I don't know about you, but I think sno cones (or shaved ice for those of you worried about trademark infringement) are one of the most delicious summer treats ever invented. I rarely have them, though, because I can only find them at fairs or carnivals or things like that. Ralph mentioned that he and his dad made sno cones for the boys one year, and he wanted to do it again. He happened to see sno-cone syrup on sale one day, and picked some up. (You don't need these though, you can use any old thing to flavor them with. Taste testing = FUN!)
Originally, we didn't have a machine or scraper, so we just experimented. Our first attempt was pretty unsuccessful. We tried to just put ice in a blender. When that didn't work, we put it in a bag and banged it with a hammer. Smaller chunks, but not uniform at all and definitely not like the smooth little ice crystals in a regular sno cone.
Then, while out grocery shopping one day, we happened upon an ice shaver for $4.99. (I think I actually squealed right there in the store.) It's a small, metal contraption with an edge on the bottom side that, while not actually sharp, slices off the top layer of a block of ice.
(Sorry this action shot is a little blurry.)
As for the block of ice, I did need to try three other stores before I found one that sold blocks instead of just crushed ice. Go figure. Still, it was only 99¢, so I wasn't too put out.
The ice scraper keeps the ice in it's little holding cell until you open it and dump it out.
We found that it's best to tamp down the ice when you put it in the glass, otherwise once you put the syrup on it, it melts too fast.
Once you have the desired amount of ice, you can pour in the syrup (or juice, or whatever you want to flavor it with).
I did a LOT of experimenting with different flavors to add to my "cones." I found that pretty much anything tastes good on a pile of cold, feathery ice. I tried Gatorade, vanilla extract, even some old peach-schnapps-type liquid that's been in the fridge for I-don't-know-how long (not all together, of course!). If we'd had any juice made at the time, I'd have tried that too. If I'm hot enough, just having the ice plain with maybe a little water is absolute heaven on a hot day. (And since I'm doing the Discretionary Eating Challenge in August, that's probably all I'll put on the sno cones.)
I'm sure mixing some fresh fruit or other healthy ingredients would be ab-fab as well. I think I'll try putting in some lemon and mint next time for extra refreshment.
The block of ice has lasted for over 20-some odd sno cones so far, and it's only about half-way gone. The ice scraper has more than paid for itself. Definitely a great frugal find!
For more great frugal ideas, click this link.