peaches ‘n’ cream

There comes a time in every woman’s life when ice cream is the only answer. It’s cloyingly sweet and rich and makes a perfect companion for a late night viewing of Pride and Prejudice or When Harry Met Sally. Some women, in a Bridget Jones inspired frenzy, might argue that a bottle of two buck chuck is much more suited to the job. I prefer to wake up without a headache.

Hence, when things started going south in my personal life in the summer of last year, ice cream became my favorite friend. Though its constant presence in my freezer didn’t make for the most healthful of times, it seemed the only reasonable thing to eat. So, eat I did.

Fortunately, I cannot simply indulge without my creative impulse flaring up, forcing me to make good use of periods of unadulterated gluttony. I’m usually able to get something useful out of them, in the end, besides a more vigorous, guilt-infused, gym routine. So, last summer, I decided to put my eating obsession to good use and took my family and friends along for the delicious ride.

The first product of my new passion was the search for the ice cream maker of my childhood- the simple kind with a metal container that spins inside a mixture of ice and rock salt, inside a bigger bucket. Ours usually did its work in the garage, as the electric motor was so loud that it made conversation impossible. When it comes to kitchen appliances, I’m riddled with nostalgia and couldn’t imagine fulfillment of my summer sweet tooth coming in the form of a more technologically advanced machine.

I explained my predicament to my dad, who was, at the time, a guinea pig for my many food fads. The words homemade ice cream barely had to escape my mouth before he set out to aid his ailing daughter. We spent the weekend browsing kitchen appliances in search of the self-explanatory and inexpensive model of yore, and when we finally found the one we wanted, he offered to sponsor my ice cream venture under the condition that it would live at his place. I got my new toy back to the house and scrambled madly after the box’s contents, feeling as though Christmas had indeed come early. Inside was a plastic blue bucket, a half-gallon metal container and a white electric motor attachment, its cord trailing behind.

That afternoon, I set out to put it to use and never looked back. My homemade ice cream made an appearance every week at our Sunday barbeque, held either at my dad’s or at the home of our close friends. I took weekly flavor requests and managed to make it through all the old favorites by the end of summer. At the end of all my experimentation, though, my favorite remained the very same ice cream that our old ice cream maker whined about while I was growing up: fresh peach. Of course, it can only be made in the height of the peach season- late summer- because only sweet, ripe peaches will do it justice.

I challenge you to find a better flavor and offer mine here for your conspicuous consumption. If you hurry, you might be able to snatch up the last peaches of the year and enjoy this ode to summer as we fade into fall.

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Elsie Lou’s Fresh Peach Ice Cream (with a few minor changes)

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it doesn’t require a custard and therefore doesn’t have to be chilled before it’s processed. The creamy texture usually created by the custard is achieved with sweetened condensed milk instead. You’ll also notice that it calls for whole eggs rather than just yolks- a fact I exploit in attempt to convince myself of its healthfulness- extra protein!

3 large peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups sugar
3 whole eggs
½ can eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix ½ cup sugar into chopped peaches, reserving remaining cup of sugar. Mash peaches to release juices, then pour into blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and remaining 1 cup sugar until smooth. Then add remaining ingredients and whisk until evenly blended, adding the peach purée last.

Process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions in one single batch or in two smaller batches if using a quart-sized machine like the one pictured here. The base can be stored covered in the refrigerator for a day.

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