Ice Cream Sunday

by Rowena Morrel


Imagine an afternoon with nothing to do but make ice cream.

When I was a child, the prospects of making home made ice cream on a Sunday afternoon, with my grand parents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, caused quite a stir. We had four old hand crank ice cream makers, rusted from many years of salty use. Each one held about 2 quarts of ice cream and they were all pressed into use. Deciding which flavors to make, in the summer with many fresh fruits to choose from, always called for great deliberation. Some people liked only vanilla, but my favorites were flavored with fresh berries or peaches.

The men stood patiently by; ready to start cranking while the ladies tried to decide which custard to use, the one with cooked custard?, scalded cream?, eggs or no eggs? All of this decision making just seemed to delay the process. I wondered why there was so much dilemma--no cook, no eggs, seemed the quickest to me. I had never eaten any ice cream I didn't like and I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. How was I to know that ice creams made with egg yolks or cooked custard base would be smoother and softer; made without eggs, the ice cream would freeze firmer and be harder to scoop.

When the custard was finely prepared it was poured into a tall metal can into which a dasher, rotating paddles, was placed; then the can was carefully sealed with only the dasher attachment sticking out of the top. The can was placed inside a wooden bucket; crushed ice and salt was poured into the space between the metal can and the wooden bucket. A crank handle was attached to the dasher extension protruding through the lid. This handle, when cranked would slowly turn the can in the ice and salt. The dasher would slowly turn the custard inside the can. This was a wondrous contraption from which immerged the most delicious ice cream.

After about an hour of cranking, when the handle could no longer be turned the can was carefully opened and the dasher removed. Licking the dasher was the taste treat reserved for only those who cranked. I was too short to crank. How long would it be now before I could have some ice cream? Now the ice cream had to ripen and rest! Rest? Was the ice cream tired? The lid was replaced, covering the delicious treasures inside.

The hole where the paddle had been was plugged to keep the salt from seeping into the ice cream. There was always a frantic search for something to use as a plug, since the corks that fit just right were long gone. More ice and salt were added to the buckets, they were then wrapped in burlap and set in a cool place to "ripen". Ripen? Ripen! Why bother to look for the corks? Let's eat! Who knew, that, according to Peggy Fallon, author of The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever, "finished ice cream benefits from a few hours in the freezer to 'ripen'? During this time the mixture settles and the flavors blend. It also provides an opportunity for softer ice creams to firm up." Was it worth all the work and waiting? You bet it was!

The ice cream making joys of yester-years have faded and I can make any kind of ice cream I want in just minutes. Many years later, I learn that my childhood favorite no cook, no eggs, recipe is referred to as Philadelphia Ice Cream.

I still have a crank ice cream freezer and an electric one too. And I don't want to forget the good old days. My favorite magic ice cream maker is the Donvier-type freezer that comes with simple instructions and many good recipes. By the way, in case you have an old freezer and have lost the directions and the cork, the usual salt and ice ratio is 1 part salt to 8 parts ice. More salt will freeze faster but the ice cream tends to have a grainy texture. Though some people still think vanilla is the only way to go, ice cream is a name often given to frozen deserts of all kinds: sherbet, sorbet, granita and ices.

For may recipes that work well in a modern ice cream maker log on to www.inthekitchenonline.com and look for Ice Cream IN THE KITCHEN COOKBOOK. Why not invite your friends to come and bring their ice cream freezers (if they have them). Spend Sunday afternoon in the yard making ice cream?

Making ice cream is a lot of fun. Its like magic to see the ingredients first made into a hot custard then frozen into smooth cream ice cream. This recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream is delicious by itself and may be used as the basis for making many favors.

FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

This rich classic is the foundation of many wonderful ice cream flavors
1 cup vanilla half and half
1cup half and half
2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of vanilla sugar
5 whole eggs, well beaten
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

When you make Vanilla Ice Cream, be sure to use whole vanilla beans. Pack a vanilla bean in a cup of sugar and let it age for several weeks. Use that sugar and the vanilla bean in the recipe. To use the vanilla bean, slit the bean open and scrape out the seeds; whisk these seeds into 1 cup of half and half and add the pod; allow to age over night.

Combine half-and-half, sugar, and salt in a double boiler over boiling water until sugar dissolves. Stir cream in gently and cook until mixture is hot, 5 or 6 minutes. Remove vanilla bean. Whisk a half-cup of hot cream into eggs; then pour egg mixture into double boiler, blend thoroughly and reduce heat; cook until custard thickens to coat the back of a spoon, stirring constantly. Do not boil. Cool custard at room temperature for about an hour; cover and refrigerate until very cold; pour custard in the canister and proceed with the instructions for the freezer you are using. Makes approximately 1 1/2 quarts

Some Variations:
Chocolate: Eliminate 2 eggs and add 6 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate to the cooked custard.
Cinnamon: Add cinnamon stick to warm cream and steep half an hour, Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and pinch of nutmeg to cooling custard.
Peanut butter: replace 3 eggs with 1 cup of creamy peanut butter before eggs are added to cream.
Fresh fruit: Puree one cup of very ripe fruit, peaches or berries and chill. Fold into cooled custard just before placing in the ice cream freezer.

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