March 13, 2010

My Trip Down South and Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream

Exactly 1 year ago, I was still an undergraduate who was in her final term. As I was about to graduate, I kept myself overly busy with a 24-page senior thesis paper, exams and quizzes, homework, news assignments and interviews. And when I wasn’t working on these tasks, you could almost always find me nosing around in the kitchen, with the camera and reading my favorite food blogs. So, I was (and am still) busy.

I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I always managed to give my friends alibis to turn down their invitations. Whenever I think back, it seemed ridiculous and unwise. Though performing academically well is important, I should have given myself a break. *Sigh*

Somewhere in Atlanta, Ga.

Exactly 1 year ago, I was on a 1-week spring break. I kept reminding myself: “Stop fooling around! Finish your goddamn thesis paper! You’re not gonna graduate!” I got terrified initially and put myself on a frantic “research-and-write mode.” Then, my friend put me on a totally different track with this, “Yo, wanna join us for trip down to the sunny Florida – to Disney World?”

Buzz Lightyear and his green multi-eyed friends at one of the parades at Disney World

Yes. No. Yes. No … After hesitation and procrastination, I gave them a last-minute decision with a “yes!” The offer was too good to miss. The notion of a sunny Florida lured me out of the freezing Minnesota. The thought of driving cross-country stirred up my thirst for adventure. The picture of sky-high roller coasters gave me a virtual rush of adrenaline through my head. I was only halfway through my paper. But I told myself, “Heck, screw it up!”

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Five excited Malaysian students took off at about noon on March 07, 2009. We drove (duh!), snacked, chatted, sang and slept our way through. The trip kicked off in Bemidji, Minn. The southbound journey took us through the state of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia before reaching Florida. (We took another route when we headed back north.) The patience, will and determination demonstrated by the three of my friends still amaze me: They drove for hours without a word of complaint. Thanks, guys! I really appreciate what you did! (Missing you and hope to see you all again! And credit goes to my parents, too, who sponsored me for the trip!)

Hitting the road again after a few hours of sleep and breakfast in Indianapolis, Ind.

The two-day road trip was inspiring! The four seasons displayed and transformed right before us as we drove from the freezing North to the warm and sunny South! We started off wearing huge, thick winter coats and furry gloves. By the time we reached Florida, we were clad in just T-shirts and jeans! Felt lighter (literally) and so good!

March in north central Midwest (Bemidji, Minn.)

Louisville, Ken. of March

The Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ken.

Somewhere near Chattanooga, Tenn. I think we were pretty close to the Appalachians -- it looks green and feels like spring!

Atlanta, Ga. -- the host city for the 1996 Summer Olympics

Downtown Atlanta, Ga.

I miss the Southern hospitality. I dream of Southern food. I heart Southern drawl. (Yee-ess, maa-am! Ya hurr-erd mee, rah-ee-it!) Our 1-week sojourn there wasn’t enough! I can still recall the moment when I first heard this expression at a gas station in Tennessee, “It’s fixin’ to rain.” Gagged and puzzled, I turned to my friend, who worked in the South last summer, and asked, “The sky needs to be fixed in order to pour!?” She said “fixing” is a Southern slang for “going to.” So, it really means, “It’s going to rain.” Hahaha …!

Nashville, Tenn.

University of Louisville in Louisville, Ken.

On a highway between Tennessee and Georgia. An interesting truck with a questionable head: Is it driving toward us? Hahaha ...!

Oh, how about the food!? I’m declaring hereafter that Southerners have one of the best fried chicken and biscuits in the world! At almost every corner down South, you’re likely to bump into restaurants that sell just fried chicken and biscuits! (Hey, I ain’t talking about the Colonel’s! Speaking of competition, he’s got stiff one there!) Fried chicken of the South has that ultra succulent and tender meat with that utterly spicy crispy skin that’s seasoned with just the right amount of salt. Mmm … (But sorry, no photo here!)

Biscuits in the American sense are not the same as British biscuits, which are almost always sweet and are closest to the American term “cookies.” Instead, American biscuits are a close cousin of British scones. But, Americans serve theirs warm with savory gravy – not clotted cream and jam. A true American experience indeed. Southern biscuits have this signature fluffiness and springiness that can’t be found elsewhere, not even in the North! They’re so addictive! Man, thinking about it makes me drool! Pairing the good food with the direct, “in-your-face” hospitality of the South gives you an unbeatably good deal! What more could I ask for? (I should probably churn out some home-made biscuits! It’s time!)

