You know the days when about halfway through you know that you would have been better off not leaving the house, or your bed for that matter? I'm having that kind of a week. I have a wedding cake order for this Saturday and being the good and responsible person that I am (HA!) I've broken it down into steps so that I can tackle it after work and not end up staying up all night to finish it at the last minute...which is basically what I've done every other time. Monday I made a list and went grocery shopping, so far so good. On Tuesday I cleaned and organized the kitchen, did all the laundry (may not be directly relevant, but still needed to be done), and settled in at the dining room table to watch a movie and make the sugar decorations for the cake. About halfway through the movie I got that prickly goosebumpy feeling on the back of my neck. There's a wonderful short story in Joanne Harris's "Jigs & Reels" about a woman who discovers that whenever she cooks from the cookbook her mother-in-law gave her, her kitchen becomes possessed. The more complicated the recipe, the more severe the effect. Well, it felt very much like that story. All the lights in the dining room and the adjoining kitchen got really really bright, like they were about to explode, and just as I moved out from under the chandelier to avoid the inevitable shattered light bulbs, all the lights got really really dim. Then they started flickering. By now my imagination started getting a little out of hand as my mind began spinning through the vast catalog of horror films I've seen in my lifetime and I became aware of quiet swearing coming from the kitchen. Then there was a loud pop and everything got back to normal.
Now I should probably tell you that while I like watching horror films, while Halloween is my favorite holiday, and while my sense of humor does sometimes lean towards the morbid...I'm extremely "uncomfortable" in realistically supernatural situations. Or the dark. I don't like the dark. I feel I'm perfectly justified in that though since I grew up in Russia and they don't exactly sugar-coat or Disneyfy the children's bed time stories. There are always wolves and monsters under the bed that will eat your feet if they're not properly tucked in, and I hate having my feet tucked in. There are creepy nursery rhymes that are always sung in low deep and scary voices that replay in your mind and haunt you as you close your eyes and try to fall asleep. And there are furry hats left on the piano that in the dark look like a black cat that's staring at you waiting for you to drop your guard before it will jump and eat you. Okay, that last one may have just been me, but I stayed up all night watching the "cat" making sure it wasn't up to anything and let me tell you, my parent's found a fairly terrified and sleep deprived toddler the next morning.
So to relieve the tension and bring my nerves back to normal, I did what most people do in this day and age: I updated my facebook status. Yep. Said something about how my upstairs neighbors are trying to create their very own Frankenstein. And I guess it helped because I was able to settle down, turn the movie back on and finish up my work. But apparently that wasn't it. Yesterday I came home with the daunting task of baking 15 cakes (9 batches) and when I went to defrost the butter in the microwave I noticed that it was dead. Uh oh. The microwave is on the same circuit as the KitchenAid mixer. Crap crap crap crap crap. Fine, I've been meaning to rearrange my tiny cramped kitchen anyways, right? And the middle of the counter is totally the best place for the mixer. So half an hour later I had rearranged (and cleaned under) half of my kitchen appliances, and somehow managed to knock off a corner chunk of my marble top island. Sigh. The rest of the baking went off okay and I now have a fridge full of saran wrapped layers waiting to be filled and frosted. I tell you, days like that require ice cream.
I made this ice cream at the request of one of my friends, who wanted it for her husband's birthday (same party as that Peanut Butter Banana cake I told you about a few days back). We were just bouncing ideas off of each other and this is what I came up with. The base for it is David Lebovitz's Orange Ice Cream, but I adjusted the amounts and added a reduction of a Blue Moon beer. It cake out tasting of an Orange Creamsicle with the beer flavor on the back end. In other words, pretty damn good, and just what was needed to keep the kitchen gremlins at bay.
Blue Moon and Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Yields about 1 Quart
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 large juice oranges
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (those same 3 oranges)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 bottle of Blue Moon Belgian White beer
1. Pour the beer into a small saucepan and gently simmer over medium heat until reduced down to half a cup, stirring occasionally. Pour into a container and chill completely in the fridge.
2. Pulverize sugar and orange zest in blender or food processor. It will look like moist sand and smell intoxicating.
3. Add orange juice, sour cream, cream, and the beer reduction and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.
4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours and then process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.