So this will be a kind of throwaway post, I apologize in advance. I felt kind of blah about the book, blah about the dish, and obviously, could not get a clear photo of the ice cream! So let's just speed through this so we can move on to the next post! The month of August will be crazy for as I am moving, but I promise to be back in tip top form come fall, in a new kitchen and hopefully with better photo skills! Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor is a coming of age tale about a middle class African-American teenager whose family spends their summers in Sag Harbor, Long Island. The book takes place smack in the middle of the 80's, and the main character Benji spends the summer of his freshman year of high school working at an ice cream shop - that classic 80's ice cream shop where waffle cones and mix ins were huge. This is about the time when the ice cream world started moving away from classics like butter pecan and rum raisin and instead started smooshing gummy bears into ice cream. The book was OK, amusing at times but a bit slow. I struggled a tad to get through it. Ice cream was the obvious choice. I will explain after the jump why this recipe didn't turn out as I would have liked...
Sag Harbor is a series of vignettes about a teenage summer spent in the Hamptons. Benji comes from a middle-class African-American family that lives in the City. He and his brother Reggie spend all summer in the Hamptons on their own, with their parents coming only for the weekends. Sag Harbor became an enclave for middle-class African-American families and Benji's family has spent their summers there for a couple of generations. Every summer a group of guys Benji and Reggie's age form a clique and get into various misadventures. The book chronicles the boys sneaking into a UTFO concert (remember "Roxanne, Roxanne"?), having a BB gun war (resulting in Benji permanently have a bb stuck in his eye socket) and of course experiences with teenage girls. Underlying these funny/lighthearted stories are the more serious matters of Benji's drifting away from his younger brother Reggie, who used to act like his twin and the issues with his parents marriage and his father's alcoholic/abusive behavior. Colson only shows these issues in the periphery - they are never the focus of the story, rather just background noise. I think I probably would have gotten more out of the book if these became more of a focus rather than just an implication. I found the book slow moving and maybe even a little indulgent - these are clearly the authors memories of his own summers growing up. I wish he had dove more deeply into the characters and conflicts than he did. However, one the best chapters of the book is about Benji's job at an ice cream shop, the trauma of that experience - most specifically the constant heady smell of waffle cones being made, turned the author against dessert and sweets for the rest of his life.
OREO AND SORT OF FRESH MINT ICE CREAM
So I wanted to make some sort of eighties style ice cream, with some sort of candy or cookie mix in, but was having a hard time coming up with one - so many to choose from. So then I decided I wanted to make something mint related. I have a very good friend who likes ice cream, but he is obsessively stuck on mint chocolate chip. Doesn't matter where we are, what other flavors are on offer, if there is mint chip, that what he orders. I, on the other hand, really can't stand mint chip ice cream. This is unfortunate because me and this friend eat ice cream together...often. So if we split a sundae or something, you can be sure mint chip is involved! I like to dabble more in ice cream flavors, I don't have a favorite (as an aside, I do think there are two types of people in the world - those that have that ONE ice cream flavor that is their favorite and that is what they always order, and those that like to mix it up. As it turns out, two of the people I love most in this world - this mint chip friend and my sister [who is a chocolate ice cream girl] are these one flavor types. I am a dabbler. What is the significance? Discuss). Anyway, I decided I would try a homemade mint and see if I liked it, and I combined it with Oreo cookies, cause if I do have a default flavor it is cookies and creme. (Disclaimer, I used Newman-O's which I think are actually better tasting than Oreos). So to fancy up the mint flavor, I decided to use fresh mint, making David Lebovitz's Fresh Mint Ice Cream. If any of you out there like to make ice cream I can't recommend David's book - "The Perfect Scoop" enough. It is fabulous! And his blog is great too (see blog roll to the right). Unfortunately, as you all probably know but I didn't, the mint herb you get at the store is more like spearmint and not really like peppermint flavor. So after I infused the milk in the recipe below with the fresh mint, it tasted spearminty which I didn't really like. So then I loaded up the custard with some peppermint extract. The mix was not ideal. Kind of icky. Sadly I couldn't even share it with my mint chip friend, I knew he would hate it. In light of that, I won't bother with a recipe this week. Will just post some picks below of the process, and if you want to make David's fresh mint ice cream, if you are into that fresh mint taste (which I am generally just not in an ice cream), google it and you will find the recipe.