Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Like a Lion

Ha! No, not that lion. I grew up in southern California, with slightly more weather than LA, but not exactly real seasons. We learned all these weather- and season-related things as children anyway. Like March, which is either "in like a lion, out like a lamb" or "in like a lamb, out like a lion." And the groundhog, who had no impact on our weather at all, because no way was winter going to last until mid-March. In Wisconsin, the groundhog was irrelevant, too, since no way would winter be over before mid-March. Anyway, apparently, if March starts out blustery, it will end with nice weather, and vice versa. I have no idea what the scientific basis for this might be. But we had some good storms a couple of days ago, so I'm looking forward to a pleasant end of the month. Spring is in full swing here, with clogged sinuses, rainy, unpredictable weather, and certain neighbors who leave their dog outside to bark ALL DAY because the temperature has risen. Anyway. The spring cleaning bug has bitten me a bit (I told you about all the bugs in the South, right?) and I found myself spontaneously cleaning out the fridge a couple of nights ago when I went to fill up my water glass before going to bed. This is funny, because I barely have time to do "regular" cleaning, much less intense cleaning. So I just clean a bit when the mood strikes me.

Edited to add a couple of blog spring cleaning things: First, I removed word verification since I moderate comments before they're published anyway. If I get annoying spam, I'll add them back in, but for now it's gone. Second, I'm going back and adding tags to older posts, just a couple at a time, when I have a minute. I think this will be a nice feature to have. For now, I'm tagging book reviews, recipes, and Mission Possible.

Knitting: I'm plugging along on SKB, and I'm nearly at the purl ridges at the bottom of the body. Whoa. After that, it's sleeves, then neckline. I'm on ball #3 of Malabrigo, and based on yarn estimates in the pattern, I should be using a bit less than 6. I think I'm going to have a fair bit left over. I'm not even sure I'll need to crack open the fourth ball for the body, and I can't imagine the sleeves and neckline taking half the total amount of yarn. I hope this sweater fits. I'm making a medium, which fits my measurements, and I'm getting gauge, so I'm not sure why the sweater seems...small. Possibly my body image hasn't caught up with my weight loss, which wouldn't be surprising. I hope more sinister forces aren't at work here. If so, I may be giving away an SKB to a more petite person :) I was looking at the sleeves on the model in the pattern, and thinking I want them shorter than that. They nearly cover the model's hands, and I actually have to use my hands on a regular basis, so that would be annoying. If my job were, say, standing around looking pretty, they would be awesome. I still haven't cast on again for Matt's tiger socks, because I've been a bit obsessed with my SKB, and also my SKB is easy to knit while watching Lilah play or while watching tv (I have to confess to you guys that I've been watching Scooby Doo sometimes at 9:00 on the Boomerang channel, whatever that is, commercial-free--real, classic Scooby Doo from my childhood. I find it tremendously therapeutic for some reason.), while the short-row toe needs more of my attention.

Reading: I read the first three Jane Jeffry mysteries by Jill Churchill--Grime and Punishment, A Farewell to Yarns, and A Quiche Before Dying. I read these ages ago, so I'd forgotten who the killers were. Anyway, I enjoyed reading them again. Jane is a widowed housewife with three kids who ends up involved in mysteries in her Chicago suburb. She and her friend Shelley poke around, digging up gossip and domestic facts that elude the police. Lilah loves these books, too, incidentally, because they all have kitty cats on the covers. She'll carry one around, happily saying "Kitty cat, kitty cat, meow." So cute. She will also climb into her chair and "read" them.

I'm now reading Death at Daisy's Folly by Robin Paige, the third Victorian Mystery. I love it. It takes place at a house party, which is so Gosford Park (one of my favorite films ever).

Writing: Having just finished torturing us by taking a month to get in her four molars, Lilah has decided to work on her eye teeth (are they eye teeth? the ones between the four front teeth and the molars, anyway). So sleep has been pretty scarce around here. I have been working on chapter 1, but I did not meet my goal of a revised chapter 1 for February. For March, I'm shooting for chapters 1 & 2 revised, and hoping I get enough sleep so I can think straight.

