An Ice Cream Lover's Other Favorite Food
by Martin Brown
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes from invited artists and community members consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.
Co-owner of Little Baby's Ice cream recalls his fondest food memory and his vision for future memories of Philadelphia, as well as an excellent recipe for Little Baby's Maryland BBQ Ice Cream.
I didn’t grow up in Philly. Water ice and cheesesteaks after Phillies games only exist in my adult memory bank. I grew up in metropolitan Washington D.C. on the Maryland side—a land of lawyers and politicians and a whole bunch of medical research facilities. My current feeling about the nation’s capitol is that it lacks a lot of the culture I’ve come to grow and love in the City of Brotherly Love. It’s a city of transients with very few born-and-bred's or long term-ers (my mother, aunt, and cousin respectively.) Besides the few Ethiopian jazz joints and its impressive square footage of world class museums, I don’t know much else about it other than what I’ve seen on Homeland or Scandal.
However, in my pre-Washington Nationals childhood, I do have memories of Camden Yards, crab cake sandwiches, and bushels of crabs around my Aunt’s swimming pool on the Fourth of July. It’s one of my fondest memories of childhood and of food. A Philadelphia resident for fifteen-plus years now, I’ve tried to recreate many of those memories with an annual South Philly/Maryland-style crab feast (that I unfortunately didn’t have the energy to pull off this summer) in the prison cell of a row home patio I’ve called a backyard for the past seven years. To me, it signifies that summer has happened and been enjoyed.
So yeah—crabs, and of course, ice cream. What food better encapsulates nostalgia than ice cream? That post little league win—or lose—(it didn’t matter if you still got ice cream), that first date, that spot at the shore you went to every July and waited in line for half an hour, that time you finally tried a new flavor, like Earl Grey Sriracha at a Pizza Museum in East Kensington. Wait, what?
Whatever odd twist of events that took me from being a jazz musician to an urban ice cream store owner has somehow been following that mission. Ice cream should be year-round, enjoyed by all, and an experience, a memory, a feeling! As a co-owner of Little Baby’s Ice Cream I’ve wanted to help create new memories for the residents of this city—new flavors that only Philly could create. I’ve wanted to create that post-game little league hang, that first date spot, that place you go every Friday after a pizza, and only have to wait in line for three minutes to enjoy.
What is the Philadelphia I remember? It’s coming to do an arts summer program and realizing that both the city and myself had potential and that we could mutually help each other out. What do I love about the city today? Well, that a lot of that potential has been realized. It’s growing; I’m growing, and that the Philadelphia I imagined has sort of already happened, at least for me. I’ve made a few dreams come true for myself and I can’t imagine any other city having the potential to give me that opportunity.
Little Baby’s Ice Cream’s nod to my Maryland roots is a not-all-that-popular flavor called Maryland BBQ (Old Bay and BBQ sauce). Like most of our savory flavors it has a polarizing effect. About 80% of people pass for something sweeter and 20% can’t get enough of it. But for the home ice cream maker, I would recommend making a vanilla ice cream and swirling in the Maryland BBQ sauce to taste. Enjoy!
Here's a recipe adapted for home ice cream machines:
Little Baby's Ice Cream presents: Maryland BBQ (custard style)
This recipe for Little Baby's Maryland BBQ Ice Cream has been adapted from the commercial recipe for use with home ice cream making machines; frozen bowl models, automatics, old-timey hand-crank jawns, etc.
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups milk (we prefer Trickling Springs Creamery Organic Whole)
- 1 cup heavy cream (we prefer Trickling Springs Creamery Organic)
- 1/2 cup cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon traditional Old Bay Seasoning
- ¼ cup - your favorite BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s, etc)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 tablespoon high quality (not imitation) vanilla extract
For the custard style ice cream:
- Place 4 egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and lightly mix with a fork
- In a small pot, heat milk and cream on stove-top over medium heat until light bubbles from one side of the pot
- Turn heat down to low and add vanilla extract and beans from the split vanilla pod
- Steep for about 3 minutes, then strain
- Temper (pour small amounts so eggs don't cook) half of milk & cream w/ tea mixture into egg & sugar bowl
- Temper egg & sugar mixture back onto stove top on lowest heat
- Whisk continually on low until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and not drip
- Pull from stove and let cool (covered) in refrigerator overnight
- Put in pre-frozen ice cream bowl (if your particular machine requires it) and blend for about twenty minutes.
- Freeze overnight for hard ice cream OR dump it all into a heavy ziploc bag, snip the corner, and pipe it out into a cone as soft serve
For the BBQ sauce:
-Combine the Old Bay and BBQ sauce until mixed
-Add sparingly “to taste” during the last final turn of the ice cream mixer before the end or apply as a topping once scooped.
-Also feel free to add Old Bay at the same time as vanilla for a savory ice cream base and use straight BBQ sauce as topping or swirl.
-Remember: Be Weird.