28 August 2007

Do-It-Yourself Rice Dream (kinda)

Agnes, of A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise, posted this recipe for Cherry Ice Cream on her site nearly a month ago, and I finally made it using wonderful, dark sweet cherries I'd gotten locally when they were at their peak.

I made my usual alterations: agave nectar for sugar, etc. I also used Rice Dream vanilla enriched rice milk for the almond milk, but I will use almond milk in another one of her recipes, rest assured. Additionally, I added unsweetened carob chips and chopped toasted almonds at the end.

To be honest, I hadn't expected it to be creamy like ice cream at all because I know the nature of rice milk and how it freezes. On the other hand, it made the best cherry almond carob ice I've had yet. Man! This stuff is tasty. I recommend making it and eating it right away instead of waiting for it to harden. It's just lovely when it's soft.

Timing warning: You will need at least 8 hours to chill the recipe before adding it to your ice cream maker, so build in that time.

Here's the recipe how I made it.

Makes 8 servings (I used small ramekins filled to the top as my serving size)


2 cups pitted and quartered cherries
1/3 cup agave nectar
2 cups vanilla rice milk
2 teaspoons arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon cherry flavor
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened carob chips


1. Place 1 1/4 cup of the cherries and all of the agave nectar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the cherries are soft.

2. Use a blender to puree the cherry mixture. (I used my immersion blender.)

3. Pour the puree back into the saucepan and add 1 3/4 of the rice milk. Bring the mixture to a boil.

While that's cooking, whisk together the remaining rice milk and the arrowroot.

4. As soon as the mixture boils, turn of the heat and whisk in the arrowroot mixture.

It thickens as it cools.

5. Add the flavorings and chill the entire mixture over night.

6. Chill your ice cream maker to the manufacturer's instructions and add the cherry mixture. Mine required about 30 minutes of churning, but in the last 10 minutes, I added the remaining cherries, the chips and the almonds.

7. Pack it in a container and freeze for an hour before serving.

8. I ate mine right away because it was so yummy.

By the way, this was the inaugural use of my new ice cream maker attachment for the KitchenAid mixer.

So, now I'd like to sell my Deni Scoop Factory. If you're interested, I'll take US$20.00 for it, plus shipping. It works just fine, comes in the original box with the recipe book. You can see photos and a movie of my use of it here.
First come, first served, as they say.

27 August 2007

A Class Act

If you've ever visited the wonderful blog of David Lebovitz, you probably already know that he's an excellent dessert chef and highly amusing writer. More than that, I discovered this morning, he's a very classy guy.

Earlier, he posted with a title "Sugar-Free Chocolate Ice Cream." Curious, since he doesn't tend to do the sugar-free bit, I read more to find that he uses our friend agave nectar to make the delicious-looking ice cream. Now, for those of you who have been following along, you know how I feel about writers calling agave "sugar-free."

So, I wrote a short and very polite comment on David's post enlightening him to the fructose/glucose make-up of agave nectar. Not much later, he stopped by here to let me know he corrected the title of the post and recipe, and responded to my comment on his blog. What a class act!

In the past, I've stopped by other blogs and politely commented regarding the same issue only to be met with highly defensive, closed-minded responses. It was truly refreshing to have someone of David's stature respond in such an affirming and positive way. What a nice fellow.

I might not wait until Channuka for The Perfect Scoop ice cream book he published earlier this year. He's also written a handful of other lovely cookbooks I might have to buy sooner rather than later as well.

If you're in the least bit interested about life in Paris, you should definitely read his blog. He shares his wide range of experiences living in France as well as delicious recipes such as the one he posted today.

25 August 2007

Help Raise Funds for Community-Supported Agriculture Programs

If this post seems familiar, it's because I'm running it at my other blog as well. It's just that important.

Ari, at Baking and Books blog, is reaching out to fellow bloggers and food folks to raise money for the Hazon organization. Hazon uses Community-Supported Agriculture programs and bike rides to accomplish its vision: "to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community -- as a step towards a healthier and more sustainable world for all."

Ari is offering a raffle (the prizes are top cookbooks!) to support a Hazon bike ride taking place in New York City during Labor Day weekend. Here's where the money goes (from the Hazon site):

  • 30% is awarded as grants to external organizations. Some of the external grantees include the Adamah fellowship which is training a new generation of Jewish organic farmers and activists, and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies – the pre-eminent professional leadership program for environmental leaders in the Middle East; AIES students who are Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli will be at the New York Ride.
  • 50% funds Hazon's year round programs, including Tuv Ha’Aretz, Hazon’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative and the Hazon Food Conference.
  • 20% helps cover the costs of the ride
Essentially, Hazon devotes its resources to educating people about the environment and uses food as one of its educational mediums (according to Ari's site).

So, participate in the raffle, you might win a collection of cookbooks, you might not. Either way, it's a great cause to support.

19 August 2007

Coconut Green Pie

A few weeks ago, I reworked a great vegan recipe from Dr. Mary Martin for Coconut Cream Pie. I didn't make a huge number of changes, but I (gasp!) deveganized the recipe by adding an egg instead of using so much arrowroot.

