Friday, October 28, 2011

Beer Ice Cream: Part 1 of an Unintentional 2 Part Series

First Things First:  Please check your ID to make sure you are over the age of 18.  Or 19.  Or 21. Or whatever legal drinking age is in your neck of the woods.  (Just covering my butt, you understand.  Not that anyone under the age of 18 is likely to be reading this blog... unless it's some kind of natural consequence for some poor choice or something.  "Now, Tyler, because you told your mother that her healthy homemade granola bars "tasted like ass" you can just sit your butt right down here and google a recipe that you think will taste less like ass.  I'm sure that there is a nice blogger lady out there with a fabulous recipe that will do just the trick.  Once you've done that,  you can march yourself over to the kitchen and begin making those bars as soon as you apologize to your mother.  When the bars are done and you've cleaned up the kitchen, you are free to join your friends at the skate park to participate in the activities that, I'm sure, are already in progress.")

Second Things Second:  I would normally apologize at this point for my uses of the words "butt" and "ass".  However, as you presumably noted in the "First Things First" section, ID has already been checked so, in my opinion, no apologies are necessary.  I might throw one in for good measure later on, but I haven't decided yet.

Ok. Let's get down to business!!

Beer Ice Cream???  YES.  Stout, in fact.

The Handsome Husband is a beer snob.  That means that by proxy, so am I.  I love the stuff.  The GOOD stuff.  So when I'm going to make beer ice cream, I'm not going to use just any beer.  No Guinness here, folks!  No, siree!  And what's great about that is that when you use a really good stout, you don't need to add the molasses or vanilla beans or anything to flavour it up.  The beer does it all.  And so it should.

The reason that this is part 1 of an unintentional 2 part series is that, well... ok, you know how when you have a recipe there is the ingredients list and then the method?  Well, let's just say that the method part of this recipe didn't really go that smoothly.   Things were going great and then I left the beer/cream mixture on the stove while I left the kitchen for a minute.  DON'T DO THIS.  It's bound to end in catastrophe.  I came back into the kitchen to find my mixture boiling over everywhere.  There was screaming and running and even some crying and yelling.  But I managed to pull it together, salvage what was left and continue. 

In the end, the ice cream got made.  But it was a little on the "icy" side.  After the boiling over drama my head just wasn't in the game and I didn't cook it long enough.  Anyway, the flavour was delicious (H.H. loved it) even thought the texture was something other than smooth.  So, I will have to make it again.  And that, my friends, will be the part 2 of the 2 part series.  See?  Totally unintentional.

You can find the original recipe here, and of course you'll notice that I omitted the cocoa.  I chose Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout for this ice cream adventure.

 Stout Ice Cream


2 cups whipping cream
2 cups craft brewed stout of your choosing
1 cup sugar
8 egg yolks  


Bring cream and stout to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot.  In a large bowl, mix sugar and eggs, blending thoroughly and make sure you don't leave the kitchen.   Add a small amount of the stout cream to the bowl, whisking quickly to temper the eggs.  Add egg mixture to the pot and cook custard until thick (!), whisking constantly.  Cool mixture and then process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Stay tuned for Beer Ice Cream: Part 2 of an Unintentional 2 Part Series coming soon and see how it all turns out.  I have no idea when, but soon-ish.  I promise.

And I'm sorry, but I have decided not to apologize after all.

Disclaimer:  This is not a paid review.  We just like this beer.  Also, please note that if you don't like this beer, chances are you're not going to like the ice cream.  Therefore, I, the blogger, am not, nor will I be, liable or responsible for any damages you my incur due to the taste-buds, functioning or otherwise, on your tongue.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And Another Thing, Get Off My Lawn!!

My husband got a new cell phone.

His contract was up and his current phone was crappy.

Anyway, since the new iPhone whatever just came out, the not-so-new-and-barely-old iPhone whatever is now drastically reduced in price by $600 thereby catapulting it into our meagre price range and allowing us to have hip and trendy phoning, surfing, texting and whatever else-ing capabilities.

Of course, by "our" I mean "our". And by "us" I mean "him".

But that's ok.  I have a cell  phone.  Granted, it is a hand-me-down phone from my mother-in-law who handed it down to my father-in-law (remember him? The one who mumbles about pie?) who handed it down to me when he got a new phone.  Come to think of it, I think he's gotten one or two new phones since then...

But I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I have options, you know?  I mean, I could use my husbands old, crappy phone.  Or one of many old phones that still work that people I know have abandoned to get the newest iPhone this-n-that or slide out whatchamacallit.  Or I'm sure with little to no convincing I could even get a new free phone from the powers-that-be.

