Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez, Let the Good Times Roll, is the attitude that earned New Orleans “The Big Easy” moniker. Good times defines the soul of a city that called its residents home in spite of the hardships they would face to rebuild from a disaster that none of us thought could ever happen in America. The easy choice would have been to walk away, to move on, but for some reason, those who could, came back. They came back to broken houses without electricity or water, to a city with no mail service, no phones, no fire department, no schools, and empty stores. They came back to pick through their belongings to see what had escaped the water, the wind, the mold, and the chaos.
My sister, who admits she came back too soon, remembers the bugs—in your house, in your refrigerator, in your eyes, in your mouth. When the utilities came back, they were intermittent and were, and still are, costly. Housing is in short supply and rents are high for anyplace still livable. But slowly, the city is healing. Houses painted in bright, shiny colors like children’s new toys are interspersed among the gray, water-marked shells with empty windows, still branded with X-marks and codes that show when this place, once somebody’s home, was searched, by whom, and what was found there.
On my last night in New Orleans, we went to Tippitina’s, a neighborhood club where a Cajun band played every Sunday night. Music and dancing have always been part of the rhythm of life here. Young and old mingled and laughed and clapped, and strangers were not strangers for long. (“Are you straight legg-ed or Baptist?” one man teased me for standing on the sidelines.) On the crowded dance floor, a woman who could have been 80, with a flower in her hair, her full skirt swinging, matched the footwork of her young partner as naturally as if she had done it every day of her life—just like old times. Good times.
………………………..photos: (C) 2008, Denise Caballero
This is the oldest Italian-style ice cream parlor in New Orleans. It opened in 1905 and reopened, post-Katrina, to much jubilation in 2006. Ice cream, gelato, Italian ices, and bakery treats are made on site. It took us a while just to read the extensive menu. The counter attendant had to came back several times to get our order as we tried to choose a flavor. Leita settled on a strawberry ice, the house specialty, and I had coconut ice cream, both with two spoons for sharing.
Another frozen treat associated with New Orleans is called the snowball. It is like a snow cone but sweeter and creamier. The lines at the snowball place went around the block, so I never got a chance to try one. Plus, I never made it to Paul Proudhomme’s place, or The Commander’s Palace, or Rock and Bowl. I didn’t have a beignet, or jambalaya, or bread pudding. I have to go back.
COCONUT ICE CREAM
Ice cream with a good, scoopable texture is a challenge when you can’t use sugar. One of the indigestible, long-chain sugars like polydextrose can help with that. It also selectively promotes the growth of the good microbes that live in the digestive tract and contribute to a healthy immune system. But as the TV pitchman says, “Wait, there’s more!” Add in the health benefits of coconut and you’ve got a treat you would want to eat even if it weren’t delicious.
(I haven’t exhausted all the possible permutations for this recipe, but my freezer is full of Coconut Ice Cream that I have to eat my way through before I try any more.)
½ cup polydextrose (see Note below)
2/3 cup granular sugar substitute (recipe was tested with Splenda®)**
1 packet of SweetOne® or other sweetener (optional)*
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum***
1 can (14-ounces) premium coconut milk (about 2 cups)
8 ounces half and half
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 tablespoon rum or coconut rum
– toasted, flaked coconut for garnish, if desired
Prepare an ice and water bath in a container that will accommodate a medium saucepan.
Mix together polydextrose, Splenda, SweetOne, and xanthan gum until well blended. Beat egg yolks with dry ingredients in a heat resistant bowl for about 5 minutes until pale and thick.
Place coconut milk and half and half in a medium saucepan and heat, stirring frequently. When coconut and cream mixture just starts to simmer, remove form heat and whisk about 1/3 of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture. Return egg mixture to pan and place over low heat. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes until it reaches a temperature of 175 to 180 degrees F or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut extracts and rum. Place pan in ice bath and stir until cool. Cover and refrigerate custard until cold. Freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. (This amount will work for a countertop ice cream maker. For a tub-style freezer that uses salt and ice, double or triple the recipe.)
When ice cream mounds up in the center like stiff soft-serve, transfer to a shallow container. Place a sheet of waxed paper or plastic wrap directly on top of the cream, cover with an airtight lid and freeze. If frozen for longer than an hour or two, place container in refrigerator for 20 minutes or so until it softens enough to scoop.
Makes about 8 servings of ½ cup.
Total Carb: 17.9g, Fiber: 12.5g, Net Carb: 5.5g
Note: The rum or brandy added with the extracts will depress the freezing point and keep the ice cream from freezing too hard. Bicardi makes a Coconut Rum that would be especially nice.
Tip: To lower the carb count, replace the 8 ounces of half and half with 4 ounces of zero-carb cream plus four ounces of lactose-free milk such as Hood Calorie Countdown or my version in Carb Wars. (My recipe for milk has 1 carb per cup; Hood’s Calorie Countdown has 3 carbs.)
Note: Polydextrose is only slightly sweet but it has many of the other properties of sucrose that are missing in most sugar substitutes. It is digested like soluble fiber and helps promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. Here’s a link to a recent study about the amazing benefits of dietary prebiotics: http://www.nutraingredients.com/news/ng.asp?n=84888&c=m6wryBCkbEoZtdm2MLdJgQ%3D%3D
Polydextrose (PolyD) can be ordered online from Honeyville Grain here: http://www25.netrition.com/cgi/product_categories_display.cgi?categories=FIBR, or from Netritian here: http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/index.asp?PageAction=PRODSEARCH&txtSearch=polydextrose&btnSearch=GO&Page=1.
*Using a small amount of another sweetener will give a more natural sweet taste.
**Substituting some erythritol for part of the granular sweetener will help keep the ice cream softer.
***Xanthan gum is an emulsifier that will help keep the ice cream smooth and scoopable. It can be found at many stores or ordered online.
(c) 2008, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com