Speaking of arrowroot, the filling tasted way too arrowrooty, so I added 1/2 cup of agave to it. If I made this again, I'd save half the crust to make cookies, since she warns at the beginning of the recipe that there would be a lot left over.

Finally, other than the typical agave nectar substitution I make for the sweeteners, I used brown rice flour for the spelt flour in the pie crust.

I didn't get to taste them both together since the pie wasn't actually served at the party it was taken to that day. However, I tried them separately prior to putting it together, and Mom took the photo above when she tried it.

Recommendations: less arrowroot, add vanilla extract/paste, bake the crust as cookies and do something else, maybe a mousse with the filling served with a cookie on the side. Overall, though, it's a pretty tasty and colorful combination.

Here's a short film of my efforts. Hope you enjoy it!

16 August 2007

Weight Loss Progress Update

It's been nearly a month since I posted about my efforts to slim down and improve my health. Well, so far, the results are great! I've lost 10 lbs and 2 inches on my waist (no where else, though). How did it happen? I've been cutting calories consistently, cutting saturated fats, and increasing my fiber intake.

Additionally, I increased my daily exercise to at least an hour. Not only that, but when walking or using the elliptical trainer, I've increased my speed/incline. The free weights are still the same, but I work the upper part of my body one day and my legs another. Finally, I use a big exercise ball for crunches, getting up from my desk periodically throughout the day to do a set of 20. I am for over 100 each day. I also put it in front of the TV, so if I'm lounging (not much of that these days), I'll be sitting on that big, green ball doing crunches.

I'm very determined to lose the weight, and since I'm seeing results pretty quickly, the calorie cutting is going to stay. I told John that if I keep this up and lose another 10 lbs by the time we go up to Maine (5 weeks from today), I'll even let him take photos of me during the vacation!

Best of all, I'm wearing shorts today I haven't fit in comfortably in more than a year! Yay Deb!

One final note, if you're in the same process, YOU CAN DO IT! Just stay vigilant, move more, and cut your calories while meeting your daily requirements for nutrients. If I can do it, you can do it. Please let me know how it goes.

13 August 2007

The First Time I Ever Burn A Cake

Sometimes, making an alteration to a recipe just doesn't work out. Usually, I don't post those on my blogs, but I thought that I ought to be honest with this project, since some of you are probably doing the same things. First, my disclaimer with this particular recipe: It's the third I've made from this particular cookbook (Bob's Red Mill Baking Book) and it's my third failed recipe alteration from it. Now, I don't usually have this big of a problem with recipes from a single cookbook, so it might not be just my alterations.

That said, I used low-fat yogurt instead of butter for the fat in this recipe upon the advice of a poster in a recipe bulletin board. That's the last time I'm going to make that mistake. Now, substituting oil for butter changes the type of fat (and virtually eliminates saturated fat), but doesn't cut the entire fat numbers as much. However, now that I've learned the secret of using bean puree, I might just rework this one again.

I did capture my process on film, so for your enjoyment, it's included below.

09 August 2007

A Very Short Rant

I really don't enjoy ranting at all, but sometimes it just must be done. There's an emerging trend regarding agave nectar that really concerns me -- people referring to it as "sugar-free" or referring to foods containing it as "sugar-free." It's simply not true, and could potentially harm people who think they can use a bunch of it because someone said it's "sugar-free."

Mind you, people with health issues like diabetes should be reading labels and doing their own research when it comes to putting things into their bodies. And, a writer is not responsible for those folks not doing their own homework. However, it is irresponsible for a writer not to do his or her homework and to tout agave nectar as "sugar-free" because it's not.

According to Dr. Cheryl Mitchell, who published "The Use of Nutritive Sweeteners in Organic Food Processing Operations," agave nectar comprises 70% fructose and 30% glucose, two naturally occurring sugars. Dr. Mitchell's bio reads: "Dr. Cheryl Mitchell is recognized as a world authority on sweeteners, rice processing, and the extraction and metabolism of inulin."

In this excerpt, Dr. Mitchell describes the metabolic differences between fructose and glucose:

That said, I'm really happy that folks are discovering how wonderful agave nectar is. It just would be beneficial to their readers to understand the bigger dietary picture.

06 August 2007

Super Luscious Beany Brownies

Typically, I’ll alter one recipe at a time, but this one is actually a re-styling of two recipes. I had been researching how to replace fat (or at least a portion of it) in baked goods with pureed beans when I came across a blogged recipe by Su Good Eats. She’d taken an insanely rich and intensely chocolaty brownie recipe from Epicurious and turned it just a scootch healthier by substituting pureed white beans for half the butter.

I hope that I’ve continued in her tradition and made them even healthier by boosting the fiber further via whole wheat pastry flour and coconut flour instead of the regular cake flour. Of course, I also used agave nectar instead of the sugar (cutting it by 1/2 cup), and I used unsweetened carob chips and carob powder for the bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder. Finally, I added walnuts because they break up the intensity quite a bit.

These are definitely the most creamy and luscious brownies I’ve ever had. The most surprising thing was that they didn’t taste beany in the least. Nor could I detect the whole grain flour.

I can’t with any conscience say these are healthy, but taken in small doses, they can tackle a sweet craving pretty quickly.

Here's a short film I made of the baking process.