Archive for Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Old-fashioned tastes of summer

August 8, 2001

Louder than Kansas Speedway on a Sunday afternoon where are my hearing protectors when I need them

As I wondered how the clatter of the electric ice cream machine compared in decibels to the 100-plus decibel roar of Kansas Speedway races, I also wondered why my husband and I didn't just drive into Tonganoxie for a scoop of ready-made ice cream.

Nonetheless, as he mowed the yard, I kept track of the ice cream maker, making sure it didn't run short of ice or rock salt.

Is it just in America or is it in other countries as well, that the making of ice cream seems as patriotic as flying the flag and placing a fresh-baked apple pie on the windowsill?

Perhaps it's the sense of accomplishment the old-fashioned American do-it-yourself attitude that adds to the sense of fulfillment.

Or perhaps just perhaps it's the irreplaceable flavor and crisp texture of real honest-to-goodness homemade ice cream the kind that almost melts before the spoon has carried it to the lips the kind that quickly drains from a bowl and leaves the tasters asking for more.

Or perhaps, like so many of our favorite pastimes, it's a repetition of what we've known, a sentimental and, yes tasty, return to the hot days of summer when no one had central air and cool meant that a fan was blowing and that there was something cold to eat or drink.

Today it's a little bit easier to make ice cream than it was when my parents were in charge.

In the early 1960, Tonganoxie's businesses closed up shop on Sundays, with the exception of the swimming pool, A&W and one section of Dale Rawlings Feed Store, which was where the Tonganoxie city shop is now, just north of the intersection of Fourth and Main.

After church on Sundays, Kippy Cook would sit by the ice house on the south side of the feed store and sell blocks of ice to customers for the making of homemade ice cream and the filling of coolers for picnics.

Kippy would take the large tongs that hung on the wall and hoist the foot-square chunks into the trunk of a customer's car.

At home, the hand-cranked ice cream maker was ready to go usually with Dad at the crank. The older children were trusted with an ice pick to chip away at the block of ice, gather the chips and toss them into the bucket. Dad would sprinkle rock salt to make it freeze fast.

As the ice cream hardened, the cranking, which started out as a game, became difficult or even impossible for the youngsters.

Just before dinner, a lucky child licked the dasher while Mom set the ice cream to cure. This meant draining the melted ice from the bucket, and adding more ice and salt. Then the entire tank was covered with quilts. And by the time the last piece of crispy fried chicken had been devoured, the ice cream, especially around the edges of the canister, had hardened.

Today the unwieldy blocks of ice have been replaced by bags of ice cubes. Electricity, not biceps, does the work. And the "curing," which used to be necessary because most home freezers weren't large enough to hold a two-gallon canister of ice cream, is now optional.

Homemade ice cream may be a curiosity in today's age of ready-made-everything a curiosity, yes, but for sure, an altogether delicious one.

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