Saturday, October 1, 2011

What's a little cold between friends

At the ice rink where I teach, there are two vending machines. One of them is full of candy and dorritos; the other one has what the snack food industry likes to call "healthy snacks"-- things like granola bars, and sun chips, and those "reel froot jelly" things that kids insist isn't candy. I refuse to call it "healthy" food, so I tell the kids that one of the machines has "junk food" and the other one has "snack food."

A fine distinction.

In fact the distinction should not be "healthy" or "snack" or "junk" but simply there is food and then there is that edible stuff that they sell in all the pretty boxes. Why not have a vending machine full of "food"-- yogurt mixed with jam, and only jam. Apples and pears. Nuts. Milk. Raisins. If you have to say "this is healthy food" chances are it isn't food at all because saying "healthy" food is like saying "cold" ice or "metal" steel-- it's simply redundant. Food is healthy. That is its purpose.

It seems appropriate to start October Unprocessed with snack food, since it's snack food where we find the most processing, and the most resistance to the idea that you can snack on something that's not bad for you.

And since it's a balmy 40 out right now, I thought I'd start with ice cream

Autumn ice cream
1 pear, roasted
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T home-powdered maple sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract, if you're cheating on the unprocessed thing

So, powdering your own sugar turns out to be a giant drag when you only have a little coffee grinder to do it in. I put a tablespoon at a time into a standard coffee grinder, and let 'er rip. It's not exactly powdered, but it's very very fine. Mix this, the cream and extract, and stick them in the freezer about 30 minutes (this helps with the aerating process).

Roast the pear at 350 for about 40 minutes, peel the skin off, then grind it in the blender, and put in the fridge until chilled.

When the pear is chilled, start up the ice cream maker (I have a little 2 cup one) and pour in the cream mixture. When it starts to resemble ice cream, add the chilled pear, and aerate until it turns into ice cream.

I tried this with maple syrup for sweetener, but it makes the mixture too watery and it doesn't aerate properly.

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