Posts Tagged ‘humor’

I saw a post on In Search of Bees blog about making dairy-free ice cream.  I’m in the middle of trying to convince Hubby that I want need must have an ice cream maker.  The Thai Tea Ice Cream sounded so good that I had to start experimenting, ice cream machine or not.

The recipe is only three ingredients: coconut milk, tea, sugar.  How could this go wrong, I thought.

Oh, but it did…

The can of coconut milk was not milk at all.  I read the label again after opening the can and seeing something that resembled hair gel.  Coconut Cream?  It didn’t look like cream of any sort!  It was sweet and thick, and the can was already open, so I kept going.

I have a box of Indian Chai in the cupboard waiting to be brewed, steeped and enjoyed.  I made a sachet for the chai and put in the pot of simmering coconut cream.  Nothing happened, there was not a hint of diffusion of the dark spicy tea out to the coconut.  The cream was too thick and did not let any flavour out of the bag.  I opened the stupid bag and poured the chai into the pot.  There.  Now do something!

Instantly you could smell the chai and coconut.  How the heck am I going to get the tea out now?!?  A sieve might work.  Cupboards, drawers, nooks, and crannies did not possess the one tool I needed desperately, and right now.  I only have one wire strainer that was to be my sieve for this experiment, and it’s lost.  So much for mise en place, eh?

I turned to the closest thing in my kitchen with small holes: my cheese grater.  It wasn’t perfect but it managed to catch the bigger clumps of chai as the auburn coconut cream cascaded over it into a bowl.  There’s still chai bits in the bowl.  I picked out the chai, painstakingly, one little piece of crud at a time.  What did remain would stay in the ice cream.

The sticky chai coconut caramel mixture was poured into a freezer bag and plopped into the freezer.  I went to sleep.

This morning I checked on the chai “ice cream”.  It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look frozen.  I’m afraid to taste it now.  In the spirit of experimentation, I tried it.  It has a caramel overtone and a heavy sweetness, too sweet to be consumed alone.  So I made coffee…

The coffee with the failed ice cream wasn’t all together unpleasant, still on the sweet side though.  Let’s call it the ice-coffee-coconut-chai-escape.  The kids seemed to like this concoction more than I did.

Lesson for today:  coconut cream is not the same as coconut milk.

To-do list: Buy coconut milk and a wire mesh strainer.  Don’t forget the ice cream maker.


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My M.O.C.D.

This is the tale of my M.O.C.D.  Well, it’s not actually a tale, those stories are fantasies with swirling dragon tails, talking cats in little black boots, and mermaids.  Oh how I wish this was about mermaids.  This is an account of my near onset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a manifestation directed at mayonnaise.  For this is why I’m naming it Mayo Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Mayo, it wasn’t your fault.  I forgave you years ago.  If I hadn’t, nobody would have wanted to live with me, or try to make a sandwich in my kitchen.

My friend and roommate, who was studying the strange things our brains do, saw flecks of trouble in me early on.  I was blinded by it, I thought everyone else was crazy.  They could not understand that the knife for the butter had no business being in the mayo container.  And, coincidently, the knife used to scoop mayo out of its vessel was never allowed in the butter.  It’s cross-contamination and just gross.  My friend pleaded with me “You eat the sandwich that has butter and mayo, why can’t you use a single knife?”

You will contaminate the mayo.

I was so animatedly convinced that the mayo would turn a ghastly green colour overnight in the fridge if a dirty knife was ever stuck inside it.  My tuna on wheat for lunch and dinner would be rendered mayo-less or risk ingesting the hairy green infested mayo at my next meal.  (OK, this is slightly exaggerating but that feeling of disgust you have right now after reading it?  THAT is how I felt.)

I lived with her and my dear Granny.  Granny needed someone around in the event she fell or could not bare to make a meal for herself.  She was the first person I ever cooked for.  Cooking for me back then, at 18, was a pot roast or mac’n’cheese, pasta with meat sauce, and tuna on wheat with mayo and relish.  The latter being quite frequent.  I didn’t worry so much about Granny mixing up the butter knife with the mayo knife, she didn’t care for it.

