Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

“How do you make snow cream?”

My daughter stands in the snow along the side of our driveway. The drifts are impressive, completely encasing our cars, but it is the fact that the snow on the ground (not drifts) is as deep as she is tall that catches my eye.

My daughter provided for scale. This is a lot of snow. We were digging out for days. (Photo: Shala Howell)

We’re moving again later this spring. We’re pretty excited about our new place and are full of grand plans to repaint its walls, remodel its bathrooms, and refinish its floors. So while I don’t have to deal with movers quite yet, I am spending totally inappropriate amounts of time with contractors expressing completely appropriate amounts of shock over their bids, and adjusting to the new reality that Life’s Little Pleasures must now all be calculated in terms of rooms which we could otherwise paint, and judged accordingly.

  • Dinner for two at the Rosebud Steakhouse: 14.5% of a bedroom (Not gonna happen)
  • A new dishwasher: 67% of a kitchen (Here’s hoping that old Lady Kenmore’s got a few more months in her)
  • My cousin’s latest book: 2.25% of a laundry room (That one’s clearly worth it. Yay, Michele!)

All of which is a very long-winded way to say, “I’m distracted, here’s a Classic End of Winter Caterpickle to tide you over.”

The Bubonic Snowflake & Other Perils of Snowpocalyse 2013

Originally published February 8, 2013.

The Snowpocalypse is upon us. When The Five-Year-Old and I heard that Governor Patrick had ordered the roads in Boston had closed to all non-emergency travelers, we decided to take a walk. Before you call the Governor to report us, this is what our neighborhood looked like at the time.

There is only a trace of snow on the ground and none falling from the sky.

My daughter stoops over to inspect a fallen branch. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Clearly, there wasn’t much going on. The news made it sound like it might be our last chance to get out for a while, so we wanted to make the most of it.

Plus The Five-Year-Old had some work to do. She needed to help Daddyo gather snow for snow cream. Snow cream is pretty much the only part of winter Daddyo likes.

If you want to make snow cream, you’re going to need some supplies

Daddyo has been openly planning to make snow cream all week. My kitchen counter has been taken over by a small platoon of sweetened condensed milk. If the supplies are any indication, my husband is planning to make use of every inch of the two feet of snow we’re expected to get here over the 24 hours.

You’ll also need snow

All the talk of snow cream has made The Five-Year-Old pretty eager for the storm to arrive, as you might imagine. As soon as she saw the first flakes starting to fall, she ran outside with her little blue cup to collect enough snow to get a head start on treat.

The results were suboptimal.

My daughter holds an empty blue cup. Behind her is a sidewalk free of snow and a yard of patchy green and yellow grass. The only snow in the picture is a thin line of it along the border between then yard and the sidewalk.

My daughter didn’t have much luck catching snow in her little blue cup. But she shouldn’t feel bad. The ground isn’t having much luck catching snow either. (Photo: Shala Howell)

For The Five-Year-Old, anyway. Mommyo was pretty happy about all the running around required to collect those few drops of water.

Fortunately for The Five-Year-Old, Daddyo had better luck. He’s clearly fished for snow before.

A silver bowl rests on a snow covered grill. There is lots of snow on the ground and a greyish cast to the air that implies more falling.

Instead of running around trying to catch snow in a cup, Daddyo simply waited for the storm to really get going and then put a giant silver bowl on our snow covered grill.

Snow + condensed milk + vanilla = snow cream

Once Daddyo had collected enough fresh snow, he added some sweetened condensed milk and a touch of vanilla.

A bowl of what looks like vanilla ice cream but is really snow cream in front of a snowy window.

Snow cream!

SNOW CREAM! Ah, sweet nectar of the Snowpocalypse. Totally worth the inner chill that sends you scurrying under the nearest blanket after you’ve eaten it. And that slightly unsettled feeling you get while waiting to find out whether the e. coli that live in the upper atmosphere and form the basis of snowflakes are the sort that will kill you or not.

Daddyo: “Wait. Are you telling me that you can stick out your tongue to catch a snowflake and get the plague?”

Fortunately for us snowflake catchers and snow cream connoisseurs, Georgia Tech microbiologist Kostas Konstantinidis thinks that the vast majority of the bacteria living in snowflakes are harmless.  Of course, he’s not completely done analyzing his sample of snow-encrusted bacteria yet. He could still find some pathogens in there, and if so, he says, that could affect the way disease spreads through the world.

Daddyo: “Bubonic snowflakes. Awesome. How has the human race survived?”

A view down a snow covered driveway. There are cars there, but they are wrapped in a uniform blanket of snow as deep as my five-year-old is tall. And I'm not talking about the drifts. The drifts are much taller.

Oh what a difference 24 hours makes. The (then) Five-Year-Old provided for scale. The drift behind her is our Camry.

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