Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Frozen Spoonful of Memories - Dianne Emley

At the first hint of impending summer, say around Memorial Day, I always vow to seize summer to the max, to wring every last drop of ripe peaches, lazy days, and balmy nights from it.  The simple pleasures of my childhood summers in a modest neighborhood on the outskirts of Los Angeles take on a golden glow, like a hot summer sun dipping behind the foothills, even though I know I was often bored during those long days.  Remember being bored?  It seems quaint now.  One memory that’s a fresh as yesterday is homemade peach ice cream—with peaches from our trees.

Mom made the custard and poured it into the metal canister and put the dasher inside.  The canister went into the old wooden ice cream bucket that Dad packed with crushed ice and rock salt.  He fixed the handle on top and started cranking by hand.  As the ice cream got thicker, Dad would strain against the handle as it became harder to turn.  At last, after seeming to take forever, he’d pronounce it done.  He’d pull out the dasher and we’d scoop the first spoonfuls of ice cream right off it.  It was sweet, creamy, and crystalline, shot through with frozen bits of peaches, and melted at once on your tongue.  This treat was as fleeting as summer and had to be enjoyed right then.  Leftovers from the freezer the next day were just not the same.

Every summer I vow to make homemade ice cream.  Somehow summer slips by and the long summer Sundays of my youth capped by homemade ice cream slip further into the past.

I was doing some delayed spring cleaning the other day and found, tucked into the back corner of a hard-to-reach cabinet, this ice cream maker.  It’s a relic, dated 1972.  Love the strawberry pink color.  It’s not my dad’s wooden bucket, but I think it’ll do the trick.  Today I’m making ice cream, folding in chopped fresh peaches from the farmer’s market.  I wonder if my ice cream will match my childhood memories.  Even if it doesn’t, I know it’s going to be pretty darn good and the beginning of a new summer tradition.

What about you?  Do you have any summertime traditions?  I’d love to hear them.  On July 25th I’ll randomly pick a winner from everyone who comments and send you a signed copy of Love Kills, the fourth in my Los Angeles Times bestselling Detective Nan Vining series.

# # #
Dianne Emley is a Los Angeles Times bestselling author and has received critical acclaim for her books which include the Detective Nan Vining thrillers: The First Cut, Cut to the Quick, The Deepest Cut, and Love Kills and the Iris Thorne mysteries: Cold Call, Slow Squeeze, Fast Friends, Foolproof and Pushover. Her books have been translated into six languages.  “Emley masterfully twists, turns, and shocks.” —Tess Gerritsen

***Dianne's winner is Maureen!!  Congratulations!  Dianne will be in touch with you about your prize!***


Pat Cochran said...

I remember my FIL making ice cream
every summer, using the old style
crank-type machine. This was back
in the '60s and his were the only
hands allowed to touch the crank!
Fresh peach ice cream! Yum! Family
gatherings are traditional for us
on all holidays and birthdays. We
have seven birthdays in August! We
have one gathering for the adult
birthdays in each month and indi-
vidual parties for the grandchil-
dren. Add in July 4th, Mother's &
Father's Days & other special days
and we are busy all summer!

Pat C.

Dianne Emley said...

Sounds like your summers are jam-packed with family traditions, Pat. Seven birthdays in August. Wow! That's cute about your dad taking control over the ice cream crank. Thanks for sharing.

Laura Hyche said...

Love the blog, Dianne. We, too, fought over homemade ice cream. We still manage to "crank" out a few cannisters full before school starts. Of course, in the South, no summer is complete without the fresh tomato sandwich. It is a staple of summer lunches, sometimes accompanied with bacon, but always with big heaps of mayo!

Dianne Emley said...

Thanks, Laura! Fresh tomato sandwiches with lots of mayo... Makes me want one right now!

Laney4 said...

We host a potluck party every summer. We used to have barbecues, but I just don't have the room in my freezer and fridge for all the food, plus tons of people say they'll show up and don't, while others say they won't (or don't get back to me) and then do show up. I decided potluck was the way to go so that it didn't matter how many people attended.
Last weekend we had 42 people over (and I was expecting 29). Thankfully, it didn't rain as forecasted, but if it had, we would have had people in our carport, garage, and house.
Last year was our 30th anniversary, and good friends of ours who have a band decided to surprise us by playing at our potluck. It was beautiful. Simply beautiful. We are definitely blessed.

Na said...

My family loves to head out into the outdoors during the Summer. We'll have picnics, barbecues and spend the whole day visiting a park. There are many parks here and our favorites are those with plenty of trees, hiking trails and a lake. That way we can really take in nature and stay in the shade too. I hope you have a lovely Summer!


erin said...

Thanks for a fun post! Congrats on the latest release! I'm very excited cuz I just got the first 3 books in this series!!!!

We don't really have summer traditions. Me and the BF are just struggling to find time together! Luckily we are both workaholics so there's not any hard feelings :)


Dianne Emley said...

I'm all for potlucks. Folks always want to know what to bring. Usually we'll supply the meat/fish for the BBQ and get friends to supply everything else. Just make sure I assign the "prompt" friends to bring appetizers... Your 30th anniversary sounds wonderful. You ARE defintely blessed!

Dianne Emley said...

Reveling in the great outdoors during summer is the best. My favorite place, being in Southern California, is the beach. Love spending days at the beach. Packing great books and magazines and food (of course)... Thanks for sharing your tradition!

Dianne Emley said...

Erin, I know what you mean. Hard to find time for each other in our busy lives. Hope you find some special time with your BF this summer. Thanks for being a fan and for commenting here!

Christina Hollis said...

This is a lovely post, Dianne, thanks for sharing. Our summer tradition dovetails with yours: although we grow a lot of our own fruit at home, there's a lovely pick your own farm a few miles from us. A visit by our extended family will provide catch-up for the adults while the little ones can run about in the fresh air, and we can pick enough fruit to make as many preserves as we've got shelf-space for, all at one time.

marybelle said...

Summertime is all about the beach & fresh fruit. All the mangoes & cherries & watermelon. YUM!!

Eli Yanti said...

we dont have special summertime tradition but i think very nice to get together with family or friends and enjoy a glass of cold juice

Dianne Emley said...

Thanks, Christina, for your kind words. Farm-fresh fruit is the best. My mother was an ace at making jams and jellies from our peaches and plums. Bet your friends and family love receiving gifts of yours!

Dianne Emley said...

Absolutely, Marybelle! Thanks for posting.

Dianne Emley said...

I also love family get togethers, Eli. We like to BBQ... and wash it down with cold beverages. :-) Thanks for your comment.

host said...

For me it's a family vacation in a small village by the sea where my dad grew up – we are all grownups now with our separate busy lives but we manage to squeeze a few days together just swimming, laughing and getting to know each other again :)

Dianne Emley said...

Sounds divine! Great that you and your family have managed to keep the tradition going. Thanks for your comment.

Maureen said...

Once the weather gets warm we grill, a lot. Everyone loves my husbands ribs and grilled chicken. They are tasty and saves the kitchen from heating up.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

Dianne Emley said...

I agree, Maureen. Grilling is the best for summer dinners. We do the whole meal on the grill--wrapping veggies in heavy duty foil and throwing them on too. Thanks for your comment!

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