Sockpocalypse…an interlude

Lest any one think that all I do all day is knit socks, I wanted to take some time to brag about show off catalog the other things that I’ve been working on during the Sockpocalypse. In addition to the studying for my NP board test that I’m supposed to be doing, of course.

Like everyone else in the world, my first thought was to take advantage of the extra time to make bread!




Foccacia and soft pretzels were enjoyed for many, many days. I’m not sure what it is about humans and the need to do clever things with yeast when we’re bored, but I’m certainly happy that the phenomenon exists. Then the baked goods kept on coming.




Brownies and cranberry cake made appearances, which is not unusual in this house.

Then, I had to start getting creative. We did Grow Dat‘s CSA box again this year, and got inundated with amazing fresh mint, basil, and both hot and sweet peppers that I had to figure out how to deal with. (Please do click on the Grow Dat link! I cannot say enough good things about this amazing place and the wonderful work that they do!)


So, mint lemonade.


Dried lemon balm for tea.



Vegan pesto with tons of basil, sundried tomatoes, and walnuts. (Not that I don’t love regular pesto, but Dan hates cheese, so I had to branch out. Turns out I like it way more this way!)




Sweet pickled jalapeno slices! Which is the only way I can even approach a spicy pepper.



I’ve made these several times now, and they taste just like homemade barbecue sauce. So freaking good.



And I made blistered shishito peppers for the first time! Grow Dat exposed us to so many new delicious things this year, and it was really wonderful to enjoy something that I would have never known to purchase for myself before. Then I got out the big pickling/canning guns and made spicy dill pickles out of the abundance of cucumbers from our backyard garden.



This isn’t even all the cucumbers! Those vines were going crazy.






Trip was mad that he couldn’t get on the table, but I think he approved deep down inside.


And even though I bought the wrong thing and ended up having to use a mix of dried dill leaves and dill seeds, they were still delicious. And, to wrap it all up, I made a whole boatload of ice cream.




Making ice cream from scratch really satisfies a love of fiddly things and rigorous mise en place in me. I love getting out all of the different bowls and prepping all the little whisking stations for myself.



And you just get the thickest, creamiest, most delicious stuff in the world. All recipes from the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home book that serves as my ice cream bible.


I think we’re set for a while.

Next time, a return to your regularly-scheduled sock programming. I just needed to give my fingers and my brain a break.

Black Forest Pie

In my last post, I made mention of a pie. A pie that would be the first post of the year. A pie that sounded so tantalizing in my mind that I just had to make it, and force my family to eat it on Christmas, no less.


A pie that delivers three different hits of chocolate right to your face, plus layers on fluffy whipped cream and a decadent cherry topping. Yes, ladies and gents, it’s Black Forest Pie.

Let’s pretend that that’s not something I just made up, okay? I have no idea how the actual Black Forest in Germany and the type of ham and chocolate and cherries all got mixed up together, but damn if it doesn’t make for an amazing pie experience.

This one takes a good long time, too, with multiple cooking and baking and cooling and chilling steps, so please make sure you read all the way through before you start. Don’t end up with a runny, melted pie and sad guests.


Black Forest Pie
this pie is not a lie

(with a little assist from Betty Crocker, the Food Network Magazine Mississippi Mud Pie recipe, and the Genius Kitchen Cherry Sauce recipe)

Chocolate Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate graham crackers (about 18 squares)
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Brownie Bottom:
(BIG IMPORTANT NOTE! This makes enough brownie batter for two pies! Make as directed, divide in two, and freeze the remaining portion to make another pie later. Or divide the following in half if you want to make just one, if you can split an egg in half.)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp. flour
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 tbsp. coffee-flavored liqueur
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs

French Silk Filling:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and then cooled
3/4 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters!)

Whipped Cream:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. sugar

Cherry Topping:
4 cups cherries, pitted and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
dash of salt
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until well-incorporated. Press mixture firmly against the bottom and sides of a 9″ deep-dish pie pan.