Anyhow, I shall continue recounting my Disney World moments with you in the next post. (I know I’m getting long-winded here.) It’s been long overdue, but I’m dying to spread the word out to all you out there. Here’s one of the best ice cream recipes I’ve tried so far. Well, how can it not be good when it’s a recipe from Helen of Tartelette!

I actually made this strawberry-vanilla ice cream during my last month in the States. Remember I told you about my strawberry picking experience from last summer? After enjoying them right out of my hand – fresh and plain – I froze 2/3 of the hand-picked strawberries. They were unexpectedly sweet! The initial intention was to clear as much stock before my departure back to Malaysia. But once I’d set my eyes on this recipe, I wiped off the strawberries for the sake of making and eating this ice cream! Yikes!

It’s an easy ice cream recipe. I didn’t use ice cream maker to churn the ice cream; it was all manpower. I suppose when it’s churned with a machine, the texture should taste superior, just like what Helen did. Nonetheless, my family friends and I loved how the ice cream turned out with its absolutely creamy, smooth and luscious mouthfeel. The mellow vanilla base spelled out the dreamy experience perfectly. As I my tongue twirled around the ice cream that was melting in my mouth, the refreshing strawberry bits gave my taste buds that tingling sweet-and-tangy sensation. A creamy and fruity combo. What more could you ask for in a humble home-made ice cream that came with lots of love and attention -- and no additive! *Wink*

Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream (Adapted From Helen's)

4 egg yolks, at room temperature
100 g (1 cup) caster sugar
*I found the sweetness of the ice cream was just right.*

473 ml (2 cups) half-and-half
**I used 1:1 of fresh whole milk : heavy cream to get 2 cups half-and-half. In other words, 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream.**
1 vanilla bean, split open
***I used 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract.***

1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
****I used frozen ones, which were then thawed in the refrigerator overnight before cooking. Don't fret because frozen ones will lose plenty of juice. Nothing goes to waste because you still can drink the juice plain or slightly sweetened with a bit of sugar, right? That said, I drained the thawed strawberries real well before use. And, I still took the effort to remove their hulls and slice them up. Worked for me.****
*****I seriously believe that we can make variants of this fruity vanilla ice cream with other fresh or frozen berries e.g. blueberries and raspberries. Yumm!*****

25 g (2 Tbsp) caster sugar
  1. In a large bowl, whisk (A) together till pale and thick; set aside
  2. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat (B) together over medium heat to bring it to a simmer without letting it come to a full boil. Next, gradually pour the hot cream to the beaten yolks in a thin stream while you keep whisking to temper the yolks -- and to avoid scrambling them!
    ******I skipped the vanilla bean in this step since I didn't use it.******
  3. Return the entire mixture into the saucepan and cook it over low heat -- stirring constantly -- till it coats the back of your wooden spoon. Remove from/Turn off the heat immediately to stop cooking it. Now, you've gotten yourself crème anglaise.
    *******I stirred in the vanilla extract at the end of step #3.*******
    Let the custard cool thoroughly. Then, strain well before refrigerating it till completely cold
  4. While chilling the custard in the fridge, prepare the strawberries. Place the berries and 25 g caster sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook them together over low heat long enough for the berries to soften and give out a little bit of juice. Next, remove them from the heat and let cool completely aside before use
  5. Transfer the chilled custard into another container that comes with a lid. Freeze it for 45 minutes.
  6. After about 45 minutes or as soon as you see ice crystals start to form around the edges of the mixture, remove the semi-frozen mixture from the freezer. Whip it up real well in e.g. a mixing bowl with your hand mixer till its almost doubled in volume. Then, return the whipped mixture into the container and freeze for another 45 minutes
    *You may whip the cold mixture with hand whisk or a sturdy spatula. But, electric hand mixer will make your life easier.*
  7. Repeat step #6: keep "disturbing" the mixture as it freezes, for 2 -- 4 times
  8. Now, check the partially frozen mixture every 1 - 1.5 hours. Stirring it a little bit as it freezes to prevent ice crystals from forming. Towards the end of churning, stir in the par-cooked strawberries to the half- to almost frozen ice cream mixture -- make sure they are evenly scattered throughout the ice cream. Continue "disturbing" the ice cream mixture -- stop doing this once it's frozen and set
    **This is what Helen shared with us: If you stir in the strawberries too early in the process of churning, you may end up with pink ice cream!**
  9. If necessary, transfer the ice cream into another airtight container. Then, store it in the freezer till it's time to serve


Anncoo said...

Pei Lin, Your ice cream looks so good. I also thought of making strawberry ice cream as now you can find Korean strawberry everywhere.

Kitchen Corner said...

