Thursday, July 30, 2009

103

Years ago at a family get-together, my grandmother was reminiscing to my great aunt about east Kansas, where they both grew up. My grandmother talked in a dreamy tone about the beautiful color of the wheat fields, undulating in the wind like a golden sea against a sky of impossible blue. Until my aunt spoke up, I was entranced by the picture she painted.

“It was pretty,” my great-aunt said tartly. “But it was also about 103.”

We hit an all-time record in Seattle yesterday, the highest temperature recorded since 1891. 103 degrees. My little brick house could double as a big pizza oven right now.
We have decamped to my mom’s house, since my mom has both air conditioning and guest rooms. Even living in comfort (instead of a stifling oven), I find that we’re making a lot of frozen treats. Curly recently discovered (courtesy of Molly Moon’s) that she adores honey lavender ice cream, and has been campaigning, with her usual tenacity, for me to make it.
I love the idea of honey lavender ice cream, but have been less than enchanted with the flavor, which generally makes me think: “Huh. Planty ice cream. Should’ve gotten chocolate.”

However, Curly is one persistent kid, and I finally caved. I used David Lebovitz’s recipe in The Perfect Scoop, figuring (correctly, as it turned out) that if anyone could make me enjoy planty ice cream, it would be the esteemed Mr. Lebovitz.

Part of Curly’s enchantment with honey lavender ice cream (besides that she just plain likes it) is that we have a row of lavender in our front yard that even on the hottest, stillest of days, waves as if it is in a breeze, because it is so filled with working bees. She wanted me to use our lavender to make an ice cream she loves, and, well, it's hard for even me to continue to kvetch in the face of such a simple, wholesome desire.

Standing near it on any warm day, there is the sound of the buzzing bees, and the hot, sharp scent of lavender drifting in the air combine with the heat in a strangely hypnotizing, soothing way. Yesterday, on my way in to my house to round up bathing suits for all of us, I stopped by it briefly and found myself thinking of my grandmother’s depiction of Kansas, and I thought of my lavender: sure, it’s pretty, but it’s also about 103.

But at 103, you could do worse than honey lavender ice cream topped with fresh peaches (one of the ways we ate it). The pronounced honey flavor ends with the strange, peppery flavor of the lavender, and combined with the yielding honey flavor of the peaches themselves, well... it's not so bad on a hot day (although yesterday, I have to say, we had raspberry granita, not the honey lavender ice cream). If you’re waiting for The right reason to buy The Perfect Scoop, maybe it’s that David Lebovitz can make even planty ice cream alluring.

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