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For lifes uncertainties, eat some ice cream

by: Barb Randall, 
One of many ice cream cakes available at Baskin Robbins, this is artfully adorned with cherries by Rhonda Miner.

You probably would have called me a scaredy-cat or a momma's girl when I was six or seven.

The third of five kids, I took the brunt of the sibling brutality; the younger two would never have endured it. My older brother and sister probably don't see it as being that severe, but their shenanigans had a devastating effect on me. When left in charge while Mom ran errands, they would tell me Mom wasn't going to the dry cleaners, she was really going to California and never coming back. With the California-Oregon border a mere 17 miles away, it could have been true. When Mom finally had enough of dealing with the failout of that escapade, they switched to the story that gypsies were coming to take me away - which really threw me into a panic!

On the rare occasion that Mom would attend an over-night PTA or church conference, Dad was left in charge. His biggest challenge was keeping me tear-free during her absence, as I was certain I would never see my dear mother again. He was pretty good at diversion.

One of his best tactics was to serve what we considered a 'taboo dinner:' an assortment of fresh picked summer fruits over homemade or Dairy Queen soft-serve vanilla ice cream. Mom would never have allowed us to eat that for dinner! An attorney by profession, Dad argued that ice cream was made of dairy products, and therefore had lots of calcium, and who could contest the nutritional benefits of fruit? He rested his case stating that it made perfect sense to eat ice cream for dinner. We all happily agreed it was a fine dinner, and it usually dried my tears until the next time Mom's name was mentioned.

My friends Greg and Kelly Luevano, owners of Baskin Robbins franchises in West Linn and Lake Oswego, must know, as my father does, about ice cream's comforting qualities.

The Luevanos share my passion for eating locally produced food and Greg wanted me to know that they use local fruits in their stores - taking that wonderful combination of fruit and ice cream to a whole new level. Prior to buying their Baskin Robbins franchises, Greg worked for Smucker's and Martinelli's corporations, both sticklers for using only the best local produce for their stellar products.

Those years of expecting top quality is evident in the offerings the Luevanos have at their ice cream stores.

Greg didn't have to twist my arm too hard to get me to visit the West Linn store to sample the fresh fruit ice cream cakes. The cakes, which will be honored in the Best of 2007 Awards by L.A. Parent Magazine, next week, were as beautiful as they were delicious.

The Luevano's cake decorator extraordinaire Rhonda Miner has a real flair with a piping bag. The display cases are full of artfully adorned cakes and pies. But it's the beautiful fruit that really 'takes the cake,' as the saying goes.

Baskin Robbins stores used to offer 31 flavors, with a different featured flavor each month. Now, the local stores offer well over 40 flavors (48 flavors at the West Linn store!) and serves up cones, cakes, shakes and more.

'Ice cream knows no season,' Greg said. 'We all enjoy eating it year round.'

No tru-er words have been spoken.

Ice cream has a unique spot in our culture; it is a common staple in our freezers as well as a favored celebration food. You can serve it plain or fancy. You can have it anyway you like it: premium, low fat, non-fat, no sugar added, as frozen yogurt, sherbet, ice, etc. The options seem limitless. There is an ice cream style dessert for everyone and any dietary concerns, so most everyone can enjoy a scoop every now and then.

My sister Carol, whom I have wholeheartedly forgiven for planting any seeds of abandonment or abduction issues I may have, gave me a plaque that reads: 'Eat dessert first. Life is uncertain.' She is a wise woman; this is sound advice that is fun to follow.

Your recipe today is simple: Throw convention out the window - eat dessert first! Slice peaches, melons and berries to serve over a nice, big bowl of your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Eat it outdoors, barefoot, with the ones you love.

Repeat as often as necessary to feel like a six-year-old again.

Bon Appetit! - Eat Locally!

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Greg and Kelly Luevano are offering August All Month Specials at their West Linn Baskin Robbins location, 19143 Willamette Drive, in the Bales Thriftway shopping center.

Mondays are Milkshake Madness Night, with $1 off all milkshakes.

Tuesdays are $1 Scoop Nights and Wednesdays are Free Crazy Waffle Cone Night.

The store's summer hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The Lake Oswego store, located at 16359 Bryant Road is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.