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Ice Cream Sunday

Published May 08. 2010 09:00AM

"You scream, I scream, We all scream for Ice Cream!"

That old ditty rang in my ears on Sunday at my mom's.

Mom won a neat basket at a Chinese auction on Saturday. It was filled with all the fixings for an ice cream party.

Sunday after lunch, my two nieces dismantled the basket to see what was all in it.

There were four glass ice cream sundae dishes, spoons, sprinkles, nuts, cherries and a recipe for homemade ice cream.

"Let's make ice cream!" Jennie Rose, 21, said.

"Yeah!" chimed in her nine-year-old sister, Abby.

"No we're not making homemade ice cream," declared their nana and matriarch of the family. "It's too hot outside."

But "No" is not in Jennie Rose's vocabulary.

"I'll make it. You won't have to do a thing, Nan," Jennie Rose said.

"Yeah, right. You can't boil water. What makes you think you can make ice cream?" Nana scoffed.

And she's right. Jennie Rose is many things, but adept in the kitchen, she's not.

"I can do it. Watch me."

She wore Mom down. Jennie does that sooooo well.

They compiled a shopping list, which included bags of ice, since there was no snow on the ground.

Jennie went to the local store, got the necessary ingredients and she and Nana mixed them up.

Not without drama.

Interspersed with "What measuring cup should I use?" with "Where is the sugar?" and "Nan, let me alone, I can do it!" had me exhausted just listening to the two of them fighting it out in the kitchen as I rested my eyes with my feet up on the recliner.

Homemade ice cream on a Sunday. Boy. Did that bring back memories.

Sundays at my Grandparents' Wernett home in Albrightsville was always a treat. Aunts, uncles, cousins galore, we laughed, we cried, we played, we enjoyed each other's company and found ways to fill the afternoons and evenings.

And in the wintertime, that meant making homemade ice cream.

The moms mixed up the ingredients and the older boys put the cylinders in the ice cream makers. We all fought to turn the cranks. The littlest ones started out first because it was easy to turn in the beginning. When their little arms got tired or they got bored, the next age group took over until it got too stiff and the older boys and dads had to take over.

We got our ice from the icicles hanging off the roof or the guys cut it out from the dam. When the cranks couldn't be turned any more, the boys took the makers out into the snow to keep cold.

When it was time to dip it out, we kids had our noses right tight against our moms' arms, hoping to get to lick off the paddles.

Did anything ever taste so good?

We didn't think so back then.

I believe it was the making of it, the comradery we shared in doing a task together, the anticipation that made it taste so good.

Jennie Rose missed out on the hand cranking in the cold winter outdoors as she and Harry manned the electric ice cream maker in the basement. I could hear Jennie Rose's constant chatter as she and her uncle kept adding ice and rock salt to the grinding machine.

It finally stopped.

They covered it good with ice and let it set.

After dinner when Harry brought the ice cream container upstairs and placed it in the sink, noses were pressed up tight against Nana's arm, waiting expectantly for the treat to be revealed. It was like 50 years just melted away and I was reliving those wonderful Sunday nights at my grandparents.

Everyone said it was the best ice cream they ever ate and then slathered it with the nuts, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and cherries from the sundae fixings of the basket. I chuckled when I think back how we use to eat our homemade ice cream "plain."

I guess we always think everything we did "back when" were the "best of times." But as I listened to Jennie Rose, Abby and Zachary exclaim how good the ice cream was and Jennie Rose bragging about how "she" made it, with a little help from her Nana and uncle, I knew we had made a new "best of times" for these young people, and us.

I hope they'll look back on their Nana Smith family time as fondly and lovingly as I do of my Mammy 'Nett days.

(Here's the recipe for the homemade ice cream that was in the basket that Jennie Rose made on Sunday.)

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 cans evaporated milk

4 cups of milk

Mix together, churn and enjoy!

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