Thursday, May 24, 2018

Doctored Ice Cream Recipes, and Summer Reading Kicks Off

I attended a lecture once by a nationally known quilter and she talked about her experience pitching patterns to quilting magazines. She told us that the editors loved two words in the description of the pattern- those two words being "quick" and "easy". Of course they appreciated creative and original patterns and all the rest of it, but those two magic words sealed the deal.

Quick and Easy are very beloved words in the recipe world too. Entire fortunes have been built on 30 minute meals and 3 ingredient cookbooks and semi-homemade cooking shows. You can love from-scratch cooking, as I do, and still have a soft corner in your heart for recipes that produce good results quickly.

As the days warm up quickly and cool desserts are on the menu, I'm sharing two quick and easy recipes for ice cream treats that start off with good quality store bought ice cream and need minimal work for really great results.

Rosewater, used judiciously, gives an indescribably exotic and alluring flavor to desserts. I've made this ice cream two or three times in the last month for different groups of friends and each time, a small scoop of the pistachio rose ice cream left them feeling delighted. This will be my go-to dessert of the season. If you love kulfi and Indian ice cream flavors like kesar pista, you will love this so-simple-it-is-hardly-a-recipe recipe.

Pistachio Rose Ice Cream

1. Set out 1 quart (or 4 cups) good quality vanilla ice cream (I love Trader Joe's French Vanilla but use your favorite brand) on the counter for several minutes until it is soft-serve consistency. Don't let it melt completely.

2. Dump the soft ice cream into a bowl.

3. Add:
1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachios
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tbsp. rose water 

4. Fold the additions into the ice cream (a silicone spatula works well), then scrape back into the container and refreeze. 

For special occasions, cake is my go-to dessert, personally. But many of my near and dear ones seem to prefer ice cream to cake. On her sixth birthday in Fall, Lila requested an ice cream cake. Last week, I was organizing a co-worker's farewell party and she too requested an ice cream cake. If you need a simple ice cream cake that will feed a crowd and please the crowd, here's a- you guessed it- quick and easy recipe.

Oreo Ice Cream Cake

1. Set out a quart each of two flavors of ice cream to soften on the counter- I use the classic chocolate and vanilla but other flavors will work too. 

1. Crumble a box of Oreo cookies (gluten-free or regular) into a bowl. You can smash them right in the bowl, or use a food processor to crumble them. Add 1/4 cup melted butter and stir into the cookie crumbs.

2. Add the cookie mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan and pat down to make an even layer. 

3. Layer with the softened chocolate ice cream and stick it back in the freezer for a while to harden.

4. Layer with the softened vanilla ice cream and stick it back in the freezer to harden. 

Optionally, add a layer of fudge sauce in between the two ice cream layers. I decorate the top layer with sprinkles before putting it back in the freezer.

Here is another easy ice cream dessert from the One Hot Stove archives- the tricolored Cassata, and some ideas for an ice cream social. 

*** Lila's summer reading ***

Kindergarten is finished and school's out for summer. A very exciting thing happened during the last week of school. Lila's school was adopted by a local non-profit that promotes literacy by providing a dozen books (free, and theirs to keep forever) to every child in the school so they have a little home library and can keep reading to prevent "summer slide". I volunteered one morning for the book distribution. The non-profit brought in boxes and boxes of incredible age-appropriate books. Hundreds of books were laid out attractively on several tables, grouped by theme, just as they would be in a book fair. Classes came in one by one and the kids went "shopping" for a dozen books of their own choice. This was a total kid in a candy store situation for any book lover.

We were warned to not steer kids to particular books or to balk at them choosing 12 Star Wars books or whatever. This was the time for non-prescribed books to promote reading for pleasure.

Lila's dozen books
Predictably enough, Lila came home with 12 PINK books about princesses and Dora and stuff, including one book by Danielle Steel of all people. My heart sank that she didn't pick out any of the amazing books that I saw displayed. But this isn't about me so of course I said nothing. We will continue to bring home lots of books from the public library all summer, and enjoying all the books from our home library that we are building up bit by bit.

*** My summer (and beyond) reading ***

I occasionally like doing reading challenges, where you are assigned reading tasks that encourage you to try different genres, seek out new authors and expand your reading horizons just a little bit. Late in the game, almost halfway through the year, I came across Book Riot's 2018 Read Harder Challenge and started it last month, with 24 tasks to be completed until the end of this year. I've completed 3 of the tasks, described below. If you have suggestions for the other tasks (check the link to see what they are), I would love to hear them.

