How to make homemade ice cream with lake ice the hard and fun way.
ICE OUT !
Good times, great people, and plenty of crumbled lake ice. Do you know what these spell? Homemade ice cream!. The kind where one good bowl is all you can eat. Yum! But how does it all fit together? Ya have to be a bit of a rascal as a little boy to find out.
You see… Somewhere as little boys, my brother and I witnessed someone making homemade ice cream with one of those old fashioned home kits, where the machine turns around an inside cylinder, filled with the ice cream ingredients and the outside is filled with crushed ice. The same crushed ice that one might see when the ice goes out on the northern lakes. PING! An idea was born.
Ya have to be a rascal of a boy to use my plan. Yes sir, for when the ice goes out on the northern lakes, you either get it or you miss. When it goes you have plenty of honeycombed, ‘soft ice’. The kind that crushes easily into pieces to fit around a whole bunch of ice cream makers. You see what’s comin’, right?
As a young rascal, you row an aluminum boat out toward the ice pack, ( yes moms, this is cold and dangerous), and lean over the edge, and pick up the pieces that are floating along, very cold and meager results. Or, ahem, one might be a rascal and accept the ‘call of the ice’. To speed up the ice gathering process, we did a dangerous and stupid thing. We moved to the back of the boat, way back, as in leaning back out. This made the front of the boat stick up in the air – ahah, see the plan? We’d row furiously at the ice pack and let the front of the boat rise up onto the soft ice, then with a wild whoop, we’d race to the front of the boat, wiggle it a bit, and whoosh, the boat would break through and we’d be in a pile of shattered ice pieces – perfect for making ice cream.
A word here. Shattered lake ice is wet, cold, and has sharp edges. Young rascals ignore this and pile the pieces right into the boat, wet, cold, and poked more than a bit. Oh, that is sssooo cold! Brrr… Hmmm, not enough, so back we would stand, way, way back and aim for a different spot. Up we would run, holler, and wiggle, until whoosh, the boat broke through and wow, more cold, wet, and sharp, we piled in more pieces.
Now… One might wonder at the lure of this idea. That lure was homemade ice cream. Yum. Nothing else like it. When we were either too cold, wet, cut up, or had enough ice, then we’d head for shore. Once there, we’d do the opposite. We’d haul the pieces from the bottom of the boat and into wheelbarrows brought for this purpose and up the hill to where the magic happened. Ah, the sense of accomplishment wasn’t to be denied. We had to stand around the process, wet and cold through and through, ( young rascals have no sense, which is why we need mothers). It is indeed magic. For our hard fought ice chips froze the homemade ingredients into pure gold – or so we thought.
Having done the wet, cold, sharp, work, my brother and I got to pick which blend to try first. The first year or two that we tried this, we only had a few freezers going. After the second year, wow, we had freezers lined up all over the house, enough in fact to make the electric breakers trip time and again. We had your basic rich ‘real cream’ vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and many others, plus toppings, and oh my, it’s too much even for a rascal to explain. A note here: moms and aunts, bless them, decide for us that ice cream isn’t a food group of its own and needs organization and, here it is, hot dishes to go with the ice cream. It turned into an added on whole family and friend event with many a lost cousin and friend for our ice cream event. Yup, people would even call up around the time and set up a blank calendar in the hopes of the ‘event’. Didn’t want to miss it.
The following year it became a church event and that, well, too much is too much. Even a senseless rascal can do too much and it sort of died out after the next few years. Wait a minute. I know what happened. We grew up a bit and knew what a cold, wet, sharp, job that was and managed to be gone.
Those early years were glorious. Having done the duty, we’d often go back out and ‘crunch’ some more ice just for the exhilaration of it. Don’t know what it is, the sound of the crunch, the test of wills, not sure, but I do know how much fun and work it was. Truth be told here, we also got ‘hung up’ more than once. That’s when we picked a too firm spot, raced to the front of the boat and – nothin’. One must see two young rascal boys, pushing for all that they are worth, with the oars and a wiggle, to get the darned thing to inch back a bit, a bit, a bit more, then away we went for ‘nother one.’ I also remember the wet, cold, time. Brrr. You just can’t haul, dripping wet ice out of the very cold lake water without getting a good soak yourself. The ‘why’ we did this spring after spring might lose a definition or two, but that’s how we did it, hurrah!
My younger cousin sent me the prompt for this remembrance of Balsam Lake in northern Wisconsin. He called and told me the ice is going out. My memory and rascal took it from there. Still remember the ‘whoosh, and the wet, cold, sharp…