Sep 30, 2009

A Happy Coincidence - Thanks To The BBC

In the same week that I published my post "Castle Ice Cream's Smiling Faces" - a feature about the popular ice cream parlour at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire - I found myself watching a fascinating BBC TV programme entitled "Saving Britain's Past - The Country House". Focusing on how English country houses, castles and their estates have changed in the last century, the producers had selected one particular castle as the pivotal point for their programme and it just so happened to be .... Eastnor Castle! What a marvellous coincidence.

What's more, thanks to the BBC iplayer there is an online version of the programme for anyone who didn't get to see it. The opening shots of the castle are simply breathtaking and it's worth following the link for those alone. View it here: Eastnor Castle in Saving Britain's Past

One of the most interesting parts of the programme was the story of how the owners of so many of Britain's country houses and castles have had to change the way in which they fund the often, ongoing, specialised and very expensive repair work that these properties demand. Many have opened their doors to the general public as well as for corporate and private entertaining. Eastnor Castle is amongst those and its romantic lake setting has turned it into a popular 'exclusive use' wedding venue.

Reading the Eastnor Castle Blog gives a great insight into this unique country estate, more especially because its owner James Hervey-Bathurst (President of Britain's Historic Houses Association for the last 6 years) actually takes the time to write posts personally and about all manner of things - from features on the castle cat Nutkin to the story of the old 1962 estate works lorry, what the annual Spring cleaning at the castle involves to what it was like giving a keynote address entitled "The Restoration and Redecoration of Eastnor Castle, a Regency Mansion in the Welsh Borders" at the Charleston Art & Antiques Forum in the USA earlier this year. Incredibly varied and interesting posts and testimony to a man's love for his ancestral home. All that AND he encourages his visitors to enjoy quality, local made ice cream served in his own ice cream parlour. Now that's what I call style!

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Sep 26, 2009

Paul Newman's Recipe For Shared Happiness

It's not often that these words come together in a meaningful context:

  • celebrity

  • food

  • philanthropy

However, I can think of one person who achieved just that. He was a great actor and a unique individual. Who am I talking about? The legendary Paul Newman who died one year ago today.

He made some great movies, amongst which are two of my family's favorites - 'The Hustler' and 'The Color of Money'. Playing the character of 'Fast' Eddie Felsen, a pool hustler, he played it to perfection. No-one could have done it better. We are 9 ball fans in our house so these are must-see movies every once in a while.

However, in addition to being an exceptional actor, Paul Newman was perhaps one of the most genuine, modern day philanthropists the world has seen. If you visit his Newmans Own foods website there is a delightful video clip of him explaining how he started the company, by accident almost it seems and he goes on to talk about the need to help others less fortunate and how luck plays a part in all our lives. His words are spoken with genuine warmth, sincerity and honesty. His motives for the food company are clear and the success of Newman's Own Foundation is astonishing. Donating all profits to charity, the Foundation has given over US$265 million to charity since 1982. Learn more about Newmans Own Foundation

Paul Newman took his own food recipes and turned them into a unique success, getting the most important recipe right - the recipe for shared happiness. The world is certainly better for his having lived and, through his foundation, his energy and compassion will continue to shine for a long time to come. Perhaps the best description of him was actually made by himself when he once said ...

"I'd like to be remembered as a guy who tried — tried to be part of his times, tried to help people communicate with one another, tried to find some decency in his own life, tried to extend himself as a human being. Someone who isn't complacent, who doesn't cop out."

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Sep 19, 2009

Special Ice Cream Spoons

When I make ice cream sundaes at home, I always make a point of selecting the right ice cream glass and ice cream spoon. Now that may sound a little odd but it's true ... and important.

For example, if I make a fresh batch of ice cream and serve it straight from my ice cream maker, then a long, plastic ice cream spoon will suffice, especially if its for children. Plastic spoons are not hard and cold on the teeth and mine also have fun, colourful decorations on the end (miniature ice cream sundaes in fact) which children find attractive. However, if it's some ice cream made previously and just taken out of freezer storage then, even though it's been left a few minutes to soften a little, it can be a little tough to eat with a plastic spoon so in that case I select a long, stainless steel one. Not as decorative perhaps but more practical.