But honestly?  I don't even want to.

What was that?  Did I just hear a resounding "Why?" emanating from the blogosphere?  Am I boycotting this wonderful technology?  Am I sitting on a high horse, looking down my nose at all things "i"?  Heavens-to-Betsy, of course not!  It's not that at all!

It's just that my cell phone is AWESOME.

You know how when some people enter a room and all heads turn to behold their presence?  Well, that's how it is when I make a phone call.  All eyes are on me.  Well, actually my phone.  But at that point it's attached to my hand so we might as well be one and the same - bottom line: IT'S A SHOW STOPPER.  Take a look.

I pull my lovely (let's call it navy) blue phone from my bag - its wrist strap dangling wistfully as I poise my hand at the ready - but just when the onlookers think I'm about to start pressing numbers, they are taken aback (!) as I quickly flip open the... flip... thing to reveal the humble keypad and its classic silicone number buttons.  (At this instant, if one is extremely astute and perceptive, one might even catch a glimpse of the glimmer in my eye as I contemplate - just for a moment! - the artfully pixillated digits on the neon green display screen!)

 After the chosen number has been remembered and keyed into the phone, the onlookers are surprised once again (!) by a skillfully choreographed flourish of my hand as it PULLS UP THE ANTENNA in a glorious display of both grace and dexterity.

 At this point, I am filled with contentment because, once again, the use of my cell phone has brought happiness into the heart of whomever is with me.  I can tell because they are laughing.  (This laughter, however genuine, is often bewilderingly accompanied by shocked phrases such as, "WHAT is THAT?!" or "Is THAT your PHONE?!".  I'm not entirely sure why... but as long as the statements are paired with laughter, I'm of the opinion that it matters not.  Bringing a little joy into the world is enough for me.   I don't need to get bogged down in the details of things.  Plus, a little mystery is good for the soul, I always say.)

 And so there you have it.  Why on earth would I want to "upgrade" my phone?  It still works fine! I mean really, sliding keyboards? Pretentious!  Touch screens?  Lazy!!  And who really needs to text, anyway? It's just a passing fad!!  And another thing, get off my lawn!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just a Little Face Lift

First, it was Jennifer over at The Deliberate Mom who got all spiffy, sporting a "new look".

Then, Handsome-Husband (aka Andrew) launched his brand-spankin', shiny new blog, dig deep BJJ, into the blogosphere.

Needless to say, I was starting to feel a little drab over here at Stray Matter.  I needed to freshen things up.  Pronto.

So a little tweak here and little tweak there and voila!  Not a complete overhaul, but definitely better.

And, wow, does it feel great!  Kinda like adding some lovely, subtle highlights to your natural colour.  Or opting for lipstick just a shade brighter than usual but totally within your everyday colour palette.  Or getting a really, really great eye cream.  Or... taking a shower. By yourself. With the door closed.


What do you think?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Banana Cream Pie or How to Score Points With the Father-In-Law

We went on a family vacation to the mountains with my in-laws.

No, seriously. And it was great.  The accommodations were wonderful, the pool was awesome, the weather was amazing, the mountains were stunning, the hiking was invigorating - all in all an incredible holiday.

Except there was no banana cream pie.  Not a one.

So here's the story.

We're on vacation.  I want need to find a bakery. I'm on a mission to find a decent croissant (I mean, really, a vacation isn't a vacation unless you can find a decent croissant, right?).  So since we're planning to walk downtown and check out the shops, etc, I assume that my request has been heard and the websites that I have left up on the laptop have been noted by my dear husband/navigator and the plan to visit a bakery has been worked in to our itinerary.  At some point during all of this I hear my father-in-law mumble something about banana cream pie.

After walking for quite awhile and coming to the end of the quaint shop-lined street, I ask when it is that we were going to reach the bakery.  To my astonishment, my husband replies that there is no bakery on this street and he didn't realize that I thought the destination WAS said bakery to which I respond... um... well, let's just say that when a person thinks she's getting a croissant and she doesn't get it, she can be a little cranky.  Anyway,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Again! / Apology

I've been absent.

I'm sorry.

I'm also sorry that I have assumed that you have missed me so much and, therefore, require an apology.

I must also apologize for my apology... because at its core it's really quite selfish.  Most of my sorry-ness is simply because I have missed blogging so much and actually has nothing to do with you. Wow. Sorry.

But I'm back!  Regardless of my lack of character!

