Fresh Mint Ice Cream

Mint is our ingredient of the season. In the kitchen we’ve made a few alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, salads, and meatballs. For the bathroom we made a refreshing foot scrub and some non-toxic deodorant.

You know the mint ice cream in your grocer’s freezer section? This is nothing like that. This ice cream gets all of its minty flavor from fresh mint, and with that comes a deep, green, earthy flavor from the plant. That description may sound crazy for ice cream, but when you eat fresh mint you taste so much more than the isolated mint flavor that’s added to commercial ice cream. By infusing the milk and cream with fresh mint, you’re adding those layers of complexity to this very simple dessert.

As I was sharing a cone with A. Max this afternoon, I was trying to think of another way to convey the flavor of this ice cream. At our house growing up, there was so much mint growing around the edge of the garden that it would get cut with the lawn mower. Have you ever experienced that? Mint getting cut with the green grass on a hot summer day? That’s this ice cream.

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Summer Reading!

Did you have a fun weekend? Sarah and I had a blast, albeit, doing very different things in different parts of the country. Her weekend started with a celebration of her birthday, complete with an adventure with Ca$h that deserves to be shared. My weekend involved our first every family road bike ride up the mountain to Maroon Bells.

Today we’re taking it easy and planning for the week ahead. One thing we’re thinking about is Friday’s post. Rather than our semi-regular links post this Friday, we’re going to discuss our first summer read, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.

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Did you have a chance to read it yet? Sarah and I both loved the book, definitely not because it was a fairytale, but because of its amazing power to transport us to a time, place, and situation that we’ve never experienced.

If you haven’t read it, we strongly encourage you to pick up a copy and join us on Friday. The Kindle version is under $8.00, and totally worth it.

If you have or are reading the book, here are some discussion questions that we came across and thought would make for an interesting discussion:

  • Given their dangerous surroundings in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia and a long streak of what young Bobo describes as “bad, bad luck,” why do you think the Fuller family remains in Africa?
  • What do you think of Fuller’s mother and father? How would you describe them? Do you think they were good parents?
  • Animals are ever present in the book. How do the Fullers view their domesticated animals, as compared to the wild creatures that populate their world?
  • Consider Fuller’s interactions with black Africans, including her nanny in Rhodesia and the children she plays “boss and boys” with, as well as with Cephas the tracker and, later, the first black African to invite her into his home. Over the course of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, how does the narrator change and grow?
  • By the end of the narrative, how do you think the author feels about Africa? Has the book changed your own perceptions about this part of the world?
  • The back cover calls the book “unsentimental and unflinching”. This is especially true of her description of the racial attitudes of white settlers: she does not apologize for them nor explains them away, but neither does she justify or excuse them. Do you find this this unsettling or do you appreciate the honesty. How do you react to this choice?

We hope you’ll join us on Friday! And until then, we have some good stuff planned for this week.

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In Season: Playing with Food

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I saw so many fun food-related ideas on the interweb this week. And the list was born.

These macarons are amazing! I am a total sucker for anything that has the top-view of citrus cut in half printed on it. That was a complicated description, do you know what I mean?

Along those lines, if you live in Florida (Kandy), you should hang this in your kitchen!

How awesome is the stormy seas cake in this post? Now I want Little A to have a sea-themed party.

I really want to print fabric with an ear of corn… but what to make with the finished panel? A scarf? Something for A.max? Ideas please!

Did you see the cute gum drop ice cream cones by Oh Happy Day?

Name that kabob!

 

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Six Summer Spice Blends

What’s better than barbecuing in the summer? I argue nothing. Absolutely nothing. Oh and what is worse than smelling your neighbors delicious barbecue and knowing that you have nothing to grill in the house? Don’t you hate that?  Well hopefully you have some type of meat, seafood or veggie protein in the house because today we’re talkin’ spice rubs.  Sometimes I get caught in flavor ruts where I end up putting salt, pepper, onion and garlic on everything.  I don’t know how it happens. I have an entire cupboard of spices, but my hands gravitate to the usual suspects.  I’m proud to report that that is not the case this summer! I started mixing up a few spice blends and keeping them in jars so that I have the perfect concoction in a pinch.  Today I’m sharing some of my summer favorites.

