Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cuisinart ICE 50 Ice Cream Maker & Quest for Perfect Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

The Cuisinart ICE-50 ice cream maker set my feet firmly on a quest to concoct the perfect homemade vanilla ice cream.

After deliberating more than a year to make the purchase, the box sat on my floor unopened for another two weeks.

Finally, I started to research ice cream and how to make it.

One of my early newspaper jobs was typing recipes for the weekly food section. This taught me that all versions of any particular recipe have certain ingredients in common.

Cooks may disagree on the proportions and finishing touches, such as herbs, adding nuts or some other flourish.

One of the first thing I noticed about ice-cream and how-to-make-it tips: ingredient proportions vastly vary.

The best explanation of the necessary ingredients is Stephanie Jaworkski’s for custard-base ice cream, preferred by many cooks.

From Jaworksi I learned the contribution of each main ingredient:

  • Cream gives the ice cream its rich taste. Too much, however, can create butterfat lumps.
  • Sugar makes the mixture smooth but can prevent freezing when there’s too much.
  • Egg yolks add smoothness.
  • Flavoring also is a personal choice.

I expect egg yolks also help the ice cream to thicken. Cheap ice cream brands substitute gelatin or cellulose for egg yolks.

My first venture was chocolate ice cream. The recipe used eight egg yolks for four cups of liquid. Three cups of half-and-half was recommended plus a cup of heavy cream.

I like high butterfat content, so I made that two to two cups of each.

I reduced nine ounces of sugar to eight, because some readers found the recipe too sweet. I kept the cocoa at a half-cup.

Important steps in preparing a custard-based ice cream are
(a) heating the mixture until it just barely bubbles, between 160-180 degrees.
(b) Allowing the mixture to cool on the counter so that no liquid forms on the lid in the refrigerator.
(c) Refrigerating at least eight hours before churning so the flavors can blend.

This chocolate ice cream recipe was too thick and stopped churning after only 20 of 40 desired minutes.

It was good, but a tad too creamy even for me and very rich.

Eight egg yolks also left with me all those egg whites to use and makes this an expensive ice-cream recipe.

My next outing was purely my own devising: Two cups half-and-half to one cup heavy cream, three egg yolks (1 yolk per cup of liquid, cutting the chocolate recipe’s ratio in half), and less than a half-cup of sugar.

I followed the same procedure for cooling the mixture and marrying the flavors overnight in the frig. The vanilla extract is not added until the mixture is put into the churn. I used one overflowing teaspoon.

It churned beautifully for the full 40 minutes, froze smoothly, and tastes like the best vanilla custard ever. So far, I am using all organic ingredients. The one exception was the cocoa, but it was a good brand.

I have half the custard on standby, and I’m going to experiment with a flavor completely of my own.

I love the Cuisnart ICE-50 ice cream maker. It is easy to use, and anyone can become an ice cream chef overnight.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mid-Century Modern Buildings -- Fort Lauderdale Things-To-Do

Walk a few blocks from the beach at Oakland Park Boulevard to see some fine mid-century modern architecture.

Architectural sightseeing is free and one of the interesting Fort Lauderdale things-to-do.

One area, a few blocks that looks forlorn, reminds of gaudy former times when then beach was populated by low-rise buildings with details that perpetuate some of the clean lines of the Art Deco buildings for which Miami South Beach is famous.

Many of these architectural gems are being replaced by tall, architecturally undistinguished highrises that blot the shore from view.

Some projects apparently failed in the real estate market belly flop.

That leaves many treasures standing. A few are meticulously maintained and painted in authentic colors of the mid-century era.

A Fort-Lauderdale-Things-to-Do list ought to include a walk around this area before the mid-century modern buildings have been destroyed and replaced.

Another design influence of the mid-century modern beach residences is the clean lines of Scandinavian modern exterior and interior design.

Manhattan Beach has an interesting spiral tower that simultaneously hides the stairs and reminds of the steel skyscrapers of the real Manhattan Isle.

Windows are emphasized with boxes similar to the graphic lines of Art Deco – which in turn borrowed some of these graphic stylistics from Egyptian design elements.

The ochre yellow building also incorporates a circular design element, similar to the steamboat gothic feature of some Victorian homes.

These porches provide a place where residents could sit and chat in the gently cooling alternation of the sea and land breezes that sweep the barrier island.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Presidential Speech USA Isn't Ready to Hear

My Fellow Americans --

I wish I had better news for you.

Due to the reckless quest for profits by a global corporation, the Gulf of Mexico has suffered unprecedented ecological damage.

Even sadder, the best minds in government, academia, and the oil industry do not know how to fix this.

The damage from the oil spill may not be fixed for years, or decades -- and perhaps not ever.

I will hold BP responsible. But let's face it, some things can't be put right, no matter how much money BP spends and how much effort all of us put forward.

But make no mistake about it: It is not just BP oil and the government that are responsible for this disaster.

It is your fault, too.

You don't want to give up your SUVs, your fancy gas-guzzling sports cars, flying off to vacations here and there around the globe, air-conditioned homes, or even to cut down on use of high-speed internet connections.

You don't want to walk or bike to where you need to go. You will drive 10 or more miles to pick up a carton of milk, instead of waiting until the next time you are on that route.

You don't want to deny yourself the tiniest comfort.

The result is a nation that is overweight, at risk for heart attack, strokes, diabetes, and other preventable illness.

This tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico is all of our responsibility.

The time is now to walk, to bike, to take the bus, to go to a park near your home instead of a far-away vacation, to run fans whenever you can instead of the air-conditioning, and to admit that the only reasoning BP was drilling a mile under the sea was to satisfy our endless addiction for oil.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fort Lauderdale Things to Do: Walk Seven Isles

Your Fort-Lauderdale-Things-to-Do list may not include taking a walk around Seven Isles.