The debacle continued.  I made more friends at school.  Friends came over to study and do homework.  Friends came for dinner.  Friends were lectured on the appropriate use of mayo while assembling burgers.  Friends were amused.  I was not.

Winter came hard and fast, typical of Canadian weather.  My birthday often coincided with the coming of the tenth circle of winter hell.  I was born in a blizzard.  My roommate and one of our friends had a gift for me.  I remember a narrow long present, I unwrapped it and was perplexed.  It was two butter knives welded together at their butts.  Ninja butter knife?  I stood with a blank stare on my face, head cocked to the side like a puppy wondering when you’re going to drop the ball.

“It’s a butter and mayo knife!”

Ball dropped.

I realized how insanely funny they thought I was.  I went with it, I even used it for a while.  It’s lost now, unless it’s hiding in one of the bins in the garage that I refuse to throw away.

And what about other contaminants?  I get equally squirrely about cleaning up the chopping board and knife before, during and after preparing dinner.  There is a sensible motivation behind it now.  There are small children in our home and their veggies are not chopped in same place or with the same knife as the chicken breasts or beef steaks.  It’s OCD isn’t it?

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Little Sister was at the helm of the KitchenAid mixer for this recipe.  She was supposed to be supervising the making of big chewy cookies, which translates to counting the cups and spoonfuls of ingredients going into the bowl.  She wants to help mommy and I’m more than happy to have her with me learning the craft.

Unexpected things can happen when 2-year-olds bake.

I turned around for a second and Little Sis had grabbed the baking soda box and her measuring spoon.  As my eyes and brain tried to work together, she had already dispensed an unknown amount of the white powder into the bowl.  This would not have been so dramatic except there was whipped butter and a measurement of sugar sitting in the bowl at the time of her “addition”.

I had to guess how much was in there and left it as it was and hoped that it was enough and not too much.

Little Sister was allowed to stay and help.  She was now manager of the M&Ms.

Monster Cookies

Adapted from Chunky Peanut, Chocolate, and Cinnamon Cookies from COOKIES by Martha Stewart Living Magazine

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or use all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms or Smarties
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.  Cream butter, peanut butter with sugars.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Add a little of the flour at a time, then the chocolates.  Chill for 15 minutes (I didn’t).

Drop by large spoonfuls on baking sheets.  Flatten using your palm.  Bake for 10-14 minutes (it will depend on the size of your cookies).

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The Edmonton Tourist offered up a spot on her blog for me to fill in over the holidays.  I love her blog and was delighted to be her guest.  Here is what I wrote for her in case you missed it, and be sure to visit The Edmonton Tourist!

I must explain that this is not a tale involving Mickey Mouse.  You see, “Disneyland” is the nickname we’ve given to “Grandma’s House”.  This is a large ranch home with pearly white wrought iron fence and gate.  There is a cast of characters who all wear fur: chivas (the goats), Bobcat (the orange tabby), Mitcha (the granny cat), and then a threesome of canines.  The kids always have a blast at the grandparent’s house, even though it’s not even close to being baby-proof.  Grandma and Grandpa spoil the kids with attention, ice cream, and fun playing outside.  There’s a swing set, merry-go-round, stairs (which are very steep and they are not to be played on, Big Brother figured out how to “surf” down the stairs), cookie jars, soda pop, fruit bowls and cartoons.  The 5 hour drive home is predominantly quiet due to the very overdue nap the kids need to recover from over stimulation.

So the stage is set for a string of improvisations.

