Homemade Peach Ice Cream — Without an Ice-Cream Maker

20120717__0719_HOGAR_PEACHES

Palisade, Colorado, is home to some of the juiciest, sweetest and best-tasting peaches I’ve ever had. And people, I know peaches. My parents grow peaches in South Texas. I’m never around anymore during picking season, but I get to enjoy them in Mom’s homemade peach pies at the holidays. My grandmother used to make the best homemade peach ice cream. I love peaches so much that I’ve even been known to make peach jam, which is sort of out of character because there’s this whole fear of bacteria thing I have going on.

The point of all this (there is one, I promise) is that Palisade peaches are in season right now, and there was a legit rush going on at the farmer’s market on Saturday. Yuppies and grandmas alike were elbowing each other to get their hands on a box or two.

It got a little crazy. I tried to remain calm, but one lady literally pushed me at one point, and my kid wasn’t with me so hell yes I pushed back. I’m not proud of that moment, but we’re talking peaches here.

Actually, the point of this blog is not at all about peach-craving betches in their yoga capris and pointy visors. The point is that I came home with some gorgeous peaches and wanted to make ice cream in honor of my Mammaw. But I wanted a shortcut.

I found one, and it was seriously good! Maybe not AS good as Mammaw’s, but I didn’t have to use an ice cream maker, and I only needed two ingredients.

No-Churn Peach Ice Cream

Peel and slice 6 large, ripe peaches.

Put them in a bowl in the freezer. Freeze until they are firm.

Put frozen peaches and 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk in a blender or food processor. Mix well.

Put mixture back in freezer for 2 hours, then enjoy!

Seriously, try it. It’s wonderful. And so easy.

 

Why Of Course There’s a Recipe for Dr Pepper Ice Cream

A great Texas friend (thanks, Lorri) who shares my unfortunate crack-like addiction to Dr Pepper recently sent me a recipe for Dr Pepper ice cream.

Because, well, hell yes, I want some! What could be better than ice-cold Dr Pepper but ice-cold Dr Pepper surrounded by smooth, ice-cold cream?

I haven’t tried it yet, but wanted to share the recipe with others, so that the joy will be spread around the world. Or at least WordPress.

Here you go:

Dr Pepper Ice Cream
(Recipe is for a one-gallon ice cream freezer)  
   
     1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand or similar)
     1 pint half and half
     3 regular cans Dr Pepper
     1 cup sugar
      4 eggs
      2 tsp vanilla extract
      1 T. flour
 
Vintage Dr Pepper ad from the 1960s, via Vintage Ad Browser

Vintage Dr Pepper ad from the 1960s, via Vintage Ad Browser

Memories Like Soup

Tip: Do not search for soup images while you are hungry.

Tip: Do not search for soup images while you are hungry.

Isn’t it interesting the memories that your brain’s cerebrum chooses to hold on tight to well into adulthood?

I mean, sure, there are the obvious high points, like the night of your high school graduation. (I still remember what I wore under my black gown, do you?) There are the low points, like the first time you experienced the loss of a childhood cherished pet. (Oh Champ, I still mourn you. Such a good, good dog.)

But there are also those weird little memories that, in the big scheme of life, tend to seemingly have no meaning. Yet, they emerge when you least expect it and become symbolic somehow.

I had one of those memories pop up this weekend.

My son wasn’t feeling great, and we were snuggling together on the couch, reading, in the early evening, having just eaten supper, most of which he didn’t touch. And then for whatever reason, I began to remember being really sick on a rare cool and rainy fall Sunday in South Texas when I was maybe 9 or 10. I remembered being curled up on the living room couch, coughing, with my Snoopy pillow against my cheek, while my dad watched the Houston Oilers in his recliner and snacked on peanuts.

But mostly, I remembered my mom in the kitchen (not unusual, as she spends most of her waking moments there still to this day), making my favorite creamy potato soup. We’re talking smooth, rich, perfectly homemade potato soup. Soup that’ll smooth the rough edges off your soul with just a cupful. No lie.

I swear, I could smell it simmering. I could hear the spoon against the stainless-steel side of the soup pan as she stirred it. I don’t remember actually eating the soup that Sunday, and I don’t recall any of the conversations that might have gone on around me. But I do vividly remember Mom making that soup … for me.

