Two scoops of wild huckleberry ice cream
from the 2009 crop, garnished with
a sprig of 2010 huckleberries.
Photo by Lee Gass.
They say too
many cooks spoil the broth,
and I’m sure it must be true in general.
When Lu and I cook together, there is one
executive chef and one helper, who is usually me.
Suggestions are welcome, but it works better if
one creative mind has the last word and is
responsible for how the meal turns out.
Teams write better papers together,
faster, if one “senior author”
has veto power.
I made some of the best
ice cream I’ve ever made, all by
myself. But I made it to
Thoughts on Creativity
I claimed wild huckleberry ice
cream is “la crème de la crème, near
the pinnacle of ice cream making art and
so precious and rare that few have ever known,
first-hand, its superb taste and colour”. That’s
still true and I stand by my words. Even so,
it surprised me to discover that it could
be as good as what we’re eating
Here’s how it happened.
Lu’s been beside herself with
excitement about her kids and their
kids visiting us for a week. They’re here
now, along with two of my own kids’ kids, so
it’s a big bunch. She had to go to town one day
last week, which takes most of a day with road,
ferry, and all, and before she left she asked
me to make a batch of ice cream with
the last of the 2009 huckleberries
and I thought “What a
went out the door
she said “I already thawed
the berries. They’re in the
fridge. Use them all!“
Use them all?
Really? It shocked me. The
container was large and I knew
precisely what was in it. I’d picked
them, prepared them, and put them
there, and didn’t think using them
all was a good idea. But Lu
was the chef, I was her
helper, I had to do it,
and so I did.
Try to appreciate my dilemma.
Here’s what was in the container.
many domesticated fruits,
wild huckleberries and salmonberries
aren’t intensely flavoured from the bush and
salmonberries are watery, therefore bulky relative
to their flavour. Before freezing either, I reduce
them to about ¼ volume in a saucier on the stove-
top, then run them through a Foley Food Mill to
remove some skins and seeds. That liter of
powerfully flavourful elixir was dyna-
mite, and it had to be used with
caution. It could even
Just as we vary in many
other traits, we vary in what I
think of as PQ, or Pleasure Quotient,
which, like its cousin the IQ, is partly inherited
and partly gained through experience.
None of that matters here.
matter, and it matters
a lot, is what could happen if the
ice cream were too good for someone
to handle. People with high PQ can handle
lots of pleasure and some people simply just
can’t. Those raised on what we called “store-
bought”, in my natal home and later, tend
toward disturbingly low PQ and
inability to deal with the
told you with as much
modesty as I could muster that
this batch of huckleberry
is up near the top.
people have been so deprived
for so long that they come into the
experience with low PQ and can be
swamped, shocked, and disoriented
even by tiny tastes of super-high
quality ice cream. Even given
by experienced others with
There is simply
no way to tell what might
happen. Tasting our ice cream is
a life-changing experience for every-
one when we’re on our game. But for
those poor souls with low PQ, it can
be scary and they can have “bad
trips” on it. Vastly exceeding
one’s PQ is a nasty
Surely you can
sense my apprehension as
I prepared that batch for freezing
and froze it. But when I saw it frozen and
a few seconds later with the first finger tip taste,
I knew. As is usually the case, the chef was right
and her helper needn’t have worried. 2010
huckleberry from 2009 berries is one of
the most flavourful ice creams either
of us has ever made, and it is
not at all dangerous.
The other morning
after breakfast, when everyone
had had one scoop each of huckleberry,
salmonberry, and doubleberry (strawberry-
raspberry), 14 year old Jesse Farina commented,
interestingly, that the huckleberry was more
flavourful but the salmonberry
was more interesting.
Later, when I
asked what he’d meant, he
said that without question the
huckleberry was better tasting, its
pure, simple, strong colour
grabbed the eye, and he
couldn’t wait to have
more of it.
On the other
hand, the salmonberry
was more interesting. Its mixture
of tastes, colours, and textures lingered
long after he was done and they kept
changing. He wondered how
that could happen.
Lu hit them again with
her famous non-dairy coconut
milk cocoa ice cream and it
blew everyone away
Justice Schanfarber commented
“It sure got quiet when we were
eating our ice cream’, and we
laughed because it
was so true!
I refer to as Lu is Lucretia
Schanfarber. Sometimes she assists me
when I cook and she does a darned
good job of it. Mostly I
As I think
I suggested in the other
story, I’m sure I could stay alive
without a Foley Food Mill. But like
pocket knives, I’m not sure I could
really ‘live‘ without one.
Just kidding. But I’m serious.
First published in the Vancouver Observer.
Edited March 2021