I said calm down! That's better. You can calm down, because I'm going to tell you what you're going to be making for dessert this summer: ice cream. All ice cream, all the time. "But wait," you're saying, "isn't that hard? Doesn't it require a lot of equipment? And isn't homemade ice cream something that your uncle Al pretends to labor over at family reunions, when he's really just sitting his lazy ass next to a machine that's doing all the work and demanding that you bring him beer after beer while he spouts off an unending string of casually racist 'jokes'?"

You've got an uncle Al, too? God, we need to talk sometime. But, to your questions, no it isn't, yes, you need an ice cream churn (but they're reasonably inexpensive these days, and you can even get them as attachments for your Kitchenaid), and look at me—look at me!—you are not your uncle Al, do you hear me? You are a better person than he could ever hope to be.

Anyway, so you've acquired a reasonably inexpensive churn and you're ready to go. But don't you need a recipe? Well, yeah, so here's an easy one: basil ice cream.

"Wait!" you're saying. "Isn't basil a bit..weird...for an ice cream flavor?"

Look, I understand exactly what you mean, and yes, you are a coward. Admitting it is a good first step. So let's switch it out for an herb that you're not afraid of. (Coward.)

First off, put 2 cups of whole milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 3 tablespoons of mint, chopped coarsely (basil if you're not a coward), into a saucepan. Bring this to a boil, then take it off the heat and let it steep for half an hour.


Once it's steeped, pour the mixture into a blender and let it run for a minute or so, until everything is nicely liquified.

In the meantime, take four eggs yolks in a large bowl and beat them for a minute or so with another quarter cup of sugar (a hand mixer is best), until the mixture is thickened and lighter in color. Then dump in the liquified milk/herb mixture, give it a couple of seconds' mixing, then dump the mixture back into the original saucepan, which you've probably forgotten you needed and thrown into the sink.

Put the mixture back over medium heat and stir until it comes to 175 degrees (or coats the back of a spoon), then strain it into a bowl on top of another bowl filled with ice water. Stir until it's good and cold, about 10-15 minutes. Then stir in half a cup of cold heavy cream and churn according to the manufacturer's recommendations.


If you're using mint and want to get a bit fancy, you can follow the Alton Brown method and add some chopped up Andes mints about halfway through the churning. Pop it into a container and let it harden in the freezer for at least a couple of hours.

What are the benefits? Well, it's probably cheaper in the long run to make your own ice cream than to buy Ben & Jerry's, but more importantly, you control the ingredients and you can make flavors that you can't find in the store. For that matter, even with a common flavor like mint, adding the genuine article yourself allows you to make an ice cream that's more fresh-flavored than anything you can get in the store.