Monday, May 07, 2007

Scoop

Many things changed in the last few weeks of April. I was accepted into graduate school and mulled heavily over whether or not to attend. I helped to throw a (massive) dinner party. The trees sprouted, crocuses popped their heads out of the earth, and I began sneezing myself into fitful nights of hay-fevered sleep. One of my roommates decided to move and Jon and I began to search for a replacement. I said 'yes' to returning to school just the other day and then gave a two-month notice at my job.

And so I suppose it’s not so very surprising that amidst all that change there have been other, smaller adjustments as a result. For example: my daily excursion from the office to re-caffeinate myself. Every afternoon I steal out of work and take a walk, punctuated with a large cup of coffee. In the last few weeks, however, I've often found myself strolling down Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan not with coffee, but with an ice cream cone in hand.

The effect that ice cream has on my mood can be drastic and is a phenomenon widely noted by those close to me. Some have even suggested that there may be something wonky with my brain's wiring. Even on days where the stress of impending decisions mixed with the exhaustion that comes hand-in-hand with my Spring allergies feel like they may swallow me up whole or cause me to "inadvertently" kick the next person who gets in my way as I walk down the street, a scoop of chocolate can pull me out of my grumpy abyss to be a functional human.

There is something inherently cheerful and child-like about the act of walking down the street holding a cone. When I studied in Florence for a semester, the first thing that struck me about the city wasn't the massive Duomo or the colorful buildings overlooking the river Arno, but was the sheer number of people traipsing down the cobblestone streets with cones of gelato in hand. They weren't just tourists, not only children – but white-haired, stooped grandmothers and business men in suits, couples in love and groups of young men wearing ripped jeans and leather jackets. It was normal to walk down the street with an ice cream cone and I loved that.

And I'm not sure if my daily ice cream excursions help in the decision-making processes or stress-reduction attempts. But they are an excellent distraction (it's important to concentrate on the physics of the cone as you eat and walk, so that nothing melts onto your clothing and you don't inadvertently walk back into the office with chocolate smears on your nose) and certainly made me a more palatable individual to have in the work place.

This weekend, however, I decided that for the love of my arteries and bank account I should instigate a bit more change into this new routine. With the inspiration of David Lebovitz's cookbook "The Perfect Scoop," I made frozen yogurt. I love the tangy, slightly sour taste of plain yogurt – here it is chilled and churned with a bit of sugar. It is reason enough to transplant my daily fix from Madison Ave. to the shady stoop of my apartment. Now I just need to go to the store and buy some cones.

Plain Frozen Yogurt
loosely inspired by The Perfect Scoop, and Heidi's 101 Cookbooks

3 cups Greek yogurt (I used Fage Total)
2/3 cup sugar

Mix together the yogurt and sugar until dissolved. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and then churn in an ice cream maker, per the instructions of your specific model.

3 comments:

Shira said...

Congratulations on your graduate school acceptance!
I'm currently living close-ish to Berthillon in Paris but, with (finally!) a proper freezer, would love to experiment with some homemade options. Do you (or David's book, which I haven't seen yet), have any suggestions for machine-free frozen yogurt or ice cream?

Terry B said...

Wow! Big, cool changes. Congratulations on grad school. Speaking selfishly, I hope you'll still find time--and the inclination--to post here.

I love your tales of the sensual bliss of cones, be they ice cream, gelato or yogurt. Myself, I've just discovered the guiltless pleasures of Haagen-Dazs' lowfat Dulce de Leche frozen yogurt.

In our latest move, we threw out our failure of an ice cream freezer. May have to consider a new one.

Molly said...

Thanks Shira!
I have had some luck with machine-free ice cream, but it has definitely depended on what kind of base I am using. Richer, sweeter bases are easier to make without a machine, as fat and sugar prevent large ice flakes from forming. Basically what you need to do is freeze whatever base you make in a flat bottomed container - but take it out of the freezer every few hours to do some vigorous mixing and break the forming crystals (even in a food processor works well) until it is the consistency you are looking for. The most important time to mix, I've found, is when the sides of the container's contents are freezing solid while the middle is still liquidy. I hope that's helpful. And let me know how your efforts turn out!
Also I'm very jealous of your proximity to Berthillon.

Hi Terry B, of course I'll continue to write here. Freeing myself from the confines of midtown office life, I hope, will only aid and abet my culinary tales.
Speaking of Haagen-Daz... a friend just alerted me: http://www.haagen-dazs.com/newflavorday/
(not guiltless, but great for the bank account!)