I don’t necessarily think of myself as deeply Southern – although I have worn a hoop skirt, eaten fried okra and black-eyed peas and all manner of greens, and have a decided fondness for seersucker and monograms – but this time of year, I always remember my very Southern “leaving for college” party.
Hosted by my beloved late Aunt Libby, the party was held Uptown in mid-August in her banana-tree-shaded backyard, and everyone was shiny with sweat and fanning themselves with copies of my graduation picture she’d had printed on cardstock. She served her famous ambrosia, and everyone floated around laughing and glistening and drinking champagne, and near the end of the night, we all took a turn churning homemade banana-rum ice cream by her back steps with an old-fashioned ice cream maker packed all around with ice and rock salt.
I haven’t made ice cream in years – I worked at Baskin Robbins all through college, so I never needed to back then, and since then, it’s always just been too easy to grab a pint of Cherry Garcia or Vanilla Swiss Almond at the pharmacy or grocery store whenever I needed a fix.
But now … well, now, it doesn’t seem worth the risk to go to a pharmacy or a store without a really good reason, and we have nothing but time on our hands, so why not? My husband got an ice cream maker for Father’s Day– the newer kind, with a base you put in the freezer, which is great unless your freezer is already crammed full of pandemic staples like lasagna, chicken chili, 25 chicken breasts from Costco, pork loins, green onion sausage for red beans, frozen berries, and everything else you need for the apocalypse provided the apocalypse doesn’t also bring a hurricane that knocks out power for days.
Anyway, we managed to clear enough room to wedge it in there, and ever since, we’ve been enjoying all manner of frozen goodness.
We started with a simple chocolate while Ruby was out of town (she hates chocolate for some unknown reason, and I couldn’t tolerate it either when I was pregnant with her), and once she got back, we made a batch of her favorite, coffee. My husband has been clamoring for some traditional vanilla custard, so I’ll probably make that this week, along with some homemade hot fudge sauce for those sensible ones in the family who love chocolate.
I’ve been brainstorming other ideas: caramel ice cream with snickerdoodles folded in at the end, bourbon-peach ice cream, ginger-lemon sorbet, red wine-chocolate chip, toasted almond with a fudge swirl …
But probably, later this month, as we prepare to have our own (small, socially distanced) sendoff for my stepson, who’s headed to LSU, I’ll have to whip up some banana-rum from Aunt Libby’s recipe book.
It won’t be hand-churned, but it will still taste just like a family tradition.