Summer may be over, but ice cream is good any time of year. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome new Boston Mamas contributor Mary, who makes her debut reporting on the rewards of making homemade ice cream:
“The luscious taste of homemade ice cream immediately takes me back to childhood. In particular, back to memories of my grandmother and her cooking. My grandmother (“Mumsey”) quite literally was a “southern cook.” She was never schooled in cooking, but simply learned the art of mixing fatback, butter, salt, and cream to vegetables like farm grown butter beans, corn, black-eyed peas, and greens, in the perfect proportions.
Among the things I remember my grandmother making on hot, humid summer days - while strutting around her backyard in her “ice cream making outfit” of elastic-wasted blue polyester shorts, knee-high stockings, a sleeveless shirt, and a Rambo-style sweatband around her forehead - was homemade ice cream. And this summer’s hot weather inspired me to unearth the RCW Homemade Ice Cream Freezer – passed down from my grandmother to my father and then to me – from the basement.
First, a note about my cooking. I love food. I love eating. I come from a long line of good eaters. I haven’t missed a meal in years. I take my eating seriously…as in, I’m planning dinner as I’m eating breakfast. I’m somewhat fearless in the kitchen, and I don’t typically follow recipes closely. I call myself a conceptual cook and I like to add a dash of this and sprinkle of that to recipes I create on my own, which has served my family and me well so far.
That said, I knew going into this culinary adventure that making ice cream requires you to either: a) know what you’re doing, or b) follow directions. Given that I knew nothing about making ice cream, and am laissez-faire about following directions, I was a little scared. Having spent more money on ingredients than it would have cost to buy four half-gallons of ice cream from the store, I was also worried that we may end up with a big container of flavored milky mix to pour down the sink if I didn’t take to task at reading those directions like my life depended on it.
So, with my hair pulled back (in a Rambo-style sweatband in honor of Mumsey), my daughter and I laid all of the ingredients out on the patio outside and she helped me crack the eggs, pour the condensed milk, heavy whipping cream, and milk into the can…as per the directions! We layered the outer barrel with ice and salt. I put the lid on the ice cream maker tightly, locked on the hand-crank, paid homage to Mumsey…and passed the barrel over to my husband to crank away while I went to get myself a glass of wine. (It was 5 pm on a nice Saturday afternoon after all.)
As my husband cranked, my daughter sat patiently by the ice cream maker talking to us and asking us a myriad of questions about what we were doing. I told her how her great-grandmother, Mumsey, used to make ice cream for me. Admittedly, however, I also sat slightly worried that we may end up with a can of milky mess and that I was trying too hard to channel my southern roots through a barrel of cream and eggs.
After cranking the ice cream for 30 minutes (directions said 20 minutes, but we gave it another 10 for good measure), with white knuckles, I slowly unveiled our creation. And let me tell you folks, it was pure heaven. As soon as I took the lid off, I couldn’t get my finger in the can fast enough to taste the milk-shake consistency of our homemade bliss. In an instant, it was as if I had catapulted myself back to the 70’s and my grandmother’s backyard as I sampled the best tasting ice cream I’ve had in 25 years.
My kids dug in soon thereafter and within minutes were stickier than flypaper, with ice cream from ear to ear. But this was a stickiness that I reveled in watching them become.
I can only hope this is among the first of many memories I will create with my children through food. And I know that my Mumsey, who we lost to Alzheimer’s two years ago, would be proud to know that, while she’s gone, she will never be forgotten.”
Vanilla Ice Cream
**Notes: This recipe is for a 5-quart ice cream canister. This recipe can be used as the base for any flavor of fruit ice cream you want - I made banana ice cream with this recipe.
Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, whipping cream, and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a mixer. Pour mixture into ice cream can, add condensed milk, and stir well. Add dairy milk to fill line on can and stir. Makes approximately 4 quarts.
Editor’s Note: Mary’s vintage RCW Homemade Ice Cream maker is no longer available as RCW has been out of business for many years (you might have luck however, by looking on Ebay or Craigslist), although similar traditional wooden bucket ice cream freezers are available from Rival, both in hand-crank or electric models.
Another popular ice cream maker on the market is the ice cream ball, which allows you to make ice cream while enjoying a game of catch with the kids.