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A few weeks ago, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Missed in History Class. The two hosts, Tracey V. Wilson and Holly Frey, have a knack for researching those little subjects you’ve wondered about but which weren’t broad enough to be taught in history class.

This particular podcast explored the history of ice cream. Yea baby! You can read about it and get links to all the sources Tracey and Holly used by clicking here.  But the basic back story of this wildly popular, All-American dessert is that it was first created, by all accounts, in Asia. It does appear that it really became a popular treat with the birth of the American colonies but, contrary to popular American belief,  ice cream was not invented here.

I decided to do my own ice cream weekend here on the blog. I’d seen recipes as I flipped through my cookbook collection but had never really considered trying any of them out, for whatever reason. But now I was inspired. Also, I’m hungry. Also it’s summer!

I’m doing three recipes this weekend, from different cookbooks and different time periods. We’ll cover them in chronological order, from oldest to newest. They’re vastly different in methods and ingredients. Only one involves eggs, which is interesting to me because the only other ice cream recipe I’ve ever tried is the one that came with my Kitchen Aid ice cream maker-and it contains a lot of eggs!

Tracey and Holly say George Washington was known for his love of ice cream-and so I went right to my copy of Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats but it contains no recipe. Boo. I did find Hannah Glasse’s recipe from the American edition of her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1805; the first was published in London, England, in 1747). It is nearly identical to the recipe I’ll post tomorrow for Strawberry Ice Cream, so stay tuned!

On Sunday, come back to find a recipe for the most intriguing creation in our frozen trio-Cornflake Ice Cream!

But we’ll begin with this recipe for Common Ice Cream, also known as Vanilla Ice Cream, taken from Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches, published in 1840. I must confess I am not a fan of vanilla. I think most brands taste like the inside of a refrigerator. But this one is smooth, creamy, and not too sweet.

Before the advent of grocery stores, a cook would get the vanilla flavor by splitting the bean into pieces and boiling it in just a few tablespoons of milk until the flavor was extracted. But you can use vanilla extract-real, not imitation, for the best taste.

• 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk (you can use skim if you like)
• 2 tablespoons corn starch
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream
• 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons of milk and corn starch until you have a thin paste. Set aside.

This is what gives it a nice, creamy thickness.

This is what gives it a nice, creamy thickness.

Combine the rest of the milk and heavy whipping cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

You can use skim milk to help reduce the fat content-the heavy whipping cream really cancels it out anyway!

You can use skim milk to help reduce the fat content-the heavy whipping cream really cancels it out anyway!

Stir in the cornstarch paste, the vanilla extract, and the sugar and bring to a rolling boil.

Use real, not imitation. It's worth the price.

Use real, not imitation. It’s worth the price.

Take off the heat, pour the mixture into another container, and bring to room temperature-occasionally stirring to remix the thin layer of solids which will form along the top.

Once it’s cooled to room temperature, put the mixture into the freezer for about an hour until it’s cold but not frozen at all.

Then churn in your ice cream maker and pour it into a freezer safe container. Freeze it the rest of the way.

Common Ice cream isn't common at all! Delicious vanilla with a creamy texture.

Common Ice cream isn’t common at all! Delicious vanilla with a creamy texture.

And enjoy! Come back tomorrow for Strawberry Ice Cream!