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World Peace Cookie Dough Ice Cream and stories of my youth

September 23, 2010

Back when I was a little girl, I had a favorite doll, a porcelain doll.  While I still remember every detail of her from her pink dress with white lace to her long, sandy curls, I cannot remember her name.  I just remember how much love I had for her and how much comfort she gave me.  There were many nights when I would sneak out of bed to get my favorite porcelain doll and sneak her back in with me.  I was definitely not allowed to sleep with this doll since the porcelain might break and cut me in my sleep.  So, of course, I would hide her under the covers so my mom would not find her when she came in to wake me.  I would then fluff her curls, straighten her pretty pink dress, and return her to her rightful place on my shelf.  I was pretty sneaky.

I still have this doll, in a box, tucked away in the back of a closet.  I see her about once every-other year or so and am continuously amazed at how ratty she looks.  My memory is blinded by love; in it, she is beautiful.  I suppose this is what happens when you sleep with your fancy things, and I am forced to realize that my parents must have known.

Also, when I was little, my mom would very occasionally leave a bowl of M&M’s out on the counter.  I was convinced that my mom counted these both in the morning and at night, and consequently, I was certain that she would know if I took one.  I imagined the punishment for such action would be grave.  Of course, little Charli was not completely without logic:  if the bowl was very full, I would sometimes take one, or maybe even two because–as I reasoned it–if my mom reached the end of the bowl having counted 994 instead of 995 candies, she would assume she had miscounted somewhere in there, and would not go back and re-count.  However, once the bowl decreased to a more managable 20 or so candies, I would steer very clear of the bowl.  I was a cautious, maybe even paranoid, child.

Why I thought I could get away with sleeping with my doll but not sneaking a handful of candies out of a full jar the world may never know.

Like many children, I loved cookie dough ice cream; it was my favorite.  I was not frequently allowed to eat it, however, due to a minor milk allergy (which I thankfully outgrew!).  Every time I was given a choice of ice cream flavors, I would invariably revert to my trusty cookie dough.   Now that I’m older, I like to explore a variety of flavors, but I’m still a sucker for a good cookie dough ice cream.  I get about 2 spoonfuls in, and I’m overcome with memories of a fantastic childhood.

World Peace Cookie Dough Ice Cream

This recipe is adapted from two recipes in the marvelous Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking from my Home to YoursI realized that the dough was meant for ice cream one time when I inadvertently ate the entire recipe, tiny bit by tiny bit, from the freezer before I had a chance to bake it.  Oops!  As an added benefit, there is no raw egg in the cookie dough recipe, so it is worry free.  Also, I use a vanilla ice cream base, but I could definitely see this working famously with all sorts of other flavors–let me know if you try any!  If the cookies don’t bring about world peace, this ice cream might just do the trick.

For the cookie dough:
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/6 cup (2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
Your favorite ice cream base, about 1 quarts worth

Whisk together flower, cocoa powder, baking soda.  In another bowl, beat the butter until it is nice and soft; I just use a wooden spoon, but you can use a mixer as well.  Then add both sugars, salt, and vanilla and continue beating for about 2 more minutes.  Add the dry ingredients, mixing to just combine.  Then add the chocolate, mix, form into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and leave to rest in the freezer, at least 2 hours.  (Note: I form into a log as if i were making cookies because it is easy to chop up later; however, since the are not specifically for cookies, feel free to shape however you like.)

Meanwhile, whip up your favorite ice cream base.  When it is ready to churn, make it in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instruction.  While churning, chop the cookie dough log into bite sized pieces.  As soon as the ice cream is done, stir in the cookie dough pieces, and transfer to a container to freeze.  Freeze until hardened, at least 2 hours.



The Daring Cooks: apple butter

September 16, 2010

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to force myself to write.  Unlike how I imagine many bloggers out there, the gift of writing was not given to me.  I have no inexplicable urge to express myself.  However, I believe that writing is important, and so I continue to push myself.  In science and engineering it is all too easy to ignore the pen until you are forced into writing that grant or paper in order to get funding.  Yet at this stage of my career, the majority of my work is still in the lab.

