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Nothing soothes, cools hot summer day like ice cream

06/27/2013 2:03 PM

06/27/2013 2:04 PM

Growing up on a farm it was great having homemade ice cream from fresh cow’s cream and milk, plus fresh eggs with the real yellow/orange yolk — I think they would now classify our milk and eggs as the natural/organic type.

We used the hand-crank type freezer. One person would crank while someone else would sit on a towel or old rug that was put on top of the freezer to help hold it in place while cranking. When it was done we would all have a spoon in hand to try and get the first bite as the lid came off. It was a treat to lick the dasher.

Where did Ice Cream come from? Although the exact origins of ice cream have been lost in history, the first seemed to be drinks made with ice and snow. There are records that show that Alexander the Great, who lived in from 356 to 323 B.C., would send his slaves to bring ice down from the mountains to have for drinks.

Ice cream was brought to Europe by Marco Polo in the form of water ices. He noticed King T’ang would send people to get ice so he could make ice cream out of buffalo’s, cow’s and goat’s milk. The milk was heated and allowed to ferment. It was then mixed with flour to thicken. Camphor was added for flavoring.

The first time “Ice Cream” was used to describe that frozen dessert was in 1744 in the Americas. It is said that Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen served strawberry ice cream to impress his important guests. Dolly Madison served ice cream at her husband’s inaugural ball in 1813. Soon afterward ice cream recipes began to appear in cookbooks.

Making ice cream wasn’t easy. It was done in a pewter pot kept in a bucket of ice and salt. The ice cream mixture had to be regularly stirred by hand with a “spaddle,” which resembled a spade with a long handle.

All this changed in 1843 with the invention of the hand-cranked ice cream freezer by Nancy Johnston. Her invention consisted of a wooden bucket that would be filled with ice and salt and had a rotating handle. In the middle was a metal container to hold the ice cream. By “churning the cream” you could produce ice cream with a smooth and even texture.

On hot summer days, nothing soothes and cools like ice cream. But eaters beware, lest the dreaded “brain freeze’ strikes. Brain freeze, known to all true ice cream aficionados, stabs the forehead like a migraine. Like migraines, brain freeze headaches are thought to be caused by changes in the blood stream.

A big mouthful of ice cream rapidly cools the soft palate in the roof of the mouth, chilling the nearby arteries. This makes them contract, slows the blood flow into the brain and produces the pain. In fact any icy substance held to the soft palate with the tongue, should yield the same painful results. Some suggest curing it by putting the tongue on the upper part of the back of the palate to warm it up.

But in reality, the pain lasts only a few minutes, so most of us just wait it out before we start eating again. The only key to prevention is to eat your ice cream at a lusciously slow pace so your palate has a chance to warm back up before more of the frozen yumminess can cool things off again.

Here are some quick ice cream facts.

• The average American eats around 45 pints of ice cream a year, more than any other nationality.

• More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day.

• One out of five people will share their ice cream with their dog or cat.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

This is an ice cream recipe that I love. The Louisburg Methodist Church used to make it for their booth at the Louisburg Cider Mill. Thanks to Winona Hornbuckle and my old copy of the Louisburg United Methodist Church’s Cookbook.

4 eggs 2 cups sugar 2 boxes instant butter pecan pudding (small boxes) 3/4 cup chopped pecans 1 quart half-and-half 1 teaspoon vanilla Milk (as needed)

Combine eggs, sugar and pudding in a bowl and mix well. Add chopped pecans, half-and-half, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour mixture into freezer can of a 1 gallon freezer. Add additional milk to fill can 2/3-3/4 full. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Let ripen for 1 hour.

Donna Cook is the owner of Rabbit Creek Gourmet Foods in Louisburg, Kan. She is also a master gardener and master food volunteer and is on the board of directors of the Home Baking Association.

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