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We All Scream for...Ice Cream!

Beef month in May, followed by Dairy month in June is a pretty tough combination to beat...that is of course unless you decide to make July National Ice Cream month!  While I have to admit that I love dairy in general, ice cream has always been a special treat, so I love that ice cream gets its own “national” month!

Homemade ice cream was a staple for us growing up – my grandmother always seem to think that it tasted better if you had to work for it.  She had an old fashioned ice cream churn with the hand crank, and if you wanted some of that ice cream, you had to do your time turning the crank!  I think somewhere along the way she upgraded to an electric ice cream machine, probably about the time that she ran out of grandkids still at home to turn the crank on the old one!  Either way, there was something about that freshly churned ice cream that just seemed to taste better.  When my husband attended one of his first summer family get-togethers with my family, homemade ice cream was one of the (many) dessert options, which did not seem that strange to him; the flavor options however threw him for a loop!  In addition to the traditional vanilla and chocolate (and every now and then banana) ice cream, grape-nuts ice cream was a staple at our family get-togethers growing up.  If you grew up in Shenandoah County, VA (and a small surrounding area), this probably does not come as a surprise to you.  It amazed me when I left home, that almost no one outside of our small area had ever heard of grape-nuts ice cream.  What is it? Quite simply, it is vanilla ice cream with grape-nuts cereal – and it’s wonderful.  You wouldn’t think that such a simple combination would be anything special, but there is just something about it.  My husband now asks every year to make sure that there will be grape-nuts ice cream, and you better believe if there is any leftover that it is coming home with us!  You can even buy store bought grape-nuts in our area, although I have never seen it anywhere else!  (Interestingly enough, if you google grape-nuts ice cream, it is credited with being a New England treat.)

In honor of National Ice Cream month, I did a little bit of research into the history and origins of ice cream; which believe it or not is somewhat questionable.  There are accounts of a derivative of ice cream being enjoyed as early as the 5th century BC by the ancient Greeks who mixed snow with honey and fruit, and Alexander the Great is said to have enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar.  Around 200 BC a frozen mixture of milk and rice was used in China, and the Roman Emperor Nero (54-68 AD) reportedly had ice brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings.  “Cream Ice” reported appeared regularly at Charles I’s table during the 17th century, and Catherine de Medici introduced something similar to France when she married Henry II of France.
Ice cream shows up in the New World in a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Governor William Bladen.  There are records showing that President George Washington spent approximately $200 on ice cream in the summer of 1790 and President Thomas Jefferson supposedly had an 18 step ice cream recipe.  Ice cream was served by Dolly Madison at President Madison’s second inaugural banquet in 1813.
It’s nice to know that I am in good company when I enjoy ice cream.  Can you imagine - $200 in 1790 was a lot of money!

How about you?  Are you an ice cream fan?  If so, what flavor?  Whatever your preference, enjoy National Ice Cream month – and thanks to the dairy farmers who work hard so that we can!
Monday, July 10, 2017
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