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Christmas Flavors

Couple Leave Jobs to Run Successful Business

This painting of a pair of cardinals showcases one of Tammy Calhoun’s many talents.

Having traditions and recipes from past generations is especially nice at Christmas time. Tammy Calhoun incorporates her family’s cherished recipes into her Christmas cooking and baking each year.

Her children, Sarah and Andrew Modica, come on Christmas Eve, expecting Grandma Ruth’s Rice Pudding, Mom’s Calico Beans and other family favorites to be served with the ham dinner. Even though they are grown, they still stay overnight on this special night. Just as when they were children, they are given one gift on Christmas Eve, which is a pair of pajamas. Their mom has always wrapped the gift to resemble a giant piece of candy with a ribbon tied around each end. When her son was young, he called the package a tamale, which has always puzzled his mother and to this day, the traditional gift is referred to as “the tamale.”

Another Christmas season must have is the Holly Decorations recipe, which is a cross between a cookie and a candy. This confection has been part of Mrs. Calhoun’s Christmases for 35 years, longer than her daughter has been on earth. In fact, she was making them while she was in labor for her, refusing to go to the hospital until she was finished.

The family goes to her husband, Gene’s, sister’s house on Christmas Day where all his family gathers for a meal and great conversation.

Both Tammy and Gene worked at Gowanda Electronics until he got an idea that changed their lives in a direction they never could have imagined.

Tammy Calhoun holds vintage cookie cutters in anticipation of baking Christmas cookies. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

The couple live in the midst of the local Amish community, a group that does not use electricity. Over the years they had let several of their Amish friends store ice cream in a freezer that is located in an outside building. After watching the frequent comings and goings for the frozen treasure, Mr. Calhoun started to experiment with ice cream making. His friends and family members enjoyed sampling the result of his new hobby and encouraged him to sell it. The decision got easier after they took into consideration the volume of traffic that passed by their door each day and when they saw how many people stopped at their yard sale.

The process to open an ice cream business began. With the help of his nephew, Calhoun tore a travel trailer down to the frame and then built an ice cream stand on it.

“I’ve had a lot of help along the way, different people at different times. When I think back of all the people that helped me, it is overwhelming,” says the humble man.

An Amish-built shed was added later for storage.

“The Amish have been instrumental in this whole idea. They’ve done a lot of work for me,” says the entrepreneur.

Colquhoun’s Ice Cream opened a little sooner than expected on a day in July of 2021. Not knowing it would be the health inspector’s last visit and they would be given a permit to open, they opened while they still had piles of gravel in their parking lot.

“We wanted to get open, since it was so late (in the season) so we weren’t completely set up and (we’ve) never stopped,” she states. “Gene is the brains of the operation. He has the ideas and the flavors. In fact, opening the business was his idea. I handle the containers, the books and the grunt work and come up with the flavors I always wanted as a kid.”

One of her childhood favorites was Bubble Gum ice cream and since she didn’t like the hard gum balls it contained, she cuts soft bubblegum into little pieces for their version of that flavor admiting it is a tedious job.

They have soft serve in the summer for those wishing to have cones. The available flavors are everchanging. Their hard ice cream is sold by pints and half pints for which they offer spoons. Half-gallons of the homemade ice cream were added this fall, but they are too busy in the summer months to fill the large containers.

“In the summertime it goes out the door as soon as we make it,” she says.

“It’s been amazing from the day we opened,” her husband adds.

Twenty-five to thirty flavors of hard ice cream are always available out of over 200 fun and unique flavors. Among them are 11 varieties with peanut butter and others containing various fruits, caramel, cookie dough and pieces of brownies. Varieties containing popular candy bars such as Kit Kat, Milky Way, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Caramello and Heath Bar are other choices. Peanut Butter Overload was the most requested flavor the first year they were open. At the moment, the hottest, but not literally, seller is Scottish Coffee Toffee and even though they make 30 — 40 pints, it sells out. Death By Chocolate is also very popular.

“We’ve got to have a cheesecake flavor on hand at all times,” Mrs. Calhoun says.

Christmas-themed flavors such as Eggnog, Peppermint Chip, Christmas Cookie, Peppermint Bark and Gingerbread Cookie are currently available.

