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All this hot weather is, naturally enough, inspiring thoughts of ice cream.  And as I’m into the history of food, I started wondering when the first published recipe for ice cream appeared in Britain.  This is credited as appearing in 1718 in a book called ‘The Compleat Confectioner’ by Mary Eales.  So here is that recipe if you fancy a bit of icy history!

Ice Cream

Yummy, cooling ice cream

To Ice Cream, by Mary Eales 1718.

Take Tin Ice-Pots, fill them with any Sort of Cream you like, either plain or sweeten’d, or Fruit in it;

shut your Pots very close; to six Pots you must allow eighteen or twenty Pound of Ice, breaking the Ice very small; there will be some great Pieces, which lay at the Bottom and Top:

You must have a Pail, and lay some Straw at the Bottom; then lay in your Ice, and put in amongst it a Pound of Bay-Salt;

set in your Pots of Cream, and lay Ice and Salt between every Pot, that they may not touch; but the Ice must lie round them on every Side; lay a good deal of Ice on the Top, cover the Pail with Straw, set it in a Cellar where no Sun or Light comes, it will be froze in four Hours, but it may stand longer;

than take it out just as you use it; hold it in your Hand and it will slip out. When you wou’d freeze any Sort of Fruit, either Cherries, Rasberries, Currants, or Strawberries, fill your Tin-Pots with the Fruit, but as hollow as you can; put to them Lemmonade, made with Spring-Water and Lemmon-Juice sweeten’d; put enough in the Pots to make the Fruit hang together, and put them in Ice as you do Cream.

Alpine strawberries

alpine strawberries in the garden

To coincide with the first week of the Wimbledon tennis championships (taking place just down the road from here and famous for strawberries and cream!), our first alpine strawberries ripened this week.  They may be tiny, but boy, do they pack a lot of flavour.  They’re so easy to grow, especially if bought as small plants, and they make an attractive addition in pots on the deck.  They look fantastic sitting on top of a pile of cream or ice cream and they really do have the most intense strawberry flavour – the exact opposite of the huge, red, but insipid tasting specimens available year-round in supermarkets!

And to keep up the Wimbledon theme, we’ve discovered that the ideal accompaniment to Pimm’s is not lemonade, as previously thought, but elderflower cordial!  It’s less sweet and has a hint of vanilla.  Just perfect!

Tebay Services on the M6

The RAC in the UK have launched a campaign for better roadside services, where travellers can have picnics in pleasant surroundings.  It’s good timing for their ‘Picnic with the RAC’ campaign, what with ‘staycations’ due to the recession, and now we have the Icelandic ash cloud keeping holidaymakers on the ground.  Sign their petition here.

Mind you, they’re actually a bit late in the day, as I’ve been doing my bit on this subject for years – was my first website, started up as a result of my frustration with the appalling food available at motorway service stations.  It’s hard to understand why they have to be so bad and so expensive – and why more people don’t vote with their feet and go elsewhere!

And this very subject came up this morning on BBC Radio 2, when Chris Evans commented on how bad motorway services were.  His comments sparked a littly flurry of texts recommeninding the Tebay services at junction 38 on the M6.  This little slice of motoray heaven is also  described in  ‘B****cks to Alton Towers’ as ‘in every sense, a complete pleasure’.

So, have you ever been to Tebay services?  Or found any other roadside picnic spots or eateries you’d like to recommend?

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