Monday, August 22, 2016

Open Fires, Outhouses

I was eating a piece of toast and started thinking about toasters and then open fires. I don't suppose there are many places where homes are heated by open fireplaces any more which made me nostalgic for the days when we used to toast bread on a long fork held up to the flames. Crumpets too were toasted this way and another thing we used to do was to butter one side of a piece of bread and toast the other. Delicious. The fire used to give the toast such an excellent flavour which a toaster doesn't achieve. As the song says, we also used to 'roast chestnuts over an open fire' too. In fact we had a brass bed warmer which was actually an antique and we would put the chestnuts inside to cook them. Not good for the antique I guess. Looking for a picture, I see Amazon.co.uk still sells toasting forks so I guess there are still lots of open fires in the UK. Many older houses are probably still heated that way. Only trouble with that, you were usually warm enough in the room with the fire, but when you left to go to another room or to bed, it used to be chilly as all get out. However, toasting over an open fire is a gustatory experience not to be missed.

There are many, many older house in the UK and I don't suppose that many of them have been retro
fitted with central heating although these days they probably have electric heaters all over the place. I remember my first parents-in-law having a toilet outside, built on to the house, but you had to go outside to use it and the seat could ice up during the winter, causing all kinds of problems. Now I think of it, this was very much the case in Canada until quite recently. I have stayed in places where they had little or no plumbing and the toilets were outhouses. I remember one place in the Algonquin Park area where there were bears around and I made Matt come outside with me - I would NOT go out there alone in the dark. Not sure what he would have done if a bear had turned up mind you. There are probably many outlying places in Canada that do not have regular indoor pluming due to the vast distances. However, I expect most have septic tanks these days.

For my vegan friends. You do need an ice cream maker for this unfortunately. I remember my mother used to make ice cream in the freezer without any machines. We used to have ice trays with removal dividers. I assume you can still buy those. She used to take out the dividers and put the ice cream mix in the trays. It was good.

Chocolate Cashew Vegan Ice Cream

Source: Rick Martinez, Bon Apétit

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup raw cashews
4 oz vegan, soy lecithin-free, dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons organic or granulated sugar
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup virgin coconut oil, melted, cooled slightly

1. Place vanilla bean and cashews in a large bowl and add 2 cups boiling water. Cover and let sit at room temperature at least 12 hours (hydrating the cashews thoroughly is key for a silky, smooth ice cream).

2. Heat chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring, until melted. Remove from heat and let sit, stirring occasionally, until cool, 10–15 minutes.

3. Transfer melted chocolate and cashews and their soaking liquid to a blender. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; discard pod. Add sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Purée until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the motor running on medium speed, slowly stream in oil and purée until thick and creamy.

4. Immediately process cashew mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. (Head’s up: this will take longer than a traditional dairy-based custard to reach soft-serve consistency.) Do not chill before processing or oil will harden into tiny bits and texture will be grainy.

5. Transfer to an airtight container and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

6. Do Ahead: Cashews can be soaked 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Ice cream can be made 1 month ahead; keep frozen.

Yield: 1 Quart

Have a great day

21 comments:

  1. It would be interesting to work in open flame. Old is gold.

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  2. Crumpets cooked over a fire are something special. We used to love sitting in front of the living room fire when we were kids eating hot buttered crumpets.

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    1. Yes, lovely. Dripping with butter. Real diet food Helen, LOL

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  3. My fireplace is now just decorative with some nice white birch logs in the hearth. I got tired of cleaning it out and in Michigan there are very times when you can use it in winter else all your furnace heat goes up the chimney. It was fun to roast marshmallows in it though.

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    1. I don't much like marshmallows, especially roasted Denise. I did love my toast and such though.

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  4. I'm a creature of comfort. No way I'm staying anywhere without indoor plumbing.

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    1. You're just spoilt Alex. Once upon a time, people didn't have any choice. I guess we are all spoilt these days, with all the modern conveniences we take for granted.

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  5. Ha, you know, my house has a fireplace, but it's one of those trendy modern ones. You flip the switch and it 'ignites'. The logs are fake. There's even a pane of glass in front of it, so you get the heat, but I guess not the chance to burn yourself (because apparently they think the people who live in this house would be really dumb and might touch it). Needless to say, we never use it. What's the point?

    Also, I've always wanted to learn how to make my own ice cream, but I figure if I ever do that, and I can make it any time I want to, I can kiss this thin waist goodbye.

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    1. I guess they worry more about kids than anything Bryan. I wouldn't want to live with a real fireplace again, they were so messy and a pain to clean let alone causing dust etc. But when it came to toasting, nothing better.

      Are you that much of an ice cream fanatic? I like it but haven't had any for goodness knows how long.

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    2. I lied, I had a cornet load of ice cream last year.

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  6. We used to make homemade ice cream all the time when I was growing up. Chocolate was my favorite. It was an old hand crank machine. I have four sets of those toasting forks. We live in the country and have an outside firepit that the kids use to cook hotdogs and marshmallows. They also use them in the fireplace in the winter.

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    1. Had a friend with a hand cranked machine in NC. Used to make a lemon ice. Delicious. We used to use toasted sandwich makers in the fire pits on the campsite when we had a trailer. A fireplace eh? Think I will visit you in the winter.

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  7. We still had an open fire until this last house move 9 years ago, although the fire was rarely lit as we had central heating (and to be honest, although they look lovely they are a hassle to clear afterwards). I do agree though that there is nothing to beat the taste of toast or crumpets cooked on a toasting fork over the coals

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    1. It's many years since we had an open fireplace Sue, certainly not since we lived in Canada which is over 40 years now. I agree, they are a pain in the butt to clean though.

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  8. No lie. I made dairy-free, sugar-free chocolate ice cream today. But I usually just make a serving at a time. Yum.

    I would have Tim walk out there with me too. Scary stuff. Open fires make such nice food, I agree. I've seen bed warmers on TV.

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    1. Sounds delicious Ivy.

      Funny really.

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  9. Nothing tastes better than something you are cooking over an open fire. I miss camping actually. My ex went camping with his family and he was biking around. It was dark and as he was going around the camground when he saw something right in front of hi. Pass by. It was dark so he wasn't sure what it was...turned out it was a bear...if he was 5 seconds early he would have run right into the bear.

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    1. Campfire cooking tastes different Birgit, not sure why. We used to use sandwich makers on ours and they made great sandwiches.

      I can't bear the thought of it!!! Sorry

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  10. I have never used an outhouse. The porta potties are bad enough. But I wouldn't ever stay in a place that only had outdoor facilities. This girl needs an actual bathroom.

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    1. When you go to stay in someone's cottage up in Northern Ontario you don't have any options JoJo.

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