MiL: What kind of cake do you want for your birthday, Charlie?
Charlie: No cake. Just ice cream.
MiL: An ice cream cake? Okay, I can make that!
Charlie: Just ice cream. No cake.
MiL: Oooo, I could make you a Neapolitan ice cream cake with chocolate cake and a layer of strawberry ice cream, and then a layer of vanilla ice cream, and then . . .
Charlie: Just ice cream. Vanilla ice cream.
Oh, did you want ice cream, Charlie? Thanks for making that clear.
So we made him some ice cream.
Notice I said "made," not "bought." Because the MiL bought a fancy electric ice cream maker a couple of years ago that we've used maybe four times, and if the birthday boy wants ice cream, it might as well be homemade, right?
Right. Serious hassle ahoy.
I woke up yesterday morning at 5:15 thanks to Jack. I briefly considered making the vanilla custard for the ice cream when I got up, but the idea of separating egg yolks and tempering eggs and straining and so on at 5:15 a.m. before I'd had any coffee was somehow not appealing.
Unfortunately, because the older children were up and raring to go at 6 a.m., this meant the custard then had to be made while they were around. Which meant they had to help me.
Have I mentioned I hate cooking with kids in attendance? I do. But I didn't let on that I was really impatient and just wanted to get this done without two little kids on chairs standing in my way demanding a mixing spoon. Instead I announced cheerfully, "Okay, guys! Let's make Charlie's birthday ice cream!"
And then I separated eggs and tempered eggs and strained things while dodging boys on chairs and finding separate things for them to mix.
Should've done it at 5:15 a.m.
Also, the recipe I was using was from The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook, which is written by Christopher Kimball, the famously meticulous cook behind America's Test Kitchen. The recipe contains a rather major error in that it lists both milk and cream in the ingredients and tells how to make the milk mixture, but absolutely nowhere does it say when to add the cream.
I had no time to be looking anything else up, so I just added the cream to the milk mixture and hoped for the best.
At 4:30 p.m., after much fiddling, I managed to get the ice cream maker together (this is the first time I've done the part with the machine) and got it churning away. Forty-five minutes later, the ice cream maker stopped automatically, and there was ice cream. It was almost time for dinner, but I gave A. a small taste. He closed his eyes and announced reverently, "That is verging on the best thing I have ever eaten."
Then I gave Charlie the paddle to lick and Cubby the spatula I had used to scrape the paddle clean.
And there was much happiness in the land.
When you've got ice cream on your nose, cheeks, and feet, you know it's a good birthday.