Strawbery Balsamic Cookie Crunch Ice Cream

by Caroline

I usually don’t have much trouble getting my kids into the kitchen; we make sushi together, we make muffins, we make cakes and pancakes — mostly I bake with the kids, because mostly I bake, period. But anything I’m making, they’re welcome to participate, and they’re typically eager to help.

Still, when a link to this article about cooking with kids appeared in my inbox, I couldn’t help clicking on it; how are others getting their kids into the kitchen, I wondered? What are they making?

Well, among other good cooking projects, they are making ice cream! And so on a recent cold and foggy day, we made ice cream, because it is summer and summer means ice cream, and because this recipe (from High Flavor, Low Labor) sounded so delicious to me.

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
10 cream-filled chocolate cookies (such as Oreos or Newman-O’s)
1 pint vanilla ice cream

If you’re starting with store-bought ice cream, take it out of the freezer and let it sit in a big bowl while you start preparing the other ingredients; you want it to be soft so that you can stir them in easily. If you’re starting with homemade, prepare the other ingredients while the ice cream is mixing in your ice cream freezer, and then stir them in at the end.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the vinegar and jam. Simmer, stirring often, until reduced by half, about 8 minutes.

Eli says don’t stand too close; the fumes of the simmering vinegar are strong!

Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, place the cookies in a zip-close plastic bag and gently pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin to break into small chunks.

This is, of course, a great job for kids:

Drizzle the vinegar into the ice cream and mix until blended.

Mix in the cookies.

Stir well, and then stir one more time to make sure the balsamic syrup is well distributed. Dump the ice cream into a container with a tight lid and return to the freezer until firm, 2 to 3 hours.



By Lisa

We were on Kauai for two glorious weeks and before we went, the kids told me that one of the reasons they love vacation there is because I’m “super-nice” the whole time. Apparently this has a lot to do with the fact that I let them eat shave ice almost every day. This is easily the Hawaiian equivalent of gelato, with a lot less fat.

Jo Jo’s Blue Raspberry

Their flavor picks evolved with the trip, for example:

Day 1= lime and cherry (Ella); mango and guava (Finn)
Day 2=guava & li hing mui/root beer & cotton candy
Day 3=vanilla & coconut / peach & pineapple

After that,  I lost track, but Ella was often seen eating coconut and vanilla to match her toweling shirt.

Finn was the wild card. One day it would be tropical, another day candy-sweet. They liked things that turned their tongue unnatural colors.

Sometimes, we had ice cream on the bottom–vanilla or macadamia nut, which is a real treat.  I dusted mine with li hing mui powder, or tried the haupia (coconut) cream topping.

With Li Hing Mui (salty preserved plum powder)

Not all shave ice is created equal.  There was a decent roadside stand on the way to Koloa, and Jo Jo’s, a shack in Waimea, has terrific syrups (60 in all), and Shave Ice Paradise in Hanalei is open long hours and is good, too.  But the Wishing Well in Hanalei still takes the prize.

Wishing Well’s Local Girl:  Li Hing Mui + Coconut

Grape + Vanilla

Lime + Coconut + Whipped Cream (for Ella’s local girlfriend)

Vanilla + Coconut

Pineapple + Coconut + Guava

It’s in a truck, and it’s almost never open as far as we can tell. Her posted hours are flagrantly wrong (in our limited experience) and she runs out of ice regularly. The owner is ageless, tall and thin and tanned and usually clad in draping island wear.  She is secretive and dictatorial–you have to order in a prescribed way and you can NOT substitute anything in the specials. She will not let you hold the kids up to the tiny screened window so they can see how she works.  But she is amazing and her shave ice is glorious. It’s light and delicate and melts in your mouth. But it does not melt quickly in the cup like some other shave ice does.  I don’t understand how she does it, and when I asked if she had a different machine and she answered cryptically, “No, I just take my time.” She claims her syrups are the same as everyone else’s, save for 4, but I’m not sure I believe her.  There is something mysterious about this truck and magical about just how good the shave ice is.  So if it’s open when you drive by, stop immediately.  While pretty much any shave ice will hit the spot, this is what ice was made to do best.

At Jo Jo’s

Moon Pies for Rocket Boys

by Caroline

It’s all about rockets in our house lately. The boys are reading about Apollo 11 and the other moon missions, drawing rocket pictures, building cardboard and foil rockets, and making plans for their future lives as rocket scientists.

I play along as much as I can, but my kids understand two fundamental things about me: I prefer stories to lists of facts (I refuse to read aloud from the encyclopedia at bedtime); and I’m always happier if there’s food involved. So, during this rocket time, we’re all happy reading Tony Di Terlizzi’s fun picture book, Jimmy Zangow’s Out-of-This-World Moon-Pie Adventure, about a boy who flies into outer space and gathers a year’s supply of moon pies.