So, here in Colorado, I handed the Stinkbug over to his dad, who was also watching football on TV, in a recliner. And I quickly drove the 20 miles to the grocery store for ingredients. Then I came home, and at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night, I began to make my son’s favorite homemade chicken noodle soup.

I could say that I did it because I want a Mom of the Year award. (Do they give those out? Because that’d be cool.) Or I could say I did it because I knew he’d likely be even sicker tomorrow, and the soup would comfort him. (Prediction verified, darnit.)

But somewhere inside, I know the real reason I made that soup. It’s because some day, I’d love for him to be holding his own sniffling kiddo on a cool fall Sunday (maybe they’ll be watching football)  – and I hope, in that moment, he’ll think of me and smile.

—————————————————————–

PS: Thanks, Mama, for making that soup that day. Just in case I didn’t tell you because I was a snot-nosed, smart-ass preteen. Which is unlikely, right? But just in case.

You Must Try This Recipe: Shrimp Tacos With Corn-Avocado Salsa

Photo credit: Iain Bagwell, from http://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy/quick-easy-mexican-recipes-00400000054866/page26.html

Photo credit: Iain Bagwell, from cookinglight.com

This evening, my husband, son and I made the most awesome, fresh-tasting summer meal. And let me say right now that, being a South Texas girl with a Mama who cooks better than most professional chefs, I rarely rave about a taco recipe because who could ever improve on hers?

Well, this one comes close. We adapted from a Cooking Light recipe and made it our own. (The magazine called this “Mexican food,” by the way, and it’s not. It’s more California Meets Texas food.) Regardless, I highly recommend. And the greatest part is that it had plenty of smaller jobs that our son could handle. He was very proud of his lime-sour cream sauce.

Try it while the summer corn is still in season!

Shrimp Tacos With Corn-Avocado Salsa

3 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut off the cob

2 tsp. olive oil, divided

1 cup chopped green onions

1 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of 1 lime, divided

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper, divided

Dash of cumin, chili powder and garlic powder

1 large avocado, diced

1 lb. frozen shrimp (tails off) – defrosted

4 oz. sour cream (light)

White corn tortillas

1/2 cup canola oil

——————————————————————–

Mix corn with 1 tsp. of olive oil, spread in a roasting pan. Broil on high about 8 minutes until corn is lightly browned. Let corn cool.

Combine corn, avocado, cilantro, green onions, salt, 1/4 tsp. of black pepper, and juice of half a lime. Mix carefully so it doesn’t turn to mush!

Combine 2 tsp. of lime juice with sour cream to make the lime-sour cream sauce. Mix thoroughly. Kiddo says for about 15 minutes. “That’s how I got it perfect,” he says. Mom says 30 seconds at most. 🙂

Toss shrimp into sauté pan with remaining olive oil and add spices and the remaining juice in the lime. If the shrimp is making a ton of liquid as it cooks, pour off a good deal of the liquid as you cook. Cook the shrimp, stirring/tossing, for about 6 minutes or so – or until done.

Meanwhile, fry the corn tortillas in the canola oil until they are just beginning to get crunchy – you want them soft enough to bend easily still.

Top each warm tortilla with the corn-avocado mixture and a drizzle of the lime-sour cream sauce.

Enjoy with a light ale or ice-cold Dr Pepper, of course.

MMMMMMMMM.

 

 

Texas Women Bloggers

A Good Kind of Chocolate Milk Bath (Recipe)

chocolate milk bath man

FACT: Chocolate milk baths aren’t just for ladies, according to the Internet.

In my novel, A Good Kind of Knowing, a scene involving a chocolate milk bath plays a prominent role. So, to honor the main characters Sera and Bill, I thought I’d post a simple recipe for making your own kind of chocolate milk bath. It’s good for the skin — and well, fun.

Double-dog dare you.

Ingredients

2 cups powdered whole milk

½ cup cocoa powder

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients all together first, then pour into the tub as you’re filling it with warm water. Relax into the bath, preferably with one of my novels nearby for reading.

Let me know if you try this. When I was writing the novel, I tried it myself. Ahhhh….

The research we writers do for you readers is plain hell sometimes.

