When I was a little girl, way before "Animal Planet" or "River Monsters" existed, my parents would gather us for homemade ice cream and watch "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" with none other than Marlin Perkins and his amazing side-kick Jim. Marlin's role was more of "educator" and Jim was the handsome barefoot studmuffin who wrestled alligators and the like.

I still remember our family sitting on the edge of the sofa, homemade ice cream in hand, and eyes glued to the screen of our 19 inch RC Victor Color television. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing! Jim was about to take on a cheetah with his bare hands. Jim didn’t use tranquilizer darts. Heck NO! Tranquilizer darts were for pansies and believe you me, Jim was not a pansy.

During the height of action everyone seemed to eat their ice cream faster, hearts pounding, waiting to see if the wildebeest calf was going to be the cheetah’s next meal. When out of nowhere my father would let out a blood curdling scream and slap his hand to his head from a brain freeze. Yup, shoveling ice cream in as fast as a running cheetah will give you a brain freeze every time. You think he would have learned to pace himself? But he didn’t. At family gatherings we still tease Dad about his “Wild Kingdom” brain freezes.

My dear parents have often wondered if our family watched a little too much "Wild Kingdom" and ate a little too much homemade ice cream. Why? Believe it or not, my children have had cats, dogs, rabbits, ducks, horses, crabs, hamsters, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and hedge hogs for pets. Why so many? My parent's speculate it was because the "Wild Kingdom" was taken off of the air and I was desperately trying to give my children a "Wild Kingdom" experience — in our urban home. Their suspicions were confirmed when I considered naming my son Jim; started taking the children to the zoo, aviary, and Thanksgiving Point Farm Country once a week starting at 6 weeks after birth, and didn’t require my children to wear shoes until they started school. As for my children’s first bite of solid food? You guessed it — ice cream.

PRALINES AND CREAM ICE CREAM

1 cup water

2 cups brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup chopped pecans

2 eggs beaten

1 pint whipping cream

2 quarts half and half

1 tablespoons vanilla

Directions: In a small sauce pan combine the water and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. While waiting for the mixture to boil, brown pecans in butter until golden brown. Remove boiling sugar water from heat, add nuts and whisk in eggs until frothy. Whisk in remaining ingredients and freeze in ice cream maker.

PRALINE TOPPING

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ cup half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoon butter

½ cup chopped pecans

Directions: Combine in a small sauce pan the brown sugar, corn syrup, and half and half. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Stir in butter, pecans, and vanilla. Makes 1 1/3 cups.

OLD FASHIONED STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM

2 quarts half and half

1 pint whipping cream

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups crushed strawberries

Directions: Combine all ingredients and freeze in ice cream maker.

HOT FUDGE SAUCE

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup half and half

Directions: Cook ingredients in a medium pot over medium low heat, stirring constantly until boiling point is reached. Makes 1 ½ cups.

Michelle Snow is the best-selling author of the "It's in the Bag" series and the "WOW Diet." Her website is www.michelle-snow.com