In 2020 I have found myself knocking on wood more times than not. Neighbors and friends keep asking each other, “Could things be any more crazy?” Well the answer to those questions is and always will be, yes. I witnessed, firsthand, the biggest weather event I have ever experienced in Iowa this past month and to say it was “crazy” would be an understatement.

The derecho of 2020 in Iowa was a widespread, intense windstorm with winds topping over 100 mph in several locations across the state. I was completely oblivious to the seriousness of the situation until I noticed how fast the bluish-purple sky swallowed up the clear blue sky I was enjoying at the pond with my kids and nieces while we were fishing about 40 yards from my house on a typical summer day.

Looking at the sky, a person would have thought we’d have maybe half an hour or so before the weather event set in. Mind you, until the tornado sirens went off, I didn’t even consider checking the news. And even with tornado sirens and no “tornado sky” I wasn’t worried.

It was when I received several texts in a row, telling us to take cover, that I hustled all the kids in the house. My husband Mike did the best he could, tying up loose ends at the barns and such. By the time we hit the top of the hill, the wind had started. Thankfully we did get the four kids in the house safely. When we entered upstairs, the large bank of west-facing windows were popping and cracking, and it sounded like our whole house was going to cave in. Mike remained in the barn at this time, watching our dumpster careen across the yard into the corn. He later ran in and brought the dog with him, joining us in the “panic room” in the basement.

When the sustained wind event was over, we were lucky to have minimal damage to our corn and house. Nearby grain bins toppled across the landscape like tumbleweeds, and power was out for thousands of people for a week or more. Trees that have withstood the test of 150 years in our state snapped over like toothpicks as the homesteads around them were nearly flattened. When I was my daughter’s age, the “Flood of ‘93” happened, and I am certain I’ve not witnessed something with damage this widespread since.

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As luck would have it, the 2020 Iowa State Fair had been canceled for this year. Thousands of people would have been in serious danger and campers destroyed during this windstorm if they had been moved in for a regular fair year. I guess there is a silver lining in a “no fair, no Fair” year.

Whenever things get crazy around here, in the evening the kids like to settle down with an ice cream treat. I think it is only fitting I share my favorite ice cream treat recipe from the Bauder’s Pharmacy ice cream stand at the Iowa State Fair with you. This is a great make-ahead treat, and you’ll find me looking for “Hammond’s” candy canes, which are old fashioned with pink centers, to make the color and flavor just right!

Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes: 9 ice cream sandwiches

2 quarts vanilla ice cream

1 package (1 pound) Double-Stuffed Oreos

2 jars (12 ounces each) hot fudge ice cream topping

½ cup crushed quality peppermint candy (I use Hammond’s old fashioned candy canes)

½ teaspoon peppermint extract, optional

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending the sheets over the sides. Set the ice cream out to soften.

Place the Oreos in a large plastic zip-top bag and crush into large pieces with a rolling pin. Press half of the crushed cookies into the pan and freeze until firm. When the ice cream is soft, stir in the crushed candies, and extract if desired. Carefully spread softened ice cream onto the layer of crushed cookies and freeze for 30 minutes or until firm.

Warm the hot fudge topping in a microwave for 45 seconds and carefully spread over the chilled ice cream layer. Press the remaining crushed cookies gently into the fudge to secure. Freeze for 8 hours or until firm.

To serve, lift the solid ice cream sandwiches out of the pan using the overhanging foil and transfer to a cutting board. Carefully peel the foil away and, with a warm knife, cut into nine individual ice cream sandwiches. Serve immediately or wrap individual sandwiches in plastic wrap and freeze.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest-winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.