Sunday, January 26, 2014

thai one on {thai ice cream with lemongrass, ginger, and mango}

so, as is life, i have good news to share, and bad news.  which do you want first?
the bad?  i thought you might swing that way.
the bad news is, the food, as we know and love it, will be no longer.
i had mentioned before that it was time for a change, and that moving forward there were going to be some big changes coming, and I'm happy to say that i have spent the last month or so re-inventing my blogging world, and thus am happy to announce the birth of ramble & feast, and thus, the good news.

I'm so so so excited to start with something fresh, and to be able to delve a little deeper into other subjects once in a while, with the main focus still being on food in all it's glory.

so, i hope you will follow me on over to ramble & feast, because all the good things are happening over there.  the food will still be available for a while, but all new posts will only go up over at

the good news is, in the internet world, nothing ever dies, so all of the food's archives and recipes will still be available not only here, but also over at ramble & feast - the beauty of the internet, non?

i just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone for reading the food all these years, and i hope you'll stop by and visit me over at ramble and feast too!

so, let's go back to the root of what the food was.  food!
and let's talk about the root of what i am all about.  ice cream!

me and ice cream have a long sordid history, and i know i have said before that in my old age i am a total ice cream snob, and won't settle for anything other than the best ice cream.  shitty ice cream is a total day ruiner, but as far as ice cream goes, this recipe is a game changer. it will knock the socks off your dinner party guests, but that's only if you can save enough of it after all the taste-tests you just have to do, of course.

Thai Ice Cream with Lemongrass, Ginger & Mango
By alana fiks
Keywords: vegan coconut ginger mango lemongrass ice-cream
Ingredients (Serves 8)
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 4 inch piece ginger, peeled
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened mango, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced into tiny pieces
NOTES:  My brand preferences include Thai Express Coconut Milk, and Philippines Brand Dried Mango
In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, add coconut milk and coconut sugar and bring to a light simmer over medium low heat, mixing well to incorporate.
Prep your lemongrass by cutting off the hard woody bottom end and discarding, and trimming most of the top of the stalk off, leaving approximately 6" to work with. Split stalks in half, and voila!
Add lemongrass, ginger, and vanilla beans to the simmering coconut milk mixture and bring to a light boil over medium- high heat, then turn heat down to low and allow mixture to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until your kitchen smells like it teleported to Thailand.
Remove and discard lemongrass, ginger and vanilla beans, then stir in lime juice. If necessary, pour remaining mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove any leftover bits, but this is optional. Sometimes leftover bits are delicious, ya know? Allow mixture to chill in the fridge or freezer until completely cooled. (Secret tip: If you want the mixture to chill the fastest, pour the mixture into a flat high-sided vessel (pyrex or similar) then place in the fridge or freezer, it will cool much faster than in a deep bowl - duh!)
Once mixture is cooled, dust off your ice cream maker and process as per manufacturer's recommendations. When ice cream is almost fully frozen, sprinkle in diced mango and ginger and allow to mix throughout.
Spoon mixture into freezer safe container, and spread evenly. Cover & freeze until ready to serve.
Once you are ready to serve, allow to thaw for 10 minutes or so to ensure scoopability.
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even though this ice cream has an ingredient list that are sometimes the base of many delicious savoury dishes, and even though this ice cream is 100% vegan, it ends up being the most shockingingly tasty, and amazingly creamy ice cream you've ever had the pleasure of eating.  the lemongrass comes through so fragrantly, and the ginger adds just the right amount of spiciness.  but, the kicker to this recipe is the add-ins of the crystallized ginger and sweetened dried mango that bring little bursts of chewy sassiness to every bite of glorious ice cream that you put in your mouth.  it's ice cream extacy, really, and you won't believe me until you try it.  

I most recently served this ice cream after a thai dinner party, and I'm certain the only thing the guests remember from that evening is the dessert (oh ok, and the beyond words tom ka khai, but who's counting?)

now, who wants ice cream?

