Frost. Ice. Books.

The theme for yesterday’s 6 Lenses photo was favorite book.  So I took a large stack of books and all the necessary extras out to the-trees-in-the-pasture-across-the-road to take a picture.

Now the distance from the gate to the trees seems quite long when you are hauling a wagon containing 2 bags stuffed with books, a thermos of tea (for the pictures, not to drink), a camera bag, a quilt, and a teacup, with the other hand holding the camera.  Also, the tall grass covered with ice didn’t aid my journey.

Basically, after hauling out there and back, I was tired.  And cold.

So when I was done, I went inside and started a pot of coffee.

Then I went back outside with just my camera and macro lens to take a few pictures before I went in to have my mocha.

 

These past few days have been normal, or as close to normal as my life ever comes.  Just the norms.  School.  Chores.  Dinners.  Nothing all that exciting.

Something a bit more exciting is that the first part of my midwifery correspondence course came last week in the mail.  Mom and I ordered the first group of books that I need for it on Saturday, and I started it today.  I can’t wait for my books to arrive (the earliest I can expect them is the 18th).  Oh, I am SO looking forward to reading and learning!

I am not currently planning any desserts this week – but I am hoping that we will be able to pick up another of my favorite chocolate bars (Lindt 90%).  I finished the one I had today.  It was really good.  And now I want more.

I am planning a few new dinners for later this week, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  We’ll see if they make it on here.  I haven’t been posting that many savory things lately – mostly just the sweets.  🙂

Oh.  I just remembered.  I will be making Mom some coffee chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream this week, and I will hopefully make Dad some chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I also owe my brother Noah a chocolate cake.  (For Christmas, I let both of my brothers choose any recipe they wanted, and I would make it for them.  Noah requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Drake wanted Brazilian Black Beans.  I think I am going to make Drake’s when I come off this diet, so I can eat it.  I really like Brazilian Black Beans.)  But I probably won’t make his chocolate cake until next week.  (I need to add all three of these things to my schedule.)

Well, that’s all for now, folks!

And now, a few pictures.  (You can never tell beforehand how long this section is going to be.)

_MG_7067

The frozen grass I was trying to plow through

_MG_7075

Frost

_MG_7079

I should have tried to get this shot horizontally, but I guess I forgot.  Plus, this blade of grass was very close to the ground.  And normally I am not very close to the ground.  This made photographing it rather difficult.

_MG_7086

Thistle

_MG_7092

 

_MG_7099

Hate these things.  Vehemently.  I was VERY careful to walk AROUND them.

_MG_7124

This is the photo I posted on 6 Lenses yesterday.  Couldn’t decide if I liked the vertical one…

_MG_7118

…or the horizontal one better.  What do you think?

_MG_7130

(Said with an accent) A spot of tea!

_MG_7143

Throwing out the tea

_MG_7144

 

_MG_7158

Ice is SO FUN to photograph.  It has all the benefits of photographing water, except it stays much more still.  The only downside is that it is cold out.  Freezing cold.

_MG_7167

There is a slight focusing difference between these two photos.  Which one do you like better: 1…

_MG_7173

…or 2?

_MG_7181

 

_MG_7184

 

_MG_7196

SPARKLES!

_MG_7201

 

_MG_7204

 

_MG_7208

Inspired by Lime (With a Bit of Chocolate, Too!)

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I spotted several bags of lemons and limes on manager’s special.  I purchased three two-pound bags of limes.  I was planning to make limeade.

But that afternoon I didn’t feel too well, and after I juiced them, I just refrigerated the juice.  No limeade.

Then I thought.  (I try to do this every once in a while.)  It occurred to me that a nice lime coconut sorbet/ice cream would be quite tasty.  So I searched, and found a recipe.  As usual I just used it as a basic guideline, and changed it a bit.

I ended up with a lovely ice cream.  It’s only fault is that it is just not quite sweet enough.

(I checked out a book on food photography from the library, and looked at it briefly.  It has made me try harder with my food photography.)

_MG_6770

 

_MG_6773

 

_MG_6778

 

Mom bought several avocados for me the other day, and as usually happens, they all ripened at the same time.  So I decided to make chocolate avocado pudding.

