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Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Wet Walnuts

I had never heard of wet walnuts before my Pennsylvania-born husband started looking for them in the grocery store. Apparently it is a very popular ice cream topping in that region. However, it doesn’t seem to be very popular in New England, so he had to find a recipe for making them. His favorite, or the one that sounded the most authentic to him, was Mama Lisa’s at Mama Lisa’s World Blog. It’s easy to make; we make it easier and even leave out the cinnamon.

The resulting concoction is not too syrupy, not too sweet, and the walnuts have a warm, somewhat smoky flavor that permeates the whole mixture, especially if you let it sit. This will keep in an airtight container on the countertop for at least a week, or you could refrigerate it. I don’t think the syrup would get too sludgy and you could always gently re-warm it if you preferred warm wet walnuts with your ice cream.

Are there any other regional ice cream toppings we should try??

Wet Walnuts

1 c. walnuts, chopped
3/4 c. maple syrup
1/8 c. corn syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the chopped walnuts in one layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes. Monitor them fairly closely so they don’t REALLY start burning. My oven is a little touchy and I usually take the walnuts out around 10 or 11 minutes.

While you’re waiting for the walnuts, mix together the maple syrup and corn syrup.

Mix slightly cooled walnuts in to the syrup mixture. And you’re done!

Particularly good with plain vanilla ice cream, which lets the maple and smoky walnut flavors really shine.

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Kiwi Clerico

Sangria, in Spanish, means bloodletting, and the usual red wine base for this steeped-fruit wine punch makes the name of the drink pretty obvious and a propos. But I’m partial to white wine, and so white wine sangria, or sangria blanco, was much more up my alley for a recent dinner party. In Argentina sangria blanco is called clerico, which seemed to me a much better name than “white bloodletting.” So we won’t call this Ingrid Hoffman recipe White Kiwi Sangria — we’re calling it Kiwi Clerico.

White Kiwi Sangria (Kiwi Clerico)***

1/2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 (750 ml) bottle white wine*
1 c. orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 c. lemon juice
4 kiwis, peeled and cut in thin slices (save a few slices for garnish if desired)
2 green apples with skin, cored and cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 c. green seedless grapes**
1 bottle soda water (1 liter)
Ice cubes**

*This time around, I used Sebeka Wines chenin blanc from South Africa, which is unoaked — a good choice for sangria wine — and has fruity, sweet notes such as pineapple and honey. A commendable sipping wine for summer as well as a base for clerico.

**By the time I got to the grape-adding stage, my 3.5-quart pitcher was practically overflowing. So I stashed the grapes in the freezer for the day and used them as ice cube substitutes when serving.

***I about doubled this recipe, because my pitcher was large enough to allow it.

In a small saucepan on very low heat, heat the water, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve to make a simple syrup.

In a large pitcher, combine the white wine, the orange liqueur, the lemon juice, the sliced kiwis, and the cubed apples. Add the simple syrup. I made this up in the morning so the flavors could meld and the fruit could steep by dinnertime, and stashed it in the fridge with a bit of clear plastic wrap over the mouth. I held back on the seltzer as well, waiting to add it to individual glasses so it was still sparkly and bubbly. The more glasses you drink, the less and less important it will be to you to add the seltzer.

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Annie's Homegrown

I must take a moment to tell you all about a wonderful company, Annie’s Homegrown, makers of Bernie O’s and Cheddar Bunnies. I discovered the company shortly after I moved to Massachusetts and discovered that organic and natural foods were available in run-of-the-mill grocery stores (I came from Nevada, where such is unheard of). I was a freshman in college and on my own for the first time in my life, and I was feeling really, really down. And that’s when I discovered Annie’s Bunny Pasta with Yummy Cheese, a bowlfull of macaroni bunnies in a white cheese sauce. That evening I was sitting on my futon couch with autumn sunshine streaming in the window, looking down at a bowfull of pasta bunnies. And suddenly, everything started looking up. Bunny pasta made the world a happier place.

Well, it went something like that.

Then I discovered Annie’s larger bunny-themed lines: cereals, savory crackers, graham crackers, and canned pastas. All the products are natural or organic, and tasty. You might be inclined to think of organic or natural foods as bland or cardboardy, but quite the opposite is true of Annie’s. The savory bunny crackers are positively bursting with flavor. I like to turn a bowl of bunny grahams in to cereal (chocolate works best), and then I discovered that Annie’s also has bunny cereal: Bunny Love, Honey Bunnies, Cinna Bunnies, Fruity Bunnies, and Choco-Vanilla Bunnies. They are lightly sweetened and slightly reminiscent of Honey Nut Cheerios in both texture and flavor. I have not had a chance to try the Fruity or Choco-Vanilla Bunnies, though they are next on my list.

The two Annie’s products I buy most often are two of their canned pasta meals, Bernie O’s and P’sghetti Loops. Bernie O’s are bunny-shaped pastas and pasta loops in cheesy tomato sauce, all-organic and vegetarian. They can be easily heated in a sauce pan on the stove or in the microwave. P’sghetti Loops are pasta loops and soy meatballs, also in cheesy tomato sauce. Now, don’t flinch at the thought of soy meatballs — I absolutely love them. As a lunch option they are easy and filling and, honestly, fun. When I am stressed I can go a whole day and eat nothing but bunnies. And that cheers me up.

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Fun with Kiwis

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photos by Rachel

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