I can hear the whir of it in the kitchen as I type: a lifetime of desire, finally churning away in my very own home. Its white, sleek, form sits atop the counter like a genie's lamp, stirring away at wish after wish.
I've wanted an ice cream maker since I took my first bite of the homemade cream at a friend's summer cottage. I was twelve years old.
I remember it perfectly: the stinging sweetness of fresh crushed raspberries, the pint of rich, heavy, cream, and the dash of sugar that magically transformed into a thick, frozen paste. The taste was unlike any ice cream I'd had before. It was less chewy and more dense, creamier and faster melting.
I've coveted a machine ever since. I've asked others to choose, over holidays or at graduations or for a birthday. But somehow, I've never been willing to buy my own. The hesitance stemmed in part, of course, from a lack of funds. Justifying $70 on a machine that makes dessert is hardly an easy economic argument when there are necessities to buy like bread and butter and a college education.
But more than the money, it was the idea that held me back. Actually possessing the machine, I was afraid, might shatter its majesty. I'd seen Cuisinart churners at yard sales; hand crank barrels collecting dust because no one could be bothered with rock salt. The idea that I, too, might regard the machine as mundane appalled me. It wasn't worth the risk.
Until today. This morning, fresh watermelon in hand at the farmers' market, I dropped the fruit into my car and marched across the street. Inside Snow's, I hit the kitchen appliance aisle and dropped to my knees. There it was, wrapped in cardboard and glistening in plastic. There on the shelf sat my ticket to watermelon sorbet.
When I got home, I tucked the freezer bowl against the ice trays and frozen pie crusts I had stashed away. "Wait 6 to 22 hours," the manual read. "Freezing times may vary." Six to 22 hours? After a lifetime of waiting, suddenly this seemed too long to bear. I began mixing a recipe instead, beginning by picking the seeds from the watermelon and boiling a simple syrup of water, lemon juice, a bit of zest, and white sugar.
It has been five hours since I tucked the bowl into the freezer. I first pulled it out and mixed the watermelon lemon juice for half an hour. Nothing happened. There was no grand thickening, no icy delight. For the bowl to freeze, it appears I'll have to wait at least overnight.
For now, just the sound of the dream is enough to make it seem true.
WATERMELON SORBET WITH LEMON ZEST
Makes 1 and 1/2 quarts
Seed, chop, and puree 4 cups watermelon. In a small pot, boil 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, the zest of two lemons, and 3/4 cup sugar until sugar dissolves and the mixture forms a simple syrup. Cool and add to watermelon puree. Mix well and strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing watermelon pulp down with a wooden spoon until no liquid remains. Discard pulp and chill liquid until ready to use. Mix in ice cream making machine as directed in the instruction manual.