When life hands you snow, make ice cream

Grandma Shabica’s homemade snow Ice cream.

The January 2015 blizzard on the Vineyard made for some good icecream. — Courtesy Charlie Shabica

We recently received a letter from longtime Vineyard resident Charlie Shabica, which spoke fondly of the snow ice cream his mother used to make for him.

Dear Bridget [Bridget Palmieri, our classified advertising manager],

It was a pleasure talking to you today, especially about making snow ice cream. As kids we looked forward to snowstorms not only for sledding but also for what our mom did with the snow:

Grandma Eleanor Shabica’s Snow Ice Cream:

After an eight-inch of snow (more if you’re lucky), scrape off the top two inches (unless it’s still snowing and fresh, then the top’s OK), and fill a large mixing bowl with snow.

Avoid the bottom two inches (you don’t want any grass, etc.).

Important safety tip — only fresh snow and no yellow snow or Tootsie Rolls!

Add 1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk, and stir enthusiastically until fully mixed.

Flavoring: Your call. Grandma liked vanilla and almond extract. Cousin Mel adds chocolate sprinkles to his. Chocolate syrup, blueberries, bananas, maple syrup are optional.

Leftovers: Pack into a Tupperware container and put in the freezer for later snow ice cream joy and frolics.

Charlie Shabica

Charlie Shabica with a can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk, which is suggested in his grandma’s recipe.

We were struck by the simplicity and elegance of this recipe, taking something that falls freely from the sky and converting it to a delicious treat. And it made us think of other recipes that relied on basic elements, that one might not necessarily associate with ingestible food products. Take Stone Soup, for instance.

The next is a story based on American folklore:

Stone Soup

“Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making “stone soup,” which tastes wonderful and which they would be delighted to share with the villager, although it still needs a little bit of garnish, which they are missing, to improve the flavor. The villager, who anticipates enjoying a share of the soup, does not mind parting with a few carrots, so these are added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup, which has not yet reached its full potential. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, the stone (being inedible) is removed from the pot, and a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by travelers and villagers alike. Although the travelers have thus tricked the villagers into sharing their food with them, they have successfully transformed it into a tasty and nutritious meal which they share with the donors.”


And then there’s a recipe that comes from my own family tree. Or as least as I remember it:

Granny Currier’s Pollen Pan Dowdy

Each spring, when the air was heavy with pollen, we couldn’t wait to go to Granny’s house for her famous Pollen Pan Dowdy, Granny’s variation on the classic Apple Pan Dowdy.

Back in the Depression when apples were hard to come by, Granny substituted something that dropped like a gentle rain from heaven to her deep-dish dessert: Pollen.

How did it taste? I don’t really recall; I was far too busy sneezing.