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Monique Keiran: The cool comfort of eating ice cream

As a child, Monique Keiran spent many, many hours outdoors in all seasons tending the old ice cream churn. Thank goodness there are plenty of easier ways to get ice cream in Greater Victoria.
Ice Cream GettyImages-1161805849
For some, a heatwave is nothing more than an excuse to eat some ice cream.

Victoria and surrounding communities provided cooling stations during the recent heat spell where residents could find relief from the 30°-plus temperatures.

Although not averse to being misted or fanned when necessary, Nature Boy prefers cooling himself from the inside out. To him, a heatwave is nothing more than an excellent excuse to eat (yet more) ice cream.

He favours coffee-flavoured varieties but willingly tucks into frozen mango, berry, licorice, ginger and mint chocolate chip treats. In a bowl, in a cone, on a stick, sandwiched between cookies, meringue or macarons, covered in chocolate, weird orange coating, or dipped in shredded coconut (coconut ice cream dipped in roasted coconut – mmmm”) — as long as it doesn’t contain walnuts (“too often rancid”), peanuts (“well, yuck”) or bananas (“no comment”), he’s happy.

With so many Victoria-area artisan companies making the frozen delight, he’s in luck. Mosi, Cold Comfort, Parachute, 49 Below and Kid Sister all rank high on his snacking go-to list. He’ll stop by Fol Epi and Ottavio for a scoop or two of frosty flavour. Even the grocery store standbys by Island Farms find favour.

I too enjoy the frozen yumminess of ice cream, gelato, sorbet, sherbet, frozen yogurt or iced custard.

I also prefer to leave the making of them up to others. As a child, I spent many, many hours outdoors in all seasons tending the old ice cream churn. It had an electric-powered crank, but the bucket needed constant topping up and the melting ice regularly plugged the bucket’s drain. My job was to tend the machine as it churned and juddered. I would sit outside the backdoor (who makes ice cream in winter?), crushing ice to top up the bucket – snow melted too quickly and ice cubes made for a granular ice cream), layering it with salt in the bucket, and clearing out the drain with a chopstick and stiff, frozen fingers.

It wasn’t as if we ever made chocolate or raspberry ice cream. My mother, being a thrifty soul who used what was at hand and free and having a palate that was, well, sometimes decidedly “interesting,” dictated the ice cream would always be industrial mint spiked with backyard choke cherries.

I was also tasked with pitting those cherries. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I suspect my mother found it a good way to keep me occupied and out of her hair for an hour or two at a time. And with the fruit being puckery sour, she was also assured they’d be safe from snacking, leaving all of them for her own ends. Any that weren’t used immediately were frozen for use in the November to March batches of ice cream.

In a fit of selectively forgetful nostalgia a few years ago, I toyed with the idea of home-made ice cream. I had at least sufficiently good sense to borrow a 21st-century ice cream maker from a friend to test drive both it and my commitment.

On the positive side, her machine was much easier to use than the one I’d worked with decades ago.

However, it could make only a small batch at a time. In between batches — and the extensive cleanup required — the cold-transfer component had to sit for hours in the deep freeze.

I thoroughly tested its limits and limitations.

Any rosy-tinted desire I had harboured regarding making my own fruit sherbets and frozen yogurts ended quite spectacularly when I didn’t quite properly assemble one of the various machine components before pouring the fruit mixture into the bucket.

I spent the rest of the day mopping and washing the kitchen countertops and floor.

The thrill of ice cream and similar treats for me is now limited to eating it.

It could be worse. I could be stuck in an overheated home during a heatwave with no way to cool off and nowhere to go to escape.