The tattered remains of Summer
Or Why Writers Cook Like Mad People
Summer is almost over in the northern hemisphere. (Florida, stay tuned.) Crazy fall weather has commenced. Colorado is getting more than it deserves, again, and Montana, my home ground, has been battered by hail and thunderstorms. However we can all hope for a bit of Indian Summer, the nice sunny stuff after the cold or volatile stuff.
In our neck of the woods there is usually a lull before winter really kicks it up. Some sunshine, crisp air, mild temps, to make us appreciate the seasons. Because it’s also the back-to-school time, it creates a frisson in the blood, a spurt of energy, of making hay while the sun shines, and sometimes the urge for new shoes.
And for some of us it rekindles the need to cook, bake, and otherwise stack on the layers of adipose tissue before we not-quite-hibernate-but-absolutely-shiver-a-lot during the dark months. I’ve been noticing quite a few of my fellow writers like to cook. Like to talk food, ingredients, even use the “pie” word with abandon. I am with you, clansmen and clanswomen. We must feed the tribe. Recently my fellow Montanan, Leslie Budewitz, published her first mystery, Death al Dente. Which is not about dentists but about food, of course. Some other foodie mystery writers with new books out are Diane Mott Davidson, Laura Childs, Joanne Fluke, Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib, Julie Hyzy, and more. Recipes often are included, and I have been known to try a few.
Over Labor Day weekend I had a Girls Pool Party at home with two fabulous girlfriends. Much fun group cooking, champagne, limoncello, and floating around. I made this yummy ice cream. It made me think that writing is much like cooking: it takes practice, you don’t often get it right the first time, different flavors have to come together and mix perfectly, experimentation is great but be cautious, and when it’s good it’s satisfying and just undeniably right.
Happy Indian Summer, whenever it may come, dry, hazy, comfortable, and just right for the last spoonful of ice cream.
You can find Dulce de Leche – caramelized milk – in a jar at gourmet delis and markets (try World Market.)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound dulce de leche (from 1 cup to 1-2/3 cup)
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
- (This requires an ice cream maker.)
Bring milk and cream to a boil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, then remove from heat and whisk in dulce de leche until dissolved (it will sink to the bottom and require mixing.) Add the vanilla bean and transfer to metal bowl. Chill the bowl by putting it in a bowl of ice and stirring occasionally until cold for 15 to 20 minutes.
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker until almost firm (according to mixer instructions this may take 1 -2 hours) then add pecans and chocolate chips. Continue mixing for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to bowl, picking out vanilla bean remains, cover, and put in freezer to harden, at least an hour. Adapted from Epicurious.com.
Cook’s note: delish