It’s not, despite the jingle, Rice-a-Roni. No, the true, old school, San Francisco treat is an It’s-It, a chocolate-covered oatmeal cookie ice cream sandwich, originally invented by George Whitney in 1928, and sold for decades at San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach. Now that the playground is gone, It’s-Its are made in a small factory near San Francisco airport. We’ve been driving past the factory for years, and finally the other day I looked at the website to see if they offer factory tours. Sadly, no. We drowned our sorrows in homemade It’s-Its:
Want a closer look? I thought so:
I know I should make jam. Every summer the local paper runs an article about jam making, with lots of delicious-looking recipes and helpful instructions. Every summer my good friend invites me over to her kitchen to make jam with her. I know it’s not hard, and the fact that I don’t have good tongs for lifting jars out of a hot water bath shouldn’t stop me. My grandparents all made preserves of various sorts (jams, pickles, jellies), and now my parents do, too.
But somehow the insistent chorus of “It’s easy!” is not having the intended effect on me, and I continue to stick with the oven, not the stove.
Occasionally, the farmer who sells our biweekly mystery box offers little extras, produced by her friends and other farmers, for sale. A pound of homemade lard for instance (pass), or a dozen farm eggs (yes, please). Sometimes it’s cheese or honey (sign us up), and this past week it was flats of apricots.
I thought about it. A whole flat is an awful lot of apricots. On the other hand, apricots don’t need to be peeled; they don’t even need a knife to slice them — you can just crack them open at the stem end with your thumbs. Apricots can be frozen easily, or pureed, baked into things and of course, eaten fresh by the handful.
I signed up for a flat. We probably ate a dozen the first day, and continued to eat lots of the apricots fresh out of the box over the next few days. And here’s what I did with the rest of them:
And then I froze a tray in order to capture some of this summer gold for the rainy winter to come.
England is not generally known for its ice cream, and that’s ok — having contributed clotted cream (not to mention many fine cheeses) to civilization their dairy reputation is secure. Still, as in Paris, there’s ice cream everywhere here. From trucks that dish up soft serve cones (and, for an extra 70p, how can you resist the addition of a nice chocolatey Flake bar?) to corner store freezers with a fabulous assortment of frozen treats.
Meanwhile, after days of suggesting brightly (usually as a procrastinatory, “I don’t want to go into this museum” kind of tactic), “Let’s have a little feast!” Eli was delighted to find in Oxford an ice cream bar called Feast. He will never think of feasts the same way again.