Thursday, November 22, 2007

...With a little help from my friends.

I have been making ice cream for over five years. It all started when I graduated high school. My friends James and Lauren surprised me with a graduation present they both chipped in to buy: an ice cream maker, my Deni Scoop Factory Compact with an electric mixer. It is a wonderful machine. It makes 1.5 quarts with no salt or ice! Just put it in the freezer for two days (or, depending on who you are, keep in there habitually) and take it out when you’re ready to use.

In my short culinary career dedicated to the fruits of the bovine, I have made many flavors, ranging from chocolate-covered pretzel to raspberry to gingerbread cookie dough. Usually, after extensive internet research into the trials and errors of others, I create my own mishmash recipe. (For example, when I made jalapeño popper, I pulled several recipes for cream cheese ice cream to compare and contrast. I also looked up jalapeño ice cream recipes, though no results that looked reliable. Then with these reference tools and my existing knowledge of ice cream, I created my jalapeño popper ice cream.) But my number one reference tool is a very special cookbook: Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. This book taught me how to make ice cream. ‘Twas a gift from my college friend Becca during our Freshman year. It is still my primary reference tool to this day; my pumpkin ice cream is taken directly from this book.

Do you make ice cream? If so, what type of machine do you use? Where do you get your recipes?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Ethics of Ice Cream

I am currently enrolled in a certificate program in marketing which has me thinking about social responsibility and “going green.” It seems I am not the only dessert-craving fool pondering this subject, since my most popular blog entry thus far has been Larry David hates me. This entry discusses a serious moral conundrum: To sample (which utilizes single-serving spoons to aid the decision-making process) or not to sample (which produces less waste, but takes away from the customer’s experience).

There are many ethical considerations to ponder when purchasing ice cream, which companies are factoring into their product lines and marketing:
Products can be certified as being Fair Trade. This year, Ben and Jerry’s expanded its line of Fair Trade ice cream flavors.
(2) Ben and Jerry’s is popular for its animal friendly decision to use products from cows that were not treated with a particular hormone that is often used. A pledge is made by farmers (milk suppliers) that their animals will not be treated with this hormone.
(3) Ben and Jerry’s boasts its use of non-bleached paper in their packaging.
(4) Haagen-Dazs is known for being “All Natural.” Not sure how this term is regulated.
(5) Ben and Jerry’s has a line of “Organic” ice creams. Products can be certified as being Organic.
(6) Many healthier options offered by multiple companies: low-fat, frozen yogurt, sugar free, etc.
(7) Countless local brands produce pints for grocery stores, which benefit of the local economy, rather than a large corporation. (I’m not suggesting all corporations are evil—many are wonderful!—but this is a factor to consider in a debate on ice cream ethics.)

It seems the major questions center around where the product comes from (farming and factory conditions) and how the product affects the user. In a perfect world, I think many people would like products that are concerned with both arguments, incorporating all of the above things. I doubt, however, that many would willingly pay the increased cost were cheaper options still available. (Notice none of these options even talk about the quality of the product.)

Which product would you choose if you had only the following criteria to make a purchase decision: a product that is in the best interest of you and other consumers or having a product that is friendlier on a global scale?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Frost is on the Pumpkin.

Over a month has passed of pumpkin season, and those of us who took the Pumpkin Challenge have spent these past weeks gorging ourselves on the gourd of the gods. As promised, here is the list of pumpkin items I consumed this year (a total of 25). Last year's list (a total of 20) can be found in the comments section. How did everyone do? Beat last year’s record?

Pumpkin things I consumed in the 2007 pumpkin season:

Pumpkin cream cheese muffin*, Pumpkin loaf*, Pumpkin cake doughnut*, Pumpkin bread pudding, Pumpkin scone, Pumpkin cheesecake, Pumpkin torte, Pumpkin lasagna, Granola with pumpkin seed, Pumpkin cupcake, Pumpkin coffee cake, Pumpkin pudding, Pumpkin muffins, Pumpkin ice cream*, Pumpkin butter, Pumpkin soup, Pumpkin cheesecake chocolate truffle, Pumpkin cake*, Pumpkin soufflé, Pumpkin bagel, Pumpkin pecan cheesecake*, Pumpkin-spiced churro, Pumpkin pie squares (with streusel topping), Pumpkin seeds, Pumpkin pizza with Swiss cheese, sausage, and peppers 
*Items also consumed in the 2006 pumpkin season.
I have recipes for all Italicized items.

A big shout out to my friend Gail at work, who affectionately calls me “Pumpkin.” Aware of my love of the gourd, she printed out 24 recipes appropriate to the challenge.