Albums & Ice Cream, edition 5

Earlier this week, two things happened to inspire the 5th issue/edition of Albums & Ice Cream. The weekly CSA (farm share) offered second pint of sweet cherries and I had a day trip with my son to the Jersey shore.

The first quart of cherries were pitted and set out on the table last week, eaten within a couple of days. The second quart was pitted, but after listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” in the car with my son explaining to me all of the musical details, it only made sense to put these together on this post.

I had a job as a teen at the Kenosha Spot Drive In; serving ice cream sundaes and making shakes, malts and root beer whirls. We had four flavors; vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and one rotating “other” flavor, either butter pecan, or New York Cherry. I loved that ice cream with hot fudge. I don’t see this flavor very often in our regular ice cream parlors, so I wonder if it’s a “vintage” flavor, or one that was more regional to the mid-west. Which would be weird since it was “New York” cherry.

Oddly, the only recipes I found were Philly style base.  I prefer the French style. I’m getting better at making my own custard base, with a bit of consideration toward sensibility. I’m not religiously following the instruction to use 6 egg yolks. I use three whole eggs, and temper them more carefully. The strainer takes care of the tiny bits of white that cook. I also add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt to keep it from freezing into a solid block of ice. This batch was a basic vanilla ice cream with an added splash of almond extract, then fresh local cherries cut in half and stirred into the custard by the machine.

While my son’s insights into the Pink Floyd album were more focused on the drums and lyrics, I was listening with a flush of memories of recording a Tribute Band of the album name in Rochester for my doctoral studies. I was applying anthropological theory and research practice to understand the attraction of a then new phenomenon in the local music scene; the tribute band. I saw a connection to audience building for the symphony orchestra, and made the case in my work, much to the dismay of the conservative music history department at Eastman. This was 1995, the height of the culture wars, and before the term” audience building” was a thing in the arts. I was onto something then, and I still am today.

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Albums & Ice Cream, Issue 4- June 17

Albums & Ice Cream, Issue 4- June 17

I’m starting to understand how to adjust the timing for making home made ice cream, if I want it firm enough at serving time. I made the custard yesterday to give it a full 24 hours chill in the fridge before churning in the ice cream machine this morning. It only had to run for 15 minutes before it was ready to set in the freezer for tonight.

I’ve been visiting my favorite local ice cream shop for more pointers on my experiments. I was telling one of the owners that I was surprised at how well the salted caramel ice cream came out. It wasn’t a solid block of ice.
“That’s because there’s salt in the custard. Salt melts ice.”
… duh … you’d think a girl from Wisconsin would know about the properties of salt on ice.

Today’s flavor was a request from Master S: peanut butter. After finding a recipe that had similar ingredients to the successful salted caramel, I bravely adapted 6 egg yolks to 3 whole eggs. Cream, sugar, whole milk, vanilla, and peanut butter. That was it. It was a little harder than the salted caramel, but still pretty creamy.

I wanted to play with the idea of a Snickers sundae; thinking to stir in chopped chocolate bar bits, peanuts and drizzle with a caramel sauce. Then I found a new flavor of Caramel M&Ms. What I didn’t expect was how much harder they would be when chilled. They are much softer off the shelf.

The album that accompanied this experiment was another new one to me, discovered by my audiophile husband. The Hard Working Americans have a sound that is reminiscent of the Grateful Dead. Maybe it’s the organ, make it’s the folk rock drums, maybe it’s the lyrics. Maybe it’s that if I was in Appleton instead of Bethlehem, I’d actually be listening to the Grateful Dead on someone’s archive music for our reunion class.

Hard Working Americans is a jam band supergroup. The lineup includes bassist Dave Schools and drummer Duane Trucks of Widespread Panic, guitarist Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, keyboardist Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi, and singer-songwriter Todd Snider on lead vocals. Shortly after the release of their first album, HWA added Tulsa guitarist Jesse Aycock to the fold. (ref link)

Listening to this album may be more appropriate with a beer while tending the roasting of various meats on a grill. But for this rainy Saturday, it’ll do quite nicely with my bowl of Snickers Ice Cream Sundae.

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Albums & Ice Cream, 3rd edition – June 12

I’m finding inspiration for new music and books in traditional places; weekend reviews on television and radio, and recommendations from friends. CBS Saturday morning has two regular features that often inspire new music to explore (“Saturday Sessions”) and dining ideas from the segment, “The Dish.”

Anthony Mason is a great music reviewer/ interviewer. I’m so glad he’s on the air for these features that offer a slice of humanity to balance the political news. But this post isn’t a review of where I find ideas – it’s the 3rd installment of this summer’s blog series, “Albums & Ice Cream.”

On June 3, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys was on the segment to perform a couple of tracks of his new solo album, “Waiting on a Song.” If you head over to the CBS This Morning – Saturday website and scroll down, you’ll find three songs performed, and an interview with Dan Auerbach about making his second solo album. If you’re a fan of the Black Keys, this interview offers a good perspective on why his solo albums sound different from the style of the Black Keys. As a producer, he’s showing a particular feel that’s more of his origin story. I tend to favor artists who produce their albums. They have more vision for the overall listening experience. Here is another interview from NPR in which he digs further into his ideas.

“Waiting on a Song” (the title track) has a good retro country/folk feel. Hard to listen to without having your foot join in. But the track that really got me interested in the album was “Shine on Me.” The opening line, “You only got a couple miles to go – if you’re trying to drive me insane.”

Listening to the album – which Steve already had downloaded on iTunes because he’s way more on top of the music scene than I am – the ice cream flavor that came to mind is salted caramel. Caramel is a warm flavor to me; and a little bit of salt (of the earth) rounds out the flavor so much that I don’t feel I can ever eat too much of this stuff.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. I swapped Kosher salt for the “flaky sea salt” in the recipe – it’s going to melt anyway. I also accidentally added all of the cream to the cooked sugar. But it didn’t harm the process.

