Wednesday, June 27, 2012

For as long as I can remember, our family celebrated summer with hand cranked ice cream. My folks had an old freezer with a faded green bucket held together with twine. It didn’t matter that the bucket had cracks between the wooden slats – the important part was the metal canister that held the ice cream and the dasher that churned it.

When the family gathered, Mom made up the custard and Dad bought a big block of ice and chopped it into shards with an ice pick. The he layered salt and ice around the canister and the rest of the family turned the crank until the ice cream was hard and only the strongest of us could move the handle. Everyone helped because the family rule was that if you didn’t help, you couldn’t have any ice cream.

When Dave and I were married, my folks gave us a hand crank ice cream freezer and we continued the tradition with our family and friends. Home made ice cream is best when eaten the first day, and it takes about a half an hour of cranking, so we try to have a crowd around when we bring the freezer up from the basement.

Last year, we presented our daughter’s families with hand crank ice cream freezers for their anniversaries. Their sons, Kieran and Jasper, are a little young to turn the crank, but they’re a perfect age to pick strawberries. For strawberry sundays, slice the strawberries and sprinkle with sugar. Make your ice cream and ladle on the strawberries – a perfect treat for an early summer evening.

Grandma’s Homemade Ice Cream

2 cups white sugar

3 eggs

2 ½ cups milk

1 ½ teaspoons flour

2 tablespoons vanilla

pinch of salt

1) Cook the above ingredients slowly, stirring constantly, until thick.

2) Cool.

3) Add fruit if desired (1 box of mashed strawberries, 7 mashed peaches, or several mashed bananas).

4) Add 1 pint whipping cream.

5) Place in canister of freezer. Place dasher into canister and cover. Add 3 pounds of ice and 3 ounces of rock salt around the canister in repeating layers until you reach the bottom of the cover.

6) Work on a tile floor with towels available or outside as the tub will leak as the ice melts.

7) Churn (turn the crank) until frozen, thick and creamy. Stop when the handle becomes hard to turn or when the motor complains. May take up to 30 minutes.

8) Carefully wipe the salt and ices off the cover of the canister before opening.
9) Remove dasher and lick it clean.

10) Recover canister. Let ice cream ripen half an hour to an hour in the ice cream freezer covered by a heavy towel or in the refrigerator freezer for up to six hours before serving.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A week ago Tuesday we gathered with friends to watch the transit of Venus across the sun. It doesn’t happen very often that Venus passes between the sun and the earth – Tuesday was only the second time in just over 100 years. In 1639, it was such an important event scientifically that scientists and observers went all over the world to record the time that Venus began crossing the sun and the time that it finished the crossing. Scientists hoped to determine the distance from the earth to the sun using those measurements. In 2012, although many people did, we did not take measurements. We ate a picnic dinner beside our oat field, watched the sun through filtered binoculars, and talked - an important opportunity to enjoy the evening and to decrease the distance between friends.