As the 4th of July holiday approaches I fondly remember holiday celebrations from my childhood. More often than not we were traveling over the 4th of July because that was the one week out of the year the mills or plants closed and everyone went on vacation. I have many stories of those interminable road trips and will share some of those with you in the future. I have an uncle who could drive with his eyes closed. Not very well, but he did drive that way! However today, I wanted to tell you about celebrating the 4th of July Dark Corner style!
In the South, the 4th of July takes place in the heat and humidity of the summer. We cooked hot dogs and hamburgers, made ice cream and ate watermelon outside because frankly it was too darn hot to be in the house! But thinking back the food was always delicious. Items like potato salad, deviled eggs and coleslaw rounded out the menu. Add a homemade pie to the meal and it was simply perfection.
Cooking hotdogs and hamburgers and slicing a watermelon is pretty straightforward. The ice cream, well that is a different story. Did you ever sit on an ice cream churn while your sibling or cousin turned the handle? Well if not, I can tell you by the time the ice cream was churned and ready to eat it was the most heavenly tasting ice cream in the world! Why? Because you worked up an appetite just getting it ready!
The ice cream started as a mixture of milk, cream, sugar and vanilla extract. If we were lucky we had some fresh peaches on hand to add to mixture. Now back to how we churned the ice cream. Basically, the old ice cream churns were wooden buckets with a metal insert container that housed a paddle (dasher) attached to the actual churn or turning mechanism. To make the ice cream, ice was placed in the wooden bucket and the metal container with churn device then placed in the ice. The ice was salted down and replenished on a regular basis while we kids took turns turning the paddle via a handle on the side of the churn. Another child sat on top of the churn and I am not sure the purpose of sitting on the churn but our parents always had us do it to keep the churn in position. (In reflection, I think the sitting task was a ruse to keep us busy and not continually asking when the ice cream was going to be ready). Then all the kids took turns sharing the handle turning and sitting details. And we waited and waited. Hours and hours later the handle became hard to turn and presto we had homemade ice cream!
As you head out for the holiday or stay in this weekend, enjoy your time and have some ice cream! Please be safe if you travel. Remember the reason for the holiday and spend it the way you wish which is exactly what our forefathers intended. See you next time when we talk about bonnets. Yes, for real and yes, begrudgingly I wore one. So come back next week and be sure to bring a cup of Dark Corner Coffee with you!