Monday, August 8, 2011

Summer Memories: Cantaloupe and Vanilla Ice Cream

Growing up I spent a lot of time at my maternal Grandmother's house.  To say she wasn't much of a cook would be an understatement, but what she lacked in technique she more than made up for in love.  She cooked three meals a day for my grumpy British grandfather without fail. It was still at a time when processed foods hadn't totally taken over so her meals were a hybrid: fried pork chops and jarred apple sauce with fresh green beans and boiled potatoes.

I remember convincing her to buy tins of salty tiny shrimp, we would make a simple batter for them and deep fry them in the electric skillet.  When they were nice and brown we would drain them on paper towel and toss them in with plum sauce or sweet and sour sauce from a jar, thick with cornstarch and vividly colored with red dye #5.  I was in heaven. I must have gotten the idea from some Chinese take away we had gotten.

In the Summer a man with a funny old truck filled with produce would troll the streets of our neighborhood, parking on each block and honking his horn to alert all the homemakers that he was there.  The sides of his pick up truck had been converted into shelves that he filled with fresh fruits and vegetables.  He was a one man Fresh Direct.

My grandmother would always by cantaloupe from him or, as she used to call it, muskmelon.  She would pop the melon into the refrigerator and when it was time for dessert she'd slice it in half, take out the seeds and put a big scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center.  In my memory the melons were smaller then they are today, but she always bought enough to give a half melon and a scoop to each person.

The ice creamback then was from the Stoney Creek Dairy (which to this day my Mother pronounces Stoney Crick).  Something tells me that the ice cream was also delivered.  My favorite flavor of ice cream which she would get from the Stoney Creek Dairy was Black Cherry, so I was glad both to see they are still in business and that they still make Black Cherry. I'll have to remember this next time I go home to visit.


Grandma Moverley and I had a very special bond - growing up she was my primary source of unconditional love.  Part of that love was in the form of sugar.  Not only did she add ice cream to perfectly sweet cantaloupe, she would add sugar to a half of cantaloupe and let it sit in the fridge for a while to let the sugar melt and create an extra sweet juice which would fill in the center of the fruit.

Last night for the first time in decades I decided to recreate this dessert from my childhood.  I used a melon baller to make it a little more fancy and because an entire half of melon seemed excessive (now I don't have a metabolism like I did when I was 5).

It was delicious! Think deconstructed melon creamsicle!

Cantaloupes are enjoying an outstanding season this year here in the New York region and range between 4-7 dollars a melon at the market.  One night this week after a long day at the office do yourself a favor....and  have some cantaloupe and vanilla ice cream (I used Adirondack Creamery ice cream - it's local and they don't use any guar gum or other thickeners, just the good old basics: cream, sugar, eggs...) for dessert.

Pure, sweet, cool, love.


1 comment:

Chris and Skip said...

what a lovely story. small varieties of cantaloupes are filling the market here so we will try that combo. black cherry was MY favorite flavor growing up as well—that and peppermint with little bits.

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