WOW!! This strawberry Vanilla Ice Cream looks really really good! I've put this into my to-do-list. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Will give it a try. It looks really yummy one!

Blessed Homemaker said...

Sounds like you had great fun! And yes, it's good to take a short break away from studying, to recharge ;-)

During a business trip overseas, we saw a similar truck and a colleague (front passenger) was taking a short nap. The driver (my ex-boss) wanted to play a prank and woke her. The first thing she saw when she opened her eyes was this truck driving "towards" us. Scare the hell out of her! We had a good laugh but looking back, I think it's most uncalled for :P

I've not made ice cream for the longest time as kids took turns to fall sick. I love all fruity ice cream!

tracieMoo said...

The ice cream looks amazing, my dear. I think in Malaysia I could only afford making banana ice creams. ha ha ha..
I had a crazy idea yestd, of replacing cream with taufu. I wonder if it will work the same.. :P Must be one of my crazy diet mind again.. mind me..

zurin said...

the ice cream looks soooooo good!!! bravo! :)one is never too old for disney world!:)

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

You had a great holiday! This is my favourite ice cream, you just made my day!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

WOW! I was just thinking of making ice-cream and you've given me the push, Pei-Lin. :) Loved your photos. I felt like I was part of the group. ;) So nice to be young & carefree ...

Angie's Recipes said...

Pei Lin, the ice cream looks so perfect! I can see lots of strawberries in there...just fabulous.
Glad you took the trip...the pictures tell that that's a wise decision.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Oh the freedom of youth....what fun and the icecream is delicious...looking.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Wow! I'm impressed that you made this ice cream without an ice cream machine, it looks so good, and full of strawberries, which is how I like it. Isn't strawberry picking fun?!

Chow and Chatter said...

wow what a fun trip and I love how America has all the seasons, come back and visit and be sure to come to NC oh and great ice cream as well lOL

Happy Homebaker said...

I love those road trips we made in the States! I have not experienced driving at the eastern side of the country, we were always in California. The furthest I had been to was New Jersey ;) My DH did all the driving, like your friends, he could drive for hours without any complaint, I just need to read the map! and the most amazing thing was, my kids didn't mind being strapped to their car seats for hours. The best trip we had was taking Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco. I hope one day you are able to take this same route, just like I wish I am able to take the same route you is so wonderful to experience the change in 'seasons' in one road trip!!!

tigerfish said...

I love road trips in the US. And totally enjoyed myself picking strawberries in California too. Hmmm...I hope to do it again this year :D

PerfectScoops said...

Pei Lin,

Really gotta salute you sometimes for being able to make ice cream so creamy even without the churning from ice cream maker. I like how you are always able to make do with what you have rather than buying another kitchen gadget like me. But living in Malaysia, buy an ice cream maker. You will know it's worth it!!!!

Jo said...

It's been a long while since I last made ice-cream. And this looks absolutely yummy! Love strawberry ice-cream especially with chunks of fruit in it.

Food For Tots said...

I really admire your skill and manpower in churning this ice-cream. The texture looks so perfect! Wow, how nice to have some to cool me down in such a hot weather..... ;)

pigpigscorner said...

That's so much fun! I'm suppose to submit my thesis later this year too but I'm having a long break starting this Fri! Can't wait!

faithy, the baker said...

Your strawberry icecream looks so creamy and yummy! It's been a long time since i made ice-cream so maybe i should start sometime! BTW, That's a lot of ice-cream on the bowl! lol!

noobcook said...

looks like you had a fun trip. your ice cream looks so pretty and refreshing =)

Heavenly Housewife said...

This ice cream looks totally fab. I have an ice cream maker but i am very bad, i've never used it. I can be so lazy sometimes.
*kisses* HH

Bits of Taste said...

Pei-Lin, what a great experience you had, drove all the way South with a group of friends in a foreign country! Bravo girls! Besides, the beautiful sceneries, the strawberry vanilla ice-cream looks absolutely yummy! I would want to have a bite during this "hot" season in Malaysia now! Thanks for the recipe! *wink*

Tuty said...

Pei Lin,
This ice cream looks so yummy. Much much better than the ones I saw in the chain ice cream shops.

qinyi said...

i made strawberries n creme ice cream over the weekend with your recipe and i must say it was absolutely creamy and sweet! the cream wouldn't thicken to coat the back of my spoon and i think i might have over cooked it (30 minutes) so it had a burnt caramelised taste which was unexpected but so yummy! a happy little accident :)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Anncoo: Thanks a lot! For the feedback! Yea ... So, I think you'd better go grab some whilst those Korean strawberries are still around! Perhaps, use some to make this ice cream or somethin' else!

