Tuesday, January 24, 2006

CRAFT PROJECT: Blooming Tea Cozy

sewing a tea cozy Posted by Picasa
I wanted to attempt a small sewing project to try out a sewing machine that I had been given. I learned a few basic things from this project: machine applique, french knots, and machine quilting. It was a pretty simple thing to make and only took an evening after I really got started.

Here are the basic instruction to the tea cozy that I made. I chose fabrics that would work in my kitchen. The instructions and the pattern/templates are located here:

Blooming Tea Cozy
Courtesy of Mary Engelbreit's Decorating Ideas

Have a tea party at a moment's notice with this flower-laden cozy gracing your table. Tiny floral buttons add to the summery design.

Finished size: 9 3/4 x 12 inches

What You'll Need:
Tracing paper and pencil
1/2 yard blue-and-white checked fabric
Paperbacked fusible webbing
1/4 yard white-on-white print fabric for flowers
3 x 10-inch piece of green fabric for leaves
3 x 6-inch piece of green print fabric for flower centers
2 x 10-inch piece of yellow fabric for flower centers
Matching threads
Two 12 x 15-inch pieces of batting
Red embroidery floss; needle
1 yard of 1/2-inch-wide red flat trim
1/2 yard lining fabric
Seven 3/4-inch red flower buttons

Here's How:
1. Enlarge and trace the tea cozy pattern onto tracing paper. Use the pattern to trace two shapes on the blue-and-white checked fabric. On the front piece, trace the flower placement. Cut out the cozy front leaving approximately 1 1/2 inches all around to allow for quilting.

2. Trace full-size flower and leaf patterns onto paperbacked fusible webbing. Iron to reverse side of the coordinating fabrics, according to the manufacturer's directions. Cut out the fabric shapes. Using the placement diagram as a guide, fuse the flowers onto the tea cozy front according to the manufacturer's instructions. Machine-applique edges using matching threads.

3. Place the cozy front on top of a batting piece, and machine-quilt around the flowers and leaves. Use red embroidery floss to add French knots for detail. Sew on flower buttons where indicated. Cut out the quilted cozy front and plain back leaving a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Baste remaining batting piece to cozy back at edges. Trim batting around cozy shape.

4. Baste the red trim around the curved edge of the tea cozy front, aligning the straight edge of the trim with the marked edge of the tea cozy. Cut a 1 1/2 x 1-inch piece of bias checked fabric for loop. Fold the piece lengthwise with right sides together. Stitch along the long edge using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Turn. Stitch the loop to the center of the cozy's top. Stitch the cozy front to the back with right sides facing. Clip seam. Turn.

5. Cut two lining pieces using the cozy pattern. Stitch rounded edge with right sides facing. Slip the lining fabric into cozy, matching side seams. Baste around bottom edge. Bind raw edges with a finished 1/4-inch bias binding using checked fabric or purchased binding. To make binding, cut a strip of checked fabric on the bias approximately 1x26 inches. Fold in half lengthwise with wrong sides facing. With raw edges together, sew binding to bottom edge of cozy.


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I also tried out the sewing machine by making a few new throw pillows.


Muffins Posted by Picasa

I baked a lot of muffins this weekend. I made four different kinds for an adult sunday school breakfast. Banana-Poppy Seed, Chocolate Ricotta ( which I make often), Cherry-Vanilla Ricotta, and our new favorite Ginger-Pear. These muffins have a very distinct Ginger taste due to the added crystalized Ginger root and the grated fresh Ginger root. So If you like Ginger, you may enjoy these muffins. The recipe comes from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe.


