Monday, July 02, 2007

Homemade ice cream: need I say more?

I was mulling over several ideas for today's blog--why Monday newspapers are a waste of newsprint, why after having a week of air conditioning, we turned it off and still have not turned it back on and it's July!--when an email-pal in Connecticut (hi, Bob!) asked if we had an ice cream maker.

Bingo--blog subject!

Homemade ice cream is not only a summer tradition but a Southern one. My family had never bothered with the ritual--I'm sure my mother thought it would be too much trouble--but I always managed to find the front of the line for it at church and neighborhood gatherings. So I was delighted to be joining a family where homemade, hand-cranked ice cream was a normal way of doing things.

In fact, making homemade ice cream became part of our courting ritual. I would sit atop a pile of bath towels on the bucket and my future spouse would turn the crank. It came as little surprise to us to be given a hand-crank for a wedding gift. It was hardly a luxury, it was a necessity!

We were the only ones in our circle of newlywed friends to have been so gifted. So on weekend nights, someone would declare charades for entertainment and we would all contribute. Eggs would show up, a gallon of milk, ice. If someone's mother had brought fresh peaches from home, we added those. The 6-quarts of ice cream would disappear.

Upstairs from us lived a Japanese couple in the States for him to complete a Fellowship, I think in cardiology. We invited them to supper, made hamburgers and ice cream. The next day they shipped a maker home to Tokyo. Our cultural awareness with them (and we still exchange Christmas cards and letters over 30 years later) extended to a wonderful dinner of tempura shrimp in their apartment. Her English was extremely limited, but we were having a go of it, when a heated discussion broke out among them. (We had already survived the mashed potatoes/rice talk. She served potatoes thinking we wouldn't like rice. My husband was delighted to have the potatoes because all I served was rice.) Just as we were beginning to feel a bit awkward and wondering if a polite, but hasty, retreat back downstairs was in order, she got up and went to the cupboard. She returned with another plate of shrimp. We finally pieced enough of the story together: she had not felt the second plate worthy of being served to guests (they looked great and tasted better to us but didn't meet her standards), and he was thinking they had not set a bountiful enough table. I don't know if we had homemade ice cream or not for dessert.

Along the way, our first ice cream maker gave up the ghost and we had a second. A third. All hand-crank. Eventually, we decided that the hand-crank, oak buckets were not substantially better to merit their very expensive price and we went to plastic bucket and electric. The hard part seems to be to find a 6-qt. appliance which fits our 6-qt. recipe. We regularly give them as wedding gifts.

We stick to our old recipe. Our main bone of contention is rock salt to ice ratio. Every family must come to their own decision on that. Read the directions and go from there.

I'll give the recipe here. I don't know the origin and in the family there seems to be some discussion as to whose it is. The eggs are not cooked, so if that is a problem, stop reading now.

Vanilla Ice Cream (add fruit if you wish)

6 eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1-2 T vanilla (we use Mexican)
Milk (whole preferred, but 2% works)
Lots of ice and rock salt

Beat the eggs and sugar. Shake the cream in its carton and add with the vanilla. Pour a little milk into the custard and mix well. Pour all into a cold ice cream can. Add the dasher and continue with milk to the fill line. Freeze.

Notes: COLD ice cream can freezes faster and if you can make up the cream base early in the day and put it in the fridge, it does better too.

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At 2:53 PM CDT, Anonymous footdoc7 said...

Great story - it is making me salivate for your home-made ice cream.


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