Bake for approximately 12 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing brownie bottom mixture.

Brownie Bottom:
Change oven temperature to 375 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double-boiler over medium heat. Remove from heat, stir in flour and salt, and mix until smooth. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, liqueur, and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth.

Pour half of mixture into prepared crust (and freeze the rest for more brownie goodness later, as stated above). Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until mixture is set. You might see some cracking, and that’s okay.


Cool for at least 2 hours before moving on to the next step.



In medium bowl, beat sugar and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and cooled chocolate. Gradually add in egg substitute and beat on high speed until mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

Pour into cooled prepared crust with brownie bottom and spread evenly.


Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, while you make your cherry topping.

Cherry Topping:
Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir in water.


Add the cherries, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sauce darkens and thickens to your preference.


I really cooked it down, nearly 30 minutes, until it was super dark and purply and thick, almost like black cherries. Allow this to cool to room temperature while the pie is chilling.

You might have a whole bunch left over, so I made the sacrifice and did the research in order to tell you that it’s also freaking amazing on top of vanilla ice cream.


Just try not to eat it all before the pie is ready.

Finishing it Up:
When the pie is finished chilling and the cherries are cool, you’re ready to put it all together into a ridiculous tower of pie.

First, take the pie out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting it while you make the whipped cream. Then, combine the whipped cream ingredients in a chilled bowl, and whip cream on high speed until fluffy and spreadable.

Cut yourself a slice of pie! You’re going to need a sharp knife and some patience to get that first piece out because of the thick layer of chocolate on the bottom, so take your time. Then, add a dollop of whipped cream and a spoonful of cherries.


Then eat!

It’s a super rich and chocolatey affair. After I made this, Dan said, “Why would you even bother making any other kind of chocolate pie? This one is all you need.”

Hell yeah.

Toasted Coconut Brownie Ice Cream. Need I say more?

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There were a few days last week when it really felt like spring here in New Orleans. Dare I even say summer? All I know is that I saw a lot of shorts and sandals for a little while, which got me thinking of ice cream. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to get me thinking of ice cream.

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The day that I ended up making ice cream, however, ended up being the day when a cold front swept through, dumping tons of freezing rain on all of those people in their shorts and sandals. I chose to soldier on, ignoring the weather and rejoicing in my tiny amount of free time.

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I ended up taking my own advice and toasting up some coconut to go into my coconut milk base. It was definitely the right way to go.

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I had made some brownies (the always delicious Moosewood Fudge Brownies, this time without the chocolate chips and with pecans instead of walnuts because there were no walnuts to be found in my house) earlier that week, and the last two brownies were just sitting there on the counter, feeling lonely. What else could I do but chop them up and throw them in there? It was just the right thing to do. Toasted Coconut Brownie Ice Cream. I just couldn’t resist.

Toasted Coconut Brownie Ice Cream
adapted from the Hungry Mouse‘s 3-Ingredient Coconut Ice Cream

2 13 oz. cans of coconut milk (for some reason, the only ones I could find this time were 13.5 oz. each, but I don’t think it caused any problems)
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut (or unsweetened, or flaked, whatever you want)
2 1/2 leftover brownies (Whatever your favorite brownie recipe is. You already know mine. I usually cut up my 8×8 baking dish into 9 pieces, so each square of brownie is somewhere around 2.5″ square.)

Toast your coconut by spreading it in a thin layer on a baking sheet and putting it into a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to watch it closely and stir it often, because it browns up really quick. I only needed 5 1/2 minutes. Chop up 2 of your brownies into little brownie cubes, and then leave the 1/2 brownie to the side for crumbling.

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Dump your coconut milk (being sure to avoid spraying coconut milk all over yourself and the kitchen counter, like I did), sugar, and vanilla into a large food processor.

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Doesn’t that look a little bit like miso soup? It’s weird. Blend things up until they appear more presentable.