What I’m Thankful for Right Now, in This Moment

New and old friends and family who support my writing. A six-year-old who can already cook up a mean batch of fried catfish. Sonic ice and Dr Pepper. A husband who buys me Sonic ice because he knows it makes me happy. Two furry babies who make me smile, no matter how very bad they can be. My publisher, 30 Day Books (Laura Pepper Wu and Brandon Wu) — it’s so darn awesome to know that there are good, kind people all over the world, and that I have these folks on my side. Jeremy Kron for his wonderful work on my novels’ cover and interior design. My new job with Truven Health Analytics. I’m loving the work so much. Knowing that I’ll get to see my family and taste my mama’s cooking in just a couple of weeks. My Kindle Fire. Brilliant writing by people who inspire me. The herd of deer hanging out on our road this evening. The Rocky Mountains. Fresh mountain air. Memory foam. This laptop. Friends I know will be there for me if I need them. Texas Hill Country pecans, found at a Target in Colorado, believe it or not. Cool cotton pillowcases. Good wine. Stand-up comedians. A mother- and father-in-law who adore my son and treat us all with overwhelming generosity. The good health of myself, my family and my friends. The music of Lyle Lovett. Sara Lee pies because I don’t have time to make my own. Readers out there in the universe who are reading my novels and taking the time to let me know that my words touched them somehow. Every single person who has written a review of either of my novels. My eyesight. A soft, warm blanket on a chilly night. Stars. Avocados. Dark chocolate. Ariat boots. Vacuum cleaners. Wild Orange essential oil. A massage therapist as a spouse. And the sound of my angel-son saying, “I love you, mama,” as he drifts off to sleep.

What are you thankful for right now, in this moment? (Don’t think about it deeply, just spit out what comes to mind. It’s nice sometimes to just Let. It. Out.) PS: Vacuum is a weird word, isn’t it?

 

 

 

The Best Comfort Foods, Texas Style

We all have them. Those favorite foods that we turn to when we’ve had a fight with a significant other, when the work day was like walking through a war zone, when you feel like you’ve been beat up one side and down the other, when things are just not going well at all, when we need a little bit of warmth for the soul. Yes, I just used the phrase “warmth for the soul.” Next thing you know, I’ll be planning office parties and wearing Christmas sweaters. It could happen?

Seriously, I found that when I moved away from Texas, my favorite comfort foods from home became even more important to me. So, here are some of my top Texas comfort foods and the memories they stir up like a nest of Yellow Jackets. (Or something much nicer that warms the soul but that I can’t exactly think of right now.)

Mmmmmm. Rings of Texas pit sausage. Can you smell it?

  1. Real Texas barbecue– I spent my childhood Sundays soaking up the smell of mesquite wood from my dad’s barbecue pit and smoker. Mom would make her magic marinades, and Daddy would man the pit. You haven’t tasted perfection until you’ve had their barbecue, whether it’s brisket sealed with that crisp black goodness of flavor or ring sausage that literally bursts with juice when you take a bite. No sauce needed. It’s rare for me to find good barbecue up here in Colorado, but every now and then, I’ll chance upon something that’s at least edible. And even mediocre barbecue takes me back to weekends on the Guadalupe River, trying to avoid the water moccasins, and swinging into the river from a rope tied to an old oak tree. And river mud. Lots of river mud between my toes.

    These turtles are called Texas River Sliders, and you can see them everywhere along the Guadalupe. And no, I don't eat them and they are not a comfort food. But they are cool.

  2. Texas chili – It has to be my mom’s recipe, of course, with just a kick of spice. My mom always seemed to have a pot of chili in waiting, and now we celebrate the first snowfall at our home at the top of a mountain each year by making a pot of Mom’s chili. Secret recipe hint: It has cornmeal in it. (Funny side note:  When I first reread this, I had left out the “a” in front of “My mom always seemed to have a pot” … so it read “My mom always seemed to have pot.” Frankly, that would have been a way more interesting childhood.)
  3. Potato soup – I know it’s a common theme here, but my mom makes the Best Potato Soup Ever.  She always made it for me when I was feeling under the weather, no matter how busy she was as a working mom of three crazy kids.
  4. Beer Nuts– Yes, I’m talking about those sweet-salty nuts you find at convenience stores next to the Slim Jims and teriyaki jerky. My dad loves Beer Nuts, and they remind me of him.

