Worth a try

This ice cream recipe just squeaked into Fine Cooking’s June/July issue, nestled in an ad all the way at the very end. I almost missed it.

I had all the ingredients on hand other than the jam, and I had things to make the jam, so that’s what I did. It was 2 cups (frozen) blueberries and 1/2 cup sugar in a little pot over medium heat. After it boiled, I cooked it for about 20 minutes, then added 2 teaspoons of whiskey and a teaspoon of vanilla before cooling it to use in the ice cream.


I have an ice cream maker, but I’ve wanted to try a no-churn recipe and this one seemed promising. I don’t have a food processor, however, so I used a mixer and everything went just fine. I cut back on the salt in the ice cream, but I think I’ll cut back even more next time to about 1/4 teaspoon. Also, I substituted mascarpone cheese for the cream cheese, because I like mascarpone better.

I get my lavender from Harney and Sons, and I use it in cooking all the time. Once you have it around, it’s easy to toss into something when you want an aromatic that’s dry, somewhat high-pitched, but with a hint of woody gravitas, and is fairly pungent. Any time I’d use thyme and fennel seed together, I also use lavender as kind of a bridge between the two, smoothing it all into an ombré effect. I’ll also use it with thyme and sage, I think that works nicely. In this recipe, steeping the lavender flowers in the cold cream overnight yielded such a beautiful and mild floral flavor, not soapy or screechy at all like it sometimes can be in desserts.

The texture of this ice cream is a little different than usual, but it’s fun and tastes nice and is extremely rich. You should get plenty of mileage out of a batch.

When I got this year’s planner, I saw it had pages to write 100 things. ‘My 100,’ it said. Oh, how annoying. Who has the kind of time and mental bandwidth left over to…MY 100. COME ON. I’m supposed to have a 100, now?

I exhausted myself outside doing yard work today. My brain was (and is) mush. This allowed me to imagine being a person who set small, fun challenges for herself, challenges which were not directly related to critical goals, which might just add to quality of life. Is it possible this could also be important in its way?

It is possible.

I want to eat 100 different kinds of cheese this year. They don’t have to be cheeses I’ve never tried before, but they do have to be different from one another. Since I haven’t tried a hundred kinds, ever, this means I’ve got to try a bunch of new things in order to get to 100.

It’s August and I’ve only had 23, which means I have to try 3.5 per week, and it’s going to be fun, and I really have to hurry! Can I do it? I think yes.

More Kokka 3 Minute Dresses, plus miscellany

I’m still going through old projects I never posted. I showed you a couple of my Kokka 3 Minute dresses before (here and here). These are the other four (!) I’ve done.

These are all Nani Iro cotton double-gauze, a supremely lovely fabric which I think it’s obvious I can’t get enough of. I don’t even want to tell you the kind of yardage I’m sitting on at the moment. I’ve been collecting it for over a decade, receiving some at Christmas or birthdays, or both. To me, it’s both beautiful and represents something more, because it was always a gift.

This print. I love it so much. I have it in, mmm, five colors? At least. I have only used two so far.

This hand-drawn herringbone print is so great, isn’t it?

Also, as I was photographing these, I was asking myself, “How in the world did cat hair get all over everything? I kept it folded, away.” My answer sauntered through the frame. How, indeed.

I wasn’t sure if I liked this print at first, but it grew on me and now I really do.


These photos were difficult to take, but this was my first try at the sewing pattern. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, so I pieced together scraps to try it out. I did the neckline inside-out on one side, ha.


You can see it’s a voluminous garment. The pattern is one-size-fits-most.

I like how comfortable it is. I like how it folds neatly into a square. However, please note that it’s incredibly unflattering, and plan accordingly.

For me this is a ‘no way in hell am I getting out of the car’ sort of garment, a ‘they told me I have to wear clothes but I am doing my best not to’ thing to throw on when I am cranky and uncomfortable. We all need those clothes, though! Right?

This week has been a lot. Doing more than usual of this:

She was the best Miss Marple. Oh, I loved her.

Should I show a photo of dinner? I didn’t plan to, I wanted to talk about other food, but I don’t have the energy to get into it. Maybe next time. Here’s dinner:

It’s pork with a whiskey sauce, rice, and a pile of crunchy vegetables (green beans, snow peas, broccoli slaw). Baby romaine underneath. Raspberry poppyseed dressing on the vegetables.

That’s all for now. It’s time for a walk. The night just got perfect and I don’t want to miss it.

Here in summer

Some dresses I made years ago.

Nani Iro fabric
An older print on Yuwa lawn
I made this one in Liberty Tana Lawn

I used pattern number one from this book to make the dresses:

I have several duplicates I made of another pattern, and decided to disassemble them and cut some Wiksten tank tops from them.

I botched the very first one. We have been going at one another for a week and a half and are currently at an impasse.

