Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Vacations and ice creams.

It is time to begin the most important countdown of the year. The countdown for summer vacations.

July stands for summer vacations and vacations mean a lot of happy things for my little chefling. Grandparents, staying up late, multiple trips to the library, splashing around in the pool, making presents for everyone, meeting old friends, movie marathons, endless rounds of dobble and scrabble and eating icecreams!

Yes, that last bit is her favourite.

Sometimes sitting alone in the balcony licking the ice lolly looking at the cars pass by, sometimes sharing a large bowl with us; three spoons clanging against each other and sometimes with all her friends; attacking the ice-cream bar and adorning the good old vanilla and chocolate ice cream with sprinkles.

Ice cream is so much more than milk and cream and sugar, isn’t it? For me it means travelling back in time to my childhood.

Growing up, mum would always make sure we had enough in the freezer. It helped that dad too wanted it all the time! He still does. My mum’s freezer can put an ice cream parlour to shame. Such was and is the quantity and variety.

There would always be the good old vanilla. In May when the markets were loaded with mangoes, it had to be mango kulfis. Watermelon ice lollies too, a big favourite with the entire family. She would always add a hint of “roohafza” to make it sweeter and give it that rose flavor. I still do the same, but like to add some mint, lime and rock salt to it as well.

I remember the day, when we got home the ice cream maker that marked the end of the “partially freeze-whisk and breakup-refreeze” rigmarole era.

This ice cream maker required a combination of ice and rock salt in a certain predefined ratio. It had a metallic canister. Once the motor was switched on, you had to keep lining the canister with both the ice and rock salt. The motor would then turn the canister. The part time help who came to our house those days would get the rock salt from a local shop only she knew about.

My sister and I would make endless rounds to the kitchen to see if more salt was needed and bring that to my mum’s attention. After the entire operation was over, we would be given some right away. Right out of the machine; semi frozen and soft.

The ice cream didn’t last very long which meant the process was repeated every other day. Mum would also buy cones for us. Ice cream in a cone was what summer vacations were made up of. Sometimes there would be very little left and mum and dad would say but hey this is for both of you, we don’t feel like having it today. It never struck us that they may have wanted it as much as we wanted to. We would start licking the scoop with mum telling us to keep rotating the cone and keep licking it from all sides. Then would be the moment when the icecream would began to melt and make the cone go all soggy and limp. The mad rush to quickly bite into it would begin. All this while our parents would be watching us with this crushing joy in their heart for seeing us happy made them happy. Seeing us have ice cream took them back to their childhood.

Summers also equal visiting grandparents for Sara and as kids it meant the same for my sister and me. Early mornings meant laid back breakfasts, climbing the mango trees, jumping up high in an attempt to reach the grape vine for fresh grapes (grape leaves too, they taste divine!) and threading the frangipani into garlands while sitting on the frangipani tree. 

Hot and lazy afternoons were spent looking through old albums that were neatly stacked in my grandfather’s study. Those albums carried within them millions of stories. The noise made by the air cooler, the smell of the “khus” he would add to the water and cold lemonade for company.

Early evenings meant kulfis! Every evening at 4 p.m. we would start looking out of the tiny window from our grandparents room; the one that faced the road. Since the noisy cooler would be on, we didn’t want to take the risk of missing the tring tring of the kulfi wala. He too was aware that May meant that the grandchildren were here and each evening without fail he would come and stop at the main gate. He would be greeted with grand children from all the neighbouring houses queuing up rather rather impatiently for their kulfis. Two not one. One in each hand and always the same, malai kulfi. There was both a certain sense of excitement and comfort in getting the familiar. I miss those days of not having any variety, sometimes.

In that mayhem there would always be one child who would accidentally drop her/his kulfi on the road. Trust me those five minutes are the worst minutes of your life. Ask any child and she/he will nod in agreement. That kulfi you waited for all day is now on the dirty road melting into this creamy puddle that you can’t save. That feeling! Two big fat tears are forming in your eyes, the world has come to an end and at that moment your grandfather comes around and buys you another one. Happiness restored. You want to hug him tight. He is your hero.

I miss those ice cream days. Do you? What are your childhood ice-cream memories?

Sara loves to have her friends over for ice cream playdates. Once the children have played enough and are really tired, they all sit down for ice-cream.

There is always vanilla and dark chocolate. With tons of toppings. Their eyes light up.
Confetti sprinkles. Chocolate swirls. Marshmallows. Toasted Walnuts. Silvered pistachios. Dried Cranberries. Dried Papaya. Sweetened Coconut. Dry Mango Slices and more.
The children get busy “decorating” their scoops. Soon the ice cream disappears under an avalanche of sprinkles and fruits.

Then I start reminding them to eat it before it melts. 

Like my mum did.

I go back to the kitchen and watch them giggling over some stories from school, licking the ice-cream, dropping some on the floor, wiping off their cream moustaches with the sleeves of their shirts and I feel this sense of crushing joy in my heart. 

Like my mum did. 

To set up an Ice cream bar:

  • Several naughty little children
  • Two or three ice-creams of your choice (store bought or I like to follow the recipes of the Ice cream God. With children the basics seem to work each time; vanilla, chocolate and strawberry)
  • Nuts for some crunch; walnuts, pistachios, almonds, peanuts, pecans
  • Fruits; fresh and/or dry (papayas, mango, coconut, cherries, berries, bananas)
  • Cookies, candies, marshmallows
  • Sauces if your kids like (chocolate, berries, caramel)
  • Ice cream cones or bowls and spoons
  • Tons of napkins to wipe their little faces
  1. Set out everything on the table. Scoop, sprinkle and slurp. 

 Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if  use those without my permission.Just ask! 

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