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

cookbook challenge wrap up + 52 things for 52 weeks update + moving forward

cookbook challenge wrap-up

so, week #52 is happening in week #1 of the new year, but you're not counting, right?  it's been a weird year around these parts, as most posts were part of the cookbook challenge, which is thankfully now over!  woo hooo!  i'm so happy to be back to regularly scheduled programming, and to not have the weekly deadline of cookbook recipes looming over my head.  i'm going to try to keep up the weekly posts as best i can but without being so regimented or themed, me thinks. 

on the positive side, i do have to say that i truly appreciated getting to know my cookbooks again, and found some real winner recipes that i know i will make regularly for the rest of my life.  i always found myself challenged by having to select a recipe that fit our weekly meal plan, and my eyes were honestly opened to new ingredients and cooking methods along the way.  

the scrappy lil' collage above shows most of my photo favourites from the challenge, including:
another nice thing about this challenge was that it allowed me to get to know our "new" camera (which really ain't so new anymore) a bit better, although this year i'd really like to push myself further in that department.  i'd like to try to time things a bit better so that there is still sunlight available when it's time to take pictures, as opposed to know when i am generally taking photos to moonlight.  i'm still pretty dependent on the automatic settings on the camera, and would like to delve deeper into making my photos better, brighter, cleaner, and crisper.

52 things for 52 weeks update

these are my two fave outtakes (unedited) from #30 on my 52 things for 52 weeks list, which was "take pictures in the "mustard" fields.  i have literally wanted to do this for ten years, and this list finally pushed me to get it done one week before the canola was harvested.  the first pic i love because obviously the chef had said something funny, and i found it hilarious, and this a total reflection on our life; and the second is because we are goofballs, which is also a total reflection on our life.

overall, i feel pretty good about what i was able to accomplish on my 52 things for 52 weeks list.  i would give myself a C+ rating overall, but with it being as busy of a year personally as it was, i may even deserve a B+.  so, here's the update:  i got 31/52 totally completed, so that's not that bad...right?  

highlited in red = complete.  otherwise, there are updates below in italics.