I’m starting to learn a better time management for making and setting ice cream. It’s similar to letting bread dough proof. In order for the ice cream to set up well, it has to sit in the freezer for about four hours before I can serve it. After having the family taste the custard before I put it in the ice cream maker, we we’re patient enough for that long.

What was left the day after stayed soft in the freezer. I’m starting to build a sense for what kind of recipes might be more successful than others. I’m liking where this adventure is going.

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Albums & Ice Cream – June 4

Albums & Ice Cream – June 4

The second post of the Albums & Ice Cream series features Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, since it’s the 50th anniversary of the music changing album from the Beatles. It goes without saying that the paired ice cream is strawberry.

My parents weren’t fans of the group, but it was impossible to not hear it. We have a couple of copies of it in various iterations; vinyl, CDs. I take tracks from it to my iPod for long walks on a treadmill. Still, it was great to sit and listen to it with full concentration; in awe of the innovative sounds and artistry.

There are no shortage of articles and reflections to aid my reflection. Rolling Stone names it the best album of all time. But to list all of the articles I’ve come across would be pure folly. There’s only 2-3 other references I want to mention. My friend’s book, Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio (Andy Babiuk, 2015). This book unlocks the secrets of their sound through expertly researched cataloging of their guitars, drums, amps, etc., throughout the band’s evolution. The book is a labour of love; and a treasure to have. Being married to a sound engineer, I’ve also had a ready reference to ask about tape looping or other ways Sir George Martin created those mysterious sounds pre-computer.

Last night, we tripped on the PBS broadcast of Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution.

The entire BBC documentary probably will be shown again. Just get ready for a heavy amount of interruptions for fundraising. But since public broadcasting depends on viewer contribution – that’s how it goes. The documentary only runs 45 minutes, just in case you were wondering. It’s worth watching. I’m going to keep my eye out for a second broadcast. There’s so much great information. The host, Howard Goodall is such an inspiring audience guide. Here’s a link to it’s official website for your own reference.

I had been planning on the strawberry ice cream pairing since hearing promotions on the Beatles’ Sirius XM station. I set out to search for the best strawberry ice cream I could find. Luckily I came across a food blogger who had done the same search and tested multiple recipes and techniques. Since he was so generous to document and share his findings, who am I to dispute his claim to the best recipe?

I had a box of grocery strawberries, but I knew I needed local, in season berries. I couldn’t wait for the beginning of our summer CSA (which will include strawberries), so Steve and I headed to the Easton farmer’s market. The trip inspired a whole bunch of other blog posts; and also a firm kick in the butt for the upcoming launch.

This is why you need to only make strawberry ice cream when the berries are in season:

The recipe has a few time consuming tasks. I found chopping the fruit into tiny pieces for mulling with a bit of alcohol (I used 1/2 Tito’s and 1/2 Limoncello), was calming. The step that took the longest was pushing the pureed berries through a fine strainer. It was worth it. I couldn’t wait for it to be fully set before writing this post.

I’ll update the picture and the post tomorrow with a new picture of firmer ice cream. But for now, I’ll slurp up a little bit more. Dang, it’s delicious! (Thanks, Max!)

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Albums & Ice Cream – May 31

Albums & Ice Cream – May 31

A friend I met through Twitter has a theme on his Instagram account called “Dinner and Vinyl.” Following his inspiration, I will blend a couple of goals I have for mastering a cooking technique, expanding my listening experience, and enjoying both on our patio in the warm summer air. Fair readers, let me welcome you to a new weekly topic:

“Albums and Ice Cream.”

Albums – because it may not always be vinyl, but it will be the entire album of work with a few brief comments on the overall impression. There is artistic thought into the flow of an album; the order of songs and the sense of journey throughout. Sure, there will be songs that grab me more than others, but to fully experience the listening, I give myself the gift of undivided attention and don’t talk over it either.

Ice Cream – because… c’mon! Do I really have to explain that?

This post features a new to me chocolate ice cream recipe and Little Steven Van Zandt’s new album, “Soulfire.”

Downloaded last week, the first tune, “Soulfire” already claimed the spot for my song of the summer. It’s got a great opening feel that makes me want to get in the car and just drive. With each track, you start to hear similar arrangements to some of the E Street Band; no doubt, his touch. He produced the album with so much nostalgic sound. Give track 8 a listen and tell me if that doesn’t have a familiar groove. According to my husband, if it’s got a trombone solo, it’s already a classic. And yes, this tune has a trombone solo. If you haven’t closed your eyes and started a little sway while listening; you have no soul.

Here’s a solid introduction to the album by Lara Stavropoulos on udiscovermusic. com. In the article, she mentions some of the tools and people in the album. She also reminded me that it’s been twenty years since his last solo album. This album, dear Mr. Van Zandt, is so worth the wait. If you choose to look for it on Spotify, that’s fine. But do the artist a solid and buy the entire album. There’s more than 15 other musicians on the album to get paid, too.

The ice cream recipe was ok. It was a regular egg custard with a cocoa powder base, and chopped semi-sweet chocolate melted into the base before cooling and adding cream and vanilla. No matter how much you think the solid chocolate melted, there’s still a grainy feel to the custard. I’ll keep trying other chocolate ice cream recipes.

In case you’re wondering, I do have an electric ice cream machine that makes these experiments possible. It sits patiently in my basement storage area until Memorial Day and gets its full measure of work until Labor Day.

Well these posts are going to be fun to pull together. I hope you’ll join me in the fun of exploring new sounds and new tastes. If you do, please share!

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