Straight through

Last night after tucking the kids into bed and scooping myself a bowl of ice cream (twice), I curled up on the sofa and cracked the spine of a new (to me) book, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, the one I am to read in preparation for our February book club meeting.

When I started the first chapter the clock said 9:15, and when I finished—yes, finished!—the book, it was a little after 12:30. I had gotten up just once, to put the bread dough into the fridge (I had mixed it up and then forgotten about it) and to go to the bathroom. (But I read while I tinkled.)

I haven’t read a book straight through for years, probably not since I was nine years old and read The Boxcar Children three times in one Saturday while lollygagging about on the shaggy, brown living room rug, my sundress scrunched up to my navel, my little panties fully exposed to the light of day (and my mother’s camera). Last night’s read was a deeply satisfying experience—finishing a project in such short order, escaping my reality, and soaking up the life of another world for a whole three hours. What a rush!

While I was plowing through my book, my husband was stretched out on the brown sofa, his nose in his book. Once when I did something really loud and distracting, like transition from a sitting position to a laying down position, he peered around the edge of his book, grinned devilishly, and chortled, “Isn’t this fun?”

He finished his book before I finished mine, and, knowing how I hate to be left alone downstairs, he gamely (though slightly begrudgingly) sat down in the recliner and waited for me to get through my last fifty pages. He let me sleep in this morning, too.

A word about the book (book club members and anyone else who has not yet read the book and plans to, you may want to avert your eyes): it was a page turner (obviously), but there were quite a few parts that seemed farfetched. Also, the character development was weak and the end was cheesy. But apart from that, I learned some new things and had quite a pleasant little word trip. And the moral of the book’s tale? Don’t ever let your kids play with keys and cupboards. (Okay, so that wasn’t the author’s real intent, but it’s what this mama came away with. Before going to bed, I had to go seek out my little four-year-old boy and cover his silky-soft cheeks with kisses.)

The ice cream that fueled my word trip was a fabulous salted dulce de leche ice cream, studded with candied peanuts, the very peanuts that I wrote about yesterday.

I was a little nervous about adding nuts to ice cream—it always seems to me like the nuts should surely soften in all that frozen dairy—but I went ahead and added a bunch at the end of the churning process and they stayed nice and crisp-crunchy. So, those nuts aren’t only good for out-of-hand eating—they make a great addition to your favorite homemade ice cream.

As for the ice cream itself? Cream, milk, a tin of dulce de leche, and ta-da! You’ve got a churnful of deliciousness. The sprinkling of flaky salt right before eating is key. (And not Sarah’s, either.)

What books are making YOU stay up to the wee hours of the morning?

Salted Dulce de Leche Ice Cream with Candied Peanuts
Adapted from the May 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine, via Epicurious

Dulce de leche comes in tins that look the same as the sweetened condensed milk tins. In fact, if you can’t find any dulce de leche (I found mine at an Asian-Mexican grocery), you can make your own dulce de leche out of sweetened condensed milk by following these instructions.

You can substitute toasted pecans in place of the candied peanuts.

2 cups milk
1 cup cream
14-16 ounces dulce de leche (about 1 ½ – 1 2/3 cups)
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chopped candied peanuts, optional
flaky salt, for garnish

Scald the milk and remove it from the heat. Add the dulce de leche and stir till dissolved. Add the cream and vanilla. Chill till good and cold and then freeze in your ice cream maker, adding the candied peanuts about one minute before the ice cream in finished. Transfer the ice cream to another container and put it in the freezer for a couple hours to allow it to set up. (This ice cream is very soft, so it does benefit from a freezer cool down.)

To serve, scoop into bowls and sprinkle with flaky salt.

This same time, years previous: turkey-noodle soup, home alone


  • Misha

    I did the same thing with Sarah's Key last month – read it in one afternoon. I just did the same thing yesterday with Making Toast. It made me sob, I wanted more than what it delivered, but I could not put it down. I'm about to read Still Alice (have only read the first chapter) – have you read it?

  • Natasha

    Glad to hear what you had to say about Sarah's Key – I just found out yesterday my book club will be reading that for Feb too, but I hadn't heard of it. (And, I'm one of the strange few who doesn't mind knowing the ending of a book… I'm actually more likely to read it if I do!)

  • teekaroo

    Um, the last page turner I read was "How to Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems". It's been a really long time since I read a book just for enjoyment's sake. I love to make homemade ice cream. My husband will love this recipe, but I don't see the instructions on how to make dulce de leche?

  • Gelfling

    I just read "The Witch of Hebron" by James Howard Kunstler, about a town in upstate New York that survives after the world has gone to crap and society reverts to localized agricultural communities… and "Rose in a Storm" by Jon Katz, about a sheepdog and her farmer and their struggle to help their farm survive an epic blizzard. Both read in one night, both cost me a great deal of sleep!

  • Margo

    mmmm. I'm ready for a page-turner and ice cream.
    I've been reading verrrrry sloooooow books recently. But I MUST finish a Mary Stewart once I get going. My favorite is Nine Coaches Waiting.

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