I (kind of) Quit Sugar, and I liked it – Part III

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Click to read Part I and Part II.

Week 6

The Week 6 menu looks amazing, AND we get to reintroduce a little fruit back into our diet, hurrah! Frustratingly, I am unable to cook a lot of the recipes with the very basic cooking instruments that I have available with all my kitchen gear on its way to Sydney, so this week is also going to be a write-off for me in terms of sticking to the meal plan. While I am still avoiding sugar, I am not eating nearly as many vegetables as I was earlier in the program, I’m not getting as much variety in my diet as I was just a couple of weeks ago, and I have been skipping meals because it’s just easier. Consequently, combined with the extreme stress that I am currently experiencing thanks to this bloody move, I am feeling sluggish, rather emotional and completely exhausted.

My dad lives and works quite remotely out in the bush (about a five hour drive from PosyTown, and a fairly hectic drive at that), but he drove in to town to see me one last time before we fly down to Sydney – he called to take me out for a milkshake. Not a coffee, a milkshake. I had to laugh, it would seem I will always be five years old to my dad. I enjoyed every sip of my shake, though I did feel pretty sick after finishing it! I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence, but about half hour later, I came down with a cracking headache…

It is an emotional week for me, but it was always going to be, sugar or no sugar – it is the week we move to Sydney! It is also the week that my beloved Sydney Roosters WIN THE GRAND FINAL – and Mr Posy and I are actually there to see it!

Week 7

Our first week living in Sydney! We are surrounded by boxes, but surprisingly unpacking is a lot easier than packing, even with less storage space than in PosyTown. We don’t completely stick to the prescribed meal plan, but we are still on the IQS-wagon. I am feeling completely amazing, but this is can probably be largely attributed to the high that I am experiencing now that WE LIVE IN SYDNEY.

PosyDog is loving all the extra walks as we explore our new area, and I am loving the extra energy that I have. My clothes are looser, my eyes brighter and skin clearer, and I am feeling generally amazing.

Week 8

It would seem that finishing up at work, moving, and wedding planning finally catches up with me – I have come down with a chest infection… Just in time to start my new job – perfect! I have no appetite, so  stick to a fairly bland diet of grilled fish and steamed vegetables instead of this week’s meal plan. I have a disgusting cough (let’s not mention the stuff I’m bringing up…), my chest and back hurt, I’m completely exhausted, and I am getting very little sleep thanks to the aforementioned cough. A GP puts me on a course of antibiotics and gives me something that is supposed to help the cough, but all it does is make me feel hungover the next morning.

Mr Posy and I attend a friend’s birthday dinner on the Saturday night of Week 8 (which I cough and wheeze my way through) – I throw caution to the wind and indulge in a little dessert AND a little birthday cake. Life is for living!

I realise that my cravings for sugar have for the most part disappeared, and that I no longer crave chocolate and icecream, but instead fruits like raspberries, kiwi fruit and plums. I have far more variety in my diet than I have ever had – and I am no longer getting a large portion of my daily calories from sweets. I have created good new habits – I’m consuming more vegetables (with a focus on veggies that are in-season), and I’m back on the breakfast wagon (which I had taken to skipping), and kicked bad old habits – dessert every single night (often ‘just because’), chocolate/various other sweets every day, and mindless snacking. I feel like this is what IQS is all about – or at least what it was all about for me – regaining balance in your life.

Life after IQS

So, nearly two years on since I did the IQS8WP – do I eat sugar? Of course I do. Life is for living! I like chocolate. And ice cream. And cake. And Black Forest Trifle from Rockpool Bar & Grill. But I can’t eat sweets in the same quantity that I once could – neither my tastebuds nor my stomach can take it. I actually prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate these days! I no longer use chocolate as my emotional crutch, nor do I feel the need to eat sweets just because.

The picture I’ve painted of my diet pre-IQS8WP possibly sounds a lot worse than it was, but I did feel very unbalanced, and I am a lot happier with my nutrition now. I enjoy meal planning each week, I love the variety that I have in my diet, and I am a lot better at ‘listening’ to my body these days. I have more balance in my life – not just with what I eat, but overall – and I feel a lot better for it.

I (kind of) Quit Sugar, and I liked it – Part II

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Click to read Part I.