@Grace: Thank you for the encouragement! Well, the recipe is from Helen! So, how can it not be nice!? We should all just thank her for developing the recipe and sharing with us! I'm just spreading the word out to everyone else! LOL!

@Blessed Homemaker: I know, I now start to regret I didn't do that much of traveling when I was still in the U.S. =( LOL! I know how bad we can be sometimes. Our conscience tells us not to "mistreat" others. But, seems like we couldn't help with our nature! We can only get a laugh when we see others suffering! So evil of us! =(

It's good to enjoy home-made, additive-free ice cream once in a while, right? What an indulgence! ;)

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Tracie: LOL! Banana ice cream!? It's possible for home-made one, but with bananas gettin' oxidized, I may end up with a pile of gooey (sweet) brown mess! But, I'd be more than happy to clean up the mess for you! Hahaha ...! Tofu ice cream, hmm ... possible for home-made one, too. But I wonder if you can actually detect the soy taste!? Or you might as well make an all-natural ice cream with tofu and vanilla beans! You now have light vanilla ice cream! ;)

@zurin: Thank you for the kind words! Yea ... One is never too old for Disney World! Hahaha ...!

@Ellie: You've made my day, too! Now that I know of your favorite ice cream! I still can't get over with your Ben & Jerry's ice cream! LOL!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Ju: Thanks for cheering me up! I look forward to your next ice cream post! Hmm ... Being young doesn't really make one carefree! LOL! I'm not!

@Angie: Thank you! It was indeed a delish ice cream! Yea, the trip was an eye opener! I learned a lot from there! It was sorta a wise decision! LOL!

@Kitchen Butterfly: LOL! I think being young doesn't make me carefree though ... Maybe I'm having my mid-life crisis way too ahead of time! Hahaha ...!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Local Fresh and Best: Thank you for the feedback! Agree! Picking strawberries is indeed fun!! I miss it so, so much!! Sometimes, rural life can be really relaxing ...

@HHB: Yea, yea! I heard of LA-San Francisco Highway 1! It's just breathtaking! So was the change of season from the North to the South!! Miss it! Agreed! Driving on the U.S. highways is a pure enjoyment! LOL! Wish me luck! I'll definitely visit the U.S. again as it'd been my second home for almost 3 years. Miss the people and friendliness. Oh, we didn't use maps -- we used GPS! Hahaha ...!

@tigerfish: Hope you can make it to strawberry farm this summer, too! It's really fun! We can do so much with fresh hand-picked strawberries! Mmm ...!

@Quinn: Uh-uh, you've got a false perception of me! LOL! I'm addicted severely to bakeware, cookware and props! LOL! Oh, well! Too bad, I can't really get good frozen yogurt, gelato and sorbets without ice cream maker! =(

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Jo: Thanks a lot for the feedback! LOL! With our hot weather, maybe we should all make ice cream more often! Good excuse, woohoo!

@Lai Kwan: Thanks for the feedback, too! Yea, ice cream makes perfect cooler on hot, hot days like ours! ;)

@Anne: It ain't fun writing thesis, huh? =( Glad to hear you're taking a super long break from all the work! Time to give yourself a peace of mind! Enjoy every moment of it! ;) And glad to know you've been home in KL, too!

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Faithy: Hahaha ...! Yea, get going and churn some ice cream!! It's nice to reward yourself with home-made ice cream! Hmm ... This recipe yields quite a bit of ice cream! But that doesn't mean we're big eaters! LOL!

@noobcook: Thank you! The ice cream did turn out to be a hit! I thoroughly the trip, too!

@Heavenly Housewife: Thanks for the feedback! I know, I've got so many things that are left at a corner somewhere collecting dust! LOL! I'm worse! Boo ... ;P

Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

Sorry, guys! Didn't mean to get back to y'all this late! But what's a girl to do with a damn hectic schedule! =( ... You've made my week nonetheless! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a few lines here! ;)

@Bits of Taste: Thank you for coming by! We all enjoyed the trip! It was unforgettable! Please try the ice cream recipe and blog about it if you ever have a chance to do so. Nice to hear from you!

@Tuty: Thanks for the encouraging words! You've made my week! *Grinned*

@Qin Yi: Hey, good ol' buddy! Ha! Glad that you got around to make the ice cream! It was good, really! LOL! Thanks for sharing the experience with me! I've never thought of pairing strawberries with burned sugar! LOL! What a sweet accident! A good one indeed! Hahaha ...!

tracieMoo said...

There's an award for you at my blog. Feel free to pick em up!

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Rather interesting place you've got here. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Bella Swenson

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