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Laura, over at Heavenly Homemakers did an experiment with ice cream a while back.  She took two half-gallons of commercial ice cream and let them melt.  Or attempted to let them melt.  After nearly 4 days, they didn’t – they became concave and sticky, but to actually say they melted isn’t quite accurate.  Alternately, her homemade ice cream melted within 30 minutes of being set out.  That was the straw that broke this proverbial camel’s back.  I had been leaning towards making homemade ice cream for a while and researched all sorts of ice cream makers, but after seeing those results, I swore off commercial ice cream for my family.

I ended up researching and finding really good reviews on the Donvier Ice Cream Freezer – unlike other models that owners said broke or rusted or were high-priced pieces of junk, this one had long-standing good reviews.  People who owned them for 15-18 years said they were still going strong after consistent use.  That was enough for me – I didn’t want an electric motor that could die on me, so this was perfect.  The insert is aluminum (I don’t get weirded out by aluminum, as it’s a natural part of our world and there’s no oxidation in the freezer-component that would make me think we were leaching aluminum in to our food), freezes within 7 hours, and works like a charm.  :)

My first batch of ice cream was made from the Donvier book – I was underwhelmed.  The quantity of ice crystals and the lack of cohesive mouth-feel was bleah.  After that, I borrowed Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book from the library and went to town.  The results were AMAZING.  The ice cream is creamy, the mouth-feel is terrific, and everyone raves over what comes out of the ice cream maker.

I knew I wanted to do a video on making homemade ice cream, but I didn’t want to make it too complicated.  As luck would have it, the strawberry-banana recipe in the book requires overripe bananas (we’re discovering how quickly fruit goes from “unripe” to “overripe” here in Arizona) and frozen strawberries.  I didn’t have the frozen strawberries, but I did have  a small portion of food-storage (freeze-dried) strawberries left over – they sort of clumped together in the heat of the moving truck and I wanted to use them up.  Score!

I highly recommend both the book and the ice cream maker if you have any interest in making your own ice cream.  As most things that are homemade, it’s time-consuming, but it’s entirely worthwhile.  And we find that one quart of homemade ice cream lasts us about a week – we eat less because it’s more filling and tastes so much better than the commercial stuff!  :)

I hope you enjoy the video – happy hand-cranking!  :)

It’s hot in Arizona.  Did you know that?  I had an idea that it was, but the reality is that’s waaaay hotter than anything I could’ve imagined on my own.  I had no point of reference for 109.5F, 111F, or even 115F (temperatures we’ve seen since landing here one week ago).  I also had no idea exactly how much sweat my body could produce.  I’ve always been a bit sweat-impaired – it takes me a long time when working out to actually break a sweat.  Not here.  Yes, my face and neck still get red, but now I drip.  Ugh.  There’s no ladylike glistening in these parts – it’s just plain sweating.  It makes my antiperspirant one of my favourite things these days – that and baby powder.  😉

Observations I’ve made in my last week include:

* there is practically zero humidity here.  This means that my hair is curly and not frizzy!  It means that the way I fix my hair in the morning is how it is in the evening, short of tying it up because I’m hot.  It also means that the sweet clerk at the grocery store who had frizzed out hair couldn’t blame the weather – she intentionally frizzed out her hair.  😉

* there are many, many dark-coloured cars on the roads here.  I was told that only “imports” (i.e., transplants to the area) had dark coloured cars and that everyone else drove white or silver vehicles.  Maybe that’s true and the roads are filled with transplants, or maybe people just get sick of driving white or silver cars and deal with the heat of a darker coloured car.

* speaking of heat in cars, I’ve discovered (the hard way) that not even a reflective windshield-thing will keep your car temperatures from becoming unbearably H.O.T.  We went to the Ikea in Tempe last weekend and dutifully put the windshield-thingy in, as we were parked facing the rising sun.  I went out a mere 90 minutes later and HOLY. CRAP.  I honestly thought I might spontaneously burst in to flames and Mark would wonder where the car was (he was waiting with purchased items at the loading dock), because the woman he married had turned in to a crisp cinder and was unable to drive the car to get him.  I have NEVER experienced that kind of heat before.  If cold water takes my breath away (and it does), this absolutely sucked all air from my lungs and left me gasping.  I gingerly held the steering wheel and gearshift with tissues under each hand and drove to the loading dock with the air conditioning blasting.

* speaking of water, I cannot seem to get cold water to come out of the tap here.  And there’s hot water in the toilet bowl.  Seriously.  I was putting away the toilet-cleaning supplies (behind the toilet, naturally) and felt heat coming off of the bowl.  Upon further investigation, I realized the water in the bowl was HOT.  I cannot get the shower to produce cold water at all – I actually think there might be something wrong with the way the shower is plumbed, because there really IS a cold water valve under the sinks and the water valve at the back of the toilet should indeed be cold water.

* I hate the GPS unit we bought.  And I subsequently bought another with the intent of selling the first.  We’ll see how the second one works, but I suspect it will be better than the first.  I wish there was a way to “test drive” these things and figure out which will work best for you before committing to them.  No amount of reviews on Amazon.com led me to think that the original device we purchased would take me a round-about way to the mall (5.6 miles) when the mall is 2.7 miles straight up the road from our apartment.  0_o

* leg cramps brought on by lack of potassium due to sweating excessive amounts can be cured with Gatorade.  Who knew?  I’ve had horrible leg cramps in the last week and only in the last few days did I realize that drinking Gatorade would alleviate them.  Thankfully, this is something that is cheap here, and my suspicion is that it’s a staple in diets here during the summer months.

* the HOV lane on the expressway is great – until you have to get over 5 lanes of traffic with people who don’t use turn signals and don’t look before changing lanes, praying the whole while you don’t miss your exit.  That’s all I’m gonna say about that, other than to say that we’ve learned the surface roads to Mark’s office and I’m content driving those for a while.

* As much of a non-fan I am of ice cream, homemade ice cream tastes pretty amazing when dealing with the temperatures we’re dealing with.  Especially a fresh raspberry ice cream. :)

I’m hoping to be back on my regular blogging schedule, complete with a Show Me Saturday video next week.  I’ve unpacked enough to find the video camera and the firewire cable, so we should be good to go.  :)

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