My nemesis

Janssen’s Market has been nestled in its cozy corner of a Wilmington, DE shopping center for quite some time, but I’ve never managed to make it in. I finally went yesterday. It’s perfect.

Here’s my tiny haul from yesterday which is pleasing me to no end as I plan what to do with everything.

  • Nielsen-Massey orange flower water
  • Rose petal preserves
  • Bonne Maman do a chestnut spread, how exciting!
  • Boston Harbor tea, which boasts having been tossed into the harbor. Was it truly a loss, or should they have taken a hint? We will find out. (Update: I think it has a really nice flavor, and it’s not too weak. Medium-strength, I’d say. It’s good, and I’m enjoying it.)
  • Bonne Maman lemon tartlet cookies (Update: these were cute and nice with coffee, good to keep on hand for friends who drop by.)
  • Brianna’s, my favorite brand of salad dressing (so far), in varieties I haven’t seen: Lemon-Tarragon and Blueberry Balsamic vinaigrettes. (Update: Lemon-Tarragon is now among my top 3 favorite salad dressings and will enjoy Staple Item status)
  • Better than Bullion soup base in a mushroom variety I am freaking out about. I hope it’s good!

Kochi Jacket 2, and soup

I finished my second Kochi Jacket, and I like it.

I ended up piecing together the sleeves and the neckline, because I didn’t have large enough pieces to cut them from. I was reusing fabric from a dress I took apart.

You can see my lines are a little wobbly, but I ended up liking the pieced look, especially with the neon stitching. I think it gives those parts of the jacket a little more structure, too, which is nice. Also, it was fun to notice the little star I had stitched on my dress and forgotten about.

I think I may make more, because this little jackety thing very conveniently fills a wardrobe need. It’s been nice to have one fewer thing to think about.

This soup was inspired by one I had at Longwood Gardens in the pre-Covid days. I had been meaning to try making something similar ever since, and finally got around to it. It was so long ago I can’t remember exactly what the soup tasted like in order to tell if I matched it. I just remember sort of southwest-ish spices, but not too much spice. It was full of vegetables and chili-esque, but not chili. I mean, they may have called it chili, but it was definitely soup.

I think I got the vibe right, even if not the details. Here’s what I did, and I’m offering estimates at spice measurements because I didn’t measure. Maybe you would like more or less seasoning?

In a couple tablespoons of oil over med-high heat, sauté just until slightly softened:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz carrots, sliced
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper (I had a frozen blend of all 3), chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

Add and stir around:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh garlic if you feel like), or more or less if you have feelings about garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion (really I would normally use onion powder, and a little less than this if I used the powder form, but this is what I had)
  • 1, 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Time for more seasoning! Add these and stir them in:

  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • And I added about 1/2 teaspoon of Penzey’s spices’ Turkish seasoning, which has more of what I already added above, but with the addition of ground sumac, which I like as an addition to, well, I throw it into lots of stuff. It adds a vegetal sour tartness without the fermented flavor or acidity you may get from other ingredients which would add sour tartness. If you don’t have sumac, you can get some, or ignore this ingredient, or add some of a similar flavor in another way, maybe by using a tiny splash of vinegar or lemon juice or perhaps even rose hip or hibiscus tea. I was going for a little something to, along with the heat of the cayenne, add a small challenge to the tastebuds. So if you have a go-to for that purpose, just very small amount.

More ingredients, final stretch. Stir in:

  • 1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • A handful of wild rice
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz can of puréed pumpkin
  • 1 green zucchini, sliced into quarter-moons
  • 1 yellow zucchini (or other summer squash), sliced into quarter-moons
  • A shot of brandy. Just use whatever. I would.

Simmer that for an hour or so. The wild rice and squash need to cook. I like them good and squishy, and the flavors will blend together.

I wanted mine with a more flavorful cheese (feta) and Rob went for the gentler mozzarella. We also had bread and avocado slices.

Important Trader Joe’s find:

My once next-door neighbor and dear lifelong friend used to make these and, when she did, was kind enough to share. I moved away, and it has been a long time since I’ve had a blintz. I almost cried when I saw these in the case, it just felt like the sweetest thing. They’re good! It’s no homemade blintz, the filling is a little watery from being frozen, my friend would say it’s too sweet, but still! A happy find and one I’m enjoying.

Tries Three, Four, and Five

I’m still working out how to use a little moka coffee maker. There have been plenty of opportunities for tweaks, which is what you want when you are trying to change something for the better. I tried three other changes in the process over the past two days.

Third try: Increase of heat from heat source. I used cold water and turned the burner heat to medium, rather than medium-low. I had coffee in about 15 minutes, which wasn’t bad compared to the hour it had taken on my second try at medium-low. The flavor of the coffee did not suffer from the increased heat.

