What Southern Folks Eat: Cookies, childhood, and the ice cream man
Just before my family moved to St. Joe Beach in 1976, we lived in Charlotte, N.C., and the ice cream man was considered a celebrity to the kids in our area. Our house was in an ideal family neighborhood, with lots of trees and places to explore, and lots of other children to play with. There were Angie, her brother Andy, brothers Paul and John-John, and my next door neighbors Sissy and her brother John … and we all loved ice cream, of course, and lived for the moment the ice cream man would drive his truck down our street.
We lived on a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill that, on snowy winter days, we’d sled down. But in the summer, we rode our bikes, Big Wheels, and even roller skates down that hill, scraping our knees and having the time of our lives. We’d wear ourselves out riding around the neighborhood in the early morning summer sun. I still remember that feeling of childhood joy.
After a couple hours we’d all go inside to watch Sesame Street and have a snack; then, recharged, we’d go back outside to play for another hour or two before lunchtime, which was usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of (my favorite) Spaghetti-O’s.
After lunch, we’d all head back outside with our sweaty little palms full of coins that our mothers had given us for ice cream. We would meet on the corner across from Paul and John-John’s house, stand by the fire hydrant, and wait as patiently as little kids can. We’d take turns standing on top of the fire hydrant, trying to see the ice cream truck approach in the distance, as if we were lookouts in a ship’s crow’s nest. When I see the picture of the stubby little hydrant now, it makes me chuckle. At the time, it felt like such a daring feat to balance up there.
When we finally could hear the sweet sound of the happy, melodic music of the ice cream man’s truck, we’d get so excited that we’d jump up and down and laugh and watch every nearby corner to catch the first glimpse of his truck turning our way. When he finally arrived, we’d run over to the truck and line up at the window, where the kind old gentleman would take our orders and our measly little coins.
My favorite treat from the ice cream man was the push-up. I love that creamy orange sherbet to this day, and will occasionally treat myself to one when I see them in a convenience store, just for the happy memory. I also loved creamsicles, with the orange sherbet swirled with vanilla ice cream. It’s such a great flavor combination.
I have a cookie recipe that is reminiscent of the flavor of Creamsicles to share with you. These cookies are incredible on their own, and even better when used to make ice cream sandwiches with, which is a really decadent treat that I think you’ll love.
2 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 cups (a 12 ounce package) Nestle Toll House Premier White Morsels
Heat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg and orange peel.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Stir in white chocolate chips.
Use a cookie scoop (I use the OXO medium cookie scoop) or a spoon to place dough onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are light golden brown.
Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.
To use for making ice cream sandwiches, choose two equal sized cookies, and place a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream between them. Gently press together so the ice cream covers the whole cookie. Wrap the ice cream sandwich with plastic wrap and freeze.
Stephanie Hill-Frazier is a writer, food blogger and regional television chef, whose on-air nickname is "Mama Steph.“ She grew up in Gulf County, FL, on St. Joe Beach, a place she will forever call home.
She is married and has three sons who are substantially taller than she is. You can email her at Steph@whatsouthernfolkseat.com.