Real Cooking

OK, it’s confession time. I always eat too much on the Fourth of July. It’s been our tradition for several years to have a group of friends over on Independence Day for an annual celebration. Sometimes, like this year, there is a barbecue supper of ribs and chicken. Sometimes, there is just a table laden with snacks and nibbles.

But always…always…there is the dish that smacks of summer. That all-American treat…that queen of the dairy desserts…you know it and love it…homemade ice cream.

I find it irresistible. I like mine kind of mushy-not too smooth-even sort of grainy with a strong vanilla flavor and cold enough to give you head groggies.

Yeah, you read that right, head groggies. I got that technical term years ago from our friend, Doug Bartel. We were eating ice cream one evening with Doug and his wife, Pam, and one of us, I don’t recall who, got one of those shooting pains that lands right between your eyes from eating something too cold too fast. You know what I mean. And Doug said, “Oh, head groggie!”

I guess it’s a term the Bartel family coined years ago for that harrowing sensation caused by having too cold a palate. I’ve never asked Doug the origin of the expression. Perhaps it’s a derivative from some Low German phrase. (Please, nobody write to me explaining that it isn’t. This is just a lame attempt at humor.) Anyway, it stuck and has now become a part of the Jost vocabulary as well.

Now for me, July 4 is a head groggy orgy. It’s really pathetic; I just can’t leave the creamy stuff alone. One bowl is never enough. If we have a supper first, I eat just a little so I have room to overindulge on the ice cream that follows.

But here’s the problem with this strategy: Everyone else eats like…well, like freedom loving, party going Americans. And so, when it’s dessert time, they all push away from the table and groan that they just can’t take another bite. And then I’m in ice cream limbo for the next hour or two until the rest of the party has digested their dinner and is finally ready for the next course.

I’m not sure where the obsession for homemade ice cream first surfaced in my life. I remember as a child the only time I got the real, homemade stuff was when I would come to call at my Aunt Gwen and Uncle Tony Gaines’ farm just outside of Peabody.

Once in awhile when we were there for a visit, they would get out the ice cream maker and churn out some frozen delight for our mutual enjoyment.

I’ll have to ask Gwen the next time I see her if we ever made ice cream on the Fourth of July. We probably did beause I celebrated that holiday in Peabody for a good 18 years running.

Perhaps that’s it. Maybe I associate homemade ice cream with having a good time. Peabody on the Fourth really hops. I rode my first Ferris wheel there at the carnival with my sister and cousin and ate my first cotton candy purchased from one of the park vendors.

I remember watching the parade on Independence Day morning and the giant fireworks display at night. And then, after the fireworks in the park, we would walk back to my grandma’s to light a few sparklers of our own.

And sometimes, I think, there was ice cream. Homemade… brought in from the farm and made with cream straight from a cow.

Wait a minute. Bear with me while I do a little free association: Peabody…Fourth of July…fun…family…farm…cow…milk…ICE CREAM…milk…cow…farm…family…fun…Fourth of July…Hillsboro.

Uh-uh-you see? I knew there had to be some deep psychological reason for my obsession with homemade ice cream. Homemade ice cream means fun and family and the Fourth of July. And those are things that I just eat up.

So, “as for me, give me liberty, or give me”…the ice cream maker’s dasher. I’ll give it a good lick.

* * *

Here’s one of our favorite recipes for homemade ice cream. I love this flavor blend of fresh peaches and almond. Our daughter planted two peach trees a few years ago and now they are producing lovely fruit. We hope to enjoy this recipe several times this summer.

Peach Ice Cream

2 eggs (to avoid Salmonella, use pasteurized eggs such as Eggbeaters brand)

11/4 cups sugar

1 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. almond extract

5 large, ripe peaches, peeled and chopped

1 cup whipping cream

In a large bowl, beat eggs until thick and lemon colored, about five minutes. Beat in sugar. Stir in milk, vanilla and almond. Set aside. Puree peaches in blender or food processor. Stir in egg mixture. Stir in whipping cream. Pour into ice cream canister. Freeze according to manufacturer’s suggestions.

More from article archives
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN (Published in The Free Press Extra, March 31, 2005) NOTICE...
Read More