A book published posthumously: For this task, I chose a book written by a terminally ill man whose dying wish was to be a published writer- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.

This brilliant and highly motivated man in his mid-thirties had been in school almost his entire life, training to reach the rarefied heights of medical research and practice. On the way there he acquired a degree in literature and almost becomes a writer. In a tragic twist, he was diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer while months away from becoming a dual qualified neurosurgeon-neuroscientist. Even as he knew that his demise was only months away and his career goals were dissolving, he found a new goal- to write a book (this memoir). The first part of the book is Paul's life as a neurosurgeon in training, helping patients deal with life and death situations. The second part of the book is his role as a patient facing death himself. Finally there is an epilogue beautifully written by his wife- she finished the book and fulfilled his dying wish by getting it published.

Kalanithi ponders the question "What makes life meaningful enough to go on living"? and I was thinking about this book for several days after I read it.

A book of true crimeColumbine by Dave Cullen. Ironically and sadly, I started reading this book the day before the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. I was still living in India on April 20, 1999 and have no personal recollection of the Columbine massacre. But later, the very word Columbine came to be a symbol of school shootings and I do remember going to see Michael Moore's documentary, Bowling for Columbine, in NYC. Cullen's investigation runs wide and deep. His narrative does not follow a linear timeline but goes back and forth between incidents but it is engaging and makes sense as he talks about the two teenage killers and their thirteen victims, plus the others left with serious lifelong injuries.

The reigning theory of Columbine was that these were two bullied teenagers who lashed out in a horrific way at the people who hurt and bullied them. In contrast, Cullen's book portrays the mastermind, Eric Harris, as a psychopath bent on indiscriminate destruction. The "why" of Columbine quite possibly was a combination of the two. What is left unanswered is how to identify kids going down this spiral- which they do on a regular basis, with horrific consequences. I came away with a better understanding of what psychopathy means and it truly is jarring to realize what a poorly understood mental condition this is, and that these charming, manipulative people are a substantial proportion of the population. 

A comic written and drawn by the same personGhosts by Raina Telgemeier. This is a middle grade graphic novel and after seeing it displayed in the school library, public library and book fairs everywhere, I finally read it myself. Catrina's kid sister Maya has cystic fibrosis, and to help with her breathing, the family moves to a foggy, ghostly small town by the sea. The book describes their adventures there. The illustrations are full of color and life and the story revolves around themes of family heritage, sisterhood and confronting fears of death. It is worth mentioning here that the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is a major theme in the book and the author has been criticized for not portraying it in an accurate way.

What are you cooking, eating and reading this month?

28 comments:

  1. Adopting a school and giving each kid a set of books for summer is such a great concept! I know, it's hard letting the kids make book choices when we see there are so many great varied set of book choices they could pick :) And I didn't know Danielle Steel ever wrote a KDG book :) Now I am curious what it is about!

    Pista rose ice-cream sounds super cool - got to try that. After the rose cookies, I am totally sold on rosewater in desserts - is amazing.

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    1. I saw those rose cookies on your blog and made a mental note to look for that cookbook! You will adore this pista rose ice cream. I haven't mustered up the courage to read the Danielle Steele book yet ;) There is a stello heel on the cover and a fluffy little dog with a bow LOL

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  2. When my kids (one is ready to go into high school and other is in college) loved to read comics so much I was a lit bit unhappy but I read that is the reading i all that matters not what book they are reading, so pink books are good :)

    I saw a show about Paul Kalanidhi - the Yale doctor? on PBS I think, sad but inspiring story. I remember Columbine vividly and it is beyond heart breaking that they continue to happen today. The misfortune that is the lot of kids only in this country.

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    1. Indo- your kids are all grown up- wow! Comics and graphic novels are amazing. I am a big fan. I read a graphic novel last year- "Maus" by Art Spiegelman and it was absolutely unforgettable. A must read.

