Friday, January 31, 2014

Tools and Techniques of Making Ice Cream - Part Two

Part one of this series covered pretty much all you need to know about the ice cream maker itself. But before pulling the trigger on an expensive compressor based ice cream maker, let’s discuss some other needed utensils.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tools and Techniques of Making Ice Cream - Part One

Making ice cream at home is a lot easier now than when I was young. I remember having one of these ridiculous contraptions:

Old fashioned Ice Cream Maker
He had found a machine which had provided him with a metal cup filled
with a viscous liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike ice cream.

It was such a hassle. We had to buy crushed ice and layer it with salt in that giant bucket. The manual was written poorly and the recipes were really basic. No exotic flavors like I used to get at Baskin-Robbins. I dreamed of this thing churning out hard serve ice cream when we were done, but it never quite gelled properly. We poured the contents into an over-sized mixing bowl and stuck it in the freezer. The resulting brick of milk-like substance was stuck to the ceramic bowl as if it were superglued. Every exposed surface was covered in ice crystals and made every bite taste like freezer burn. We stuck the ice cream maker on a shelf in the basement and never used that horrible thing ever again.

In all fairness, it wasn’t entirely the ice cream maker’s fault. I’m sure there are people who have used this type of device with great success. We really didn’t know what the heck we were doing. There was no Internet back then. There were no books at the local library with pictures and step-by step instructions. I don’t ever recall seeing a VHS tape on home ice cream making and even if such a thing existed back then, it was probably crap.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The poor, misunderstood...glycerol molecule

As an outsider to the field of nutrition, it’s puzzling to me when commonplace foodstuffs are surrounded by fear, uncertainty, and doubt. High profile additives like food dyes and artificial sweeteners get lots of attention in the mainstream media. These ingredients can be very profitable for giant food conglomerates, so while the corporate shills and conspiratorial kooks both spread their own particular brand of misinformation and confirmation bias, somebody somewhere is probably doing some real science to get at the real answer...eventually...hopefully.  High profile foodstuffs have a much better chance of being thoroughly investigated, tested, and their results peer reviewed. Relatively low profile additives may not get the same level of attention.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The quest for a truly low carb ice cream

One of the most important pieces of advice I give to someone starting a new diet is “learn to cook.” It doesn’t matter if it’s low carb, vegan, paleo, etc. You can’t rely on prepackaged food to meet your standards of quality. I can make better sugar free chocolate candies at home than any product sold in stores. It tastes better, is lower in carbs, higher in fat (percentage-wise), and uses top quality ingredients. It was this obsession for sugar free perfection that led me to tackle one of the most satisfying of fatty foods: ice cream.

The pre-packaged ice cream market isn’t very friendly to low carb dieters. They offer us low fat frozen desserts that are full of sugar to compensate for the lack of butterfat. Oh sure, you can find some “no sugar added” products, but they are still high enough in carbohydrates to be considered verboten. The few that are truly sugar free are loaded with sugar alcohols that make your stomach do flip-flops and raise your insulin levels. Why the heck can’t there be at least one brand that’s high in fat yet contains no sugar? Unfortunately, I don’t see this getting better anytime soon. The industry is pushing the boundaries so far in the low fat/low cost direction that their products can’t legally be called ice cream anymore. I guess if I want something done right, I gotta do it myself…again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

What is this “blog” thing you speak of?

I’ve been on the Internet since the late 80’s, so it may seem strange that my first blog post ever is in 2014. Back before the “Eternal September,” the Usenet was an incredible marketplace of ideas. It had more of a Bulletin Board System feel than a modern Internet forum.  I like the concept of interactive communication between people exchanging ideas they care about.  Blogs, other the other hand, seem dictatorial and narcissistic to me.  People are supposed to come to my blog just to read my thoughts on whatever I care about?  That’s not my style.

I’m not comfortable with the idea of spewing forth every inconsequential thought and feeling for everyone to read.  This is probably why I still don’t have a Facebook account.  I started using Twitter, but only as a kind of a bookmarking system.  I’d retweet things that I found interesting just so I could refer back to them if I ever needed.  I began to make connections to people who shared the same interests.  I began to view Twitter as a kind of unorganized forum where each message had a 140 characters limit.  Great for quick thoughts, but too limiting to have any kind of meaningful dialog.  I also began to realize that posts on Twitter were fleeting.  Yes, I suppose tweet histories are searchable through Twitter, but not many people use Twitter as a research tool.  A Google search isn’t going to bring up a conversation where something insightful was communicated in a tweet a few years ago.  If I’m going to share information and ideas, it’s going to have to be on a different medium.

I created this blog to be a kind of online filing cabinet of ideas and experiences that may be beneficial to other people.  I don’t have a plan or grand vision for this blog. I’m used to N=1 experiments, so here goes...something.