Friday, June 28, 2013

friday fixations

{pharrell} You're happy, too, aren't you? It's Friday before a long weekend!

{mike d's home} His space makes me want to start all over in mine.

{peanut butter and jelly} Every time I turn around, it seems like someone's coming up with something peanut butter jelly. Peanut butter jelly cakebrown sugar and cinnamon pb and balsamic strawberry jam; or try these fruit or peanut butter yogurt popsicles I made last year. Swirl in the fruit! I also made that Jeni's ice cream base with 1/4 cup of peanut butter mixed in with the cream cheese and added frozen chunks of peanut butter (basically just spread some peanut butter on a sheet, freeze it, then cut it into chunks, freeze again, then swirl into ice cream). It was positively sinful.

{snapdragons} I'm not really a big fan of annuals. All that money and work spent planting something that'll only last one season seems like such a waste to me. And not only that, but most annuals are kinda... unremarkable. I purchased some long-stemmed pink snapdragons to go in my mom's day bouquet and now I can't stop thinking about them. I don't really see them lining everyone's flower boxes like they used to, so maybe they're due for a modern day come-back.

{how keys work} I watched this for way longer than I probably should have. It's super fascinating.

{secret language of birthdates} I've always loved reading this junk and I thought it was pretty accurate (for me, anyway).

{movin' season} This made me laugh! It's so true.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

diy: gardening hand scrub

Oh my gosh I've been so busy lately! There's just so much to do in the summer (especially since we only see maybe, if we're lucky four months of it).

So if you're like me, you're probably out there, too. Mowing and weeding and digging and planting and generally getting downright dirty.

I had seen a lot of scrub tutorials, face and body mostly, so I went on a little search for a hand scrub. I guess a gardening hand scrub, as I'm calling it here, but really you can use this for any time your hands just need a little extra cleaning.

On the whole, most "gardening" hand scrubs I read about had sugar mixed with hand-friendly dish soap. And that's totally fine. If you like washing your hands with dish soap. I know, I know. It's Palmolive or hand-softening or what have you, but I just don't like those (and don't think I haven't tried them, either. I felt like they neither softened my hands nor cleaned my dishes).

So mine's probably a bit of a cop out cuz I kept the sugar but used a favourite hand soap instead. It doesn't really matter what soap you use, the method's still the same.

I made enough to fill this jar and I've already used a lot of it! It scrubs really well and surprisingly leaves my hands feeling a lot softer and less tight and dry than they usually are. I don't know if the sugar has anything to do with it, but I do know that this is one of the better uses for sugar!

So here's how you do it:

Grab the jar you want to use (honestly, I've been scooping a bit out with my fingers, so choose something you can dip into.) and fill it 3/4 of the way full of sugar. That's just about two finger widths from the top of your vessel (or consult a measuring cup to get a better idea if you need to, but it's not an exact science). Pour the sugar into a bowl and slowly add liquid soap and mix until you get a medium-thick paste. You don't want it to be all sugar and you don't want it to be all soap (initial experiments had too much soap and the sugar ended up dissolving into the soap so I really just made myself some sweet soap). It shouldn't be drippy, let's put it that way.

And boom! You're done! That was easy, hey?

If you're going to a BBQ or a picnic party, I think this would make a pretty good hostess gift, as well. Include a little spoon and maybe some gardening gloves and you're all set.

Friday, June 14, 2013

friday fixations: biking

Obviously, when I was younger, the ability to listen to music while bike riding just didn't exist. But now I'm taking full advantage of that luxury and enjoying every last minute of it. (i.e. pretending I'm in a music video is even easier now.)

Track Listing:

{Generationals} put a light on
{Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell} blurred lines
{Katy B} katy on a mission
{Phoenix} trying to be cool (The Chainsmokers Remix)
{Peter Bjorn and John} breaker breaker
{Icona Pop} i love it
{Big Black Delta} side of the road
{Milky Chance} stolen dance
{Washed Out} feel it all around

Friday, June 7, 2013

friday fixations: jeni's ice cream

I don't remember where I first saw a Jeni's ice cream recipe or what possessed me to look it up, but whatever it was, thank goodness!

