Musing with Max

Musing with Max

June 4, 2012

Labors of Love

First labor: Our second Summer in our house we noticed something very interesting growing underneath the very unruly forsythia and after close investigation we confirmed that there were two peonies there. I'm sure they had been planted there way before the forsythia went completely insane or was completely ignored because they were entirely covered by that out of control bush. So I dug them up and transplanted them to the corner by the garage where we had pulled out a complete covering of English Ivy and I had purchased several Stella D'oro daylillies at the local plant sale. I imagined that they would form a nice backdrop for the daylillies and they would just start to fade once the daylillies went into bloom. I was very excited at the prospect of having vases full of those beautiful flowers every Spring without having to pay their hefty price. The first year I didn't expect much since the plants were kind of small from being in their hiding place but at least it was a beginning. I also had no clue what color they were. The following year I found two more plants and added them to the bunch, and we did get one or two blooms from the ones that were already there, they were white with a little red in the center. A couple of years went by and the plants grew, the blooms increased on the white ones but the others even though they were growing wouldn't get past a couple of buds that never opened; those looked to be pink. The blooms were so few that they never made it inside; I wanted flowers in as well as out. But then this year something happened,

and everybody made an appearance. So maybe I don't have vases full

but I was happily able to bring them in

and enjoy them both inside and out

I guess they needed settling.

Second Labor: Ever since we bought our ice cream maker Frank has been campaigning for pistachio ice cream, which is not necessarily my favorite. I'm pretty much a chocolate, salty caramel, vanilla kind of gal; but then I decided he deserved his little treat so off I went looking for a recipe. First visit was to David Lebovitz since that's where I usually go for ice cream. His gelato recipe called for Pistachio cream; not something I'd ever seen before so off I went looking for it only to find that nobody carries this little delicacy, then I looked on line where of course one can find anything...for a price and hefty isn't the word. Hmmm, how was I to make this? Duh, let's try the Cuisinart booklet --- and there it was and not with pistachio cream but with good old regular pistachios. So I bought me a bag
which wasn't exactly cheap, and proceeded to shell and shell and shell and shell....and shell. Then I realized that it also requires a vanilla bean, we better LOVE this. Then there's the time involved

Pistachio Ice Cream adapted from Cuisinart
makes 5 cups


2½ cups whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped
²∕³ cup granulated sugar, divided
2¼ cups chopped roasted, unsalted pistachios; shelled, divided
2 cups heavy cream
pinch salt
6 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract

In a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, stir together the milk, vanilla bean (including the pod), half of the sugar and 1½ cups pistachios. Bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove from heat; let mixture steep for 1 to 2 hours. After steeping, add the cream and salt and gradually return the mixture just to a boil over medium-low heat. When the milk/pistachio/cream mixture is reheating, combine the yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat until mixture is pale and thick. Once the milk/pistachio/cream mixture has come to a slight boil, whisk about ¹∕³ of the hot mixture into the yolk/sugar mixture. Add another ¹∕³ of the mixture, then return the combined mixture to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over the low heat until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. This mixture must NOT boil or the yolks will overcook – the process should only take a few minutes. Stir in the almond extract and pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (discard the vanilla pods and pistachios); bring to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, or overnight. Turn on the Cuisinart® ice cream maker; pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 20 minutes.

When the ice cream is almost done churning, add the remaining toasted pistachios through the opening at the top of the ice cream maker. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Is it good? Yes. Will we do this again? Doubtful.

just love

no labor involved.


  1. Peonies are special--all flowers are, but people get a little giddy about peonies. I love your white one with the splashes of red.

    My husband makes ice cream and loves to try strange things. He recently made rye bread ice cream! Strawberry would be good, I said; but he always has to try something new.

  2. Oh Amelia!
    Your peonies are perfect!!!

    1. Thank you Becca, however I can't take credit, Mother Nature came up with the perfect flower; and they "were" perfect, all gone :(

  3. The white ones are Festive Maxima and the pink ones? Don't know it's name but i do know you'll get more blooms each and every year!

    I love pistachio and would shell a bagfull for a taste or all of it.

    And Max? No words needed.

    xo Jane