We arrived two days before Christmas, I was ready to help prepare dinner for our family.  At Thanksgiving, I had toted along a box of my essentials (herbs, spices, notes).  It was not really necessary and I decided to leave my stuff at home as not to insult our hosts.  Ahead of time, I had phoned to find out what the main dish was going to be, turkey, ham, or a roast beef?  Grandma said she would find something and not to worry.  So I didn’t.  That is until I found a pork butt thawing in the sink.  This was not the “worry-free” meal idea I had in mind for a holiday dinner.  Pork butts (or shoulders) are best slowly roasted or smoked after a good brine bath.  There was no time for a brine, there was hardly enough time to thaw the butt out!  I’ll just improvise:  a dry marinade that I loved from Julia Child’s cook book (coincidently the very same one Grandma had given to me for Christmas some years ago).

I start pulling out the ingredients for the rub.  Garlic cloves, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, allspice, garlic press…  Garlic press?  I had half a head of garlic to plow through and could not find a garlic press in the four jam packed drawers of kitchen tools.  I’ll just improvise and finely mince with one of the multitude of dull knives (I couldn’t find the knife sharpener either).

Dessert was next.  An upside-down cranberry-orange cake, this required the zest of the orange.  In all my searching for the garlic press I never noticed a microplane to get a fine zest off the oranges, instead I improvised with a vegetable peeler and chopped the skin strips.  Half way through, Grandma found me and pulled a microplane in two sizes from the exact place I was rummaging minutes earlier.  Why couldn’t she stay in the kitchen with me? Oh, right, the kids were pulling her in all opposite directions from where I needed her. 

The kids needed her watchful eye more than I needed a garlic press, so I let it go in my mind and continued working alone.

In the rush to leave our house, I forgot to grab my camera and the cheese dip mix I had prepared to take with me.  They were perched on top of the fridge next to my recipe notebook I’ve had since 7th grade.

So… I improvised!  One of the dip mixes was an onion dip from Epicure (my step mom sells Epicure in Sherwood Park).  I bought some onion soup mix and used that instead.

By the time dinner was ready, I felt depleted of tricks to get through making dinner in a pinch, Disneyland requires many pinches.  To top the evening off, Big Brother was running around without socks or shoes (not recommended in Disneyland), he was told “Don’t run around with bare feet!”  He paused and retorted “I’m not a bear.  I don’t have bear feet!”  We all laughed aloud, it was the perfect end to an imperfect time in the kitchen.

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Armed with two little kids, a dog, and a cooler full of my “essentials” from the kitchen, we headed out to the ranch for Thanksgiving.  The plan was to arrive before stores closed the day before Thanksgiving and pick up the fresh ingredients for a home style family dinner.  The Grandparents had a turkey thawing.

Plans are great until they change.

Grandma decided to run to the store for me, so I handed her a short list of key ingredients.

green beans

french onions (big can)


wild rice

mushrooms (cremini)

Emphasis was made on the fried onions, they should be with the canned vegetables or near spices.

About half an hour later I get a frantic phone call, it’s Grandma.  “Are those onions flaky?  In the spice isle?”  I described it as a tin with a plastic lid, I could swear this was like telling someone who has never used these things before.  Shoot, even the employees at the store could not help to find french fried onions.  At Thanksgiving!

It sounded like she located this alien substance and said she would be home shortly.  I continued prepping what I could for the following day.  At the time it was an apple crisp (an adaptation to the pear crisp in Paula Deen’s cookbook) which I should have waited to bake until dinner time.

This is what I was presented with…

Not french fried onions.  Not what I expected.  So the plan changed.

I took the leek reserved for stuffing and sautéed it with a little onion and butter.  This topped the casserole of green beans and mushroom soup.  For crunch that is now missing from the equation I made fresh bread crumbs using 12 grain bread slices, lightly toasted then ground up in the blender.  The last thing to go on my green bean casserole was Romano cheese.  I like a slight sharpness to the topping and the cheese would have been added had we had the french fried onions.  Bake until bubbly and heated through.

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Tuna Steak and Orange Peas

It was late and I wanted a quick meal out of the freezer.  Passing up the frozen leftover pasta and ice cream, I grabbed the chunk of yellow fin that didn’t end up as sushi and the peas.

