For most of us, summer fast approacheth. (The notable exception is San Francisco, where it’s summer all the time — or none of the time.) When I lived in a place that had seasons, I loved the activities that summer ushered in: sitting on the porch and mitigating the heat with a sixer of PBR. Purposely underapplying sunscreen and browning my bare arms. Rollerblading for hours and not giving a shit about the anachronistic nature of my workout.
Paramount to these were the trips to one of two Dairy Queen locations, each ramshackle in a charming and particular way. The Northdale Boulevard store was frequented by the skaters who practiced their skillz in the parking lots of the library (now defunct) and the Cousin’s Subs (also defunct), by families, and by sad, sweatpants-clad suburbanites who dove into their Peanut Buster Parfaits as soon as they reentered their Windstars.
The CR Boulevard shop, situated in a distinctly commercial zone, transmitted a weird vibe of early-1980s innocence/optimism. Crossing the threshold (red tile with black grout), sprouting goosebumps in the blast of the A/C, you just feel like you’re stepping into 1983. This vibe is difficult to explain, not least of all because I wasn’t even alive in 1983(!), but bear with me.
As I’ve ascertained, the decidedly 80s feel of the CR Boulevard DQ location owes to two factors: its situation in an area that was developed during the 1980s (and consequently represents that decade in purpose, design, and aura), and my nostalgia for that DQ (which always conjures 80s images). The first factor is easy enough to understand: because Coon Rapids Boulevard underwent major development during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the buildings (and landscaping, and general urban layout) are representative of that time. The DQ is shaped like a barn: a big white barn with a red roof. What’s more Reagan-era than that?
The second factor is a bit trickier to pin down. I didn’t come of age in the 80s (and, in fact, remember little of the decade), so I have no obvious reason to romanticize the period. No obvious reason, but the fact remains that I feel more fondly toward the Zeitgeist of ’83 than that of a decade later. Maybe I’m jealous of people born in the late 70s: people whose parents played 8-tracks (not cassettes), who watched Electric Company instead of Sesame Street. Whose elementary school years were blissfully void of Pogs.
These days, the workers at the CRBlvd DQ do not wear red short-shorts with white piping; they do not sport tube socks or feathered hair. Hell, they don’t even have frosted tips/puca shells. They’re clad in whatever 17-year-olds wear these days (and how out of touch am I that I don’t know what that is? I mean, jeans? Are teenagers still wearing jeans, or have they all crossed over to Leggingsland?). Chronological signifiers don’t make a difference, though, because that dining room is a portal to the past.That, friends, was a terribly circuitous way to relate my ice-cream nostalgia. See, certain types of ice cream — specific brands, flavor profiles, and dining environments — produce a nostalgia so strong it’s almost visceral. My gut lurches and I feel 16 again: young but feeling old, wracked with the attendant anxieties and joys. Or 18: still young, feeling falsely wise, and consumed by feelingz for The Dude of the Moment. Ice cream captures the intensity of those post-adolescent emotions, so seemingly significant and now so quaint!
The s’mores ice cream I made two weekends ago brought me back to my first trip to Kastle Kreme, which I took — eight years ago — with Hook. Eight years: that is almost a decade, folks. Still, the memory of that trip — riding through the green hills in Fuerte, the dawdle at the abandoned drive-in, my post-ice cream collecting of railroad spikes — is enough to make me wish I were eighteen again, that I could sit at a poured-concrete table (itself on a concrete slab of a patio), eating a Kastle Kreme blizzard and listening to the trains.
Kastle Kreme’s blizzard equivalent is more dessert than I can handle, really. It’s a styrofoam cupful of full fat ice cream, blended with cookie dough and chocolate syrup. The concoction is so thick that, until it melts into a sugar puddle, it holds a plastic spoon upright. I’ve never come close to finishing one of KK’s behemoth blizzard, but that never stops me from ordering them. Sadly, the next time I’ll be in G-burg (homecoming), Kastle Kreme will be closed for the season. But, if you’ve paid any attention to my ramblings, you know that Galesburg is home to lots of other memory-suffused eateries, and my nostalgia hankering won’t go unattended to.
To make your own s’mores ice cream, follow the Cuisinart recipe for basic ice cream (I omitted the vanilla), and make a few strategic additions. Cuisinart has a recipe for s’mores ice cream, but I like mine better. (Aside: I’m all about the mini marshmallows instead of Mallow Fluff — frozen marshmallows are boss.)
When you’ve prepared your basic ice cream and the freezing process is almost complete, add about 1/3 bag mini marshmallows, one half of a Ghirardelli chocolate bar (coarsely chopped), and six graham crackers (crumbled). Initially, I’d prepared more mix-ins than what I’ve just described, and I ended up with leftovers. Which is fine: extra chocolate crumbles are never a problem, amirite?
After it’s made, the ice cream will be a bit smooshy, but don’t let that deter you from sampling! (Not that a minor textural issue would deter you from tasting the sweet fruit of your labor.) A few hours in the freezer will further solidify your ice cream, giving it the texture of store-bought varieties. But don’t be fooled: homemade ice cream could shank any mass-produced variety! Ah, yes: homemade ice cream is a pleasant reminder of the wonders of full-fat dairy. If there’s one thing we need to bring back, it’s heavy cream. Don’t believe me? You will after you eat this ice cream.
Have any suggestions for ice cream flavors? Send ’em my way, and I’ll whip up a test batch.