I love to cook, to photograph, but the vast majority of the time that I sit at this computer, I feel writers’ block.  What do I say?

Please do not think this is complaining.  I love the push.  I embrace the challenge and need the sculpting.  What I hate is the silence, that quiet in my head which is louder than screams.  And so I turn away; I abandon my efforts for that easier path.  I delay.  I do not write.

“Do not lose heart,” someone just walked in the room and said to me.  He was speaking on a completely different matter, but the juxtaposition of that sentiment with this one seems fitting.

What all this means, I cannot tell you.  Except that I continue.  I will write, and I will grow.  But at times like these when I delay certain certain posts, just know that I am here.  Waiting for the silence to end.

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

TWD: cranberry upside-downer

September 14, 2010

I have always been a summer girl.  I love the heat, the swimming, the sitting by the pool with a book.  I go home to visit family where I am immensely spoiled.  My birthday is in the summer.  And I suppose this is a morbid sentiment, but my family rarely tends to die in the summer.  In the summer, the days are long, and I am free from class.  The summer is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I love the summer.

Last year, though, for the first time (possibly in my life) I was excited about the Fall.  For me, fall has always been nothing more than the end of summer, the beginning of cold.  I secretly looked forward to school starting back up, like the little nerd that I am, but never to fall itself.

Now I embrace the fall.  There are sweaters that need to be worn, jackets to be buttoned, tea to be sipped.  Baking bread and roasting chickens are no longer methods of heat torture; they are fantastically aromatic and delicious experiences which bring about the need for long naps and long workouts.  Hoodies.  Sweatpants.  Apples.  And as a graduate student, I still get to look forward to going to class.  Although this year I have the added benefit of know this will be my last fall ever of needing to go to class.  Soon there will be pumpkins and hayrides.  All ready there is a fantastic chill in the air kissing my cheeks each morning.

And there are cranberries.  Cranberries which will not appear in the stores until November, but I start craving with that first chill.  In an unexpected moment of forethought last winter, I anticipated this month-long discrepancy in the cranberry cycle and have been hoarding a large quantity in the back of my freezer ever since.  Enter: the cranberry upside down cake, to be made for the first week after the cool began to set in.  Perfect timing if ever I have heard of perfect timing.

I am in love with this cake.  I love the beautiful, red, tart cranberries.  I love the cinnamon-y moistness.  I love the Fall.

Thank you for the pick, Sabrina.

TWD: Peanut butter crisscrosses

September 7, 2010

Have you ever been so completely engrossed in something for a brief period of your life that when it ends you find yourself lost, confused, not knowing what to do with your time?

For the past month, you may have noticed that I dropped completely off of the online world.  No blogging.  No tweeting.  No commenting.  What most of you probably did not notice is that I also dropped out of my regular life too.  I was forced into a mode of incessant studies in preparation for my qualifying exam.

I would be lying if I said this did not affect my kitchen.  Sweets went unbaked.  Meals were made without love.  The pantry was barren.  At one point, I actually had no pasta, rice, tortillas, bread, or potatoes.  The situation was admittedly quite humorous.

Now, after a month of frantic studiousness, it has all stopped.  The world has slowed back down and I can enjoy it.  My exam is over.  For better or for worse, it is over, and I can begin a rediscovering of myself.

I am filled with that feeling.  That feeling of not knowing what to do, grasping for a remembrance of who I am, what I love, what I do for fun.  There is a simultaneous scurrying of the mind and laziness in the soul. I want to do something.  I need to something.  But I do not want it to be hard.

Any suggestions?

*Update: I wrote this post last week then promptly drifted over to the completely lazy side of recovery.  Now that motivation is seeping back in, I thought I would go ahead and post it with the peanut butter crisscrosses.

These cookies were good.  The perfect indulgence for a lazy recovery from a stressful time.  Fantastic pick, Jasmine Cuisine!

And as a brief, final note, I would like to say that I did in fact make the chocolate ice cream…

and the cookies (oatmeal chocolate chip shortbread version) from last month.

Not that I posted about either of them or anything, but I made them 😉

And for any of you who have made it this far and are wondering–I passed my exams!  Wooo!

TWD: blondies

July 27, 2010

I originally had so much I wanted to say here, but as I sit down to write this post, it all escapes me.