The orange zest was nearly omitted but I’m glad the citrus note was there.  Just a slight tang in the background, it helps you forget that this meal was an iceberg a few minutes earlier.  A small pat of butter melted on the peas, because you can’t eat peas without butter, that would be wrong and the French Canadian woman in me would be very disappointed if you didn’t.

The tuna was still raw in the center, as you can see from the blurry picture.  Put a good amount of freshly cracked pepper on both sides.  Get a pan smokin’ hot and sear top and bottom of that little fish fillet.  Peppery heat and cool center will play your taste buds like a harpstring.

Need not mention… only eat raw seafood that is supposed to be eaten raw, handle with the up most care, and don’t give this to little ones or granny just to be safe.

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It’s almost time for the bake sale.  I’ve been gathering tables, baskets, stickers, and baggies for my site at Old Settler’s Park in Round Rock.  Last night I started painting a big sign with the Austin Bakes for Bastrop logo.  I like the silhouette of the city on the top 🙂

Tonight my kitchen gets kicked into high gear, the assembly line will start as soon as the kids a fed and bathed.  They might even get to help if they promise not to eat half of the cookies before they make it into the bags.

I’m also making an apron to mark the event, it will have something like my nifty logo you see on the sidebar –>

Even though I’m allergic to tree nuts, I will be baking with them.  At least my allergy is limited to my tongue and throat, some people can’t be in the same room with nuts or peanuts.  That would suck!  It’s a lifelong question for me at parties, restaurants, and nice-lady-down-the-street who gives us goodies from time to time… does this have nuts in it?  Thankfully I know to ask and what to do if I ever accidentally eat nuts (or can’t withstand whatever dessert is staring at me, begging to be devoured).  The main thing is to remain calm, not to agitate my immune system further, then drink any kind of fluid to wash the nut particles down.  I will never know the sweet luxury of a Texas pecan pie…

Hey, and if you don’t live close enough to come by and try some of my goodies, you can donate online, and if you do, we have a matching gift for $1000 from Key Ingredient here in Austin, TX!  Last time I checked we are 1/3 of the way to the matching gift!!!  All donations are going to the Central Texas Wildfire Relief Fund.

So if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen for then next 36 or so hours.

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My first lesson in making sushi at home:  wasabi and scratched legs do not mix.

You must be thinking “why are you using your legs to make sushi?”   I wasn’t.  This was a discovery during post-sushi preparation, otherwise known as eating sushi.

I made my plate of tuna avocado rolls with a side of wasabi spiked soy sauce, a must to enjoy the sushi experience.  Little Sister is not a picky eater, quite the opposite really.  She will try everything, especially if it looks like Mommy is trying to keep it away from her.  Her little toddler brain must equate coveted foods with candy, she was in for a sweet surprise.  She dips her tender index finger into the soy sauce, meanwhile I’m scarfing down rolls like Garfield in front of a lasagna.  There is a huge scratch on my knee from my Boston Terrier, Pepper.  Another combination that is not super: just-walked-in-the-door-wearing-shorts and Pepper.

A drop of the sushi dipping sauce fell from Little Sister’s finger on to my knee.  Before I could catch it with a napkin, it slipped into the crevice of broken skin.  I screeched “Ahhh! WAsaBiiiiiii!!!” as I ran to the bathroom to wash off the burning sauce.

After all was calm again, Little Sister pointed to the dish of dark soy as she flapped her hands “OT! OT!”.  She proceeded to eat the bits of rice soaked in the “OT” sauce.

I wonder if wasabi was old-school biological warfare.

Here is my attempt at homemade sushi…

Sushi mise en place

Laying the tuna, cucumber and avocado

Bamboo Sushi mats can help you roll the sushi

Same roll but naked (no seaweed)

The roll was built on a piece of plastic which came from a bag of fresh tortillas (just remember to remove the plastic!)

A very sharp, clean knife helps cut the rolls into bite size pieces

*Footnote: I used Yellowfin Tuna from Hawaii, which is a better alternative to the Bluefin Tuna often served in sushi restaurants.  To find out more, please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium website for a Guide to Sustainable Sushi.

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