Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Just another day...

I thought I had things under control today. The breakfast dishes were washed before 4 pm (that in itself was a good thing), and I was headed out the door with Rosie and Daisie to go to the park. Rosie had been reminding me from the time she got up that she wanted to go to the park. Then the phone rang as I had one foot out the door. It was about an hour into Lillie's school day and they were going on a Lag B'omer trip to a park near school. Apparently about 2 minutes into the trip Lillie fell and may have broken or sprained her foot, I was told. I think it's a given that there has to be a "casualty" from Lag B'omer activities. As I was talking to the school nurse I heard moaning in the background. "Is that her?" I asked horrified, "Yes", the nurse said, and I was in my mini-van faster than you could say Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai!

Nuts! I thought as I drove. My well planned day was ruined. I thought I had everything under control. After the park Daisie would nap, I would fold my 6 loads of laundry sitting around from the weekend. At 2 pm, Rosie would have her nap and I could post a couple of blogs. So why when my daughter is moaning in pain does the selfish part of me pop up? Because yesterday I had to pick up Rosie about an hour into nursery due to an asthma attack, and Lillie's school called to say she was breathing funny, about 5 minutes after Rosie's teacher called. Plus I had very little and very chopped up sleep the night before. But alas, this is motherhood. How often does Hashem send us what we expect in life anyway? For example, when I took Lillie to the gastroenterologist I thought she may be complaining about her stomach b/c she didn't want to go to school or for attention. If it really was something, at worst I thought it was lactose intolerance. Celiac disease wasn't even in my scope. I realized today that the best way to deal with life's curve balls is to have a big mitt to catch them. I interpret this to mean emotional preparedness. If you look at things like sprained ankles and dietary considerations in "the big picture", you'll see them as a blip on the radar in life. One of my mentor's in life is really good at this. Unfortunately she does have really big things to worry about. So a call from school about a sprained ankle would be a minor, unscheduled "blip" in her day.

There was actually an upside to today. Since Lillie was home Rosie played with her (very nicely I am pleased to say) and I was able to work on several recipes uninterrupted, and even get a jump on my Shavuos cooking. As I heard Rosie "reading" to Lillie in her bed, I schepped nachas that my little one was learning the value of bikur cholim. I was sorry Lillie had this mishap and that she was in pain, of course.

One of the things I made today was Easy Chocolate Ice Cream from Cook's Country Magazine, June 2009. I highly recommend this magazine that comes out of the America's Test Kitchen Lab. It tries to improve upon existing classic American recipes, as well as tests products for the best value. It also has NO ADVERTISING (perhaps the best part)!

They decided that ice cream makers are the most returned wedding gift. For the same reasons they dislike the electric ice cream makers so do I. You have to freeze this clunky inner tub, which takes up a lot of room in the freezer (and remember to do it in advance), make a cooked custard with eggs, strain it, then chill it in the refrigerator before you even put it in the ice cream maker! When I purchased mine I had visions of making eggless, pareve delights for Rosie. Well the first thing I made, a frozen chocolate pudding ice cream (the quickest recipe I could find), came out with ice crystals, not smooth at all, and not terribly impressive. The folks at Cook's Country came up with a really quick no-machine ice cream that is better than premium store bought brands, so they claim. It tried it and they were right! Using sweetened condensed milk (that Eagle brand stuff), chocolate and heavy cream, they came up with a delicious frozen dessert that rivals Haagen Daaz. And the best part is you are sure it is gluten-free and not produced on equipment with nuts (if you are nut allergic). The resulting ice cream has a deeper and more complex chocolate flavor than store bought brands due the fact that they use bittersweet chocolate (I used Baker's brand) and coffee to bring out the chocolate flavor. If you prefer to add mint extract instead of the coffee, that would be fine too. Below I double the recipe, because I feel it is a more realistic amount for a family. It was a great do-ahead for Shavuos, and so easy it is worth trying.

If you have extra sweetened condensed milk and don't know what to do with it, I am including a recipe for my sister-in-law's super easy and super fabulous fudge.

Easy Chocolate Ice Cream
from Cook's Country Magazine, p. 17 June/July 2009

2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
2 Tablespoons hot water
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (8-ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups cold heavy or whipping cream

1. In a medium sized microwave safe bowl, combine coffee powder and hot water. Let stand until coffee dissolves, about 5 minutes. Add chocolate and condensed milk. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until chocolate is melted. Stir until everything is combined and glossy. Stir in vanilla and salt. Let cool, about 10-20 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl, with electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip cream to soft peaks, about 3 minutes. Whisk one third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully blended. Spoon into an airtight container (an 8 cup or larger Tupperware works well). Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of ice cream mixture to prevent crystals from forming. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Note: Depending on your allergies and inclinations, you may mix in a total of 1-2 cups of any of the following: pistachios, mini-chocolate chips, mini-marshmallows, toasted almonds, dried cherries, chopped peanut butter cups or marshmallow creme.

Yield: 2 quarts

CoCo's Fabulous Fudge

1 1/2 bags (18-ounces) gluten free semi-sweet chocolate chips
1- 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips half way. Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Melt completely, stirring constantly until combined well.

Add nuts, if desired. Pour in an 8x8-inch pan lined with waxed paper. Cover with foil or plastic wrap. Chill to set. Cut into squares of desired size.

This keeps well in the refrigerator and travels well in an airtight container.

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