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Our school year ended, not so much with a bang, but with a vote, a shimmy, and shake– A refreshing treat and a discussion of what “strawberry” ice cream really involves.

As the weeks whittled down we all grew anxious. My students, anxious for the end of the school year and their summer plans. For me, it was the need to fill those last few weeks that always seemed so far away with recipes. What to make, what to make, yes I procrastinate. So I did what is never advised with a room full of kids: I gave them the choice.

With rational adults a choice is appreciated. We all love a vote. It’s democratic. But for a room full of kids, 4 years to 11 years old, a choice is a very bad thing. It means someone does not win. It means you might not win. I knew going in I was setting myself up for potential disaster, but I also knew I only had to hear the moans for another week. No problem. By next school year all would be forgotten.

The choice:
Sushi or Ice Cream

“Ha! No brainer,” you say reading this. It’s obvious kids want ice cream over sushi. My counselors said the same thing: “Why even bother voting? You know what’s going to win.” [And yes, I obviously give it away in the title.]

But I wasn’t so sure. Students had been asking me for weeks if we could make sushi. The reality was, I wanted to comply with this request [hello, my students are asking to make sushi, not burgers, hot dogs, or fries — or ice cream!]. But for weeks leading up to the end of the year there was a day off here, my requiring a sub there. It all added up to one class missing out on sushi.

The week approached and the vote was on:
Sushi or Ice Cream.

Monday, my youngest and usually craziest class. I was sure they’d go for ice cream. Winner? Sushi.
Tuesday, my largest and most sophisticated for their age. I was sure sushi would be a winner. Ice Cream.
Wednesday, my fourth and fifth graders? Tie!
This was getting crazy. Counselors were asking me daily for vote results, anxious themselves and ready to fight it out as to who would aid me in the classroom should their choice win.
Thursday, my smallest and quietest class. Ice Cream.
Friday, the most inquisitive group with many returning chefs. Sushi.

So there we had it — a tie! In which case, everyone loses and the deciding vote goes to what I have the energy for. The winner? Ice Cream. But alas, my vote was bias. Other than ice cream requiring much less energy to have them assemble on my part [and much more on their part], it was also a recipe I was itching to test for the summer. And yes, this makes an amazing, low mess, delicious summertime activity.

I present my students the ingredients: whipping cream, sugar, choice and fruit and bags.

We’ll be making ice cream in bags. While I grow increasingly uncomfortable using plastic, I do admit in certain cases, like large classes of children, it works wonders. Truthfully, if I was doing this in small groups I would use a jar, or other reusable container. But the bonus with this recipe:  Everyone gets their own flavor to create (see a choice where everyone wins) and everyone gets to eat exactly same amount (see, no fighting that someone received more). Easy peasy.

But of course, we must have discontent, right? Even when we’re making ice cream.

We’re all cutting up our own personal choice of seasonal fruit: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or peach. When one student slicing strawberries, stops, puts her knife down and laments:

“This isn’t going to be real ice cream! This isn’t how you make it!”

Well, how do you make real ice cream?
“With strawberry flavor juice!”
[What I really want to do is scream at this child: Have you learned nothing this year!? So I take a deep breath…]
“And how do you make strawberry flavored juice?”
“From strawberry flavor. Umm… strawberries?”

Truth be told that was sort of a trick questions. Strawberry flavored juice could easily be made by just pounding some strawberries into a pulp. This is what we’ll be doing. But you can also make it in a lab, with nothing that actually looks like a strawberry, that has synthetic color and flavor added to produce a strawberry flavored juice.
Exactly. Let’s keep making our ice cream.

So we continue and the result?
“This is delicious…. No, let me correct: This is magic.”

There you have it.

Delicious. Magical.

And the shimmy and shake the year ended with? Just watch the creative ways your kids get shaking up their personal treat.

Ice Cream In-a-Bag
Serves 1
1/4 cup chopped, choice of seasonal fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peach, etc)
1 tablespoon cane sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup large granule salt (rock salt ideal but large Kosher would also work)
Ice cubes (enough to fill gallon-size bag half full)
1 pint-size ziplock bag
1 gallon-size ziplock bag

Combine fruit and sugar in small ziplock bag, smash until pulpy. Add whipping cream to bowl and seal tightly. [You can test the seal by slowly turning the bag upside down, making sure the seal holds.] Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds to begin mixing ingredients and whipping cream.
Place sealed pint-sized bag inside the gallon-sized bag. Add salt and ice to the gallon bag. Seal the gallon bag tightly. Shake vigorously, about 5 to 8 minutes, until ice cream hardens. [You can stop at soft-serve consistency or shake/ chill further until a sturdier ice cream is complete.]*
Remove the pint bag from the larger one, if available, rinse the pint-size bag to reduce the chance of excess salt getting on hands and subsequently into the ice cream if eating straight from the bag– or carefully spoon ice cream into a cone or bowl.

*Note: In class we found that a number of the larger gallon-sized bags would tear, whether from ice or shaking, so make sure to have some extras on hand. You know its torn when water seems to be leaking, rather than just melting ice.

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