Fixup #2 & No-Bake Strawberry-Rose Ice Cream Icebox Cake

Fixup Numero Dos
Although my first fixup wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in the, well, bod department, I did have a pleasant evening with him and resolved to keep my chin up and sign up for another date. The next theme that appeared in my inbox was “Dates for Good,” in which the payment for your fixup would go toward a non-profit organization and you would be fixed up with someone who had donated in kind. I immediately spotted 826Chi, donated my $15, and waited to see with whom I would be paired. R. was the person whose name came up and the site placed us at Del Toro in Pilsen. I almost passed on account of that, because that’s so far away from me and I don’t look forward to an hour-long bus ride home on a week night. I sucked it up, though, telling myself that at least I would get to try a new restaurant in a part of town that I rarely go to, and confirmed.

The good thing about Project Fixup is that they don’t give you pictures of your dates, so you’re not eliminating people off the bat based solely on looks. The bad thing about Project Fixup is that because they don’t give you pictures of your dates, you end up with someone walking toward you and you think, “Well, that ain’t never gonna happen.” Alas, such was the case with R. He was a little scrap of a man, if you could even call him that, who I’m not sure weighed more than me. I like my men to be visibly stronger than me, so that put the nail in the coffin right there.

Yet, I continued on with the date. We could still have a decent conversation and meal, right? He told me he had completed his Master’s at the U of C, which I thought gave us something in common, being that I did my undergrad there, but anytime I mentioned a place in Hyde Park I was met with a blank stare. “I lived at 54th and Harper. You know, by the grocery store? South of Harper Court?” Nothing. This is because he didn’t live in Hyde Park during that time. Oh no. He lived with his parents. In fact, he is currently living with his parents and that will only change because he is starting a PhD program. I asked what school and he responded, “UCLA. I leave next week.” I stared at him, trying to decide exactly what magnitude of bitchiness was appropriate. I reigned it in and settled on “mildly perturbed.”

“So, why are you doing this?” I asked, meaning the online dating. Seriously, who does that? Who signs up for a date when they’re moving to the other side of the country in a week? What I really wanted to ask was, So, why are you wasting my time? I could have been watching the next True Blood disc at home instead of being out with that twig.

“Just because you’re moving doesn’t mean you can’t start something,” was his response. Or something like it. I’m not sure, since I pretty much tuned out after that point. I know long distance relationships happen and some people maintain them successfully and that’s fine. But don’t get on a website and agree to go out with someone when you can’t even legitimately offer yourself to them. It’s rude and disrespectful of their time.

The remainder of the date was, accordingly, a complete let down. I learned that he didn’t go to the movies (one of my most favorite things to do), he didn’t really watch tv (which is only my other favorite thing to do), he had no philanthropic pursuits (ironic, given the theme), and he was a cat person. Could we BE more incompatible???

Sadly, the guacamole was the best part of the date. Even that had the evil cilantro in it, so that’s saying something. Forty-five minutes of stilted conversation  later, I asked the waitress for our check, paid my half, shook his hand, wished him good luck with all that, and made a beeline for the bathroom. Finally I was free.

“Well, you have to kiss a lot of frogs, right?” Rick said when I texted him the details of my disaster date on the bus ride home. I guess there’s some truth to that. With two frogs down, I’m ready to move on to the next one.

No-Bake Strawberry-Rose Ice Cream Icebox Cake

Ice Box Cake

Summer is back with a vengeance and when I’m suffering in my brick building sans air conditioning, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven for any reason. Luckily, Mindy and I had the foresight to take our Bakers Anonymous meetup in a slightly different direction. For this month’s gathering, we turned to no-bake desserts. I’m so glad we did.

Whilst searching for potential no-bake items to make, I came across a series of recipes on the Kitchn featuring recipes from their editor’s new book. Her Strawberry Icebox Cake seemed to be one of the site’s most popular recipes and the item that sparked the idea for the book. As I make an ice cream for all of our meetups, I’d wanted to incorporate it into what I made. Substituting a homemade rosewater ice cream for the whipped cream in this recipe was an easy fit. Layering that on graham crackers and topping it with sliced strawberries was incredibly easy to do the night before and one of the quickest items I’ve ever concocted for the meetup.

The final cake was, well…maybe not exactly to my liking. Here’s the thing: if you like super hard ice cream, which I do, this cake isn’t for you. Straight out of the freezer, the ice cream developed an icy consistency and wasn’t as palatable as I would have liked. I wasn’t expecting this, but I suspect it had something to do with the strawberries lending extra moisture to the ice cream. Now, if you let the cake sit for a little bit, the ice cream will get a little melty and revert back to a creamy, soft-serve type of consistency. After the cake had thoroughly defrosted, it was received much better than it had been at first. The problem with this is, I don’t like melty ice cream. I just don’t. But I hear most people do, so if you’re one of those people, you may very well like this.

The original recipe used a 9″x13″ pan, but I didn’t want to make that much, so I used a standard-sized loaf pan. I made a full quart-and-a-half of ice cream, which was enough for three layers and some leftover to be enjoyed later. Of course, you can use any sort of ice cream you like in this, but I love playing with unusual flavors, so I took the opportunity to make a full-on rosewater dessert here. The original dessert also topped the finished cake with a little bit of melted chocolate, but I didn’t want that competing with the rosewater so I left it out. Use as you see fit.

For the ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rosewater

Mix all ingredients together and let chill 4-6 hours or overnight. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

For the cake:
If you want to unmold the cake, line a loaf pan with two sheets plastic wrap, one going horizontal and the other going vertical. If you’d like to serve the cake straight out of the pan, you can skip this step. Layer a little bit of ice cream in the bottom and arrange a single layer of sliced strawberries over it. Top with a generous ice cream layer. Arrange graham crackers on top of the ice cream (I could fit a sheet-and-a-half of graham crackers in my pan). Repeat, layering strawberries, ice cream, and graham crackers until the pan is full. A pint of strawberries should be sufficient for this sized pan. When finished, pull over the sides of the plastic wrap so they cover the top of the cake, or cover with foil if your plastic wrap isn’t long enough. Freeze overnight. Unmold the cake from the pan and let sit 15 minutes before slicing.

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