According to my mother, the first words I learned to read were ‘ice cream.’ This makes all the sense in the world if you know me at all. It may also explain the relish with which I learned to read additional words, only to discover that most of them were significantly less delicious than the first. It was my earliest childhood disappointment, though I suppose literacy is a decent consolation prize.
As a kid, nothing brought me greater pleasure than going to an ice cream parlor and studying the flavors on display in the long, transparent cases, their muted, subtly different hues right there at eye-level. It was like an edible artist’s palette, seemingly bottomless and filled with sweet promise. Some had flecks of chocolate or nuts. Bits of fruit. Swirls of fudge. I wanted to take a spoon, dip it into every pot, and paint the world with ice cream.
I loved to watch the people who worked there (the luckiest people on the face of the planet, in my young estimation) scooping out ice cream from the deep cylindrical tubs. There is something about the texture of ice cream that still thrills me, the way the scoop digs and rolls across the surface. How the resulting smooth crown and ruffled edges sit precariously atop the cone, defying (or not defying) gravity and clumsy children. The way the frozen confection is both creamy and crystalline, temporarily suspended in a state somewhere between solid and liquid as you race to devour it before it seeps sloppily from the bottom of the cone.
It all began with strawberry. What is it with little girls and pink? But that flavor, to this day, represents all the pleasures and comfort of childhood. Later I gravitated toward the artificial pale greens of pistachio and mint chocolate chip. Strawberry ice cream was for babies, you see. A cone of mint chocolate chip always required jimmies (Massachusetts-talk for chocolate sprinkles). Brigham’s in the South Shore Plaza was a favorite source. As I angled for adulthood, the teenage years brought an appreciation for coffee, maple walnut, butter pecan, and mocha in their frosty shades of beige. I still favor them to this day.
It took years before I realized that the best and most versatile ice cream flavor of all was the white one in the corner with the barely-perceptible flecks of black. It was hard, though, as a kid to choose Plain Jane vanilla when there were so many flashier options vying for attention, especially once Oreos and cookie dough entered the picture. To this day, my least favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate. Chocolate, which is one of my most favoritest things ever! (Did I forget a superlative in there?) What can I say, Chocolate Ice Cream, you’re a poor substitute for chocolate. But the real thing is welcome to be poured, thick and fudge-like, over my vanilla ice cream anytime.
This history is why I’m compelled to make homemade ice cream even though we have about a million sources for quality ice cream in the Boston area, from old-school ice cream shops (J.P. Licks, Cabot’s), to inventive, boutique ice cream bars (Toscanini’s, Christina’s), to farm stands (Bedford Farms, Kimball Farm). They’re hard to beat and thank goodness we don’t have to. But for me, there will always be homemade ice cream in my freezer. Peach ice cream. Maple ice cream. And other far more disgusting concoctions of which I have yet to conceive.
Tammy + Ice Cream 4 Eva.
Peach Ice Cream
There’s nothing like peaches and cream in the summertime. I kept the skins on this time and I liked it!
2 cups ripe peaches, washed, fuzz rubbed off under water, chopped
½ cup sugar, plus ¾ cup more (1¼ cup total)
Juice of ½ lemon
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
Combine peaches with ½ cup of the sugar, and stir in lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring every half hour. Pour peaches into a strainer fitted over a bowl and drain, reserving the peach juice.
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ¾ cup sugar, a little at a time. Pour in the cream, milk, and reserved peach juice, and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions (usually spin for 25 minutes). Add the peach pieces during the last 5 minutes of processing. Spoon partially frozen mixture into a container, cover, and place in the freezer until firm.
I tend to like it on the softer side rather than solid as a rock. If it freezes too hard, let sit on the counter for five minutes before serving.
Source: Adapted from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book by Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, and Nancy J. Stevens.