"Cover the meat with sour milk or buttermilk and store in a cellar. In areas where the nights are cool, hang the meat in the open from a tree so any breeze can pass around it. Make sure the meat is brought inside at dawn." ~ From a 19th century newspaper

Old-Fashioned Custard-Style Ice Cream Pt. 2

In my previous post, I gave my original recipe for a basic ice cream, which is pretty bodacious in its own right. But if you want to ramp it up a bit,Ice Cream here is a list of variations I’ve tried. You still make the basic recipe, then follow the directions below for different flavors. Try some of your favorites here, then when you feel comfortable, do some experimenting of your own.

French Vanilla:  Add 1 T. vanilla to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Toasted Marshmallow:  Cut down sugar just a tad in the custard mixture.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Spread about half of one bag of large marshmallows in a foil-covered pan and toast in the oven till brown, about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Add to finished ice cream, chop up, and mix in.

Coconut:  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and 2/3 tsp. coconut extract to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add ½ cup toasted coconut to finished ice cream before ripening.

Banana Cream Pie:  Puree two bananas in blender with some of custard mixture and add to rest of custard and whipped cream mixture with ½ tsp. vanilla.  Make about three dozen tiny disks of pie crust (bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes) and stir into finished ice cream before ripening.

Cherry:  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. cherry extract to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add ½ cup chopped maraschino cherries to finished ice cream before ripening.

Strawberry:  Cut down sugar a tad.  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and two cups sugared and pureed strawberries to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Peach:  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and 15 oz. can peach slices in syrup, pureed, to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Watermelon Gelato:  Add 1-2 cups pureed watermelon, half of a 3-oz. package watermelon Jello, and approximately 8 drops red food coloring and 2 drops yellow food coloring to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Lemon Custard:  Add small package instant lemon pudding and ½ tsp. vanilla to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Orange Cinnamon Crunch:  Add 1/3 cup orange juice concentrate and 1 tsp. cinnamon to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Make a crunch by mixing ½ cup oats, ¼ cup flour, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 2 ½ T. butter.  Spread on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  Cool, then stir into finished ice cream.

Rum Ginger:  Add 2 tsp. rum extract and ½ tsp. ginger to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Pumpkin:  Add ½ cup canned pumpkin, ½ tsp. vanilla, ¼ tsp. each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Egg Nog:  Cut sugar in half.  Replace whipped cream with 1 ½ cups egg nog.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla and ¼ tsp. nutmeg to custard and egg nog mixture.

Amaretto:  Add 1 tsp. almond extract to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Chocolate Rum:  Add ¼ cup cocoa to sugar before adding milk at the beginning.  Add 2 tsp. rum extract to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Chocolate-Marshmallow-Banana:  Add ¼ cup cocoa to sugar before adding milk at the beginning.  Puree ½ jar marshmallow cream and ½ banana in blender with some of custard mixture and add to rest of custard and whipped cream mixture.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato:  Add ½ cup Nutella to custard mixture while still hot.  Add ½ tsp. vanilla to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Mint Chocolate Chip:  Add ¼ tsp. mint extract and 6 or 7 drops green food coloring to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add desired amount of chocolate chips to finished ice cream before ripening.

Peppermint:  Add ½ tsp. peppermint extract and 3-4 drops red food coloring to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add 1/3 cup finely crushed soft peppermint candies to finished ice cream before ripening.

Rootbeer:  Add approximately ¼ bottle (to taste) rootbeer concentrate to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Pistachio:  Cut sugar in half.  Add small package instant pistachio pudding to custard and whipped cream mixture.

Crème Caramel Toffee Crunch Gelato:  Add ½ tsp. vanilla to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add ½ jar caramel topping and desired amount of toffee bits to finished ice cream before ripening and swirl gently for a marbled effect.

Strawberry Cheesecake:  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and strawberry jam to taste to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add chopped pieces of partially thawed strawberry cheesecake to finished ice cream before ripening.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:  Add ½ tsp. vanilla to custard and whipped cream mixture.  Add about a third of a tube of cookie dough, chopped, to finished ice cream before ripening.

M&M Malt:  Add ½ cup malted milk powder to sugar before adding milk at the beginning.  Add desired amount of M&M’s to finished ice cream before ripening.

See how fun this recipe is? My dad once ordered dill pickle ice cream at an ice cream parlor. I would never try that one, but if you want to, break a leg!

Old-Fashioned Custard-Style Ice Cream

Ice CreamI had never made ice cream before when I was married in 1994, but we received a frozen treat maker as a wedding gift, and thus began my foray into the world of frozen dessert making. After much experimentation I came up with this very tasty basic ice cream recipe that is smoothly perfect in texture as well as flavor.

The recipe makes approximately a half gallon. Once you get the hang of it, this process goes really fast. I make it about once a week all summer long and on special occasions the rest of the year. The whole family loves it.

