A few months ago I subscribed to a BBC Podcast called the Food Programme, which I now listen to regularly while driving or when I’m really hungry and no food is available. One episode which I particularly enjoyed, on the joys of homemade Ice Cream, made claims that all-natural ice cream was richer, creamier and more decadent than commercial brands. A new kitchen gadget I had to have and Christmas was so far away. Unable to wait that long, I picked up a hand-crankable Donvier ice cream maker from my local kitchen store, on sale for $50. A bargain, for sure, as I did the math on the money I would save by eating a lifetime supply of frozen desserts that could be concocted at home in 20 minutes or less.
Ice cream makers, whether electric or hand-cranked, should be an indispensable tool in your kitchen, as they can whip together more than just ice cream: there are literally thousands of recipes for sorbet (a water-based frozen dessert containing no milk or cream), sherbet (dairy-based dessert, usually lower in fat, but sweeter than ice cream), frozen yogurt, or gelato (intensely flavoured Italian ice cream of a softer consistency). If it is liquid and somewhat able to freeze, chances are it can be made into an ice cream. Guinness ice cream, anyone?
Yes, I know French Vanilla is plain and boring, to some, and perhaps indicative of my personality type or some deep-seated mistrust of my mother, if you put any stock in Ice Cream Psychoanalysis. Truth is, it’s been my favourite since I was younger and I enjoy sprinkling it with chocolate chips when I’m feeling a little crazy. Don’t try to read too much into it.
Leave a comment | tags: dessert, food programme, french vanilla ice cream, gelato, homemade, ice cream maker | posted in Desserts
Jam is so easy and pleasurable to make that it’s a wonder why everyone doesn’t do it. The smell of strawberries cooking can transform a kitchen and for me it is reminiscent of childhood. It brings back a stream of happy, unrelated summertime memories: of lying listlessly in the dusty baseball field, knees scraped after a game; of running barefoot through an un-mowed lawn chasing my brother; of brachiating through tree branches like a simian; or of trading baseball cards, marbles and double-dare handshakes after spitting into our palms, which is really the only way this kind of handshake can be considered legit.
Store-bought jam is just jam; it is devoid of sentiment and symbolism. It is the one-night-stand of preserves. Homemade jam, on the other hand, carries with it a sort of precious timelessness. In this world of racy politics, recessions, earthquakes and grey hair, there is something almost medicinal in taking twenty minutes to stoop over the rolling boil of cooking berries and be swept back in time.
2 Comments | tags: canning, homemade, jam, preserves, raspberries, recipe, strawberry jam | posted in Breakfast, Other, Vegetarian
While I am typically not a huge fan of peanuts, unless I’m eating them off of a countertop with a pint of beer, I could live quite happily off peanut butter.
A friend of mine who is a chef at a local restaurant forbids bringing peanut butter into his house out of principle. I’ve seen him become red-faced and indignant at the mere mention of it, as he thinks it unsophisticated and barely passable for food, like Cheese Whiz or Twinkies. He may not be alone when it comes to this contentious legume and its creamy spread. Allergies have given peanuts such a bad rap that they are banned from schools and office buildings as if they were something illicit or leprous. It’s true that they’re not as sexy as the macadamia or as versatile as the almond, and in assorted nut mixtures, they’re always picked last – the fat kid of nuts. But don’t be so quick to judge the lowly peanut.
I always carry a large, Costco-sized container of peanut butter in my cupboard. As a runner, I find it a quick, energy rich food for before or after a workout. As an oft-lazy weeknight cook, I’ll whip together a peanut butter jam sandwich, or will plop down on the couch after work, spoon in hand, and eat directly from the container as if it were a tub of Rocky Road ice cream.
Not from fiscal necessity, but rather out of curiosity, I wanted to see how easy it would be to make my own peanut butter at home. I’m not a huge fan of the crunchy, thick stuff they sell in health food stores, so I decided to dispense with the “all natural” and add a bit of sugar and oil for increased taste and added creaminess. The ingredient list is sparse: roasted peanuts, salt, oil and sugar, though if you prefer natural peanut butter perhaps leave out or reduce the last two ingredients.
I picked up a bag of peanuts at the grocery store tonight and felt a little self conscious, like I was buying a Playboy or tampons for a girlfriend. After all, no one buys peanuts anymore except old ladies with purple-dyed hair who feed squirrels in the park.
This recipe couldn’t be more satisfying and was well worth the arched-eyebrow look from the pale-faced cashier tonight. In less than 5 minutes I had a cup full of creamy peanut butter that cost pennies and tasted as good as anything store-bought. Kids, try this at home. Continue reading
3 Comments | tags: chicken satay, dog treats, homemade, nuts, peanut butter, peanuts, recipe | posted in Vegetarian