this has nothing to do with ice cream

I had the rare opportunity this summer to look back on the last six years of my career as an oncologist and to reflect on where I started and where I’m headed. The experience was eye opening, motivating, and educational. It was also painful.

I work in academic medicine (some of you know this already), and in academics, the only way to be promoted up the professorial hierarchy is to prepare a promotion packet. The promotion packet is a compilation of every activity I’ve been involved in since I was hired and every accomplishment I’ve achieved along the way. I had to write it myself. This meant that I spent nearly an entire month, maybe a little longer, writing about myself, about all of the many things I’ve done and how great I am at everything – patient care, teaching, administration, and research. When I finally turned it in, my packet was around 50 pages in length, and over 15,000 words.

By the end of writing it, I was fairly sick of myself. You probably would too, if you read it.

It’s done, though. It’s in someone else’s hands. A committee or two or three will review my packet by at least ten other academic physicians, and later. The packet will make its way up the university ladder, all the way to the president’s desk. And one day, about a year from now, I’ll find out if I met all the criteria for promotion. I’ll find out if I represented myself in a good enough light to be deemed worthy.

As tedious as the process of preparing my promotion packet was, though, it made me think about my goals, both in my career (which really does seem less of a job and more of an innate calling) and in my life. While I was forced to document what I’d achieved over the past six years in my work, I began thinking of the path I’ve taken in life, and with this blog. I’ve been writing here for over four years now – the anniversary was in February, and I completely missed it.  Having this space has helped me grow on so many levels, but I’m still not quite sure what my ultimate goal with this is.

I think my goal is to just write. This is what I feel compelled to do. The writing – about food and life and family – is what gives me a sense of peace when I log off the computer each day, when I step away from Word to join my family.

I’m speaking about blogging this weekend, at the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando. I’ll be on a panel with three other food writers and bloggers – Maggie Battista, Lael Hazan, and Katie Workman – each of whom has been incredibly successful in her own unique path. Our panel is about balancing blogging and life and career. It’s something I know a little bit about.

This has nothing to do with ice cream, of course. And it really has nothing to do with peanut butter cup ice cream. But I want you to have the recipe, because it’s a good one. Consider it my gift to you, for sticking with me through thick and thin, through the drama of these last four-plus years. Thank you for reading my writing, even when I ramble and especially when I don’t.

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream

You may find a simpler recipe for homemade ice cream, but I swear, this one is so worth the effort. I prefer egg-based ice cream recipes, because I like the texture better than recipes that do not use egg yolks. I tend to make this a two- or three-day affair, though you can certainly do it in less time. I make the custard base one afternoon or evening, chill it overnight, then churn it the next day. After several hours (or another overnight chill), it's ready to enjoy.


1-3/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped miniature peanut butter cups (about 15 miniature cups)


Place a 9-inch-square metal baking pan in freezer. Combine heavy cream, milk, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming steadily and registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes [I use a Thermapen digital thermometer]. Remove saucepan from heat.

Meanwhile, while cream mixture heats, whisk yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in bowl until smooth. Slowly whisk 1 cup heated cream mixture into egg yolk mixture. Return entire mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 180 degrees, 7 to 14 minutes. Stir in vanilla and remove from heat. Using a fine mesh strainer, carefully strain custard into a large bowl and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or up to 24 hours).

Transfer custard to ice-cream machine and churn according to your machine's instructions. When the ice cream is nearly frozen, about 5 minutes from the end, add in the chopped peanut butter cups. Ice cream will be soft serve consistency when it's done. Scoop ice cream into the frozen baking pan and press plastic wrap on surface. Return to freezer until firm around edges, at least 1 hour. Transfer ice cream to airtight container, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

Adapted from this recipe from  Cook's Illustrated, from July 1, 2011.