Customers make requests for flavors they enjoy and for experimental flavors too. Because they have asked for “heat” added to the cold, creamy mixture, the owners have added Ghost Pepper Butter Almond, Strawberry Jalapeno, Raspberry Jalapeno, Hot Pepper Jelly, Carolina Reaper Orange Marmalade and Carolina Reaper Butter Almond to the list of flavors, many of which were the ideas of their customers.

I personally tried the popular Scottish Coffee Toffee, which was delicious, but I am waiting for Maple Bacon to make a return.

“My husband would make all of them,” says the wife. “He adds anything and everything that isn’t tied down.”

The basic vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream fan can always be accommodated.

After being told by an Amish businessman that he was frequently asked by his customers where they could buy a good sandwich, submarine sandwiches were added to their menu last February. Not only have they been well received, but after some Facebook promoting, sixty subs were sold on St. Patrick’s Day, including many Reuben subs.

“We went over to a restaurant and tried their Cubans to see what goes in it. I asked my baker to make a pumpernickel rye sub roll so we could sell reubens around St. Patrick’s Day. They are so popular, we are selling them year round,” he says.

Ice cream, soup, subs and hot sandwiches are sold in the winter months but only ice cream and subs are sold in the warmer months.

They are seeing many repeat customers from the local area and the members of the Amish community stop daily. Although it is a new business, Colquhouns has become well-known in the surrounding towns, with customers coming from as far away as Bemus Point and Stockton.

“We have had customers send ice cream to Tennessee,” says Mrs. Calhoun.

Aside from the ice cream business, the entrepreneurs enjoy creating art in various forms. During the pandemic, they sold quite a few walking sticks which he carved and she painted, some of which were custom orders. She also paints on glass and they both do woodburning. Their work can be seen on their Tammy and Gene’s World of Art Facebook page. Another of his talents is clock repair.

“We were looking to have an antique-themed restaurant where you would have different things to look at, almost a trip to yesteryear,” he.

Colquhouns Ice Cream is located at 5543 Route 62 in Conewango. Their winter hours are Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Summer hours are noon-8 p.m. Pre-orders may be placed by calling 716-485-8118.They are closed on Tuesdays during the summer. Until recently, they had no days off, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day and no time to make ice cream.

“It’s a lot of hard work and I don’t think people have any idea what goes into it,” he says.

“That man never rests. If he is resting, he is sleeping,” adds his wife.

“It is definitely not mine. God puts it in our laps and it’s our job to follow it,” he says. If we’re successful or fail, it’s up to Him.”

Mr. Calhoun has three children, Christopher, Sean and Kimberly Calhoun. The couple also has six grandchildren.

Some of the following recipes are found in the Parker Family Cookbook, which Mrs. Calhoun was thrilled to acquire at a family reunion she attended many years ago.

Holly Decorations

30 large marshmallows

1/2 c butter

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp green food coloring

3 1/2 c corn flakes

3 red hot cinnamon candies for each cookie

Combine first four ingredients until melted, stirring frequently. Add corn flakes, stirring until thoroughly coated. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper and decorate with candies before cookies cool.

Grandma’s Rice Pudding

1 1/3 c sugar

1/2 c instant rice

1 1/4 c water

1/4 tsp salt

1 T butter

6 c milk

8 large eggs

Nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix rice, water, salt and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Cook on high for seven minutes or until water is absorbed. Set aside to cool. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, scald milk (milk will bubble to the top of the pan when done). Wisk the eggs in a large glass bowl until foamy. Add sugar and mix thoroughly. Stir rice into egg mixture. As soon as the milk is scalded, combine with egg and rice. Sprinkle nutmeg over rice. Bake immediately at 350 degrees for an hour.

Mom’s Calico Beans

1 lb ground beef

10 slices bacon optional (not optional in my book)

1 medium can pork and beans

1 large can red kidney beans or any beans of your choice

1 c ketchup

1/2 c brown sugar

2 T white or cider vinegar

Brown beef in a skillet. Drain grease. Microwave bacon. Cut bacon into bite-size pieces. Combine all ingredients in a large crockpot and cook low over night or bake in oven at in a 2-quart dish at 375 degrees for an hour.

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