To compound matters, I am going on vacation and really need to pack!  Woohoo!!!  It is going to be so great to see my family that I can hardly stand the wait.

Bearing all that in mind, I’m going to cut right to the chase here: the blondies.   In the midst of a peanut butter craving, I subbed in chopped up bits of Reeces for the toffee or butterscotch bits.  My expectations were somewhat low, maybe I just was  not in a blondie-type mood, but I should know not to doubt Dorie.  They were fantastic.  Great choice this week, Nicole!

TWD: “lots of ways” banana cake

July 20, 2010

Lately, I have spent a lot of time reveling in the breathtaking beauty of the sky.  Sometimes on my way home I look up and it takes my breath away.  I am honestly unsure how I have passed twenty five years without realizing what was just above my head.  It is truly the stuff inspirational cards are made of, only better because it is really there, right in front of my own eyes.

I am certain that I look ridiculous, standing there on the sidewalk, eyes fixed on the clouds, lips slightly parted from the overwhelming majesty of what I see when I tilt my head thirty degrees upward.  It has been there all the time, I just need to think to look up.  Does this mean I’m getting older? Is realizing the invigorating natureof the heavens a sign of aging?  Have I crossed over from the excitement of my youth to become…boring?

Or am I harnessing the excitement of youth, the very ecstasy of discovery which propels us through our early years?  To realize new joys in life’s simple treasures–is this the key to a life void of ennui?

And the clouds.  The sun, the clouds, the rays of light.  They are phenominal, arriving in so many shapes and forms–dawn, dusk, cirrus, cumulus, stratus, overcast, stormy–there is never a dull moment up above.

If ever I am going to find a transition to banana cake, this is it. This week’s TWD recipe, chosen by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities, comes in many varieties–made with coconut milk, made with yogurt, frosted and fancy, or plain and simple–all of the varieties are spectacular.  This I can only assume because while I only made one adaptation, it was a pretty big one which confirms (in my mind) the malleability of this recipe.  I accidentally used the entire can of coconut milk instead of the simple half cup called for.  Any cake that can happily withstand the addition of 4 times the amount of coconut milk needed is a friend of mine.

The Daring Cooks: nut butters

July 14, 2010

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

This month, I am a slacker of a Daring Cook.  It isn’t that I meant to be.  I went to the store shortly after the announcement and stocked up on nuts.  Pistachios!  Almonds!  Walnuts!  Cashews!  I was prepared.

And then I thought to myself, “Pistachios make the most perfect afternoon snack.  I will just take those into work.  I will still have plenty of nuts left.”

I plowed through those pistachios like nobody’s business.  And by the time they were gone, my snacking on nuts at work habit was bordering on an addiction.  The almonds were next.  I’m sure you can see where this story is quickly going.

The cashews were the last to go.  I’m sure you won’t believe me, but when I brought them in to work for my snack, I honestly only believed I would have “a couple.”  When I opened my desk drawer to take my cashews home to make cashew butter, I had approximately 20 left.  Twenty cashews is not enough to make cashew butter.

Yesterday, realizing the predicament I had gotten myself into, I went to the store and picked up almonds.  Honey roasted almonds.  (This store has incredible honey roasted almonds which suck me in every time.)

Unfortunately, while my procrastination did not have to be the downfall of this challenge, my craving for baked shells in a luscious tomato sauce was.  So last night, instead of making the many wonderful options of nut dishes, I threw together the last of my vegetables into some shells without any nut butter and baked it while I worked out.

This morning, I woke up early, threw my nuts in the food processor, wizzed away, and made some delicious almond butter.  Part one of the challenge=complete.

Unfortunately, I do not thing slathering some of said delicious honey roasted almond butter onto an English muffin and running out the door qualifies as “using the nut butter in a recipe.”  Hmmmm.  My extremely poor will power, coupled with some procrastination got the better of me this time.  Although, I might technically have a week to pull through with the rest of the challenge and I know after looking around the internets at all of my fellow DCooks creations today, I will be craving some nut butter creations something fierce.

We have already discussed my lack of will power, so we can all admit that I will probably give in.