Tired of Scrambling to Throw Together a Last-Minute Salad?

April 27, 2008

This 24-four-hour wonder is more than a great time-saver—it’s always a big hit with family and friends.

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Romance On Ice

February 27, 2008

It’s Almostgotit’s last day on the job, and I’ve saved up for it.  Sam and Harry are due home later today, but I have one last honeymoon fantasy to spin for them.  This time, it’s a hotel entirely made of ice.

Hugs & kisses, and thanks for reading!


How to make an ice bowl

February 27, 2008

Ice Bowl
Creative Commons photo by EuphoriaLand

At an ice hotel, everything is made of ice, including the furniture and even the dishes. While you might not be able to make your own frozen bedroom suite at home, how about trying your hand at making a beautiful ice bowl? – Almostgotit

You will need:

  • Two stainless steel (best) or plastic bowls. (Don’t use glass. One bowl should fit inside the other with a gap of at least ¾ inch between the two.)
  • Flowers or other decorations (optional)
  • Heavy duty packaging tape
  • Water
  • Aluminum foil

To make your bowl:

Center the smaller bowl inside the larger one. Put two strips of heavy duty tape across the top rims of the bowl to make a cross, to hold the smaller bowl in place. You can also put a few ice cubes in the bottom of the larger bowl first to support the smaller bowl.

Place flowers or other decorations in the space between the two bowls. A chopstick may help with positioning, as may the judicious use of crushed ice or ice cubes to hold the items in place.

Carefully fill the larger bowl with water to within a ½ inch of the rim of the larger bowl (water will expand some as it freezes, so leave room). Put a little water, a rock, or other weight in the smaller bowl if necessary to keep it from floating up. Place your mold into the freezer overnight.

The next morning, lay the whole thing out for ten minutes or so at room temperature. If the ice bowl doesn’t come out easily, you may gently help it along by filling the smaller bowl with warm water and wrapping a hot towel around the larger bowl for another minute or so. Wrap your newly created ice bowl in aluminum foil and store it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. Be sure to put your bowl on a beautiful platter when you use it, to catch the water as it slowly melts!

Lovely things to decorate an ice bowl: fresh or dried flowers or flower petals, fresh mint leaves or other herbs, sliced star fruit, (mini plastic fish?!)

Lovely things to serve in an ice bowl: sushi, sashimi, shrimp, strawberries, sorbet, granita, fresh fruit or vegetables, fruit punch

Ice Hotels (links):

The world’s first Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Hôtel de Glace Ice hotel in Quebec, Canada 
Lainio Snow Hotel in Ylläsjärvi, Finland
Kemi Snow Castle in Kemi, Finland 
Bjorli Ice Lodge in Norway
Alta Igloo Hotel in Norway
Hotel gheata at Bâlea Lake
Article: Designing an Ice Hotel


Creative Commons photo by Etolane


Quick Vegetarian Paella

February 26, 2008

Sacromonte/Albayzin (Grenada, Spain)
View of Alhambra from the Sacromonte
Photograph © John Willer and used with permission. 

Honey, let’s play “Caveman!”

Cave hotels are beautiful, bright and clean.  I know because I stayed in one once, though not for a honeymoon! There are cave hotels in Turkey, Greece, and southern Spain , among others.   Imagine sending Sam and Harry to a cave in the Albayzin/Sacromonte area of Grenada, Spain, where the whitewashed cave homes are built into and stacked against the hills directly across from spectacular, 14th century  Alhambra palace and grounds.

A cave is a wonderful place to escape the afternoon glare and heat and take a siesta, emerging at sundown for a late dinner in the cool evening air, with the wild and lovely sounds of Gypsy music drifting up from the Flamenco bars dotting the hills below you.  

This recipe for Spanish paella is easier than most, and vegetarian besides. -Almostgotit

Quick Vegetarian Paella

10 strands saffron
6 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 Tbs smoked paprika
15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas thawed
14 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs parsley chopped
lemon wedges to serve

In a large saucepan pan, combine the stock and saffron, bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce heat to simmer.