1 cup finely chopped ripe pear
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 to 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/3 Cup very finely minced crystallized ginger
1 Cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 to 3 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray 8 standard (2 1/2- inch diameter) muffin cups with nonstick spray.
2. Place the chopped pear in a shallow dish, drizzle with lemon juice, and set aside.
3. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium size bowl. Stir in the minced crystallized ginger, then comb through the mixture with your fingers to seek out any larger pieces. Cut them into smaller pieces with scissors. ( This is far easier to do when they are coated with flour. Ideally, each bit of ginger should end up about the size of a rolled oat flake.)
4. Measure the 1 cup buttermilk into a 2-cup liquid measure. Add the egg, fresh ginger, and vanilla, and beat gently with a fork or a small whisk until smooth.
5. Slowly pour this mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients. Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened. Don't overmix; a few lumps are okay.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. For smaller muffins, fill the cups about four-fifths full. for larger muffins, fill them up to the top. If you have extra batter, spray one or two additional muffin cups with nonstick spray and fill with remaining batter.
7. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes,or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the muffins from the pan and place them on a rack to cool. Wait at least 30 minutes before serving.

BAKING: Garden Herb Braid

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I loved this bread for these reasons: It was quick to make for a yeast bread( short rise time), it ended up soft and flavorful with the added herbs, and it was pretty to look at. The recipe is from Taste of Home.

Garden Herb Braid

4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 T sugar
2 pkg quick-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp each dried marjoram, thyme, parsley, basil and oregano.
3/4 tsp crushed dried rosemary
3/4 tsp rubbed sage
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg
1 T butter, melted
1/8 tsp each dried marjoram, thyme, parsley, basil, and oregano
1/8 tsp dried rosemary crushed
1/8 tsp rubbed sage

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, salt and herbs. In a saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to 120-130 degrees. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add egg; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into thirds. Shape each portion into a 15-inch rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover; let rise unitl doubled, about 20 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter. Combine herbs; sprinkle over bread. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Yield: 1 loaf

Paperwhites Blooming

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thrift Store Find: A New Cookbook to add to my Collection of Many

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I snagged a copy of "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home" at my favorite thift store. I have heard good things about this book on cooking blogs. It is one of those fun to read cook books. I love the little side notes and tips from both chefs. Last night I tried the Cranberry Chutney recipe and we ate it with Roasted Pork Loin. Today For lunch, I made the Ceasar Salad recipe. Both recipes were very simple and straight forward.


"This Crimson condiment-Tart and Sweet, with a touch of heat- is delicious with all kinds of hot and cold meats, and particularly good on leftover turkey sandwiches. It will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator."

Yield 2 1/2 cups

1 large Granny Smith apple
1 Lemon
1 Cup orange juice
3 Cups fresh cranberries
( one 12 ounce bag)
3 T white-wine vinegar, plus more if needed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne, plus more to taste

Halve and core the apple (peel first, if you prefer) and dice it into small pieces, about 1 1/2 cups. Pare 10 or so thin strips of peel from the lemon with a zester or a paring knife, then trim off the ends and cut the lemon lengthwise into quarters. Cut each quarter into thin (1/8-inch) triangles.

Pour the orange juice and cranberries into a sturdy 2 or 3 quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Add the apple and lemon pieces, the strips of lemon peel, vinegar, and seasonings, and stir all together. Cover the pan and bring to the boil over high heat. Stir the ingredients, reduce the heat to medium, and cook covered for about 5 minutes, until all the cranberries have burst. Uncover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for another 4 or 5 minutes, until the chutney is thick. Taste and stir in small amounts more vinegar, sugar, salt, or cayenne, as you like. Cool to room temperature before serving.
The Chutney will keep in the refrigerato serveral weeks, or longer if you freeze it.


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I substitued spinach leaves for the romaine since that is what I had on Hand. I also used the 1 tsp of mayo instead of the egg. It still was a very good Caesar-like Salad.


18 to 24 crisp, narrow leaves from the hearts of 2 heads romaine lettuce, or a package of romaine hearts ( about 1 pound)
1 cup Plain Toasted Croutons
1 large clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup or more excellent olive oil
1 large egg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 whole lemon, halved and seeded
Worcestershire sauce
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese, imported Parmigiano Reggiano only

Preparing the Salad Components
Seperate the romaine leaves and wash them carefully to keep them whole, roll them loosely in clean towels, and keep them refrigerated until serving time.

