Friday, September 17, 2010

Field Report: R&B Never Tasted So Good

Former Chicago resident, Rachel, explains her celebrity ice cream encounter:

I was getting home from a late night shift one warm night a few years back and as I'm walking, I see an ad for Edy's ice cream—buy one get one free—in the CVS window. I was immediately sold: partaking in 2 half gallons of ice cream when I get home could possibly be the best idea ever.

Fast forward to my waiting in line with a bunch of tired people, all of us ready for bed, a half gallon of moose tracks in one hand and a half gallon of vanilla bean in the other, and who walks into CVS, but R. Kelly himself. (During this time, he was going through his trial in Chicago regarding his extracurricular activities.) The body guards that surrounded him and the rest of his entourage all scattered into the various aisles as if they're on a mission. Apparently their mission was to get R. Kelly drunk, because they all start heading up to the front of the store with bottles of Jack Daniels, cases of beer, and I'm pretty sure I saw some tequila and margarita mix thrown in there as well.

R. Kelly, still standing up at the front of the store, announces "Hey y'all, I am getting #%!@ up tonight, and whatever you want, it's on me. Guys, you want condoms? You get condoms. Ladies, whatever you want, I'm buying."

All of us already in line are suddenly wondering if we should be running around, adding more to our carts, but, not sure if this is really happening. I ask the nearest bodyguard "Is he serious?" "Oh yes, ma'am, he's very serious." Some people jump out of line, but really I was perfectly happy just getting my ice cream.

In the confusion the line got readjusted, but all of a sudden, R. Kelly spots me and says "Hey, hey. Let vanilla through. Let her get her ice cream." So they let me up to the front. (I'm not sure if "vanilla" is a special term of endearment for this pale, white girl look I've been rocking for years or if he just happened to see what he was about to buy me, but I realize this might be the only chance in my life to talk to him. Wanting to thank him and let him know that under his circumstances I'd be looking to get #%!@ up as well, all I can come up with is "Thank you very much, Mr. Kelly."

"You're welcome, baby."

"You enjoy getting #%!@ up tonight."

"You know I will."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Fifth Annual Pumpkin Challenge!

After a long scary year of an empty pumpkin shelf at the grocery store, pumpkin season has returned. I bought $20 worth yesterday, a total of 232 ounces. Why? It's time for the Pumpkin Challenge!

Every year, from September 15 through Halloween, all are invited to consume as many pumpkin foods as possible. So epicurate a cornucopia of new recipes and buy out the grocery. Or, better yet, try and beat my record. Here are the rules:

  • The only beverage allowed is the milkshake.
  • Food items may not be doubled. (Two slices of pumpkin cheesecake count as one item. The only way it could count for two different items is if the second item has a distinct enough difference of flavor that it warrants a different name AND the item comes from a different source than the first item.)

Why was the Pumpkin Challenge created?

Originally the short-term goal was to encourage pumpkin season to start earlier than October, since they are mostly only offered around Halloween and Thanksgiving. Happily, this year has already shown progress of pumpkin activity in early September! The long-term goal is for pumpkin products year round. If you aren't currently active in the off-season of the Pumpkin Challenge, my hope is your participation will help you branch out into new pumpkin dishes (not just pie, bread and muffins) and give you post-autumnal pumpkin pangs.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cornbread Ice Cream

The idea of cornbread ice cream first crossed my brain at the Chicago Ice Cream Festival. Great idea, but I'll admit the product was rock hard and chalky. It tasted more like a vanilla ice cream with stones of cornbread in it. I knew the solution and how to improve the recipe.

Usually when I make a new ice cream recipe, I research online, find the common denominator among the recipes I find and build my recipe accordingly. This time I looked at the recipes online for sweet corn ice cream--reportedly a favorite in Mexico--and I disagreed with them opting to create my own. There is a turning point when the student becomes the master. I have arrived.

The sour cream base cut through the cinnamon, creating a balance that was kissed with honey. Each bite had bits of puréed corn and cornbread crumbs. I served it atop a piece of cornbread. The perfect ending to my homemade Southern meal of hot wings, mashed potatoes and lima beans.

I have made many flavors this year--fresh blueberry, Mexican chocolate, strawberry, garlic, some others I'm forgetting--but this one sticks out. It is the first recipe since doughnut ice cream that has gone become an instant favorite guaranteed to be repeated.