Tagged: Coconut

Chewy Granola Bars

Friday, Aug 26 2011 Cooking!

On the eve of my first vacation in quite some time—a long-anticipated coastal backpacking anniversary trip—I became fixated with the idea of creating my own snacks for the trip, specifically in the form of homemade, chewy, pecan-filled granola bars. Regardless of the more essential items on my to-do-list of packing, planning, and shopping, my need begin to border on obsession. It’s partly because working up to a vacation is extra taxing, and when my head is buried in the computer for far too long, my most essential outlet to maintain sanity is time playing in the kitchen. As a restorative practice, nothing comes close. (The only downside is that the more stress I have to work out, the more dishes I make.)

After exploring several chewy granola bar recipes, I understood the basics: the more liquids the more chewy the bar, the more stuff inside the more flavor, and that nearly anything sweet, crunchy, or chewy goes. I assembled my oats and what my palate considers the most reliable main players—roasted pecans, shredded coconut and dried cherries. Any combination of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or even chocolate would do.

Since we were going to be hiking and packing all our food with us for our several day trip, granola bars were the ultimate dense and nutritious bring along food. It’s true that food tastes better while camping, and these were extraordinary—it’s easy to proclaim them the best granola bars I’ve ever had. Truth be told, I don’t even like most granola bars. Chewy, sweet, nutty—these little nuggets were undeniably closer to delicious treat than merely life sustaining food. Since long summer days require trips to the beach, river and mountains, packing easy to travel snacks are essential—so we can stay out there as long as possible without needing to reach the surface for a while. Read More »

Mango Sticky Rice

Tuesday, May 31 2011 Cooking!

Last weekend I was cruising around southeast Portland, headed towards the Asian supermarket on 82nd to stock up on rice noodles and coconut milk when I got caught in a late-afternoon hunger slump. After striking out at the GF bakery, I navigated to Pok Pok in a hypoglycemic haze, placated by one consuming thought: Cha Ca La Vong. Quite possibly, my favorite meal anywhere, ever. And I don’t say that hyperbolically.

Putting my name on the list (who has a queue at 4pm on a Saturday?), I quasi-patiently fidgeted under the outdoor awning, dodging raindrops. Ten minutes later, I was escorted to a seat at the bar and presented with the lunch menu. The lunch menu? Boooo. No offense Pok Pok, you know I love you, but the lunch menu is a tease. And conspicuously lacking the delectable grande dame.

Not to be consoled with the fish sauce wings, I tucked my tail between my legs and escorted myself out, empty-handed. I retreated to the ‘burbs, eating pho and chatting with Jen on the phone about the rapture, which was surely imminent, right? (It was May 21st.) Once fed, my world was righted and I carried on to Fubonn.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time in the rice stacks at an Asian market, but it is a practice in humility, intrigue and befuddlement. After an embarrassing amount of over-contemplation (something like obsessive without the compulsive) I grabbed two bags of sweet rice to try -one brown, one white. I haven’t opened the brown one yet, but here’s how the white has played out: deliciously.

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Jen’s Mid-Life Birthday Cake & Ice Cream

Thursday, May 5 2011 Adventures!, Cooking!

First, let me start by saying, Happy Birthday Jen!
You know I love you from head to toe. Cheers to you and your grand new year.
xox, Jenn

When Jen mentioned she was making flourless chocolate cake for her mid-life birthday, I remembered a recent pairing I’d seen for chocolate cake and lime sorbet. I attempted lime (coconut milk) ice cream last month for a dinner party and felt it just wasn’t tart enough. So, this time I amped up the lime juice. Jen’s surprise addition of raspberry syrup and fresh berries brought it all together, heralding the arrival of spring. And so, so pretty.

COCONUT LIME ICE CREAM
  • 1/2 c. + 2 Tbs. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Guar Gum
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 – 14 oz. can Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 c. Water
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Stir together the sugar and guar gum to break up any lumps. In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, whisk together 1/2 c. lime juice, sugar + guar, eggs, water, and 1/2 c. coconut milk. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until just barely simmering. Mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees). Remove from heat and strain through mesh sieve into bowl, to remove any egg threads or guar lumps. Whisk in the remainder of the coconut milk. Place in the fridge for 2-3 hours, until chilled thoroughly (if in a rush, can place in freezer for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes). Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Mine takes 35 mins. In the last 5 minutes, add the remaining 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice.

Makes about 1 qt.

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Coconut/Milk Conversions

Saturday, Apr 9 2011 Cooking!

Ode to Canned Coconut Milk
Since going dairy-free, I’ve found canned coconut milk (what I like to call CCM) to be an indispensable substitute for cow’s milk. Coconut milk works nearly seamlessly in sweet recipes and handles most savory applications too, with a little flavor adjustment (salt, garlic, lemon, etc). And, as luck would have it, the substitution ratios are a snap to remember:

  • 1 part coconut milk = 1 part half & half
  • 1/2 part coconut milk + 1/2 part water = 1 part whole milk
  • 1/3 part coconut milk + 2/3 part water =  1 part 2% milk

Now, when I say “coconut milk”, I am referring to one product and one product only: the fatty kind that comes in a can. I’m not talking about coconut water (such as Vita Coco), I’m not talking about the fancy expensive stuff that comes in a milk carton that you put on your cereal, and I don’t mean low-fat canned coconut milk.

Choosy Lover
The Asian supermarket here in Portland boasts over a dozen unique kinds of CCM. The standard-fare supermarket usually as at least two options. Even our corner market has three different kinds. The choice of which is “the best” can be overwhelming. Your secret weapon in the canned coconut milk conundrum? Label reading.

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