Even in our hectic world, we slow down a bit at this time of the year. Partly thats because of the heat and humidity, but memories of childhood summers also beckon in the back of our brains, encouraging us to be playful. Besides, adults are charged with the task of passing on the pleasures of summer to the next generation. There are sand castles to build, fireflies to catch, and homemade ice cream to churn.
For me, homemade ice cream is a vivid taste memory. Behind my grandmothers house, out by the wash-pot, an old wooden hand-crank ice-cream freezer is doing its magic. The men take turns cranking, as my cousins and I chase fireflies and constantly ask, Is it done yet? I can see my aunts and my mother with bowls and spoons, almost as eager as the kids.
The equipment has changed since those simpler days. A White Mountain wooden tub freezer is still the best, but expensive. Modern ice-cream machines, which use containers that are frozen before churning, work well and cost $30 to $50. Pour in your ice cream base after you have started the machine, and 20 minutes later you have ice cream without the heavy lifting.
There are three ways to go at ice cream: with a cooked custard, as in todays French Vanilla recipe; in between, using super fresh or pasteurized eggs (the better choice), as in todays Key Lime recipe; and the dump-and-stir recipes that often come with the ice-cream machine. Let your time decide, but make one this weekend. The key lime is great as a dessert for barbecue or fish.
So churn yourself a memory.
Serve with: Chopped fresh fruit over the top is as good as your favorite chocolate sauce, but the absolute is over a homemade cobbler or pie.
To drink: A cold glass of milk or iced tea.
Fred Thompson is a cookbook author and publisher of Edible Piedmont. Reach him at email@example.com or 919-829-4818.