Printed with permission of The Alpine Avalanche
When I think of July 4th, I think of homemade ice cream. Fireworks, parades, festivals and barbecues come to mind after ice cream. If you’re reading this, you probably have a July 4th parade happening nearby. Out here in the Trans-Pecos, you can stay busy the entire weekend. Fort Davis has a weekend-long celebration called “Coolest 4th” beginning Friday, July 1 with vendors set-up around the courthouse all weekend, a Saturday morning parade and fun-run, fireworks, a dance, an 1880’s style vintage baseball game and displays at the Fort Davis National Historic Site. Alpine’s July 4th parade starts near the Porter’s parking lot (on 5th street) and ends at the City Park, where booths and music await. Both towns have more to offer than I have space here to print.
Growing up, my large extended family met at Granny’s house for July 4th activities. Mom was the youngest of six, and Granny’s yard was filled to the edges with cousins when we got together. One uncle had ice cream duty, cranking the old ice cream maker by hand for what seemed to be hours while we waited anxiously for a sample of the homemade vanilla, chocolate or peach ice cream he’d scoop out. I don’t know how they decided who’d crank the ice cream, but someone must’ve lost a coin toss because cranking the ice cream maker isn’t easy.
People have loved ice cream for centuries, with records of ice cream-like treats dating back to the second century B.C. when Alexander the Great enjoyed snow flavored with honey and nectar.
Pictured is homemade huckleberry ice cream I made, using about 5 heaping tablespoons of huckleberry jam in place of the coffee in the recipe below.
Fast-forward 1000 years or so, and Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe for what resembles our modern day sherbet.
Ice cream, or “cream ice” as it was called back in the 17th century, was often at King Charles I table in England. Catherine de Medici, Italian wife of Henry II of France, brought with her a frozen dessert resembling cream ice. In 1660, ice cream was made available to the general public at a café in France. In the 1700s, ice cream gained popularity in America and rumor has it that President George Washington spent $200 on ice cream during the summer of 1790 – which by today’s standards, is roughly $5,344. On ice cream.
Until 1800, ice cream was only for the elite as refrigeration was not common in the average person’s home. The first hand-crank ice cream maker was patented in the 1840s. I for one am thrilled to have ice cream and refrigeration.
We have an electric ice cream maker that uses rock salt and lots of ice to churn the ice cream, but I’ve found a method for making homemade ice cream that uses one mixing bowl, a mixer and a pan to hold the creamy concoction while it freezes. In making a batch last night, I discovered that my electric mixer is packed in storage, but I had an old-fashioned hand mixer that worked just fine.
This recipe is for coffee ice cream, but it’s a good starting point for you to get creative. I omitted the coffee last night and added about 5 heaping tablespoons of huckleberry preserves.
Homemade Coffee Ice Cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of whipping cream
5 packets of instant coffee (I used the Starbucks single-serve packets)
In a mixing bowl, empty instant coffee packets and add enough water to dissolve. Add can of sweetened condensed milk and whipping cream. Mix until it’s noticeably thicker, then transfer it to a freezable container and freeze it for a few hours or overnight. Enjoy a bowl while you ponder the marvels of modern refrigeration.