52 things for 52 weeks 
  1. make more jam for freezing (this summer's crop just wasn't enough)
    done!  anyone need/want any jam?  we have tonnes.
  2. make a recipe from one of my countless cookbooks once a week & blog it
    so so done! 
  3. continue with a pot of soup a week in the winter + morph it into something else for spring/summer (salad?  sandwiches?)
    i wasn't that great at this one, as i didn't morph it into anything else, but the remainder of the 2012 winter had lots of soup in it, and so far this week i'd say i've made at least a pot of soup a week.  
  4. document craft/home decor projects better
  5. get another tattoo 
    done!  left forearm, copy of grandfathers heart/banner/arrow tattoo - so happy with it!
  6. make at least 10 pinned projects come to life
    ill give myself a pat on the back on this one, as many did come to life.  i don't have photographic evidence, but i swear it happened!
  7. volunteer somewhere regularly 
    i  organized a group of 55 (or so) people to partake in 'home for dinner' nights at the local ronald mcdonald house.  we went 11 times in total, and it has been incredibly rewarding! 
  8. print important pictures + compile some photo albums
    nope - darn it!
  9. can tomatoes + maybe tomato sauce too?
    nope - good intentions on this one though (almost happened)
  10. go to segovia + deseo.  I'm still shocked that we haven't been to either yet? 
    check! check!
  11. grow kale 
    oh i grew kale so so much kale + so so so happy about it!
  12. go completely wireless (including tv...gasp!) for an entire weekend (Friday night - monday morning)
    shockingly, this actually happened!  we got "stranded" at my cabin after a frightful camping trip to a yurt "haven" went south.  my phone was left at home, and i avoided the computer and television (expect for a 15 minute dip into a terrible movie)
  13. have a fondue party
    nope, and i'm sad about it
  14. learn a new skill that is applicable to everyday life 
    i thought long and  hard about this one and never came up with anything worthy!
  15. take up/learn a new craft (i'm looking at your crochet!)
    nope, but I'm totally not sad about it.
  16. read 5 books...real books...cookbooks don't count
    sadly, no.  i think i may have read 3.
  17. take a picture of the chef + i at least once a week 
    this totally happened.  maybe not weekly exactly, but other weeks made up for it.  thankfully, my real accomplishment is that the chef no longer scoffs at me every time i ask her to take a pic..only about 75% of the time.
  18. be what we consider "financially locked down"
    done, and i feel really adult about it.
  19. do at least 1 new vignette a month 
    yay!  did it!  i've even done one for this month, so i've over achieved on this one.
  20. go to a yoga class
    no to yoga class, although yoga happened at home.
  21. go to a spin class
    no to spin class.
  22. bake 30 loaves of bread (or bread like items) 
    this one didn't happen, as i realized that we really don't eat very much bread at home, so why would i bake 30 loaves of bread and eat more of something i don't eat very much of?  i probably baked 5 though.
  23. finish at least 1 year of the q&a book
    yay!  done!  and still going!
  24. do a juice cleanse
    nope - but i have done lots of research and have pretty much determined i don't think i am the full juice cleanse type of people.  i may be a 2 juice a day kinda gal though...we shall see.
  25. go camping.  like the real kind of camping.
    nope - and i never really actually wanted to do this.
  26. go on a road trip with gertie (and the chef, of course)
    we did take gertie on a road trip of sorts, but ended up at the cabin anyways - so a for effort on this one! 
  27. write a will + instruction for death (how morbid, blech) 
    done like dinner!
  28. make our yard less of an eye sore (the back yard too...) 
    front yard - check!
    back yard looks like the earth's asshole, so that will need some work this summer.  we fenced it in though, so only we know it's an asshole.
  29. build something that i would normally have someone else build (guidance from others allowed, but not physical help)
    i can't think of anything that i built at all this year, so no.
  30. take a picture in the "mustard" fields
    yay!  did this!  and didn't even come into contact with any rodents along the way!
  31. "finish" the front porch
    yep, mostly.
  32. make ketchup from scratch
  33. while in new york - be a real tourist, including taking at least 10 super touristy photos
    we were total tourists
  34. eat at WD50 while in new york 
    we did this, and it will go down in history as a super memorable meal (and at a $600 price tag, it better have been!)
  35. go on a couple weekend getaways
    we were at the lake on the weekends a lot, does that count?  i think it does.
  36. have a picnic
    did it!  it was such a beautiful day, and we had olive tapenade, seedy crackers, beet and cherry salad, and iced tea.
  37. make a snowman
    i'm  not sure how with this winter and all the snow we have had i didn't make this happen, but whatever.
  38. have a dinner party with three sets of friends that don't know each other (who am i kidding, none of my friends know each other, this shouldn't be difficult!)
    i honestly can't remember if this happened or not?  but i think it did - so yes.
  39. surprise someone
    totally happened!  the bff was definitely surprised at her surprise engagement party!
  40. write letters to my nearest and dearest
    i haven't done this yet, but i am determined to do it.
  41. spend more time with my bff, just the two of us 
    ha ha, what a sad, sad friendship, as i don't think this happened even one time!  bad friends, the worst.
  42. run gertie really well at least once a week
    this little doggie has lost 10% of her body weight, mostly thanks to the chef being very focused on running her and me being very focused on keeping her on track with her kibble allotment.
  43. go to the library 
    we went to the new york city public library - so check!
  44. eat completely clean for 30 days (no dairy, no red meat, no grains, no sugar) 
    check!  january was empowering, brutal, and excellent - all wrapped into one!
  45. incorporate veggies into breakfast 
     i do this regularly, so i'd say this one is completed.  smoothies get spinach, i'm no opposed to salad for breakfast, tomatoes and avocados on toast (i know that's technically a fruit...), etc.
  46. submit recipes to contests more regularly on 
    well, this post then this post should sum this one up!
  47. spend more time in the sunroom 
    we have spent some nice evening and morning hours up there, chatting with the in laws or watching the world go by with the gert.  it's just hard to get up there when the covered porch is also an option.
  48. draw our house/property on autocad + design my dream garage + house layout 
    house and property are drawn as a result of the fence and planter box construction.  designing my dream garage is cancelled, as I have officially given this dream up in hopes for other things.  i've come to realize that our house is already laid out 90% the way i would want it, so i'm ok with giving this task up.
  49. do a blog post about our chemical free house
    ahh shit, totally forgot about this one.
  50. take a picture everyday.  (and take more pictures not of food) 
    this one has been tough to judge, but if i had to bet for a million dollars i'd say i'm probably pretty close to successful on this one!
  51. make candles
    hrmph, no, and i wish i had!
  52. do something of the chef's choosing, that i would typically say no to
    this one is funny, as it just never happened, as i am just so darned agreeable to everything she wants to do (hardy har)
moving forward

