3) My eldest came home with the next idea from Scout Camp. And let me say: It's genius. Put your S'mores toppings into an ice cream cone, wrap it in foil, and put it in the fire! I added walnuts 'cuz yum.
4) A few of you may recall my facebook post encouraging Peep hoarding this Spring.
The number one thing I learned from facebook this year is that people hate Peeps, ya'll. This next picture is for those people:
Trust me on this, our neighbors taught us that Peeps over flame turn into a completely different thing. It's likecrème brûlée. Then you smash it between graham crackers and chocolate. This picture is for those of you who love Peeps. And also for those of you who hate them, 'cuz they're pretty mutilated.
And, yes, they stay fresh this long. Preservatives ftw.
If you'd like to skip the preservatives, I've got something for you...
Number 5: Homemade S'mores
This one uses another technique we've learned from friends, chocolate frosting instead of chocolate bars. No waiting for it to melt. Just slathering and eating. Our friends used store-bought frosting. Not my thing, so homemade frosting it is. Before you ask, I did try multiple times to make homemade vegan marshmallows. They did not happen. They were delicious, but they were gloopy and completely campfire incompatible. I have not given up, but this post had to go up someday so for the time being, these are store bought 'shmallows.
1 3/4 C Graham flour (or whole wheat flour)
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
8 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 Tbs water
2 Tbs light molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
Heat oven to 375°. Process the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 15 seconds. Add the water, molasses, and vanilla and process until the dough comes together, about 20 seconds. Divide the dough into 2 even pieces. Roll each piece of dough out between 2 pieces of parchment paper to a 16X8-inch rectangle, 1/8 inch thick. Remove the top pieces of parchment and trim each piece of dough into a tidy 15X7 1/2-inch rectangle with a knife, and then score each into eighteen 2 1/2-inch squares. Prick each square several times with a fork. Slide each piece of dough and parchment onto separate baking sheets. Bake the cookies until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets, then break them apart along the scored lines and serve.
I dusted some of mine with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
These freeze really well.
So early this Summer I asked one of my favorite vendors at the Lake Forest Park Farmer's Market to do me a favor. My gal, Tracy, at Social Ice Cream makes the best ice cream in the entireworld. Problem is, a solid portion of my friends can't eat sugar, dairy, soy, gluten, food colorings, flavorings, like basically anything. But I knew Tracy could handle it. What did I need two gallons of sugar-dairy-soy-gluten-everything-free ice cream for? You already know, don't you, you smart thing you!
My oldest's Cub Scout manual lists plan a party and make an obstacle course for your friends as two things you can get badges for and we're all about the badges around here. We need all the stinkin' badges. Fittingly, he chose blue and yellow as the colors.
He helped with all the set up, too!
These little marigolds were just the right color and had a light citronella scent that, I think, helped keep the bugs a way. So did the little fans you see in the background.
I found a thing on Pinterest about making little flags to mark drinks. Good ol' party store came through with these puppies.
My oldest also had a say in the menu so we planned hamburgers and hot dogs and left the rest up to the generosity of our guests!
My neighbor supplied us with this gorgeous caprese salad appetizer.
My garden has been generously pumping out cherry tomatoes like nobody's business this year.
My honey making friend also dabbles in flavored vodka. Holy man.
And she brings homemade bread. Yeah she does!
These homemade hot mix pickles were my offering this year.
4 C sliced trimmed pickling cucumbers (1/4 inch slices)
2 C cauliflower florets
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 C sliced, peeled carrots
1 C peeled pearl or pickling onions
2/3 C pickling or canning salt
8 1/2 C water, divided
3 C sliced seeded hot yellow banana peppers (1 1/2- inch slices)
1 clove garlic
8 1/2 C white vinegar
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 Tbs horseradish
3-9 jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
In a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine cucumbers, cauliflower, green and red peppers, carrots, and onions. In another large glass or stainless steel bowl, dissolve pickling salt in 7 C of the water. Pour over vegetables. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars, and lids. In a colander placed over a sink, drain vegetables. Rinse with cool running water and drain thoroughly. Add hot yellow peppers and mix well. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine garlic, remaining 1 1/2 C water, vinegar, sugar, and horseradish. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and boil gently for 15 minutes, until liquid is infused with garlic flavor. Discard garlic clove. Pack vegetables and 1 to 3 jalapeno pepper halves into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and and adjust headspace if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
We bought our burgers from Martiny Livestock at our farmer's market. People said they were some of the best burgers they ever had!
