Thursday, July 1, 2010

with an ice-cream sandwich in hand

To borrow an expression from Mark Twain, the difference between law school and the bar exam is like the difference between lighting and a lightning bug.

The subjects I liked best (read: loathed the least) in law school don't exist in the universe delineated by ten half-hour essays. Subjects that were maddeningly mutable in law school are remarkably fixed in the space of six hours with two hundred multiple choice questions. The law of the bar exam is not the law of law school, but a law skewed and off-kilter, a strange world unto itself.

Still, some things remain unchanged. Civil Procedure endures as a bane of my existence.

Civil Procedure is all about the rules that courts follow in civil lawsuits. It is, theoretically, all about standards and deadlines. In practice, it's a godawful mess of shifting burdens, tests and balancing. It didn't make sense in law school. It doesn't make any more sense now.

I still don't know what Erie was about. Just the phrase "choice of laws" is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. And every time I try to read the handy-dandy summary prepared by my bar review course, my eyes start to glaze over.

Unfortunately, the numbers indicate that I probably will have to write about personal jurisdiction and diversity on at least one of the ten aforementioned essays. I need a better study plan.

Said new and improved study plan is this: I will make ice-cream without an ice-cream maker.

I don't mean ice-cream churned in a bowl set in another bowl filled with crushed ice and rock salt. (While fun, that wouldn't get me any closer to understanding the minimum contacts test.) I'm referring to the process in which you make up a custard, pour it into a shallow pan, put it in the freezer, and stir it every half-hour or so as it freezes. The ice crystals that form are larger, so the end result isn't quite as smooth, but it's still cold, sweet and creamy - decidedly ice-cream.

If I make ice-cream without an ice-cream maker, I'll study as it freezes, and take a break every half-hour when it needs to be stirred. It has to be stirred every half-hour, so I'll have to stay at home. And if I make homemade ice-cream, I can bake cookies and make ice-cream sandwiches. Choice of laws analysis will go much more smoothly with an ice-cream sandwich in hand.

As study plans go, it's foolproof. Or at least it will be, once I figure out how to read the Civil Procedure summary without falling asleep.

Lime Buttermilk Ice-Cream Sandwiches

(Makes about ten two-and-a-half inch sandwiches. Will keep for a week or two, wrapped in squares of wax paper in a covered container.)

First things first. Grab a large, shallow, freezer-safe container and put it in the freezer. Something metal and circular - like a big cake tin - would be ideal, but a square or rectangular container will also do, just as long as it's large and shallow.

Put four egg yolks in a large bowl. (Reserve one egg white for the cookies. The rest can go to make meringues or macarons.) In another large bowl, combine one cup of buttermilk with the zest from one lime.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, bring one cup of cream, a third of a cup of sugar, half a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt to a low simmer.

Gradually beat the cream mixture into the egg yolks, then pour the mixture back in the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (when it reaches a yogurt-like consistency.)

Set a fine-meshed sieve over the bowl with the buttermilk. Pour the custard through the sieve, and stir the mixture until it is fully incorporated. Place in an ice bath or cool in the fridge until completely cold.

Pull out the freezer-safe container, pour in the custard, and put the container in the freezer.

Wait half an hour. Pull out the container and stir the custard, scraping down the sides where it's begun to set with a spatula.

Wait another half-hour. Stir, scraping down the sides.

Repeat this process every every half-hour. As the ice-cream really starts to set, you may want to switch to a fork or whisk to keep big icy lumps from forming. Stir until the mixture reaches the consistency of soft serve, and then spoon into a covered container.

To make the cookies, cream together one stick of softened butter with a quarter-cup of sugar and a heaped quarter-teaspoon of salt. Beat in the zest from one lime, followed by one egg white. Stir in one teaspoon of baking powder. Work in one-and-a-quarter cups of flour, a quarter-cup at a time, until you have a soft dough.

Chill the dough for at least an hour in the fridge.

Roll the dough out between floured sheets of wax paper, and use a two-and-a-half inch cookie cutter to stamp out cookies. Bake at 350F for ten to twelve minutes, or until browned at the edges.

Transfer to a rack.

Mix up a glaze using the juice from your two limes, a tablespoon of sugar, and a generous pinch of salt. Turn the cookies over and brush the undersides with the glaze.

To assemble, hold one cookie glaze-side up, top with a few spoonfuls of ice-cream, and sandwich with another cookie, glaze-side down. Use a butter knife to smooth out the edges. Repeat until you run out of cookies (you'll probably have some ice-cream left over.) Chill for an hour or so before eating.


Delia said...

First off, I was a civil clerk in a district court in MA for several years and, you're right. Civil procedure sucks.

Second, those ice cream sandwiches look divine.

adele said...

Delia - Wow. I know it's bad when people who do it all day agree with my assessment!

The ice-cream sandwiches, on the other hand, are a lot of fun to make. :)

A Plum By Any Other Name said...

The recipe sounds lovely. I like making butter but get anxious about what to do with the buttermilk that's left over. (A gal can only eat so many buttermilk biscuits.) I will have to try this recipe out; thanks for posting!

The civil procedure? Perhaps not so much. ;)

LuckyRaven said...

maybe making caffeinated ice cream? Like using lovely matcha powder from your greenacre cake from 1L. I wish I lived closer to you...studying Civ Pro would be SO much better!

adele said...

LuckyRaven - Yes! I was thinking chocolate-espresso gelato, too. It's just the thing to start a day of studying in hot weather...