so, asides from maturing my photography skills, let's talk about moving forward.  
i still love this lil' blog of mine, and i love having this little hobby of recording favorite eats and life moments, but the new year has made me feel like it's time to expand and revamp a bit.  time to spruce things up, do some decluttering, and get a face lift of sorts.  so, I'm bracing you to expect some newness, as a change is gonna come to the food, albeit hopefully for the better.

stay tuned, mon amis - and brace yourselves!
happy 2014!
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Sunday, December 22, 2013

week #50 and #51

this week i bring you good things, and bad things...and oddly, the good and the bad are one in the same.  can you tell that i've hit a delirium state after an evening of yule log baking and assembly?  let's continue...

the good thing, is that there are two recipes for the price of one in this post (to make up for starting off one week behind schedule back in january).  the bad thing, is that both recipes were just plain awful.  but then again, there is another set of good news, as asides from a quick stop in for the last week of this challenge, we are done, done done with recipes from cookbooks!  whoooo hooooo!  if you could only feel the sense of relief and accomplishment i have right's a good mind space to be in, really.

we were feeling the indian vibe a few weeks back, so the chef selected two recipes from books by meena pathak, who is widely known as an authority on indian cooking - 'flavours of india' and 'indian cooking for family and friends'.

chicken with green onions and baby corn jalfrezi (pretty much a baby corn stir fry with peppers and tomato based sauce) were planned into our weekly meal plan, and they came together quickly.  while the ingredients required are usually kicking around in our pantry, certain items would probably require most people to add them to their grocery list, such as cumin seeds, turmeric, and fenugreek.  i had such high hopes for these dishes, and was so excited when the chef texted me on a day i was running late from work telling me she had made dinner and it was waiting for me when i got home.  isn't there just nothing better than coming home to a hot hearty weeknight meal?  that gal's a keeper.

see, you can tell the food was bad, because i had no photography gusto in me.  none whatsoever.  it was pretty much a "take one shot, hope for the best meager" type situation.  oddly, even though both dishes are from different books, they tasted so so similar.  i love baby corn, it's a treat like few other, and this sauce just ruined the treat experience.  the chicken tasted like the most boring bland version of a chicken bolognese, and we were highly disappointed and grabbed for the cereal (this very rarely if ever happens...)  my mom even came over for dinner with the lure of indian dishes, only to say "how about we just have bigger bags of popcorn at the movies tonight" after exactly two bites of each dish (and she will literally eat anything).  after these glowing words, i'm not even going to include photos of the recipes...I'm sure you're cool with that.


stay tuned for the finale cookbook challenge post, and a chicken recipe that will weaken your knees.

happy holidays folks, here's to glasses clinking, presents opening, families embracing, and trees glowing. 
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