Mar 31, 2008

Who Invented Ice Cream?

This is a question I asked myself a long time ago. I had hoped to find a simple answer, such as .... so-and-so once did this, that and this and hey presto ice cream was invented! A nice idea but one however that just isn't true. We all have a tendency to think of things coming into existence because of a single person or event but often that's not the case with human history.

I've read many books and news articles and visited many resources on the subject of ice cream over the years and they all concur when it comes to "Who Invented Ice Cream?" Quite simply, ice cream was not invented by any one single person - it has evolved from many, individual developments over many centuries and in different parts of the world. From the first time that man found ice useful for food storage and preservation to how snow and ice became used in foods and beverages.

From an educational point of view, the question of "Who Invented Ice Cream?" is a great one for children - whether you're a teacher in school or a parent trying to find something new to interest your child. Follow the question through with some examples of what's happened over time to give rise to ice cream as they know it today and you will touch on subjects such as:

  • how ice was stored in the icehouses of Mesopatamia over 4,000 years ago

  • how the Chinese made their own type of ice cream with fruit juices as far back as the Song Dynasty (960-1279 BC)

  • how the ancient Greeks liked to flavor snow with fruit and honey over 2,000 years ago

Then you can move on to more recent and famous people who have associations with the history of ice cream - from the Roman Emperor Nero to Marco Polo to Charles I (King of England). After that you can ask them to name a movie star or singer with a love of ice cream - for clues on this go to my ice cream and famous people page.

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Mar 26, 2008

Ice Cream Jigsaws

Making ice cream at home can be fun, even for children (as long as they're supervised!) but once they've made and eaten the ice cream, how do you stop them wandering off to sit down and maybe watch tv or play the same old computer game over and over? Here's one answer - ice cream jigsaws.

Everyone loves jigsaws - I have many happy memories doing them with my son when he was younger - and because I know so many people love ice cream I decided to bring the two things together. Based on some of our own photographs on there are now 4 free, downloadable jigsaws you can do on your computer. The jigsaws are of 2 ice cream sculptures that my friend Barbra helped to make (Granny's House and Ice Cream Pyramids) and 2 ice cream sundaes that I made and photographed at home (Mint Choc Chip wafer basket sundae and Lemon Sorbet).

I hope the actual photographs that the jigsaws are based on might even serve to inspire some of you to make more of your own ice cream presentations - it's great fun and when you see people's reactions to what you've made it feels really worthwhile.

Read more about making ice cream sculptures

Here's a great daily jigsaw puzzle you can do online.

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Mar 21, 2008

Easter Foods, Traditions, Recipes

Celebrating Easter is a tradition in many parts of the world and usually involves a short holiday, allowing people to make time to get together with family and friends. Sharing the celebration of Easter also means sharing food so it's not surprising that there are also traditional foods for eating at this special time of year. These include hot cross buns, simnel cake and, of course, easter eggs.

Why then are certain foods associated with Easter? It's a good question and one which many of us overlook, simply taking forgranted that we may be given some simnel cake or a hot cross bun when out visiting over Easter. To answer this and other questions about Easter I decided to read more and I found 2 great websites which I'd like to share with you - for no reason other than they are really good, interesting resources of information.

The first is called Kaboose which is a well established site all about family, food, home and crafts. This page is worth visiting - ideas for Easter recipes (including an Easter Basket Cake).

The second is a page on the BBC website about Easter traditions which covers why certain foods have a connection with Easter - eg. simnel cake and hot cross buns. It also goes into the tradition of Easter eggs and why they are still so popular today.

If you are cooking a special Easter dinner this weekend, there's certainly no shortage of ideas for good recipes to try and, not wanting to miss out on such an opportunity, I'm going to add my 'three peneth' (great, old Yorkshire saying!) by suggesting one of my own recipes - rich white chocolate ice cream. I made some recently and even went so far as to add a little mashed banana as an experiment. The end result was delicious though a single scoop was more than enough for me as it was very rich!

Whatever you're doing over Easter - have a happy one!

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Mar 13, 2008

Food & Health - Chocolate to Green Tea

When I work through a new ice cream recipe I'm always interested to look beyond the end result of the homemade ice cream itself and read up on the properties of the ingredients. For example, when I made a honey ice cream I read about the history of honey and was fascintate to read about its health properties.

The same applied when I made chocolate ice cream and green tea ice cream. I read that chocolate is a great mood enhancer because it contains phenylethylamine; indeed two of the oldest women that ever lived (ages 119 and 122) admitted to being big eaters of chocolate all their lives. Could there be something in chocolate that benefits women's health? There's a lot of scientific research being done into chocolate and many other everyday foods; unravelling their mysteries will take time but may eventually be worth it.

Until then, perhaps women who like chocolate (like me!) will continue to seek more conventional women's health products to help cope with the stresses of modern living - from vitamins to detox remedies and more. Then there's your children's health to think about - vitamins for kids are well worth reading up on in order to ensure they get a good balanced diet - with a little chocolate thrown in for good measure of course!

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