Prepare croutons:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the crusts from 4 or more thick slices of home-style white bread and slice bread into 1/2 inch strips and then the strips into 1/2 inch cubes, to make 4 cups. Spread the cubes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and set in the oven for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice, until lightly toasted on all sides. Spread the cubes on a tray to cool.
To flavor the croutons, crush the garlic clove with the flat side of a chef's knife, sprinkle on 1/4 tsp of salt, and mince well. Pour about a Tablespoon of olive oil on the garlic and mash again with the knife, rubbing and pressing to make a soft puree.
Scrape the puree into a frying pan, add another Tablespoon of oil, and warm over low-med heat. Add the croutons and and toss for a minute or two to infuse them with the garlic oil, then remove from the heat.
To coddle the egg, bring a small saucepan of water to the simmer. Pierce the large end of the egg with a pushpin to prevent cracking, then simmer it for exactly 1 minute. One teaspoon of mayonnaise can be substited for the egg.
Mixing and Serving the Caesar
Dress the salad just befor serving. Have ready all the dressing ingredients and a salad fork and spoon for tossing.
Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil over the romaine leaves and toss to coat, lifting the leaves from the bottom and turning them toward you, so they tumble over like a wave. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper, toss once or twice, then add the lemon juice and serveral drops of Worcestershire, and toss again. Taste for seasonings, and add more if needed.
Crack the egg and drop it right on the romaine leaves, then toss to break it up and coat the leaves. Or use 1 tsp of mayonnaise instead of the egg. Sprinkle on the cheese, toss briefly, and then add the croutons and toss for the last time, just to mix them into the salad.
Arrange 6 or more leaves in a single layer on individual plates, scatter the croutons all around, and serve.
Success consists of doing the common things of life Uncommonly Well.
~John D. Rockerfeller

BAKING: Banana Bread

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This banana bread is very moist. With half of the flour being Whole Wheat, the bread is not only wholesome but carries a nutty flavor as well.

From the Silver Palate Cookbook: Banana Bread: (makes 1 loaf)

8 T unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c whole wheat flour
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat.
3. Sift AP flour, soda, salt together, stir in whole wheat flour, add to butter mixture, mixing well.
4. Fold in bananas, vanilla, walnuts.
5. Pour into pan. Bake 50-60 min, or until vake tesster comes out clcean. Cool in pan 10 min, then on rack.

A Bike Ride in January and a Beautiful Sun Set

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We have been enjoying the Spring-like weather. It has been in the 50s for quite a few days this month.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006


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Verdi was in desperate need of a bath. I made a batch of this soap a few weeks ago and we finally tried it out this weekend. I was surprised how well it worked. He is now almost white again. We invited a little girl over, who really is wanting a dog, to help give Verdi a bath. We had a great time. After the bath we made a batch of dog bones and took the dogs on a small walk. She still really wants a dog.

sham-pup : homemade dog shampoo

This simple recipe will give your dog a beautiful, healthy coat and is much cheaper than commercial products.

1 pint Ivory or Dove liquid dishwashing soap
1 pint water
1 pint apple cider vinegar
4 ounces glycerine (available at your local pharmacy)
Mix all of the ingredients together.
Double the ingredients if a larger amount is desired.

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Both Agnes and Verdi enjoyed these bones. I quess they were a hit!

dog biscuits
Dogs will go crazy for these beefy treats!

1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/3 margarine
1 cube beef boullion
1 1/2 cups hot water
3/4 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
1. In a large bowl pour hot water over oatmeal, margarine and boullion cube. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in powdered milk, cornmeal and egg. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
3. Knead 3 - 4 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough.
4. Pat or roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into bone shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes.
5. Allow to cool and dry out until hard.

