“But the great ingredient was the stirred-in joy”

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the middle of the current hot and muggy hug of summertime, I found this passage especially appealing: 

“The first big snow meant snowflake ice cream. It was made, if possible, while the snow was falling or very soon after. It must be a big snow, several inches deep, to avoid scraping into dirt. It should be a well-frozen snow, and fine, not the soft, wet kind. Snow gatherers would hunt for a drift, scrape off the top surface, then scoop a bucketload of glistening particles. 

In the kitchen all would be ready. A custard had been made using a quart of milk, two eggs, one cup of sugar, a pinch of salt and vanilla flavoring. After cooking this was let come to room temperature. Snow was dipped into a big bowl and the custard poured in slowly, a second helper stirring vigorously. More snow, more stirring. As the mixture thickened it chilled and began freezing. When no more snow could be beaten into the mass, snowflake ice cream was served. One of my happiest memories of snowbound afternoons is “Mother and me” lapping into a bowl with big spoons. This nectar had to be eaten in a hurry. “Tastes good,” I’d say. “Of course,” she’d answer. “Tastes like mittens and vanilla.” But the great ingredient was the stirred-in joy. 

Therein lies the secret of my mother’s cooking. Every last dish seasoned well with love. She knew that eating was more than just filling hollow legs, just as environment is more than a place. This is one of the things she tried to teach her daughter. Cooking should never be made a chore.” 

-excerpt from A Flower for My Mother by Clementine Paddleford included in American Food Writing: An Anthology with Classic Recipes, edited by Molly O’Neill 

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