Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade Icecream

The sun is shinning through the farm house kitchen window, stretching through the doorway, and casting an orange glow over the brown shag carpeting of the family room. The smell of cake lingers in the air, interrupted every so often with whiffs of lemon scented dusting polish. The lawn mower whizzes by the back windows with a growl, and it’s the only thing I can hear over the loud whirring and grinding of the ice cream maker that is nested in the laundry tub of the mud room.  The house has been cleaned, floors vacuumed, and a small card table for presents is set up in the corner along with a chair for the guest of honor. We are just about ready.

It’s a birthday party.

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins will be here soon and the gathering will begin. It is not as formal as it sounds. The kids will arrive – ranging from seven years older than me to three years younger. The age differences disappear as soon as the car doors slam shut and we all run through the orchard for a game of freeze tag or balance on the porch railing like circus tight rope walkers. I bring out my rock collection (shoe) box and bug jars and my closest cousin and I comb the driveway for new additions.

An adult voice calls out from the house and we all run inside. Presents are opened and passed around, and a friendly wrapping-paper-ball fight ensues. The candles are lit, we sing the song, and the homemade cake in the shape of the birthday girl’s favorite character is cut. I carefully cup the bowl of cake with both hands and stand in line at the laundry tub as Daddy scoops from the now-quiet wooden drum. It starts to melt no sooner than it rolls down the slice of cake and nests in the bottom of the bowl.

This is the taste of summer. This is the taste of a birthday.


Home Made Ice Cream



1 3/4 cups whole cream

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/3 cup plus granulated sugar

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large egg yolks




1. Combine cream, milk, 1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, corn syrup, and salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is steaming steadily and registers 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat.

2. While cream mixture heats, whisk yolks and remaining 1/8 cup sugar in bowl until smooth, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk 1 cup heated cream mixture into egg yolk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and registers 180 degrees, 7 to 14 minutes. Immediately pour custard into large bowl and let cool until no longer steaming, 10 to 20 minutes. Transfer 1 cup custard to small bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Place large bowl in refrigerator and small bowl in freezer and cool completely, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. (Small bowl of custard will freeze solid.)

3. Remove custards from refrigerator and freezer. Dip the bottom of the frozen custard cup into warm water for easy release. Remove frozen custard from small bowl into large bowl of custard. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Stir and cut frozen custard until fully dissolved. Strain custard through fine-mesh strainer and transfer to an already-churning ice-cream machine. Churn until mixture resembles thick soft-serve ice cream and registers about 21 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer ice cream to glass bowl or dish (I use a pyrex bowl with tight fitting lid) and press plastic wrap on surface to prevent ‘skin’ from forming. Return to freezer until firm 3 hours.

(Ice cream can be stored for up to 5 days.)




Oven Fried Chicken & Gravy

Smoke Alarm Chicke and Good Gravy

I don’t have a lot of girl friends. In high school I found the ‘mean girls’ to be just that, and I separated myself from the drama. That meant I had a lot of guy friends. The cafeteria  lunch table was me and three (sometimes more) boys who had a blast. There was minimal drama. No gossip, and no underlying comparisons to fashion, hair or makeup.

Since then I have gained a few girl friends along the way and they all meet my requirements of no-nonsense and minimal drama.

Then there is Vintage Thread. She is not only no nonsense and no drama, but this woman has the patience of a Saint. We have a lot in common, and yet we are so different.

She can sew an entire wardrobe for a whole theater production. I give her my skirts that need new buttons.

She is soft spoken. I am a loud mouth.

She is tall and thin. I am petite and jiggly.

She works for a call center for a company’s customer service. I would get fired for telling people to get lost.

But somehow our friendship works.

Nearly every Sunday we have dinner with her family. It has become somewhat of a tradition, and Vintage Thread and I rotate the cooking duties and attempt to turn out favorites from our well-loved family cook books.

This is one of the dishes she would frequently ask for as a child – sometimes on her birthday. Since today IS her birthday it is only right that you eat fried chicken, too.

Birthday Cake


Oven-fried Chicken & Good Gravy (Gluten Free)

2 1/2 to 3 Pounds Chicken Pieces
1 1/2 Tablespoon Shortening
1 1/2 Tablespoon Butter
1/2 Cup Corn Starch
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning

Chicken Preparation:
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees
• Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry
• Put Shortening and Butter on rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven until melted.
• Combine Salt, Paprika, Pepper and Poultry seasoning in a small dish.
• Sprinkle seasoning mixture over all sides of chicken and let the meat rest for five minutes.
• Put corn starch in a one gallon zip lock bag. Place all chicken pieces in bag and shake around until each piece is thoroughly coated. (Reserve the bag of extra coating for later use)
• Remove heated pan from oven and place chicken pieces in rows about one inch apart.
• Bake for one hour*, turning the chicken over half-way through.

Gravy Preparation:

Vintage Thread’s Method
• Remove chicken from pan and set aside, keeping it warm under a foil tent. Pour off three quarters of the grease, then place the pan on the stove top over medium/high heat. Pour a cup of water on the pan and work the chicken bits off of the bottom. Add two tablespoons of the coating reserved earlier. Whisk until few lumps remain and bring gravy to a bubble. You may need to add more water.  Adjust with salt and pepper.

My Method
• Remove chicken from pan and set aside, keeping it warm under a foil tent. Pour off three quarters of the grease, then place the pan on the stove top over medium/high heat. Pour a cup of boiling hot water on the pan and work the chicken bits off of the bottom. Scrape the entire contents of the pan into a food processor. Add two tablespoons of the coating reserved earlier. Give the food processor about five pulses, or run until the gravy is the texture you desire.  Adjust with salt and pepper.

* Smaller pieces of chicken may only need 45 minutes of cooking time. Pull these from the pan and keep warm under a foil tent until the larger pieces are finished.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable.