Friday, August 10, 2012

Vacation trail mix

The big day has come, tomorrow we fly over the pond to NYC!

Needless to say we are all excited and looking forward to our vacation: it has been a long summer in the city, especially for the kids. Thank goodness for the two lovely short breaks, one in June and one in July, with family at the seaside.

However, to get to the Big Apple we have a long flight and a 5am wake up, so I am preparing lotsa little snacks to keep the kids entertained and healthily fed during the trip. I'm cleaning and cutting up carrots into sticks, bringing along crackers and thought that making them a trail mix would be a fun, nutritious snack and a great way to use up odds and ends before stacking up at the Trader Joe's (yaaay!) just next to our apartment.

The great thing about a trail mix is you can put in whatever you like or have in the house. Like pop corn? Sounds good. Like some spice? I had some spicy pineapple I avoided because of the kids, but I'm sure it would have fit well. Or how about some wasabi peas? If it is not the middle of summer and you have a sweet tooth, you could throw in a few chocolate chips or M&Ms. Why not? Anything goes!

Here is what I used:
1 cup pecans
3/4 cup salted peanuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried wild blueberries
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
1/2 cup chopped dried kiwi fruit
3/4 cup all natural red berry twist licorice bites

Hope you have a great end of the summer! I will be posting from the city that never sleeps.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Bittersweet chocolate and maple butter pecan


This post is looooong overdue.

True, I was gone for a few days here, doing this. I have been back for a while now, except I stepped off of the plane directly into an intense reporting season at work combined with the end of summer school, which means F and I have been juggling morning and afternoon parenting duties with one of us rushing out the door to go to the office the minute the other steps in.

I did however find time to buy a shiny new toy.

Don't say I didn't warn you, because I mentioned here that I knew this was likely to happen sooner or later, only you probably didn't think it would be so much sooner rather than later. But hey, I have plenty of perfectly good excuses*.

Those of you who follow me on Pinterest may already have a hunch. Roll of drums please.

Ladies and gents, I present you my brand new Kitchen Aid Ice Cream maker attachment.

This baby churns out some delicious ice cream, this said by someone who lives in the land of gelato

I get all the reasons for not owning an ice cream machine, because I had all of them until a few days ago. I understand not having the kitchen space, being lazy about planning ahead, not wanting to be tempted by the extra calories or preferring to splurge on a pair of heels.

But then again, if you have the cooking bug; if you need to watch out how many calories you ingest (yes, I am totally aware that I just used this pro as a con in the paragraph above) and thus every fat-laden calorie has to be delicious and worth its while; if you are the kind of person who despite feeling lazy, is willing to go out on a dark, cold winter evening to buy some ice cream; if you can spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what flavor you will choose the next time you have an ice cream, because there are oh so many possibilities! well, then you should own one, what are you waiting for?

Oh, the calories... Well, although it is early on to argue my point, it is much more time consuming to make ice cream than to open a container and this makes you appreciate it more once it is ready. Also, when you realize what goes into your homemade ice cream, even if you are using wholesome and organic ingredients that you can count on one hand, you will think twice about having a second serving.

I admit to having initially developed a little custard-phobia whilst reading the many recipes I found online. I mean, I had gone down the custard path before, but reading one post after the other about curdling, lovely creams turning into scrambled eggs, made me a little anxious.
So far I have made two flavors and have yet to encounter the "c" problem. It may just be beginner's luck, but I actually find the process pretty easy and I did not use a food thermometer.

Then there was also an initial scare with my ice cream machine attachment. My European version just doesn't seem to attach well to the motorhead and during my first attempt, in my zealousness to fit it better halfway through churning, I almost broke it and had to finish churning my chocolate ice cream by hand before freezing (which explains the somewhat odd texture you may notice in the photos). I was already feeling very sorry for myself when I read on several forums that the piece isn't really supposed to fit tightly. So after a wobbly start (honestly, the instructions sorta sucked) I realized that was just how it works and have started mixing in the chunky bits by hand at then end rather than during the last couple of minutes as suggested (my attachment unhinged again when I tried that). Better safe than sorry.

The end result, however, is delicious and I love that I didn't have to buy a whole new appliance, so I am still a fan of the Kitchen Aid accessory, despite the wobbliness (why can't the attachment just be like the more-stable-looking US version for crying out loud?).

Now, let's get down to business.