And you know what?  My next blog post is going to be about pie!  It's not sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, low-fat or healthy in the least.

And for that, you have my sincerest apologies.

But not really.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Favourite Things: The Angel Brush

... Bright copper kettles and chewy toothbrushes...

 As moms we all have those things (objects, products, inventions, etc) that we love and that save time or money and make life easier and more enjoyable. Here is one of mine:  The Angel Brush.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lovin' Your Bloggin' Neighbours

The lovely little piece of graphic design that you see on the left is an award.  Yes.  And it was awarded to me!

Apparently, these little guys have been floating around blog-land for who-knows-how-long so if you're a seasoned blogger and/or blog reader you'll recognize it and know what it's all about.   However, if you're like me, this is all new to you.  New and exciting!

This is how it works:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Key Lime Pie: Is it REALLY Worth It???

And by "worth it" I mean worth the work. And by "work" I mean juicing eighteen little key limes for their precious juice.  And by "juicing" I mean cutting the little lovelies in half and sticking them in a garlic press and squishing the crap, or rather the juice, out of them.  Can you do the math? That's right.  Count 'em.  Thirty-six (yup. 36) presses.  Whew.

Ok. So the question of the day remains: Is making REAL key lime pie worth the 36 presses???  We. Shall. See.

Literally.  We shall.  Because I took it to a vote.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cashew Ice Cream

In my life, I have a few friends who have special dietary needs because of celiac disease, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance or a combination of these.

This inspires me.

Ok.... that didn't sound right. The fact that they have these issues doesn't inspire me. It's the challenge to feed them that inspires me! I don't want them to miss out just because they have dietary restrictions, you know?

There are so many resources out there these days - websites, blogs, books... and, of course, you learn how to adapt your favourite recipes by trial and error.

Determined to create a yummy dessert that could be enjoyed not only by my friend with celiac disease and a dairy intolerance but by all who were to attend a gathering, I turned once again to Elana's Pantry for inspiration.  And, let me tell you, I found a gem!

Monday, May 9, 2011

From A Kid's Perspective - Eyebrows

I was in the bathroom plucking my eyebrows which, let's face it, a good many of us are wont to do.

Enter: Eva, my six year old daughter.

"Ooooh, Mommy!", she says, with a deep look of concern on her face and obvious worry in her voice (she can be quite compassionate). "Do you have a sliver in your face?!"

"No, sweetheart." I say suppressing a little giggle.

"Then why are you using the thing that takes out slivers?"

"These are tweezers and I'm just plucking my eyebrows."

"What's plucking?"

So I explain (still plucking). "Well, basically, it's when you pull out little hairs."

"You PULL them OUT?!!"

I stop. I look at her beautiful, shocked little face and I think, Should I tell her? Should I tell her that chances are, with the generous eyebrow genes bestowed upon her by both her father and her mother, she, too, may very well choose to 'pluck' someday? Should I tell her that not only is she likely to pluck, but as a woman it is very probable that she will voluntarily partake in various tedious, inconvenient, uncomfortable and down-right painful grooming practices all in the name of beauty?

No. This is not a conversation I want to have right now.

So I smile a big warm smile and teasingly pinch the tweezers at her and say, "Do you want me to pluck one of your hairs?".

"No!" she says, laughing.

Then, with the previous conversation flitting out of her innocent mind, she bounds joyfully and freely out of the bathroom as, truly, only a six year old can.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Pops

I wanted to make cake pops. If you don't know what I'm talking about here's the breakdown: Cake pops are candy or chocolate coated balls (or shapes - hearts, footballs, etc) of cake on a stick. Creative, fun, tasty. If you'd like to do further research on the subject you can learn more here.

Now, my problem with cake pops is that the ones I had tasted were way too sweet and when I looked into making them I found out why. First you bake a cake. Then you crumble it up and mix it with icing or jam so that the cake holds the desired shape. I was determined to find a way to omit the "icing glue" so that I could cut down on sugar in my pops.

Then we were invited to a birthday party and what was served? Cake pops! My friend, Kristi, was apparently thinking along the same lines as me because she did exactly what I wanted to; she figured out how to omit the "icing glue" with a little help from gluten-free genius Elana over at

So, for my daughter's sixth birthday she had cake pops! Cake pops that weren't too sweet and also happened to be gluten-free.

Here's what I did.

