Sunday, February 24, 2013

Whoopie pies

Possibly DP’s favorite restaurant in the world is a sub-and-pizza shop located on a side street in downtown Portland, Maine. From this location, the shop has grown into a regional chain, with outlets in four northeastern states, but for DP and his family, aficionados of the shop’s signature sandwich to a man, woman, or child, only those made at the original location will do.

Much to the sorrow of my extended family of in-laws, I have never embraced ‘the Italian’ with the same level of passion. It’s not the food of my childhood, so it doesn’t set loose a flood of Proustian associations, the way it apparently does for them. But although I can’t enter into their tradition, I can understand it – I am a person, after all, who attempts to incorporate at least one visit to a particular North End pizzeria into my every trip to Boston.

So I’m willing to be supportive of the food obsessions of others. A few weeks before we moved to Australia the first time (ie in 2008), the three of us spent a week at the beach in Maine, about 30 minutes south of Portland. I knew there’d be at least one trip into town, timed so that we could not only buy Italians for on-the-spot consumption, but purchase a stash to bring back to Boston for DP and assorted siblings and parents. It was on this trip that I discovered, on my umpteenth trip, that Italians weren’t the only specialty available: there were also locally made whoopie pies for sale.

Whoopie pies are a Maine specialty (although whether they originated there or in Pennsylvania is a source of ongoing debate). They are a sandwich cookie, traditionally made with two cakey, chocolatey cookies stuck together with a creamy frosting. Imagine what an Oreo wants to be when it grows up and you’re probably not far off.

These whoopie pies were huge, gooey, and delicious. Miss B (then age 4), who remained dubious about the virtues of the Italian (despite an enthusiastic sales pitch from her father), latched on to these right away, and we shared several over the course of the week. She was quite downcast to leave them behind, knowing that they were unlikely to be readily available in Australia (or Boston, for that matter), and I promised her that I would figure out how to make them.

It’s only taken me four and a half years, but I’ve finally kept my promise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Spotted, propped against the window: a little light reading, casa RL, February 2013.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Detox redux

Hey, remember how I kicked my 25-year Pepsi habit a couple of years back? How I developed various creative ways of getting my fizzy fix without resorting to a can full of HFCS? How I was pretty sure I didn't even like the stuff anymore?

Wrong again. I fell off the wagon.

As with so many other things, I blame last year's intercontinental move. You'd think I would know this by now, and have figured out some way to combat it, but the chaos engendered by packing up your entire life and shipping it halfway around the world is pretty much total. It disrupts routines that you thought were so embedded that they were part of your DNA, and it takes months for the dust to settle. In the meantime, your household, eating, and exercise routines fall apart completely, and suddenly you find yourself guzzling Pepsi by the liter, morning, noon, and night.

Or at least that's how it is with me. Please feel free to weigh in if you've also experienced the Intercontinental Discombobulation Phenomenon. (Or not -- maybe I'm just weak-minded.)

Anyway. We've been back in Canberra for eight months, and moved into our house for five, and with every month that passes I find the brain space to re-establish another disrupted routine. This month it's getting back on the no-Pepsi wagon. I didn't even cut back this time; I just stopped. I know I can, because I've done it before; plus this time I think I've figured out a way to get the caffeine, and the fizz, that kept me hooked for so long.

Green tea fizz
In preparation for making this, I cold-brew four green teabags in a quart (~1 litre) of water. Feel free to fiddle with that ratio if you like yours weaker (or stronger!).

1/2 cup/4 oz/120 ml green tea concentrate (see above)
1/2 cup/4 oz/120 ml sparkling water
1 tsp/5 ml lime juice
1 tsp/5 ml simple syrup

Half-fill a drinking glass with ice. Combine all ingredients, stir and consume. Congratulate yourself for resisting the lure of Pepsi yet again.

Serves 1. Can be multiplied to share.
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