Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Vegan Scoop

Ice cream is one of my favorite things in the world. Period. So when I first got my hands on Wheeler Del Torro's new book on Ice Cream, I couldn't wait to crack it open.

The book is called The Vegan Scoop, and if you haven't seen it yet you've got to go check it out. Wheeler (the vegan "ice cream man" of Boston) has a flair for flavors, which run the gamut from traditional to exotic to just plain unexpected. Imagine flavors like Cherries Jubilee, Bubblegum, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Nectarine, Honeydew, Black Sesame, Thai Chile Chocolate, Caribbean Coffee, Seaweed and Coconut Lemongrass to name just a few. We're talking 150 vegan flavors from cover to cover. Oh, and there's also recipes for toppings, ice cream sides and desserts (Twinkies, Madeleines or cookies anyone?).

I had the pleasure of meeting Wheeler a few months back, when he very graciously filmed a couple of ice cream segments for Everyday Dish. I can tell you first hand that his ice cream is delicious. The texture is smooth and creamy and the flavors divine. Although I have only tried a couple of recipes in the book, I've got many pages marked with Post It Notes to whip up sometime soon.

I did notice that the book calls for a lot of exotic extracts that you probably won't be able to find at your local grocery store. After a quick online search though, I found that with a little searching most of the flavored extracts can be found. If you're interested, check out the lengthy and extensive list at Nature's Flavors (including vegan coriander, Lychee and white chocolate flavors).

When I was asked to participate in the blog tour for The Vegan Scoop, I didn't hesitate. This is a book that I was excited to add to my vast cookbook collection, and knew that it would get lots of use. As a special bonus for the book blog tour, Wheeler created 50 new recipes to share with bloggers. Guess what recipe I get to share? Pralines and Cream! How delicious does that sound?! Now, before I give you the recipe, don't forget to check out Wheeler's Vanilla/Curry and Peanut Butter ice cream videos (and recipes) on Everyday Dish. The book can be found on Amazon or at your local bookstore.

Pralines and Cream Ice Cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup soy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Butter sides of a heavy saucepan. Add sugars, soy milk, and salt to saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Raise heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Reduce heat and continue cooking to soft ball stage, about 234° on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat.

Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir. Cool for 5 minutes; stir in nuts. Beat with wooden spoon until candy is no longer glossy and is thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Quickly spoon candy onto buttered baking sheets or waxed paper. Let cool.

1 cup (235 ml) soy milk, divided
2 tablespoons (16 g) arrowroot
2 cups (470 ml) soy creamer
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
3/4 cup crushed pralines

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) soymilk with arrowroot and set aside.

Mix soy creamer, remaining 3/4 cup (175 ml) soymilk, and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat. Once mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and immediately add arrowroot cream. This will cause the liquid to thicken noticeably.

Add vanilla extract.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled, approximately 2 to 3 hours. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instruction. In the last 5 minutes of freezing, stir in pralines.

Yield: 1 quart (approximately 600 g)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Joni & Celine

Just a quickie to share a fun photo from yesterday. The adorable and talented Joni (of Just The Food) & Celine (from Have Cake Will Travel) spent the day with us yesterday, filming some upcoming segments for Everyday Dish. They were so much fun and their recipes are awesome! They have a cookbook coming out soon, and it's going to be fantastic.

Thank you both for a great day and lots of laughs!

Monday, July 13, 2009


Camping is something that has always been in my blood. I think I was only about 6 months old when my parents took me camping for the first time, as they loaded down our Volkswagon with one of those old impossibly heavy canvas tents, and a kayak that my dad had built from a kit. Later on our camping trips grew from weekend excursions to month-long journeys all the way up the California coastline to the Pacific Northwest. Yes, you can definitely say that camping is in my blood.

My hubby and I have carried on the camping tradition with our children, beginning when our daughter was only a couple of months old. Our trips have always centered around the food we bring. Food takes on new meaning when you are outdoors 24/7. Our whole trip revolves around preparing the food, cooking the food, eating the food, cleaning up from the food mess, then deciding what we are giong to eat next!

As we continued to camp, our equipment arsenal began to grow exponentially too. First the giant tent, so that we could fit all of the kid's toys and necessary stuff in there, then more cooking equipment and a larger cooler and big, bulky air mattresses. It all felt so necessary at the time, but we were completely loaded down. It's truly a wonder that my husband was so patient with all of the stuff that I insisted on bringing. He was a camping minimalist at heart; just a single bowl that doubled as a cooking pot, a pocket-size single burner for cooking and a fork and a knife. Ha! He never knew what hit him!

Now that our kids have gotten older, we are slowly finding ourselves scaling back on our camping essentials. Our tent has gotten smaller (and miraculously morphed into a small tent trailor), the cooking equipment has gotten sparser and forget those pesky air mattresses that continually sprung a leak. I think that the work load has even lightened up a bit too.

So if you're wondering where I'm going with this, last week we were able to sneak away for a 6 day adventure near Bend, Oregon, meeting up with some old friends that we hadn't seen in several years. Getting together two families with 5 teenage kids was no easy task. But somehow we pulled it all together, and as we sat there laughing and playing Apples To Apples by the roaring fire, I found myself reflecting on the evolution of our camping trips. We've come a long way baby.

ETA: I put up our camping food list on Everyday Dish (on the "Dish" page).

The kids proving to me just how short I really am.

Bruno, enjoying the sun and contemplating when he gets to go home.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bottle Love

A while back, after doing a lot of reading on the subject, I decided to give up on refillable plastic plastic water bottles. Knowing not just that the plastics, and more specifically the BPA's, are terrible for our bodies, but that there is some thought that they might contribute to breast cancer. Yuck! And forget the fact that these plastics are showing up in our blood. As convenient as those refillable plastic bottles are, I just had to say no.

My next move was to the stainless bottles. These are very durable, and perfect to throw in a gym bag or the kid's backpacks for school. They sounded like the perfect solution, but I still wasn't totally convinced. They are fairly pricey (if you go for the good ones with the non-toxic finish), and my son was always complaining that his beverages had a metallic taste to them. I couldn't fault him there, as I noticed it too.

I really was at a loss as to what to do, other than carrying around a water glass from home, which was completely impractical. Then it hit me. What about those great iced tea bottles that you find everywhere from the grocery store to take-out cafes. With their resealable lids, they would make the perfect container for water, juice or home-brewed iced tea on the go. Plus, they look stylish. There's also the added benefit that you're recycling at the same time too. And you can actually fit ice cubes into the bottle, for a truly refreshing iced summer drink.

Now I wouldn't recommend these for children or if you're planning on doing some rugged outdoor activities. But for running errands around town or slipping into a bag at the farmer's market or going out for a stroll, these bottles are ideal. I've even started to notice the nice designs that some of these bottles have. I love that they can be thrown in the dishwasher to be cleaned, without worrying that the plastic is breaking down.

So, the next time that you find yourself with one of these bottles, consider keeping it as a water bottle. You may just find yourself hooked on the idea. Who knows. Maybe we can start a new trend of re-purposing glass bottles.