August 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Let's Talk Food: What summer flavors make you sentimental?

Pillsbury's Orange Creamsicle cookie mix, Hudsonville's Vanilla ice cream, a little effort and voila — a pretty summer treat for my son's daycare workers reminiscent of a favorite summer flavor. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)

“Loved the swing — laughed!” This is the sort of comment, on my son’s daily “How My Day Went” sheet, that made me want to make each of his early childcare center workers an Orangesicle Ice Cream Sandwich.

I didn’t spend a lot of time researching a daycare; I probably spent more time asking friends how they researched theirs. But when Robyn, the center’s director, followed up while I was on maternity leave, months after I first contacted her with questions, we fast became pen (well, email) pals. She amazed me, and still does, with her humility, compassion for our family’s struggle to have a baby and obvious love for children.

Once I met the rest of the staff and noticed their remarkably low turnover rate, I didn’t need to look further. And they have completely surpassed my expectations, especially in keeping me apprised on everything I miss.

As thanks for keeping up the good work even when the ranks shrink during vacation season, I decided I wanted to make them a summery treat. Pillsbury, which seems to come up with new flavors regularly (I have a stockpile of fall-flavored Pillsbury treats I imagine you’ll be hearing about soon), had sent in some Orange Creamsicle cookie and cake mixes, as well as frosting. When I spotted Michigan’s own Hudsonville Ice Cream on sale two for $7 at Westborn (through Aug. 21), I knew just what daycare treats to make.

The mix said it made 18 cookies, but I divided the batter into 16 cookies so I’d have exactly enough for one ice cream cookie for each worker (plus, 16 is so much easier to divide evenly for consistent-sized cookies, one of my struggles). After leaving the ice cream out to soften a few minutes, I packed a half-cup measure full of the creamy cold stuff, scooped it out intact and pressed it between the cookies slightly to get it to the edges. A little plastic wrap then a layer of aliminum foil to seal each, and the eight solid ice cream sandwiches were ready to go.

On our walk home from the playground Wednesday, which as I’ve shared before is my day home with my son, I heard one of those neighborhood ice cream trucks in the distance. I looked down at my happily toddling son, thought of those pretty ice cream sandwiches ready to go in the freezer with flavors reminiscent of the many orange creamsicles of my youth, and got that happy summer feeling I’ll miss like crazy.

What are your sentimental summer flavors? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re free and easy to sign up for, which is how I managed to have one for years and ignore it except for this sort of thing. I’ll be keeping an eye out the next few days to respond to any great comments or questions you post. You can also follow me on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!