I baked a batch of Elana's Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes as a cake with a couple of modifications. (original recipe here)

Flourless Chocolate Cake
  • 2 squares unsweetened bakers chocolate (chopped) and semi-sweet chocolate chips to make 1 ½ cups total chocolate
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  1. Place chocolate and almonds in a food processor.
  2. Grind until the consistency of coarse sand.
  3. Pulse in eggs, grapeseed oil and agave.
  4. Then pulse in vanilla and salt.
  5. Pour batter into a parchment lined 8x8 cake pan and bake at 350° for 20 t0 30 minutes (I can't remember exactly how long it took - just test it with a toothpick to see if it's done. It should be a nice dark colour but watch that the edges don't burn! haha).
  6. Cool completely.

Making the cake pops:

(original recipe and directions here. I chose not to use the suggested cake because I didn't have almond flour, fyi)

You will need:

  • 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or bitter-sweet bakers chocolate (or whatever)
  • lollipop sticks (I got mine at the Bulk Barn)
  • sprinkles, candies (optional)
  1. Once cooled, crumble cake into a big bowl, making sure there are no large pieces.
  2. Form into 1½ inch(ish) balls and transfer to a parchment lined plate.
  3. Place plate of cake balls in freezer for 1-2 hours until very solid.

When cake balls are frozen well:
  1. Melt the 1½ cups chocolate in a small pot on the stove.
  2. Remove one ball at a time from freezer.
  3. Dip about ½ inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into melted chocolate.
  4. Insert the lollipop stick straight into the bottom of the ball, pushing about ⅓ of an inch deep.
  5. Holding stick with the ball attached, dip entirely into melted chocolate until covered.
  6. Make sure chocolate coating meets at base of lollipop stick; this helps secure the ball to the stick.
  7. Tap and twirl any excess chocolate coating off the cake pop so it is evenly coated.
  8. Apply sprinkles (if desired, which I didn't).
  9. Place stick of cake pop into styrofoam block in the fridge.
  10. Complete with remaining balls and allow to set completely.
You should end up with about 15 to 17 cake pops.

Once my cake pops were set I wanted to add some white chocolate embellishments so I melted some white chocolate chips and proceeded to pipe it onto the cake pops to make them look like "chocolate roses". Unfortunately, the white chocolate chips I purchased were horrible and didn't melt well so I only managed to do a few (poorly!) before giving up. (I'll get good quality or bakers white chocolate next time!)

All in all, it was a success! My daughter was so excited about her cake pop "flowers" and, with my husband's help, decorated the styrofoam cake pop holder with grass and a nice scene of bunnies and a fawn.

And finally, the proverbial cherry on top was the fact that my friend Sarah (who has to be on a celiac diet) kept asking me, "Are you SURE these are gluten free? Cause they don't taste like it.".

She had two :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Favourite Things: Onesie Extenders

Raindrops on roses and onesie extenders....

As moms we all have those things (objects, products, inventions, etc) that we love and that save time or money and make life easier and more enjoyable. Here is one of mine: Onesie Extenders.

What are "onesie extenders", you ask? Well, onesie extenders (or garment extenders) are little pieces of cloth with snaps on them that add length to your onesies. As the mother of a baby with a long torso who also uses cloth diapers, I find these little things to be absolutely brilliant.

They are great if you would like your onesies to:
  • fit long torsos
  • fit more easily over cloth diapers
  • fit for a longer period of time (for example, a 6 mos onesie may be extended to fit as a 9 or 12 mos onesie)
  • fit chubbier babies
  • fit babies who are thin and long... or tall? I guess that depends if they've started to stand :)
The brand I have are the iPlay Snap N' Grow Garment Extender. They come in a 3 pack and each extender has a different snap size (small, medium and large) so you will be equipped to extend most onesies.

I purchased my extenders at Birth Source (storefront) for $7.99. You can also order from them online, but their site is undergoing some renos so you'll have to contact them as the extenders are not listed on the site right now.

So, when the dog bites and bee stings I take comfort in the fact that, at the very least, my little onesies can be extended. Nice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reality TV At Its Best

We are a family of 4. Currently, there is a window in our home that enables us to clearly watch the goings on of another family - a family of 5, to be precise. We feel so privileged to be able to observe how they live their family life and, in many ways, they're a lot like us.

For example, one parent stays home and looks after the kids while the other is out bringin' home the bacon; the kids whine and complain when they're hungry and are subsequently fed by a parent who has lovingly prepared a meal for them; we see them tucking their kids into bed; tidying up; doing home renos; giving birth; carrying out personal grooming routines; putting groceries away and generally providing for and protecting their kids.

There are some differences, though.