It's a little unorthodox for an ice cream recipe. There're no eggs. No hassle of making a custard at all which is pretty much the main reason I love it so much.

The problem for me with custards is the egg white. What on earth do I do with eight egg whites after I've made one tiny batch of ice cream that will (most likely) last about four days?

Besides the egg part, there're a few other reasons why I make a batch of this ice cream once a week:

First, it's dead simple to throw together. I've revised her exact method to suit my own laziness, but you can do it her way if you want. I just don't feel like you need to unless you like to get all complicated for no reason at all. Making ice cream now takes me as long as it takes for milk to boil plus 4 minutes. I like that.

Second, if you're making just the simple blank canvas base (maybe with some vanilla) you will be able to scoop the ice cream as soon as it comes out of the freezer. Most homemade ice creams make you wait for them to soften on the counter or make you beg a strong man to chip away at it for you. This recipe makes it possible to scoop out the perfect ice cream scoop the second you pull it out of the freezer no matter how long it's been in there.

Third, I read somewhere that you can substitute half and half with whole cream in ice cream to lighten the calories. I tried it, and it works fantastically and it's still super creamy. I really can't tell the difference. Now, not only am I making a super easy ice cream recipe, I'm also making a lighter version of it. I've even gone so far as to use 1% milk, and it's STILL CREAMY! What?! There's some mad science going on here.

I have pictured the roasted strawberry and buttermilk ice cream which is probably one of the best flavours I've yet to make. But the banana (I used shaved white chocolate instead of messing around with making my own white chocolate chips) comes in a close second (we're just finishing a batch). I just put a batch of salted caramel in the fridge to chill before churning (and it smells pretty delish already so I'm kind of excited about it), so the jury's still out on that one.

This is the base recipe (which can easily be altered depending on what flavour you want to make) the way I make it, with my changes in ingredients (which are minimal). 

from Food 52
makes 2 pints (1 L; 4 cups) 

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces light cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (whole, 2% or 1%)
1 1/4 cups half and half (if you can find light, try it!)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (if you don't like to use corn syrup, I've also used honey in place of this and it works fine and tastes the same)

Get your stuff together:

The first major thing you have to prepare (or should have prepared at all times) is your ice cream maker bowl. I use the Kitchen Aid ice cream maker, and I just leave the bowl in the freezer all the time so it's always ready to go. If you don't (or have a different machine), make sure it's all ready to do ice cream (but don't freak out, cuz you won't be churning it until at least tomorrow).

Put your cornstarch in a small bowl (like cereal bowl size).

Put your cream cheese in another bowl (the same size is fine) and mix in the salt as best you can. Yes, I'm assuming you're taking it straight out of the fridge because that's what I do. Softening to room temperature is a step I find unnecessary. By the time the milk boils, the cheese is going to be warmed up a little bit (I leave mine sitting on the stove while I do the milk) plus you'll be pouring boiling hot milk into it, so it's going to mix up just fine. The idea of whipping the chunks out and the salt in beforehand has me cringing. So much arm and wrist work for no reason as I have yet to use room temperature cream cheese and have not suffered through cream cheese chunks.

In a large saucepan (boiling milk means you're going to need high sides to account for the expansion), pour in your milk. From that, remove a couple tablespoons and add them into the cornstarch. Whisk the cornstarch up into a slurry.

