Summer Picnics and Ice Cream

I am sharing this with This Week’s Cravings, Haute Mom, Homestead Simple, Mom’s Best Nest , Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner (Mommie Again co-host) and Growing Home this week.  Ice cream is the perfect topic for right now.

Every summer for at least 18 years my family went to Kansas for a two week vacation to visit our Kansas family.  My grandmother’s houses were 1 block apart in the little town.  As children, we walked between the two houses, went to town to the 5 & 10₵ store and drug store and felt the security of a small town and family everywhere we went. Now we weren’t coming from a large city by any means, but in this little Kansas farming community everybody knew us and our parents.

My mom and dad would pack up the car and we made a 500 mile trip to Kansas every summer. I have a brother and two sisters.   We had cousins, aunts, uncles, and their families to see and exclaim how everyone had grown or changed over the past year.  The things that didn’t change were the family, meals at the grandmothers’ houses, the little town, sodas at the fountain at the drug store counter, taking pictures of my family as we prepared to leave for home with my grandmother’s Brownie box camera, making homemade ice cream with chipped ice and rock salt from the ice house and a picnic at the state lake.

The ice house actually supplied ice for people who had ice boxes, not electric refrigerators. I think the rock salt came from there too.  My grandmother would prepare the custard for the ice cream the night before so it would be cold.  The next day my mom and Aunt Betty would finish the mix for the ice cream and get it set up in the ice cream freezer.  The 7 grandchildren got 100 turns each (from the youngest to the oldest).  I guess momma and Aunt Betty finished it up.  It was then packed and left to “ripen” on the back porch until we took it on the picnic that evening.

Somehow chicken got fried, bread and butter sandwiches were made, macaroni salad, sweet pickles, chips and hot dogs and buns were packed up in the picnic baskets and we made the mandatory trip to Meade State Lake.  We always went to the same spot where a well that fed the lake was located.  It was the coldest water I had ever felt and came out of this giant pipe with great force.  Getting wet was the highlight of the picnic for me.  My dad and uncle had to start a fire to roast the hot dogs and later in the evening marshmallows on wooden sticks.  We ate the meal and loved every bite.   Last of all was the ice cream.  This was the richest and coldest ice cream you would ever eat.  Most times she served it with a German Chocolate cake.  We all raved about it and hopefully she felt appreciated for all her hard work.

My grandmother must have worked very hard preparing all of that food.  I can appreciate that work now.  Back then I assumed it was as easy as eating it or churning ice cream for 100 turns to prepare that food after working all day at the post office.

The recipe for a small electric ice cream maker can be made by cutting the ingredients in half.  This is the original high-fat, high sugar recipe. (The really good one.)

Vanilla Ice Cream

  • 6 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 tablespoons vanilla
  • ½ pint heavy cream
  • ½ cup water
  • Whole milk (enough to fill the container)


Heat the 2 cups milk and water until scalded (bubbles form around the edges of the pan.)  Meanwhile beat the eggs, salt and 1 cup of the sugar until light in color and thick.  Add this to the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened.    Refrigerate and cool overnight in a covered container.

When ready to freeze, pour the custard, 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and ½- pint heavy cream into a well washed ice cream freezer container with enough milk to bring the container to a full level.

In my day it took 7 grandchildren 100 turns each and 2 moms to finish it up. (You get the  idea we didn’t use anything electric.)   It was packed (after we got to lick the churn paddle) in layers of more rock salt and ice and set in a dishpan and covered with newspaper and a heavy rug to “ripen” until it was time to serve.  This is my memory.

Today I would use my small electric ice cream maker that would not freeze it as hard as the rock salt and ice.  But for the record this is my memory of this recipe that a hot July day conjures up.  Enjoy.


As you can see, picnics hold dear memories for me.  So, I was really excited to review Picnic World.  The variety of baskets and accessories offered was impressive.  More than I could think of, that’s for sure.  I liked the very old fashioned looking Picnic Plus Liberty Basket.  It reminds me of Dorothy’s basket in the Wizard of Oz.  I imagine my daughter would like one of the wine bags that is available there.  They had baskets that come equipped with accessories.  All you have to add is food and location.  As you have heard me say it gets HOT here in West Texas so the lined ones are a great idea for keeping salads and drinks cold.  They have a collection of wheeled coolers as well.

The site is laid out well and makes it quick and easy to find the right size.  The products ship quickly, some for FREE, and are guaranteed.  They have a Picnic Cooking Blog foodie friends and offer great tips and suggestions for planning your picnic.

If you are shopping for picnic baskets for your upcoming Labor Day festivities or want a great gift for families, I recommend that you take a look.  They also do corporate gifts, which is a great idea.  That would be much better than the traditional fruit basket.

Pinboard of the Week: Rays of Sunshine

5 thoughts on “Summer Picnics and Ice Cream

  1. I loved reading this. I am a Kansas girl, and that picnic food and ice cream recipe sound so familiar. Fried chicken, bread and butter sandwiches, and the custard ice cream, because there was always plenty of cream and eggs on the farm.

  2. Oh, Tumbleweed Contessa has taken ice cream to so many different levels. Fruity, minty, fried – yep – fried! Oh, I need a good fried ice cream!

  3. Ahhhh the memories!!!! Suddenly I was back at the lake and having fun!!! I am thrilled to see this recipe, I didn’t have that one- thanx. Do you remember the time the ice cream wouldn’t freeze, because I was churning it “backwards with my left hand”??? (Is that even possible, or was your Dad just pulling my leg) Luvin’ your blogs!

    • Don’t you know our moms were in a mild panic because that ice cream wouldn’t freeze. You “lefties” have to hang together. My Krista is a lefty too! Those times are still special to me.

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