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Summer is in full throttle, and we are searching for ways to cool down. One of the most traditional ways is ice cream! Last summer, I wrote a column on how to make homemade ice cream. This year, I am going to take it a step further with some ideas on how to eat that creamy, delicious treat several different ways.

My Daddy was a Soda Jerk when he was a teenager, and shared a lot of that knowledge with us by making us some great ice cream treats.  Ah, I just loved his banana splits.  He always used a scoop of vanilla, a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of strawberry, sandwiched between two slices of banana and topped with chocolate sauce, a few chopped nuts, whipped cream and a cherry on top.  My favorites though, were his floats.  What are floats? Simply a glass of your favorite soft drink with a scoop of ice cream floating in it. A Coke Float is just that – a glass of Coca Cola with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A Black Cow is a glass of Root Beer with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But you don’t have to end it there. Grab a Ginger Ale and toss in a scoop of orange sherbet, strawberry ice cream or any other flavor you like. Get wild and experiment, and develop your own favorite Float combination.

Do you like ice cream sandwiches? Then bake a batch of cookies – chocolate chip, oatmeal or any flavor you like. Let them cook just a minute or two longer, so they will be a little crisp, but still soft in the center.  Set them aside to cool completely. While they are cooling, slightly soften some ice cream. Once the cookies are cool and the ice cream is softened, spread about ½” of ice cream on the bottom of a cookie. Top with a second cookie and place on a waxed paper-lined tray. Once you have done all the sandwiches you want, place the tray in the freezer for at least one hour. Pull them out and enjoy – or wrap individually in waxed paper or plastic wrap and put in a zip top bag for later.

You can also just spice up a bowl of ice cream by mixing in your favorite treats. I love adding the new Crispy M&M’s in my vanilla. Randy likes adding chocolate chips and a swirl of chocolate syrup to his chocolate. You can also try adding dried or fresh fruits. Want a banana pudding ice cream? Crush up some Vanilla Wafers, chop up some bananas and mix them with your vanilla or banana ice cream. You can also add some stiffly whipped merengue, but in my experience, it only holds up well about half the time.

The most fun thing about ice cream is that you are limited only by your imagination. But regardless of how you serve it, ice cream is a fun and delicious way to stay cool this summer!