2 cups 2% milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 T. cornstarch

1/8 tsp. salt

2 eggs, separated

1 cup whipping cream

Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add milk and heat to very hot. Refrigerate egg whites. Beat egg yolks. Add one cup hot mixture, stirring constantly. Add all back into milk mixture and heat on medium, stirring constantly, to 160 degrees F. Cool two hours to overnight. Strain custard mixture. Beat egg whites till stiff peaks form. Whip cream, and add egg whites and cream to custard mixture. Freeze in ice cream maker. Ripen in freezer.

Next post: I’ll share a boatload of different flavors you can make with this recipe.

Book Club Snacks, anyone?

Eagle Shadow

I’m headed for a book club in Bountiful, Utah in May, where we will be discussing my book Eagle Shadow. I’m looking forward to meeting the club members there. I have been asked for suggestions for book club refreshments to go along with the Eagle Shadow theme of the evening, and I’m stumped. I thought for sure the characters ate blueberry pie at one point, but alas…must’ve been edited out! About the only thing I can find is where they ate “sourdough biscuits slathered with fresh butter, honey, and fruit preserves.” That does sound mighty good right now, doesn’t it? But I need help coming up with more suggestions for book club snacks. I’ll try to spur you on (hey, spurs are western. Does that lend itself to anything edible?) with a list of keywords:

Old West, ranch, Montana, cowboys, mountains, forests, eagles, Native Americans, tepees, bows and arrows, wide open country, wildflowers, waterfall, log cabin, cattle, rope, leather, saddles, horses, rifle, revolver, holster, general store, furs, campfires, whiskey (no, don’t go there), smuggled provisions, secret meetings, cavalry, fort, wagons, wagon wheels

Well, this is taxing. Let me know if you think of anything before I tell them Oreos!


Orange Julius from Scratch

ID-10020975I love how, in the Old West, the Native Americans demonstrated industry and thrift by using all the parts of the buffalo they hunted. Besides making jerky and pemmican from the meat, they also used the dung for fuel, the hides for clothing and shelter, and the bones to make tools. I like to think that in my own small way, okay, very small way, I’m following their example. I often buy oranges, but my family rarely just peels and eats an orange. I usually end up juicing them. We don’t like much pulp in our juice, so I always strain it out. But I felt bad at how much of the orange’s insides seemed to go to waste.

I hit on a simple idea that solves that problem. I slice the oranges in half and scoop all of their insides into a blender and blend them up. I strain out the juice to drink, then I freeze the remaining pulp. On another day, we will put the frozen pulp into the blender with milk and sugar to taste and make an orange julius. You can add a few ice cubes if you want to thicken it more. Pretty good if I do say so myself.

Of course, if you really want to go Native American, you can also use the peelings for the orange zest called for in many baked goods or chopped up in orange marmalade. I do like orange marmalade but don’t make enough of it to use all my orange peelings.


Easy Peasy Pizza

Easy Peasy Pizza

Want an inexpensive, quick dinner for those busy days, and maybe eating out isn’t an option? Try my Easy Peasy Pizza. The basic ingredients are ones that, if you don’t keep them on hand, you really should so that you can always have a cheap, tasty dinner that’s also popular with kids. And you can even dress it up with various leftovers you need to use up.

Preheat oven to lowest setting (about 170 degrees F.)

Pizza Dough

2 1/2 cups flour

1 T. yeast

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 T. oil

1 cup hot water

Mix all ingredients and knead for about one minute (really, that’s all). Place dough in oil-coated bowl and turn over so all of dough gets coated and place in warmed oven. Turn off the heat and leave the oven door ajar. Let rise for 20 minutes. When you take the dough out, start preheating the oven to 450 degrees F. Then use your fingers to spread the dough out in a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet that’s about 15 x 10 inches and coated with cooking spray. Don’t stretch the dough because you’ll get holes in it. Just gently press it outwards from the middle till it fills the pan. It won’t seem like it, but this dough really will fill the whole pan. Top with pizza sauce.

Pizza Sauce

3 oz. tomato paste

3 oz. water

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. oregano

Mix all ingredients together and cover top of pizza dough. Top with 8-oz. package of shredded Mozzarella cheese and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

The basic pizza is yummy enough, but here’s where you can have some fun. Raid the fridge for goodies you can add to personalize your pizza. You can do pepperoni, sausage (cook first), olives, onions. I did one we loved that included thin-sliced zucchini, Roma tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese in addition to the Mozzarella. For another one I used some shredded chicken seasoned with garlic powder and oregano. The one pictured above has julienne-cut ham and red, green, and yellow peppers on it. It’s a great way to use up leftovers you don’t want to throw away but which there are not enough of to serve your family. Bon appetit!



Valentine Mousse Dessert

The last two days I posted recipes for Meringue Cookies and Best-Ever Chocolate Mousse. Now for the grand finale.