Back to the pot, add the half and half, sugar, and corn syrup. Turn your heat on high (or just under high as I do. A medium high high). With the same whisk you used for the cream cheese and the cornstarch, whisk the sugar and milk a bit. Now you play the waiting game. I kind of go back and forth whisking a little, doing other tasks, until the milk starts to steam. Once it's fully boiling -- rolling boil -- set a timer for 4 minutes and let it boil away. I haven't had it boil over yet, but sometimes it really wants to (for example, I don't know what was different with the caramel ice cream I just made, but it wanted to boil over so much, I couldn't even turn my head away). You don't want to clean up that mess at any rate, so just stick around and wait it out. It's just 4 minutes.

Once the 4 minutes is up, turn the heat to low and leave the pot on the burner. Mix up your cornstarch again (it settles during this time), then pour it into the hot milk mixture and whisk it in. Then pour a little of the hot milk mixture straight from the pot into the cream cheese. Whisk that up, adding a little more milk at a time until the cream cheese is smooth and melted (as I said). Put the pot back on the burner and pour in the rest of the cream cheese, whisking it in. I like it to sit and heat a little longer just to cook the cornstarch a bit. If you don't, I find it can have a bit of a chalky aftertaste.

Now comes waiting around part number two. Pour the hot milk into a heat proof bowl (like a big measuring cup) and allow to cool to room temperature before putting in the fridge. I usually leave mine in the fridge until the next day, but I've also gotten away with a 5 hour chill. Whatever you have time for.

Once chilled, the mixture will look like some sort of weird curdled pudding. Don't worry! That's normal. Just pour it into your ice cream maker as usual and churn until it's done (I do like the explanation from Food 52 for when ice cream is done from a machine: "The machine isn't freezing the ice cream anymore and it's pulling away from the sides." I used to take it out way too early and now I know). Store in a 1 L (2 pint; 4 cup) freezer safe bowl (or if you like individual cups, those small plastic freezer jam jars work great and fit one serving perfectly).

{unnecessary steps summed up} You do not have to wait for the cream cheese to come to room temperature. You can, but it's kinda dumb. Do not make an ice bath. I have to make ice cubes before making ice cream? That's like making two ice creams and it's just not cool with me. Do not pour boiling hot milk into a ziplock bag. I can't even fathom the number of ways in which this could go wrong. You don't need to let the final ice cream sit for 5-10 minutes before scooping. This only applies if you've added something else to the ice cream like fruit or other variegates and even then, the wait time is more like the time it takes to get bowls, spoons, and crunch up some cookies.

{common complaints} I read a lot of negative reviews for Jeni's ice cream, and, as most reviews go, a lot of them were pretty dumb. Some said it was too involved and had too many pots and bowls to clean up afterwards. Now I haven't made a traditional custard based ice cream for a while, but I seem to remember having to crack and separate a lot of eggs requiring at least two bowls, then having to do the pot routine with milk etc., then having to temper eggs (which you could really screw up requiring you to start over) then having to use my stand mixer for mixing. So... I don't see how this is MORE involved than that. This takes 1 pot, 2 bowls, 1 whisk, 1 bowl to chill it in (and you could really just leave it in the pot if that bothers you so much), and 1 spatula (if you're a freak about getting everything like I am). Another one was the mouth feel and yes, it's creamy ice cream but not in a traditional sense. It's different because IT'S different. Did you read the ingredients? It's different. Don't be all, It doesn't have that rich eggy taste I like! It's not a custard and it's not Haagen Dazs, ok?

{fyi} There're a lot of places where you can find individual Jeni recipes on the internet or you could buy her book, but I've read mostly bad reviews about the book (stemming from poor editing and missing information), so I'm not ready to shell out $20 for it just yet. I found this really handy Pinterest board that has a lot of Jeni ice cream recipes already pinned and we seem to be happy with just eating the base on its own (with cookies or sauce mixed in). Plus I don't really plan on making corn and blackberry ice cream any time soon anyway. Roasting strawberries, mashing bananas, and watching sugar caramelize was about as much work as I've wanted to bother with so far.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

june desktop


A little greenery for your month!

1920 x 1080

iphone/ipod: lock screen; home screen