David Keim–Advice for Ice Cream Makers

What is your name? Any nicknames?
My name is David Keim. Many people call me “David,” many others call me “Deacon David” or even (gasp!) “Father David.” A few call me “Dad.” I’m pretty flexible: I answer to anything that isn’t flagrantly derogatory.

What do you do for a living?
I am an attorney, working in house for a large software company. But I’m also an ordained deacon in the Eastern Orthodox Church (hence the “Deacon David/Father David” thing). Being an attorney pays better, at least in the short run.

Can you tell us your age and where you live?
I am 51 and have all the gray hair to prove it, and I live in lovely Cary, North Carolina.

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?
I do have a website — http://www.noeticspace.com — but it sometimes goes months without any care or attention. Right now, for instance, it still has some Christmassy stuff going on because I just haven’t had time to update it. But there’s some cool stuff on there (said a distinct minority of people, mostly liturgy nerds). I have an Instagram account (@dbkeim) that some folks enjoy.

What does “noetic” mean?
“Noetic” (νοητικός in Greek) is the adjectival form of “nous” (νοῦς). “Nous” is a technical term in ancient Greek philosophy that means intellect or speech/reason. St. Paul uses the term in this classical way in his epistles. However, the Church Fathers repurposed the term to mean, specifically, that facility of the human spirit that yearns for God. It is sometimes called “the eye of the soul.” So, in Orthodox Christian writing “nous/noetic” is distinct from intellect. I use it in this way.

One of our contemporary Orthodox bishops, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, has written a really great summary that can be found here: https://thoughtsintrusive.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-function-of-the-nous-the-noetic-faculty/

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
This is a hard question! The Scottish Highlands. St. Peter’s Basilica. Bookseller’s Row on Cecil Court in London. Hermitage of the Holy Cross in West Virginia. The stone farmstead that my immigrant grandcesters built in the mid-1700s in Berk County, PA. I cannot choose just one place.

I love the word “grandcesters” and will have to work it into conversation. Can you tell us what your favorite meal would be?
Now, this one is easy: that would be barbecue. Specifically, of course, NC barbecue (viz., pork cooked slowly over smoldering wood coals, until all connective tissue has rendered into collagen, bathing the meat in lipsmacking goodness, then pulled, chopped, shredded, etc., and anointed with a sauce made primarily of vinegar). On the important ancillary question of whether I prefer my NC ‘cue in the down east style or in the Piedmont style, I will confess that I am an ecumenical bi-ritualist on that point. I love both when they are executed with care and charitas.

Pet peeve?
Grammatical errors in formal writing — in particular, folks who insist on not using the Oxford comma. Madness.

Favorite book?
I love Tolkien. “The Return of the King” (vol. 3 of “The Lord of the Rings”) may be the greatest prose fiction written in the 20th century. (The movies were good, but can’t hold a candle to the books.) I also enjoy reading philosopher-theologian David Bentley Hart. His book “The Beauty of the Infinite” is a game changer. No movie for that one, yet. But my favorite book of all may be “Wind in the Willows” (Kenneth Grahame). That is really a perfect book. Oh, yes, and Homer’s “Iliad.” Good grief, you’ve snagged me in an endless loop again. Did I mention “Peter Pan?”  P.G. Wodehouse?

Why is “Wind in the Willows” the perfect book?
If you think about it, all of the best stories — The Iliad, The Æneid, Peter Pan, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings — are about finding one’s way home. “Wind in the Willows” may be the best exemplar of this ever. Plus, Grahame is a master writer; he really knows his craft. Every sentence is perfectly sculpted. The chapter “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” is filled with perfect sentence after perfect sentence. It is a joy to read.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for ….?
The wisdom to know what is right and the courage to take action on it, once known.

Are you married? Children or grandchildren?
I am extremely married to the woman who has been my constant companion since we were in kindergarten. (I mean, she was more of a girl than a woman back then, but that’s a technicality.) We have six beautiful, lovely, amazing children, each of whom makes us very proud to be parents. We have no grandkids as of yet.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
My one hidden talent is that I can ride a wheelie on a standard wheel chair for an indeterminate amount of time. I suppose I could just hold it there forever if I were catheterized and someone would feed me (it does take two hands to balance). Honestly, in this small feat I am a wonder to behold. I can even do doughnuts and travel forwards and backwards. It is my superpower. Too bad it is practically useless.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Oooooh. Learn languages. Getting fluent in Greek and Latin would be a top priority. Then Georgian. (Is there a more interesting language than Georgian? If so, I am not aware of it.) Church Slavonic. Arabic. In that order.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I am convinced to a fair degree of mathematical certainty that time is an illusion; nevertheless, I’m an avid collector of mechanical wrist watches. Check out my Instagram account for evidence. And although I am a bit of a gourmand, I do not care for mushrooms — really, any fungi, not even truffles. I enjoy bourbon. I am a strong swimmer. I make excellent, hand-cranked homemade ice cream (Philadelphia style only; no eggs involved). I love country ham.

Great, and thanks! Can you give us some advice for ice cream makers?
One secret to good homemade ice cream is ice crystal management. Most people don’t realize this. Ice crystals ruin the mouthfeel of ice cream. They add unwanted texture (grittiness) and lower the melting point so that you don’t get that luscious, unctuous melting of the fat when the ice cream is popped into the mouth. It is this immediate melting that delivers a coating of dairy yumminess in an even layer across the flavor receptors of the tongue. One should not have to chew ice cream.

There are several simple steps that can minimize or eliminate ice crystal formation and deliver the perfect mouthfeel and melting point.

One easy step is to add some specific ingredients to the base that bind with the water and prevent ice crystals. Some will use a little cornstarch, for instance. My own secret weapon is to add a little bit of commercially made peach preserves — just a few tablespoons. The peach contributes some pectin, which adds body, and commercially made preserves all have corn syrup, which helps to inhibit ice crystal formation. Win, win! (Commercial peach preserves have almost no taste and do not impart any peachiness to the final product. It’s really not good for much other than assisting your ice cream.)

Another tip is to be patient! Ice cream making takes three days if it is to be done right. The base needs to be cooked on Day 1. It needs to chill thoroughly for 24 hours in the fridge then get cranked on Day 2. DON’T EAT IT SOFT-SERVE STYLE. Pack it in a vessel and let it freeze overnight (preferably quickly frozen in a freezer that is at -10F or lower), then serve on Day 3. Following this schedule helps to quick-freeze the ice cream, which also helps prevent crystal formation. Your patience will be rewarded.

Thanks much, Dave. Now I want some homemade ice cream and I’ll have to see what I can do about that. We really appreciate you taking the time to let us get to know you a little.