Week 2

Spend much of the week tired, teary, cranky and anxious – but we’re just over four weeks out from an interstate move and there is still a lot to be done, so this is probably ‘normal’. The scales show a loss, which I suspect is a combination of stress and cutting out sugar. The headaches seem to have disappeared, but I’m completely exhausted.

Had a Friday lunch with work colleagues at a Thai-Indian-Nonya restaurant. Knew that my dish would include sugar, but threw caution to the wind and just ate it. Honestly, I will not be the person that sits at a restaurant and asks the waiter to ask the chef to omit sugar from my dish. I am really into giving this giving-up-sugar-thing a go, but I’m not going to let it rule my life.

Mr Posy calls me late Saturday afternoon telling me that his SIL wants us to go out for ice cream down by the wharf after we’ve had our dinner. I have a minor breakdown, before deciding I’ll just have water and fake a stomachache. We get down to the wharf and I discover that the ice cream place has a ‘natural yoghurt’ ice cream, which I decide is a good alternative. There’s no denying it has sugar added, but it is definitely a better choice than the triple chocolate, and, I feel, a good compromise. I am very conscious of how my attitude to and decisions I make about food might impact Niece Posy, and I decide that I am not going to be the person sipping water while the rest of the family is enjoying ice cream on such a beautiful evening. I am just going to have to make the best choice that I can in these situations – we only have a few weeks left with family before we move, and I intend to enjoy this time.

I feel incredibly anxious on the Sunday, but thankfully I have a coffee-date with a friend, and I feel a lot better after talking through some of my moving-anxiety with her. I stop by our local on the way home to do the grocery shop for the week – $80, seriously, eighty bucks, for the two of us for the week, again including all breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. This includes meat/fish for five out of seven dinners… Amazing!

Week 3 

Despite sleeping terribly Sunday night (I think thanks to the second coffee), I wake feeling fairly refreshed Monday morning. Waking early is definitely getting easier. Despite the late timeslot, I have a really good touch football game – I feel lighter, faster, stronger and more focused.

I realise that I am going to be without our fridge in about a week once the removalists have been in, and start to panic. What am I going to do without a fridge for two weeks?! This program relies pretty heavily on both the fridge and freezer – I am going to have to work something out.

I am feeling a lot better within myself, and while I’d definitely like to indulge in some chocolate or ice cream, I’m no longer having mad cravings for sugar. I’ve noticed I’m snacking a lot less now too – I eat when I’m actually hungry, not just because it’s a habit or because I’m bored… I don’t see a loss on the scale this week, but no gain either – my weight has remained stable, hurrah!

I argued with myself repeatedly all weekend – I wanted some ice cream or some chocolate, and I had one part of my brain saying “No! Don’t do it! Keep going with IQS!”, and the other part of my brain saying “Shut up! You’re an adult! If you want to have a scoop of ice cream, you totally can!”. Make a compromise with myself – I will keep going with the IQS program, but if I still want a treat when I’m in Sydney at the end of Week 4, it’s mine…

Week 4

I get through Monday – Wednesday on the IQS program (and when I jump on the scales on the Wednesday, I’ve again remained stable!), but come off the rails a little Thursday – Sunday while we are in Sydney. Breakfasts are easy – eggs on toast, some days with a side of spinach, bacon and avocado. We generally skip lunch, instead opting for an extra coffee (bad!), but dinners are tricky, mostly because I refuse to ask if sugar has been added to a dish, so I just make the best choice that I can with the information that is in front of me. Where I really come unstuck though, is at Yogurt World. The first visit on the Thursday, I can rationalise that it is the treat that I said I would have at the end of Week 4 in Sydney. It’s just a bit of frozen yogurt, a little fruit, a little chocolate (that I actually find too sweet). The second visit on the Friday I rationalise as a celebration – we were accepted on a place that we applied to rent, hurrah! The third and final visit on the Saturday is just because, and still I don’t feel guilty, and I probably should…

Week 5

It is supposed to be detox week (no meat, no wheat, no caffeine (WHAT?!) and no alcohol on top of the no sugar) – I thought we were already bloody detoxing? – but I have a little problem… The removalists came first thing on the Monday morning, packed up my house, and drove away with all my belongings – so that makes things a little difficult. We only have very basic kitchen utensils, plus a cooktop and oven, and I’ve borrowed a bar fridge from my brother – no freezer, no food processor or blender, no sharp knives etc etc etc. I decide that I will move detox week to Week 7 or 8 once we are in Sydney and in our new place (!!), and that I will just rely on regular IQS recipes this week. With under two weeks to go in PosyTown before we move to a city in a whole different state more than 4,000 kilometres away, it’s probably not a good week for me to be ‘detoxing’ anyway. Me without coffee? Not pretty. Not happening. Not this week or next, anyway…

Still to come: Weeks 6-8 and life after the IQS8WP in Part III.