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Watermelon Dill Gazpacho + Coconut Lime Crema

I didn’t discover gazpacho until my late teens, but I’ve been in love ever since.  It’s the perfect meal for a hot summer day and you best believe that’s the norm here in North Carolina.  In college, I worked at a catering company and I remember scrunching up my nose when I read gazpacho on the hor d’oeuvre menu.  I had no clue what it was and when another waitress told me it was basically cold soup, I was a little weirded out by the idea.  One of the chefs saw that whole interaction, pulled me aside, listed off the ingredients and gave me a sample.  I was hooked.  It really wasn’t what I was expecting at all.  I thought it would taste like V8 and I really couldn’t imagine eating a whole bowl of it, but it turned out to be thinner and sweeter with a little pang of spice.  Since my catering days, I’ve played around with a few different recipes so today I’ll share my favorite for sweltering summer days.  Watermelon Dill Gazpacho with Coconut Lime Crema is almost like a treat instead of lunch.  It’s slightly sweet, very light and refreshing and there’s no spice so you won’t be sweating over your cold soup ;)

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Equipment:

  • Blender (I used a ninja)

Gazpacho Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cubed (very ripe) tomato
  • 5 cups cubed watermelon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup peeled cucumber
  • 2 TBSP fresh dill + more to garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste

Gazpacho Recipe:

  • Blend the tomato and watermelon until smooth.  Add in the olive oil and vinegar and blend for an additional minute.  Blend in the cucumber and dill for about a minute until incorporated, but not completely emulsified.  Add salt and pepper to suit your tastes.
  • Garnish with a sprig of dill and a slice of avocado and yellow sweet pepper if desired.  I highly recommend serving the gazpacho with a dollop of coconut lime crema.

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Coconut Lime Crema Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 4 hours
  • 2 TBSP lime juice
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBSP coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cool water
  • Pinch of salt

Coconut Lime Crema Recipe:

  • Add the soaked cashews, lime juice, salt and water to the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add the coconut milk and blend until creamy.
  • Gently drip the coconut lime crema into the bowls immediately before serving.

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I truly believe the coconut lime crema makes this dish.  It adds a perfect creamy component to the chilled watermelon.  It’s also a more familiar taste so you can really wrangle in any guests who tend to eat on the safe side.  If you’re not in the mood to make the crema, garnish the gazpacho with slices of avocado and sprigs of dill.  The contrasting colors in this dish make it a pretty party food. I love serving gazpacho in small servings at get togethers that way guests don’t have to commit to an entire bowl of unknown, ya know?  It’s also fun to play around with different designs and patterns in each glass. This watermelon gazpacho will fly off the buffet before you have time to fill up more shot glasses.  I’m actually eating a whole bowl of it as I type!

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Colorado Hike : Chautauqua Park

We love to get out for hikes as often as possible and thought it would be fun to document these little adventures, like our recent trip to Maroon Bells.

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Last weekend we decided to stay close to home, wanting to explore more of what Boulder has to offer, so for our weekend hike we headed to Chautauqua Park (pronounced with a soft “shhh” for the CH – I’m still getting the hang of it!). Chautauqua was one of the older open space areas purchased by the city over 100 years ago when it began preserving wild lands. The park is home to the Colorado Chautauqua  Association, which provides cultural and educational programs throughout the year. Among its many buildings and features, the Association has a dining hall, general store, and cottages that you can rent! On this particular day we skipped all of the buildings and headed straight for the hills, but we’re hoping to stop in to the dining hall for brunch after our next hike.

**Before moving to Boulder, I was unfamiliar with Chautauqua, the adult education movement. Were you?

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Arriving at the park, we knew it was a popular weekend destination, but were overwhelmed by just how many people were there. These pictures don’t do the crowds justice. At all times there were people in front of us, behind us, scaling the rock face to our right and left. There were babies laughing (and crying), there were more college-age girls chatting away than I wish to remember. Ugh, it was crowded. But, the scenery totally made up for it, and I can’t wait to get back out there on a weekday. A friend also tipped me off that if we start at Four Pines on King St., then we won’t hit the crowds. Keep that secret.