In another large pan or wok, heat the oil and sautee the onion, peppers and garlic until soft. Stir the rice into the onion and pepper mixture and cook until rice is translucent, about two minutes. Add the paprika and tomatoes and stir well.  Pour simmering stock into the rice mixture and stir. Bring the rice mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan tightly, and cook 25 minutes.  Add the peas and chickpeas and simmer for  for 5 minutes more or until all the stock is absorbed. Stir well and add parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

Tienda.com is a great online source for paella supplies and other Spanish food products, and provides several additional, more traditional paella recipes.


To the Lighthouse!

February 25, 2008

It’s a brand new week, and poor, sad old Almostgotit is ready for a new start as well.  What better place to get a bright new perspective of things — not to mention celebrate the start of Sam and Harry’s new marriage — than from the top of a lighthouse

Tomorrow: Would you, could you, in a cave?


Lighthouse cocktails

February 25, 2008

Staviken lighthouse

To the Lighthouse!

I think Sam and Harry would enjoy honeymooning in one of several authentic lighthouse inns, including The Stavik Lighthouse (Stavikens Fyr, photo at left), a romantically-bleak lighthouse in Sweden that would be my personal favorite, and might have been Virginia Woolf’s favorite too, but it’s no doubt colder than a polar bear’s behind at this time of year. 

In February, they may prefer someplace warm like Cape Otway Lightstation (photo, below), the oldest lighthouse in Australia.   And since the Cape Otway cafe already has a nice salmon quiche on their menu, all that’s left is to mix Sam and Harry a couple of “Lighthouses” to go with it.  Of course!!Almostgotit   

Lighthouse recipeCape Otway Lightstation

 For each serving:
1/3 oz Kahlua® coffee liqueur
1/3 oz Bailey’s® Irish cream
1/3 oz 151-proof rum

Pour kahlua into a shot glass. With a spoon, slowly pour irish cream into the shot glass on top of the kahlua. Pour the 151 rum, again with the spoon, slowly on top of the irish cream and light on fire. Blow flame out before drinking.


Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

February 23, 2008


Image: Kadir’s Treehouses in Olympos, Turkey

I hope you were lucky enough to have a treehouse when you were little. If Sam and Harry were looking for an unusual place to spend their honeymoon, they may have discovered a number of treehouse hotels scattered around the world in interesting places. There’s also a wonderful (and enormous!) treehouse restaurant in England’s Alnwick Garden, but we need a place where Sam and Harry can also spend the night. We’ve already imagined them on a safari so I ruled out this treehouse in a Costa Rican Jungle; and while I enjoyed the very punny website for these treehouses in Oregon , I thought these treehouses in Turkey sounded like the most fun!  There are such good things to eat in Turkey, too, including this variation of the traditional “Turkish Wedding Soup.”  Appropriate, or what?? -Almostgotit

Turkish Wedding Soup with Spiced Sauce

Serves 8

2 onions
7 carrots
4 pounds lamb neck bones
10 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound butter (2 sticks, divided)
1 cup flour
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 1/2 teaspoons paprika

Peel the onions and carrots, cut into quarters, and put into a soup pot with the lamb bones, broth, and salt. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until the meat is soft. Strain the broth into a bowl. Remove the meat from the bones and cut into thin strips or dice.  Return meat and broth to soup pot.

Melt 12 tablespoons butter and work in the flour. Slowly add 1 cup of the warm broth while mixing well. Gradually stir this butter-flour mixture into the rest of the soup, then bring soup to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and cook for about 10 minutes. Keep the soup warm.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork and mix in the lemon juice. Add 4 tablespoons of hot soup. Stir this mixture briskly into the rest of the soup: egg yolks will “cook” immediately. Reheat over a very low flame, or you may even turn off flame and cover pot to keep it hot. Do not boil or soup will “break” and become watery.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, remove from heat and add cayenne pepper and paprika. Pour the soup into serving bowl or individual soup bowls. Swirl spoonfuls of spiced butter over the top of each.  

Adapted from New York Times Bread & Soup Cookbook by Yvonne Young