Firstly, the "bacon" isn't really bacon or any other packaged or even butchered meat product - it's freshly killed fish, rabbits or birds. The kids squak and cheep instead of whine. The lovingly prepared meal consists of a parent ripping small pieces of bloody flesh (lovingly?) off a carcass. The parents tuck their kids into bed by gathering them up, sitting on them and then nestling them down into a bed of grass by employing a kind of rocking motion (it's quite fascinating, really). For them, tidying up is moving grass and twigs around into a certain desired configuration. Home renovations are done with sticks and who-knows-what. Giving birth may have been a stretch... we'll call it hatching. The main grooming routine is preening. They put their "groceries" away by pulling the aforementioned carcasses over to one designated pantry/carcass area. And, finally, they protect their children by making sure they don't get eaten by crows while still in the egg and corralling young hatch-lings as to avoid death by falling... or rather landing, as it may be...

And also, they're eagles.

There are many different eagle-cams (cameras mounted in actual, wild eagles' nests) that you can stream live - LIVE! LIVE EAGLES! - and watch as they sit on their eggs and the eggs hatch and, well, I've already described examples of everything you can see. The window for the bald eagle-cam is almost always open on our computer so we can hang out with them all day long. If you're really obsessed you can even watch some of them at night when the camera goes into night vision mode.

We've had so much fun watching Mommy Eagle, Daddy Eagle and their three eaglets. It's like they're part of the family. Check out the eagles we've been watching here, but beware! You get so you don't want to miss anything!

Photo Credit: Dave Menke/US Fish and Wildlife Service

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars!!!

I'm so happy. I finally found a homemade granola bar recipe that my family (aka 5 yr old daughter) will eat. And they hold together. Yeeeehaaaaw! So, here it is if you want to give it a try. I love it because it is sweetened with maple syrup (and very little, actually) and you can change it up according to what people like or what you have on hand.

(I've adapted Ellie Krieger's original "Fruity, Nutty, Whole Grain Bars" from her book, The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life.)

This is easiest with a food processor. Otherwise you may have to use your hands to really mix it.

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup ground flax (or whole)
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup spelt flour (or other flour)
1 cup combo of dried fruit and/or chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw chopped almonds
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
2. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan or use parchment paper.
3. Place dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until everything is well blended.
4. Add maple syrup and eggs and pulse until everything is well blended.
5. Spread the thick batter evenly into the prepared pan and press with your hands (wet your hands slightly so it won't stick). Bake until lightly browned, about 15 to 20 minutes.
6. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Cut bars into desired size and shape. I cut mine into 20 bars - they end up being about the size of a store bought bar.

Once they are completely cool, you can store these fruity, nutty, chewy, healthy granola bars in an airtight container for up to 3 days. ( I keep mine in the fridge for a lot longer.)


* I like to use 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips with the dried fruit
* I use currants instead of raisins because they are not so "juicy" and they are the size and colour of mini chocolate chips (I'm a sneaky mommy...)
* To make a nut free version for school snacks I substitute pumpkin seeds or hemp hearts for the nuts
* Substitute whatever you like! Go crazy! Add more fruit and cut out some of the seeds, or add more nuts instead of the fruit or whatever. This recipe is VERY versatile.
* I get my granola bar fixin's from the Bulk Barn.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Okay, okay, fine already. I'm typing...

So... I've been having this conversation with myself.

"Um, so are you gonna write anything on that blog you set up?"

"Yes. Of course."

"Great. When?"



"Ya, soon. Like, maybe next week... or the week after.... or something..."

"It's already been five days since you set it up. Maybe you should just jump in!"

"But I still don't know what all the settings are for and you can put all these little boxes and links and pages up and I haven't got the slightest clue how to do any of that stuff yet."

"So, who cares?"

"Plus, I've never blogged before and I've only read a couple of blogs and did you know that there's this whole blogging community out there?! I had no idea. All these moms just blogging away and they do contests and write amazing articles and they have themes...."

"Great. It will be fun to join them."

"But I haven't even written the "About Me" part yet. It really has me stumped. I have no idea what to write "about me". And who wants to read a blog where they know nothing about the person who's writing it? I don't know. This could take awhile."

"That's ridiculous. Just start with a post saying... I don't know... 'Hi! I'm starting a blog!'"

"Puh-lease. That sounds totally lame. I really need to think about this. Strategize, plan it out, come up with some kind of through-line."

"Your blog's called Stray Matter."

"Oh. Ya, right."

"Jump. In."

"Hmph. Okay, fine. Jumping.... in...."