Better keep an eye on those potatoes

Friday, July 12, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 28

Everyone has problems. There is so much that can get in the way of what is real in our life that it is extremely difficult to stay focused.

Since I cook a lot, I prepare one particular food that I can directly relate to life and its problems: boiled potatoes.

I think I boil potatoes much like everyone else I know. I fill a large pot with water, add a bit of salt, put a lid on it, set it on the stovetop and turn the burner on high so the water will start to boil. Once the water is bubbling hot, I toss in the peeled and quartered potatoes and then place the lid back on the pot so it will return to a bubbling boil.

Ring! Ring! The phone rings, so I answer it. The call is from a friend I haven’t spoken with in a while, and she’s wanting us to catch up on our lives.

We talk for a while, enjoying each other’s conversation, when suddenly I hear the potatoes on the stove sizzling and boiling over. By this time, I can also smell a faint burnt odor.

I get back to the stove and there they are – water spewing and sputtering all over the stove, and the burner is black with burnt-on starchy, potato water. And what’s worse, water has boiled and sputtered so hard and fast it has run all over the stove, under the knobs and down the front.

I quickly move the potatoes off the burner, and the boiling stops immediately. But what I have left behind is the big, black, burnt-on mess. The only way to clean it is to get out my stovetop cleaner (Barkeepers Friend) and my scouring pad.

With much elbow grease, the scouring pad and the cleanser, I’m eventually able to scrub off all the burnt-on mess and leave the stovetop clean and shiny.

Peaches ‘n’ Cream Ice Cream with Toasted Pecans

1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon of table salt
4 cups of milk
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of fresh peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
2 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

Whisk together the first three ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk and whipping cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10-12 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks until they’re slightly thickened. Gradually whisk about one cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolk. Add the yolk mixture to the remaining cream mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Cool about one hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the peaches and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, for four to five minutes. Slightly mash the mixture and then let it cool for 30 minutes. Stir the peach mixture into the cooled cream mixture.

Place plastic wrap directly on the cream mixture and then chill for eight to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add the pecans, and cook, stirring constantly, eight to nine minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Remove the pecans from the heat and then sprinkle them with the kosher salt. Cool the pecans in your refrigerator.

Pour the chilled cream mixture into the freezer container of an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Before transferring the ice cream to an airtight container for further freezing, stir in the pecans. Makes about one gallon.

Now I can start all over with the potatoes, this time watching them more carefully and not allowing them to boil over.

It was a little hard work, and the time involved in cleaning put my meal behind a bit, but the mess is gone and the stove looks like new.

Our problems in life are much like potatoes cooking on a burner. If we do not watch them, take care of them and keep the heat down, they start boiling over – all over our life.

If we get distracted and do not pay attention to the “real” issues in life, soon after we find ourselves standing in the middle of a big, burnt-on mess.

The good thing is that we can always get out our scrubber and cleanser, clean it all up and start all over, being more careful and staying more focused.

Today’s recipe is not about boiled potatoes. I just felt like relating that story to you. If you have potatoes boiling on the stove, which most of us do, take care and don’t let them boil over!

This past weekend was the annual Fish Fry at our church, to which some people bring homemade ice cream, topping off the fish dinner perfectly. It’s always such a fun time of eating and fellowship.

Anyway, I adapted a recipe I found in Southern Living magazine I think turned out delicious! That’s the recipe I have for you this week. You can also substitute the peaches for just about any fruit you would like to use – strawberries, cherries, mango, bananas or blueberries would all work with this recipe and would taste great with the salted and toasted pecans.