Summer and homemade ice cream seem to go perfectly together. We have been scooping out generous servings of delicious vanilla just like my mama used to make for days following the Fourth of July holiday. Talk about great leftovers!
There is something about the rock salt, the turning of the metal container filled with flavors that must surely be sent straight down from Heaven, and the gleeful anticipation as we wait for bellyfuls of the sweetest ice cold dessert and the flood of memories it brings with it.
Daddy would dust off the old wooden bucket, scrambling to find all the parts to our family’s ice cream freezer while Mama gathered up the ingredients from the kitchen. We all knew what these sights and sounds meant around my childhood home on Dykes Chapel Road. It was almost always during the sweltering hot months of June, July and August, and my Uncle Wayne could be counted on to bring the bags of ice.
Right there on the old flagstone porch overlooking Daddy’s little red tractor set high on a hill in the pasture and with our family dogs, Scott and George, swatting flies nearby, the stage was set many a days for the making of homemade ice cream. It truly took all hands on deck to make it happen. Once Mama filled the aluminum canister with her recipe, Daddy would put some ice in the wooden bucket to get it nice and cold as he set the process in motion, making sure the winding crank was firmly attached. Uncle Wayne would be in charge of keeping the ice and salt close by while Mama supervised from the kitchen window.
It was a far cry from the modern day inventions of electric motors and on-the-counter ice cream gadgets. Way back then the ice cream seemed a bit sweeter after all the sweat and drama put into making it. My brother Tony and I would take turns sitting on the bucket while my older brothers turned the crank by hand. I can still remember asking, “How much longer? Ain’t it ready yet?” Even the dogs would give up near the end and decide to take a nap, usually along with Daddy. It was not a task for the faint of heart, but the reward was sweet.
We would all gather around the table for bowls full of the whitest, creamiest vanilla ice cream, and the best part is we had leftovers for days if cousins didn’t drop by. I shut my eyes and hold fast to the memory of my mama stretched out on her front porch swing, flip flops dangling off her toes, caught up in the magic of making ice cream with the ones she so loved, and, of course, a cup all for herself.
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