If I lived in Athens, Tenn. I would want to live next door to Rita Holt. 

In just a few minutes talking over the phone I could tell she's be a great neighbor. The kind of person that would water your garden when you're out of town or bring you cookies and hot chocolate on a cloudy day.

I would bake for her too -- maybe some fresh lemon poppy seed muffins on a day I know she'll be busy in the radiator shop she and her husband run. Or maybe if she wasn't feeling well, I'd bake the cookies she likes to give the kids who ride the school bus her husband drives. 

However, I don't live in Athens and she doesn't live in Shoshone, Idaho. Thanks to e-mail, we can at least exchange recipes. This makes me happy. I met Rita when I did a story about National Moo Fest, an Athens based celebration of the dairy industry and farming. She is last year's winner of the Moo-Fest Homemade Ice Cream Contest. As if her warm personality wasn't enough she's the woman who came up with "Peanut Butter Euphoria Ice Cream" -- and really, doesn't that mean she's pretty close fabulous anyway?

Last week, I decided to give her ice cream recipe a try. I'm pretty sure Rita would have done it with more grace and fewer expletives, but we managed to get it done -- and it was truly worth the effort.

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Euphoria Ice Cream




3 tsp gelatin                       6 egg yolks, beaten

2 T. water                          2- 14 oz cans condensed milk

6 cups milk, divided         4tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups smooth peanut butter

1 cup chopped reese cups

1 cup chopped Hershey candy bar


Sprinkle gelatin over 2 T. water. Let stand; stirring twice while setting. Meanwhile prepare base.

Heat 3 cups milk and vanilla over medium heat until steaming.

Whisk egg yolks and condensed milk together until smooth.

Gradually pour in the hot milk stirring quickly.

Return to hot pan and cook over medium heat until it coats the back of a wooden spoon; stir continually. Do not allow to boil.

Strain custard. Stir in the softened gelatin until it is dissolved. Stir in the remaining milk and peanut butter until smooth. Chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.

Add the chocolate candy and reese cups.

Freeze in electric freezer according to the directions.



First of all, I've learned from experience that no two packages of gelatin are created equally. It's important to measure the gelatin in those alleged 1 tsp packets.  Following Rita's instructions, I sprinkled over the water. Then I got distracted. Gelatin turned to hard rock. She's not kidding when Rita says, "stirring twice while settling".

For the milk, I recommend using whole milk. I'm guessing skim wouldn't work anyway and since you're already putting candy and peanut butter in your ice cream, skim milk seems a bit silly. I use whole, unprocessed milk because that's what I have. 

It's really important to stir constantly and not over cook the base.  When it's thick enough it will cling to your wooden spoon. 

I couldn't for the life of me figure out why we needed to strain the custard. First, I couldn't find my strainer (Make mental note to reorganize the kitchen cupboards) So I created a strainer using cheese cloth and a colander. I actually think this worked better than my strainer would have worked anyway. Once strained, it really is much smoother. So yes, it does make sense to strain it.

in the recipe, Rita says 2 to 3 hours is the minimum chilling time. We chilled ours for 3 hours, but Rita had told me it's even better if you can chill it overnight. I can see where that would be better, but who wants to wait that long for homemade ice cream?  Not me. 

While the custard was chilling, I went about trying to find my ice cream machine. I found parts of it in the box where they belong. I know I've seen the spatula thing in recent months and wondered why it was where it was -- but could I find it again?  Nope. I made another vow to clean the kitchen and drove to town to get a new one. I justified the expense as "work related" -- and who the heck only makes a pint of ice cream anyway?? I must have bought the other ice cream maker before I had children.

Back at home, I pulled the ice cream maker out and read the instructions.  By the time I got everything all organized, found the ice cream salt and pried a bag of ice out of the bottom of the freezer, my 3 hours were up. 

I attached the beater/spatula thing according the directions, got the salt and ice layered up and plugged it in.  It was going great, at first. Then, odd noises and no movement. Repositioned the beater. Repositioned the canister.  And we're off.

That didn't last long. Repeat all previous steps. Swear some. Get it going again. Stop. Repeat, adding expletives. Whew!  It's working..... ugh. Not. Take everything apart. Break paddle in the process. Forget expletives. They're now too much effort.

Contemplate giving up and making milk shakes.

Reread ice cream maker instructions. Read the line missed earlier about attaching the paddle to the lid. Use a stick blender chop candy into much smaller pieces so they won't get caught so easily underneath the paddle. 

Shrug my shoulders when my husband asks, for the 50th time, why I'm doing this when the Schwanns man will bring ice cream right to my door. 

Plug in the machine again. Stare into space. Wish I lived next door to Rita Holt. Notice that the machine keeps running. Holy cow! It's working.  Wait impatiently for the freezing process to finish. 

Once complete, don't wait to scoop the ice cream into a new container. Grab a spoon and eat Peanut Butter Euphoria straight out of freezer container. Roll eyes back in head. This is a mighty fine ice cream.

As a family, we decided that next time we make it we will use less peanut butter. It's really, really peanut buttery -- and we love peanut butter. But we think a more subtle flavor might allow the candy to stand out more.

I'm now off to order a new, unbroken paddle for my ice cream maker. Rita just won this year's ice cream contest with her recipe for Carmel Toffee Ice Cream.  Sounds wonderful!


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