A friend’s Facebook post of her daughters holding a big bowl of fresh snow and smiling expectantly reminded me wintry weather isn’t only about driving carefully, shoveling drives, and making snowmen. It’s also about adding milk, sugar, and vanilla to jillions of miniscule crystals to create something that glides across taste buds and slides into memory.
Who forgets the first time their mom or dad watched huge flakes fall, saying, “Hope there will be enough to make snow ice cream.” If deep drifts formed, that parent headed to the cupboard containing mixing bowls and extracted the big one. After that, a voice commanded, “Put on your hats, coats, gloves, and boots. It’s time.”
Once outside, a picky grown-up identified piles of clean snow and demonstrated how to collect a vessel full of pure goodness to carry into the warm kitchen. Just gathering scoops of white intensified the shared experience as a result of silly jokes about putting uncontaminated snow in the bowl. That always triggered laughter in families with pets as they raced their dogs to the deep drifts.
After giggling family members filled their container with heavenly gleanings, they hurried inside, wriggling swiftly out of coats and mittens. Instead of begging to stand outside with tongues extended to catch still falling flakes, children begged to add ingredients that turned frigid molecules into a magical dessert.
For each gallon of snow, the chef poured close to two cups of milk into a little pitcher and stirred in a big tablespoon of vanilla extract. They placed that on the counter while mixing a cup of sugar into the bowl containing those freshly gathered six-sided crystals. Soon after, they added the blend a bit at a time while gently swirling a spoon through the concoction. Some families added flavorings such as chocolate or pureed fruit during this part of the procedure. When the recipe reached a satisfactory consistency, they quit pouring and set the jug back on the counter.
By then, noses and fingers had warmed considerably. Vanilla or other scents teased their way upward until it was time to dip servings into individual dishes and dig into this soon-to-be-a-memory delight. When the clink of spoons hitting bottom changed to silence, the sensation of that cold, sweetness reminded everyone of eating cotton candy. It was on the tongue one moment, and the next it vanished, leaving behind only a pleasant reminder.
Part of snow ice cream’s appeal is its total randomness. Folks can’t predict when there will be enough snow until it has fallen. Then they have to be in the right place at the right time with the right people and right ingredients to create a delicacy that prompts little ones to sing, “Yummy, yummy, yummy.”
It isn’t just icy flavors cruising over hyped-up taste buds that produce this memorable experience. It’s the combination of perfect snowfall, family time, frosty noses, added to insanely short-lived sugary impressions that turn this delectable goody into a lifelong reminiscence. Test the power of this recollection by asking older relatives about their first batch of snow ice cream and watch their faces light up.