      But yes the research does show that reading for pleasure and making it a habit is the most important thing, no matter what one reads. Funny thing is she doesn't even seem to enjoy the pink books, but is drawn to them for sure when it comes to choosing books :)

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  3. I was tickled to see Danielle Steel among Lila's picks.
    I am not brave enough to read Kalanithi's memoir, and admire everyone else who is.
    I'm reading 'Far from the tree' by Andrew Solomon. It's been a fascinating read. With every book I read, I realize that there is so much I don't know or think about. It's been very slow reading this year, and I spend more time reading to my 2 year old and 9 year old (I try to read to him as frequently as I can, more for me than for him, I suspect. It is peaceful) than reading a book for myself. The books I've enjoyed the most this year are Pachinko, by Min Jee Lee, and Educated by Tara Westover.
    The rose and pistachio ice cream sounds like a great idea. I am all about quick and easy :)

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    1. Some years ago I saw Andrew Solomon read from Far from the tree at the Festival of Ideas at Bristol. He took questions from the audience and some people shared amazing anecdotes. He talked about how he persisted with the parents of the Columbine killers before they finally relented and gave him an interview which turned into several meetings which ended up in the book.

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    2. rrv- Kalanithi's memoir is more about living a meaningful life and not really about dying, so don't think of it as a depressing read (although the situation was tragic, of course). But I know what you mean, there are many books and movies that I just can't stomach the thought of reading/watching. Thanks for all your book recommendations! And when you say, "I realize that there is so much I don't know or think about", boy, you really hit the nail on the head! I feel that way every day.

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    3. Ammani- I had the Solomon book on my to-read list and now I really want to read it soon. A festival of ideas sounds so exciting :)

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    4. Nupur, I have in mind to organise something like this where I now live. A Festival Of Ideas, a Try Something New Day, a Supper and Speech Club, a Sleep Clinic and a You Too Can Draw morning. Now, if only I can find willing collaborators. Enjoy Andrew Solomon's book and tell us about it, please!

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    5. Ammani - I had no idea Solomon discusses the Columbine incident in the book, I'm still only about 300 pages into the book. Let me see if there is a video online of the event that you mention. I have only heard his TED talk on depression, and it really spoke to me.

      Radhika

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  4. I have been slack responding here (sorry!). Love rosewater ice-cream. I recently threw in condensed milk and frozen summer veg and beat the living daylights out of them before freezing them. Served it as ice-cream and it went down well though I suspect a little cream would have made the texture smooth.

    I've heard about Paul Kalanithi's book and I have come so close to ordering it but hesitated because I know how it ends. May be I'm a wuss. I like how it has triggered questions within you - a good book does that. Underground Railroad is one I am recommending to all these days. It's no coincidence that I was working in the cafe with a German woman of mixed heritage recently and she told me about her African-American dad who left her mother when she was young. And her own experience of growing up as a dark-skinned girl in a blond Germany was sadly beset with ugly incidents of racism. She then went on to find her dad, reconcile with him and hold his hand while he passed away. She has my copy of the book.

    Next on my list is Nervous Conditions which already holds great promise. Happy reading! Happy ice-creaming!

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    1. What an interesting story with your German friend. I'm going to look for Underground Railroad. Enjoy your summer!

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  5. I read "Educated" a memoir by Tara Westover, after hearing her Fresh Air interview. The book took my breath away.

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    1. It is on my to-read list and I am looking forward to reading it!

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  6. The rose pistachio ice cream sounds yum! I have a tub of the TJ French Vanilla in my fridge and would love to try it out.
    I am so tickled to see Lila's interests. You always hope your kids pick up your interests, but alas that is almost never the case. I have been trying to get my 3rd grader to read Harry Potter but he likes his own books (Diary of a Wimpy Kid etc which make me cringe).
    The challenge sounds awesome! When Breath becomes Air made me cry. A wonderful book! And Ghosts is so fun. I just finished reading Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujatha Massey and it was a great read. Set in 1920s Bombay! Looking forward to more summer updates!

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    1. Sangeetha- You have to try this ice cream, you will love it. Funny thing is that Lila loves the books I pick out for her. But on her own she gravitates to the sickly pink Princess stuff :D
      I saw that you liked Widows of Malabar Hill and I just borrrowed it from the library this weekend :) Looking forward to reading it.

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    2. Sangeetha, I highly recommend Harry Potter audio book series by Jim Dale. Being old school girl I was bit skeptical but boy! This book made many of our road trips memorable. More than kids I got hooked on :)

      Sushma

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    3. Good to know Sushma! Thanks.

