Sunday, July 8, 2007


This last week Papa Juju, Mim (Avram's grandparents), Glenn & Yvonne (His Uncle and Aunt), and Amy their daughter came to visit for the Fourth of July. Like all large extended family visits, this last week passed with much noise, conversation, large dinners with a plethora of food, and of course the obligatory grillings and fireworks. Although Lydia was unnerved by all of the new people at first, she really warmed up by the end, and on the last night they were here even let Papa Juju kiss her on the forehead, an action previously cried at (I figure it was his beard that did her in).

Luke borrowed a Wii for the week, and so we all spent way too much time playing small party games on it, like Bowling or Golf. Now, I am the queen of two left feet, and even in video games have always shown no athletic talent, but I golfed par every time I played, including the hole that included crossing a river twice with 30 miles per hour winds (who would golf in real life in conditions like that?), or a hole where the fairway followed a narrow peninsula/cliff onto a small island/peninsula, again with comparative mph winds. I've decided that in honor of this achievement, I need to buy and wear a pair of plaid pants, to show I've joined the legions of rich, tacky middle-aged business men. (note; I wonder if real golf courses have holes like these, and if so if they let people drive golf carts on them, because it would be enough of an off-roading experience alone, and no golf would actually be necessary to complete the workout or rush of near death from peering over the sides of cliffs. )

I digress. This post is actually about ice-cream.

When we were kids, Don would usually make ice-cream for the Fourth of July, and we'd hand turn it with the crank in the old, orange, plastic ice cream maker only used once a year, for this very occasion. When I think of the Fourth, these memories of Ice Cream are what sticks out the most; that and Neal's pyro-technic love of the fireworks. So I suggested making homemade ice-cream, and Juju and Mim brought an electric ice-cream maker, which took all the work out of it. I would like to say that I'm a traditionalist, and this upset me, but really it was nice to have something else turning the crank that didn't complain, or tire quickly, or want to trade it off to you after only a few minutes. (I of course, was probably the one who would complain). There are many, many wild blackberry bushes that grow all over the place here, truly as weeds, so I chose blackberry ice-cream.

The afternoon of the fourth found Avram, Uncle Glenn, Luke (Avram's brother) and I roaming through the woods, blackberry picking. Keeping in mind my recent escapade with poison ivy, I tried very carefully to only touch the blackberry plants, which plants I believe made up the briers that surrounded Sleeping Beauty's castle, because they have so many small, biting thorns. I decided that blackberrying was worth poison ivy, at least in theory, and since I'm still covered with over 70 small red dots from my last experience, a few more wouldn't hurt. I liked blackberrying; besides the fact this practice is mentioned in the Canterbury tales by the Pardoner ( I believe) making me feel that this is a traditional activity, it also makes me feel like Mary and Laura, gathering wild fruit to dry and save for winter.

Last summer I actually tried to gather wild fruit and save it for winter; wild plums, just like what Laura gathered on the banks of plum creek. BYU has many wild plum trees along its canal by Botany Pond, and so I gathered friends together, namely Michele and RoseE, and we picked many plums on another sunny, Summer day. Wild plums are very small; about the size of a cherry, but they cling to their pits in a way cherries don't. So my next task was to pry the stones out of all of the plums. I gave up after a bowlful as more of the flesh of the plums had become smeared all over my hands and knife than remained with the stoneless plums themselves. I took these small bits of fruit flesh, and next thought of ways to dry them. In the book, Ma sets the plums on sheets in the sun, covered by another sheet to keep the birds out. This seems to be the ideal, natural way of doing things, but as I was living in Wymount, I was sadly lacking any sort of private place to put my plums, without both my neighbors and the grounds crew at Wymount either wondering what was wrong with their neighbor/tenant, or just laughing at me. Maybe they would think they were an eyesore.

Next I considered the car; the recreation cookbook for the Little House books that I owned said that a car can be a great place to dry fruit, because the interior temperatures rise so high. I actually tried that option, but then Avram nixed it because the car began to stink of warm plums, and he hates plums. Finally I ended up putting my poor, beleaguered plums in our oven at 200 degrees. Upon inspection after a long period of time (overnight, if I remember correctly), they were mostly dry, like prunes, I suppose, except the already small clumps of plummyness were now positively minuscule. Also, one of the dishes I dried them in had oxidized with the plums, and so now had permanent circular discolorations on its bright, shiny metal.