But when I was on Immer Wachsen, I saw a recipe for Key Lime Pie, and the filling was avocado based.  I had seen an avocado-based lime pudding recipe somewhere (I think), and I had wanted to try it.  So I did. I split my avocados and made lime pudding AND chocolate pudding!

The lime pudding was pretty good.  I made it by combining all the filling ingredient recipes (minus the Irish moss).  The coconut oil formed little chunks after I refrigerated it, which I would rather not have had happen, but it is still edible.

The chocolate pudding is better.

What is really good is if you take a small spoonful of lime and a small spoonful of chocolate, and eat them together.  MMmmm!

_MG_7010

 

_MG_7021

 

_MG_7028

 

_MG_7036

 

_MG_7045

 

_MG_7047

Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Meiling’s favorite ice cream flavor is strawberry.  We have been letting her eat regular (dairy) strawberry ice cream, but since she really can’t have dairy either, I decided to make her some strawberry coconut milk ice cream.

So yesterday, while the boys were at the store and Mommy was taking a nap, we made the ice cream.  Here is the recipe.

_MG_3616

Strawberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Primal)
2 cans good-quality full-fat coconut milk
Approx. 13 frozen strawberries
2 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. honey
Fresh strawberries (optional)

1. Open the cans of coconut and pour them into a medium bowl.

_MG_3621

 

2.  Place the strawberries in a sauce pan on the stove and heat them to thaw.  (You don’t want to cook them, just thaw them enough so you can break them up.)  (I did mine in two batches, so don’t be surprised a there only being 8 strawberries in this pot.)

_MG_3626

 

3.  Mash up the strawberries until there are not many chunks left.  (If you like more chunks, you can leave some more chunks.  If you are using the optional strawberries, those will be chunks later, too.)

_MG_3638

 

4.  Add the mashed-up strawberries as well as all the other ingredients to the coconut milk.

_MG_3634

Adding the strawberries

_MG_3636

 

5.  Using a stick blender or whisk, stir/blend/whisk until well combined.  After it is combined, taste it, and add whatever you think it needs.

_MG_3640

 

6.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions.

_MG_3645

 

7.  If using the fresh strawberries, chop them up into small pieces and add them to the ice cream when it starts being more of a solid.

Enjoy!

 

I ran into a bit of trouble with my ice cream, as I left it in the ice cream maker too long.  The ice cream maker wasn’t cold enough any more, so my ice cream melted.  It should have been taken out sooner.  So don’t make that mistake.  Once it gets in the freezer, it freezes, but it is harder than it normally would be.  I may melt mine again and re-freeze it.  We’ll see.

I really liked the ice cream.  Mom and Dad really liked the ice cream.  Drake liked it, too.  But Meiling didn’t.  I am not quite sure why.  Everyone else said that it was really good, though. :/

 

Have a lovely day!

Allison

Water Kefir

When I first tried water kefir at a friend’s home a few months ago, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I wanted to make it myself.  I currently can’t have much dairy, which includes dairy kefir and yogurt.  Water kefir would be a lacot-fermented drink that I could have!  Although I have made and enjoyed a lacto-fermented berry drink (based on the Raspberry Drink in Nourishing Traditions), it is slightly time consuming, especially if you want to have some all the time.  Now water kefir wouldn’t be quite as time consuming, and it doesn’t use nearly as many ingredients (it just has water, Sucanat, and the water kefir grains).

So when, this past Sunday, a friend of mine gave me some water kefir grains, I was so excited!  I couldn’t wait to start some water kefir.

So on Monday I started a quart of water kefir.  I sat it on the top of the fridge to ferment (this is a nice warm spot, great for such activities).  After a day, I strained out the kefir grains and put some frozen mixed berries in the kefir for a second fermentation (this adds some more color and flavor).  After another day (or was it 12 hours?  I forget), it was ready.  The next batch I made I let ferment for two days before doing a second fermentation with berries for 24 hours.

