Plum and bourbon swirl ice cream

September 5, 2012 § 24 Comments

Hello dear friends.  How are you?!  It feels like an age since I’ve been here.  Maybe it has been an age.  I’ve lost all track of time as we’ve been in a blur of activity and change.

I meant to come back with a roar, with all sorts of things to say and stories to tell.  Instead, I think I’ll go for something more along the lines of a purr.  Roaring takes too much energy for the moment.  Shifts and adaptations, however positive, are tiring.  So is moving and unpacking boxes.  Sheesh.

But we are, in fact, wondrously unpacked.  We still have a small stack of boxes to attend to, and the art needs to be hung.  But, most of the important things (read: kitchen and dining room – and even the living room, actually) are set up and functioning.  We had the most amazing help.  I mean really, that’s part of why we wanted to be here.  The kindness and sense of community are palpable. « Read the rest of this entry »

Baked rice pudding with rhubarb sauce

May 17, 2012 § 26 Comments

Gratulerer med dagen!  Happy birthday!  To Norway.

Yes, as I’m sure you realized the very moment you woke up today and had your first conscious thought of the morning, it’s Syttende Mai, and it is a day for celebrating!  I’m doing a little flag waving and national anthem belting, and I’m sure the bottle of aquavit will come out for a small nip this evening.  But, for the second time ever in my life, I’m neither attending nor hosting a party.

(The first time, I was in fifth grade, and I was stuck on a week long camping field trip.  We did a lot of outdoor education at my school.  And, though it probably would seem to an outside observer that it would be fun to be camping for a week in May, it is, in fact, not at all fun if you are a)missing one of your favorite holidays and b)under an unbelievably aggressive siege by bloodthirsty  wood ticks.  They were crawling all over our tent.  When I got home I picked over 30 off my body.  It was nightmarish.  It could have been one of the plagues.  Goodness knows why I continued to love the out of doors after that.)

Anyway, it feels extremely odd.

The reason I’m not hosting a party this year is several fold.  Partly it is because we are in the midst of another round of data collection this week and the timing couldn’t be more difficult for party planning.  But, that on its own wouldn’t stop me.  It is mostly because I have a slew of visitors coming in a little over a week, and I’ve been putting all my spare time and energy into crafting an epic, but belated, celebration for all of them to attend.

I like to amuse my guests in style.  Particularly in heavily embroidered woolen style. « Read the rest of this entry »

Roasted strawberries with whipped, honeyed chevre

May 14, 2012 § 35 Comments

The past couple of semesters, I’ve taught a graduate class on theories of behavior change in nutrition and public health promotion.  (Talk about a mouthful of a course name, right?!)  One of my favorite theories we cover in this class is one called Self Determination Theory.

I like it because in many fields, health promotion most definitely among them, we spend a lot of time thinking about what people are doing wrong and trying to figure out how we can convince them to do what we think is best for them based on what we (the experts, that is) think is important.  And, when you spend a whole lot of energy focusing on the many things people aren’t doing or don’t really want to do, it’s easy to forget that people are also capable of amazing joy, creativity, curiosity, and completely intrinsic motivation.

Self Determination Theory is exactly about that.  About where people’s motivation comes from and how the more they can connect a behavior with things that intrinsically motivate them, the more they will internalize that behavior, and the more likely they are to keep doing it.

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Sesame ginger chocolate mousse – it was only a matter of time

February 14, 2012 § 25 Comments

They say one of the hardest things about love is learning to accept it.  It can be so hard to feel worthy of being loved.  Yet, you can’t fully love others until you accept that you’re loveable as well.

But, I’m not going to spend too much time focusing on anything so weighty today.  I’m focused on mousse.  The hardest thing about chocolate mousse, for me, is that I just made some for Valentine’s Day.  Not super original.  I think that chocolate mousse on Valentine’s Day may actually be the entry in the dictionary for the word trite.  Trite (trîte), adj., trit·er, trit·est 1. making chocolate mousse on Valentine’s Day…

I’m in the camp of people who doesn’t get terribly into Valentine’s Day.  I do love chocolates, and champagne, and flowers.  But, I love them on many more days of the year than just February 14th (and I wouldn’t mind receiving them on many more days too, ahem, Joel, ahem 🙂 ).

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Raspberry ice cream sandwiches with lemon coconut shortbread

July 9, 2011 § 29 Comments

Oh yes. Raspberry ice cream sandwiches.  You know I couldn’t keep them from you.

I have a friend who, as a joke, if you say something he disagrees with or that turns out to be wrong (you know, something like a weather prediction or saying you’ll arrive 5 minutes earlier than you actually do), will shake his head sadly at you with a mixture of disappointment and frustration and a joking glint in his eye, and tell you, “you know, I just really wish you weren’t a liar.”

It sounds like kind of a mean thing to do when  I try to describe it, but it’s actually quite funny.  And I can imagine him doing it to me right now.  A deep sigh of feigned disillusionment and dismay, and an “oh Emily, you don’t have to lie to me, you know.  I just wish you weren’t a liar.”