Friday, January 13, 2006


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Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Serves 5 to 6

Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches The fillings for these sandwiches was a homemade batch of Coffee Ice Cream.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch process
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint coffee ice cream

Equipment: Waffle iron

To make the waffles, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the cocoa until smooth and hot. Gradually stir in the milk. Off the heat, whisk in the brown sugar, coffee powder, egg, and vanilla, stirring until the mixture is completely smooth. Pour over the flour mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are completely moistened.

Preheat the waffle iron. Make each waffle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of batter (amount depends on your waffle iron), cooking just until steam stops rising from the sides of the iron. Place the cooked waffles on a rack to cool slightly and crisp.

Make the sandwiches while the waffles are still warm, or let the waffles cool and reheat them in a 350 degree F. oven for a few minutes before serving. To serve, press a scoop of ice cream between 2 waffle sections.
This recipe comes from Global Gourmet.

Homemade Ice Cream
Fresh Coffee Ice Cream


6 egg yolks, 4 tablespoons fresh coffee (finely ground), 8 oz (200g) soft brown sugar (light), 1 pint (500ml) milk, 6 fl.oz (approx 185ml) very hot water

Take the finely ground coffee and pour the water onto it then let it stand for about 10 mins. You then need to remove the coffee grounds so strain the mixture. In a heatproof bowl mix together the sugar and egg yolks, then whisk until thick and pale. Whisk in the milk and the coffee, then put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering (though not boiling) water. Cook until the mixture is thick (ie. until it forms a layer on the back of a wooden spoon) being sure to stir it all the time. Take the saucepan off the heat and place the bowl to one side to cool. NB. If you want to prevent a skin forming on the mixture you can try covering the surface with a piece of damp, greaseproof paper. When cool, transfer the complete mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions.( 20 minutes in the cuisinart 2 qt ice cream maker)

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Winter Herb Bread Posted by Picasa

Here is a basic white bread recipe that turns out great every time I have baked it. The book from which this recipe comes, gives several variations of this bread. One of my favorite variations is the Winter Herb Bread.


6 to 61/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T granulated sugar
1 scant T active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
2 cups warm milk
3 T canola, olive, or vegetable oil
1 Egg mixed with 1 T milk for glaze

Step 1: Mixing the Dough
Assemble the ingredients around your work surface.
To make by mixer: If using a kitchenaid heavy duty mixer fitted the paddle attatchment, combine 2 cups of flour, the sugar, the yeast, and salt in the workbowl. Combine the milk, boiling water, and oil in a small bowl or a 4 cup liquid measuring cup. The mixture will read between 110 degrees and 125 degrees on a thermometer. It should feel hot to the touch. On low speed, pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of flour and beat vigorously 2 minutes or more. Switch to low speed, and add the remaining 3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft dough that clears the side of the bowl is formed, 2 minutes more. Switch to the dough hook when the dough thickens, and knead for 2 minutes on medium speed, or until the dough works its way up the hook. The dough will make a soft ball, pull away from the sides of the bowl, and roll around.
Step 2: Using a plastic dough card, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until firm yet smooth and satiny, under 1 minute.
Step 3: Place dough ball in a greased deep container, turn once to grease the top, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until double in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Step 4: Shaping the dough and the final rise
Lightly grease the bottom and the sides of two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface; it will naturally deflate. Without working the dough further, divide the dough into 4 equal portions. With the palm of your hands, roll into 4 fat oblong sausages, each about 10 inches long. Place 2 of the pieces side by side. Holding both pieces of dough together at one end, wrap one around the other 2 or 3 times to create a fat twist effect. Place in the pans and tuck under the ends. Repeat to form the second loaf. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is almost double in bulk. About 1 inch over the rims of the pans, about 1 hour.
Step 5: Baking, Cooling, and Storage

About 20 minutes before baking, place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the loaves with the egg glaze. Do not let the egg glaze drip down the sides of the pan, or the bread will stick. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the loaves are deep golden brown, the sides have slightly shrunk away from the pan, and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the top or bottom with your finger. Immediately remove the loaves from the pans. Let the loaves cool on a wire rack. Milk bread stays moist for about 3 days. Store the bread, wrapped in a plastic food storage bag at room temperature or in the freezer up to 2 months.

