Sweet memories of childhood include summer fun and frozen desserts from the ice cream man!
Originally published in the Greenwood Daily Journal: Spice of Life column on June 11, 2011
One of my first sweet memories of summer growing up in Bloomington was the ice cream man. The one that prowled the streets of my neighborhood when I was small had a tinny sounding little bell and faded stickers showing the frozen treats that he had in stock. This well-traveled vehicle had once been an Indiana Bell service van and on a particularly bright day, you could still see the decal under the peeling white paint.
It was so exciting to hear the clang of that little bell from far away, scramble inside to beg a handful of change from my mother and race, probably barefoot, to the end of the road and wait for him to pass by. There was no rhyme or reason to his arrival time every day. Sometimes it was after breakfast, other days it was during dinner time. But part of the thrill was trying to scrape together the change and get out there before he passed our house. It got to be where I would keep a few coins outside near my bike everyday just so I could beat my brother and sister to the head of the line.
I almost always ordered the Bomb Pop or the Ice Cream Sandwich. Sometimes if I was really being daring I would get a Push-up Pop or a Grape Slushy. To this day I think of those summers as a child and I instantly crave one of those frozen treats. Most of my summer days were spent reading, playing outside or trying to master riding a bike with no hands. The biggest challenges that I faced then were wear flip flops or tennis shoes, read Nancy Drew or Christopher Pike.
Nowadays, the ice cream man seems to have streamlined his gig a little. Gone is the bell and in its place is a recorded song that plays in a loop. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that sound, all I can think of is that I hope no one stops him so I won’t have to endure much more of that awful song. It seems like now he or she makes their appearance too early in the morning to want a sweet frozen treat, or when you are trying to get your kids down for a nap.
Where I live now I am out in the country a little. I am relieved that we don’t receive the daily visit from the ice cream man. I think it is because, like so many things, this is one aspect of my childhood that I really miss the most. The care-free days that stretched on forever. Running barefoot through the grass making it just in time before he rounded the corner and was past the point I was allowed to go by myself. It has all changed now and it just isn’t the same so I want to preserve these memories in my mind as they are.
So when I want to re-create one of the sweet memories of my youth, I feel the need to put an “adult” spin on it.
Yes, I could just go to the store and buy a box of ice cream sandwiches, but where is the fun in that?
One of the hard things about cutting back on sweets is that I am constantly thinking about what I cannot have! I mean, sometimes I have dessert on the brain for hours. Not helpful while on the treadmill like a hamster on a wheel. But, what I do try to have from time to time is what my kids like to call “fruit slushies”. My version is a departure from the kind you get in a paper cone at the county fair and much tastier.
Last Saturday, I bought 4 pints of beautiful strawberries at the Greenwood farmer’s market and when I got home, I noticed that I picked particularly ripe ones. Sensing they were at their peak I got out the blender and got to work, making fresh strawberry granita.
Give yourself a few hours to let this freeze before you can have it. Different freezers vary but this took me 2 hours. This is a quick and easy treat for a warm summer night. I also make this with mixed berries, watermelon and mint, peaches, mangoes….. use whatever is in season and looks good at the market or grocery. So many possibilities!
1 C HOT water
3/4 C sugar
2 TB lemon juice
3 C washed & sliced strawberries
Add strawberries to a blender and pulse a few times. Add the hot water to the sugar and juice in a small bowl, stir until dissolved (thus making a simple syrup).
Add the sugar water to the strawberries and puree until smooth and combined.Add the mixture to a 13x9x2 inch non-stick pan, cover with plastic and freeze. Every 30 minutes or so make sure to scrape around from the sides to the middle with a fork.
Put the scraped strawberry slush in an airtight container. Enjoy!!