Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Churning Up Memories

During my childhood it was a requirement in my family that reunions or
summer cookouts had homemade ice cream on the menu. I remember the
agonizing wait for the flavorful and brain-numbing concoction. The wait
was even more agonizing if the host had the hand crank type of freezer,
which I seem to remember the adults finding this humorous, not so much
for us kids.
While my mom would prep the ingredients, my dad would search for the
orange bucket freezer in our basement or garage. Once found, he would
clean it, give all the accoutrements a test run and then wait for my mom
to finish the soon to be morphed cream based elixir, usually mixed with
strawberries fresh from a farmers market.

Dad would pour the mixture into the metal canister, attach the
electrified paddle and then let my brother and I help fill the bucket
with ice. On one occasion we filled it so fast he didn’t get a chance to
tell us about the salt layers. That bucket was emptied and we started
again, this time layering coarse salt with the ice until the top of the
canister was buried in a miniature glistening, chunky glacier. (I always
thought it hilarious when some unsuspecting kid, obviously a virgin to
the chemical aspects of the homemade ice cream process, would run up and
grab a piece of ice thinking he/she could quickly quench their thirst
during our hide & seek games only to have to run into the house for a

After it was properly assembled my dad would do the
honors of plugging it in and making sure the motor assembly could freely
rotate in the ice. After some final adjustments the crunchy hum of the
motor shifting the ice and salt would play in the background of our
family’s summer soiree like some carefully chosen play list.
I guess sometimes it’s as much about the process as it is the end result, which by the way, was always worth the wait. 

[July is National Ice Cream month. If you start searching antique shops and flea markets now I'm certain you'll unearth an old ice cream machine in time to mix up memories for you and your friends and family. Of course, why wait until July?]

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