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  7. I just finished another excellent Maisie Dobbs book - I love this series!
    Also my new favourite "cookbook" is Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat - it matches my cooking style perfectly where I cannot follow a recipe unless I tweak it!

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    1. Hi Vishakha- I started Maisie Dobbs and liked it, although the atmosphere in the books is a bit, well, depressing. I should look for the latest in that series. I have Salt, Fat...on my list and it is good to know that you enjoyed it!

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  8. Hi Nupur, have been a long time reader of your blog. I am a stay at home of a two year old and struggling to get back to reading. So I am amazed at how much you read with Lila, Niam, Duncan and a full time job. I don't know if you could answer this, but are there any particular times you dedicate to reading? Would love to know.

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    1. HI aham- Yes, I do have a dedicated time for reading, and it is the half hour before bed. For me, it is the best way to end the day, propped in bed, reading peacefully from a paper (not electronic) book, knowing that the kids are in bed and the day's work is done. The screen-free time before bed also helps me sleep better.

      Life with a 2 year old is crazy busy and I do empathize with you! :) When I have very little time to read, I turn to graphic novels and children's literature or young adult novels. They are much quicker reads for those busy times, and still very engaging.

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  9. My daughter is 9 and is a voracious reader but she's picked her share of pink books when she was little. I do have a rule of not paying money for "character books", Barbie, Paw Patrol etc. School book fairs have these kind of books and I refuse to pay good money for them.

    I'm in such a cooking rut, cooking the same things every week. Hoping all the fresh summer produce will pull me out of this.

    We went blueberry picking this past weekend and picked 10 lbs! I did make some muffins and blueberry sauce which we've enjoyed eating. We ate quite a few fresh and I froze the rest. Have you tried frozen blueberries? My kids love them, You put one in your mouth and it slowly defrosts and pops and is the most delicious thing.

    Our library releases summer reading lists for all grade levels so have been reading a few to my 5 year old from the kinder-1st list. As for me, I just started reading A Study In Scarlet Women. I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes so, curious to see how this one holds up. I have read Kalanithi's book and really sad that the world lost a brilliant mind who could've done so much good, likely saved other lives.

    -Anu

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    1. Anu- I also have the rule of not paying good money for the "pink books", but in this school event where they were giving books away, and in library used book sales and garage sales where books are 50 cents or whatever, then she gets to indulge the pink book mania. Weird thing is the attraction lasts for minutes; these are not the books that are read and re-read with love!

      Your berry harvest sounds wonderful! I do stock frozen berries, the kids love them in pancakes, smoothies and oatmeal.

      You'll have to tell us how you like the Study in Scarlet Women.

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  10. We just got back from a month long vacation to bay area (our former home) and this month was full of eating out (no regrets!) at our favorite restaurants or at friends' place where we were staying. I know what you mean about kids and choosing books. I took my almost 5 year old to a very nice bookshop in bay area which we used to visit when we stayed there. I read him a book "life on Mars" (adorable one, by the way) and other very nice books which he really loved and told him he can pick any one book he wishes from the shop. And he went ahead and picked up a Lego story book (no story line, and not too good in my opinion lol!) But then I bit back my slight disappointment and let him buy it.
    I have heard good reviews about Paul Kalanithi book, but unfortunately cannot bring myself to read it, having lost my mom (who was also a Dr) to cancer last year. I have been reading a lot of National geographic magazines and books recently (too much travel effect, maybe).

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    1. Neha- how wonderful that you enjoyed a much-deserved long vacation! Yes, princesses, legos, star wars, these things seem to dominate kids' worlds for a few years with a passion. Much to our chagrin LOL.

      I can understand why you wouldn't like to pick up the Kalanithi book- it is much too soon for you when your grief is raw. Travel books are always fun. Homebody that I am, I much prefer travel books to actually traveling ;)

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  11. Lovely post as usual, Nupur, lots of food for thought as well as for the belly :). I still make - to rave reviews - your fig and walnut kulfi. Beats any other ice cream anywhere else! I have read excerpts of Paul Kalanithi's book and am filled with awe for how he lived. Right now I am reading Siddhartha Mukherji's The Gene which is just brilliant.

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    1. I have to butt in here and comment that the gene is just FAB. so is his other book..emperor of all maladies. his writing is just so good, I feel.

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