And then, in one of those fabulous coincidences that occasionally strike, I realized the boys had never had a moon pie, and a magazine arrived with a recipe for them. It was fate. It was a sign. And it was also an excellent way to spend the first full day of summer vacation.

boiling the sugar

pouring the boiling sugar into the gelatin

whipping marshmallow (or, I Can't Believe I Let Eli Put the Camera So Close to the Goo)

one giant, messy marshmallow

melting chocolate

chocolate-coated graham crackers, awaiting their filling

The resulting moon pies really can’t be beat, but I did, at Tony’s suggestion, make one big change from the original recipe: slice through the marshmallows in half, horizontally, and you get 18 manageable moon pies instead of 9 that are so tall they won’t fit in anyone’s mouth. Make sure to keep a big bowl of cold water handy, both while you’re pouring the boiling sugar mixture into the gelatin (in case of accidental burns) and while you’re spreading and later slicing the marshmallow: if you dip your spatula and knife blade in the cold water, it won’t stick. And then, invite some friends over to share the snacks.

mmm, moon pie

Strawberry Clafouti or, Trying Again After a Recipe Failure

by Caroline

The pudding wasn’t setting.

I’d had my doubts about the recipe. It seemed to call for way too much sugar, it called for milk instead of cream. But, I had it in my head that we should have fresh vanilla pudding to go with our strawberries.

I know, I know. There’s nothing wrong with ice cream or Greek yogurt (we didn’t have cream to whip) on berries; really, there’s nothing at all wrong with plain strawberries. But I felt like cooking something. I’d already made strawberry pie, didn’t feel like strawberry shortcake (and again, we didn’t have any cream). I felt like something different.

So, pudding.

I usually flip through three or four recipes when I haven’t made something in a while, to remind myself of the various techniques and/or ingredients involved, and then I either choose one or combine a few. But I was in a hurry to get it made and chilling in the fridge before I headed out on an errand, so I just embarked on the first recipe I found. I tossed the ingredients in a sauce pan and stood at the stove, stirring and stirring the only-slightly thickening mixture, checking the clock, needing to leave the house. I finally poured the soupy pudding into ramekins, set them in the fridge, and hoped for the best.

On the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about that vanilla soup. I called Tony and asked him to get a stick of butter out of the fridge and turn the oven on. “What are you baking?” he asked. “I don’t know,” I answered. “Something for the strawberries. That pudding’s not going to work.”

In the event, I didn’t even need the butter.

Clafouti is basically a pancake batter poured over fruit and baked until set. It tastes a bit like a fruity Yorkshire pudding. Traditionally it’s done with cherries, but strawberries were lovely, and raspberries or blueberries would be nice, too. It’s not something I’ve made before, but plenty of experience with pancakes, popovers, and Yorkshire pudding made me more confident than I was about the pudding. The recipe I used (from Sunset Magazine) couldn’t be simpler and, unlike the pudding recipe, it worked.

The lesson for me here is not to never try new things (I’ll certainly try vanilla pudding again), but to slow down in the kitchen and to trust my instincts. We’re on kind of a pudding kick around here, having already enjoyed milk chocolate last week, and with butterscotch still to come, so I’ll try vanilla again, and post the recipe when I get it right.

In the meantime, if anybody has suggestions for how to repurpose my too-sweet vanilla soup, I’m all ears.

Strawberry Pie for Pi Day

by Caroline

The New Englander in me is still shocked to see strawberries at the farmer’s market in March, but I get over that quickly, feel grateful for this early hit of summer, and buy quarts of them. This week, I knew I wanted to make a pie to celebrate Pi Day (March 14 = 3/14 = 3.14 for those of you not living with a very mathematically-minded eight year-old) but also knew, what with our preschool auction, the time change, and other events in our typically busy weekend, that I wouldn’t want to spend much time rolling out dough or babysitting a pie in the oven. So, I pulled the Joy of Cooking off the shelf and found this incredibly easy and delicious pie. It’s really only as good as the berries you use, so make sure they are fully ripe.

First, make a crust for a 9″ pie. I used a graham cracker crumb crust:

1 1/2 c crumbs
6 T melted butter
a dash of salt

Combine well and press into a pie pan. Freeze for 20 minutes before filling.

Now make the pie filling:
6 c berries: rinse, pat dry, hull, and slice in half or quarters, depending on their size (you want them bite sized)

set aside 4 cups of berries; puree the remaining 2 cups of berries in a blender

combine in medium sauce pan
1 c sugar
1/4 c corn starch
1/8 t salt

whisk in 1/2 c water
stir in the pureed berries
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 T butter, cut into small chunks

Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook for one minute. Pour half the reserved berries into the crust, then spoon half of the hot berry mixture over them. Gently shake the pie pan or use a spatula to coat the berries evenly. Cover with the remaining berries, then spoon the rest of the berry mixture over them, shaking the pan again gently or using a spatula to evenly distribute the berries.

Refrigerate the pie at least 4 hours to set. It’s best served the day it’s made, with whipped cream or a dollop of Greek yogurt.