Simple Vanilla Ice Cream, for my Dad
I miss my dad. He died in September 2009. He wasn’t one to mince many words, hence the “he died”, not passed away, not went to be with his Lord, not whatever the latest wording should be. He was a gruff old proud Polish Man, a veteran of World War 2, provider for my mom and our family, hardworking, and in his own way amazing.
When I was 10, I’m sure I didn’t think that! My dad would do anything that he could for us, but he didn’t really spoil us, not like you see today. Nope, he expected that we would graduate kindergarten and just go to first grade. No party there, but when he did allow us to have a party, he was the best host that there ever could be. I remember my first pool party, we were one of the only kids on the block with an above the ground pool, and he made sure that there were mounds of “shake n bake” chicken (anybody remember that?), potato salad, towne pop (I got to pick out the flavors!) and my mom’s potato salad. He also made the most amazing fried sliced potatoes in a cast iron pan, always crisp and tender, no burnt edges, seasoned with salt and pepper – he could mound those in that pan, and never make a mess!
We didn’t celebrate every birthday growing up, not like today, mostly we had a birthday cake, but every once in a while if our birthday fell on a weekend (not Sunday, though!) we could pick the restaurant – and it wasn’t fancy- big boys, A&W, or Stoney Inn. We thought we were in heaven.
We couldn’t have mini bikes – the biggest rage ever back then, but we had a go cart, the only one on the block! It had STP stickers; we thought it meant “stop teasing pollacks!” He helped my mom every year with her garden, and we all had to pitch in, moving manure, planting, weeding and harvesting. If my mom was sick, woe be us if we made too much noise. He even did the dishes, and would mop the floor on his hands and knees when mom had a miagraine. In turn we learned how to take care of other people, not by what he said, but by what he did.
I remember he took me to my first “gig” as a musician, and stuck around all night long, brought me home, and told me I still had to be up to go to church that morning! He did that for many years, until I was old enough to drive, and he trusted where and who I was working a job with.
We waited dinner on my dad, no matter what; he worked a service job in refrigeration and would come home late. My mom would hold dinner, we got to eat if it was approaching bedtime, but she would wait. I still have dinner with my husband Jeff as much as possible, just because my parents did – they set the example. A few years ago, I was walking my dogs, and one of my neighbors had a “refrigeration service vehicle” in his drive way, I don’t remember which one and I chatted with him. Told him my dad did HVAC (proud that I know what the acronym stood for), politely he asked my dad’s name: George Chmurynski: to my surprise he said” Good Ole George! How is he! Best Freon man ever in the city!” He went on to say a few more good things. That was my dad, a hard working guy that tried to do the next the right thing.
He was a gruff ole guy! The service counter at Leatherman’s hardware used to let the “newbee’s” wait on him, if they could survive good ole George, well they had a job! They even asked me for a picture to hang on the wall when they heard he had died. It’s there, above the register. (Thank you Leatherman’s hardware). To this day when I walk in and I hear: “George’s daughter is here!” I always smile.
When I rescued a Rottweiler named Tiffany we had a tense conversation. He was sure that I had lost my mind, why his granddaughter could be in danger; what could I be thinking! He stormed over, met her with the big brown eyes went directly to the pet store and bought the biggest box of dog biscuits! The following week, I had a dog house complete with a picture window! Zoe use’s it today! He loved Jax and Zoe to, though he wouldn’t admit it!
He supported me through my divorce, being single, getting married to the best man ever (Jeffery Rees – I love you!) and all the ups and downs of everyday life.
I went to culinary school and was introduced to wonderful foods and ideas: One being simple homemade ice cream, fresh strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar. I don’t even remember the occasion, we seldom all got together, my two sisters their husbands and us, it just wasn’t a normal thing for our family which seems so abnormal to most other families, though in truth, I bet we are pretty much the norm!
I served vanilla ice cream with strawberries for dessert, got out my balsamic vinegar that I had just bought at Zingerman’s on a road trip – 50 year old stuff and added a few drops to my dad’s bowl. “What are you doing? Vinegar??? You are going to ruin it!” No dad, just trust me, taste it, if you don’t like it I’ll scoop you up a fresh bowl of ice cream. By the time I was done he had his bowl out in both hands, just like Oliver and said “more please.”
This one’s for you Dad - I miss you
Simple Vanilla Ice Cream
Garnish with Strawberries and the best Balsamic Vinegar you can afford!
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch sea salt
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar and salt until the sugar is fully dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight is better!) Whisk mixture together again before pouring into the ice cream machine.
Pour the mixture into the ice cream machine, turn your unit on and follow the manufacturer’s direction. This should take about 40 – 50 minutes.
Garnish with Strawberries and Aged Balsamic vinegar