I am quite pleased with the kefir.  I have only tried the first batch, but I like it.  It actually doesn’t taste like a whole lot.  It smells fairly strong, but the smell is (surprisingly) not an accurate representation of the taste.   I have not tried the kefir that I fermented for two days (three, if you count the second fermentation), since I am still working on drinking my first batch.  I will be trying it in a few days, though.

So I have done a total of two batches of kefir.  I started with about a quarter cup of kefir grains (probably since they weren’t packed together, they filled a half-pint jar halfway).  Now I have a pint jar more than halfway filled with kefir grains.  I discovered this the other day when I was straining my second batch.  It really looked like I had more grains than I started with, but when I poured them in the jar, you could really tell how much they had grown!  I knew they would grow, but I was quite surprised with how fast they grew.  I currently have my little grains resting in the fridge, since I have plenty of kefir right now.  I will probably make some more tomorrow.

_MG_3550

See the line about halfway up the jar?  Everything below that is kefir grains.

Right now it is pouring rain outside.  It has been raining off and on all day today.  Currently, the sky has dropped 2 inches of rain on us.  I am so happy.  It’s been so dry this summer that we are glad for any rain that we get.  Hang on a minute.  We were just upgraded from a tornado watch to a tornado warning.  I and my laptop are going to relocate downstairs.

Now we are downstairs.  Everything looks pretty calm outside, but we’ll se how crazy things get.

So I have been enjoying the rain today.

In the past few weeks, I have been cooking all kinds of things:  Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, coconut milk ice cream, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half sweet tea, a drink that I was introduced to up at my aunt’s home), lots of dinners, and plenty of soups.  Oh, and on Tuesday I made grain-free chocolate muffins with chocolate frosting.  The cupcake part wasn’t all that good.  But the frosting.  Oh, the frosting.  It was basically melted butter and melted chocolate chips.  How much better does it get?  Maybe if I made it mocha?  🙂

I know I haven’t posted about any of the food I have been making.  Mostly because I have been busy.  And because I haven’t taken pictures of any of it.  But I will try to post more often now.  I should have time and plenty of food!  (Tomorrow Meiling and I may make some strawberry coconut milk ice cream, as strawberry is her favorite flavor.  She has to continue feeling better, though.  She’s getting over a bit of a stomach bug.)

Watching for tornadoes,

Allison

P.S.  We are no longer under a tornado warning.  Just thought you would like to know.

Chocolate-Covered Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream Bars

This morning my mom came upstairs with a can of coffee.

“This needs to be put in a glass jar,” she said, “It’s spilling in the freezer.”

Well, having that coffee upstairs made me want some coffee.  So I decided that now was the perfect time to open a can of coconut milk, and I started a pot of coffee.

I opened a can of coconut milk that we had gotten at our local grocery store.  It turned out to be not nearly as creamy or rich as the cans of coconut milk from the co-op.  In fact, it was pretty watery.

I didn’t think that was much of a problem until I started adding it to my coffee.  Instead of making it creamy, it just watered it down.  I decided to try to just drink some of the coconut milk straight.  But it was too watery.

I dumped the coffee. Now, though, I had about 2/3 of a can of coconut milk that I needed to do something with.  I remembered this recipe, but I didn’t have all the ingredients for it.  It also sounded a bit involved for what I wanted to do today.  After some thinking (again, a little dangerous), I decided to make vanilla coconut milk ice cream bars and dip them in chocolate.

For the vanilla ice cream part, I just mixed the rest of the can of coconut milk with some honey (approx. 2 tbsp.) and vanilla (approx. 2 tsp.), to taste (inspired by this recipe).

I poured that into molds and let it freeze for a half hour, stuck the popsicle sticks in, and finished freezing them.

Once they were done freezing, I unmolded them, and let them stay in the freezer until I was ready to coat them.

I put a handful or two of dark chocolate chips in a sauce pan on the stove on low heat until they melted.  Next I stirred in some coconut oil (approx.2 tsp.).  I poured this mixture into a half-pint jar.

Then, as I was pouring the chocolate into the jar, disaster struck.  The spoon, covered in melted chocolate, fell. Now this would be bad enough (a waste of good chocolate), but what I didn’t know is that when you drop a chocolate covered spoon, the melted chocolate splatters everywhere.  And I mean EVERYWHERE.  All over the floor and the cabinet.  And the spoon had also left a large spot on my skirt.  Somehow I managed to get a slightly smaller spot on my shirt.  So I insert here: pause and wipe up the floor.