In addition to these spoons, however, there is another very different and very special one. It is stainless steel and has a double bend in the middle that allows you to place it on the edge of your ice cream sundae glass so you can take a break in between mouthfuls. Ingenious! I first saw it beside a wonderful chocolate ice cream sundae made for my husband at the San Remo Gelataria (ice cream parlor) in Zandvoort. The spoon was one of the parlor's special ones and when they saw my reaction to it they were kind enough to let me take it home! It now has pride of place in my 'ice cream cupbaord'. Molto grazie!

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Sep 12, 2009

Castle Ice Cream's Smiling Faces

I once heard the phrase "A smile costs nothing" and I have never forgotten it. The truth is that a smile only comes from inner happiness, a joy and sense of well being or satisfaction. Seeing a baby smile for the first time is a wonderful experience because you know it is feeling genuine happiness.

On holiday recently we stayed in a hotel where the bathroom mirror had printed around the rim the words "I have never seen a smiling face that wasn't a beautiful one".

In my own memory, I can never recall seeing someone that didn't smile whilst they were eating an ice cream cone or ice cream sundae. They may not even realise they are doing it but it's a natural reaction to a fun experience. Indeed, many of us as we grow older smile more than children when we eat ice cream.

Why is that?

Well, it could be because we feel it's just a little bit 'naughty', indulging ourselves in a special treat, especially if we are watching the calories intake or are dressed in smart clothes that don't need a splurge of ice cream dropped onto them from an ice cream cone!

Take this smartly dressed lady for example on the right, a recent visitor to Eastnor Castle's "Ice Cream Parlour" in Herefordshire, England.

She manages to enjoy a melting ice cream cone without spilling a single drop onto her clothing.

Nicely done!

Her friend (pictured left) clearly could not resist smiling whilst enjoying her ice cream cone. Again she manages to not spill a drop of it onto her clothes!

Even the girl serving behind the ice cream counter is smiling.

That's what I love about ice cream - the sheer fun of it. Whether you are a child or an adult, the magic is the same. It's also an eternal magic that never fades. In my view, as long as you love ice cream you will always be able to manage a smile.

PS. The ice cream these ladies are eating at the Eastnor Castle "Ice Cream Parlour" is, I am told, supplied by a local dairy called Brookes Dairy. Their ice cream range includes both traditional and unusual ice creams including Almond Praline, Cointreau & Orange and Choc American (vanilla with pecans, toffee and cookie pieces swirled with chocolate sauce). Don't they sound delicious! To read more go to Brookes Ice Cream products page. Even HRH Prince Charles has tasted their ice cream - and loved it!

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Sep 5, 2009

Ice Lollies, Ice Pops, Popsicles & Ice Blocks - Ice Cream On A Stick

Many of my readers are from the USA & Canada and to them the term "popsicle" is a familiar one. However, for the 1 in 5 of you who read my Blog Of Ice Cream and live elsewhere in the world, this word will be nothing more than a word you have perhaps heard in American movies. So let's look into this a little more ....

First of all, where did "popsicle" come from? Well, it was originally a brand name but, like many brand names (eg. Hoover), it was adopted as a genericized trade mark referring to any ice pop irrespective of brand. That perhaps explains why it's a term indigenous to North America.

In Britain the more familiar term is "ice lolly"

In Ireland it's "ice pop" or "lolly ice"

In Australia & New Zealnd it's "ice block" or sometimes "icy pole" (again from a brand name)

So who first made an "ice pop" or "ice lolly"? According to Wikipedia, it was back in 1905 when Frank Epperson (aged just 11) left a glass of soda water powder and water out on his porch with a wooden mixing stick in it. The temperature dropped below freezing that night and the next morning Frank found the soda water frozen inside the glass. When he ran it under hot water he found he could remove the frozen chunk using the stick ... and then naturally he ate it!

If you like popsicles - or ice pops - or ice lollies - or ice blocks (I'm sure I will have missed someone out here and if I apologise!), then try my rhubarb popsicle recipe. Delicious! There are also some great popsicle makers & molds to buy on the ICR Amazon store.

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