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Before heading out, we asked for some trail recommendations and received a number of excited responses suggesting Royal Arch Trail, but it was still closed for raptor nesting.  So, with all of the well-marked trails in the park, we decided to wing it. We headed up Chautauqua Trail, made a left on Blue-Baird Trail, and then came back down on Bluebell Trail. In total, the hike took about an hour.

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As you hike up the hill you leave the grasslands behind, entering the pine forests and areas of exposed bedrock and boulders of the Flatirons.

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There are two climbers in the photo on the right above! They are near the top of the single pine tree that’s growing out of the rock face. Eventually you reach a few open areas overlooking the city.

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liveseasoned_summer2014_hike18Just like last week’s hike, there were plenty of flowers blooming here with a promise of more to come.

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On our way back down the hill (mountain?) we left the pine trees behind and welcomed the grasses again. As you can see from these photos, the skies were overcast for our whole hike, but I think that worked to our advantage, keeping us cooler and less worried about sunburns as we walked.

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Extra Details:

  • Knowing that the area is popular on weekends, we were worried about parking, but easily found on-street parking a few blocks from the entrance.
  • I had a hard time finding a good trail map online, until I looked to Google. Google’s map of the park is great, with all trails well marked!
  • A hiking-with-kids tip: We knew we were heading out during Little A’s naptime, so rather than take the hiking carrier that doesn’t offer him anywhere to rest his head, we put him in the Ergo on Calder’s back. It was an easy carry for this short hike, and within a minute Alex was content and sleeping with his head supported between Calder’s back and the Ergo’s hood.

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In Season: Being a Bookworm


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We’re always all about books over here. From leisure reading, to research, to good old coffee table browsing. Read on (ha!) for some fun book-related links.

I love the idea of storing all my books in my stairs like this or this.

This bookshelf is different, but I’d have to find space for my large photo books.

I could probably find a space for them here!

If you’re a book lover, you probably save damaged or meaningless (to you) books. If that’s the case, try one of these crafts.

Katie’s saved all of her old college science textbooks and wants to frame some of the great illustrations.

There are a lot of great printable bookplates out there.  Right now we just write our name inside the front cover (usually with sharpie). This would be so much prettier.

Did you see the fun reading loft that Design Mom made in her Oakland home (which They call the tree house and is amazingly lovely)

 

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Summertime Tea Smoothies

Have you ever made a smoothie with tea?  I like to think that I’m the only one who has ever done this and that it is going to blow everyone’s mind. I refuse to google tea smoothies just in case (BUT I HIGHLY DOUBT IT) it has already been thought up.  Anyway, on with it! Summertime Tea Smoothies are so refreshing and they even involve a bit of caffeine if you use the suggested teas.  Of course, you could always substitute with whatever tea is in your cupboard or if you don’t drink caffeine, blend in your favorite caffeine-free tea.  The tea adds a whole other flavor element and makes it easy to switch up the smoothies even if you have loads of the same fruits and veggies on hand.  Like most smoothie recipes, the sky is the limit.  Feel free to substitute, subtract and add in ingredients to best fit your diet. For instance, if you don’t eat dairy, swap out the yogurt and add in a little bit more tea.

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Mint in your Lamb Meatballs?

Mint is our ingredient of the season. Of course we made mojitos. We also made some saladsiced teaagua fresca, a body scrub, and… deodorant!

I’ve been sitting on this recipe ever since Sarah and I picked mint as the ingredient of the season. It’s not that mint is the star of the dish, it’s just that, when do you ever expect to see mint in a meatball recipe? You might think it’s expected in a lamb meatball recipe, but the cookbook actually refers to these as beef meatballs. And mint isn’t the only thing flavoring this dish; it calls for four different fresh herbs and over a half dozen spices! If that sounds complicated, it’s worth the effort.

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This recipe comes from the cookbook Jerusalem. If it sounds familiar, I shared a couple of recipes from the book in April. Or maybe you read a review of the book, or heard that a Jerusalem craze is taking over the nation (it’s the #1 cookbook on Amazon in the natural food cooking category). I have to admit that I didn’t realize it was that popular until writing this post, but I completely understand the compassion for this book. The range of recipes are exciting, they are made from ingredients that I want to eat, the book’s photographs are wonderful, the descriptions of places and history transport you… Through food, this book blends religions and cultures, if only it could bring peace to a troubled land.

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