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Friday, Sept. 7, 2007

Rain — an ice-cream addict's best friend


As typhoon season approaches I rub my hands with glee. It's a common misconception that summer is the best season for ice cream. What better example of man's triumph over nature than enjoying a cold snack in a warm apartment as the rain crashes down outside? Truly, it's enough to make anyone feel invincible.

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Yes, I am an iceaholic. As a slender teen I would eat ice cream every day without fail; now I'm a bit more careful, savoring time spent with a spoon or wooden stick poking from my lips as others would cherish a lover's embrace.

But there's a problem. My frozen favorites are made by Ben & Jerry's, an American brand that offers inspired flavor combinations (coffee liqueur ice cream with a cookie-crumb swirl and fudge "cows," anyone?) and generous fillings. The brand is abundant in Britain and around Asia — but it's not sold in Japan.

The solution: do it yourself. I bought an ice-cream maker from Tokyu Hands (Kai Housewares, ¥4,580) and filled my kitchen with the necessary sundries: a rubber spatula, a whisk and ingredients including whipping cream, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, mint extract and a lot of 85 percent-cocoa chocolate.

Most important, I dug out my copy of "Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book," wherein the pair present simple recipes that take mere minutes to make, tasting almost identical to their own mass-produced nectar.

When you make your own ice cream, you can stick in whatever you like. Choco-mayonnaise swirl? Raspberry Pocky pecan? Mint and celery? It's up to you. My personal specialty is "Chili Vanilli": vanilla ice cream peppered with fiery shichimi (seven varieties of spices). It tastes like vanilla, but tingles on the tongue, and as it slides down the throat it warms you up. It's ice and fire on a spoon — beat that, nature.



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