The Best Reason to Be out of Plates

We’ve done a very good job of reducing our kitchen–well, the whole house–to its essentials.

It might, of course, be argued that an ice cream maker is not “essential,” but it would only be so argued by someone who didn’t taste the incredibly intense vanilla goodness that came out of that churn on Friday night.

And for the two of us, or even the occasional dinner guest, our essentials are perfectly adequate. But good heavens, a long weekend with company means the dishwashing turnaround is something ferocious. Dinnerware for 6 when you’ve got 5 adults in the house means we’re washing all the dishes a couple of times a day, and we’ve run out of kitchen towels more than a time or two.

I’m not complaining. Her parents and beloved Nana are welcome any time. We have a loud, loving houseful, and I look forward to their next visit with great eagerness. (Especially since the next visit is likely to be the one for the wedding.)

But I am considering that maybe another couple of place settings would not be an imprudent investment–maybe a set we keep in on the small-appliance shelves and bring out when we need extras. We’d put them behind the ice cream maker; even as summer winds down, I think it’s going to be in heavy rotation.

The Easiest Ice Cream I’ve Ever Made
adapted from The New York Times

2 cups half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape the seeds from the pod with the blade of a knife. Add the vanilla to the half-and-half and cream in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer.

Remove from the heat; add the sugar and salt; stir until dissolved. Strain and refrigerate until very cold (at least four hours; overnight, if you are prepared enough to have done this the day before you want to serve it).

Churn in the ice cream maker according to its directions. (Mine takes about 20 minutes.) Serve immediately as soft ice cream or freeze in an airtight container until hard.

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