Tag Archives: Ice cream

I’ve heard that story a million times already

One night at dinner my dad said, “Did I ever tell you kids about the time I raced your Uncle George when we were little kids?”


And I was being a typical teenaged jerk, and so I said, “Yeah dad, you’ve told us like a million times already.” Even though that wasn’t true. I’d never heard my dad talk about racing, or Uncle George. Uncle George lived in Minnesota somewhere, and I couldn’t remember the last time we’d actually seen him. There was a photo album somewhere around the house, in one of the big bookshelves in my parents’ room. But even that was kind of off-limits. If we ever got caught snooping around upstairs, it was a big deal and it always ended with a lot of yelling.

My dad gave me an annoyed look, and he was just about to open his mouth to say something to put me in my place, when my younger brother Neil said, “Dad, I’ve never heard that story.”

So my dad closed his mouth and smiled a little, and without looking away from where I was sitting, he said, “Well then Neil, you’re in for a treat. Because this is a great story.” And I kind of rolled my eyes really dramatically, like, man, now I have to sit here and listen to a boring story from my dad. “But your brother’s already heard it, so why don’t we get out of here? I’ll tell you in the car.”

And my dad got up and pushed his chair in, walking away from his dinner plate. “Where are you going?” my mom said.

“Neil and I are going out of for a ride,” he said to my mom, and then turning to Neil added, “You want to grab some ice cream?” to which Neil bounced out of his seat and ran to the foyer to get his coat.

I waited until my dad was out of earshot and said in a mock-loud voice, “And who’s going to clear up all of these plates, your mother?” and nobody heard me, not my mom, definitely not my dad. And that was fine, because I didn’t know where I was going with that comment, not really. As soon as I said it, I realized that all I was doing was inviting my mom to make me stick around and help her clean up. The phone rang, my mom went further back into the kitchen, and I disappeared into my room until I was sure everything would have been put away.

And then I went back downstairs, my mom was smoking a cigarette at the kitchen table, I asked her, “Mom?” and she said, “Yeah?” and I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was in an OK mood, like she wasn’t pissed off or anything, and so I said, “What was dad talking about at dinner?”

“What do you mean?” she said.

“That whole race thing, with Uncle George?”

And her forehead got really tight and she said, “Uncle George?”

“Yeah, dad was going to say something about a race?”

“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him when he gets home.”

And just then the driveway lit up as the station wagon pulled in right by the kitchen. My dad and Neil got out of the car, and when they walked into the house, Dad had a pretty big smile on his face. I didn’t really want to stick around and see if he was going to start smiling in my direction, and so I got up to go to my room. As I rounded the corner from the kitchen to the hallway, I could hear my mom say, “You didn’t bring any ice cream home for the rest of us?”

I didn’t say anything that night, and I was pretty good about trying not to think about it for the next couple of days or so. But just when I figured that the thoughts of my dad and my brother and the story about that race were going to fade away for good, they rallied and made a comeback, something like three or four days after that night at dinner. It was all I could think about. What was so important about a dumb race? Why did my dad have to leave the house to tell Neil? Why wasn’t anybody else talking about this?

So I cornered my brother when I got home from school that day. I said, “Neil, what did you and Dad talk about when you went out for ice cream after dinner?” and I was ready, I mean, I wasn’t going to let Neil go without him telling me what happened. If I had to twist his arm behind his back, or threaten to scratch all of his CDs when he wasn’t home, I hadn’t really left anything off the table in terms of forcing him to talk.

But none of that was necessary. Right away, Neil was like, “Dad didn’t say anything. We drove around town for like fifteen minutes in complete silence. It was so weird. I kept thinking, where are we going for ice cream? Why isn’t Dad saying anything? And then finally he talked, he was like, Neil, when we get home, I don’t want you to say anything to your brother. He’s going to ask you about the race between me and Uncle George, and you don’t say anything, got it? And I was like, what are you talking about? And he said, the race story, from dinner. And I said, OK, are we going for ice cream? And he said, no, no ice cream, I think we have ice cream in the freezer. But there wasn’t any ice cream in the freezer. There’s never ice cream in the freezer. And then I said, but dad, what’s the deal with the race story? And he said, what? And I said, the race, you know, with Uncle George? And then he said, shhhh, be quiet, I love this song. It was that song Old Time Rock and Roll. You know that one, right? And that was it. There wasn’t any ice cream.”

