Do You Scream for Ice Cream? – by Charlotte Canelli

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte’s column in the July 24, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association’s website, President Ronald Reagan selected the third Sunday of the month of July as National Ice Cream Day.  At the same time, he chose July as National Ice Cream Month.

Now, that’s a celebration I can get behind. Of course, most New Englanders understand the importance of summer in our lives and in what way ice cream plays into it.  Some of us even know the exact date our local ice cream stand will open.  We also mourn the day that it closes for the season.

The International Ice Cream Association (or IICA) is extremely hopeful that we’ll take President Reagan’s proclamation seriously and that we’ll celebrate creating an ice cream demand that will turn more of the nation’s milk production into ice cream. Apparently, nearly 10 percent of this milk is turned into ice cream or so says the IDFA.

My favorite ice cream haunt is family-owned Kimball’s Farm with several locations around Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire.  The dairy farm was established in Westford, MA in 1908.It didn’t become famous for its ice cream (or so their website tells us) until 1939 when the owners turned a simple woodshed at one end of the farmhouse into an ice cream stand.

Kimball’s didn’t become part of my vocabulary until years after that; in the late 1980s my family travelled the 10 or so miles from our home in Central Massachusetts to the main Kimball’s location on Route 110 in Westford.

Dairy farmer Jack Kimball eventually turned the business over to two ambitious sons who have opened three more locations around New England since 1988.

Kimball’s prides itself on selling massive cones of farm-made ice cream in over forty flavors.  The kiddie cone is the smallest of the massive choices.  It’s also, undeniably, the wisest.  It costs over $4, but it’s an amazing huge treat of goodness. I have no idea what the larger cones cost because I simply cannot order one. Lines on a Friday or Saturday night are amazing in Westford as people swat at the mosquitoes and wait for their ice cream fix.

Yankee Magazine has an article in their recent issue that list the 6 best ice cream stands in all of New England. Kimball’s is not mentioned.  Two of the best stands are in Connecticut.  Hmmm, if you do the math, Vermont was left out.  Perhaps the Ben and Jerry’s connection kept Vermont off the list.

Ben and Jerry’s became a phenomenon in 1968 when the two entrepreneurs became selling their ice cream out of a refurbished gasoline station. In 1987, the two businessmen must have had total confidence in both their stores’ successes and their commercial lines of ice cream. In 1987, “Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Cookbook” was published so that ice cream lovers could create those flavors at home.  (In 1994, Fred Lager described their rise to fame in “Ben and Jerry’s: The Inside Scoop.  In 1997, Ben Cohen wrote “Ben and Jerry’s Double Dip” describing their amazing business plan for others.)

Just this past year, “Ice Cream Social: The Struggle for the Soul of Ben and Jerry’s” was written by Brad Edmondson.  In it, he describes the original commitment of the guys who only wanted to make the “world’s best ice cream,” be fair to every person and every animal involved in their mission, and support open minded (sometimes radical) causes. The company eventually was sold to big business, but Edmondson’s book softens that blow by explaining that Ben and Jerry have carried on with at least partof their goal to change the world.

In 2011, Laura Weiss wrote, “Ice Cream: A Global History.”  At one time, ice cream could only be enjoyed by the majestic worldly courts and the very, very rich. Now, of course, ice cream is a national treasure and a New England pasttime. Weiss apparently knows her stuff – and her gelato, granita, and sorbet, too.

There are dozens of excellent ice cream cookbooks in our library and in the Minuteman Library Network.  Some of the latest traditional ice cream recipes are in “Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream” by Molly Moon Neitzel (2012), “Coolhaus Cookbook” by Natasha Case (2014), “Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones” by Kris Hoogerhyde (2012), “The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook” by Susan Whetzel (2012), and “The Humphry Solocombe Ice Cream Book” by Jake Godby (2012).

For the more adventurous (or waist watching cooks), there are at least two terrific books: “Making Artisan Gelato” by Torrance Kopfer, and “Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto” by F.W. Pearce (2010).  An older book, “Gelato!” by Pamela Sheldon Johns (2000) is owned by several libraries in our network.

Sundaes and ice cream sandwiches recipes can be found in “Serendipity Sundaes” by Stephen Bruce (2006), “Ice Cream Sandwiches” by Donna Egan (2013) and “I Scream Sandwich!” by Jennie Schacht (2013).  And, of course, ice cream can be the main ingredient in my favorite Boston Globe food writer’s book, “Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes” by Adam Ried (2009).  Adam contributes his recipes and stories about food to the Boston Globe Magazine several times a month.

Then there are recipes for those who do not eat animal products.  “Vegan Ice Cream” by Jeff Rogers (2014), “Vegan À La Mode” by Hannah Kaminsky (2012), and “Lick It!” by Cathe Olson (2009).  Who would have known that ice cream can be made without eggs, butter or, yes, without cream.

The most interesting cookbooks I found were “Ice Cream Happy Hour” by Valerie Lum (2011) and “Poptails” by Laura Fyfe (2013). You can well imagine these ice cream, slushies and ices with names like Manhattan and Mojito are spiked with lots of fun and imagination.

It’s National Ice Cream Month!  Indulge and visit your favorite New England ice cream stand.  If you’d like to make your own, check out some of these suggestions by calling or visiting the library.

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