I (kind of) Quit Sugar, and I liked it – Part I

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I was going through my drafts, and realised that with all the craziness of moving to Sydney and then getting married that I never published this post! So here it is – from back in 2013…

Back in August (2013), a good friend mentioned to me that she was interested in giving the whole ‘I Quit Sugar’ thing a go. I had seen the IQS social media frenzy and read a little about it, and was intrigued, but reasoned that I didn’t believe in cutting out entire food groups for the sake of it. I know, I know – would we call sugar a food group? Well, if you’d looked at my diet pre-IQS, then you could be mistaken for thinking so… And don’t you cut out fruit as part of IQS? That’s ludicrous! I realised that I just didn’t want to give up all things chocolate, and once I understood that cutting out fruit was only temporary I decided to jump on the (band)wagon to go along for the ride with my mate. Here is my experience of the IQS 8-week program.

One last hurrah

The incredibly mature thing to do when you’re about to embark on eight weeks of no sugar is to of course eat as much of it as possible while you still can. I know we’re only cutting out fruit temporarily, but I eat it like it’s my last supper. Along with caramel in my coffee (I don’t even normally add sugar to my daily latte!), copious amounts of chocolate ice-cream, and a bag of red frogs. Know that the initial detox is going to hurt. A LOT.

The initial preparation

Lying  on couch feeling sorry for self – suffering from terrible indigestion, a smashing headache, and fatigue from said sugar binge. Realise that I’m being ridiculous and it’s time to make the change. Remove self from couch and head off to forage for vegetables at local supermarket. Buying regular milk (i.e. not skim/low-fat) is so foreign, that I stand in the dairy aisle staring at all the cartons of milk for so long an employee asks if I need help finding something.

Weekly shop for two people (for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks) comes in at about $200 in total. Given we normally shop for dinner each evening after work (and usually buy lunch during the day), this is an incredible saving, and if nothing else comes from this plan, we’ll be saving on the cost of groceries, AND we’ll have less waste each week.

The weekly cook-up involves roasting beetroot, sweet potato and pumpkin, and steaming broccoli and cauliflower. My whole house smells like farts.

Week 1, Day 1

Feeling rather virtuous after my glass of lemon water at 6.00 am, followed by my 7.00 am breakfast of porridge (made using real oats, not instant), with toasted pepitas and coconut flakes. Manage to get out the door and on my way to work earlier than I have in months, and having eaten breakfast. Feel that it would be counter-productive to consume my morning coffee, but I love my daily ritual and I purchase my latte  from my local cafe (on full fat milk!) anyway. Not ready to give up this indulgence, especially not in the first week that I give up all things sugar.

Slammed with a throbbing headache about 2.00 pm. Would normally have had chocolate/fruit/low-fat fruit yoghurt by this time, but this is just a headache, and not a detox symptom. Right? Feels a little early in the program to be having withdrawal headaches, surely. Email my friend who is doing the program, and we conclude that it’s just a headache.

Dinner is delicious – Sausage, Walnut & Beetroot Hash. With yoghurt. Yes, sausages and yoghurt – I had no idea it could taste so good.

Replace my ritual of dessert on the couch while watching TV with a cup of peppermint tea. Miss you, chocolate ice cream.

Week 1, Day 2

For the first time in months, I actually feel like eating breakfast shortly after waking. Headache from yesterday returns with a vengeance (again around 2.00 pm) – try to fight it off with carrot sticks.

Sister-in-law texts “Dinner at our place! My cousin is making Spanish hot dogs!” – I just want to go home and eat the salmon that is on the meal plan for tonight, but we have less than six weeks left in PosyTown, and we’re trying to spend as much time with both our families as possible. I nearly fall asleep at their dinner table, I’m just. so. tired.

