December 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Flashback: Blizzard of 1993, Lawrenceville, GA. Recently turned twelve year old Laura is officially snowed in with her family and friend who had the unfortunate experience of spending the night before the snow came and was thus stranded for three days. That’s a long time for a twelve year old. Laura, in her food experimentation phase, decides to make ice cream from the drifts of snow piled on the back deck. Previous exploits include microwaving bacon on a metal strainer (“sparks!”) and mixing flour and water together and nuking until solidified (“bread!”). Our heroine grabs a sugar cone from the pantry, an ice cream scoop from the drawer and heads into the frigid afternoon to scoop her some (non-yellow) snow. Then she flavors her ice scream/snow cone with vanilla extract. Half a bottle’s worth seemed like a good amount. Because who doesn’t love vanilla ice cream? Needless to say, the experiment was another culinary failure.
Now move forward to Day Three Hundred Forty-Nine when Laura once again sets out to make some ice cream. She finds a recipe online for an easy shake ‘n freeze treat. A large and small freezer bag, one filled with ice and salt, the other with heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla, and the new ice cream experiment begins. In a video montage, Outkast’s “Hey Ya” would be stuck on the “Shake it” refrain as Laura furiously jiggles the bag within a bag for several minutes. Two sore arms and five mental sing-a-longs of “Shake it like a Polaroid Picture” later, the cream and sugar and vanilla mixture turn to a state between a liquid and a solid.
The bag of slush goes into the freezer for an hour or so and when it comes out….ICE CREAM!
The texture is more like frozen yogurt, but the taste is pure yum. Commence further culinary experimentation!
June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
I Day Eighty-Nine, I decided to bake. Inspired by my friend Steven’s blog post about making apple fritters, I browsed the interwebs for various pie recipes and such. I chose to make apple dumplings, cutting out any attempt at frying.
I went to All Recipes to find a good how-to. I’ve never really made any kind of dessert from scratch (vegan coconut delight excluded) in my adult life, and the website really is full of down home country type good cooking. Lots of butter and shortening. I figured it would at least be a good start, and it wasn’t long before I found a recipe to suit my needs (it needed to be simple).
I peeled and cored the apples and put them in ice water to prevent browning. It took forever. I had a difficult time cutting out the core, and a couple of apples split.
Then I mixed the dough, which came together really well. I didn’t have a flour sifter, so I kind of sprinkled it into the shortening/milk/salt mixture and hoped for the best. It turned out very well, although the feeling of shortening on your hands is pretty gnarly.
I rolled out my dough and cut squares for my pastry. I was only able to get four pieces out of the material (instead of six); it turned out that I had rolled my pastry too thick. I only put a half apple in each dumpling (a whole apple is pretty big), sprinkled it with the magic of sugar and cinnamon, and pinched the pastries at the top. I topped them off with the sugary cooked mixture I had made earlier and popped the suckers into the oven. Thirty-five minutes later they were done.
The dessert was tasty, especially with the salted caramel ice cream from Morelli’s and a touch of honey (Patrick’s idea). Even if the dough was a bit thick and the apple a bit small; they really do shrink.
The only downfall to the dessert was the aftermath. I added all of the apple peels and cores to our kitchen waste container on the back porch which is eventually added to the compost bin. Well, with the screen door left open during the night, a curious raccoon managed to come onto the porch and knock over a chair, fan, and the container. Coffee grounds and egg shells and apple peels poured onto the table and floor. The monster only took the apple peels. I bet he would have loved a taste of the dumplings I had made!
March 15, 2011 § 5 Comments
I’m not vegan. I doubt I ever will be vegan. I lack the self-control. Daily I’ll come across some sort of guilty pleasure, be it a donut, second helping of dinner, glass (or bottle) of wine and think, “I really don’t want this…” but the devil on my shoulder sweeps in and tells me not to deny myself; they can’t tell me what to do! Even if the “they” in question is my own other inner voice. So veganism is out of the question. I doubt I could even be vegetarian. Bacon and Milk and Butter just taste too good, although not necessarily together.
I had a difficult time coming up with what I could do for Day Three. I began to seriously question whether or not I could commit to a year of fresh activities. However, I was planning on hanging out with Kristin that night (who is indeed vegan), so I turned to her for help. We ended up deciding to do a vegan dessert. She sent me a link to a delicious chocolate coconut bar and I said yes immediately. Who knew vegan could look so tasty.
After I arrived and Johnny went to bed, we put on our Martha Stewart hats and followed the recipe almost perfectly. I don’t know if we reduced the coconut milk properly, but between glasses of wine it tasted scrumptious. We layered the ingredients per the recipe and stuck the sucker in the oven for a half hour, only for the dessert to emerge even more yummy-looking.
After the bars had cooled awhile, I snuck back to the kitchen to put them in the freezer for faster cooling time. I also nipped a spoonful out for tasting. I felt guilty, so I brought a spoonful back to Kristin as well, and after about an hour of watching Julia Roberts “find herself” in Eat, Pray, Love (all you need), I pulled them out and made a crumbly plate of goodness. We sat like children on the couch shoveling as much into our mouths as possible.
I may not go vegan, but I can definitely get in line behind vegan sweets. Who needs butter after all?
One 14 oz can (regular or lite) coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups vegan graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted margarine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
2 cups flaked, sweetened coconut
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
In a large saucepan whisk together coconut milk and brown sugar over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture may form a thin skin on the surface; just stir it back into the liquid. Remove from heat and let cool while preparing the crust.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted margarine and sugar; mix well to moisten crumbs completely. Firmly press mixture into prepared pan, pressing evenly from center to sides of pan.
Pour warm coconut milk mixture evenly over crumb base. Top with an even layer of chocolate chips, flaked coconut and nuts, in that order. Firmly pat everything down until coconut milk mixture soaks upward into the toppings. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until coconut is deeply golden and filling is bubbling, remove from oven and let entire pan cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Transfer pan to the refrigerator to completely cool and firm up for at least 4 hours, even better overnight or until very firm. Use a sharp, heavy knife to run along the edges of bars, slide bars on parchment paper out of pan onto a cutting board then to slice into 24 squares. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. These also freeze well, tightly wrapped and allowed to thaw for 20 minutes before serving.