Summer is here in all its glory

Father’s Day weekend was a wonderful one. The weather, though pretty warm was beautiful. Part of my children were able to be with me and we celebrated with hamburgers that the grandson who was here cooked on the grill for us on Saturday and then on Sunday there was plenty of leftovers for all of us to enjoy, and we all had a great time visiting and catching up on family doings. The three guys repaired a broken storage room door for me and got that back in shape. Of course, the bad news about that is that a new door is needed. We don’t remember what year those buildings were built, but it is a long time ago, probably during the 60s or early 70s, so it is worn out.
Tuesday, the 20th, was officially the first day of summer! With the heat we have been having this whole month, it has seemed like summer all along. It is also the longest day of the year. If you will look at an Almanac or one of the calendars that has the time of sunrise and sunset, you will notice that several seconds drop off of each day. The first day of winter, usually December 21st, is the shortest day of the year, and just when the children think it is time for Christmas, the days start getting longer!
Now that summer is officially here, it’s time to start thinking about ice cream. Everyone knows the old saying, “You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream”! My whole family loves ice cream. Some of us try not to eat too much due to weight problems. Personally, I’ve started eating frozen yogurt. It is delicious and not nearly as fattening as ice cream and I enjoy it just as much. An article that I read recently inspired me to go ahead and write about ice cream for this column.
America leads the world in ice cream consumption, with each American averaging 23.2 quarts of ice cream and other frozen treats annually. I’m not sure, when my children were growing up that there weren’t times when we ate a lot more than that, especially when a creamery in San Antonio opened a place to purchase the three gallon containers that are usually used in restaurants, etc. available to the public, and it was on Sam’s way home from work! There was always ice cream in my freezer and usually in several flavors. The only one that was never there was mocha, because no one really cared for it!
Ice cream made its first appearance in America during the early 1700s. The ice cream cone was invented in 1896 by Italo Marchiony, who sold ice cream from a cart on the streets of New York. (I always thought it was invented at the World’s Fair, in the early 1900s, but, then, what do I know.) Back then, before the days of refrigerators and freezers, it was mostly available to the wealthier folk of our nation!
Today 98 percent of all U.S. households purchase ice cream.
The five most popular ice cream flavors are vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan, strawberry and Neapolitan. (Note – J – Neapolitan is for people who can’t make up their minds if they want vanilla, chocolate or strawberry!)
More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.
It takes an average of 50 licks to polish off a single-scoop ice cream cone.
There are over 1 billion popsicles eaten in the U.S. every year. Cherry is the best selling flavor and according to the current issue of Food Network Magazine, the double popsicle was made during the depression so that kids could share one for only a nickel. (If you really want a lot of information about ice cream, this article is the one to go to. There is a quiz and the answers are amazing, including having you answer what the sticks are made from!)
When shopping for ice cream and novelties, it might be best if you make the ice cream aisle your last stop, and when your groceries are packed, request a freezer bag or additional brown paper bag to insulate your ice cream for the ride home. Luckily, here at our local HEB, the ice cream and all frozen merchandise is literally the last aisle of the store. At home, store ice cream in the main part of the freezer, not on the door, where it is subject to more fluctuating temperatures. (Note – J – I have purchased several of the bags displayed near the frozen food section at Wal-Mart and they really do keep the food frozen for a goodly period of time.)
A favorite ice cream treat to enjoy: the old-fashioned Root Beer Float
Root Beer Float
1½ cups vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
1½ cups cold root beer
Put two scoops of ice cream in a tall fountain glass and pour in enough cold root beer to cover. Add two more scoops and top again with root beer. Serve with a spoon and straw.
Do you remember the days of going to A&W Drive In on Nogalitos St. in San Antonio, and having root beer floats served in frosted mugs? How about the Black Cow on Broadway near Pearl Brewery? Their root beer float was called “Black Cow”, and was also served in a frosted mug. Weren’t those days fun? (And, in reference to the above, lots and lots of folks love to use cold Big Red instead of root beer for their floats!)
Big Red Ice Cream
4 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can (large) evaporated milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 small box (cook type) vanilla pudding mix
1 bottle (2-liter) Big Red soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix together eggs, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Stir in sugar and pudding mix and mix well. Add Big Red soda and stir just until mixed. Pour into freezer container and churn until frozen.
Cooked custard Ice Cream
2 cups sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
4 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups light cream (half and half or evaporated milk)
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in top of double boiler. Gradually add milk, stirring occasionally until thick, about 12 to 15 minutes. While this is cooking, beat the eggs until thick. Gradually stir about ½ cup of the hot mixture into the eggs, then stir eggs into milk mixture; continue cooking, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla and cream and pour into freezer can. Freeze according to directions with your ice cream maker.
The following recipe is a sure fire hit with the kiddos. It does take some adult supervision but is a real fun thing and would work well at a birthday party or maybe even VBS. They’ll make their own ice cream and then have the fun of eating it!
Tin Can Ice Cream
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chopped fresh fruit if desired
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Pour into a clean 1-pound coffee can with a tight fitting plastic lid. Put lid on can and seal with masking tape or duct tape. Set this can inside a 3-pound coffee can with a lid. Pack larger can with crushed ice and ¾ cup rock salt around smaller can. Place lid on large can, seal well with tape, just as you did the small can, and roll back and forth on a table or cement slab for 10 minutes. (It can be rolled back and forth between several children, so each one gets to help).
Open outer can and remove inner can. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture, scraping the sides of the can. Replace the lid, reseal the can, drain off excess liquid from the larger can and replace small can. Repack with ice and salt and roll back and forth 5 to 10 more minutes. Makes 3 cups of ice cream.
Happy summertime! Hope you enjoy these recipes.