There are no hard numbers on this, but I’m pretty sure I have a higher-than-average rate of accepting unsolicited things from elderly strangers.
First, there’s the Louis Vuitton coin purse. On a blustery winter night in Tahoe several winters ago, a drunk man on the street began a conversation with me and my companion about the huge dramatic fight he’d just had with his lady love interest. He ended our interaction by handing me this coin purse with no explanation or background except for “Just take it, shithead.” I’m pretty sure that it belonged to the other half of this lovers’ quarrel. Everyone has a fighting style, I guess, though I never considered “steal their stuff and give it away like some sort of love-sore Robin Hood.” You do you, man!
Then, there’s the kooky Portland lady who gave me drugs earlier this year. (I didn’t take them, or sell them, Mom, and hi!)
Finally, the only story relevant to all this: This past summer, at a farmers’ market, a grandfatherly type approached me and told me to stick out my hand. When I did, he sprinkled some tiny yellow pellets into my palm and began outlining the many health benefits of bee pollen. I smiled, nodded, and, firing on all the politeness cylinders, asked what seemed to be a thoughtful question at the time: “So, what do you do with it?”
“You eat it.” … He blinked, he stared, he blinked some more. Clearly one of us was supposed to do something, and it was me. You know what? The bee pollen was delicious; it had the floral quality of honey, without the overwhelming sweetness. And fragrant! So fragrant.
The moral of the story here is that I’d never tell anyone how to live their life, but I’ve found that openness and trusting others as a general rule leads to good things. Good things, like this ice cream: fancy, tangy, herbal, with a smattering of nature’s sprinkles on top.
All that said, although I didn’t seek out bee pollen on purpose, it would surely be responsible of me to relay some things I’ve learned about it. So:
- Bee pollen is flower pollen (duh, I know) that has been packed into pellets by worker bees. It takes a bee 8 hours to pack one teaspoon of pollen! I hope there’s a union.
- It’s an incredibly protein-rich food; more so than any animal-based source of protein. Wild, huh.
- People claim that it helps with basically any condition under the sun: inflammation, allergies, menopause, addiction, infertility, digestive and respiratory issues, and many more ailments. There’s no scientific evidence that this is true, but… You’re smart. You know how these things work.
- Don’t eat it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, tho.
As usual, however, I’m only in the bee pollen game because the stuff is delicious, photogenic, and interesting. If you can’t find it, by all means, don’t let that stop you from making this ice cream. Eat it plain. Top it with dark chocolate shavings, white chocolate shavings, in-between chocolate shavings, honey, candied pine nuts, candied any nuts, uncandied nuts, un-nutted candy. Or sprinkles. I think the jury’s still out on the anti-inflammatory effects of sprinkles, too.
Happy 2016 to you, my little bumblebees. I hope it brings pleasant surprises, and maybe dessert too.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh goat cheese
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 4-inch sprig rosemary
- 2 tablespoons bee pollen (available at specialty markets/farmers' markets)
- Combine 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch and whisk to thoroughly combine. In a large bowl, mix together the goat cheese, cream cheese and salt until smooth.
- In a large saucepan, bring the rest of the milk, the cream, the sugar and the corn syrup to a boil over medium-high heat and continue boiling for about 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture, then return to heat, bring it back to a boil and cook until thickened, for about another minute or so. Remove from heat and whisk this hot mixture slowly into the goat cheese/cream cheese mixture until the cheeses are melted and mixture is smooth. Add the rosemary sprig, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least a few hours in the fridge.
- When the mixture is thoroughly chilled, remove the rosemary sprig and churn the mixture using your ice cream maker’s instructions. Chill in freezer until firm. Serve sprinkled with bee pollen (optional). Makes a generous quart.
- Makes a very generous quart.