Week 1, Day 3

Another day, another headache – this time it hits me shortly after waking. Am on the verge of tears all day, but that is pretty unsurprising given how stressed and overwhelmed I am with planning our interstate move and wedding (less than six weeks and eleven weeks out). Want to devour an entire bag of Caramello Koalas to numb the anxiety. Eat a carrot. May turn into a carrot by the time this program is over.

Get home from work and want to eat bags and bags of red frogs, bars of chocolate and bowls of ice cream. Go for a run instead.

Week 1, Day 4

Hit snooze twice before dragging myself out of bed. Went to bed late, didn’t sleep well, and am completely exhausted as a result. Vow to make an effort to go to bed earlier. Headache hits about 1.30 pm. Dawns on me that perhaps I need to up my intake? I’ve been skipping my mid-morning snack as I’m still full from breakfast, but perhaps this is a hunger headache and not a withdrawal headache at all? Will test theory tomorrow.

Week 1, Day 5

So much for going to bed earlier. Absolutely exhausted after a late night (though I did sleep soundly for a change). Really struggle to open my eyes and take an exceptionally long time to drink hot water with lemon. Manage to make it to work on time, but all I can think about is how tired I am, and how much I want to go back to bed.

No headache today, hurrah! I don’t know if it’s the quitting sugar/generally eating much better, or if it’s other life changes that are all falling into place, but am feeling much happier, more settled, and just generally content.

Week 1, Day 6

Saturdays are usually big snacking days for me, so was a little nervous with how I would cope. I spend most of the day on the couch watching chick flicks, and thankfully feeling uncharacteristically not-hungry.

Week 1, Day 7

Father’s Day – up early to go out for breakfast with Dad, as he’s in town for the weekend. Breakfast out is pretty easy – poached eggs with bacon and spinach + a latte.

Get our weekly shop out of the way – about $120 for both of us, again including all breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Can’t remember the last time we spent so little on groceries.

Go for a really long walk in the late afternoon, and end up in tears. As you do. It’s really hard to separate moving/wedding/family stress from detox symptoms. Really want to comfort eat chocolate ice cream right now.

I still have seven more weeks of this?!

Stay tuned for Weeks 2-8 and life after the IQS8WP in Part II and III. 

30 by 30 – Cooking up a storm

Back when we first moved to Sydney, I found myself checking out West Elm/Pottery Barn/Williams-Sonoma on a Thursday night for new homewares, when I noticed that Williams-Sonoma offered cooking classes. I mentioned it to Mr Posy (who has come a very long way since he was first learning to cook, and now regularly puts me to shame), and he also thought it sounded like a fun idea (and it meant that I could cross off an item from my 30 by 30 list), so I made a mental note to book us in for a class. As it so often does, time got away from me, but in August I finally had a look at the calendar and booked us in for a class – which we went to last week!

We were originally booked in for a ‘Date Night: Marrakech’ cooking class (which I mostly chose based on the date of the class), but they contacted me in September to say that unfortunately they had to cancel the Marrakech cooking class and that it was now a ‘Date Night: Tapas and Sangria’ class. They gave us the option of going ahead with this class, choosing a different class on another date, or obtaining a refund – we chose to stick with the class on the same date (they had me at Sangria!).

I’d had a bit of a rough fortnight at work, so I was fairly exhausted and almost considering piking on the class, but I quickly changed my outfit (Mr Posy and I both wore white shirts. To a cooking class. Who does that? Total amateurs!) before I could change my mind – and I’m so glad we went.

Williams Sonoma

I wasn’t really sure what to expect – would we be cooking or just watching? As I sipped sangria, completely oblivious to the cooking stations around the kitchen, I decided we must just be watching. The chef, Hulya, explained that she would be cooking three dishes, and then we’d also get to have a crack at making the third dish. Oh…

The first dish put in front of us was the Gambas al ajillo. Oh my word, amazing. What’s more amazing, was that I managed to get through the shrimp without spilling sauce all down my top…

Gambas al ajillo

As we all devoured the shrimp, bread and sauce, Hulya started putting together the flan (so it would have time to set), explaining that it always helped if she fed the participants while she was preparing the other two dishes. I think the term ‘hangry’ was even thrown about. As she had with the shrimp, she explained each step as she went, showing us the consistency that we were looking for (with the custard), and passing around ingredients for us to look at and smell.

