But, at least for Pa-pa and me, the severity of Old Man Winter's bite has been tempered by a fire in the fireplace, a pot of soup on the stove--and numerous batches of snow ice cream. It has been several years since we have had snow like this, I reasoned, so why not put this ample supply of white stuff to good use?
I will be the first to admit that I was out of practice, and there are so many suggestions on the internet that a person hardly knows which one to begin with. But after considerable ingredient-tinkering and by-guess-and-by-gollying, I have arrived at a recipe that I consider simple, economical, low-calorie, and, of course, yummylicious.
Basically, you need a large bowl containing about four cups of loose, clean, fresh snow. Stir into that a scant 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 to one teaspoon of vanilla to fit your taste. Period. Eat and be amazed.
Variations of the recipe will suggest using half and half or sweetened condensed milk, but if you are like me, you are less likely to have these on hand than plain old milk. Milk works just fine.
Once you master the basics, you can get creative if you want. For instance, here is the basic recipe dressed in its "sundae" clothes--in this case, caramel syrup and a maraschino cherry:
Or, if you are a chocoholic like me, you might prefer to make your whole recipe chocolate by adding the desired amount of chocolate syrup to the milk before adding the milk to the bowl:
Whether you prefer to stay basic or branch out to one of the variations, you will have yourself a delicious snack or dessert that is cheap, quick, easy, and calorie-friendly. The basic recipe above makes enough for four small bowls (62.5 calories per serving), three medium bowls (83 calories per serving), or two big bowls (125 calories per serving).
Disclaimer: These figures are based on 1/2 cup 2% milk at 60 calories and 190 calories for 1/4 cup sugar. But caveat eater here--remember that I am a word person, and math has never been my strong suit.
In closing, let me suggest just a couple things I learned in my snow ice cream test kitchen this past week:
- Don't make the ice cream until you are ready to eat it. It won't last long, and it doesn't freeze well. The mixing takes under five minutes, start to finish. Work quickly.
- If you can, set the bowl out and let the snow fall into it. This insures that your snow will be clean, and you won't take the chance of dipping down into dirt or other debris and compacting the snow in the process.
- Add the sugar to the snow first, and maybe use a fork for this to preserve what fluffiness you can. Then stir the liquids in with a big spoon that you can also use for dipping.
- Don't use snow from a wintery mix. Sleet makes the consistency too icy to get a good blend of your ingredients and a smooth texture.
I can't help thinking that lyricist Dick Smith, who penned the words to the song "Winter Wonderland" eighty-some years ago, must have known something about snow ice cream. If you get a chance to try it, you will agree that it is truly a winter wonder.