I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! (Even when we’re weeping.)

My 33rd birthday is coming up. A few weeks ago my mother, a salt & pepper-haired woman fast approaching her 60s, looked at my hair and said, “You have as much white hair as I do.”

“WHAT?”

“In the back there, I see a lot of white hairs.”

Azuki bean ice cream“NO YOU DON’T.”

“Yes I—”

“YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO TELL YOUR DARLING DAUGHTER THAT HER HAIR IS AS DARK AS MIDNIGHT.”

“I am?”

“YES.”

“Huh.”

After checking my hair with one handstand, two mirrors, three lights, and four back flips, I can firmly state that my mother is a dirty rotten liar. She just loves to get my goat, but goat meat is a future post. For now, let’s talk about ice cream.

Weather bad? Life in the toilet? Dirty rotten lying parents got you down? Ice cream will soothe the pain. You never outgrow ice cream, especially this one. Unlike most frozen desserts that melt into a chilling puddle, velvety azuki bean ice cream coats your tongue in an insulating blanket of sweetness that practically inoculates your body against the cold. If there’s an ideal ice cream to eat on a cold winter day made even colder by your mother stabbing you in the back with the cruel icicles of filthy lies, this would be it.

Sweetened azuki beans, known as pat in Korean and misleadingly called red beans, is used to fill tteok or mochi, stuff steamed buns, and top shave ice and ice cream throughout Asia and Hawaii. Koreans enjoy shave ice topped with pat in a treat they call pat bing su. If the idea of cold sweet beans doesn’t appeal to you, try a pat ice cream bar from an Asian grocer. It may take more than one try before the grainy texture and earthy sweetness grow on you. Soon, however, you’ll try another one, crave another one, and eventually buy a whole box because you’ll be hopelessly, happily addicted. Then you’ll come back here, make this ice cream, and thank me and my lustrous ebony hair for posting this recipe.

FOUNTAIN OF RAVEN-HAIRED YOUTH AZUKI BEAN ICE CREAM
Adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein
Makes about 1 1/4 quarts

The original recipe calls for two cups of red bean paste. To make life easier, I use the whole container, whether it’s a 14-ounce can or a 17-ounce packet (I slightly prefer the flavor of the beans in the packets). I noticed no texture difference either way.

Ingredients:
· 2 1/2 cups half and half
· 3 large egg yolks
· 1/2 cup white sugar
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1 14-oz can or 1 17-oz packet of smooth sweetened azuki (red) bean paste
· 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional but strongly recommended
· 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds, optional

Bring half and half to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, beat egg yolks in a heavy medium bowl with the sugar and salt until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Slowly, whisking the whole time, pour the hot half and half into the yolk mixture to temper it. Once most of the half and half is beaten into the yolks, pour the contents of the bowl into the pot with the remaining half and half and whisk continuously over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly or reaches 170 degrees. Don’t let this mixture boil or it may curdle. Remove from heat and stir in red bean paste and almond extract. Stir well until beans are dissolved. Strain the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a container. Cover and chill at least four hours or, better yet, overnight.

Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker until ice cream is thick and increased in volume. Add the sliced almonds in the last few minutes of mixing. Thoroughly incorporate. Eat fresh or freeze.

A tumultuous tale of tofu.

The following message is brought to you by the Tofu Anti-Defamation League.

Tofu fights cancer. Tofu causes cancer. Tofu gives you the gift of flight. Tofu forces you to grow a second head. Tofu is the only food that can drive back the skeletal armies of the undead should the devastating curse of Demon Grrbstzittooofolo ever haunt us. Tofu is the devastating curse of the Demon Grrbstzittooofolo and is haunting us as we speak. Here’s my personal favorite: Tofu makes you gay. I’m not linking to the site on that one because I refuse to bear any responsibility for increasing its Google ranking.

Tofu

[Making Music: Soft tofu with chili oil, roasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, and scallion. Snapped for Lara’s January “White” challenge over at Still Life With….]

I have friends who would never offend me by telling me that kimchi stinks (it does), but these same friends won’t hesitate to tell me that tofu is evil (it’s not). The science on soy is complicated, contradictory, and confusing. But really, what it comes down is whether you like tofu at all. If you don’t, it’s likely that a well-meaning non-Asian health nut tried to foist it on you in a sandwich or a salad. Well I don’t like tofu in my sandwiches and salads either. That’s what bacon is for.

I love tofu piping hot, drowned in a scarlet sauce full of fiery chilies and strips of tender beef. I love tofu soaked in beaten egg and fried until brown and crisp then dipped in sweet soy sauce and sesame seeds. I love tofu soft and gelatinous, swirling in soon tubu broth bubbling up its pungent fragrance of pork and kimchi. I even love tofu plain with aromatic Asian oils and the piercing bite of slivered scallions.

Tofu is as woven into my existence as pasta in the Italians, butter in the French, chilies in the Mexicans. My parents ate it, my grandparents ate it, my great grandparents made it. In a nation where meat has long been a luxury, tofu provided vital and delicious protein. There’s not one single documented case of tofu sucking the blood out of babies as they sleep in their cribs and creating armies of vampire infants flapping through the night in search of more babies to drain. Isn’t calling tofu evil just a bit much? Please, tofu-haters, you’re hurting my feelings. Leave the poor white goop alone. It can’t rape you, rob you, or even appreciate Barry Manilow. It’s just bean curd.

As for the newly formed two-headed gay men out there now plagued by the curse of the unholy Grrbstzittooofolo, admit it: things are much more interesting than they used to be. So what if it takes twice as long to floss? Thank tofu for infusing some much-needed excitement into your lives.

Does My Blog Look Good In This? deadline tomorrow.

The DMBLGIT? event is running strong. If you haven’t taken a look, please visit the gallery to drool and ah at the beautiful entries submitted so far.

I want to remind bloggers that this edition of DMBLGIT? ends January 24 at noon, Chicago time. Submissions guidelines are here. The submission e-mail address will shut down after the deadline in order to allow me to prepare the materials for the judges in a timely fashion. I can always be contacted at the address on my About page, but I’m sorry, I won’t be able to accept late entries at that address. So please be timely!