It is happening. In just one week’s time, daffodil clusters have created bursts of bright color and trees are tinged with shades of green and red. Even the grass is growing back from its long winter sleep.
As I walk at the park, I see my first dragonfly and my first mosquito. But aside from nature’s reminders, another yearly ritual announces this springing season.
I ask my friends, “Do you know what is happening on Monday?” And at least one of them guessed. The Chief reopens for the season.
It’s one of those places everyone knows about somehow. They don’t do a lot of advertising, but the word travels. What I like about The Chief, aside from its butter pecan, chocolate or English toffee ice cream (yes, now you can peg my ice cream personality), is its role as a community gathering place.
Throughout the hot summer, there will invariably be lines of people waiting their turn for one, two or three scoops in a cone or a bowl. No one seems to really mind the wait because you’re bound to run into someone you worked with or went to school with or played music with.
And you know that when you do get up to the window, you will get exactly what you came for.
It’s a destination for all ages. It welcomes all versions of family groupings. Cars pull up, park and the variety of people that make up this community get out to wait in line.
I often see bicyclists and bikers, standing beside their chosen modes of transportation, eating their ice cream. Baseball and softball players leave the diamond and cross the street for a cold treat.
It’s not just the ice cream that pulls you in. It’s the relaxed setting, the mix of ages and ethnicities, the social buzz and knowing that somehow we are all equals waiting in line. It’s one of those food traditions that goes way beyond food. And I love it.
Meanwhile, I am getting into the mood for other warm weather foods. This week, it was key lime pie. Next week, I’ m hoping to make my first batch of meadow tea, a mix of fresh mint and lemon.
But come Monday, I’ll be at The Chief, getting a pint or two to take home. And it might just work perfectly alongside another serving of key lime pie. Here is the recipe I use.
Key lime pie
- 1¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ⅓ cups butter, melted
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup plus 2 T. lime juice
- 2 tsp. grated lime zest
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ tsp. cream of tartar
- ½ cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix graham cracker crumbs with the butter. Press into the bottom and sides of a pie pan. Bake for 5 minutes. Leave oven on.
- For filling: beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, until
- Beat egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk at high speed for about 5 minutes. Add lime juice and zest. Pour into crust and bake for another 8 to 12 minutes, or until filling is mostly set. Remove from the oven and turn oven up to 400 degrees.
- To make meringue, beat egg whites to soft peaks, add cream of tartar and slowly add sugar. Continue beating until egg whites are glossy and firm, but not dry. Top pie with the meringue. Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes until the meringue is topped with a tiny bit of gold.
- Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.