Once upon a time in the tree-lined streets of my childhood, children frolicked on the front lawn playing chasings, hide'n'seek and badminton—and rode their bicycles on the road with their ears peeled, listening eagerly for the sound of the ice cream van which made regular rounds of the suburbs.
Greensleeves and The Happy Wanderer were among the tinny tunes that rang through the streets from the speaker on the ice cream van—music that brought a smile to the faces of kiddies and adults alike. My dad and I would line up together to buy a vanilla soft serve dipped into warm melted chocolate—a family favourite. My mother preferred soft serve in a tub, drizzled with chocolate topping and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. I have particularly fond memories of the frozen yoghurt sold by an ice cream vendor at the South coast. On one occasion in the late 70s, when my then husband and I were playing Gin Rummy with my parents (as you did when you visited family in those days), we heard the tinkle of the ice cream van coming towards the house. With stupendous excitement we threw down our cards, leapt out of our chairs, grabbed our wallets and raced outside—much to my mother's amusement, for we were in both our twenties!
How times have changed. These days, it seems that children no longer play 'out the front' and, judging by the playground in the vicinity of our home, they rarely venture outdoors other than to the backyard of the family home. Actually, on Christmas day when Peter and I went for an early morning walk, it struck both of us that not one single child was outside playing with a new toy. Why is this so?
There's no sign of an ice cream van either—at least not in our local neighbourhood and I don't think I've seen one for years, other than parked near the Flagstaff Lighthouse at Wollongong Head. Research tells me that nowadays rather than being delighted, people are irritated by the sound of the ice cream van. Reading some of the online forums on the topic, I note that people have mixed feelings about ice cream vans. Many question the hygiene of the vendors and their equipment, others debate the price ($5.00 or more vs 30 cents for a soft serve from the 'golden arches'). There are comments also on the risks associated with allowing children to play outside (!) and fears of children being snatched by the driver. I suppose I could agree with one or two of the points raised, but somehow I feel that today's youngsters are missing out. Or am I simply too nostalgic for my own good? What say you, dear readers?
Tinny tunes like this rang through the streets...
One of my favourite treats was frozen yogurt...
A recipe for yoghurt berry icy poles that was published on the wonderful SBS Food web site caught my eye, evoking memories of summers past and ice cream vans, and here I'm sharing my take on that recipe (which was originally created by Sally Courtney from the food dept.). When I first read the recipe, I wondered about the addition of the lemon syrup, but having tasted the finished product, I have no qualms. This frozen yoghurt is completely exquisite!
MIXED BERRY FROZEN YOGHURT
1 cup water
3/4 cup golden caster sugar*
zest from 1 lemon
500ml Greek yoghurt
250g frozen mixed berries
Wash the lemon and then strip the zest using a sharp peeler. Combine the sugar, water and zest in a saucepan, and bring gently to the boil, stirring occasionally. Lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool.
Meanwhile, chop the berries into smaller pieces, then combine with the yoghurt. Remove the lemon zest+ from the syrup and fold the syrup into the berry yoghurt mixture. Spoon the mixture evenly into dariole or ice block moulds. Freeze for several hours until set. Allow to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before serving, as this yoghurt sets especially hard once frozen. Makes up to 10 x 125ml ice blocks/icy poles.
* I prefer to use unrefined golden caster sugar for more flavour, but I used less than the original recipe called for.
+ I added the candied zest and the sliced lemon to a bottle of iced water, rather than wasting it.
In dariole moulds, ready to be frozen...
This frozen yoghurt is completely exquisite...
It's hot outside, so dive in and enjoy...
More delicious ice cream recipes...
If you love ice cream as much as I do, you might enjoy my recipes for Pedro Ximenez vanilla raisin ice cream, my basil, lemon and passionfruit ice cream, or my chocolate and fresh mint ice cream (which one friend said was the sexiest ice cream she had ever eaten!).
Once upon a time in the tree-lined streets of my childhood...
Tell me dear readers, does an ice cream van still drive around the streets in your neighbourhood? And do children in your part of the world play 'out the front'? Share your memories on the history of ice cream vans in your part of the world.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for stopping by to read Good Things, and sharing your thoughts and experiences. I read and appreciate every single comment, and enjoy your emails as well. For those readers who are not food bloggers (I know you are out there), please feel free to pop in and comment too. I love hearing from all of you!
Bizzy Lizzy xox
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.