Fourth try: Pre-heated water to 192 degrees F. It occurred to me an easy way to pre-heat the water (a recommendation from a couple online sources) was to simply pull it from the Keurig machine. In my home, the Keurig functions as an electric kettle, but more expensive and with a larger footprint on the countertop, hooray. A notable moment from fourth try was when I hadn’t thought for one second about how much water I’d need and hopped from one foot to the other as the Keurig chugged and puffed in its good-natured way, earnestly filling the moka pot’s chamber with scalding hot water, then flooded the countertop. The other notable moment was when I got coffee in about five minutes, a new record.

Fifth try: Pre-heated water to 192 degrees F, but without flooding the countertop. This time I opted for the smallest cup setting on the Keurig, which was almost perfect. Once again, coffee in about five minutes. I am starting to imagine I might be able to make a reasonable cup of coffee with this thing. The flavor of the coffee produced by tries four and five motivates me to do my next try with pre-heated water which is not quite so hot. The recommendation was about 158 degrees F, and 192 F is considerably warmer, so even though it’s less convenient to pre-heat water on the stovetop rather than push a button on the Keurig, I’m going to try the cooler temp and see if the coffee will have a smoother flavor.

Christmas in July: Cookie One, Tipsy Date Squares

Christmas 2020 was weird and horrible, let’s get that out of the way. We all have our own reasons, it was the same for everyone, but also different for everyone, ugh, let’s never do that again, etc.

Moving right along.

I made these to take to a sad little handoff to family which occurred late on a gloomy afternoon in the parking lot of an Applebee’s, an entire sentence I want to throw in the trash.

There’s even more to hate, but I’m leaving it out because [string of profanity ending in “hospital”]. Things weren’t going super well just then, you see, but thankfully, they got better*.

My cookies were amazing at all times, however, and had no need for a hospital or for improvement. Well, they’re Martha’s cookies, and that’s why they’re amazing. I couldn’t have come up with this recipe. Thanks, Martha! I will always love you.

This is an accurate representation of the cookies’ appearance.
Ancient Martha holiday issue from 2010. If you have this, you have the recipe in your house.

The cookies are: heavy, boozy, a meal in themselves, and exactly great to have around at holiday time. I highly recommend them, and the recipients enjoyed them very much.

I am not a cookie person. I don’t like making cookies, and I don’t like eating them outside of a very specific set of circumstances. A cookie must be different in a good way to make a blip on my radar, and this qualifies. Basically it’s a hefty, chunked-up fruitcake, which means it’s not really a cookie, and it is really cake, which I like, and fruitcake has a very special place in my heart. I love it so. Oh my.

PAUSE FOR BREATH. In conclusion, if you don’t like fruitcake, you probably won’t like this, but if you do? Make it. It’s very nice.

*only kidding, they didn’t, but we won’t dwell.

Second Try

Coffee came out! And it’s good! And it only took an hour!

This is an espresso cup, by the way. It took an hour.

Okay, so I might need to turn the heat up just a little.

The coffee is much better than what I usually drink at home, though, which is two packets of instant coffee dumped into a small mug of water heated by the Keurig machine. It’s the fastest way to get caffeinated at 5 am via multiple very fast cups of coffee (I have a whole system), but extremely, um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Gross.

So, this is better, but an hoooooooour. I’m going to need to work on that.

First Try

In my seemingly never ending search for a slightly less shit cup of coffee at home, I got this.

(Okay, I’m a ding dong, and I realized I assumed everyone would recognize this as one of those moka coffee pots, but hmm maybe not? Anyway, it is one and I’m not taking another picture.)

I tried it for the first time just now. Let me tell you how it went!

This is green tea from a bottle. My coffee was a complete and utter disaster. Like it just kind of didn’t come out? I think it’s stuck somewhere. Everything is too hot for me to investigate. There are entire mysteries within the wee coffeemaker, and my coffee is trapped in one of them. I can smell it.

This is going to take practice.

Mushroom Soup

Yesterday, I had a headache all day, but managed to get dinner done . This soup comes together easily, and it somehow feels peaceful to eat.

I found the recipe on the back of a greeting card I bought but never mailed. I’m glad I kept it.

Rather than water, I’ll use broth if there’s any in the fridge I need to use up. I wait until I’m done boiling the soup to add the cream, and I leave out the truffle oil because the guys don’t like truffles. Also, I never have sherry in the house, so I use brandy instead, and I think it works fine. It’s one of those recipes that’s more than the sum of its parts.

We had it with extra roasted mushrooms to eat with a piece of baguette, because the only container of mushrooms at the supermarket was massive, and I didn’t want them languishing in the refrigerator. I added salad made of arugula topped with a mixture of fennel and supreme of orange.

It was a soothing meal, with a little music and the sound of rain falling on the window. A cool, gentle breeze. Soon the weather will be so different. I’ll wonder if I imagined ever having been chilly, or having considered whether I should get my sweater, or maybe just go to bed.