When I was growing up, we celebrated Independence Day with a backyard picnic that included lots and lots of cousins running and playing together all afternoon. We would all get together for the town’s parade and then come back to our house for the picnic.
It was terrific fun, but the best part of the Fourth of July for us all was that we always made ice cream in a hand-cranked wooden ice-cream maker.
The day began early with most of my brothers and sisters piling into Dad’s car for a trip to the ice house. There we would be enthralled by the huge, menacing metal tongs that were used to lift the ice block and place it in a galvanized tub Dad brought with us just for this purpose.
Once back home, he would attack the ice block with a pick to break it into manageable pieces. We kids loved to catch the ice chips as they flung off the block and crunch on them. Then ice chunks and rock salt were packed around the tall, metal canister that would hold the ice cream base that Mom made in the kitchen.
We could never agree on what flavor to make and, like many kids, most of us liked vanilla anyway so we always made vanilla ice cream and had a variety of toppings. Most everyone wanted chocolate sauce.
Once the mixture was poured into the canister the long and tedious chore of churning it began.
All hands, literally, were called on deck to take a turn at cranking. At first, it was exciting and fun, but before long we would have enough and want to quit.
It was understood, however, that you had to take a turn if you wanted to eat the ice cream, so we carried on until we were sure our arms would fall off. Towards the end of the freezing process, it got more and more difficult to push the handle, even using both hands, and the bigger kids took over.
Now I plug an electric ice-cream maker into the wall socket and place the mix in an electric powered freezer. And I don’t need ice or rock salt either.
To honor our nation’s independence, I suggest sauces made of two colored berries – red and blue. Just this once, forget the chocolate!
Dry ice for your cooler is available at Risky Business Seafood at Oden’s Dock in Hatteras, but not anywhere on Ocracoke. You will have to pack your ice cream in sufficient ice to keep it frozen, and I suggest you store it in a chilled, covered stainless steel container.
If you have a small cooler you can dedicate to the ice cream, you will not have to open it until you are ready to enjoy dessert.
HOMEMADE VANILLA ICE CREAM
Ice cream makers all come with recipes and this is one we like from our Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer Ice Cream Maker Attachment. Be forewarned: It is decadent!
2 1/2 cups (590 ml) half-and-half
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups (590 ml) whipping cream
4 teaspoons (20 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
In medium sauce pan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often.
Remove from heat; set aside.
Place egg yolks and sugar in electric mixer bowl and whip on number 2 speed about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened.
Continuing on that low speed, very gradually add half-and-half; mix until well blended. Return half-and-half mixture to medium saucepan and cook until small bubbles form around the edge and mixture is steamy, stirring constantly. Do not boil.
Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in whipping cream, vanilla, and salt.
Cover and chill thoroughly in the fridge (not the freezer) at least 8 hours.
The mixture will then be ready for whichever ice cream maker you are using. Follow manufacturer’s instruction and then freeze in an airtight container, preferably metal.
This recipe yields 16 servings of 1/2 cup each.
2 boxes fresh blueberries, stems removed
About 1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Mix all together the day before the picnic and refrigerate. The sugar will draw the juices from the berries to produce a sauce. Adjust sugar as desired.