Summary: Cold temperatures on the Ponderosa can be downright miserable especially when it lasts for weeks. With everyone becoming restless, Adam comes up with a creative and fun activity to combat cabin fever.
Rating: K / Word Count: 1343
The Cold Isn’t All Bad
“I’m so bored!” Little Joe let out a huff as he sulked past Ben on his way from the settee to look out the frosty window for what was probably the 100th time today.
Over the past week, Nevada was plunged into a deep freeze. Strong northerly winds keep pushing arctic air from the north into the region. There was no snow; only frigid cold. Temperatures barely rose above 0 degrees during the day with wind chills easily in the negative 20s or lower.
It wasn’t unusual for the Ponderosa to experience some unpredictable winter weather and a few days of cold temperatures every year. What was unusual was the prolonged cold. For the safety of everyone, Ben only allowed Adam or himself outside to care for the animals. It was now going on the second week of this routine and everyone was beginning to get restless. This meant that ten-year-old Little Joe hadn’t been outside the ranch house in well over a week. It was hard enough to keep him inside for a day or two, let alone over a week.
Ben had been trying to catch up on some book work all morning, but he wasn’t getting very far with his son’s incessant complaining.
“Joseph, if you don’t find something to do very soon, I will be sure to find something instead. I can guarantee you that your choice will be much more agreeable than what I will choose for you.” Ben fixed his youngest with a pointed look as he walked back towards the settee.
“But there’s nothing to do inside. Everything fun is outside.”
“Why don’t you sit down a read? Adam brought home all those books when he returned from college last summer. I’m sure you can find something you would enjoy.”
Joe collapsed on the settee once again, crossing his arms over his chest while casting a glare in the direction of the fireplace. He hated reading and he already knew nothing on Adam’s bookshelf would be interesting to read.
Meanwhile, Adam had paused in his own reading, glancing over the top of his book to watch the interaction between Joe and his father. Just like trying to reign in a wild horse, it was hard to keep someone with as much energy as Little Joe cooped up for long. It was only a matter of time before he got himself into some trouble which is something Adam didn’t want to see happen, even if Joe thought otherwise.
Adam softly closed his book before putting it down on the side table. “Hey, Joe. Come with me. I think I know of something fun we can do. Let me just go get Hoss first.”
Returning from upstairs with Hoss in tow, Adam ushered them all into the kitchen.
“Alright, Hoss I want you to go get the sugar and vanilla extract from Hop Sing’s pantry. Joe, I need you to get a mixing bowl, some spoons, and a cup.”
Both Joe and Hoss looked at each other, confusion written over their face, but hurried to get the items Adam requested.
While his brothers were getting the few items, Adam went into the root cellar to retrieve some extra cream Hop Sing was storing for future cooking and baking.
Back at the little table in the kitchen, Adam lined up all the items.
“Adam, what are we doing?”
“Making a dessert for all of us to enjoy.”
“Yum! What kind?”
“Just wait and see.”
Joe looked over at Hoss who just shrugged his shoulders in response. He was just as clueless as he was about what they were making.
“Alright Joe, you’re going to be in charge of the sugar and vanilla while Hoss is in charge of the cream. Joe, take the vanilla and measure 1 1/2 teaspoons before pouring it into the bowl.”
Adam waited while Joe carefully measured with one of the spoons and poured it into the bowl. “Great. Now, we need 1 1/2 cups of the cream.”
Once Hoss had added the cream to the bowl, Adam continued. “Finally, we will need 3 tablespoons of sugar.”
“Perfect! Hoss while I stir this could you find a large, empty tin can in the kitchen? I think I saw one in the cupboard by the pots and pans.”
Adam looked down at Joe while he continued to stir giving him an encouraging smile. Joe was still puzzled as to what they were creating, and Adam was loving the secret knowing both his brothers would enjoy the outcome very much.
A couple minutes later, Hoss returned with a clean tin can. Adam then poured the cream mixture into the can before securing the lid.
“Now we take it outside.”
“Yep.” Adam strolled determinedly to the back door with the tin can in his hand. Hoss and Joe just stood in place for a few seconds before jogging to catch up to their brother at the back door.
“But Adam, don’t we need to cook it? Hop Sing always cooks our desserts.”
“Nope. This one doesn’t need cooking. Hoss can you dig a little hole in that snowdrift over there for me?”
Adam waited for the hole to be dug before putting the tin can down into it. “There, now we wait. It shouldn’t take that long with how cold it is out here.”
Heading back inside, they waited an hour before Adam went back out to retrieve the can. They probably didn’t need to wait that long, but he wanted to be absolutely positive it was ready before he brought it back in.
Back in the kitchen, Adam asked Joe to get three bowls and some spoons while he worked to get the frozen top of the tin can open.
“Alright. Are you both ready for this?”
Adam scooped the now frozen cream mixture into each of the three bowls and handed one to each of them. He waited to taste his dessert eyeing both his younger brothers as they tried theirs first.
“It’s so yummy!”
“Sure is good. What do ya call this?” Hoss replied around a spoonful of the frozen treat.
“It’s called ice cream. It’s a fairly popular treat in the big cities back east, especially in the summer.”
“How’d ya know how to make it at home?”
“Well, that was a bit of an accident. Grandpa Stoddard unintentionally left some cream outside one winter. We didn’t realize it was out there all night until we wanted to use it the next morning at breakfast. All the liquid was completely frozen. Naturally, I couldn’t resist and tried a little bit of it. It wasn’t nearly as good as this, though, as it lacked the sugar and vanilla. Later, a friend told me about this recipe so I could make it with grandpa at home.”
“Well, I’m glad you both had that little accident. Otherwise, we’d never know about this yummy treat. Thanks for keeping me from being bored all day.”
“You’re welcome. Glad you both enjoyed it.”
As they all scraped the last of the ice cream from their bowls, Little Joe was already thinking of a way for them to make more.
“Hey, Adam? Can we make some more?”
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
“Well, I was just thinking that Pa and Hop Sing didn’t get to try it. I thought maybe we could make them some. And if there just happens to be some leftover, we can have a little more too.” Joe offered up the best puppy dog face he could make.
Adam chuckled at Joe’s reasoning before casting a sideways glance at Hoss. “I guess I don’t see why not. It’s not like we have that much to do today anyway. Go get the supplies ready.”
With that, Little Joe bounded off excited to be making more ice cream.
There’s no denying it, cold weather isn’t fun if you have to be outside. However, like most things you just have to find the good sides to them. Maybe the cold wasn’t entirely awful after all.
A/N: This story was inspired by the recent cold snap here in Nebraska the last couple of weeks where wind chills dropped well into the negative 30s for several days. I also have done this same activity at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) event for middle school girls for my work. It works basically the same way as in the story-same measurements (divide by 3 to get a single-serve) and ingredients (half-and-half or whipping cream works well). Also, you can play around with different flavoring extracts. No snow? You can use ice instead with about 6 tablespoons of ice cream salt inside a container with the cream mixture in a Ziploc bag. If you use ice and salt, shaking the container helps drop the temperature of the ice mixture much quicker, which is needed to freeze the cream mixture. Throwing the liquid cream mixture into the freezer works too if you don’t have ice.
Other Stories by this Author
- Eternal Legacy (by wx4rmk)
- Mother Nature’s Blessing (by wx4rmk)
- The Mysterious Crystal Cup (by wx4rmk)
- Knitted Memories (by wx4rmk)
- Hop Sing’s Fortune Cookies (by wx4rmk)