Thursday, June 25, 2015

To Adult or Not to Adult, it Still Calls for Ice Cream

Upon returning to the states over a month ago, a dark cloud enveloped my disposition. The job searching and applying seemed to be going nowhere. I was constantly reminded that, at twenty-five, with a Master’s Degree, I was living at home in my childhood bedroom with a depleting savings account. The distance between CK and I was a hard one, especially with him traveling with family around Italy for a couple weeks, and our long talks cut short. Triggers of abandonment and rejection bombarded me, and I kick myself now in falling for the fears. 


If there was a time where I felt like a small and insignificant child, it was from May to June. I stopped caring about the things I used to be so passionate about. Every email to a potential employer felt like a desire to be accepted and integrated in the career path I so wanted to participate in. I felt like a child with the weight of adulthood bearing down on my shoulders. I felt that I had the experience and the passion to make things happen, only to be told that it wasn’t enough.

Depression is nothing less than a merciless bitch.

The other tragic event that took place just this last Saturday was the death of our newest member of the family: our cat Clyde. He had developed FIP before he came into our home, but it took him regardless. He was just a few weeks short of his first birthday, and his death was a heartbreaking blow. Lilli, our other cat, has thankfully not contracted the incurable disease (fingers crossed that it remains that way), but she has lost two friends in the span of ten months, and it hurts to watch her grieve.

He was such a bundle of love, and unremorseful in being in the middle of it all.

But Clyde’s death did something positive for me. It’s hard to explain, but whatever depression I had (smothering me to the point I had sincerely thought of packing a few days worth of clothing and food and driving my car somewhere without telling anyone) lifted. The child feeling went away. I learned what it means to be an adult, and I learned it while holding Clyde as the vet put him to sleep.

In all the kitties that have come into my life, their deaths happened without my being physically present. Luna, the cat before Lilli, also had FIP, but I was young and Mama Dazz took her in the middle of the night and held her while she died. Miette, who developed kidney disease (common in Abyssinians), died while I was in Malta. Clyde was the first death I had ever witnessed in any being bigger than a hamster, and I was adamant that I was there no matter what happened.

When you’re in your teens, you dream about being an adult. It means making your own decisions, running the show. In your twenties, you have this checklist of Being Adult. It means having a job with insurance and unpaid internships are a thing of the past. It means moving out of your parents’ house. It means having enough money to live off on. It means paying taxes. It means being out of school. Based upon my Being Adult list, I was out of school, but I didn’t meet the other requirements, and I felt less for it. 


I spent all my energy and motivation trying to fulfill this stupid list, when in reality I was looking at it in the wrong way. I am very grateful and appreciative to have this time to live at home so I can find a job on my terms. I have a partner that I always cherish seeing. And instead of looking at job after job after job, I realized that it isn’t a burden to have such an inclusive career path. It means I have a lot of options to choose from.

Being an adult means that you make the final decisions in every choice that is presented in front of you. It means knowing when to say goodbye. It means knowing when an opportunity presents itself, and taking that leap forward.

It also means being able to have dessert whenever you bloody well feel like it.

As I’ve said, my desire to make recipes waned significantly since returning to the states, but for a few weeks now I’ve really wanted to post summer fun foods that can be enjoyed after a day’s worth of Adulting.

And like any sad moment, this calls for ice cream, or gelato.

One of my favorite memories in 2014 was Chris surprising me with a trip to a gelateria that made a few gelato flavors with fructose, and thus Morri-friendly. Since then, the craving to make homemade gelato was constantly on my mind. Mama Dazz had mentioned that she had a hand-churning ice cream maker (old school and awesome), and so the challenge was accepted.

Only this time, instead of fructose, it was made with coconut sugar.

Ice cream, gelato, and sorbet are relatively easy things to make at home. And like most things, I felt empowered that I could indulge on my terms without the fear of being glutened, sugared, or soyed. Yes, it’s a little time consuming on the prep, but it is a labor of love that is well worth it.

The recipe I found for authentic Italian gelato is from the wonderful Memorie di Angelina, and it speaks for itself. Even though the coconut sugar changed the coloring of the gelato to appear darker, the texture is exactly what I remembered enjoying in the park with CK as kids kicked the soccer ball around.

And it’s a naturally gluten free food, a plus in my book.

Gelato bionda (Blonde Gelato) (adapted from this recipe)

500 ml Whole milk
150 g “Blonde” coconut sugar, pulsed to a fine consistently
4 Egg yolks
1 Vanilla pod, split down the middle

Pour the milk, half of the coconut sugar (75 g), and the vanilla pod or lemon zest, into a saucepan and bring the milk nearly to a boil.
When the very first bubbles begin to appear, take it immediately off the heat and let it cool.
Cover the saucepan, which will slow down the cooling process and prolong the steeping process, thus drawing out more of the vanilla flavor.
When the milk has cooled (at room temperature or a little warmer, but not too hot or it will cook the egg prematurely), put the egg yolks into an electric mixer together with the other half of the coconut sugar.
Beat at a high setting until the egg yolks and sugar have been thoroughly combined and the mixture is creamy.
Lower the setting and slowly add your cooled milk mixture (after removing the vanilla pod) in a steady stream, and mix until everything is well amalgamated.
Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan, and heat it gently until the eggs thicken it into a thin custard (thick enough to coat a spoon lightly, but not so much that the egg curdles).
Stir continually and raise the heat very gradually (medium to medium-high) until said thin custard is observed.
Once the mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat and pour it into the mixing bowl previously used.
Let it stand to cool for ten minutes before transferring to the fridge to chill for at least one hour to overnight (I personally chilled the mixture overnight, and was very pleased with the result).
Pour the now chilled mixture into your ice cream maker and proceed to churn per the instructions that came with the machine (mine ended up with a soft serve consistency in about 20 minutes), a place the final product in the freezer* to continue the firming process.
Serve as soon as it is out of the freezer with your favorite ice cream accompaniments.

Makes 6 – 9 servings.

*Tips from Memorie di Angelina: “If you are keeping your gelato in the freezer for a longer time (gelato will keep for quite a while in the freezer) then remove it from the freezer about 15 minutes or so before serving, as it hardens further over time, and the texture of gelato can be firm but never hard.”