I put the very small bag of prunes in the fridge, where they sat for the next nine months. I was pretty sure they were edible and good, but not sure enough to actually eat them, and so finally in preparing to move, I threw the whole bag of my wasted efforts away. Thus we have Thora's history of attempting to be like Laura Ingalls.

Luckily I wasn't planning to dry the blackberries, as I'm sure some sad fate would occur to them as well. Instead we picked and picked, and took our small offerings back to the kitchen to become ice cream. It hasn't rained very much this year here in Virginia, and so the blackberry bushes were pretty sparse compared to normal. We didn't need too many blackberries for our dessert, though. We mixed up the custard, composed of fat (light cream), fat and protein (egg yolks) mixed with sugar (sugar), and then cooled, and mixed with more fat (heavy cream). Then we beat up the custard in the maker, and finally added more sugar (blackberries). The ice cream turned out wonderfully, everyone loved it, and since it was so rich nobody could eat very much, which was a good thing, considering that we had only made about six cups worth.

The next day we made the same, once more with feeling, except this time with cherries, milk instead of light cream, and xylitol instead of sugar, for the diabetics of the family. This ice-cream also turned out excellently. Lydia this time showed a great interest in the ice-cream machine, and stood there by it on the front porch almost the whole time it mixed up. She helped her Grandpa put more ice in it, and when we weren't putting ice in it, she would walk over to the cooler holding the ice and grunt and point to the chest until we pulled off the lid, and she could get more ice to carry over and drop in the bucket. All in all, an ice-cream success.


  1. Fun. So the tradition continues. I'm not altogether certain we still have our ice cream maker. I don't know if we can still buy the crack kind. Too bad how physical labor goes out of style. Oh well, maybe we'll have to succumb (I had to spell that word three times to get it right) and buy an electric one.

  2. Congratulations! My own childhood memories of ice-cream making come from my next-door neighbors, who used to make apricot ice-cream every summer, as a way to use up all the apricots from their tree. I loved it, and vowed to teach my own children to make home-made ice-cream someday. I'm so glad to know the tradition lives on!

  3. Boy, I used to love picking blackberries when I was young! When we first moved to Virginia the bushes were everywhere, and we would just walk around eating as much as we wanted. We never thought of making ice cream out of it though. I rather wish I could have been there to taste some. We missed you guys.

  4. Bork!
    Hey we did that too on the 4th.
    Only we made a sauce out of frozen raspberries on the grill in a pan. It was so good!!! the berries taseted like the inside of a pie and the Ice cream was so very creamy. We made the custard on the stove though because it had egg in it. I don't think that you can have the 4th without grilled corn on the cob (which we also had :D)
    and homemade Ice cream.
    Love you lots

  5. Your post cracked me up because of a recent qands movement led by Heidi to go wild plum picking. If only you were here to warn them against it!

  6. Actually on the Golf note
    In Cortelain Idaho they have a floating hole in their golf course it is in the middle of a pond and once you get your ball onto it you take a small canoe to it and put into the hole.

    Hope all is doing well

    sorry its misspelled its couredulane or something like that

  8. Travis! I'm so glad you found/have my blog. How are you and Heather? I actually used to live in Coeur d' Alene (I still think that's misspelled).
    Mary-I'm glad you kept up the family tradition as well; we also cooked the custard on the stove; that's why it had to cool before we added that last of the cream.
    Samuel-It would have been great to have you and Aleatha there. Maybe next summer you both can come out and visit while Avram and I are here (July and August).

  9. Thora after a few years of this blogg you should just print it all up and publish it as a book! i love your writing. I love how all the things you do are just a great adventure.. I think you could turn anything into a lovely adventure.

    And I have NO memory of this ice cream machine... where was I??? Did this not get bought till I was in pagant? cause after my pageant summers was the summer in texas, then summers of mark and dating on the fourth. Hmmm i feel so left out of this run family memory. Oh well.. funny thing is Cory's family has an ice cream maker and they make strawberry ice cream on the fourth. Its supper yummy and a little tart which I love.