A few weeks ago I got a message on social media from my sister-in-law, Pam. She informed me that she and my brother-in-law, Rob, would be home for the weekend. They live five hours away, and we do not get to spend as much time with them as we would like. She thought it might be fun to have a surprise barbecue for my husband, Jim, and father-in-law, Dennis, for Fathers Day. They live five hours away, and we do not get to see them as often as we want. My kids adore the both of them, so we take any excuse to get together.
I thought it was a fantastic idea and agreed right away. We picked a date and made all the arrangements. We decided right away Pam would prepare the salads, Rob would do the meat, and I would bring dessert. We all thought it would be a nice change for Jim and Dennis as they are usually the ones working the barbecue. I also love making desserts and was happy to do something to help.
I considered my schedule for the days before the barbecue and decided the desert must be simple and not time-consuming. We are short staffed at work, and I have been working extra hours. My hectic schedule ruled out any fancy desserts that required a lot of planning or effort. I also knew that I wanted it to be something homemade that my children could help with.
After several days of consideration, I settled on making homemade ice cream with my children. It was the perfect excuse to bust out the ice cream maker we received for Christmas the previous year but had yet to use. I crossed my fingers that the recipes would be simple enough for the kids to help.
For the next few days, the kids and I agonized over what kind of ice cream to make. Narrowing down all the wonderful choices was harder than we thought. After a few days of debate, we decided we’d make two kinds. They’d both make one, and there would be no fighting over who’d help.
The decision to make more than one kind also offered us a better chance of everyone liking the flavours. We needed to keep it a surprise and could not ask everyone what their favourite ice cream was. We flipped through the recipe book several times, and I did a quick search online that led to many more choices. My youngest settled on a peanut butter chocolate recipe, and my oldest chose a chocolate marshmallow recipe.
As usual, I put off grocery shopping until the last possible moment. I forgot my husband would be out of town, and it became a mad dash to get the ingredients. When I finished work, I had no car to get around town. Lucky for me my mother-in-law lent me her car for the night.
My kids ended up staying for a swim while I left to go shopping. When I returned to pick them up, my brother-in-law and his wife had arrived for the weekend, and it was a challenge to get them out the door. Since we don’t spend as much time with Rob and Pam as we’d like, my kids try to make the most the time they have.
After much debate, we decided that my youngest and I would go home and get to work on the surprise ice cream. My oldest would stay longer and hitch a ride back with Rob and Pam when they left around 9 pm.
I tried without success to convince my youngest to wait until the morning to do her ice cream. I worked at 11, but I was confident there would be time to get it ready. She was unconvinced and determined to do it as soon as we returned home.
Her grandfather is one of her favourite people in the world and ever so dear to her. There was no way she’d risk his big surprise not being ready. I continued trying to convince her otherwise but decided that since it was a special occasion, we could stay up late just this once.
The minute my daughter and I walked in the door of the house we got to work. I froze the insert to the ice cream machine the day before so it would be ready. I gathered up the ingredients and measuring utensils. Once I laid everything on the counter, I guided my daughter through the recipe.
It was unbelievable. The recipe was easy and straightforward, and my daughter did a lot of the work by herself. I was proud, watching her be independent and make ice cream for the special people in her life.
After the mix was ready to go, we turned on the machine. We poured the mixture into the machine together and set the timer. While she watched the insert spin, I set to work chopping the chocolate.
My daughter needed to see it all the way to the end so she could sample it before she went up to bed. It was lucky for me that the machine only takes half an hour to turn liquid into ice. We stood in the kitchen, watching the ice cream maker for the whole half hour.
When the timer went off, I allowed her to add the chocolate chunks. She handled herself so well she did not need my help. She added it slow and careful, making sure not to let the chocolate clump together as she went.
After five minutes of mixing, we turned off the machine and had a small mouthful. It was incredible how well it worked. I worried that the lactose-free 2% milk we used in place of the whole milk would take away from the texture but it did not. It tasted better than any ice cream I have ever bought from a store.
I congratulated my daughter on a job well done and sent her off to bed. Once she was in bed, I tidied up and washed the machine, putting it back in the freezer right away so it would be ready for the next use. My son arrived home soon after and informed me he would wait until the morning.
The next morning, I was making ice cream at 9 am. My son made the whole thing by himself. All I did was chop the mint patties. He was so proud of himself. He asked me to take a picture to post on social media for all our family to see. Half an hour later, we had mint chocolate ice cream to go along with the peanut butter chocolate.
I froze the ice cream right after we made it to prevent it from melting when I transported it to my in-laws. If we had eaten it right away, I would not have needed to freeze it at all. The ice cream machine works beautifully.
After using it, I felt silly for not using the ice cream maker sooner. The box has sat in the closet for six months without being touched. Two weeks later, we have now made banana ice cream and root beer slushies, and I wonder how I made it through a summer without it.
I am blown away at how easy the machine is to use. The machine came with a recipe book that covers all your bases and more. It is full of neat and appealing recipes and tips. My son is desperate to try the pumpkin pie recipe next. If you have children, I would highly recommend looking into purchasing one.
When we arrived at the house for the barbecue my kids were so proud they told everyone about the ice cream right away. The food Pam had prepared was fantastic, and Rob rocked the grill. Everyone had a refreshing swim and a joyful evening.
After dinner, my daughter insisted on being the one to serve the ice cream to everyone. Grandma scooped, and she delivered. As she handed her grandpa his bowl, he thanked her. With a huge smile on her face, she returned with a simple, “Just doing my job,” and moved onto the next bowl.
All in all, it was a beautiful day, and now we always know what to bring for dessert to our family gatherings.