Readers’ ice cream odes
To celebrate National Ice Cream Month in July, the Food section asked readers to share their fondest ice cream memories.
Today we have the results.
Entries were judged by a panel of nine reporters and editors at the Spokesman-Review.
The top entry won a (gently used) copy of “Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States” by Lindsay Clendaniel, reviewed in the July 30 issue.
The cookbook winner is Nancy Chaney of Moscow.
Runners-up are Amanda Konzal and Robert Hyslop, both of Spokane.
Here are their odes to ice cream.
Peaches and full cream
Countless sweet memories of my childhood are swirled together in a dish of fresh peach ice cream. Funny how something so simple can transport me back to 1961 and my two-room stand-up playhouse that was the envy of the neighborhood. It was hand-built by my dad, a wingtip-wearing Hart-Shaffner-and-Marx man, and my mom’s dad, a Norwegian carpenter, who always wore striped bib overalls, a plaid cotton shirt, and blue canvas Keds. A squat peach tree just outside my playhouse door yielded softball-size fruit that coated my lips with fuzz and flooded my chin with warm, viscous juice. In the fondness of my memories, the heady fragrance of those peaches melds vividly with the signature smells of my dad and Grandpa: Old Spice, hair tonic, sawdust and grease pencil. The fruit tantalized adults, too, and my dad got the idea to make hand-cranked peach ice cream. He figured that the only match for the rich flavor of the fruit was full cream, not milk. I think now that he may have been striving to one-up his own fond memories of the frozen concoction he made as a kid in Sandpoint during the Depression years: Maple syrup stirred into a bowl of snow. To this day, a simple dish of peach ice cream can cause me to remember my dad’s hearty laugh, the ache in my deltoid from cranking through rock salt and ice, and the overwhelming richness of that ice cream, outdone only by the richness of my memories.
Maple Syrup and Vanilla Beans
Growing up, it was always a special treat to go to my grandparents’ house. As kids we got to run and hike and swim and climb, but the best part was that Grandma and Grandpa always had fresh homemade ice cream. You see, my grandma cannot have processed sugar or eggs, so we got ice cream sweetened with real maple syrup and vanilla beans. One time, there wasn’t any half-and-half for the breakfast cobbler, so grandma let us have ice cream with it instead. That was a real treat! Now we are older and a lot of us are married, but we still look forward to going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It is one of those places where the door is always open and company is always welcome, and if you stop in, you’ll probably have to have a bowl of ice cream.
Hand-cranked Sunday Treat
My experience with homemade ice cream comes by way of my father’s family. Dad grew up on the family farm north of Reardan before the days of electricity. In the winter they would saw ice from Horseshoe Lake, a small lake near the farm, and haul it to their ice house. There they would pack the ice in sawdust and use it throughout the next year.
As a treat they would make homemade ice cream every Sunday. Since I was a little boy we have always hand cranked homemade ice cream on the Fourth of July using his family’s original recipes. When I think of ice cream I think of everyone standing around the ice cream maker, waiting for their turn to crank the ice cream, joking with each other. Of course, once the ice cream is done you get to lick the dasher!
Over the years there has been much debate about whether ice cream from an electric mixer tastes better. My vote is for hand cranking. You can only imagine the flavor if you sawed and hauled your own ice!