Here is turning suffocatingly humid.
Here marks the height of nasty-seats-with-sweaty-asses season.
Here. Is. August.
Summer in BJ conveniently located near the relentlessly ever-expanding desert is… uuh~unpleasant to say the least. Those (as my old self) who mindlessly takes granted for the comfort of modern AC from the rooms they wake up in, to the transportation on the way, to the offices they spend the day, to the restaurants they dine with, then back to the rooms they go to sleep to – please mind this: Beijing is anything BUT modern. Forget what you heard. NOPE, NOT modern. Not even CLOSE! Modern would be a word that it’s still trying to SPELL. And therefore luck is to catch a cab that’s equipped with a lukewarm fan shamelessly introduced as an AC. It makes my blood boil. Literally and figuratively.
OK, I can’t believe there’s a “but” after this but… BUT then again, anti-comfort is probably the synonym for living-green which we found so impossibly difficult to practice back in the States… So we took this as a cue to finally learn to take-one-for-the-team.
That would be team EARTH!
So on our apartment hunt, Jason and I chose this famously designed, eco-friendly, centrally-monitored-temperature complex where the carbon footprint is low, and the rooms are… HOT. 26ºC degrees hot. CONSTANTLY 26ºC. Arrgh! Is it just me or 26ºC is NOT a comfortable living temperature? I’m sticking to every leather-upholstered furniture in the apartment and I feel like I’m violating them. I’m NOT MADE for 26ºC! OK, of course we could move. But that would imply that we consciously chose a 3ºC degrees difference over… EARTH! and FISHES… and LOTS of other animals that I would like’em to stay, too… Arrgh, hard is another synonym for right.
So when life gives you a heat wave.
Blast the AC Make gelato. Correction. Turn everything that could potentially be a gelato, into a gelato is what what I mean. Woo~ look I have sweet corns in the fridge! How about some grilled corns? NAAAAH! GELAAATO！Yeah, that pretty much sums up my entire thought process that lead to this. Just to be perfectly frank, I also used to be those who puzzled about “the OTHERS” who make their own ice-creams at home. I mean… WHY? I can’t beat Ben & Jerry. Well… it turns out for $8.00/pint as it’s going rate here, I kind of can. Or I could spend less for cheap, local ice-creams made with suspicious ingredients and taste like milk powder, and in 15-years time wonder how the hell I got cancer. … NO. I think I’ll make my own. So Jason and I purchased our first-time-ever-in-life ice cream maker~ TAH DAH!! Yeah ok… it doesn’t look much. Because between the choices of this $30 gadget that’s really just an ice bucket, or a glittering $300 Mr. Fancy-pants machine that comes with its own compressor…, we chose sanity. That’s a synonym for cheap. Fortunately, cheap still works.
- 2 sweet corns
- 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
- 1/2 cup of cream
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 3 tbsp of tapioca starch (or corn starch)
This is gelato. So a dense texture, as-little-as-possible air pockets and ice crystals is the goal here. I did a little research and found that a couple of things help contribute to that end result. First of all, the milk mixture (whatever flavor it may be) has to be “rested/aged” in the fridge for at least 6 hours before freezing in order for the protein molecules to bond with water, which will result in smaller ice crystals in the gelato. And the addition of corn starch in the milk mixture will help achieve an even denser, smoother texture. I know. Molecule what?… Just stick to it.
Cut off the kernels from the corns and chop the corns into segments. Combine milk, cream, sugar, kernels and corn segments in a sauce pot and bring to a simmer on low heat. Let the mixture simmer for 15 min.
Pick out the corn segments and discard. Run the milk and corn mixture through a sieve. Puree the corn kernels with a bit of milk mixture (enough to work with) in a food processor. If you have a blender, use a blender. My blender was mercilessly ruined by my husband in an attempt to make soy milk… so food processor is now my only option. I couldn’t get a fine puree from the food processor so I have tiny bits of corns in my gelato. It didn’t bother me though.
Run the corn puree through a sieve again, and use a spatula to press on the puree to get as much to pass through the sieve as possible. Then combine the corn puree back with the reserved milk mixture, and add the tapioca/corn starch. Whisk and make sure the starch is evenly integrated into the mixture. Return to low heat and bring to a simmer. The mixture should thicken up pretty quickly. Once it does, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit in the fridge for AT LEAST 6 hours.
So since my “ice cream maker” is really just an ice bucket, it has to be frozen in the freezer at least 10 hours before using. This is obviously not the case for fancy ice cream makers with its own compressor. And I find that my ice bucket starts to loose its cooling effect and reaches a point of “negative return” after about… 20 min. So to take some load off this poor, little shitty machine, I keep my batch under 3 cups at a time.
After the milk mixture has “aged” in the fridge, churn it into gelato based on whatever instructions of your ice cream maker.
If using a poor, little shitty ice bucket like I am, I find it helpful to leave the mixture in the bucket after churning for 20 min. Then return the whole bucket with the mixture into the freezer. Every 15 min, take out the bucket and scrape off the sides and “stir” the gelato with a spatula, almost like… “kneading” it if you will. This may take a bit of a muscle. Then return it back in the fridge for 15 min. Repeat that for 3 ~ 4 time, and it should result in a denser and creamier gelato.
And the best time to eat it is right after its done when it’s still creamy and soft.