Once the custard was ready, it was poured into loaf pans and put away to set – and on to the meatballs. Hulya went through each step of the recipe, explaining what to look for, what consistency the sauce should be, how long to reduce everything down – and after a quick taste, it was our turn!

Seeing as Mr Posy is such a whiz in the kitchen these days, I left him to chopping up the onions (though Hulya did show us a new technique which meant no tears!). And also mixing up the meat and squishing the meatballs. I chopped the parsley. And the almonds. And mixed them up with olive oil, saffron and paprika. For those playing along at home, I made the sauce.

Cooking

Token shots cooking the meatballs.

Meatballs

The end result looked and tasted a little bit amazing. Albóndigas en Salsa de Almendra. Meatballs in almond sauce. I will definitely be making these at home, but maybe with a little less garlic.

In the interest of leaving room for chocolate flan (and more sangria), we packaged up most of the meatballs to take home for later.

Flan

This flan was delicious. The mix of dark chocolate and chilli confused my tastebuds a little initially, but was incredible. The caramel/toffee was a little sweet, so I couldn’t get through it all; the flan would have been off the charts with some strawberries and/or a little cream – something I can’t wait to try again at home!

All in all, we had a really fabulous night – the class was fantastic, really well organised, and a lot of fun. I will definitely be booking in future classes with Williams-Sonoma. It was fun to learn new dishes with Mr Posy, and the classes would also make a fun girl’s night out. Importantly, we asked for the sangria recipe before we left – with the weather starting to heat up, it will be the perfect accompaniment to a summer barbeque.

Minnie Mouse cake pops

Speaking of baking and cake pops, Niece Posy recently turned three, and I thought it was as good a time as any to try my hand at Minnie Mouse cake pops (actually, making cake pops in general) for the themed birthday party that my SIL organised. As well as arranging an amazing cake, she also managed to track down Mickey and Minnie suits!

Minnie Mouse party

All the articles and blog posts that I read online suggested making the process as easy as possible, so I totally cheated and used cake packet mix and store-bought icing. The cake pops were quite time-consuming as it was, so I was all about shaving off a few minutes where I could. I made the cake on the Friday night, so that I’d have all of Saturday to get through the remaining steps of this Bakerella recipe, for the party on the Sunday. I was still up fairly late on the Saturday night finishing the cake pops off!

I managed to find this cute site with free Minnie Mouse printables, so while the cake was baking, I got busy with my printer, some scissors and sticky tape.

Cake mix

Crumble the cooled baked caked into a bowl and mix in a little icing at a time – you don’t want the mixture to be too squishy.

Cake pop balls

Roll a tablespoon of your mixture into cake balls, and place in the freezer to firm up (but don’t allow to freeze). You don’t want to roll these too tightly, or they’ll expand and crack once they’re out of the fridge.

Styrofoam

Melt Candy Melts in the microwave (as per packet instructions – don’t overheat, they do burn!); dip your cake pop stick into the candy melts (I didn’t bother adding any candy colouring) and insert into the cake ball (about 2/3 through). I then placed these back into the freezer for about fifteen minutes to firm up some more.

Place the cake pops in a block of styrofoam – then stick two ‘ears’ (I used Nestle Melts) to the cake balls using more of the melted candy. Stick these back into the freezer for about fifteen minutes, before moving to the fridge so they don’t freeze, because a certain little person wants to get stuck into the arts and crafts.

Melt more of the Candy Melts in the microwave, and very carefully dip (no twirling or the ears will come off!) or, using a spoon, pour the melted candy over the cake pop. Fashion a bow using pink hearts, and stick back into the freezer to firm up, before wrapping in a cellophane cake pop bag and tying with ribbon.

Ta-da!

Ready

I had more than enough Minnie Mouse cake pops, so also made some plain cake pops with sprinkles – these were much easier and far less time-consuming to assemble.

Cake pops

While the cake pops were fairly labour-intensive, the look on Niece Posy’s face when she saw the finished product made it all worth it. “AUNTY POSY! YOU MADE KICKEY MOUSE CAKES! FOR MEEEE!” 

Yes, my little bug. I made Kickey Mouse cakes, just for you.