    Beer Nuts

    Admit it. You're jonesing for some of these right now, aren't you?

  5. Peach ice cream – Nothing says summer to me more than peach ice cream. One of the real treats of visiting my Mammaw and PawPaw back in the day was fishing for catfish in their tank (let me know if you non-Texans need a translation of a tank) and then cooling off with their homemade peach ice cream … with fresh peaches and lots of cream and the perfect amount of sweetness. I have yet to find a commercial brand that makes the cut, but I keep trying. (Sorry, Blue Bell. I’ve known Elizabeth Hart’s ice cream and sir, you’re no Elizabeth Hart.)

Now (maybe because I have a problem?), I also have Colorado comfort foods — but I’ll cover those in another post, because I’ve made myself really homesick and hungry now. Where are those Beer Nuts when you need ‘em?

What’s your favorite comfort food? What does it remind you of? I wanna know!

Everything I Learned About Cooking I Learned from My Mama (Even Though She Doesn’t Let Me Near Her Kitchen)

I need this cup.

I come from a long line of control freaks.

In fact, the need to be in control at all times has been handed down through the generations to my mother, and to my sisters and me, like bad costume jewelry. This is no secret, especially to our husbands, our children, our coworkers (Shut up, CCG.)

We don’t just like to be in control, we pretty much demand it without saying it out loud. We kinda mow people down with our opinions and our plans. (I hereby apologize to everyone I have in the past, or will in the future, take down like a Craftsman 3-in-1 self-propelled chopper.)

I think in some psychotherapy circles our control freakishism could be considered a treatable illness, but for us, it’s just how it is. Our unstated mantra: Get in line and follow our lead, or get the hell out of our way while we make this particular thing happen. (Being control freaks isn’t very fun for us, by the way. It might seem like it is, because we tend to get our way (a lot), but it’s actually quite exhausting. Some people go to the gym to feel the burn, we just manage our loved one’s lives.)

All of this is to bring me to the point of today’s Mother’s Day-themed blog post. My mom is one of the most talented cooks in the state of Texas, maybe in the whole damn country. She could season up a cow patty, smother it in her gravy, and you’d eat it like it was a sirloin and ask for more. No exaggeration. She’s that good. I seriously don’t think I have ever eaten anything — anything — in my 43 years as her daughter that I didn’t like. (No comment needed here about the effect of this on my hourglass figure.)

My mom's version of chicken cacciatore would put this one to shame.

Even her so-called “mistakes,” are delicious. It doesn’t matter what the dish is, a soup, casserole, salad, cobbler, breakfast taco, you name it. If it’s a “Sue’s Surprise,” you’d elbow out a hungry child to get to it first.

But here’s the rub: She doesn’t allow people, like, er, her daughters, in her domain. Her kitchen is pretty much off limits. She may say she wants your help, but she doesn’t mean it. Because she needs to do it her way, which of course is the right way.

That means that everything I learned from her had to be learned on the sly. (Lucky! It just so happens that sly is something I do well.) I watched her from around the corner of the living room when she thought I was dusting. I memorized her techniques while she thought I was merely playing jacks or pick-up-sticks under her feet. (You didn’t have to nudge me so hard with that nasty old pink house shoe, by the way, Mom.) I even caught her at a low point after some surgery one time, while she was still under the influence of a great many pain killers, and convinced her to tell me some of her recipes that she keeps only in her head. I am not above resorting to these kinds of tactics for the greater good of society and the culinary arts.

My beautiful mother with an unknown stinkbug.

Nowadays, I think I’ve turned out to be a pretty good cook, too. (Not at legendary level, like her, but I can make a batch of enchiladas that’ll make you want to slap your pet alligator twice. Which sounds a little more risqué than I meant it to.) Basically, I can make her chili and her ranch dressing and her cornbread, but I haven’t mastered her apple pies or chicken-fried steak or roasted turkey.

I’m still learning, though. Every time I go home, I’ll continue to make mental notes, before she (figuratively this time) kicks me out from under her feet again. I’ll park myself at the kitchen table and watch her do her magic, whether she likes it or not. I’ll hold my son on my lap, as he watches her, too. I’ll tell her how amazing and beautiful she is, and how much I love her and her cooking.

But chances are, even with this little bit of kissing up, she still won’t let me mess around in her kitchen.