By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | January 28, 2015
Tell me, do you prefer your hot chocolate with marshmallows whole, dissolved or none at all?
My children are grown and off growing their careers but they left me something very important in their wake – incredibly fun memories.
As I begin writing today, what may become known as the “Blizzard of 2015” is bearing down on Jersey with all the force a nor’easter can muster. Families prepare; parents buy bread, milk and other supplies while children wear their pajamas wrong side out or mismatched socks in hopes of being granted snow days. I think of how we each view snow days at different times.
Snow cream was a highlight of every snowfall from my own childhood and now theirs. Almost ceremoniously, one of us would go out to gather a large mixing bowl of clean snow making sure is was nowhere near the area that Jim Bob used. Dry fluffy snow worked best while snow with ice crystals did not have as creamy a texture. Once the snow was inside I would stir it up as my grandmother Mur taught me. Like her, I never measured ingredients but the approximate recipe is below.
Mur’s Snow Cream
Large bowl of snow (at least a gallon)
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk (Some prefer condensed milk, sweetened or plain)
Add milk to bowl of snow a half a cup at a time. Snow will compact and appear to be much less than when you begin. Add sugar and vanilla and stir well. If you prefer stiffer snow cream then add less milk. If you prefer snow cream slushy then add more milk. We tended to scale back on sugar in later years while others used substitutes for sugar. Flavorings can be added if you wish but we preferred “the real thing.”
Chelsey and Katie once used my favorite rectangular plastic bowl to create bricks to build walls and an igloo. They came in to get warm and to have lunch. Then as soon as their coats were dry enough they were right back out there building snow men – and women. Katie sculpted her first anatomically-correct but armless Venus de Milo on our humble deck.
Children and snowfall equals soggy, drippy outerwear hung on chair backs to dry before the hot oven door. As I baked dinner, more pairs of socks dangled nearby than we have feet. Puddles grew from boots, gloves and scarves as I scooped them up for the washer, as much to dry them as to clean them.
Looking around I am reminded of our little poodle Jim Bob and how the girls giggled upon seeing his first jump from the deck only to disappear beneath the snow drifts. They toweled him dry after coming inside and dressed him in his favorite sweater.
The night chill kept them indoors after supper and we would all pile into the living room to watch a favorite movie or to listen to Chelsey read Scary Stories before bed. Katie would listen wide-eyed and cautious with Chelsey making the most of every creepy detail. Below are some of the YouTube Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories that Chelsey read to us back then:
Remembering all this takes me back to what is really important in life and it is not the soggy, wet clothes or time from school. The hidden gem is the memories we tuck away for later on. The girls are gone now but I still have a steamy hot cup of hot chocolate – with marshmallows dissolved, please.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
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