Minding the rules
As I sit down to write this, we’ve finally moved past the non-season I call Swing. It’s not quite full-blown summer, but hopefully we’re past night frosts and the freezing icy rains that have made most of this spring seem like it’s still far away. At the boomerang table, we’ve been plotting our garden and outdoor projects while dreaming of summer foods, busting out the solar cooker, upcoming journeys, and the friends who will be joining us at various points over the next several months.
Our travels will be taking us to cities on the coasts to talk about zines and underground/indie publishing. The folks who participate in the zine community typically eschew more traditional structures in publishing and printing in favor of DIY content and esthetics. Most zines are self-published with little to no return economically.
Among the friends who will be couch surfing or dining with us over the summer will be the punk rock star on book tour, academic zinesters and librarians, financial wizards, chefs, and of course the recent or soon-to-be graduates of various educational institutions. Many of these folks (myself included) subscribe to what we like to call “little-A anarchism.” One of the processes that is valued is that of consensus building, especially if it leads to autonomy. My experience with consensus building (compared to direct democracy) has taught me that it can be time consuming, especially in large groups. Among small groups of like-minded friends, however, it goes very quickly and the results tend to make everyone feel OK with the decisions being made, if not gloriously happy.
This all is leading to a discussion of “The Rules,” as it were. I used to tease one of the financial wizards that Rule Number One was “There are no rules.” Rule Number Two was “See Rule Number One.” In actuality, that’s not entirely the case. Out of common sense and practicality, there are a few hard and fast rules for our kitchen. In no specific order:
• Don’t cut yourself.
• Don’t burn yourself.
• Don’t consume anything that will make you sick (either by quantity or ingredient).
• Use the “fish only” cutting mat if preparing seafood.
• No other animals, please.
• Do no harm.
Other than that, we all work together to make things that are delicious and nourishing both for the palate and the spirit. The recipes in this column are just that. They’re both summer desserts, one simple and kid-friendly; the other a bit more “out there,” but equally fantastic.
One of our dear friends is very passionate about monkeys. She’s got a passion for primates unlike any other, and it shows on her socks, t-shirts, and award-winning vegan monkey cupcakes. Whenever I make Monkey Chunks, I think of her. These are great for kids, and for when you want a little something sweet.
2 medium-sized ripe bananas
1 (9 oz) package vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
vanilla soy milk
1 C. chopped peanuts (optional)
Start by peeling and slicing the bananas into 1/2” slices. I’ve found that one banana is equal to about 12 chunks. The bananas themselves should be yellow, but not yet spotty.
In the microwave, or using a double boiler, melt the package of chips and stir in a sploosh* of soy milk. The chocolate should become smooth and dip-able.
Using chopsticks, bamboo skewers, or your fingers, dip the banana chunks in the melted chocolate, then arrange on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet or large platter. If desired, sprinkle them with the chopped peanuts. Move the platter to the refrigerator for an hour, then transfer the chunks to the freezer. Allow them to freeze for at least three hours before eating.
The second recipe came about several summers ago, and was filed under “That’s just so weird it might be fantastic!” For some reason, I got it in my head to make avocado ice cream. I don’t know why, but I wanted to try it. I used to love ice cream, and one summer in the 1990s I tried to make some once a week. These days I’ve kind of lost my taste for it. I still like it, but usually I’d rather just have a few cookies and some coffee after dinner. This recipe brought back my love for the stuff, however.
Avocado Ice Cream (frozen guac!?!)
Since avocados have lots of good natural fat, we use that in combination with milk instead of the heavy cream and eggs called for in many ice cream recipes. You’ll need to have an ice cream maker of some sort. Ours is a hand-crank one with a bowl that gets pre-frozen that we dumpster dove for several summers ago. If you don’t have one you can make your own with some ice, salt, and a few coffee cans or zip-top plastic bags**
2 C. whole milk
1/4 C. organic sugar
juice from 1 lime
a sploosh* of light rum or tequila
Blend all the ingredients in a blender until liquid. Transfer to a jar or other container and allow to chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Transfer to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. On ours, it takes about 25 full cranks to get it to a soft-serve consistency. From there, we transfer it to another container and freeze it until it firms up. At our table we like to grate 99% chocolate on it, and sprinkle with a little curry powder … thus the label: “That’s just so weird it’s fantastic!”
*A Sploosh is not a real measurement. It’s approximately 1 fluid ounce, or about as much as is in a shot glass. As opposed to a Splish, which is about a tablespoon. For the record, two Splishes equal a Sploosh.
Finally, a summer libation is in order. After biking home from work or an afternoon spent in the garden we like to sit on the patio and sip this refreshing cocktail while watching the bumblebees and butterflies play in the raspberry cane. I’ve always called this a Pernod Stinger, but it’s nothing like a Stinger that you’d order in a bar. It’s cool and licorice-like without being overbearing in flavor or too strong. The color is an outrageous yellowish green that appeals to my inner mad scientist.
Fill a tall pint glass with ice
Add 2 shots of Pernod
Fill the rest of the glass with fizzy water
Stir with a long spoon.
** DIY Ice Cream Maker
4 C. crushed ice
4 tbsp. Salt
Put the mixture in a standard-sized coffee can and seal with the plastic lid, then place that can inside a larger economy sized can. Pack the large can with ice and salt, and seal with the lid. You can roll the can back and forth on the ground (outside – the condensation will drip) until the ice cream is set.
Alternatively, you can put the mixture into a pint-sized zip-top bag. Freezer bags work best. Push as much air out as possible, and then place that inside another pint-sized bag. Put the double-bagged mixture into a gallon zip-top bag with the ice and salt. Seal it up and shake and massage it for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is frozen. You may want to use a towel or gloves, because it’s going to be very cold.