filler.

The other adventure this week was our first attempt at making ice cream. My brother-in-law gave us a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker for Christmas three years ago, and we'd somehow never gotten around to trying it out. I had some surplus milk and a hot day, so we gave it a go.

Let me pause for a moment to tell you about this milk. Hallelujah, I finally found a local source for raw milk. Oh yes. Let that sink in. Raw. Milk. Don't believe me? Check it out.

I've been using it to make yogurt (and wowser is it an improvement over the pasteurized/homogenized stuff) but we're all kind of yogurt-ed out for the moment, so ice cream seemed a worthy use for it.

I have plenty of soapbox reasons for choosing raw milk. Many of them have been far more eloquently stated by Joel Salatin and Mike Adams, so I invite you to check out what they have to say rather than watching me blather on, trying to restate the, uh, wheel. Simply put: it's about health, freedom of choice, and diversity. Yes, I wanted a product free of hormones/antibiotics. And I am a firm believer in patronizing small local producers. But I think what really sparked my curiosity was something my mother said.

When I was breastfeeding my children, she remarked that she felt sorry for them because of all of the garlic I ate. Apparently the flavor comes through in the milk. She grew up in a rural area and the milk source was about as local as the field behind the house. In the spring, when the cow grazed on the sprouting wild garlic, the milk would take on a strong flavor. I've had this niggling thought ever since that conversation that what we drink from the supermarket is so, well, homogenized that it's no longer an authentic experience. I wanted to try milk that tasted like MILK. (Yes, even if that meant garlic milk.) I was about to get an education.

You probably know that cream is skimmed from whole milk. But if you've never seen it, you probably assume (as I did) that "cream" looks like what is sold in those little half-pint cartons. Thick, yes...but with a pourable and smooth consistency. I was surprised and delighted to see this instead.

Argh. The image quality isn't what I had hoped. Let me assure you; there are practically lumps of cream in this milk. The kind which might make an untrained eye think "curdled", but which the tongue registers as Ye gods, this is delicious!


So, back to the ice cream. All of the recipes called for milk AND cream. Again, I am not one to be constrained by the actual recipe. I figured that the whole/raw should at least make up for some of what your typical grocery store milk might be lacking (I mean, look at the lumps!), and we just dove in without that ingredient.

Ice cream machines are insanely easy. There's no ice/salt. Just a pre-chilled bowl, several simple ingredients, and 30 minutes of motorized rotating and ta-da! You have...


No! It's ice cream!

Actually, it was ice milk. There wasn't enough cream to get the consistency right. Okay, I didn't truly believe that there would be...I was just feeling very much like NOT running out to the store to fetch some cream. I admitted it! Are you satisfied?


But how did it taste?

There you go.

Next time, whether I use mass-produced or local milk, I will definitely add the extra cream. Ice milk melts almost instantly at room temperature. But in a pinch, I may use the shortcut again...and serve it as milkshakes instead.

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