It didn’t snow much in Ashdown, Arkansas in the 1960s. It doesn’t snow there much now. But when it did, and when it does, kids there know exactly what to do.
Beg their moms to make snow ice cream.
It was my mother who showed my sister and me that you could make ice cream out of snow. That may have been one of the biggest regrets of our mom’s life. Every winter snowfall until we left home, we begged her to make it.
Ashdown got its own radio station when we were kids. Since radio was the fastest way to get the latest weather updates, my sister and I (and every other kid in Little River County) would plop ourselves in front of the nearest receiver and listen for any forecast that had even an inkling of snow.
When that forecast came, we’d start in.
“Mom, can we make snow ice cream?” one of us would ask.
“Yeah, mom. Can we?” the other would say.
“It hasn’t even snowed yet,” our mom would answer.
“Snow doesn’t fall here that often,” she’d add. “It likely won’t snow.”
But my sister and I had faith. We’d been told plenty of times that if you prayed hard enough, and it was the Good Lord’s will, your prayers would be answered.
And come winter, we wanted snow. And snow ice cream.
Mom drove a 1960 model Buick. Dad bought it new. When they got married, she got the Buick and dad got a ‘52 Chevrolet five-window pickup. I’d give anything to have both vehicles now.
The relevance of the car and truck to this story has to do with the trunk of the Buick and the hood of the pickup. You could land a passenger jet on either one, and they became seas of snow when the skies let loose.
Now, the trick to collecting snow for snow ice cream lies in your reach and your ability to estimate depth with the sides of your hands.
You see, if you didn’t go deep enough when raking snow over and down the slope of the trunk or hood and into a bowl, you’d leave behind a lot of good ice cream material.
If you went too deep, you’d not only have crisp, fresh snow in your bowl, you’d also have the remnants of what the birds left before the snow fell.
If you know what I mean.
Let me tell you; scraping too deep does not make for good snow ice cream. Listen to your mother.
Mom’s recipe for snow ice cream is a simple one. In addition to a large bowl of fluffy snow, you’ll need Pet Milk, some vanilla extract, and sugar.
Her recipe also called for my sister and me to gather a gallon bucket of clean snow. If you’re ever assigned to gather the snow, leave it outside until your mom is ready to make the ice cream. Snow melts rapidly once you bring it inside.
When you’re ready to make ice cream, put your snow into a glass bowl with the other ingredients, which include two to three cups of Pet Milk, a tablespoon of vanilla extract, and a cup of sugar.
If you can get your hands on good, real Mexican vanilla, use that instead of the boxed and bottled stuff from the grocery store.
Some recipes call for heavy cream instead of Pet Milk. But Arkansas folks respect our Pet Milk. It has never let us down, so we stick to using it.
Once you get all of your ingredients together, grab your electric hand mixer or the hand-crank beater your grandmother left you and give it a good stirring. If you like your snow ice cream chunkier, mix it less. If you prefer it smoother, you’ll need to mix it longer.
My mom’s snow ice cream recipe doesn’t include an egg, but the one in the 1988 Southern Living annual recipe book does. Regardless of whether you use an egg or not, the fact that the folks at Southern Living deemed it necessary to make sure the masses knew how to make snow ice cream shows its importance to all God-fearing Southerners.
Knowing how to make snow ice cream makes you a hero to children, young and old.
Having some Hershey’s Syrup on standby will help make you even more of a hero. Especially if you are preparing snow ice cream for the grandkids.
But snow ice cream isn’t just for spoiling the grandkids. It’s for spoiling ourselves. All of us. Especially mom.
It’s her turn to get spoiled come next snowfall. I just need to remember to leave the car outside. And not scrape too deep on the trunk lid.
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By John Moore | thecountrywriter.com