Dreams of Ice Cream and Life Lessons
A Twitter conversation earlier today brought this to the front of my mind. So I thought I might share it.
When I was a young child, I got many life lessons, and most of them from simple, everyday things. Saving things that could be saved and used again, painting and repairing the old bicycle instead of buying a new one, and learning the value of work.
When I think back on it, one of the most overlooked, yet most prevalent lesson was making ice cream. Let me explain.
When one is a kid, you always want to pitch in and help with the work. You want to run the vacuum cleaner, you beg to push the lawnmower, you are dying to take tools in your hands to do something. Darn it all now, I have to almost force myself to get that mower out and take care of the yard in a timely fashion.
The ice cream freezer was one such thing. Your Mom mixes up a concoction of milk, cream, sugar, eggs, depending on the recipe specifics, into a metal cylinder. That cylinder in then put into a larger bucket, filled with ice, and cranked, by hand, round and round until the delicious goodness that is fresh frozen ice cream emerges in the cylinder.
And, just like any other mechanical action, every kid wants to help. In fact, it got to the point that one our presents for our birthdays was to crank our own ice cream for the party.
Adding to it, at least in later years, I probably milked the cow that got the milk and cream, and either I or my sister gathered the eggs. Probably the only costs involved in the process were the white sugar, vanilla extract (usually imitation, as it is much cheaper), rock salt (to lower the freezing point of the ice, which even today is literally cheaper than dirt), and few other ingredients.
We never had an electric motor for our freezer, and I still consider that ‘cheating’ somehow. Although it is nice to start the mixture with the motor, and when it starts to stiffen up, then throw on the hand crank and keep going.
So there you are, your arm getting tired, your rear getting sore from the makeshift seat you have which is never the right height. You shift around, and try to make your other arm work “backwards,” so to speak, as the crank only works in one way. Very quickly, that doesn’t work well, and you adjust your seat, straighten the angle, and just keep going.
When it start getting hard to turn, you can sometimes have your brother or sister take turns for a bit. But believe me, the longer you can crank and the harder it gets, the better the results!
This, I think, is a simple life lesson than many of our children don’t get any longer. It’s very simple: put in the effort, and you get a delicious reward.
We never bought store-bought ice cream, or did it so rarely that I stand by that. And to this day, I have no desire to purchase the box of Blue Bunny, or Ben and Jerry’s, none of it. It just is not the same, and does not taste right to me. The closest I can get is some of the fast-food outlet soft-serve systems, and that may be only because I worked at McDonalds several times in my life and perhaps got used to it.
If you are a parent, and even if you are not because it’s so good, by all means you should do this. Hit your local hardware store, or order online, but find a quality ice cream freezer. More expensive, but you get what you pay for, and White Mountain brand, IMHO, is the best you can get.
Make it a treat, because there is literally no ice cream that that tastes any better than right out of the freezer you just cranked until your arm fell off. Even the same batch, placed in storage containers in the deep-freeze, will never be as good as that first dish straight from the process.
One simple, easy, work-equals-reward lesson that we can all probably use a refresher course on.