A Family Tradition Resurrected

When I was young the family owned a commercial fishing boat in Southeastern Alaska. Fishing is seasonal and when the salmon are running you’d best be out working if you expect to catch any. With a livelihood so dependent on the fish schools and weather we didn’t take many days off in the summer. But each year on the Fourth of July we would knock off early to celebrate Independence Day.

Where we were and who we were with always varied but one constant was that we would make homemade ice cream. We stored caught fish in a hold covered with ice so the key ingredient of crushed ice was always plentiful. The ice cream maker was hand crank and took long enough to freeze that everyone got a turn, starting with the smallest person and finishing with the strong men as the ice cream got to its final stages. This personal involvement made it taste oh so much better than anything store bought. It was the best.

Fast forward to today. We still celebrate Independence Day with family and friends but over the years we had gotten away from making ice cream. Two kids with lactose intolerance put a damper on the effort needed especially since they couldn’t enjoy the fruits of their labor. Still I’ve continued to have a yearning for the homemade treat. So when I ran across a recipe for coconut pineapple ice cream, made without regular milk I mentioned it to Mom. To my surprise they still had the old ice cream maker and a tradition resurrected.

This ice cream maker is well over 40 years old.

This ice cream maker is well over 40 years old.

The recipe we used came from Pineapple Coconut Ice Cream but we adapted it for our family. It can work for your vegetarian/vegan friends too. Mom had told me that her old recipe called for sweetened condensed milk and we were curious about how this would be replaced until a little research showed us that the Cream of Coconut was not ‘coconut cream’ but a mix used often for Pina Coladas and was a thick syrupy sweet delight with a lot of potential for dairy free holiday treats. I found the Cream of coconut in with mixers in the alcohol aisle. If you buy coconut cream in the ethnic aisle it may be a completely different product more like butter or just fat and without sugar.

1 can Cream of Coconut or use just under 2 cups¾ cup canned Crushed Pineapple drained plus
2 Tablespoons Pineapple Juice
1 1/2 cup Coconut Milk (I use coconut/almond milk)
1 cup Coconut Flakes

This recipe was just right in our 2.5 quart maker. We tried it first with a half recipe and it was fine I think you could easily double it for a larger maker.

You will also need crushed ice and rock salt. Table salt will not work. Bigger cubes of ice will work but are not as easy to handle.  If you are using an ice cream maker, either electric or hand crank I recommend doing it outside because there is bound to be salt water spilled.july 4th 011

 

As far as the recipe goes, mix the ingredients together, best if you can do it ahead of time and then store in the refrigerator until ready to make. According to my folks, a chilled mix is best. We made ours early in the afternoon and then once it was as stiff as we could turn it we transferred the deliciousness to containers and put the freezer until we were ready. Back in the old days we would mix as much as we could then cover with additional ice and a blanket and just let it freeze harder in the mixer.100_3139 100_3142

Just like in years gone by everyone was enlisted to help including the kids and grandparents. Matthew had to be convinced that he should crank longer than 30 seconds but with Grandma’s help he got in his fair share of turns. july 4th 013 100_3150

This ice cream was so easy and so delicious that we will be making it again for our Labor Day festivities. We are excited to add this fun tradition back to our summer holidays. It is guaranteed to add good memories.  If you want to give it a try let me know what you think. And if you use a hand crank mixer be sure to send me a picture!

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Are You Accommodating?

Recently we traveled to Southern California. No matter when you visit the San Diego area it’s beautiful but especially in summer and especially for us “Zonies.” It’s a welcome respite when the temperatures climb over three digits as evidenced by the high number of Arizona license plates seen on their freeways.

So there we were with a free afternoon and we decided to visit the Cabrillo National Monument. Regular readers may remember the excitement Matthew gets when he can stamp his National Park Passport (I know, I should have realized this years ago and he could have filled his book by now.)

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to step onto the West Coast of the United States back in 1542.

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to step onto the West Coast of the United States back in 1542.

Anyway, off we went to see the monument, watch the navy ships entering the bay and to enjoy the beautiful weather. Oh yes, and Matthew had his passport book.

When we arrived the headquarters to the park was being renovated, retrofitted, to be more earthquake strong. The main visitor’s center was closed but signs directed us to its temporary housing. Right in front of the entrance, was a display case that caught Matthew’s eye. There was a prominent arrangement featuring a junior ranger badge and its accompanying paperwork.

I was somewhat familiar with the Junior Ranger program. It’s for kids who are given an informational paper with questions to be answered as they visit the park. The last time we looked at it was when Rebecca was young and Matthew could sponge his answers off sister to earn a badge.

But it caught his eye so I walked in ahead of the boys and explained my predicament, asking if I might buy a badge for Matthew. There were two people working at the desk. The younger girl just looked at me as if I had a second head while the older man stated quickly that the badges must be earned and no one could simply buy one. So I explained that Matthew does not talk and cannot write but that he really, really liked badges and rangers. The man paused a moment and then said, “Well, why don’t you do the project with your son? It would be a good learning experience for you both AND when you complete the questionnaire you can both pledge to be good rangers.”

Thank you Mr. Ranger!

Thank you for understanding Matthew’s desire and not being stuck in a regulations rut that wouldn’t allow for accommodations.

Off we went; to see the monument, the lighthouse, and to learn about Point Loma.

Raise your right hand and swear...

Raise your right hand and swear…

The questions were harder than I expected…and at one point we had to send Bob back to find an answer but we persevered and we succeeded.

Admiring his new badge.

Admiring his new badge.

The result: as you can see, Matthew took the swearing in ceremony very seriously.

Junior Ranger Matthew with his Cabrillo National Monument certificate and badge.

Junior Ranger Matthew with his Cabrillo National Monument certificate and badge.

After you visit the monument be sure to drive down to the shore and spend a few minutes looking through the tide pools while you watch the ever changing ocean waves and then through the beautiful and humbling Ft Rosecrans National Cemetery which reminds us how many brave warriors died that we might enjoy living in this great country.

 

Junior Ranger Matthew with his Cabrillo National Monument certificate and badge.100_2974

But back to my point… I know that for everyone reading today’s story it’s like preaching to the choir. You already know Matthew and people like him who might need a little extra effort to accomplish their goals. You already understand how important it is to be accommodating. And for all your understanding and willingness to spend those additional minutes we thank you.