Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch (or join us) as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.
It's been a crappy day. There have been disobedient children; there have been nursing babies biting the thing that is much more sensitive and tender than a hand which feeds them; there have been video games and the fights that go with them (and here I'm referring to the fights off the screen); there have been naps cut short and bad attitudes and plenty of PMS. Which, if I may add, in a particularly PMS-y way, I just don't get. I mean, whether you you believe is God's Grand Design or Natural Selection, it just doesn't make sense. I mean, why would God create a person He kind of likes much less loves with such a flaw. And surely natural selection should have kicked that malfunction out of the line-up a long time ago. So I just tell myself that God loves and trusts women to rise above. Or that moody, grumpy women are really hot and that's how we've managed to stay around. Or that moody, grumpy religious women are hot. Only I don't tell myself that. I just cry. And pine after the ice cream we had earlier this week for my baby's birthday. Maybe writing about it will make me feel better.
For Christmas I got a couple ice cream makers. I love them both. I love the big party one from Kip's parents that can make a gallon (but doesn't have to) and is tried and true among the in-laws, which is saying a lot. And I love the little everyday one my sister's family gave us--the one with the base you can pop in the freezer and make just a bit of ice cream if you're in the mood for just a bit of something. It was this little guy we used to make my daughter's birthday ice cream. And it was fun. I wanted pure vanilla on our first run, but I was unanimously out-voted so we had chocolate chip instead. I didn't complain. The nice thing about making just a bit of something is that it doesn't have to break the cheap eat challenge. Unless of course, you develop an addiction, which is a very likely thing. Perhaps I should have Kip hide the gallon ice cream maker just in case. Only I don't think I could trust him to do it. In fact the mere mention of such a thing might put ice cream making dreams into his head--feelings he just couldn't deny until he acted upon them. And that is not what one needs when one is trying to convince one's family to eat on only $6/day. No, indeed. But I believe I have digressed.
Anyway, homemade ice cream can be made cheaply, especially if you don't need ice, or if you make your own ice instead of buying the ridiculously priced bags because you didn't think ahead (which, um, is generally our method--Kip hide the gallon ice cream maker; no, wait, don't.). Anyway, it can also be embarrassingly simple--sugar, milk, cream, vanilla--mixed up and thrown in. We opted for a slightly more decadent custard version that used egg which we cooked with the milk (though you can throw it all in raw and go for it, if you're the devil may care type).
Note on cheapness: When I say ice cream can be made 'cheaply,' you must remember to compare apples to apples--the substance I am referring to is something made with cream, milk, egg, sugar, and real vanilla extract. It is something most closely equivalent to (though better than) Breyer's. I expect there are "icecreams" on the market these days that are cheaper than what we made, but I expect--no, I guarantee--that they are made, nay, filled with sub-par ingredients. I'll be working on a cheaper version in the months to come--one that has a heavier milk to cream ratio with no eggs. We'll see how it goes.
Note on add-ins: I hate the wimpy add-ins the store bought ice cream sometimes have. That said, if you make yours too chunky, they will make your ice cream maker stop churning. If you want super chunks, stir them in yourself at the end.
Note on chocolate chips: Chop them up. A big piece of frozen chocolate is fine and all, but your chocolate chip ice cream will be much better with little frozen bits throughout. I may not know everything about cooking, but I know chocolate and ice cream fairly well. Chop them up.
Note on winter: I am aware that it is January and wicked cold in these parts. Nevertheless, stores persist in keeping ice cream on their shelves. I assume that that means people are buying it. If those people are you, then enjoy.
If you'd like ice cream, but don't have an ice cream maker, try this wonderful recipe from allrecipes for a freezer ice cream. It's not completely cheap, but it's completely great.
I myself cannot tonight enjoy. And so I will drown my sorrows by eating a handful of some of the mix-ins my sister gave us when she gave us the ice cream maker. Bon appetit.
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Serves 6-12 (depending on whether you eat a normal amount or the 1/2 C amount considered a portion by people who are clearly delusional)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Wait time: 1 1/2 hours--1 hour for cooling; 1/2 hour for churning (like I say above, the cooling portion can be avoided by removing the egg or not caring about it being raw)
Cost: $1.80 for vanilla; $2.00 with the chocolate chips added
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 C whole milk (we used 2% and all was well)
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C chocolate chips--chopped up so they're random sized bits and shavings and what nots
In saucepan, combine sugar, salt, milk, and beaten eggs. Whisk together. Keep stirring/whisking occasionally until milk is steaming. Cook a few more minutes until very slightly thickened (about 160-180 degrees if you've got an instant read thermometer).
Cool this mixture. (If you skip this step, your ice cream maker may not be able to freeze it up for you.) We put ours in a shallow dish, covered it and put it outside to get it cool fast.
Stir heavy cream and vanilla in.
Churn it according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Put the chopped chocolate chips in near the end.
We ate ours with this Swedish chocolate cake, which is pretty much a circular brownie.