My first instinct was that Neil was lying, but after a while he just wouldn’t stop talking and so I left the room, satisfied that nothing had really happened.

And then later that week at dinner, in between bites of meat loaf, my dad said out of nowhere, “So, I bet you’re wondering about that race story between me and your Uncle George.” And he kind of just smiled. I looked down, but he probably gave Neil a wink.

And I didn’t say anything for a second, but then came back with, “Who are you talking to?”

Dad looked pissed off, but pissed off in a way that tried to make it look like he wasn’t pissed off. So he had this kind of half smile, half scowl. And he said, “I’m talking to you. Don’t you want to know about the race?”

And I looked down at my lap and said, “Dad, you’ve already told that story like a million times. You tried to race Uncle George, but he was always a lot faster than you, and so you never beat him. Come on dad, that’s a pretty lame story. I don’t know why you keep telling it.”

Mom started laughing, but it was like she was trying not to laugh, and my dad shot her a nasty look. Everyone was really quiet for a good amount of time, all you could hear were the sounds of forks and knives clinking against plates and teeth. I thought about ratting Neil out, telling everyone about how Neil told me that him and Dad just drove around in circles listening to classic rock. But I didn’t.

And then five more minutes passed, and I opened my mouth and said, “Hey Mom, do we have any ice cream for dessert?”

And my mom looked at me with a really confused face and said, “Ice cream? Dessert?”

I said, “Yeah, Neil, didn’t you say something about ice cream in the freezer?”

“No,” he said, looking down at his lap.

And I said, “Oh, my mistake. I thought you said something about ice cream in the freezer.” And then I looked up at the table and my dad was just staring at Neil with a really pissed off look on his face.

5 ice cream flavors you really need to try

I love ice cream. It’s so awesome. But do you ever feel like I do? Like sometimes you can’t decide on which flavor of ice cream to choose? There are just so many options! Next time you find yourself scratching your head, unable to make a decision, check out this guide. I wrote it. It’s a guide to ice cream flavors. Here are five ice cream flavors that you really need to try!

Close-up of Three Scoops of Neapolitan Ice Cream

  1. Vanilla

Vanilla is so awesome. It’s really simple. The only flavoring here is vanilla. Have you ever seen vanilla beans? They’re really long and skinny and dark, dark brown. But don’t let that fool you, because vanilla ice cream is white. Vanilla is delicious. Did you know that cream soda is vanilla flavored also? I always wondered why they don’t just call it vanilla soda. Probably because it’s caramel colored, and so people might get confused. They’d say to themselves, wait a second, isn’t vanilla white? It’s confusing.

  1. Chocolate

Chocolate is so good! It’s just like vanilla, but instead of using vanilla as the only flavor, you get chocolate. You know what you never see? Chocolate soda. I’ve never seen a chocolate soda. Although, when I worked at a diner in high school, old people used to ask for chocolate sodas all the time. It’s not the same. They’re either asking for an ice cream soda, which is disgusting, or a chocolate egg cream, which is even more disgusting. I have no idea how the greatest generation got to be so great, because it definitely wasn’t by mixing milk and seltzer. That’s just nasty.

  1. Strawberry

What a great flavor, strawberry. It’s pink. And there are usually chunks of strawberries floating around. The strawberries are frozen. Sometimes when I eat strawberry ice cream, I’ll get strawberry seeds stuck in the back of my molars. But not every time, only sometimes. One time I visited some cousins in Canada, and they had a strawberry plant in the backyard. But the strawberries were really small and sour. Maybe they weren’t strawberries. They were gross.

  1. Vanilla and Chocolate

You know, like a swirl. Some of the ice cream trucks by my house will swirl their vanilla and chocolate soft-serves. But some of them refuse. I’m always like, why can’t you do it? All of the other trucks do it. And they make up some answer about not having the same equipment. I don’t know, I don’t buy it. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being lied to.