Happy Birthday

Getting our bake on

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As a kid, we lived pretty remotely for a few years (so much so that I had to do school via correspondence), and during the summer holidays I would fly down (by myself! – so exciting when you’re 7!) to spend a week or two with my nan and pop. I have fond memories of my visits with my grandparents – their house has always felt like home. Other than my younger brother (who was way too young to come along, being five years younger than me), I am the eldest grandchild on my dad’s side by more than ten years, so growing up I had a lot of one-on-one time with my grandparents, and I really treasure the time I spent with them.

Pop and I would play game after game of Draughts (I can count on one hand the number of times I actually beat him, he’s not one of those people that will just let you win!), and he would take me to the golf course so that I could drive the golf carts, to swimming lessons at the local pool, to the pond down the road to feed the ducks and swans, to the cheese-making factory for milkshakes… I would read books, witness new calves born over the back fence, hang out with the girl my age next door, play ping-pong in the rumpus room, and listen to stories about my dad as a kid that Nan and Pop would tell me over meals.

One of the best parts of my visits was when my dad’s youngest sister came to stay while she was on university holidays. My Aunt B would take me along when catching up with her friends – we’d hang out in a cafe, or spend all day at the beach; I couldn’t wait to be a grown-up like my aunt, I adored (and still adore) her. Best of all, she would bake with me. I love water, I love swimming, and I love the beach, but my favourite memories with my Aunt B are dreary days stuck in the house spent baking in Nan’s kitchen. I don’t know if it was the only recipe she knew, or if it was just her favourite treat, but we baked a lot of butterfly cakes over the years.

Me and Aunt B

I know that we won’t always live across the road from Mr Posy’s brother (and ergo, Niece and Nephew Posy), so I try to make the most of this time while I can. Just as I loved making butterfly cakes with my aunt, Niece Posy loves to come over and spend the afternoon baking – and she really loves when our baking involves berries.

The recipe for raspberry and coconut muffins (well, cupcakes…) on the Taste website is one of our favourites.

Ingredients

Missing from picture: baking powder and milk; we used melted butter instead of oil (excuse the toddler feet…).

Dry ingredients

1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl, add sugar and coconut.

Eggs, milk and butter

2. In a small large bowl (to prevent toddler-stirring-splashback), whisk eggs, milk and melted butter.

Mix Ingredients

3. Mix egg/milk/butter into flour mixture until just combined; fold in raspberries.

Oven ready

4. Prepare cupcake cases (should have done this first, whoops!), and carefully spoon mixture into cases. This takes an exceptionally long time when you’re two/three years old, so allow time accordingly.

Snack time

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes; allow to cool slightly, and indulge while watching Ramona and Beezus/Peppa Pig/Angelina Ballerina/Enchanted (whichever takes your fancy).

Niece Posy is a very proficient helper in the kitchen – together we’ve made an assortment of cakes, cupcakes, muffins, brownies, ANZAC Biscuits, and even cake pops. She is also very good with salads (broad bean, chorizo & feta, mmm), and she loves to supervise when we make pasta dishes. Next time we bake, I think butterfly cakes are in order… Now that I think about it, I can’t believe we haven’t yet made them!

30 by 30 – We all scream for ice cream

30 by 30 - Make my own ice cream (#20) For Christmas 2010, Mr Posy surprised me with a shiny red KitchenAid. I had been coveting these beautiful mixers for a few years, and couldn’t believe that I now had one of my very own to take pride of place in my kitchen. She really is a beauty. Baking with Niece Posy For Christmas just gone, he bought me the KitchenAid Ice Cream Bowl Attachment. The perfect accessory! Just what I needed to mark #20 off my 30 by 30 listmaking my own ice cream. I’ve ordered The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (for under thirty bucks for the hardback copy with free shipping from Fishpond), but while waiting for that to arrive, I thought I’d try a recipe from my Serendipity Sundaes book. I bought recipe books from Serendipity3 (where we went for dinner) the day Mr Posy proposed when we were in New York City for Christmas five years ago, and they sat on a shelf ever since. It was definitely time to take one of the recipes for a spin! I had planned to make a basic vanilla ice cream, but the first recipe in the book was for chocolate ice cream, and given how much I love chocolate, I took it as a sign…

Chocolate Ice Cream (Serendipity Sundaes)

Chocolate Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 3 large egg yolks (I used 4)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups lite cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Approx. 250g chocolate (the recipe called for good quality dark, I used milk…)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  • Heat milk over a low heat – when warm, add the chopped chocolate, and stir through.
  • While milk is heating, beat egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and thick.
  • Add a ladle (or two) of the warm milk/chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until combined (tempering the eggs will stop the eggs from curdling… I learnt something new!).
  • Add the tempered egg mixture to the warm milk/chocolate mixture and continue to stir over a low heat, until the liquid coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes) – do not overheat.
  • Pour into a heatproof bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature. Stir through vanilla extract, cover, and place in the fridge to chill for at least 8 hours.

