This week has marked the first that I’ve seen it rain consistently, as I heard it might around these parts. Here, ‘consistently’ describes a pattern that I’ve actually never seen before. Clear skies followed by a bit of bright gray followed by a sudden downpour of soft but constant rain. Just several minutes of rain, and then clear again. A few times this cycle of rain comes around, and then disappears until the next day.
From my desk, I face a window that puts me at frond-level with our neighbors’ palm tree. When it rains, these fronds become extra droopy, spotted with a slick rain sheen. I often take this sheen, as well as the very light muttering of raindrops on the fronds, as sign that it’s raining outside. But I must be attentive, because the rains end almost as quickly as they come.
Repetition is notorious here. It’s best exemplified by the sun, that rises and sets within a half hour window all year ‘round, no matter winter or summer. I’m realizing even the sporadic rains have their patterns too. It’s not rainy season, so the wetness is not constant but simply present every day. These days that merge into weeks which blend into months. Maybe times seems like this blob because the days end, rather abruptly, at 6:30 every evening. Maybe it’s because Fridays are half days and thus the ‘weekend’ always comes just a little bit earlier, catching me off guard. Regardless of the reason, I looked at my calendar today and I’ve been at post for a week shy of three months. The OCD-planning side of me gets nervous, because a swift calculation later I realize that it’s three months out of a total twenty four, or in other words, already 1/8 of my time here.
But how could three months have passed when this past Monday already seems so far away? I can barely remember Monday. I went running on Monday, but I’m thinking that’s why I can barely remember it, since I likely blocked the experience from my memory. Though, it wasn’t as bad as I had built up in my head. I was urged out of the house by one enthusiastic DiploMan, and despite my complaints about the heat and the traffic and the blister that formed on my instep, it was nice to get out for some exercise.
Until Wednesday, that is, when my legs were like Jell-o and caused me to walk up and down our tile stairwell with an awkward waddle-tiptoe-limp for fear that my legs would at any moment give out and I would end up on the hard tile below. But then, Wednesday also seems so far away. How is this possible?
I just went downstairs for a cup of coffee, and my wobbly legs reminded me that oh yeah, Wednesday was just yesterday. Pole pole.
They say this a lot here, pole pole, pronounced “pohl-ay, pohl-ay“. Which literally means, slowly slowly. I’m certainly using it to describe the way I am walking this week, but more commonly are words spoken by everyone here as an all-encompassing term describing a way of life in addition to specific moments. It’s a catch-all, an excuse and a reason, an action and a thought, both literal and hypothetical. It’s kind of everything. And with this word, I describe these weeks and months that I feel pass so slowly and then end up behind me so quickly.
As I typed the last few paragraphs, another one of those mini rain sessions has come and gone. Rinse, Repeat. The rain water is now dripping off the palm fronds, very pole pole, and in ten minutes I’m sure the ground will be dried by the blanket of humidity that will follow, mopping up all evidence of rain.
Today, Thursday, in case anyone is unbridled with anticipation about what I’m going to do, means a lot of work and maybe a little yoga, then a hang-out sesh with friends. But first, I am going to share this recipe with you. Pole pole. These flavors are ones that I’ve been dreaming about for quite some time, and had been dreaming about mixing into an ice cream recipe. Given the huge Indian population in town, it’s quite easy to find pistachios and cardamom here, but you can easily find pistachios in most supermarkets at home and cardamom at most specialty food stores (or Whole Foods).
In addition to testing this new luxurious combination of smooth nutty pistachio and sweet spiced cardamom, it’s a new-to-me method of making ice cream. Sometimes I read a recipe and I try it the next day, but other times it takes me awhile to get around to it. Jeni’s ice cream recipe is an example of the latter. Bon Appetit and Saveur magazines have sworn to what I’m calling the ‘Jeni method’ for years now, and then after reading Kasey’s most recent ice cream post last month, I caved in. Although, maybe her shots of that drippy, peanut-y, chocolate-y ice cream were the ultimate straws. Regardless, I’m wondering why I didn’t listen sooner.
Pole pole, I guess. That’s why.
Pistachio Cardamom Ice Cream, a-la Jeni’s method
Adapted from this Turntable Kitchen recipe
- 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup shelled (raw) pistachios
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp. cream cheese
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 Tbsp. Corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp. whole green cardamom pods
- Toast all the pistachios in a pan or toaster oven, for 5-10 minutes or until just browned. Take 1/2 cup of the toasted pistachios and coarsely chop, or crush in a mortar or pestle. Store this 1/2 cup aside to use much later.
- Stir 2 Tbsp. of the milk into cornstarch so it is thick and sludgy. Mix the cream cheese and salt together in a small, heatproof bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set both aside.
- Combine the remainder of the milk, cream, 3/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup whole, toasted pistachios in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While milk is simmering, toast cardamom pods in a pan over medium-high heat, shaking often to prevent pods from burning. When pods are browned and fragrant, remove from heat (5-7 minutes).
- Stir cornstarch into milk mixture and bring back to a boil, then remove from heat completely.
- Pour a little bit of the hot milk mixture into cream cheese and whisk into a thick liquid. Whisk a little more milk in to temper, and then pour the cream cheese-milk concoction back with the remainder of the hot milk.
- Pour this ice cream base into a large, sturdy Ziploc bag. Add toasted cardamom. Submerge bag in a large bowl filled with ice water and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
- Pour cold ice cream base into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to directions. Transfer 1/3 of base to a freezer-safe container (I like using a square glass tupperware thing), sprinkling a third of the toasted, crushed pistachios that you had set aside earlier on this layer. Add another layer of ice cream, sprinkle more pistachios, then repeat with the rest. Freeze overnight for optimal consistency.