My memories of childhood summers seem almost magical in my mind. There were the cousins visiting, the parades on Main Street, and who could forget the food? Butter dripping off of fresh-picked corn on the cob, blackberry cobblers with the berries hand-picked by my mama and oh, the ultimate — hand-churned homemade ice cream!
Homemade ice cream was not just a food, it was an event. It took hours to make and started in mama’s kitchen with heavy whipping cream, sugar, eggs and vanilla mixed, stirred and tasted. Mama would add a little more vanilla and stir it again. Out would come the spoon for another taste or two. Then she would fret and say, “I wish I had mama’s recipe.”
Ice Cream Memories
I remember sitting on the porch with daddy and a huge block of ice. He’d take an ice pick and chisel down that ice to fit in the wooden bucket of the ice cream maker. He’d layer that ice with rock salt till nothing else could fit except that metal cylinder filled with the magic potion. Then he’d turn that crank for what seemed like a lifetime (remember, I was a little kid). The salt would begin to make a slush and water would run out of the holes and down the porch. More ice was added and then more salt. It was a labor intensive endeavor for sure.
At some point he’d put a blanket over the top of the maker and have me sit on it until he couldn’t get that crank to turn one more turn. The blanket just had to remain on for at least an hour. By that time my cousins and I could hardly stand it. But it was all worth it when we tasted that velvety, ice cold, creamy concoction.
What summertime foods do you remember from your childhood? There are some foods so special that the flavors never completely leave your taste buds. Such was the case of a supper at my auntie’s house when I was around eight.
It took all day to fix. First my uncle would leave the house before the sun came up and head down to the fishing hole. When he came back he was carrying a stringer full of fat catfish so long he had to hold the stringer up by his head.
Then my auntie would get busy and start frying thinly sliced green tomatoes and prepare the okra. She’d cut the pods into thin, tiny wheels and dredge them in a little corn meal and flour and lots of black pepper and salt. When the catfish hit her huge black iron frying pan, you could hear it in the next room. Last of all she’d boil the corn and we would sit down and wait for a feast fit for kings.
She had a huge platter and she loaded it down with crispy brown fried catfish. It was piled so high I could barely see over it. Next came the corn and mashed potatoes. It was hard to fit even a little of everything on your plate. Even her coleslaw tasted like it came from heaven — creamy, sweet yet with a little punch of pepper. No one could move away from the table before they finally threw in their napkins. We all were pretty much speechless and ready for a really good nap!
Of course there were wonderful things we did during the summer that didn’t involve food. I loved piling into my uncle’s old pick-up and being driven to the river with all my cousins in tow. We’d run into the water and any one of us who acted scared got thrown in by one of the adults. We’d keep our eyes peeled for snapping turtles and water snakes, but not even the fear of them could keep us out of that cool river stream.
In the evening, the adults would play cards or horseshoes. Us kids would chase fireflies and put them in a jar covered with cheesecloth. Did you know that fireflies in a jar were the first night lights ever used? I’d sit that jar in the window sill next to the headboard so I could see them throughout the night. Who could get scared with fairies watching over you?
What memories do you have of summer when you were a child? I certainly hope you weren’t given a bath in an old wash tub out in your granny’s back yard. Oh, the indignities I suffered, but I’d do it all again. Nothing could be sweeter than time spent with loved ones in the good old summertime.