My mom gave me an ice cream maker a little while ago, and the other day I finally got to try it out. Someone else had given me this cigar-shaped tube filled with a few actual vanilla beans from Madagascar. I’ve heard they’re pretty hard to come by, although I’ve never actually looked that up or anything, so I’m just assuming, yes, very rare, very special.
I got too excited though, that’s my only possible explanation as to why it didn’t work out like I had imagined. The recipe called for only fresh ingredients, egg yolks, cream, sugar, and it was cool to split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out all of the tiny little beads. And then I actually had to cook it, which, I mean it’s ice cream, I didn’t anticipate having to cook anything.
I started this whole project at like nine in the evening, assuming that I’d be eating ice cream in no time. But after I let everything cook and thicken, I reread the recipe, it said that I had to let the whole mixture cool completely until I ran it through the machine. This always happens. Regardless of whether I’m cooking or assembling furniture, whenever I read directions for anything, I’ll always try my best to pay close attention to what I’m being instructed to do. But I always miss at least one or two steps, every time. It’ll be like, mix all of this stuff together, and then I’ll do it, and then I’ll look back at the recipe and it’ll all of the sudden have said, first mix these two ingredients separately, and then mix everything together, and so everything winds up clumpy.
I waited as long as I could, about an hour or so, but I really wanted this cream to be ice cream. The ice cream maker came with this sleeve that I had to let freeze completely in the freezer for over twenty-four hours. That was like a whole day that I had to try my best to put it out of my mind, the rare vanilla, all of that heavy cream and half and half I bought specifically for the ice cream.
After that hour or so, well, it was almost an hour, it was definitely fifty minutes at least, I stuck my finger in the cream mixture. It wasn’t hot, not even warm really. Could it have been colder? In retrospect, sure, that should have been something to think about, because yes, it definitely could have been colder.
I put everything in the ice cream machine and set it to spin. While I sat down and tried to watch TV, something to keep my mind off of the twenty to thirty longest minutes in my life that I’d have to endure trying my best to wait patiently for what the recipe assured me would be some of the best ice cream I’ll ever eat in my life, I thought about future ice cream plans, that after I’d mastered vanilla, I could go on to experiment with all sorts of flavors, like maybe a bacon ice cream.
But twenty minutes passed and this stuff was still clearly liquid. So I waited another ten minutes, but it hadn’t thickened at all really. I removed myself from the kitchen for another hour, and when I got back, not only had this stuff not turned into ice cream, but the frozen sleeve was starting to melt, I could tell that the entire apparatus was getting warmer by the minute. So I just poured it all into a container and hoped something magical would happen inside the freezer.
I could barely sleep that night, I kept having these half-awake dreams where my homemade ice cream was winning all sorts of international home-cooking awards, like “World’s Great Ice Cream,” stuff like that. When I woke up the next morning, I rushed straight for the freezer and opened up the container.
And it wasn’t really ice cream. I mean, it was frozen, yes. But it lacked that ice cream consistency. That night I came home from work determined to at least try to enjoy a bowl for dessert. And whatever, the flavor was there, if not the texture. There was ice, yeah, and it was made out of cream, OK, nobody’s perfect, right?
I looked over to my side and my dog was staring intently at the bowl. Usually I never give my dog any sort of human food, but I thought, this stuff is pretty good, it’s OK anyway, and I gave myself way too big of a serving. Maybe I should give the little guy a taste. So I spooned off a chunk and put it in his dog bowl. He wolfed the whole thing down, fast, licking up the sides of the bowl for a while afterward.
And then five minutes after that, he walked back over to the couch, he stood at my feet, made a weird neck motion, and then threw up all over the floor. It was mostly dog food, but it was unmistakably streaked with coagulated white cream. My wife looked at me and was like, “Great job, Rob. Clean it up.”