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Posts tagged ‘travel’

Can You Cook With Dry Ice?

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Dry Ice with a Green Laser

The 4 pints of ice cream that we received yesterday is almost gone. No, really. You may be thinking, “How can this be?” Sad though we are… there are only a few spoonfuls left, but our bellies are smiling. The dry ice the pint containers were shipped to us in has completely evaporated into thin air...poof!

Green Laser Light, Water & Dry Ice

The good news is, the magic of this May Day gift hasn’t dissipated into the either just yet. Thoughts about how much fun the dry ice was are still kicking around in our heads. Yes, we know it’s not a toy and every precaution needs to be adhered to, to be safe. But we are not the only ones who find the stuff FUN!

Dry ice-foggy, my memory begins to clear.  One of my favorite gifted recipe books (which I have yet to produce anything from, but adore drooling over the ideas within) is The Fat Duck Cookbook written by the British self taught kitchen wizard Heston Blumenthal. A mad scientist in his culinary circles, he’s pulling at the ears of the scientific world through his unrelenting curiosity (I think this is the wish that nearly every parent has; to keep curiosity alive through adulthood) he creates works of art such as his Radish Ravioli of Oyster (pg.340-341)…for those of you who don’t have this beautiful book you’ll need to close your eyes… no…tighter, so your thoughts are pitch black.

Now construct an image of a space aged glowing globe, with walls made of vellum thin sliced radishes. This glowing radish globe is suspended weightlessly against the black background. Envision a single ring of sliced radishes mimicking a Saturn-esque planet.  I have read that if this work of art radish dish were ordered in his restaurant The Fat Duck, it would be accompanied by a single iPod to further set the mood and complete the experience of the senses. I imagine this to be an encounter that memory never forgets.

Further research shows that Mr. Blumenthal also enjoys the use of liquid nitrogen when cooking. In an article from the Independent he offers a few recipes  to those of us less mad, home-cooks where he can extend his restaurant goal; to invoke the feeling of excitement in his patrons [The Fat Duck History pg 113]. I am sure one could create the mood of excitement in the kitchen if one were inclined to whip up fresh ice cream in 90 seconds!  I know I could (and possibly earn a few cool mom awards as well. 😉

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Dry Ice and Food Coloring!

Still curious? The list is long for dry ice uses, some I would never have thought of but one I might try is the method of flash freezing fresh fruit. I could see this speeding up my current process of freezing fruit overnight on a cookie sheet and allowing for more garden time!  I found this handy site if you would like to learn more.

Happy Weekend to you!

<img src="https://caramelizelife.com/rachellekweymuller.jpg" Width="604" height= "401" alt= "rachellekweymuller weymullerphotography" title= "rachellekweymuller weymullerphotography"/>   Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community!

Have Stomach Will Travel

It seems that traveling with a car load of people especially the majority under the age of 18, means stops are not to fill up the gas tank but rather the kid tank. I confess, I don’t meet the under 18 rule but I do get an honorary membership to this club when traveling. I make it my scavenger hunt to find new restaurants while on the road. These little glinting gems are the carrots to keep me going during long days in the car.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Yesterday we found one such sparkling gem tucked away in the Old Town of Anacortes– The A’Town Bistro.

Kids Menu-Grilled Cheese, Fries and Salad

Kids Menu-Grilled Cheese, Fries and Salad

If you find yourself cooped up in a car this Spring Break and happen to be anywhere near this sweet little town, a stop in will be a treat for the senses.

Stacked Eggplant And Beet Salad

Grilled Eggplant Stack And Beet Salad

YUM!

Tuscan Angel Hair Pasta

Tuscan Angel Hair Pasta

Le Sel De Table

Le Sel De Table

Cheers!

Head Shot Rachelle
Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

“Making Life A Little Sweeter Through Food, Travel and Community”

Fondue and Football

What do you think of when you hear the word fondue? Snow topped Swiss Mountains, cows with clanging bells that we only hear at ski races and steam filled wooden clad restaurants where the air is permeated with the smell of melted cheese?

 matter bean WP24341_1383352991137_8372409_nMatterhorn WP Zermatt fondue bean 24341_1383354591177_1134405_n

We’ve experienced these warm cozy venues under the Matterhorn‘s shadow and enjoyed true Swiss hospitality high in the mountains with good friends. However, what comes to mind over all, is a crazy combination of Swiss hospitality and an American pastime.

My husband grew up with a New Years Day tradition of fondue and football. So when there are back to back bowl games playing on New Years Day, his family and friends gather and instead of chips and dip they dipped their cubed  bread into the Swiss cheese and yelled at the t.v.

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Wanting to continue that family tradition we now host a Methow style fondue and football New Year’s Day party. Opening our doors to friends and family we mix up batches of creamy fondue, and have the games on the tube.

