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We All Scream

Ice cream has a sweet history, too.


There’s no doubt that the relationship between children and ice cream is a special one. Most of us don’t know it, but that particular sweet-tooth craving has a long history behind it. The Van Cortlandt House Museum hosts a special workshop on July 16 geared to bringing alive “the history of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite dessert.” (In the likely event that the ice-cream fest is sold out—space is limited—it will be reprised on August 6; reserve now.) The day involves a short, fun lesson on how the treat was made in the eighteenth century—ice was actually (laboriously) harvested from the lake in Van Cortlandt Park in the winter and carefully preserved in an underground house. “The ice was cut into huge blocks and packed with clean sawdust in between, and hopefully it would last for the year,” says Laura Carpenter, director of the museum. “Ice cream was a delicacy, something that not everyone could have.” Carpenter doesn’t know exactly where the ice-storage house was situated because the structure disappeared without a trace. “It was a very simple building to get rid of—a wooden roof on the ground and a hole to fill in,” she says. Post-lesson, participants get to make vanilla ice cream with hormone-free (but not local) cream, vanilla, and sugar in a hand-crank (but not antique) freezer. It can take 25 to 45 minutes to get a good freeze, depending on the weather. If it’s too hot, the result might be cold, soupy cream, delicious in its own way. As kids wait their turn to crank, they’ll play colonial games (Red Rover, Red Rover; duck, duck, goose; hopscotch) and tour the house (no touching the children’s toys on the third floor!). And then, at long last, they’ll dig into the frozen fruit of their labor.

7/16, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Van Cortlandt Park, Broadway at W. 246th St., the Bronx ( or 718-543-3344); $10, reservations required.


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