When I was growing up, my family attended Timber Crest Baptist Church, not too far from where we lived in Bellmead. Like any good Baptist congregation, food played an important role in our fellowship. I’m not sure if the Southern Baptist covenant instructed us to break bread as often as possible, but we sure took part in our share of dinners-on-the-ground, Sunday afternoon potluck lunches and post-funeral meals for grieving families. But as much as I enjoyed homemade fried chicken at those Sunday lunches, my favorite food event was Sunday evening ice cream suppers during the summer.
While the women were in charge of most church meals, it was the men who took over these soirées. It was man’s work, you see, operating an ice cream freezer. (At least in our house, Dad was always the one who made the ice cream.) When our family owned a hand-cranked freezer, my sisters would take turns sitting on top of it while Dad turned the handle to churn the ice cream. Why did they sit on the freezer? As far as any of us can remember, it made the cranking easier and held the freezer in place.
Later on, I remember Dad making ice cream with the fancy new electric freezer. It would sit on the kitchen counter with its loud motor, its drip spout hanging over the edge of the sink. As the ice around the tub melted, the water would slowly drizzle out, and Dad would add a new layer of ice and rock salt. Anticipation was high in the kitchen, with everyone waiting for the freezer to quit churning. When it finally stopped, we would watch Dad remove the beater and scrape it clean of fresh ice cream. He liked making both vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and in the summer he would throw in a handful of fresh peach slices to a batch of vanilla.
Dad never lost his love for ice cream. When my nephew Evan was in high school, the Lorena football team came to my sister Kara’s house for dinner prior to a game. Evan asked my dad, nicknamed John T., to make vanilla ice cream for dessert to go along with his mother’s cake. At that point in Dad’s life he was watching his diet, so he usually made ice cream with artificial sweetener and low- or nonfat milk. But for Evan and his teammates, he went all out, using real sugar and whole milk, and the players were each given a bowl filled to the brim with a slice of cake and real homemade vanilla ice cream.
When we attended a Sunday supper, Dad wanted to sample all of the varieties of ice cream. So while most of us amateurs would fill up a bowl with one flavor, eat it and then go back for another variety, John T. would take three small Styrofoam cups and hold them in his right hand. (He was left-handed.) He would then get a bit of ice cream from the first three freezers — one flavor in each cup — and try each one. Then he would make his way down the line for the next three flavors and so on until he had sampled a little of all of them. It was ingenious. I hadn’t thought about it for years until Abby made four batches of ice cream to use in the photos accompanying this article. One of the photos that Wacoan intern Cydney Waitley shot was one scoop of each of the four flavors in a bowl, which was my homage to John T.
For the sherbets and the peach ice cream, we suggest placing the base mixture in the refrigerator overnight before processing in the ice cream freezer. When the base is chilled beforehand, it takes less time for it to freeze and gives ice crystals less time to form. You end up with ice cream that is creamy and smooth.
To make ice cream sandwiches, place a large scoop of ice cream between two of the cookies and gently press them together. We paired the peach ice cream with the ginger cookies. The chocolate chip cookies will work well with vanilla, chai tea or coffee ice cream.
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
Whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, add vanilla to sweetened condensed milk and then fold into the whipped cream.
Pour mixture into a freezer-safe container and place in freezer at least overnight. Makes 6 servings.
To make chai tea ice cream, heat 1/4 cup of the cream and 2 chai tea bags in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and let the tea bags sit in in the cream for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The longer the bags remain in the cream, the stronger the tea flavor of the ice cream. Add this mixture to the whipped cream and continue with the recipe for vanilla ice cream.
To make coffee ice cream, add 1/2 cup strong-brewed coffee that has been chilled to the sweetened condensed milk and omit the vanilla. Continue with the vanilla ice cream recipe above.
Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet
- 4 cups strawberries (about 1 pound), hulled and halved (or quartered, if large)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- Pinch of kosher salt
Heat oven to 425 F. In a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, combine strawberries, sugar and vanilla; toss to combine. Roast berries, stirring occasionally, until juices are bubbling, for about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
Puree berries, buttermilk, sour cream and salt in a blender until smooth. Place mixture in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The next day pour mixture into an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour prior to serving. Makes 6 servings.
- 1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice, chilled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, sugar and orange zest; mix well. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in rosemary. Let rosemary syrup stand until cool.
Strain rosemary syrup into a bowl, discarding the rosemary and orange zest. Chill, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. Stir in orange juice and lemon juice; pour into an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions until the sherbet is light and fluffy. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour prior to serving. Makes 6 servings.
Peach & Brown Sugar Ice Cream
- 2 pounds very ripe peaches (about 4), pitted and chopped
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons peach schnapps or peach-flavored liqueur (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
In a saucepan, combine the peaches, both sugars and 1/4 cup water; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or until the peaches are soft. Puree the mixture in a food processor or blender. Force the puree through a fine sieve into a bowl and let cool. Add schnapps or liqueur, if using, and the cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat yolks and egg until they are frothy. Pour the half-and-half into a heavy saucepan and then add the whipped eggs. Heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour the egg-cream mixture into the pureed peaches. Stir to combine.
Place mixture in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The next day pour into an electric ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 1 hour prior to serving. Makes 6 servings.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- 1 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
Heat oven to 375 F. Line two baking pans with parchment or spray lightly with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugars and salt. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flours and baking soda and mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans (if using).
Scoop dough onto baking sheets, placing 12 scoops on each sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for at least 15 minutes. Then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 24 cookies.
Chewy Ginger Cookies
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 cup candied ginger, chopped
- 1/4 cup sugar, for rolling
Heat oven to 350 F. Line two baking pans with parchment or spray lightly with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together ground ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cocoa, cardamom and pepper.
In another bowl, beat together sugar and oil. Beat in egg, molasses and grated ginger until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients until just combined. Add candied ginger and mix until combined.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, roll in sugar and place on baking sheets, 12 dough balls to a sheet. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until cookies are firm around the edges. Let cookies cool on baking pans for about 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.