Cooking: The Malaysian noodle recipe from Cooking Light that I made a mess of last time turned out beautifully when I actually followed the directions. I also made my Pina Colada Muffins (recipe at left), Cuban Black Bean Soup from Cooking Light, and my first recipe from Super Natural Foods, Barley Risotto. This was a fantastic dish, with arugula and citrus and creme fraiche. Yum, yum, yum. Next up is a quinoa dish with mushrooms and cheese. I've cooked with quinoa before, but mostly boring stuff, so I'm looking forward to this.

My husband and I have been on a bit of an ice cream kick lately, and I thought I'd post what I've been up to in that department. Deciding to forgo my usual pint of Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk in reserve in the freezer, I wanted to switch to a lower-calorie, lower-fat treat. And Matt really likes my cookies and cream ice cream, so I had to make a batch.

Note: I have a Rival 1.5 quart ice cream maker that says to use a maximum of 1 quart of liquid. If your machine is bigger or smaller, adjust proportionally. My machine also says to use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mix-ins, but the Super Fudge Chunk is so packed with "stuff" that it was about 2 1/2 cups' worth. Yowza. So I made the ice cream as usual, then mixed in the chunks (chilled in the fridge) by hand in a bowl that I'd chilled in the fridge and put it into my ice cream containers of choice, those Ziploc plastic containers. Worked just fine. I suppose I could have just made less ice cream, but that's no fun. I chose ice milk since I wanted to save the fat grams for the chunks rather than the ice cream.

My Super Fudge Chunk Ice Cream

Easy chocolate ice milk base*:
2/3 cup cocoa (I used Scharffen Berger non-alkalized)
1/2 cup sugar
dash salt
4 cups whole milk (or use low-fat milk, or half-and-half, or a milk/half-and-half/cream combo, but NEVER skim milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring with a whisk, just until cocoa and sugar have dissolved. Chill well. Place in bowl of ice cream maker and process until nearly firm.

About 4 oz. white chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Ghirardelli, but Lindt is fantastic, too. Look for cocoa butter, not tropical oils, in the ingredient list.)
About 4 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used a 3.5 oz. bar of Ghirardelli Twilight 72% cocoa, but use your favorite.)
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup chocolate covered almonds

*Use your favorite chocolate ice cream recipe as the base. I was sorely tempted to try this one by David Lebovitz because it uses agave syrup (and I'm obsessed by my Super Natural Foods cookbook right now, which talks about agave syrup) and because Lebovitz wrote The Perfect Scoop, a book of ice cream recipes that is on my "must get" list, but I decided to do a quick and simple base, since the chunks are the real feature here. The ice cream is really just there to hold together the nuts and chocolate. I'll try the agave one some other time, though the five egg yolks put me off a bit. I'm not much for custardy ice cream.

Hahaha! It's a good thing I had fun coming up with how to make this, because when searching for chocolate ice cream recipes on the internet, I found a New York Super Fudge Chunk recipe everywhere. Here it is. Mine is more weighted toward chocolate than nuts because I was using up two bars I had hanging around, but I got it more or less right as far as chunks/dairy products ratio goes.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup half and half
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
15 Oreo cookies, crushed (I chuck them in a big baggie and break apart with my fingers)

Mix together all ingredients except Oreos. Pour into canister of ice cream maker and run until it's almost solid. Add Oreos and keep going until they're mixed in. Easy peasy.


YarnThrower said...

I hope there is a spring cleaning bug residing in Wisconsin, and soon! I spontaneously cleaned out part of the garage this morning, and given the difference that small effort made, it might (or might not, alas) motivate me for more cleaning...though I have to say, not looking good right now. (Okay, but my excuse is the garage is really cold right now -- better to plan that project for April....)

String Bean said...

Send me some ice cream - I'm on a diet. Ice cream is dairy, right? ;)

We finally have a computer. Hurrah! Email me so I can use it. :D