Why won’t it freeze? The trials of making our own ice cream…

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How hard could it be? Visions of having a never ending supply of our very own homemade ice cream danced through my head. I remember doing it when I was really little. I was 7. I was in the Philippines visiting family for an entire month. It was jungle hot and as kids we were probably bored. For a fun activity, my grandmother brought out an old fashioned ice cream maker. I’m not sure who made the recipe or even what was in it, but I remember helping put in the ice, adding chunky salt and turning this metal crank for what seemed hours. Simple in process that became harder work as the ice cream thickened. I remember too, the joy of seeing and tasting whatever ice cream we made. Anyway… I’m browsing Amazon and come across an old fashioned ice cream maker. It’s a prettier version of the one my grandmother had, but made out of lightweight plastic, a pretty baby blue and most importantly, electric! So I ordered it.

Let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it looked or as I recalled. I really do think, my grandmother must have done most of the work. Seriously. This is what I learned: Lesson #1, a single recipe requires a lot of milk and cream…. I mean A LOT. Lesson #2, buy the right salt. There apparently is salt specifically needed for ice cream making. I thought I could just use more of the rock salt I had in the house. More does not equate to equivalent or better. I kid you not, it seemed like days before any ice cream magic would happen. Lesson #3, if you’re fortunate enough to get your ice cream to thicken up, it’s still very soft out of the machine. To get solid ice cream, you still have to pour your milkshake into a container and freeze it. This means waiting and fending off little and big hands with spoons trying to sneak tiny tastes.

Don’t get me wrong. The stuff tasted fantastic. It wasn’t so pretty the first few (and yes, I mean few) times we did it. We made several super rich milkshakes because the kids couldn’t wait for the frosty treat to firm up.

Would we make it again? Of course! Especially now that I think I know what I’m doing. I’ll have to buy a small cow and tons of ice cream salt… but we’ll do it again.  Someone did tell me that there are spherical type ice cream makers… Hmmmm… may be an idea for our road trips.  I can have the kids roll the “ball” to churn the ice cream!  See related posts below.  I even found one that gives a recipe on making ice cream in a bag!

You’ll note that I don’t have any finished dessert pictures. It took so long before we could get the finished product that I completely forgot about capturing any pictures as everyone was lapping it up.  Sorry!

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What’s my Focus?

On a recent critique of the photos I had taken of my youngest daughter, a photographer mentioned that my choice of light was good but that I needed to focus on my subject more. He proceeded to point out in several of my photos where I had done a nice job of focusing on my daughter by simply blurring out the background. Huh? Upon closer examination, I see his point. In the pictures where my subject is the only thing in focus, her image just “pops” out at you. The blurred background offers no distraction to my main subject. In food photography, thumbing through other people’s work, I noticed that many shots have a short depth of field. Meaning, that the food item is the only item in focus while all else behind it is blurred out. It makes for an “artsy” feel and gastronomically draws the viewer into the dish. So I decided to take some classes to officially learn the fundamentals of my camera and how to gain the effect I want on purpose rather than by accident or luck – mind you… neither of those hurt to have! I shoot with a Sony α100 digital camera. Why Sony and not Cannon or Nikon? Frankly it’s because my brother-in-law had given me his old Minolta with various lenses and Minolta lenses fit Sony camera bodies. I LOVE my camera and I imagine Sony must be on their umpteenth version by now. (Note to self: add to my wish list the Sony a33). As luck would have it, the store I purchased my camera from offers a curriculum of photography classes free with purchase.  The classes are basic and practical. In them, I learned how to adjust the depth of field, what ISO and Aperture means, and what all those funny little A, P, M and so on settings are on my camera.  They taught me how to set my camera on continuous shooting and gave me recommendations for shooting in low or bright light.  I learned what light flares are! I must say that coming away from the classes, I have a greater appreciation for my camera, lenses and simply the art of photography!  Armed with my new found knowledge of the basic principles, now all that’s left is to practice, practice, practice! Which I’m more than happy to do! 🙂

I had to add this one! My 9 y/o arranged the food and shot this pic herself. It's her masterpiece!