Valentine Mousse Dessert

Take a package of thawed, sugared strawberries or raspberries and blend them into a puree. If using raspberries strain the seeds out after pureeing them. Pour a circle of the sauce onto a pretty plate, then using a teaspoon, drip little drops of cream onto the sauce. Take a toothpick and draw it through the cream drops all the way around to make a string of hearts. Place a generous dollop of chocolate mousse in the center of the circle of sauce, then garnish with a meringue cookie. Valentine’s evening doesn’t get any better than this. Well, maybe, but that’s a subject for another post 😉

Best-Ever Chocolate Mousse

Not to be arrogant, but I’ll stand my chocolate mousse recipe up against any other mousse recipe any day of the week. Try to prove me wrong–the bar has been set! This has the most divine, smooth texture and is just–wow, you’ll see what I mean when you try it. Sometimes I put this in a pie crust and call it French silk pie (and I’ll stand my French silk pie up against any other as well).

Remember the meringue cookies from yesterday and how I told you to save some? Save some of this too, because tomorrow I’ll have a real pretty and Valentiney serving suggestion for you.

8 oz. sweet or semi-sweet chocolate

1/4 cup milk

6 T. butter, softened

3 eggs, separated

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar

8 oz. carton whipped topping

Melt chocolate with milk in the top of a double boiler and stir till smooth. Remove from heat, add butter and egg yolks and beat till smooth. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and salt till thick and foamy, then add sugar and beat till stiff peaks form. Fold chocolate mixture into meringue, then fold in whipped topping. Refrigerate two hours before serving.

Meringue Cookies

Welcome to Valentine’s week on the Eagle’s Quill. Today I’ll share a yummy recipe for some feather-light cookies. Hang onto a few of them because we’re going to use them as part of a fancier-looking dessert later in the week.

3 egg whites

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Dash salt

Few drops red food coloring

Beat egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt till thick and foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat till stiff peaks form. Add food coloring and mix in. Put meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe out onto parchment-covered baking sheets in small heart shapes. Bake at 275 degrees for 30 minutes. Immediately remove cookies to racks.

You can do other colors and shapes for other holidays.



Recession-era Kitchen Wisdom: Use What You Have

BreadsMy favorite scene in the 1995 film Apollo 13 is when, in an effort to save the astronauts in the troubled spaceship, the team at Mission Control has a mountain of objects dumped on a table in front of them and are told, “This is what the astronauts have on board their ship. Use it to figure out how to fit this round tube into this square hole.” The team didn’t hesitate, didn’t say it was impossible. They all just grabbed stuff in front of them and started experimenting with it. Lives were at stake, and it was up to them to save them.

While we may not find ourselves in such a dangerous situation, the lesson is still a valuable one in all areas of life. Use what you have. Make it work. With food prices soaring like a rocket, and incomes nosediving, I like to apply this in my kitchen. I was raised to believe that throwing away food was one of the Seven Cardinal Sins, but with just a little ingenuity, you can keep yourself pretty much on the straight and narrow.

For example, one day I made what was meant to be a beautiful gelatin salad. No, not green Jell-O with fruit cocktail. This was orange Jell-O with fresh pineapple, pears, mandarin oranges, and pomegranate seeds. Primo stuff. Well, how was I to know that when you put fresh pineapple in your gelatin that it won’t gel? (Canned pineapple works fine. It’s only fresh that won’t work.) So I had this very colorful and attractive liquid in the fridge and, well, we just didn’t want to drink that. Out came the blender. I blended it smooth, then heated it up in a saucepan and added a little cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it. The resulting syrup was delicious over pancakes. A very sweet and tart concoction that my family loved and actually wanted me to make again.

Some other random ideas here: For goodness’ sakes, don’t ever throw out dry, stale bread. If it doesn’t have green mold growing on it, it’s still fine. Besides the usual French toast or bread pudding, it makes good stuffing for your chicken. If you crumble it up fine and toast it, you have crumbs for your meatloaf or for breading your chicken or pork chops. And you can make dang fine salad croutons by tossing bread cubes with oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and oregano and toasting it in the oven. My family likes to eat those as a snack, even without salad. Hint: Leftover hamburger and hot dog buns make great croutons.

Somebody once gave me a large package of Ranch dressing mix, enough to make a gallon of dressing. Not sure how many years it would take us to use a gallon of Ranch dressing, but I discovered it makes a tasty flavoring for several things. I put some in the crockpot with chicken breasts and cream of chicken soup and served that over rice. It also made a yummy flavoring for homemade mashed potatoes.

Got bananas turning black? (They’re probably still good inside, you know.) Mash them up and put them in your waffle or pancake batter. Or freeze them in chunks (do this with any fruits you have on hand) and blend them with milk and sugar, or yogurt and juice, for a refreshing smoothie.

And do you keep cornmeal on hand? If you don’t, go get some and make some pioneer-era cornmeal mush. Mix one cup of cornmeal with one cup of cold water. Add this, along with one teaspoon of salt, to three cups of boiling water. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, then pour into a greased loaf pan and refrigerate overnight. Turn it out onto a plate and used a greased knife to cut into ¾-inch-thick slices. Fry on both sides in butter and serve with maple syrup for the cheapest breakfast on the planet, and one of my most favorites. Creativity in the kitchen these days isn’t just a necessity; it can be fun!

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