  1. Neapolitan

Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. It’s the best of all three flavors, packed into the same container. I’ve found that, if you try to treat them as separate flavors, it backfires, you wind up mutilating the container. It never comes out just right. So that’s why I like to make sure I get an equal amount of all three flavors in the same scoop. It’s great. Ice cream is great. You should totally try all of these awesome flavors.

Homemade ice cream

My mom gave me an ice cream maker a little while ago, and the other day I finally got to try it out. Someone else had given me this cigar-shaped tube filled with a few actual vanilla beans from Madagascar. I’ve heard they’re pretty hard to come by, although I’ve never actually looked that up or anything, so I’m just assuming, yes, very rare, very special.


I got too excited though, that’s my only possible explanation as to why it didn’t work out like I had imagined. The recipe called for only fresh ingredients, egg yolks, cream, sugar, and it was cool to split the vanilla bean in half and scrape out all of the tiny little beads. And then I actually had to cook it, which, I mean it’s ice cream, I didn’t anticipate having to cook anything.

I started this whole project at like nine in the evening, assuming that I’d be eating ice cream in no time. But after I let everything cook and thicken, I reread the recipe, it said that I had to let the whole mixture cool completely until I ran it through the machine. This always happens. Regardless of whether I’m cooking or assembling furniture, whenever I read directions for anything, I’ll always try my best to pay close attention to what I’m being instructed to do. But I always miss at least one or two steps, every time. It’ll be like, mix all of this stuff together, and then I’ll do it, and then I’ll look back at the recipe and it’ll all of the sudden have said, first mix these two ingredients separately, and then mix everything together, and so everything winds up clumpy.

I waited as long as I could, about an hour or so, but I really wanted this cream to be ice cream. The ice cream maker came with this sleeve that I had to let freeze completely in the freezer for over twenty-four hours. That was like a whole day that I had to try my best to put it out of my mind, the rare vanilla, all of that heavy cream and half and half I bought specifically for the ice cream.

After that hour or so, well, it was almost an hour, it was definitely fifty minutes at least, I stuck my finger in the cream mixture. It wasn’t hot, not even warm really. Could it have been colder? In retrospect, sure, that should have been something to think about, because yes, it definitely could have been colder.

I put everything in the ice cream machine and set it to spin. While I sat down and tried to watch TV, something to keep my mind off of the twenty to thirty longest minutes in my life that I’d have to endure trying my best to wait patiently for what the recipe assured me would be some of the best ice cream I’ll ever eat in my life, I thought about future ice cream plans, that after I’d mastered vanilla, I could go on to experiment with all sorts of flavors, like maybe a bacon ice cream.

But twenty minutes passed and this stuff was still clearly liquid. So I waited another ten minutes, but it hadn’t thickened at all really. I removed myself from the kitchen for another hour, and when I got back, not only had this stuff not turned into ice cream, but the frozen sleeve was starting to melt, I could tell that the entire apparatus was getting warmer by the minute. So I just poured it all into a container and hoped something magical would happen inside the freezer.

I could barely sleep that night, I kept having these half-awake dreams where my homemade ice cream was winning all sorts of international home-cooking awards, like “World’s Great Ice Cream,” stuff like that. When I woke up the next morning, I rushed straight for the freezer and opened up the container.

And it wasn’t really ice cream. I mean, it was frozen, yes. But it lacked that ice cream consistency. That night I came home from work determined to at least try to enjoy a bowl for dessert. And whatever, the flavor was there, if not the texture. There was ice, yeah, and it was made out of cream, OK, nobody’s perfect, right?

I looked over to my side and my dog was staring intently at the bowl. Usually I never give my dog any sort of human food, but I thought, this stuff is pretty good, it’s OK anyway, and I gave myself way too big of a serving. Maybe I should give the little guy a taste. So I spooned off a chunk and put it in his dog bowl. He wolfed the whole thing down, fast, licking up the sides of the bowl for a while afterward.

