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Winter ice cream time

March 6, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS, For The Leader-Herald

Winter had begun with a mild, seasonal, prelude but soon worked itself up into a crescendo of snow, ice and cold, cold weather. It was time to make some ice cream and bring some joy to the bleakest and coldest season of the year. I got out the old hand-turned ice cream freezer and, although the wooden bucket had dried out a little, revealing some cracks, it worked as good as ever. It creaked and moaned somewhat, but why not - it is probably my age and I have been known to do the same.

Part of the motivation for making some ice cream was leftover milk. With just two of us here to use it, we often have milk on hand that goes beyond its useful life. The jug had about a quart left that, although five days over the sell-by date, it had not soured. I decided to use Marge Skakel's 1-2-3 ice cream recipe because it called for a lot of milk. In fact, it uses a quart and a half. Along with the regular milk, it calls for two cans of condensed milk and three cans of evaporated milk. To this, two tablespoons of vanilla and one tablespoon of lemon extract are added for flavor. With no cooking, it is quick and easy to make and comes out like a tasty French-vanilla ice cream.

There is a surplus of ice this year and most stores have rock salt available because of the icy conditions, so preparation time is kept to a minimum. With 20 minutes or so to mix the ingredients and about an hour to turn the crank, the result is that large metal container fills to the brim with real ice cream. Letting it "cure" for a few hours packed in the salty ice or in the freezer gets it ready to eat.

I added my own touch to the ice cream treat. I sneaked in five tablespoons of real maple syrup when I was mixing it. I like the little touch of maple flavor. On top of this, I took one of our homemade mince meat pies out of the freezer and warmed it in the oven just before serving it with the ice cream on top. Nothing like a little "pie a la mode" to chase away those winter blues. Also, all those memories came back: turning the crank when I was a kid; sitting around the parlor stove with my siblings eating the cold ice cream; and later, teaching my grandchildren how to turn the crank. (Remember, the one who turns the crank gets to clean off the ladle!)

I have yet to take the time to track down the origin of ice cream, but I know it has been around for some time. When our ancestors arrived at Ellis Island in the early 1900s, they were given an "American" treat. Not knowing what ice cream was used for, they spread it on their bread thinking it was like butter.

Similar to many of our foods, giving credit to the originator is sometimes impossible. Ice cream sundaes may have been first served in 1890 in Evanston, Ill., because of a law prohibiting selling soda on Sunday. One soda fountain owner, Ed Berners of Two Rivers, Wis., may have served the first in 1881. A competing drug store, George Griffy's, served the same only on Sunday, but sold so many that he changed the name to "Sundae" and sold them every day. Platt and Colt's drugstore actually advertised a "Cherry Sunday" in 1893.

Ice cream cones share the same kind of history. There are four possible sources. Cones were served by several vendors at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. England may have been the source of that knowledge. Abe Doumar made a waffle cone-making machine after the fair. A patent was obtained by Italo Marchiony in 1903 to make edible ice cream cups with handles. Charles Menches of St. Louis served double-dip pastry ice cream cones in July 1904. I guess it was an idea whose time had come.

The Adirondack drug stores were found in every mountain community when I was a boy. Sundaes cost a quarter and, sitting in the drugstore booth with good friends, playing the 5-cent jukebox was, what you could call, a real ice cream treat.



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