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Diving into the Perfect Bowl of Ice Cream

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Summer heat makes it the right time to indulge in some cold and delicious homemade ice cream.

I’ve heard many stories from my parents about all the hours it took to hand crank the homemade ice cream maker back in the day for this frosty dessert. The invention of the electric ice cream maker was heaven sent for my generation; I’m glad it was, because as kids all we had to do was make sure the bucket of the ice cream maker had plenty of ice and salt while the motor did the work for us. I remember how good it tasted on those hot summer nights and the brain freeze that seemed to last for ten minutes but in reality it was just seconds. My grandpa said the remedy would be to eat a cookie along with the ice cream. I’m not sure it really works like that or if it was a good excuse to get both cookies and ice cream for dessert; he was pretty clever that way. We would start preparing the week before by freezing our own ice in old milk cartons that we washed, filled with water and put in the large chest freezer in the garage. When the weekend came, it was the kids’ job to break the ice into chunks and place it in the ice cream maker as it churned.

Most of the ice cream we made was a basic vanilla recipe, but you can make so many different flavors. Try adding chocolate syrup or break up your favorite candy bars and add to the ice cream before freezing. We like having vanilla ice cream and a variety of toppings that will make everyone happy. Let me take that back; who’s not happy with homemade ice cream no matter what the flavor? I remember the time my mom decided to make some homemade strawberry ice cream. She had strawberries in the freezer and figured that mixing them with the warm cream would soften them and then the dasher or paddle would break them apart. We were all ready for ice cream that night and we each got a nice-sized bowl with what seemed to be rocks in it. No, not rocks, just rock-hard full-sized strawberries. The next time she tried it she thawed the strawberries and put them in the ice cream, thinking for sure the dasher or paddle would break them up. Wrong. We had rocks in the ice cream again. The third time was a charm when she ran the strawberries through the blender and added them as strawberry puree. She was never one to give up trying, so thanks, Mom, for the lessons in making the perfect ice cream.

To make homemade ice cream, you need an ice cream maker; I prefer a four- to six-quart maker with the motor on top that’s used outside. They range in many sizes and prices, but for the recipe I’m going to share today the four-quart is perfect. And a word to the wise: cheaper is not always better when it comes to purchasing an ice cream maker.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

3 eggs, beaten
1 quart half and half
1 quart whipping cream
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 ½ tbsp. vanilla
Rock salt

Make sure you use a good egg source. Crack eggs in large bowl; using a hand mixer, beat until all the yolks are combined, then add the sugars and beat until mixed. This will ensure there are no lumps of brown sugar in your ice cream. Add all the other ingredients except rock salt; using the hand mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the ice cream into the canister of the ice cream maker, add the dasher or paddle and place the lid on top.

Outside, get started by placing the ice cream canister in the bucket of the maker. Center the canister and secure the motor on top. Start the motor and place a layer of rock salt in the bottom of the bucket. Fill half full of ice and add another layer of rock salt. Continue filling with ice until the bucket is full and add a layer of rock salt on the top. I don’t freeze milk cartons like my mother did but I do use my ice maker and fill bags up ahead of time to use for this frozen dessert. The rock salt is a very important part of freezing this dessert; don’t be afraid to use it. I use at least half the box.

This recipe feeds six to eight and uses the smaller ice cream maker, usually four quarts. I double this recipe for my family and use a six-quart freezer which will serve 12 to 18.

Here’s to the happy days of summer fun and great desserts. By the way, I made brownies instead of cookies to see if Grandpa was right.