My kitchen runs on very basic utensils; a good knife, a good cutting board, and basic pots and pans. I expand the collection when necessity dictates. On the other hand, Jeff loves all manner of kitchen gadgetry. I keenly remember the glimmer in his eye when he unpacked my KitchenAid mixer. He cooed about all sorts of “attachments” with which I was familiar, but did not see the utility. Why buy a pasta kit for $179 when you can get a nice box of Barilla for $1.79? I think his response was something tautological like “But Ally….ravioli!” Time passed, as it does, and Jeff’s arguments for said “attachments” softened my stony wall of refusal. We got the meat grinder attachment. (Ed. note: Don’t be fooled by the box, which states that the device is also a pasta maker. Play-Do cannon style extrusion doesn’t work.) We also started tossing around the idea of the ice cream maker, especially after the cucumber sake sorbet incident. Pondering was all the further we ever got, even when Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams came out with a cookbook. We made “ooo” and “aah” noises, but refrained. It wasn’t a necessity.

Birthdays are always fun because necessity flies out the window. It’s all ribbons and balloons and champagne. In the case of this year, it was the aforementioned cookbook. My mother gave it to me, knowing our obsession with Jeni’s ice cream. I remember asking her “Won’t I need an ice cream maker?” She didn’t think so. We flipped through page after page of gorgeous photography and impossible to conceive ice cream recipes. Once we came back to earth and read the instructions, it turns out that, yeah, an ice cream maker is necessary. Oops. Long story short, I got one. Jeni’s cookbook convinced me that ice cream was something that I could and should do at home. As Mom pointed out, we’ll save more money making it at home. Plus, we can have it whenever we want instead of just the glorious month that our 9 shipped pints usually lasts.

Our first flavor was Toasted Rice with a Whiff of Coconut and Black Tea. Perhaps my excitement was contagious, because Jeff supported the decision, but did not fancy the end product which, to me, was a fantastic frozen rice pudding with nice grippy notes of jasmine oolong and creamy coconut counterpoints. He found the toasted rice disturbing since it firms up a bit when frozen. He also isn’t that big of a rice pudding or coconut fan to begin with. The point of mutual concord from this first shot was that making ice cream at home is much easier than we thought. Thus inspired, we moved on to a creation of our own – Plum and Raspberry Lambic sorbet. Again, we had our doubts standing at the stove. The color was kinda pukey yellow with purple bits. The mixture was too sweet; highlighting neither the plum nor the raspberry. Regardless, we schlepped it into the maker and let it do it’s thing. I really don’t know what happens inside that bowl, other than the obvious, but freezing the mixture transformed an overly sticky, unappealing mess into a delicate sorbet with a lovely floral plum taste on the end of an initial effervescent raspberry lambic flavor. And it turned a gorgeous shade of purple.

We haven’t made another batch yet, although we vowed to make some every weekend. However, it’s my turn to choose. I’m thinking the roasted beet one with poppy seeds and orange zest.

Where the magic happens (Toasted Rice with a Whiff of Coconut and Black Tea)

Having a monkey at the monolith moment. Please ignore my weekend hair.