Texas is another country...

Texas is another country...I have driven into Texas from all four directions and can affirm that after crossing that imaginary state line you just know you are in Texas . The world becomes wide open space, the sky feels higher, you can stretch out and rest a spell.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Post by Alana Cash

One of my favorite memories of summer in Texas was homemade ice cream, and my dad is the one who made it.  We had an old fashioned, hand-crank ice cream maker with a steel tub and pail, and he always took it out into the yard to make the ice cream. 

When we visited my grandparents on the farm, sometimes we took the ice cream maker along.  If we made ice cream at the farm, we had to get ice at the ice house near the train tracks because my grandparents didn't have electricity.  

Before the development of the electrical refrigerated railroad car, “refrigerated” cars cooled vegetables and dairy products with crushed ice poured on top of the  product or set ice blocks on racks near the ceiling.  That ice house near the tracks had an elevated shute to pour ice through a trap door on the top of the train car. It had all kinds of fascinating pipes and cyclinders going up two stories high and I never figured out how they made ice there.

At any rate, we obtained a block of ice and my dad used an ice pick to break it into chunks small enough to fit between the tub and the pail.  He made the ice cream mixture, condensed milk being my favorite ingredient, and poured it into the container, fixed on the handle and began cranking.  What amazed and confused me was that he kept pouring rock salt onto the ice every once in a while as he cranked.  I was even more confused when I asked him why he put the salt on the ice.

“To make it melt,” he said.

To me, as a kid, it seemed that ice would make the ice cream faster than cold water.  But I’ve learned since then that something about the salt draws the heat out from the ice cream mixture, making it colder than the ice would on its own.

In truth, I don’t remember how long it took to turn his recipe into ice cream, but it always seemed to be a long time.  And even then, the ice cream was mushy.  We ate it dished out into Melmac bowls and licked them clean.  There was never any leftover in the pail either.

There are a lot of ice cream recipes, but the only one I like is the one my dad used, the one that includes condensed milk and is the simplest recipe in the world for making vanilla ice cream. 

4 cups half-and-half or cream
1 can condensed milk (14 oz)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl, then pour into your ice cream freezer pail and get to work.  Don’t forget to put rock salt on the ice if you’re using a crank machine – electric or hand-crank.

You can add fruit to this recipe for making strawberry, peach, banana, pineapple or your favorite fruit ice cream.  You can add instant coffee grounds to make coffee ice cream or add your other favorite flavorings.    

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