Method

  • Churn as per instructions for ice cream maker (mine churned for 30 minutes; I added grated chocolate in the last few minutes of the churning process).
  • Freeze in an airtight container.

I’m happy with the end result, but there are a few things I’d like to do differently next time I use this recipe – use a vanilla bean pod in the custard instead of extract, use a good quality dark chocolate as instructed instead of just a regular block of milk chocolate, use full fat milk instead of the trim milk that we had in the fridge, turn the air-conditioning on during the churning process… I’m in love with the KitchenAid Ice Cream Bowl Attachment – I was a little nervous that it wouldn’t work as well as an actual ice cream machine, but the mixture thickened/aerated well, and resulted in a deliciously creamy ice cream. The ice cream is so good that I want to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I don’t know how I will ever eat store-bought ice cream again. 30 by 30 Make my own ice cream

“Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.” – Don Kardong

It’s a very rocky road

When I was small, I was so fascinated with Church that my mother used to tell my dad that she quite seriously thought I would be a nun when I grew up. They were never quite sure where my interest came from, having not been born into a particularly religious family. My dad was baptised in the Catholic Church, and my mum in the Church of New England; they had me baptised as Catholic (and I later went on to celebrate my Holy Communion and my Confirmation through school), and they would occasionally take us to Church for Christmas and Easter, but that was about the extent of a religious upbringing in our house.

I don’t know if it was the sense of community or the feeling of belonging (particularly when we lived in isolated communities where my main interaction with others was via radio for school), or just the pretty windows, but from the ages of about 6 – 10, I would insist that my dad take me to church.

Over the years, my attendance at church became less and less, but Lent has always been the one concept that has stayed with me. Perhaps to try and appease the healthy dose of Catholic guilt (that was instilled in me through school) of going to church less than five times a year, for the six week leading up to Easter I choose to give up something that is a true sacrifice for me. The past couple of years, this has been chocolate – my one emotional crutch.

When I say I give up chocolate, I’m talking all things chocolate – including, but not limited to: milk, dark and white chocolate, chocolate icecream, chocolate topping, chocolate in my coffee (i.e. mochas), chocolate on my coffee (i.e. cappuccinos), chocolate lollies (chicos, eclairs etc), lamingtons, chocolate cake, chocolate spread (nutella), chocolate milk/hot chocolate, chocolate mousse/yoghurt, chocolate biscuits… You get the idea.

Given I gave up chocolate for Lent, you might wonder what it was that possessed me to whip up a batch of Snickers Rocky Road at 9 o’clock on Wednesday night… I stupidly volunteered to make what I knew was a favourite treat for one of my staff member’s birthday morning tea on the Thursday. It was torture.

I used Not Quite Nigella’s Original Rocky Road recipe, but added extra Snickers bars and chocolate, partly because more is more when it comes to chocolate (and when you haven’t had any for weeks), and partly because I’m lazy and couldn’t be bothered measuring (in the interest of spending the least possible contact time with the chocolate).

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 400g milk chocolate
  • 200g unsalted peanuts
  • 8 regular sized Snickers bars (I got mine on special for a buck each)
  • 200g mini marshmallows

Method

  1. Line a tin with foil – I think I used an 11 x 7 inch tray.
  2. Melt the 400g milk chocolate and three chopped Snickers bars in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
  3. Roast the peanuts in the oven for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the mini marshmallows and remaining chopped Snickers bars – add the roasted peanuts and stir what I can only liken to“rubble”. Spoon into the lined tray.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate/Snickers mix over the marshmallow/peanut/Snickers rubble. Refrigerate until set, and chop into pieces!

We first made this dish at Christmas, and it was delicious. I can’t tell you how this batch tasted, lest I be struck down for even considering a bite, however my team ate every last piece, so it must have been a bit orright.

Lord, lead me not into temptation…