Little bit of local cheese to top it off...
A little bit of socializing and then it was finally, finally time for...
Ice cream and sorbet! We had Coconut Vanilla Bean, Peach Raspberry sorbet, and Raspberry Lemon Verbena. All made without soy, without dairy, without white sugar, but made with coconut milk, honey, and fresh local produce. Because Tracy is a flippin' wizard.
Then it was obstacle course time! First down the slide, then a search through bubbles for a statuette, and a quick hula hoop for 5 seconds before a dash across the finish line! Fastest time wins! It was a quick, fun game and they loved it!
I've got friends who have an obsessive desire to follow recipes exactly. I used to be this person. It's what you do when you're first learning how to cook. But I think it makes you afraid a little. Afraid you might mess something up. You know what? You almost never do and a lot of times what you come up with is better than what the Internet says, especially one of those recipes from TV, blerg. AND most of the time the recipe has got one or twelve things you don't have sitting in your fridge at the moment. So let's talk about what is in your fridge. At any moment I have every ingredient necessary for a good soup, Italian anything, stir-fry, and hummus. Always have the ingredients for hummus. All you need for hummus is any bean variety, oil, garlic, and salt. All you need for soup is a can or two of tomatoes and a variety of vegetables, and sometimes you can pull it off without the tomatoes! Italian needs tomatoes, basil and garlic. Mushrooms are good, other herbs, or onions, but really all you need are tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Let's get to that stir-fry now.
I started on this because I had some peanut sauce from the Farmer's Market calling my name all week. I also had purple cauliflower, red cabbage, carrots, a squash from my garden, oyster mushrooms, a white bell pepper, half an onion, and some garlic. Sounds like stir-fry to me. Does it matter what color your vegetables are? Nope. Do you need all those vegetables to make a stir-fry? Nope, though it does help to feed a larger group to have a variety if you only have small quantities of each like I had. Do you have to have fancy soba noodles like I did? Not even. I wasn't even thinking of noodles when I realized I had the makings for stir-fry. I was going to do rice first, but realized I hadn't left enough time to pull it off, so noodles it was! What I'm trying to say here is relax. Take a deep breath. It's just one dinner. You can do it. If all else fails, there's always peanut butter or grilled cheese, or whatever sandwich combination your family is allowed to eat in this day of allergens and intolerances.
The biggest thing to remember when doing a stir-fry for a family is not to cook everything in the same pan unless you have a huge pan. I like my stir-fry veggies warmed and nearly raw, cooking everything in the same pan tends to steam everything and take forever so you're left with a long cook time and mushy veg.
Refrigerator Clean-Out Stir Fry
3 large carrots, sliced
1/2 large onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 medium cabbage, sliced
1 large or 2 small yellow squash, sliced
1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup cauliflower florets
1 bell pepper, sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1 Tbs sesame seeds
1 bunch of soba noodles, boiled and drained
1 tsp high heat oil
1 Tbs peanut sauce, soy sauce, or tamari sauce
On medium/high heat, cook onions first in a small amount of oil until they have softened slightly, then set them aside, then carrots cooked until slightly soft and set aside, continue cooking vegetables one at a time until all are cooked, excluding the green onions and sesame seeds, mushrooms and garlic can go in together. Mix all the veggies together. Plate noodles and top with cooked veggies, finish with the sauce of your choice.
Now, go to your fridge and start experimenting!! Here's a few more ideas to get you started:
Chicken, pork, or tofu, eggplant, peas, bok choi, broccoli, any color of bell pepper, zucchini, green beans, water chestnuts, baby corn, bamboo shoots.