Because you see friends, I told you in my last post that I had a new favorite summer treat, that wasn’t ice cream!  And, while the BLC-squared is still fresh in my memory in all its crunchy, gooey, salty fabulousness, I’ve gone and stumbled into another new favorite summer treat.  And, well, this one is ice cream.

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Deeply chocolate pudding

March 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes the world is awfully overwhelming and confusing.  I can’t understand it.  I have no hope of understanding it.  Why is it that sometimes really really terrible things happen?  How can I have been so infinitely blessed as to have been able to have spent the weekend surrounded by loving friends and family?  Marveling at the beauty of lakes, trees, snow, and mountains.  Belly laughing at stupid jokes or at each other as we careened down precarious slopes.  Passing plentiful bowls of food and bottles of wine to each other reveling in the sharing.  While, at the other side of the world our brothers and sisters were having the ground shaken out from under them, rocks falling on top of them.  The fall out of nuclear melt down besieging them.  There is no sense to it.  No sense that my little mind can make of it.

The world, life, is terribly beautiful and beautifully terrible.  I suppose this is part of what makes it all precious, the very precariousness of it.  It doesn’t serve us well not to accept the sadness as well as the happiness in life.  But, still.  Sometimes, I really just don’t think I can handle it.  Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and say “it’s going to be alright.”  And you know what?  Sometimes I think that’s just fine.  Sometimes we aren’t strong enough to hold all the joy and sadness, and there is no shame in that.

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Old Fashioned Bread Pudding

October 18, 2010 § 11 Comments

Over the centuries, humankind in every culture has struggled with some timeless questions. What am I here for? What does it mean to live life well? And, perhaps most notably, what do I do with my bread that is no longer fresh? I guess it comes with the territory. If your culture makes bread, you will have to deal with the fact that after a couple of days, your fresh baked bread is no longer fresh baked. In fact, it’s a little dry and crumbly or chewy. Sometimes even stale. And let’s face it kids, stale bread is kind of a big deal. It’s almost like a cruel trick of nature, the way bread is so unbelievably, indescribably delicious when it is warm and fresh out of the oven. I don’t think it’s exactly coincidental that bread has been used as a spiritual metaphor for life and all that is life-giving. But then, after just a couple of days – after a day even – it’s glory fades into pretty much, meh. Dry uninteresting bready stuff that can only be saved by toasting (and probably lots of butter or peanut butter or cheese).

So, if you look around the world, you will discover that almost everyone has found some very clever ways to use up bread that has gone stale. Necessity is the mother of invention, and using stale bread turns out to be a gold mine of creativity-promoting necessity. Panzanella; panades; stratas; pain perdu; torrijas; croutons; bread crumbs; brown Bettys; French toast. But, in my opinion, the queen of them all is the bread pudding. Well, sometimes.

It’s possible that there is nothing more disappointing than a poorly executed bread pudding. A bad bread pudding is so heavy and dense you could sink a canoe with it. They are frequently over-spiced, cinnamon or chocolate being used to badly cover up the overall dry flavorlessness of it, like using an air freshener to cover up the smell of cigarette smoke. They are, most definitely, to be avoided. Which is why I pretty much never would order a bread pudding at a restaurant unless I knew I had every reason to have implicit trust in the pastry chef (or if I just planned to eat the whipped cream off of the top of it and leave the pudding itself sitting, untouched, on the plate).

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Salted caramel ice cream and dark chocolate tartelettes

September 29, 2010 § 12 Comments

Sometimes I secretly think maybe my nutrition degree should be revoked.  The thing is, I just think that using smaller plates, cooking more of our own food, and trying to squeeze in extra veggies wherever possible will get most of the job done.  I can’t help but feel that bacon and butter are legitimate “spices.”  Oh, and then there’s the matter of me and salted caramel.  Pardon me for a moment while I glaze over and daydream about creamy, salty, buttery, luxuriousness…Oh no, was I drooling?!  How embarrassing.  Anyway, I firmly believe that one of the most important things we need to do to eat more healthfully is cut out as much sugar (or equivalent) as possible, but can adding some salt to your sugar count instead?  Pleeeeeeeease???  (Real answer: definitely not.  There’s actually something about the salty-sweet combination that trips up our brain and makes us less able to control how much we eat.  Sometimes life is so unfair! )

It all began when Joel’s parents very thoughtfully sent me a care package back when I was studying for my comprehensive exams.  I’m sure they had no idea that they were creating a salted caramel-obsessed monster when they tucked a tiny box of dark chocolate sea salt caramels from Fran’s in with the other goodies.  I ate one.  I promptly adopted the use of the phrase “O.M.G.” which I had steadfastly promised myself I would never use.  Who would have thought that that dark smooth little chocolate cube, with its innocent little sprinkling of grey salt on top, could pack that much decadence into it?!  I ate the second one, and amidst the bars of the “Alleluia Chorus” that were playing inside my head, I came this close to packing up everything and moving to Seattle so that I could go live behind Fran’s and eat nothing but their caramels forever more.  (I’m sure the fact that I was studying for the most stressful exam of my life in no way contributed to my excited planning for an escape.)

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