And then five minutes after that, he walked back over to the couch, he stood at my feet, made a weird neck motion, and then threw up all over the floor. It was mostly dog food, but it was unmistakably streaked with coagulated white cream. My wife looked at me and was like, “Great job, Rob. Clean it up.”

My freezer is kind of broken and I can’t get myself to deal with it

The ice cream in my freezer kept getting softer and softer, to the point where it felt almost like soft-serve in a pint, and while I could lie to myself, try to ignore my problems and think about how cool it was to always have soft ice cream on hand, eventually the decline in freeze got to the point where I needed to do something, I had to like look up something on the Internet or call up somebody to come and take a look at what was going on.


Even this thought took a couple of weeks to really plant itself in my head. Slightly above temperature ice cream is one thing, but that box of frozen hamburger patties? How long could I really continue to enjoy this stuff without worrying about all of the harmful bacteria that might start to take advantage of my less that optimally functioning freezer?

Still, there was so much inertia, I couldn’t stand to let another day go by without taking care of the problem, but I was frozen, unable to think of how I’d go from not doing anything about it to doing something, anything.

I think the root of it had to do with my not-so-irrational fear of freezers. That sounds crazy, but it’s not, it comes from a real, traumatic experience. My wife and I were living in Ecuador as Peace Corps Volunteers. We had this cheap-o refrigerator, so wildly out of synch with what we were used to dealing with back home. This thing didn’t have whatever our modern freezers have that prevents frost from accumulating and building up along the sides of the walls.

Again, it was this slow issue that never really warranted immediate action, but left undealt with, it was like one day we couldn’t close the freezer door anymore, the ice had literally snowballed it’s way into becoming this problem that had to be addressed immediately.

And so, with no Internet to look up how to take care of something that I would have never had to deal with back home, I imagined a reasonable course of action involved me taking a kitchen knife to the inside of the freezer, stabbing at the chunks of ice until I’d shaved off enough space for the door to close.

In retrospect, of course this seems like a stupid idea. You don’t just go hacking away at your problems. But at the time, I thought, OK, I’m getting somewhere, ice is falling off, this shouldn’t take too much longer.

But it’s an awkward stance, kind of half crouching down, jabbing my arm in an upside-down upward motion inside of a small frozen box. I hit something, I knew I had made a big mistake because it started hissing, a stream of gas blowing out of the freezer. I thought, that had to be the Freon, all of this gas leaking, this is what’s keeping everything cold.

I had to stop it. I had some silicon glue lying around and figured I’d stick my head in there and try to plug everything up. There were bubbles involved. I’d think I had everything patched up when there’d be a pop, more expelled gas. Finally the hissing stopped, and even though I had my fingers crossed, a few hours later it was obvious that both the fridge and the freezer no longer functioned in keeping anything below room temperature.

It was a nightmare, getting this thing fixed, it was like a whole month and a half with no refrigerator. I felt like a caveman. My wife was pissed. I’m still haunted by this story, every time there’s any sort of kitchen problem, it always comes down to me trying to stab my way out of everything. And that’s not even mentioning the paranoia I still suffer as a result of having probably breathed in way too much Freon. It never occurred to me that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing a two by two foot box with all of that leaking gas. What are the long term effects? Do my lungs seem cold to anyone else?

So it was with this fear that I approached my current freezer dilemma. Fortunately, the Internet told me that before I called in a serviceman to charge me several hundred dollars, all I had to do was first clean out the vent behind the appliance. Apparently it’s a dust-trap, and after a couple of years of neglecting to be cleaned, this build-up can cause the cold to be not so cold.

But again, moving the fridge was this impossible chore, jostling it into a position in which I could at least see the back. There was dust everywhere, that patch of unseen floor was practically blackened with soot. And when I finally got to where I was in a position that I could maybe do something about it, I realized that I didn’t have a vacuum, and that my dust-buster was out of battery.

I made a weak attempt at wiping off the grate with some paper towels, but there was so much more dust that I didn’t really accomplish anything. Still, what was I going to do? I moved everything back into place and set the dust-buster to charge.

