National Dessert Day is October 14! Did you know that our English word “dessert” comes from the French desservir which means to remove what has been served. Makes sense, right!?! Dessert is served after the main course unless you live by the axiom, Life is short, eat dessert first! Read all about the origins of the word dessert here.
BoomerTECH Adventures guides Ed, Jill, and Chris share their favorites desserts below.
Homemade Ice Cream and Our Family
I can’t remember a time when the Brazee family did not make homemade ice cream. It was always a regular part of every family get together, especially Sunday dinners. My grandmother would make the cooked custard (see recipe attached) the day before, allowing it to cool properly and then be refrigerated before the next day’s freezing.
You can see from the ingredients that this is not a low-fat or low-calorie option and for that I am always grateful! It was a huge treat no matter how often we made it. Please don’t ask about what flavors we made. This was real homemade ice cream and although technically it was vanilla with a taste of lemon, we never even thought about making other flavors. Same for toppings. Nix to any toppings!
My grandfather would take us (his grandchildren) out to the backyard where we would learn to mix the right ratio of salt to melt the ice to freeze the ice cream. In those “old days” we would even have to chop up a big block of ice. Today, of course, we just run to the local store for two bags of ice.
The main part of the freezing process was the cranking, taking turns keeping the paddle (freezer dasher) moving to churn the ice cream. We all took turns until the ice cream was so thick that it wouldn’t turn anymore. Then the best part for the grandchildren was taking the container inside, pulling the paddle and letting all of us have a taste as the ice cream dripped off the paddle. What an amazing taste.
Yes, we do have several electric freezers now and they work fine but I still love the old crank freezer because working for such a treat should be part of the process.
This summer I made homemade ice cream for the first time in a number of years and it was the best time with several grandchildren eagerly helping me with all parts of the process. Especially the eating part. We are passing along a cherished family tradition to the next generation and I couldn’t be happier about that.
Grandma Brazee’s Homemade Ice Cream
- Beat 4-6 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 ½ tablespoons of flour
- Dash of salt
Mix and add one quart scalded milk until spoon is coated and mixture thickens.
When cool add…
• one pint half & half
• one pint whipping cream
• two cups sugar
• dash of salt
• one large spoon of lemon extract
• one large spoon of vanilla extract
Fill freezer container and top off with milk to about one inch from top.
Freeze in hand-crank freezer
Ice Cream Cone Delight
The Spencer family were not big dessert eaters. I didn’t learn to bake cookies at my grandmother’s side or roll out a pie crust with my mother. I did, however, learn to make cabbage salad with my dad. Before you think my sister and I had a deprived childhood, I have to tell you that our delightful dessert of choice was the humble ice cream cone.
When we lived in the Pittsburgh area, my sister and I would start wheedling with our dad to go for an ice cream cone after supper at least once a week during the summer. I was always hopeful that it would be followed by a pony ride. When successful, we would jump in the car to drive to a little enclave called Sunset whose main drag was home to a Thorofare grocery store, a tavern, and a drugstore that served ice cream cones. Chocolate, vanilla, orange sherbet–these were my favorites.
After my mother died, my sister, dad, and I moved back to the Boston area to be near family. There I met Brigham’s, a chain of ice cream parlors with the best ice cream in the world. In fact, my mother and father met while they were both working in the Newton Highland’s Brigham’s during the Great Depression. When I was in junior high school, one scoop cones were 15¢ and a double scoop was 25¢! Oh, to see prices like that again.
The cool thing about Brigham’s was that my friends and I could walk to our local store after school. An occasional dessert became a regular after-school treat. A little confession here–we sometimes raided my dad’s change dish for the necessary coins. The one scooper was our usual fare, a double scoop a rare event, unless my friend’s sister happened to be behind the marble counter. Then we received two scoops for the price of one, always in a sugar cone.
Many decades later, an ice cream cone on a summer’s day is still the ultimate treat. These days, I have found an ice cream parlor that challenges Brigham’s for the best ice cream. Pammy’s in Harpswell, Maine. What makes it extra special is that “Pammy” is a former student of mine who still addresses me as Ms. Spencer. I keep telling her to call me Jill–old habits die hard.
I had a chocolate chip cone there just yesterday. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, but no pony rides. There were three golden retrievers sharing a bowl of vanilla ice cream, one spoonful at a time. Still, it was a perfect treat on a warm September afternoon.
I’m sure the drugstore in Sunset is gone as are the individual Brigham’s stores. You can, however, still find their ice cream in some grocery stores. So, if you have a hankering for a fabulous ice cream cone, you will have to trek to 1410 Harpswell Neck Road in Harpswell, Maine to find Pammy’s!
Steamed Chinese Egg Custard
Chris demonstrates how to make a versatile steamed egg delight.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
3 large eggs beaten
Ground cinnamon and sugar or mandarin oranges, for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar, and vanilla for two minutes–until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the eggs and whisk one minute, until smooth.
- In a Dutch oven or deep pot, bring 1/4 inch of water to boil. Pour mixture through a strainer into ramekins. Place the ramekins directly in the water. Cover pot with a towel or as in the video, cover individual ramekins with plastic wrap. Add cover and reduce heat to low. Steam for ten minutes until egg mixture turns to custard.
- Remove from heat and leave the cover on. Let rest for ten minutes.
- Remove cover and serve. Garnish with cinnamon/sugar mixture or mandarin oranges.
- You can also refrigerate for one or two hours and serve cold.
from Easy Chinese Cookbook: Restaurant Favorites Made Simple by Chris Toy
Happy National Dessert Day–Treat yourself to your favorites or try one of ours!