Fun Fact #1: July is National Ice Cream Month.
Fun Fact #2: Indiana is the #2 producer of regular and low fat ice creams in the Nation.
Fun Fact #3: I love making (… and eating) ice cream.
Adam and I received an ice cream maker for our wedding from my cousin. It wasn’t on the registry and it was one of those small appliances I wondered if I would ever use. My mom made ice cream from time to time growing up but, I had never given it a try. I was entertaining taking it back, but something told me just to open the box and take a look at it.
Thank goodness I did.
I now joke that ice cream brought me to life.
… But, there is a little truth to this.
The summer after Adam and I got married there were changes with my role across the nation and because I was not in the position to move, I had to walk away from the company. And work all together.
Jobs in my field and skill-set were nonexistent within an hour drive from our country home, so I was, >gulp< unemployed.
A word I never thought I would be. I graduated on Deans List. I had worked one job, if not two, since I was fifteen. Every day was hard.
You may be thinking, “Are you kidding? No work? Sounds wonderful.”
And it was for… oh, about five days.
I could only apply for jobs so much without going crazy. I had no schedule. No need to get out of gym shorts. No need to turn off The Kardashian’s, even though I had already seen the episode four times. All of my friends were at least an hour away and, weird, at work. Like I should have been. I was pretty pathetic. I even remember one –bad– day wondering if I would ever work again.
Then you realize you have spent a whole day and have not said one word aloud. Then you snap.
And then, I opened the ice cream maker.
It wasn’t the kind with ice and a hand crank that I remembered from childhood. It was sleek and ran electronically. And there were recipes in the manual. A recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream; Adam’s all-time favorite. I had to make it. (Side note: Who was the genius who put chocolate and peanut butter together? I mean, seriously. Genius.)
I beamed to my mom on the phone about how easy and fun it was to make and how great it turned out. She must have beamed to her girlfriends about how wonderfully domesticated I was becoming (God knows she wasn’t talking about how great I was at my job…) because a couple weeks later I received a late wedding gift from one of her friends who lived in the neighborhood. It was the, then very brand new, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home Cookbook and a check with “For lots and lots of heavy cream!” in the memo.
Jeni’s Ice Cream originated in my hometown of Columbus. She is now very well known for her unique flavors and fresh ingredients, but when she was just starting out years ago she had one shop (She now has multiple and is expanding like crazy out of Ohio) near my uncle’s house.
He was a bachelor until he married a wonderful woman from England in 2008 and he would often take my little sister and me on “dates.” They were to neat places and are all so memorable. One time we wanted to try sushi, so he took us to his favorite sushi restaurant and ordered a BOAT of sushi for the three of us just so we could try a lot of different rolls. There were also dates to a trendy stone oven pizza place and even fancy steak houses. But one thing was always the same: the night ended with ice cream at Jeni’s.
Jeni’s is a far cry from the typical vanilla. She uses crazy spices like lavender and cayenne. Sounds nuts, I know. But, it’s wonderful! As far as I know, Jeni’s was the first to create the flavor “Salty Carmel.” It was at Jeni’s that I learned I loved bourbon, even though I was well below the drinking age, with her bourbon butter pecan. The warmness of the bourbon mixed with the creamy ice cream and salty nuts. Divine.
The cookbook is beautiful. Playful, rustic photos adorn the colorful pages. The recipes vary in difficulty. I will be honest; the ice creams can be difficult for novice cooks. I made the Salty Carmel ice cream when I got the book and was challenged. I felt like I had fifty things going on. My kitchen was MESS when it was all said and done. But, it was good, so I will still consider it a win.
The sorbets are much simpler. I made her Watermelon and Lemonade Sorbet last summer and the hardest thing about it was cutting the watermelon.
A few days ago, Jeni’s Twitter account began posting about the “Backyard Mint” flavor. Different tweets mentions how it “Has returned!” and that the ice cream in her stores is made with “fresh-picked organic peppermint from Jorgenson Farms.” (Jorgenson Farm’s is just outside Columbus.)
This got me thinking. I have fresh, organic peppermint in my backyard. And I was yet to use my ice cream maker this summer. Perhaps I should give it a try?
Sure enough, it was in the cookbook so I made plans to get it going after work yesterday.
I will list my take away’s from this creation, but I am not going to list the recipe because:
1. I feel like I am friends with Jeni after eating at her store for nearly a decade and before she made it big. It feels wrong to do it without her permission.
2. I am new to the blogging world and I am not real-life friends with Jeni. I am not sure what copyright laws are out there.
And, 3. You should probably just go buy the book. You won’t regret it.
The process of making the ice cream was pretty easy. I loved tearing into my fresh mint leaves before adding them to the sugar cream mixture. They smelled so strong and vibrant.
The mint needed to steep in the finished cream for at least four hours. I kept mine in the fridge for about six.
Before bed last night, I strained the mint leaves out, put the flavorful cream into the frozen ice cream bowl and let the machine spin for about fifteen minutes. Then the mixture looked like ice cream and was pulling from the sides of the bowl.
I slopped the finished product into a container and let it freeze until after dinner tonight.
As Adam and I split the bowl, we both commented on how rich and creamy it was. We loved the light, freshness of the mint.
I asked him what he thought a good mix in might be for next time. To get ideas going, I said, “Peppermint Patties.” Adam chimed in with “Oreos.” Then, after taking a bite and thinking for a while, it came to me. “Thin Mints.”
Adams face lit up.