The whole thing took me like fifteen minutes. I’m worried that it’s going to be another two weeks before I find the motivation to attempt the cleaning again. And there are so many variables. Will the dust-buster still have any battery? Would the half-assed cleaning with the paper towel somehow have been enough to prevent me from trying again? Why do I keep fighting the urge to grab a kitchen knife?

I don’t know, man, I’ve got to commit to some action, my ice cream’s like soup, like not totally runny yet, but definitely less than soft-serve, and the frozen patties are starting to look a little gray.

Choco-Taco Tuesday

I love Choco-Tacos. It’s been so long since I’ve had one. As far as I know, it’s the only dessert taco, the only one made out of ice cream. The whole idea is pure genius. Instead of using a crunchy corn tortilla, you take a crunchy sugar cone that’s shaped like a taco shell. And then instead of beef and cheese and lettuce and sour cream, you put in ice cream, chocolate, nuts, more chocolate. I’m telling you, it’s the best.


When I was in college, during my sophomore year, the university spent something like fourteen million dollars on demolishing the existing cafeteria and building a new state-of-the-art facility. What that meant, though, was that for an entire year, there was no proper cafeteria. Instead, they kind of just threw together this weird makeshift caf in the student center. Sandwiches were on a counter set up next to the bookstore, there was a line of chefs to the side cooking runny omelets over dorm-style hot plates.

And everything suffered. Everything except the dessert station. In the old caf there used to be this gross soft-serve frozen yogurt machine, one of these things that, the first time you saw it, like on your first day of class or whatever, you got all excited, you thought, holy shit, look at that soft-serve machine, unlimited ice cream, this is going to be great. But then you made yourself a cone, it came out of the machine all squeaky, and it didn’t have the right color, the taste was, I’d say medicinal, but even that pink goo they made us take for strep throat when we were little kids tasted better than this stuff.

So yeah, after I tried to put back at least a few spoonsful of the froyo, I realized that while there were hundreds of people in the caf, the soft-serve machine was all by its lonesome, just hanging out, ready for the next unsuspecting freshman to wander over for an after-lunch treat.

Sophomore year, it was gone, along with the rest of the old eating infrastructure. In its place, administration put a big industrial freezer, the same type of giant white box you’d see in your uncle’s garage upstate, “That’s where I keep all of the deer meat I collected this winter!” Inside was just a bunch of loose individually packaged ice cream products, like Good Humor bars, King Cones, neon green Incredible Hulk heads with gumballs for the eyes.

And Choco-Tacos. I loved it all. Never before in my life did I have such unfettered access to treats usually reserved for the rare times that I happened to run into an ice cream truck on the street. The best part about all of this was, it was all free. I mean, yeah, college was something like thirty grand a year, and that meal plan wasn’t cheap either, but that didn’t feel like real money at the time. I just swiped into the caf with my student ID and there I was, face to face with that cooler, screw it, I didn’t need a real lunch, all I needed was like four or five Choco-Tacos and maybe a Creamsicle or a Toasted Almond bar.

Normally I think back to the caf and I cringe at the whole system, the way that they mandated you buy an overpriced meal plan, how shitty the food normally was. It really was terrible, boring, greasy slop, the kind of stuff that justified those rumors you’d hear about the staff adding laxatives to every dish as an added prevention against food poisoning.

But it was kind of all worth it for that whole year of free ice cream. After we finished our in-caf desserts, we’d head back to that freezer and grab as many as we could, sprinting across campus to get those popsicles and Choco-Tacos into are miniature dorm-sized freezers before they melted totally. And then for the rest of the night we’d sit around and play video games and surf the Internet, binging on half melted Strawberry Shortcake bars or slushy Flavor Ices.

The other day I went to the grocery store and bought like three pints of Ben & Jerry’s. For a minute, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to contain myself, that I’d spend the whole night trying to nurse a serious ice cream headache. But no, it wasn’t the same. I had a few bites and got bored, the whole time wishing that I was back in school, eating myself sick on Choco-Taco Tuesday.