On one of our first days of summer vacation, the team visited Pineland Farms in New Gloucester to make ice cream. Paula Letiecq, who teaches the class, is a friend, so we were thrilled to visit for the morning. She tells us we’ll be making three kinds of ice cream: strawberry, vanilla, and M&M cookie.
Before class gets started, Paula reads the children a book called The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson. The kids in class are smitten with the story, which details all of the expected things farm animals enjoy eating, like corn and hay. But the cow? She loves cookies (much like her audience).
After the story, Paula talks about the ingredients we’ll use to make ice cream—many of them sourced locally. The whole milk comes from Pineland’s Holstein cows, the fresh strawberries from Gillespie Farms in New Gloucester, and the cookies are made onsite at the Market bakery.
Paula discusses where heavy cream comes from, and passes a carton from Hood around the room. She shows the class a vanilla bean, and lets the children pass it around the circle. “The smell of vanilla always reminds me of home,” Paula says.
She invites the kids to gather around a table where most of the ingredients are pre-measured in Mason jars. The children divide into three groups and take turns adding and mixing the milk, sugar, cream, and vanilla. When the prep work is complete, two of the mixes are poured into Cuisinart ice cream makers.
Paula saves the plain vanilla mix for an ice cream game. In a large, lidded plastic container she mixes rock salt and ice. She places the vanilla mix into a smaller lidded container and puts it on top of the ice. She seals both lids and invites the kids outside to play.
The children gather in a circle on the lawn. Paula tells them to roll the white container to each other and announce their favorite ice cream flavors when they do. The kids love this activity. There’s nothing like playing a game and simultaneously making vanilla ice cream on a hot June day.
After 25 minutes of play, Paula checks inside the canister to see if the ice cream is done. She thinks the mix still looks a little soft, so we bring the canister back inside to roll it around on the wooden floor.
The M&M cookie batch is the first to be complete. We all wait patiently while Paula serves this flavor. And oh, this ice cream is heaven. MP is amazed by how creamy and fresh it tastes. She makes a note to buy herself an ice cream maker soon.
The other batches are just as good. The strawberry has the consistency of a smoothie, but tastes as sweet as the fresh strawberries used to make it. The vanilla from the container comes out more like traditional hard serve. Everyone in the room is smiling and saying, Mmmm, between bites of ice cream.
To learn more about Pineland’s Summer Education Programs and how your family can participate, visit here.