WINTER HERB BREAD using the above Milk Bread recipe

"The herbs in this generously flecked bread make a dramatic flavor statement. Here is a sandwich bread at it's best."
Bakeware: two 9x5 inch loaf pans
3 T minced fresh parsley
1 T crumbled dried basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried dillweed
1 1/2 tsp dried crumbled savory
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
1 tsp thyme
1 recipe milk bread dough
Add the herbs to the dough during the mixing. Proceed to rise, shape, glaze and bake as directed in the recipe.

This bread is a newly tried recipe. It has a great maple taste and is somewhat sweet. Don't leave the coffee out, it really adds to the flavor.


3 – 3 1/4 cups flour
1 pkg dry yeast
3/4 cup prepared coffee
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 (scant) cup maple syrup
2 tbls butter
1 tsp salt
1 egg
Combine a cup of flour and the yeast. Heat coffee, oats, syrup, butter and salt until just warm and butter is almost melted. Add to flour mixture along with egg. Beat with electric mixer on low for 30 seconds. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface, knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes kneading). Shape dough into a ball, place in lightly greased bowl, and turn over once to grease surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about an hour.
Punch down dough, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile lightly grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Shape dough into a loaf and place into prepared pan, cover and let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (30 to 45 minutes). Bake at 350 F about 30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when lightly tapped. Remove from pan immediately and cool on wire rack.
Makes 1 loaf (14 slices)

This is a very nutritious bread. It was surprisingly a soft bread full of flavor. I love that it makes 4 loaves at once, allowing me to freeze a couple loaves for later. I used the 10 grain cereal from Bob's Red Mill.

Yield: 4 loaves
1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp honey
2 T. yeast
Dissolve yeast and honey in warm water and let stand 10 minutes.
3 1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c vegetable oil or shortening
2 T. lemon juice
4 tsp salt
2 c. 10 grain cereal
7-8 c. flour (I use 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white)
Measure warm water into a large mixing bowl; add honey, oil, lemon juice, and salt. Add yeast misture and mix well. Stir in 9 grain cereal and sufficient flour to make a soft, workable dough. Turn dough out on lightly floured surface; knead 10-15 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Form dough into a ball and place in oiled bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise 50 mins or until doubled. Punch down and shape into 4 round balls. Cover and let rest 20 mins. Form into loaves and place in greased 8 1/2" by 4 1/2" loaf pans. Brush tops with oil. Cover and let rise 50-60 mins. Bake in 375F oven 35-40 mins or until bread tests done. Remove from pans and let cool on wire rack.

Peppermint Ice Cream

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With an abundance of candy canes, peppermint candies, and whipping cream left over from the holdiays, I made a batch of peppermint ice cream. This is a very rich and creamy icecream. It tasted better after chilling in the freezer for a day or so after making it.

Peppermint extract and crushed peppermint candies impart a refreshing taste to this ice cream.


3 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup light corn syrup
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 cup lightly crushed peppermint snap candies,
candy canes or peppermint sticks


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 cups of the half-and-half and the corn syrup until steam begins to rise from the surface, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a heatproof mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended. Form a kitchen towel into a ring and place the bowl on top to prevent it from moving. Gradually add the hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the custard thickens and a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 8 to 10 minutes; do not allow the custard to boil.

Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl. Stir in the peppermint extract. Add the remaining 1 cup half-and-half and stir to combine. Nestle the bowl in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water and cool the custard to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. At the end of the freezing stage, add the peppermint candies and continue processing just until they are blended into the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled container, cover and freeze until firm, 3 to 4 hours. Makes about 1 quart.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series,Ice Creams & Sorbets,by Sarah Tenaglia (Time-Life Books, 1996).

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