We have a ridiculous patch of rhubarb. I think there are six plants that sprawl over a good 2’x8′ area. As happens every year I now do the frantic scramble to find recipes for all that rhubarb. Last year we made mini jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam for wedding favors. While looking for a strawberry-rhubarb sorbet recipe (this weekend’s endeavor!) in an old family cookbook I came upon the familiar strawberry ice cream recipe with my mom’s notes scrawled along the edge.
As a child I never had a lot of sweet food. Getting a small scoop of ice cream for dessert was so decadent. When strawberry season was in full swing, my parents would load my sister and me into the car and drive to the U-Pick strawberry fields and we would pick strawberries for what seemed like hours and hours under a hot sweltering sun. It was great having fresh strawberries. We would cut them up and put them on Saturday morning pancakes. As a straight up snack. And the greatest was when we got to make strawberry ice cream!
I have a nice fancy ice cream maker with a bowl you toss in the freezer for a day, you add ingredients, and magically out comes ice cream. No muss, no fuss. Not so when we were kids. My parents’ ice cream maker was one of the old style ones. Half of a wooden barrel with a metal canister inside. Then there was a paddle mixer that was attached to a crank. To get the ingredients cold enough to make ice cream while mixing there needed to be a lot of ice between the barrel and the canister. We would save up empty milk cartons for weeks and fill them up with water so we would have enough ice. My dad would break up the frozen ice into chunks that fit the gap. We also poured a lot of salt in around the ice (not sure why but it was part of the process). Then came the hard part: our first ice cream maker was hand powered. There was much hard work cranking it. Jen and I would take a few (very hard) turns. As the ice would melt we would push the ice down in the barrel and add more. After an eternity the ice cream was declared done and Jen and I got the mixing paddle to lick (we each got half).
There is nothing quite as rewarding as fresh, creamy, strawberry ice cream straight from the mixer while sitting on the grass on a hot, sunny day.