It was early 2020. The pandemic had just been declared and Marlene and Amelia knew that would mean big changes to how The Merry Dairy would operate. Pivot was still a new word back then as everyone was faced with the reality of life under lockdown. Marlene and Amelia revisited an idea Amelia had pitched just before the pandemic .. what about sharing Merry Dairy recipes in a book? This would turn out to be our sourdough project of sorts, involving choosing, testing, writing, photographing, re-testing, editing, re-testing, designing, printing and finally delivering a recipe book.
And so this – Great Scoops: Recipes from a Neighbourhood Ice Cream Shop – this became our sourdough project. Like sourdough, it was a labour of love. Unlike sourdough, it showed up on skids, ready to be shared.
And ready they are, available now, directly from The Merry Dairy’s Shopify store, for pickup, home delivery, or shipping, or starting May 3 from your local bookstore, from Chapters/Indigo and from Amazon Canada and Amazon US and Barnes & Noble.
It’s 80 dairy and vegan, nut-free, ice cream recipes, sorted into the seasons (just the four seasons, and not Ottawa’s eleven seasons), but the seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, each in the beauty of their anticipation, and the glory of the senses they evoke.
It’s also a self-help book, as in how to help yourself make ice cream, with the simplest of ways or with the fanciest of machines.
It’s a philosophy, albeit a frozen one perhaps!, that ice cream can be for all, and that all should share in the joy that an outing to an ice cream shop brings.
It’s a story of how, ten years ago, Marlene, knowing that her peanut-allergy child couldn’t visit an ice cream shop, found a little Grumman Stepvan, outfitted it, and started selling nut-free frozen custard on the Streets of Sunny Hintonburg.
It’s a story of how Amelia found herself at The Merry Dairy, bringing the joy of creativity and the satisfaction of quality to a lineup of flavours and styles that have won over customers in every one of Ottawa’s amazing and captivating neighbourhoods, including the Hintonburg neighbourhood that has been so supportive of this enterprise.
Finally, it’s the story of an amazing group of people coming together to make this sourdough project into a beautiful book – Great Scoops – people like co-author Anne DesBrisay, whose beautiful and colourful writing brought Great Scoops to life, and photographer Christian Lalonde, owner of Photolux Studio in Little Italy, whose photos throughout Great Scoops burst with joy and life. Then there’s the team at Friesen Printing in Winnipeg, who printed a beautifully bound, hardcover book, ahead of schedule, with the added bonus of using stock made from FSC-certified and 100% post-consumer content.
A special shout-out goes to the Figure 1 publishing team, who helped our sourdough form, rise and finally become this book. Their catalogue, which includes books like Ottawa’s Coconut Lagoon: Recipes from a South Indian Kitchen, now also includes this.
None of this could have happened without the entire Merry Dairy team pitching in, helping, tasting, advising and most of all, making room for the test kitchen, test freezer and test everything we needed to make Great Scoops work. People like Holly Laham, owner of the new Holly’s Hot Chicken on Armstong St. People like Iona, an ice cream maker and engineer who immigrated from Hong Kong, and is now a member of Canada’s public service. People like Rachel, now en route to being an elementary school teacher, all of whom kept the kitchen humming, as the recipes kept coming. And the new team members like Kat, Tessa and Chelsea as well as the rest of the team that has been at the centre of the many pivots each wave of this pandemic has brought. So thank you to Ely, Maddy, Sarah, Hannah, Ashrakat, Curtis, Russell, Kate, Sander, Mika, Drew, Gerda, Katherine, Becca, Ella, Lok, Nadia, Theo, Juliana, Maggie, Sara, Malcolm, Eva, Quinn, Mia, Emma, Lindsay, Laura, Leila, Bridget, Camille, Lucy, Brynn, Kevin, Mikaela, Jayme, Michelle, Scott, Delino, Peter, Caroline, Margaret, Mila, Ella B, Ella C, Julia, Alex, Zoe & Dylan. (And to see the rest of the acknowledgments, you’ll just have to get the book!)
And finally, to our customers, whose support and patience with each pandemic pivot, make being at The Merry Dairy such a joy. Whatever neighbourhood you’re in, thank you so much for making us a part of your home and your neighbourhood. It’s our great joy to invite you to an outdoor, distanced, ice cream social on May 3 at 102 Fairmont (RSVP here), where you can redeem your free cone ice cream bookmark that comes with every book purchase 🙂
So come for the book, stay for the ice cream party!
Marlene Haley and Amelia Ryan