When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.
Today: Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, to get through a hard month -- and every month thereafter.
You're not prepared for these heavy, hot October days. Sweat drips down the backs of your legs as you do dishes, the attic laundry room is impenetrable with heat, the compost molds in the course of an afternoon. On the hottest day of the year, you face a cranky dishwasher, a broken washing machine, a slanted kitchen table. The rat traps are locked and loaded. The spiders are building webs around every corner of your house. You pile the kids into the car for a field trip to the refrigerator-cold drugstore. You overstay your welcome, allowing your children to examine every piece of Halloween landfill, shade of fall nail polish, tweeny magazine, pumpkin spice-infused tea/cracker/frosting/lip balm. You lose them for a few minutes while looking for someone, anyone, to unlock the gin cabinet. You want the air conditioning to puff you back to life.
It disrupts all sleep. You sit up with a start and find your son at the foot of your bed, swaying, disoriented, half asleep, arms all Frankenstein-style. You turn up the fan and wordlessly pull him into bed. You think, this is crazy, is the world coming to an end? And then you remember that you thought this last year. And the year before.
October in Berkeley is scary. October brings fires. October brings earthquakes.
October is the hardest month.
You need some order. Some cooling off. Some slowing down.
October needs ice cream.
When I pick you up from school this afternoon, we'll go right home for homemade ice cream.
You're addicted to making ice cream, mom.
The separating of the whites from the yolks. The slow stirring over low heat of the yolks, cream, and sugar. The transformation from liquid to solid. The enforced all-dayness of it all. The payoff as the bliss glides over your children’s faces.
Yes. You are addicted. You haven’t made any for over a month.
You open the freezer in search of chocolate chip cookie dough. You slide your head in to cool your brain. You find balls and scraps and slices and chunks of chocolate chip cookie dough from the past six months and chop them all up into uniform pieces. You churn the brown sugar ice cream base. You add the dough at the last minute. You throw it all into the freezer. And then you wait.
Makes a little over a pint
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
6 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough, chopped into dime-sized chunks, frozen
Photos by Phyllis Grant