Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'm pleased to say that my second batch of pickled lemons came out pretty well. (These were the ones that were less salted.) They could have been even a drop less salty and a drop more spicy (crushed red peppers in this batch instead of hot paprika), and maybe could have had a bit more lemon juice to cover, but they're really pretty good. Batch number three will be ready in about a week -- that was the batch where I didn't do the overnight salting and draining.

Another new recipe of the frozen variety; this has yet to "ripen" in the freezer, but is pretty promising right out of the ice cream maker:

Coconut "Ice Cream" (doesn't have any dairy in it)

2 cans coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar or equivalent sweetener (taste it -- frozen desserts taste less sweet after freezing, so make your mix a little sweeter than you want the finished product)

Mix it.  ( I used to prepare my sorbet and ice cream mixes in a blender, but lately, unless I'm trying to puree chunks of fruit, I just use a big bowl and my immersion blender.)  Chill it a bit if the coconut milk was pre-chilled (I had mine in the fridge, so it didn't need to be chilled).  Freeze in ice cream maker.  Mine takes about 20 minutes.  If you wish, when it's almost frozen (about five minutes before it's done), add some flaked coconut, crushed pineapple or chocolate chips, or whatever you think is good in coconut ice cream.  Put in a container and put in freezer for several hours before serving (this is what they call "ripening").  Makes a little more than a quart.

Coconut milk is fairly high in fat, so the product will be very creamy and probably fairly soft even after freezing.  I'll let you know.

This recipe is insanely easy.  If you keep a couple of cans of coconut milk in the fridge, you're there.

Confession:  I used fructose (which might as well be white sugar) and chocolate chips. 
I have been using the Brownies Cockaigne recipe from The Joy of Cooking for many years now, and I have never looked back.  (When I made "special" brownies recently, I added pecans, raisins, and chocolate chips to conceal the "special" a bit, which is why I had chocolate chips in the house at all.)  I haven't made blondies in years, but I always used the Toll House Pan Cookies recipe on the bag of chips.  My banana bread is the Banana Tea Bread recipe from The New York Times Cookbook, and I used to make their Orange Honey Bread recipe a lot.  Haven't tried any of these sugar-free yet. I don't suppose you can make Orange Honey Bread without honey.

I use recipes for baking, because proportions are important, but for most cooking, I tend to improvise.  If it's something I haven't made before, I'll usually read a few recipes first, just to get a sense of proportions and cooking time, and then I'll improvise.  I made up almost all of my sorbet and ice cream recipes, and wrote them down in a little book. 

I almost always made sorbet or sherbet, because homemade ice cream is way too good.  The first time I ever made it, I decided to make a fruit flavor rather than something like chocolate, because I'm less of a fan of fruit-flavored ice cream and I figured I wouldn't wolf the whole thing down.  I made fresh raspberry, and ate the whole quart in one day.  Homemade ice cream is very dangerous.  I've only made ice cream and sorbet a few times with artificial sweeteners, and it didn't really make me happy.  I probably need to experiment more, or try some alternative fruit sweeteners like apple juice concentrate.  (I did the Pritikin diet many years ago, and any sweetening was done with frozen apple juice concentrate, and it worked really well.)

I don't know what it's like where you are -- whoever you are -- but it's been around 90 degrees here for weeks on end, and I've eaten ice cream a number of times.  I know I shouldn't, and I rarely mess with sugar any more.  But I have not been able to do without ice cream lately.

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