Hustle And Stack: Vanilla Ice Cream With Tamarind Caramel And Spicy Peanut Crumble

I am not a rise-and-grind, hustle-and-stack kind of girl.

While I recognize the value in this philosophy for some folks, it just doesn’t feel good for me. It feels frantic and crazy-making and doesn’t leave any space inside it for enjoying the fruits of your labor.

It’s a grind. A slog. An ongoing rush to get something more than what you have.

My dad, in his day, and all of the days I had with him, was a hustle-and-stack OG. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and given six months to live. I quit my job and flew back East from Seattle so he could get to know his infant granddaughter in whatever time he had left. Although he positively doted on her (for the next six years), he was often too busy to do more than come up from his basement office and say hi. He traveled for his work constantly and worked through multiple bouts of chemo and radiation and many courses of experimental treatments.

In a moment of frustration, I asked him once what amount of money it would take for him to stop working long enough to come out of the basement and enjoy his family before he died. He had no answer – it was literally the hustle he liked, I think, more than the progress towards any goal.

Part of this compulsion to grind stems from fear. Fear of not having enough, being enough, or deserving enough.

But then I read this quote from Osho:

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.”

Yes. THIS.

Fear is oxymoronic in that it can alternately hold us back and compel us forward. Fear is the trigger that serves our flight, fight, or freeze instincts, the ones buried so deeply in our brains that we don’t even recognize that this compulsive need for hustling and stacking is just a modern-day version of fleeing from a saber tooth tiger.

The other side of this compulsion is that we never truly get to experience whatever it is we say we are seeking to experience if we are constantly hustling. There is no ease, no balance. No repose. No rest.

Of course, this ease and repose can masquerade as lazy, and the whole world will jump to tell you that time spent slowly is time wasted.

As all three regular readers of this blog can attest, I disagree with the whole world in this regard. I don’t think you can really know what it means to feel something without slowing down to feel it. You might think that “hustle and stack” has little, if anything, to do with feeling, but think back to a time when you won something. That rush of adrenaline; that quick flush of victory. For some people, it’s positively ADDICTIVE.

Today in my yin yoga class with Jessie Kates, she talked about the idea that having goals and plans in this life are good, but sometimes we get so distracted by them that we forget to slow down to take detours to do things that give us joy just because. Maybe the detours don’t make us money, or they don’t increase our social media reach, or otherwise elevate us to the lofty, random standards that others set. But WOW.

Joy? The possibility of joy? The potential to do something just because it feels good for your soul?


That I would rise-and-grind for.

I will also rise-and-grind for:

  • an early morning camping trip
  • a road trip
  • my birthday
  • Sicily’s birthday
  • Khristian’s birthday
  • most people’s birthdays, if I am honest
  • complicated cooking projects
  • a long walk in the woods
  • a heart-opening yoga class

I am done rising-and-grinding for the sake of itself, and I am certainly not making the hustling and the stacking a priority. I sound like your grandmother, adding “the” in front of “hustling” and “stacking” (as I often do with The Facebook, except that’s what it used to be called, but I digress), but know that it’s a writing device and is not accidental and since I know the rules I can break them so there.

I like the idea of a leisurely morning on my balcony with coffee and three trees’ worth of birds twittering and flitting. I like listening to little kids walking to the park across the street and watching dogs with their zingy little bodies flinging themselves around with sheer delight at being outside because they can. This is not time wasted. This is time spent rooted in the essence of respect and awe, and wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to do?

We can actually construct a life that has built into it more time for joy and awe and respect and wonder and zingy-body flinging, so long as we are willing to shuffle off the mortal coil of Stuff and Striving. I suppose it’s a bit of striving to make this happen, too, but in the very best way – the shedding part of striving, where you shed the illusion that you have to Do and Be and Go in order to be considered Successful.

(and true and weird thing that just happened: as my brain wanted to type “Successful,” my fingers typed “Suzannah.” STRANGE.)

The best parts of this will come together with less effort than one might think necessary. Just like this ice cream. Khristian and I are cooking our way through Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian India, and as we finished up one meal and began to plan the other, these flavors came to me. Sweet. Sour. Spicy. Salty. The balance of flavor was not instantaneous, but that’s just the way things go, mostly, in ice cream as in life.

Take a detour with me here, and then tell me the best detour you ever took in the comments.

New feature here, for your edification, this was on the blog two years ago today: Galentine’s Day: Coffeecake and Connection

Vanilla Ice Cream With Tamarind Caramel And Spicy Peanut Crumble


Ice Cream

4 cups of dairy (see Recipe Notes)

1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)

1/2 cup sugar

4 egg yolks

pinch salt

Tamarind Caramel

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 or 3 teaspoons of tamarind concentrate (see Recipe Notes)

Peanut Crumble (from Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian Indian)

1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Make the ice cream: Place dairy and vanilla bean (or extract) in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and heat until small bubbles appear around the sides (do not boil).

While the dairy is heating, place egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

When dairy is ready, remove from heat and begin to slowly add to eggs, whisking constantly. I cannot emphasize enough the words “slowly add” and “whisking constantly.” If you add quickly and don’t whisk, you will make sweetened scrambled eggs. Pour a few drops of dairy at a time to begin, gradually working your way to a thin, constant stream of dairy, whisked into the eggs.

Once combined, place the saucepan back on the stove with a fine-mesh strainer on top of it. Strain the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, for about ten minutes (or until the mixture begins to thicken). Eventually, the mixture will thinly coat the back of a spoon, and you will know it’s done.

Place the fine-mesh strainer over another bowl, and strain dairy mixture into the bowl. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the dairy mixture and place in ‘fridge to cool completely. This can be done a couple of days ahead of time if you prefer.

Make the caramel: While the dairy is chillin’, make your caramel. Caramel is not hard but requires patience and a tiny bit of finesse. Combine sugar and water in a high-sided heavy saucepan over medium heat and swirl gently to mix (don’t use a spoon; pick up the saucepan and swirl it around).

You can leave the sugar/water mix briefly to combine the heavy cream and tamarind extract in a separate bowl. The tamarind extract immediately makes the cream thicken. This is totally fine. Do not panic. Set aside.

Take a look at your sugar/water mixture. You are looking to see if the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. The bubbling will cause sugar deposits to climb up the side of the pan; use a pastry brush dipped in water to encourage those crystals to rejoin the liquid, but do not stir in.

Once your sugar mixture turns a light golden yellow, remove from heat and whisk in the cream and tamarind concentrate mixture. The sugar will bubble up (hence the high sides of the saucepan), so work quickly to incorporate the cream mixture. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture begins to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. Place in a jar or other container and let cool to at least room temperature. Set aside.

Make the crumble: Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until you have medium-fine crumbs. Set aside.

Put it all together: You will process the ice cream according to your manufacturer’s instructions. I pour my custard in and process for about 15 minutes, then add the peanut crumble for five minutes (until totally incorporated) and then the completely cool tamarind caramel. I like there to be chewy streaks of caramel throughout, a little tartness to cut the sweet.

Recipe Notes

  • A word on dairy: I generally use 50% heavy cream and 50% whole milk in my ice creams, but you can use whatever is on hand. The more cream, the creamier (which makes sense). You can also be vegan AF if you like, but I have not tested this with plant milks (the ice cream or the caramel). Both might be very delicious with coconut milk.
  • I ordered my tamarind concentrate from the interwebs; it’s also referred to as tamarind paste, and I used the brand Madhur Jaffrey recommended.