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Pour your coconut milk base into your prepared ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. You’ll only have to process it for about 30-40 minutes total.

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Add the toasted coconut and crumble up that remaining 1/2 brownie piece into the ice cream base when you only have 10-15 minutes left to go on the processing so that they are well-distributed.

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While you’re waiting for the rest of the spinning time, put some brownie cubes in your waiting ice cream container. This is how Jeni makes her delicious chunky ice creams, so we are taking a page from her. She is a genius.

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When the ice cream is done spinning up, pour a little bit over those brownie pieces, and then put some more brownies on top.

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Until there’s no more brownies or ice cream. I made sure to cover the entire thing with a layer of the coconut ice cream base so that the brownies were totally submerged, just to avoid those brownie chunks drying out. Cover the top of the ice cream with a piece of parchment paper and then put on that airtight lid. Allow the ice cream to freeze for at least 8 hours, but overnight is best.

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We did end up trying some that night, after 8 hours of freezing, and there was still a bit of graininess to the texture. However, this had completely disappeared by the next day. It’s definitely worth the wait.

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The sweetest of the coconut and the richness of the brownies and pecans work really well together, I believe. Dan declared this the best ice cream I’ve made so far. That’s saying something.

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Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Fudge Brownies (and the Karate Kid)

Sometimes you just need to make something over and over.  You need those recipes that are always in your back pocket, waiting to brighten your day. Those recipes that you know you’ll always have the ingredients for, that bring style and class to what can seem like an exceedingly boring pantry.

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Bring in the brownies.

These are my newest modification of everybody likes sandwiches‘s Moosewood Fudge Brownies, which I have probably made eleventy-billion times. They are probably Dan’s favorite thing that I make, and it’s all because of their delicious fudgy texture. They are always rich and sinful, and can be doctored up a number of different ways, depending on what you have in your kitchen.

I love the ritual of baking something that you’ve made several times before. You collect your supplies around you. You go through the steps and do them the same way every time. You enjoy the familiarity and know that you’ll be pleased with the result.  My strong attachment to this kind of feeling probably explains why I’ve watched the tea ceremony scene from Karate Kid, part II on repeat so many times.

Join me.

That’s better.

I’ve made them so many times that I don’t really think about it anymore. The recipe does start the best way that a recipe can start, though, with melting together chocolate and butter.

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Not so attractive yet.

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There we go. This is the point where I have to remind myself that licking the spoon is not yet an option because unsweetened baking chocolate + unsalted butter = taste you can’t get out of your mouth for far too long.

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Everything just gets mixed into the same pot you melted the chocolate in. Only brown sugar in this recipe, for that richness and depth.

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Eggs. I have nothing poetic to say.

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Flour. Again, nothing fancy, just necessary.

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Let’s pretend I took a picture of the chocolate chips that I added before mixing it up. And the walnuts, too.

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The batter is still a little warm when you start mixing in all this goodness, so my chocolate chips are already starting to melt a little. A happy mistake.

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As I’ve said before, eating a salad while you’ve got delicious baked goods in the oven is a guilt-eraser. Also, how did I live a proper life before I got a salad spinner? It makes me happy.

Now, after dutifully eating our salad, we’re allowed to dig in on this gooey, melty, not-properly-left-to-cool-after-coming-out-of-the-oven treat.

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This is my favorite thing about these brownies. They never quite get fully set, especially when you start throwing extra things in there, but that just turns it into a big, rich, ridiculous mess.

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Go and get some baking chocolate and do this for yourself.  Only, you should learn from my mistake and buy some vanilla ice cream to get in on that action.

Moosewood Fudge Brownies
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, via everybody likes sandwiches

1/2 cup butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly coat an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a pot large enough to hold all of the batter, melt the butter and chocolate together on low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir in the flour and mix until the batter is thoroughly blended and smooth. Gently fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the brownies are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and are still fudgy in the center. If you prefer more cake-like brownies, bake an additional 5 minutes.

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