Wednesday, October 18, 2006

14% fat

Years ago, I worked at an ice cream shop, the Vermont Creamery. No, not the Newport Creamery, that's a chain famous for coffee cabinets called Awful Awfuls. The Vermont Creamery was an independent ice cream shop in Concord, Mass. Like most employers of teenagers, it was a terrible place to work but it taught great lessons. One was "always put the cream in the coffee first." 20 years later and I am still a slave to milk-on-the-bottom coffee. I also have great compassion for other ice cream scoopers. Hard ice cream can pop tendons. I learned how to make real whipped cream (regardless of how close to closing up, we were required to offer freshly whipped cream for sundaes, is it any wonder the shop closed?). I learned how to mop, how to clean coffee carafes, how to make change and balance a register at the end of the day. I also learned that the customer is not always right. I did my best not to argue with the man who insisted that our pistachio was not really pistachio (without ever tasting it) because it wasn't green. Finally, I offered to direct him to the Brigham's down the street, where their pistachio was as green as the colorant could make it.

At some point in my ice cream career I decided it was better to work in the kitchen than face more touristy customers. I loved that kitchen. It most likely wasn't as clean as it should be, but it was spacious and tidy. Most of the space was taken up by a worktable and an enormous ice cream mixer. The walk-in freezers and fridge took up most of the space. I rode my bike to work most summer days and made sure I arrived early so that I could stand in the freezer for a few moments before starting work. The guy who made ice cream when I first started was the emperor of the kitchen. I had to stand at the door and ask for what I wanted. Not only was he the only one, other than the owner, to make the ice cream, he (was his name Andy?) was the only one allowed in the freezer to pick up the 10 gallon buckets to take upstairs. The rumor: he made gin and tonics in those buckets, labeled innocuously "vanilla" and delicious in a whole 'nother way. The rumor was true, and the drinks were great, far more refreshing than merely standing in the coolers

The ice cream dude left and the owner had to find other folks to make ice cream, pour molds of ice cream cake, scoop cookies, and muffins, and later make salads and sandwiches. I loved being in the kitchen. We never actually "made" the baked goods; they were scooped from buckets much like ice cream. And I don't think I was terribly successful at salads (I distinctly remember slicing through my fingertip with the spinach)...but ice cream was fun. Upon being hired, the owner went through a litany of ice cream: what ours was and wasn't (homemade, all-natural, no colorants...), and how the fat content compared to Brigham's (11%), Hagan Daz (15%), and Ben & Jerry's, at that moment as small, Vermont-only company. The owner's uncle lived in Vermont and as new employees, we were all required to taste the coveted Guys From Vermont's wares.

Yum, a perfect 14% butterfat.

14% has the perfect mouth feel. It glides without coating. You can be satisfied with a tiny scoop (the diet sundae) but not be overwhelmed if you inadvertently eat the whole pint. It makes a delicious vanilla, but carries other flavors well.

We also had a small paperback book from Ben & Jerry's, now widely available, that had their basic ice cream recipes. The ice cream makers at Vermont Creamery had a lot of fun making up new and exciting recipes. Like B&J's, ours had funny little names that were oh-so-apropos. Most of them were flops, or lasted only a few weeks - the run of a batch. My favorite was a delightful little ditty I called Moose Tracks: milk chocolate, white chocolate, whipped cream, and grape nuts cereal.

Imagine my delight when our Vermont vacation took us right past the Ben & Jerry's factory!! Heedless of the dire distress 14% would cause the dairy-allergic in our family, we HAD to go. 14% is alive and well in our lives once again.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

3-Layer Outrage, Better with Age

Cook's note:
This is quite rich and you might need to schedule some time with the punching bag or go for a run after ingesting.

This morning's settling of the Rep. Foley stew includes, yes, you guessed it:

1) Under the influence of alcohol.
When baking, the alcohol burns off but the flavor remains. Could that explain why after more than a year, the good Rep. didn't every apologize directly to his prey?

2) Gay.
Big whoop. So are a lot of people. Do you see them acting in this manner?
And, yes, the pressure to stand up under the weight of "speak for all of them" could drive you to drink, but drinking doesn't take away your responsibilities, see above.

3) Molested as a child by his priest.
Good Lord! Do you think this dish tastes better piled this high?

But, of course, he does not blame his actions on any of this. He just wants us to know.

**annotated: NPR has a small piece on their website re: girl pages and the sexual misconduct of congressional members

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

3-Layer Outrage, Simmered

1) A man accused of inappropriate attention to teenagers is allowed to continue without reprimand.

Yesterday I heard that no one had done so because they felt it was a delicate balance between "accusing" him of being gay and accusing him of inappropriate communication.

2) This man is declares he has a drinking problem.

Fine, drink away. But claim your repsonsibility. There are a lot of alchoholics out there who do NOT cross sexual boundries with teenagers. Teenagers, by the way, who work for him. That would be another boundry, would it no?

3) Every news report to which I have listened or read, including the liberal press, has repeated this story as though pages were only young men.

Yes, Rep. Foley, most likely gay, only approached the male population.

I'd like someone to ask the girl pages how often they'd been inappropriatly approached.

This is not a gay issue.
This is not an alcoholic's issue.
This is INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, simmering in a culture of power and prestige.