Image 7ffondue & football 2013 WP Image 22 Image 5 fondue & football 2013 WP

Personalizing the party we’ve added options for those who think it barbaric to sit and holler at the little people on the screen or just can’t sit still. These folks can stand outside in the below freezing weather and warm their tushies by the outdoor fire and enjoy their brew of choice. Adults get beer, children hot chocolate, we even tried serving fondue outside with an electric pot but I think the jury is still out on that. If you are curious we found the metal pot allows the cheese to separate easier than the ceramic pots but then again it could have been the sub zero temps!

sledding fun

sledding fun

fondue to go

fondue to go

finding the hot spot

finding the hot spot

A party like this only works if everyone pitches in. We ask that our guests bring a hunk of Swiss cheese for melting and something to dip. Then everyone jumps in and helps during the party. Besides the football, sledding and skiing there are always other games to play, easy party ones such as find your boots and kids mittens, those who’ve attended before have learned to bring their most unique outerwear for easy finding.

Image 6 mud room fondue & football 2013 WP

Recipe for Fondue and Football [serves 2 or keep making it and it will serve 150 hungry folks].
A community of friends willing to bring bread, cheese and celebrate football and snow.

All that you need:

2 1/2 cups shredded cheese ( Swiss: Emmenthaler, Gruyere, Jarlsberg)
1 1/2 Tbs flour
1 clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper and nutmeg
1Tbs Kierschwasser
day old baguette style bread cubed (for dipping)
veggies broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, etc (steamed for dipping)
fondue fuel for your pot, extra fondue forks

Action:

Dredge cheese with flour
rub garlic on the inside of the pot place over stove
add and heat wine until small bubbles form
reduce heat slightly and add cheese slowly in small amounts while stirring
warm the Kierschwasser and add it to the pot
if needed thin with warm wine
sprinkle salt and pepper nutmeg on top to taste

Extras:

Make ahead: I prepare for this party well in advance, stocking up on Swiss cheese when it’s on sale or buying it in bulk. I shred the cheese ahead of time and pop it in the freezer for later use.

What to do with left over cubed fondue bread? How about bite sized French toast? Or Croutons for soup and salad toppings?
Or if you find yourself with an over abundance of shredded cheese, it’s perfect for that quick quiche recipe to speed up a week night dinner.

En Guete!

34921_1516141470766_1451349916_1355781_1679178_n_21  Rachelle@ Caramelize Life

And the Winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant content is…(drum roll please) Part Two

If you are just joining us check out part one of our chocolate tour.

part two…

We hit the prime time to view the cacao tree, because in early to mid June, the tree is in bloom with flowers, new leaves are emerging from the top, and the cacao pods are ripening.  Michelle cut open a cacao pod so we could see the white fibrous center and the seeds nested within.

Did you know that Hawaii is the only state in the USA where chocolate trees grow?

Next on our three hour tour we are happily seated under the big top, the Steelgrass’s newest addition. Here is where we trust Michelle and taste little bits of chocolate from numbered ramekins.

This blind test allows us to banish any preconceived ideas we bring and let our taste buds tell us  what we really like, rather than great marketing. This method draws out each of our inner wine enthusiast and we write down adjectives like smoky, pungent, fruity with a gritty mouth taste with an earthy flavor. These words are the ‘terre’ (french for place) that describe the chocolate and the flavors that swim in our mouths bumping into our sweet and salty taste buds.  The flavors pop in our mouths and our taste buds jobs are made easy purely responsible for sending messages to our vacation brain, so we may conjure up visuals of the tropical landscapes the samples of chocolate originate from.

Cacao bean and chocolate covered nibs

Of course, if you didn’t have the patience for all this nonsense and preferred to just eat your chocolate pieces and doodle on paper with crayons (like I said; no rock was left unturned) then Annabelle had a small following in another tent just for you nonconformists.

Meanwhile in the big top we traveled back in time and followed Michelle through chocolate’s historical journey from start to present day. Then we were given the secret DIY knowledge of transforming these cacao nibs into rich, creamy, melt in your mouth chocolate complete with kitchen appliance recommendations for the aficionados in our group.

The last bit of information we absorbed was what brought us here in the beginning; we now know which chocolate our taste buds have decided is the best from around the world.

For me it was the 70% Kallari “Red Leaf.” Forastero/Nacional, grown in Ecuador. I was happy to hear that it is also a very socially responsible production with a great story, another bonus to all the good news I am learning about chocolate!

Armed with facts and research to support their debate I believe our family favorite smoothie will be made more often this summer. Below is our combination of Ed’s Juice and Java’s; Funky Monkey and Molly of Glover St. Market’s; Energy Boost.

Cacao Nib Smoothie

2 Peeled Bananas

1/4 cup Cacao nibs

3 cups Almond milk

1/2 cup Almond Butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

liquid chocolate to taste (optional for sweetness)

Blend together adding more liquid depending on desired thickness

Enjoy!

Have it cold: if you make too much or have left overs simply pour into a Popsicle mold and pop it in the freezer for a healthy summer treat.

Fact: Cacao has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food. Antioxidant levels are measured by Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity. Per 100 grams, cacao nibs have 95,000 compared to; broccoli 890, spinach 1,540, acai berries 5,500 and dark chocolate 13,120.

*source Steelgrass.org handout.

Aloha kakou!