Isle of Venice, a street branching North off Las Olas Boulevard, has some gems of mid-century modern architecture.

Mid-century modern is an outgrowth of Art Deco, for which South Beach in Miami is so popular.

It features clean lines and sherbert colors, such as aquamarine, peach, pink, and lemon yellow. Whitewash also is popular.

If you are looking for Fort Lauderdale things to do that are completely free and you enjoy getting away from the beach tourist zone to see how residents live, Seven Isles is accessible by bus, bike or scooter rental, or walking if you are up to it.

Some features of mid-century modern architecture are:

  • Soaring roof lines with clean angles.
  • Eyebrow windows – that is, windows have a detail above them.
  • Details, such as relief palms or tropical-themed murals.
  • Louvre windows.

Having lived in a 100-year-old building with these, I know how drafty they are in winter. Buildings were designed to let in the sea breezes back then, however. Now you will see air-conditioning units protruding from walls where they have been cut to accommodate this technology.

Seven Isles was dredged with navigable canals. This makes homes and condominiums among the pricier real estate.

Here are buildings on Isle of Venice you will see during your Fort-Lauderdale-things-to-do-walk.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Your local library is a good place to find fashion-advice-for-women, discover how to choose figure-flattering clothes, learn about style categories and all about chic. Attendance at the nation's estimated 122,566 libraries is sharply up during these recessionary times.

But I'm guessing that most fashionistas don't jump at a chance to shop there.

True style is about more than snagging the latest bargains. An important first step in looking like a superstar is figuring out what looks best on you.

This is especially true for the over-50 woman. A fashion misstep that is naively cute on a young woman can be a fashion disaster for us.

Your local library is a good place to find fashion advice for women because:
  • Biographies of chic women and clothing designers can help you discover a style that is uniquely yours.
  • Much of the best fashion photography is not available online.
  • You'll save money by borrowing books, rather than buying them. Many libraries subscribe to women's magazines that now cost $7 and up at the news stand.
  • Books show how to systematically develop a wardrobe and buy figure-flattering clothes; magazines offers only a pastiche of new things to buy with little information about how you can weave these purchases into a look that is right for you.
In summary, don't overlook your local library as a source of fashion advice for women. You may be pleasantly surprised at just how much is there for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Food Fights: When Did They Become An Expression of Love?

When did the food fight become a family bonding activity?

Yesterday, I watched not one but two film food fights, each symbolizing fun and closeness.

In Hanging Up, Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, and Lisa Kudrow are three sisters coping with the growing dementia and death of their eccentric father, played by Walter Mattau.

The sisters’ verbal battle is predictable. They make up while preparing a big meal, and the film ends with flour spilling wantonly over them, the floor, and everywhere as they re-live fond memories and renew their love for each other.

The food fight also may symbolize erotic love. Holly Hunter, as Det. Grace Hanadarko in the TV series Saving Grace, smears catsup and mustard over love interest Kenny Johnson/Det. Ham Dewey.

He smears back, and we know how this scene fades to black.

Catsup and mustard?

What is romantic or loving about having to clean up gooey condiments or fine flour from upholstery, between floor boards, and all tiny places into which food may fall?

I shudder at the sanitation implications; here in South Florida, ants and cockroaches own this place. The tiniest atom of food is an invitation to move in and stay for a long, long time.

Moreover, I loathe housework, so anything that increases the need for this is an activity to be assiduously avoided.

What is the secret of relishing a food fight? Are we to assume that the movie characters have housekeepers to clean up after them?

I doubt I’d feel comfortable having a housekeeper know I’d engaged in such childish pranks, increasing the work for her.

A food fight may be an improvement over much Hollywood fare – action flicks with lots of explosions and phony animation.

In a food fight, it is only the emotions that are phony.

A Shout Out to Awesome Creative Bloggers

The creativity on display on the Internet can consume days, weeks, months, years of web surfing.

A beautiful, illustrated art or coffee table book plump with high quality colored plates can cost a fortune.

For the price of an Internet connection -- free at public libraries, many hotel lobbies, airports, and coffee shops -- we now have riches of design a click away.

James, for example, of The Creative Life keeps five blogs. Some are technology oriented, with the latest tips and tricks for Nokia phones, i phones, and other gadgets.

The Creative Life is a visual delight that uses photos and colors to keep us updated about creative uses for technology.

Stephanie Lawley's Just Me and Feminine Opinion also show a sharp eye for design and color.

I especially like the black-and-white logo design at the top of Just Me. Don't miss the wonderful photos of Sussex, England.

I'd also like to thank the others who follow this blog. I appreciate your interest.

Bamboo Is Miracle Renewable Fiber from Floors to Textiles

Bamboo is a favorite of green ecology enthusiasts.

Bamboo is easy to grow and springs right back up again after harvesting.

Many species are invasive. This means their root
systems are so hardy, they crowd out other plants.

These same root systems regenerate new plants.

Bamboo can be grown without chemicals, and bamboo plants grow quickly.

It's easy to see why bamboo gets rave reviews as a green resource.

It's impressive that the same plant that is used for hardwood floors can be processed into a yarn that rivals cotton for softness.

Bamboo fabrics are praised for being:
  • Soft.
  • Antimicrobial (resist viruses and bacteria).
  • Absorbent.
  • Wick moisture away from the body.
  • Washable.
  • Durable and long-lasting.
Here's more information about the chemical and mechanical processes used to process the fiber used in bamboo clothing, towels, and other textile goods.