17 August 2021

I Scream

I'm one who always encourages others to make lemonade when life dishes up a bowl of lemons.

I wonder how lemon ice cream would taste...

I got this bright idea last spring, when it first started getting really hot really early, to order an ice cream maker so I could make homemade (and therefor healthy with no added sugar) ice cream. I even thought it might be a great way to serve Lizard his daily teaspoon of mannitol once in a while. (Even though mannitol is a sweetener, we have not experienced weight gain from using it to help treat some of the symptoms of his Parkinson's. Lizard had been unable to smell for up to 15 years before we met; within a few months of ingesting a daily teaspoon of mannitol, he could smell popcorn. He now can smell at least 16 different things, including a few flowers, coffee and Italian spices.)

I didn't have the money to order the Amazon Basics ice cream maker at the time. I picked this particular model because of the price, but also because it makes the perfect amount of ice cream for two people. Two hungry people...

Two months later, at the beginning of summer with even more unseasonably hot temperatures, I had saved the required funds, but the price had doubled! So I waited. And waited. And waited.

Now that school's back in session (although the temperature is still very, very hot for Colorado), the price of the ice cream maker has dropped back down. I ordered one. (And no, I do not get paid for writing about anything on my blog. Ever.)

I was SO excited to make our first batch of homemade ice cream, I unpacked the machine, washed everything, put the bowl in the freezer as directed in the instructions, and mixed up a cup of whole milk from our local dairy, a cup of homemade almond milk, a cup of plain unsweetened yogurt, a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, a teaspoon of almond extract, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a quarter cup of dark agave syrup in a large glass measuring cup. I whipped the mixture, then covered the measuring cup and placed it in the fridge to chill.

The next day, I excitedly began assembling the ice cream maker. But the mixing paddle didn't fit! No matter what I did, the attachment would not fit. I remembered it had been packaged separately from the actual mixer and stuffed between the box the mixer came in and the box in which the unit was shipped. I did an online chat with an Amazon customer service rep and learned a new mixing paddle could not be shipped separately. I'd have to return the entire unit and wait for the replacement to arrive.

I played and played and played with the third printer I bought last year (the first two printers each died within a month of purchase, and the third one feeds when it feels like it, which isn't often) to be able to work from home until I finally got two printed sheets - the return label and the bar code I'd need to stick inside the ice cream maker package. I packed up the mixer, inserted the bar code, closed and taped the box, taped the return label in place, then took the box to my local post office outpost during my lunch hour, only to learn I'd have to take it to a UPS outlet. Duh.

I cut my lunch hour short so I could leave half an hour early to find the closest UPS office before it closed at 5. Once that was done, I felt like we had earned homemade ice cream. With calories!!! (Just teasing about the calories...)

I didn't know if my little batch of ice cream mix (or I guess, ice milk mix, being as it didn't actually contain any cream) would last until the new ice cream maker arrived, so I decided to try making ice cream (or, well, frozen yogurt) really homemade, the old-shioned way, by freezing and manually stirring every half hour or so. I used a mug-sized wire whip I'd received in a secret Santa gift exchange nearly two dozen years ago. And it worked just fine, as did the manual whisk process.

We watched My Spy (which is a super cute movie, by the way!!!) while we enjoyed our first batch of homemade ice cream. I didn't snap a photo of the finished product, so I had to make another batch later on just to illustrate how well my little bowl of lemonade-like attitude worked. Both initial pints of homemade ice cream were thoroughly enjoyed by both of us! (And so was the substitute photo batch!)

The day after we finished off that first batch, our new little ice cream maker arrived. The mixing paddle for this baby arrived inside the ice cream maker box, a very good sign. I assembled the unit before washing it this time to make sure everything fit. I even plugged it in and tested it to make sure it actually worked, and then washed everything. I put the bowl in the freezer and drooled until the next day, when I'd be able to try, try again...

After the bowl had been in the freezer overnight, I put cherries, strawberries, raspberries and a banana in the blender. I added a cup of plain yogurt and a cup of homemade almond milk. I blended until the mixture looked like a fruit smoothie. I pulled the bowl out of the freezer and once again assembled the ice cream maker. I poured in the smoothie mix and turned on the ice cream maker.

The paddle was frozen in place! I tried scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic knife, but the mixture was becoming so thick so fast, rescue was not an option. I used a big plastic spoon to stir the berry mixture, continually scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, until it reached the consistency we like. I then spooned half of what I could get out (because it was still solidifying at break-neck speed!!!) into a clean plastic ice cream container we had saved specifically for this purpose, then mixed a teaspoon of mannitol into the second half as best I could (since the mixture was now thicker than store-bought ice cream) and dug as much out of the bowl as I could, putting it into another clean plastic ice cream container.

Here's a helpful tip: Don't spend money on a freezer storage container. Just buy your favorite flavor of Talenti (or any ice cream/sorbet/gelato that comes in a reusable container) and enjoy, then reuse!

Both containers of berry banana sorbet went into the freezer (although I probably could have kept them out on the porch in 90-plus temperatures to soften them enough to actually eat them) until after lunch.

A full hour later, the frozen sorbet remaining on the sides and bottom of the ice cream maker bowl were still thoroughly frozen but perfect to eat, as long as we were willing to put the physical effort into scraping it out of the bowl. Our second batch of homemade ice cream was as awesome as the first, and I'm anxious to give the little maker another try.

I had read many reviews prior to purchasing the little ice cream maker, so I knew whatever I put into it could freeze up quickly. I didn't realize I should have the unit running as I pour in the fruit smoothie, so I learned a big lesson for batch number three.

By this time, I had burned more than enough calories to justify what we both were secretly craving. Fresh Palisade peaches can wait. Death By Chocolate is in order. Spare no ingredients! Make this stuff rich and delicious!!!

I'm very happy to report I love this little mixer. I LOVE homemade healthy ice cream. (Or ice milk, ice almond milk, frozen yogurt, sorbet, whatever!) I love being able to treat Lizard to something healthy he loves when the weather is so frigging hot. I love to make him smile, and he loves that he can eat ice cream without guilt. Fraction of the cost, too, really.

Modifications were necessary, such as turning on the unit before pouring a mixture into it, and it can be a chore to remove every last frozen crystal. But the stuff I make tastes so good, it's worth it. Plus, I'm hopefully getting rid of some arm flab in the process!!!

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