Once the floor was clean, I proceeded.  I took the ice cream bars out of the freezer and dipped the first one.  The chocolate only covered it about halfway.  I just used a new spoon to ladle the chocolate onto the bar and smooth it out.  As the level of chocolate decreased in the jar each time, I used the spoon to finish coating each bar.  The chocolate hardens almost immediately and forms a delicious coating.  I then put the bars back into the freezer.

I tried one after dinner.  The middle tasted rather watery, but the chocolate coating made it yummy (of course, right?  Chocolate or bacon makes everything better, depending on what it is).

Next time I may try freezing the ice cream in the ice cream maker until it is soft, them put it in a bar form.  It may just work better with creamier coconut milk.

_MG_2673

The ice cream bars, before being coated in chocolate

_MG_2677

[Does this need a caption?]

_MG_2686

 

Coated and ready to go into the freezer (or eat, whatever you are inclined to do)

Miscellaneous Food

So on Monday, in the afternoon, our co-op order arrived.  I was so happy to get the coconut milk and the dates.  I had been waiting for the coconut milk in particular to make coconut milk ice cream (and try some in coffee, too, once I had looked at it and decided it would be good for such a purpose).  So I set out to make coconut milk ice cream.  It turned out good, nothing great.  It tasted like the stuff we’ve bought at the store before.  Next time I am going to try a more interesting flavor.  This is the recipe I used, but I used honey instead of the agave syrup.

 

_MG_2481

I must confess that before I used the ice cream maker on Monday I didn’t know what the hole on top was for.  But I soon found out.

_MG_2482

It is for trying the ice cream as it is being made.  You just stick a spoon in there and it immediately fills with ice cream (since the ice cream is moving).  Of course you have to hold it the right way for this to work (i.e. not backwards).  Requires skill.  Much skill.  Which I just happen to have.  (My dad suggested that the hole is for adding ingredients.  I still think its main purpose is for eating the frozen deliciousness inside.)

 

For dinner we were making red sauce and pasta.  I didn’t remember for a bit that I couldn’t have the pasta.

Hmmm.  Now that was going to make itself a bit of a problem.  Especially since I had forgotten what I had previously decided to do instead of pasta.

Then I remembered.

I checked out this awesome book from the library, called Fresh Fast Green.  It had a recipe for summer squash linguine.  Although she didn’t mention it, I thought it would be a great bed for pasta sauce.  Hey, at least I had to try, right?

Well, it was AMAZING!  I didn’t miss the pasta at all.  My dad liked it, too.  Definitely a make-again.

_MG_2490

The julienne-sliced squash, ready to be cooked

_MG_2495

My plate with my zucchini linguine (as I termed them).  And kale.  I love kale.

_MG_2507

The coconut milk ice cream, which I had after dinner

 

Yesterday I split the box of dates.  (We bought a big box and split it with a friend.)  Having all those dates out made me want to try something with them.  So I did.

You may remember from this post that I tried Larabars.  Now I have come to love Larabars.  But I had heard that you could make them.  Well, actually, I saw another recipe that I wanted to try (for some raw chocolate ball things), so that’s why we got the dates.  But I decided to try the Larabar recipe too.  So I made some chocolate Larabars.

THEY WERE AMAZING!!!!  WAY better that the store bought ones.  I have actually been craving them more that the ice cream, if you can believe that.  And most of the rest of my family liked them, too.

This is a site with a bunch of links to other sites with lots and lots more Larabar recipes.  *Note*  I have not been to all these sites, and I don’t necessarily approve all that is on each website.  Use discretion.  Just lots of great recipes to try.

_MG_2510

Dates, my inspiration

_MG_2515

All the ingredients in the food processor

_MG_2522

Chopped up – It was a little hard to form into bars, but once I got a handful of the stuff and started kneading it, it stuck together fairly well,  Next time I will probably try adding a bit of water.

_MG_2537

Eating one later.  These things were great, even if they didn’t look great.