Thursday, March 31, 2011

Primal Ice Cream Therapy

This is a "fake" I've been wanting to try for a long time (if a year or two is a long time). With the sun now making the occasional appearance, and warmer days around the corner, is it any wonder that my thoughts would turn to ice cream? Is it any wonder that those very same thoughts would be fairly depressing to a girl without an allowance for store-bought frozen treats? Now, however, I can once again scream for ice cream... and smile too, because this "ice cream" is creamy and all natural, full of vitamins, potassium, and fiber, as well as being dairy free, and well virtually... free!

Something From (almost) Nothing
So if you're tired of banana bread or it's too hot to turn on the oven, or maybe you just want some ice cream without the dollop of guilt on top... or maybe you forgot to freeze the ice cream maker insert and the kids are screamin'... This is about the fastest and easiest way to get from almost nothing to really something...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saving The Best For... Tuesday

How ironic that when you don't have a lot of money to spend on food... what's left in the pantry are all the things that were "too good" to eat on an ordinary day. Fancy goods and foodstuffs that were gifts or splurges. Extravagances awaiting their perfect special occasions in order to be remembered, consumed, relished and appreciated fully.

Now, on a plain old regular Tuesday you find yourself eating your plain old regular toast with expensive gourmet preserves from a country you've longed to visit, and swirl local, small batch varietal honey into your strong Irish tea (bought for you in the Emerald Isle by a friend). For dinner, toss your 69-cent pound of pasta with expensive estate olive oil and the kalamata olives that you were saving for company. Would you like wine with that? You've got a few really nice bottles. Maybe there's a nice steak hiding in the back of the freezer. What are you waiting for? I say, go ahead and make today the special occasion.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yellow, Like The Sun Above The Clouds

Best Lemon Bundt Cake
Need something to brighten up a dreary day? This is a cake to make you forget all about the soggy gray weather outside. I know, because it happened to me.

Last Sunday we had a potluck to attend and, well, due to pantry limitations, I had decided to bring either a Meyer lemon tart or a chocolate bundt cake. Approaching the decision in a typically sideways manner, I ended up making a lemon bundt.

Cook's Illustrated calls this lemon bundt cake "The Best" and I can't really disagree with them. While I always hesitate to apply that title myself (it doesn't leave any room for improving), it is after all, a lot easier than calling it The Pretty Dang Close To What I Imagine The Best Lemon Bundt Cake Would Taste Like.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Salty Like The Sea

Salts From The Sea
Sea salt is, at its most basic, just evaporated seawater. What makes the different types of sea salt stand out from each other are factors such as where it's harvested, how it's harvested, and what kinds of trace minerals and other elements it contains. All these things will influence it's color, moisture content and flavor (oh yeah, and price).

The one thing that all sea salts will do is make your food taste better. The larger crunchier crystals tend to dissolve slower than table salt and provide little bursts of flavor that make food really sparkle. If you've never done a side-by-side taste test of salts, now is the time. Start with the sea salt, putting a few grains of it on your tongue. Let it dissolve some, then start noticing the taste of it. Have a sip or two of water and then do the same thing with a bit of table salt. The difference should be pretty obvious.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Big Batch Of Brownies

I'm afraid of brownies. No, not the little ones that sell cookies, or the even smaller ones that inhabit ancient forests. No, I'm afraid of the chocolaty baked good. Specifically, I'm afraid of baking brownies.

There's a fine line you must dance when baking brownies and my balance isn't too good. Bake them too long and you end up with square hockey pucks; not long enough and you end up with chocolaty goop. The key is to take them out of the oven at that precise moment, when they still look undercooked, but actually... aren't. Sure. No problem.

A good brownie is worth taking the chance for though... worth facing your fears over. And if confrontation and repetition are the keys to conquering fears... well, I'm willing (especially if there's a big glass of cold milk nearby)...