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

And the winner for the Food with the Highest antioxidant Content is…. (drum roll please)

~Join us for our two-part series on the food with the highest antioxidant tour

Part 1

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pure and simple, dark chocolate and cacao nibs top the charts in antioxidant levels ~ beating out acai berries, kale and broccoli on the Oxygen Radial Absorbance Capacity scale (more on this scale below). Shocked? I sure was when I recently learned this bit of information. Un-shockingly, my children were already rehearsing their “eat your broccoli” retorts.

Can it really be true? How did I stumble upon this fantastic news?

It all started when my daughter exclaimed, “chocolate grows on trees!”

Tour brochures lined up on our vacation condo’s counter top: chocolate, coffee, rice, taro etc. Eenie, Meeny, Miney, Moe…
Well, Miney and Moe are actually kids named Hannah and Eva and I guess that makes my husband Eenie and by default I’m the Meeny.

The meany who wants to add an educational aspect to our Hawaiian vacation. I’m sure you can see where this is going…

Steelgrass

Taro is island specific but no votes there; of the ag tours, rice (unfortunately), had no tours on our free days so the choice was between coffee and chocolate. I love both but would rather have the kids hyped up on vitamin B-12 goodness than buzzing on caffeine. Thankfully, they agreed.

After a little research, and a recommendation from some friends, we decided to check out the STEELGRASS family chocolate tour, which had an added bonus that included a voice over studio on site with the likes of Ben Stiller and Jack Black…read: now husband is on board too.

I spoke with Tony Lydgate, Steelgrass family owner, to confirm our Chocolate from Branch to Bar reservation and he said tours start at 9 am. I’m thinking; who doesn’t like chocolate for breakfast? The kids sure thought this was an excellent idea and that maybe the sun had gotten to my senses, but no one mentioned anything about that.

The evening prior to our tour, the children slept soundly with visions of Hawaiian chocolate dancing in their heads. Up bright and early like I’ve only seen on christmas morning they were ready to go devour their breakfast! It’s healthy right? Local, sustainable, organic, without additives; all the checks were there for our foodie family list, so why can’t we eat chocolate all the time? All you parents out there get ready because those answers we tell our kids that it is a treat are now debunked and I hear doctors are recommending a daily dose of dark chocolate.

Studies have found that eating dark chocolate daily can reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes.  What? I guess the trick is on me for wanting an educational tour, now our tour guides Michelle and Annabelle have my kids full attention and I’m taking notes on this brilliant way to educate all ages.

So the tour begins, by sharing that chocolate is made from cacao and yes, cacao grows on trees. But before we learn more about cacao our guides direct us through their grove of meticulously labeled tropical fruit trees, educating our tour group through our senses about each fruit.

No crazy Wonka tour here, all children and adults munched freely on sustainably grown, Tahitian Lime and sugar cane (known as KO) a sweet and tangy lime aid in yo’ mouth combination. Longan or Dragon Eye fruits that would be perfect in a bowl on Halloween, crimson red Mountain Apple and Lilikoi (passion fruit) and more, all without incident.

Soursop (Custard Apple)

Dragon Eye

Dragon Eye

Lilikoi (Passionfruit)

Blissfully meandering through the tropical trees, learning about Egyptian paper making from papyrus trees and smelling the bark of a cinnamon tree ~ the mission of our tours guides emerges.

This fantastic way of bringing in unassuming students, thinking only of chocolate bars to impart knowledge about sustainable agriculture, is like tossing zucchini into chocolate cake without the kids knowing.

A Truffula tree right? Nope it’s Papyrus

Cacao is a tree, and in order for us chocolate lovers to fully enjoy the purest foodie dark chocolate scrumptious delights, we need to understand that our delectable bar only needs four ingredients: cacao, sugar, vanilla and an emulsifier like soy lecithin or cacao butter. But from Branch to Bar so much more goes on behind the scenes.

Cacao Trees

Cacao trees with colorful pods

It’s a meeting of the minds at the Lydgate Farm with PhD’s, Oxford alumnae, musicians, artists and others that form a team who have come together to develop a sustainable agriculture program to teach others the same.

By sharing the behind the scenes chocolate creation process, Steelgrass shows the many stages of the production, and in so doing, they also show the excellence that comes from being a steward for sustainable agriculture on the Hawaiian Islands.  We learned that it takes healthy pollinators not limited to bees for the fruit trees but it’s tiny gnats that are able to pollinate the petite cacao flowers.  They use companion planting as a natural pest control and rely on collaboration and cooperation between neighboring cacao farmers.  This is their  hypothetical insurance policy, if disaster hits in the form of bugs, weather or other, then the diversification of plants, their various locations and different cacao farms, help ensure sustainability.  This all falls under the umbrella of the Kauai Cacao Cooperative for creating a homegrown chocolate industry on the island.

It is incredible to think that all these aspects and hard work go into making that dark flavorful chocolate available and so good for us to enjoy.  Once you understand you can’t forget and now that price of the chocolate bar makes sense. But it is perfect because, unlike milk chocolate where I could keep on eating more and more, I find that a small amount of dark chocolate hits the spot and I am satisfied…better for the environment, better for me..it’s a win~win.


Honey on bamboo

Honey on bamboo sticks

Join us next week for part 2 of our chocolate tour adventure!

Aloha kakou,

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

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