Archive for September, 2015

Summer of Pop – Cool Popsicle Ideas and Recipe

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

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My kids are usually big on making ice cream in the summer.  We certainly did make and eat some.  However this year at our house it seems to be the popsicle which took center stage for recipe experimentation and overall cool treat winner.  My daughter and her friend Emily, even set up a popsicle stand after experimenting for 2 days with flavors.  Watermelon, mango and strawberry were big hits while peach, raspberry and pineapple not as sweet.  It was actually less about the flavor than the texture.  The girls’ popsicles were nothing but fruit.  No sugar or anything added.  Just take fresh fruit, blend in a blender and pour into a popsicle mold.  That’s it!  This also meant no one would worry about gluten, dairy or nut allergies.  There was discussion and tests about water and they figured our about dilution and flavor vs quantity.  There was also a discovery that fruit should be ripe.  Under ripe fruit meant bland popsicles.

 

You have to give them credit…spending all day blending and freezing (of to be patient) and sign making, they still wanted to then go out and sell.  Here’s where the tricky part came and the logistics of a popsicle stand vs other non frozen edibles.  We thought ahead and used popsicle sticks and straws for sticks so people wouldn’t have to give back the reusable popsicle tops (or I wouldn’t loose them).  We carefully loosened the popsicles, set them back in the trays and carefully placed them in an ice chest with ice packs.  But how long would this last?  Well when opening and closing an ice chest full of frozen popsicles on an 85 degree day at the park the answer is about 30 – 40 minutes before they turn to slush.  Thankfully Emily’s mom to the rescue with a stop at the store to pick up cups.  They then rebooted the popsicles to “new fruit slushies” and ventured to another park to sell. Certainly their popsicle stand wasn’t as big of a draw as their past bake and lemonade stand sales, but you never know what they’ll create next.

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Not over the love of popsicles (or our crazy 90 degree heat), I decided to use some left-over canned coconut milk and create my own popsicle as a surprise for my kids finishing the first week of school.  I made sushi for dinner and then these were the perfect dessert pop to finish the hot evening.  I was inspiredly by a coconut popsicle recipe from Don’t Waste The Crumbs .  I changed mine to all coconut milk (vs mix with cream), reduced the maple syrup, omitted the fresh coconut flakes (my kids wouldn’t have wanted the hairy texture) and increased the recipe for a bigger pop mold.  Next time I’ll check my chocolate stash before freezing as the use of chocolate fudge sauce didn’t give my popsicles the hard chocolate coating I was hoping for.  However there were no complaints.

Coconut Chocolate Popsicles

(makes 4, 3 oz. popsicles)

  • 12 oz light coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate for coating, less if drizzling
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine coconut, syrup and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt, or more to taste.
  2. Ladle or pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours, or until set.
  3. Prepare the chocolate “shell” coating by melting chocolate and coconut oil in a small sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly until just melted.  Or melt in the microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring between each. (This is where I used fudge sauce and although tasty it don’t set in the freezer).  Once melted, remove from heat immediately and stir in a pinch of salt.
  4. When pops are frozen, remove from molds and place on a cookie sheet or plate lined with wax paper. Place pops in the freezer.
  5. Removing one pop at a time, use a small ladle or spoon to drizzle or pour the chocolate over the pop. Quickly transfer the pop back to the lined board in the freezer. Can sprinkle with additional flaked coconut if desired.
  6. Repeat until all pops are coated and in the freezer to set.
  7. Store pops in freezer until ready to eat (cover if storing longer than a few hours).
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Rafting Vacation – Amazing and Efficient Cooking

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

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My family was lucky enough to take a trip to Oregon this summer.  It was a blast.  There were 3 generations of my family on a 3 day white water rafting and camping trip on the Deschutes River.  My kids and my parents had been planning and preparing for weeks and months before.  We were all so looking forward and we were not disappointed.  Of course we all knew the rafting and rapids would be fun.  But none of us really thought much about the camping and land portion of the trip.  We knew we were going to have fantastic guides at (we’d been on a one day trip before) but we did not know the lengths they would go to keep us happy, safe and well fed.

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Which brings me to the food.  I sometimes complain to myself that I don’t have access to a piece of kitchen equipment or there is a missing pan.  I won’t again.  The guides on the rafting trip set up amazingly efficient “kitchens” that created wonderful meals.  Also I must remind you we are not an easy group to cook for, given our dietary and health restrictions – everything from my 9 year old being a vegetarian to my sister being vegan to my step dad needing to avoid too much salt and sugar.  Of course there’s lactose intolerance and beef issues sprinkled in the crowd too.

The food was amazing.  Plus they did it all breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days.  We offered assistance but they turned down our offer and told us to relax (the wine helped too).  I was thinking typical camping/outdoor fare such as hot dogs and veggie burgers but this wasn’t the case at all.  I was so tired, hungry and wet that I didn’t get a photo of the appetizers of marinated olives, hummus and veggies, that greeted us at the camp when we docked.  Here are photos of the first night’s dinner –  grilled local salmon, spinach salad, ratattouille and quinoa.  Followed by dessert of chocolate fondue.

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I’m sorry my camera batteries went dead after the first night.  So many beautiful scenes of Orgeon and family.  I could’ve taken more photos of the lovely breakfast offerings of blueberry pancakes, yogurt and fruit and bacon.  Or the lunch of camp made falafel wrapped with veggies in flatbread with homemade yogurt dressing.

What I really learned was how efficient you could be with proper prep and shopping and just the essentials.  If I didn’t know this from cooking demos in other people’s kitchens, and meeting people living in SRO’s (single resident occupants) without kitchens, I know it now.  There was no running water, except the river.  There was no conventional stove (a butane burner and grill did the trick).  There was no refrigerator.  And let’s not forget, all the equipment and food was all packed on a raft that had to go down class 2, 3 and 4 rapids.  And did I mention the crazy wind one night and keeping the food bee free?

Besides being great cooks, the guides were also great diners and slipped quite easily into our family conversations.  We were sad to say goodbye.  My kids both said it was the greatest thing they’ve ever done.  In fact they both wrote on their first back to school assignments, that wanted to become rafting guides.  It was truly an inspirational trip.  Looks like they’ll be lots more rafting, (and cooking) in our family’s future.

Thank you Nan and Poppa!

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