Friday, August 27, 2010

I scream, you scream . . .

we all scream for ice cream!

On my long list of things I wanted to accomplish this summer was making ice cream.  I kept buying all the ingredients and then just not getting to it.  So I went back to the store repeatedly for fresh ingredients. The strawberries had been eaten, the half and half was expired, we used all the eggs for breakfast.  But now I am proud to report that with a lot of help and enthusiasm and borrowed ice from my neighboors, we have now made ice cream not once, not twice, but three times, in three different ways. 

First attempt. 
Method: Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment. 
Very handy, attaches right onto my stand mixer.  My only complaint is that the freezer bowl has to live in your freezer for 15 hours before you make the ice cream.  Which means you have to plan ahead, not my strong suit when it comes to cooking.  And you have to make the space for it in there with all the frozen pizza. Not easy!  Kids can help you make the batter, but then there's some overnight wait time while it chills, then they can watch the mixer and listen for the clicking to know it's done (unless your child is scared of the mixer, then you'll have to do most of the work yourself like me).

KitchenAid KICA0WH Ice Cream Maker Attachment

Recipe:  Triple Chocolate
Who doesn't love something that has chunks of Hershey bar AND three other kinds of chocolate.  If I'm counting correctly this should actually be called quadruple chocolate because it had semisweet baking chocolate, unsweetened baking chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, plus the chopped up Hershey bars which you add literally at the last minute.  It was a little on the complicated side.  Lots of ingredients and lots of steps.

Results: Yum! It made enough that we ate some fresh, then put the rest in a big tupperware and ate it for a few days, maybe even a whole week.  So I guess all that hardwork paid off!

Second attempt.

Method:  Mega Ice Cream "Ball"
The big plan was that the mob of kids outside on a hot day were going to kick the ball around for the 30 minutes it takes for the ice cream to freeze.  As it turned out, the ball is too heavy for the little kids to kick or push around for very long. And even the big kids ran out of attention span for this one, so the moms ended up doing most of the "shaking".  You have to pack the ball with ice so you need to plan ahead to save up enough (or go door to door borrowing ice).

Play and Freeze Mega Ice Cream Maker,Quart,Red
Recipe: Vanilla
All it took was half and half (I actually didn't quite have enough so I mixed in some whole milk), vanilla, and sugar.

Results: Yum!  It freezes hard around the edges where it is touching the metal canister, and it's more like soft serve in the center.  Scoop it into bowls and eat right away!  Or if you don't have a big enough crowd to eat it all, scoop it into a tupperware and freeze it for later.

Third attempt.

Method: Ziplock Bags
I like this because you don't need any special equipment, most of us have two sizes of plastic bags on hand already.  But you still need quite a bit of ice!

Ziploc Sandwich Bags - 125-Count
Recipe: Vanilla
Whole milk, sugar, vanilla.  You probably have those on hand too! 

Results: Yum!  Firmer than the ice cream ball. It freezes faster because it's broken up into single servings.  It's less time to shake, but our kids still didn't stick with the shaking for the whole five minutes. Beware that this strategy uses lots of plastic bags so be prepared to wash and reuse them.  We ate it straight out of the bags but I suppose you could transfer it to a dish. 

Watch out Haagen-Dazs five!  I can make yummy ice  cream with only three ingredients. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm the Messiest Thing in this Ocean

Well, I would be if I lived in the ocean, but instead "I'm the messiest person that lives in this house!"  If you don't know Kevin Sherry's books about the giant squid yet, you may not hear these comparison's in the giant squids low booming voice (read perfectly by Miss Sarah of the Issaquah and Sammamish libarary storytime fame).  But at our house these days, I like to bellow my challenges to the little ones in my deepest echo-y voice- "I'm the fastest toy picker-upper", "I have the cleanest teeth in the ocean", "I give the tightest hugs in the ocean".  These are met with the comeback that tops all comebacks,"No, I am the . . . ."  And works everytime, well, until next week when we'll be on to the next strategy for getting them to do what we want.

I'm The Biggest Thing in the OceanI'm the Best Artist in the Ocean!

Anyhow, we just discovered the second book about the giant squid, I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean, in which the shark wants the squid to stop painting because he is making such a HUGE MESS.  And the giant squid, continuing to bask in his own brilliance and talent, hears him say that his work of art (done on the side of the blue whale and strangely similar to Picasso's Guernica) is a "MESSTERPIECE". 

I love it!  A new word which perfectly describes the state of my house at the moment.  My messterpiece is the result of cleaning the garage by moving things into the house, then cleaning the closet by moving things out into the hall.  However, the mess paid off yesterday in a whirl of creative activity which was only possible because I have saved all sorts of stuff most sane people would recycle.

Let me set the stage.  Hot, hot, day.  Looking for something to do in the shade since the usual activity of riding bikes and pushing tricycles in circles on the hot pavement seemed unthinkable.  Wading pool. Neighboor kid and friend went inside to build a pirate ship out of cardboard.  Hmmm.  Gears in my brain turn.  Craft foam, popsicle sticks, duct tape, bubble wrap, miscellaneous lids and plastic containers, scissors, pipe cleaners, yarn, toothpicks, straws are all easily accessible right in the middle of my hallway. Some of those things float.  DING-DONG.  Want to come outside and build boats with us?

So here are some messterpieces of the floating variety. Aren't they cool?

 I can hear the giant squid now, "I built the coolest, most-floatyest, least-sinkyest boat in the ocean, err ahem, in this wading pool."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Worm Farming 101

Nothing like learning how to do something by just doing it.  And nothing like starting a worm bin to make a mess!  Our inspiration came from a new favorite book, Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer by Carol Brendler.  This endearing girl earns money to buy herself a new wagon by starting a worm farm and sharing the compost with her neighboors.  Winnie Finn is a worm expert, I on the other hand knew nothing except what I read on the last page of the book. 

I bought a cheap storage bin, top soil, and chicken manure.  Then we collected newspapers (just the black and white pages) and ran them through our paper shredder.  I ordered a pound of red wigglers and when they arrived we assembled their new home.  It was an exercise in layering.

First, newspaper "bedding". 

Second, soil and manure mixed together.

Third, more shredded paper and some water.

Finally, worms! 

Sawyer was super excited to "feed" the worms so I let him add some kitchen scraps.  Winnie Finn claims that worms like egg shells, and we also shared some pieces of overripe peach and corn husks.  Who knew that his first "pet" would be a bunch of worms.  He is taking their wellbeing very seriously which makes me more likely to consider an actual pet in the future. 

So far, so good.  No worms have escaped that we know of.  And it's pretty cool to see the tracks where the worms have been moving against the side of the transparent container. Unfortunately, the fruit flies are abundant when you open the lid.  Guess I need to read a little more about what happens next!