a new year of experiments: 2010

Hello All --

I apologize greatly for the extremely unreasonable wait, but Physics 211 had its own set of experiments that I had to deal with. It was a long and grueling semester.

This year brings new experiements: new and improved soapmaking, more ice cream recipes, breadbaking, drying vegetables, but most of all, things that abide by the name of the blog and cannot be forecasted -- spontanious experiments.

Happy new decade!



Hello All!
We all know this lovely substance -- peanut butter... creamy peanut goddess.
I love most foods, but peanut butter I find exceptional. The gluttonus, cafe au lait-colored, stick-to-your-ribs, luxurious, and most of all, its deep and complex flavor make it heaven every time I eat peanut butter straight out of the jar.

(I attribute it to my mother eating peanut butter while she was pregnant with me to fill the void that my relentless appetite was creating.)

A bit gruesome to eat straight out of the jar, I know, but I can't help it.

Whether you like chunky or smooth, I have a treat for you. It's a modified version of the Topping Shoppe's recipe, slightly lower fat and lower tech. It's...

David's Peanut Butter-Chocolate Wafer No-egg Ice Cream

Ingredient List:

1 cup creamy or chunky (I used chunky all natural) peanut butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup 1 - 2% milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-10 chocolate wafer cookies, or the tops and bottoms to Oreos, coarsely crumbled

Make sure the dairy products are cold, fresh from the refrigerator.
  • Mix the peanut butter with the sugar thoroughly with a wooden or plastic spoon.
  • Add the milk, and mix until mostly homogenized and the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the cream and vanilla extract, and whip with a whisk until frothy and thickened. Make sure the whole mess is free of globs or clots of sugar.
  • Add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to its directions. It might take a while, but it's worth the wait...
  • Remove ice cream from the maker and add to a container you plan to keep in your freezer. Add the crumbled cookies and mix thoroughly.
  • Enjoy now, or later.


pumpkins and peaches

Hello All!

This post will be mainly recipe... I made recently fried marinaded peaches and pumpkin pie frozen yogurt, both were delicious and both roughly based off of some online recipes.

David's Balsamic Peaches


2 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and halved
a dozen Vanilla Wafers
1/3 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C balsamic vinegar, any combination white or dark
1/8 t nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom each
1 pint vanilla or peach frozen yogurt
(slivered almonds)
1 T butter and canola oil each
A frypan/large skillet with a big lid

Take your peaches and put them in a gallon sized bag with all ingredients EXCEPT butter, frozen yogurt, almonds, and vanilla wafers. Mix thoroughly in the bag without damaging the peaches. Let sit at room temperature for one hour.

Remove peaches and place each one into a bowl. Reserve sauce. Melt butter with canola oil in the large skillet. Crumble one or two vanilla wafers on each peach half, coating each one. Add flat-side down to the skillet. Turn the heat on low and cover with lid, cooking peaches until very soft and brown on both sides. Remove peaches and place each in their bowl, crumbling another vanilla wafer on top. Add sauce to pan and reduce until quite thickened, like thin maple syrup consistancy. Pour two spoonfuls atop each peach half and put one scoop of frozen yogurt on top, while still hot. Add a dash of amaretto and/or slivered almonds on top.


David's Pumpkin Pie Frozen Yogurt

1 C pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin puree
1.75 C lowfat yogurt
3/4 C packed dark brown sugar
3/4 t pumpkin pie spice
1.5 t vodka

Mix all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Add to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instruction.


Peach sorbet!

Hello All!

So I have decided to use my ice cream maker to its fullest while all this fresh fruit is everywhere. Peaches are in season, and we bought a half bushel of them. Albeit they were frozen -- they still were Georgia in-season peaches.
So what did I do?

Peach sorbet! Almost. I like frozen yogurt much better than sorbet, but frozen yogurt requires a lot of yogurt. So I'm not quite sure what to call it, but it's a hybrid of frozen yogurt and sorbet. Whatever it is, it's delicious.

David's Peach Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet Hybrid


4.5 C Peeled and chopped fresh peaches
2/3 C lemon juice + enough juice with fresh lemons to create 3/4 C
1 C lowfat yogurt
roughly 7/8 C sugar
5 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
optional: 1 tablespoon amaretto

Begin by peeling and chopping 4.5 cups of fresh peaches into a pyrex measuring cup. I don't recall exactly how many peaches this was, but it was at least 8 medium sized peaches. Put the prepared peaches into a blender or food processor and puree. Pour the puree back into the measuring cup.

Add all other ingredients into a saucepan and heat just until all sugar is dissolved. Be sure to strain the lemon seeds out. Add peach puree to everything else and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Prepare your ice cream maker and add 1/2 of the chilled peach mixture to it. Wait 15-25 minutes, depending on your ambient temperature. Reserve the remaining mixture, and refreeze your ice cream maker. You can make the second batch tomorrow, when all the sorbet will probably be gone.


frozen yogurt

Hello All!
I made frozen yogurt recently as my latest experiment! Compared with baking Pain A'l'ancienne, it's very basic. I used this recipe by Half Baked to the letter; I started with 1.5 lbs of strawberries, took out the bad ones and hulled them, then ended up with 1.1 lbs of strawberries. I also used the vodka. It turned out marvellously. Here are some pictures!
Start with fresh strawberries.

After chopping into small chunks and hulling them, rinse in a mesh strainer.

Then, add the sugar and vodka and stir until it dissolves. Wait 2 hours for the mix to mascerate. Then blend, and chill for an hour before sticking it in your electric ice cream maker.

Voila! you have frozen yogurt. It's almost like sorbet; however, it's a little richer, tangier, and less sweet. Almost like a frozen smoothie... refreshing.

So of course I got carried away and made my own recipe! I was hungry one night yet restless so I went and picked about a quart of wild raspberries and blackberries. I ate some fresh, but there were so many leftover that I needed to preserve them somehow. frozen yogurt!

David's wildberry frozen yogurt

2 cups wild blackberries and/or raspberries, in any combination

2.5 cups good full-fat yogurt

3/4 c sugar

1 t vodka

1 t vanilla extract

1/2 squeezed lemon

Start by measuring 2 cups wild berries into a large bowl. Add sugar, vanilla and vodka, and stir until the sugar mostly dissolves. Wait 30 minutes. Add berry mixture into a blender; pulse until pureed. Strain through a metal sieve, and this will take a while. Use a rubber spatula and scrape the bottom of the sieve.

Measure chilled yogurt into a large glass measuring cup. Add strained berry mixture into yogurt, along with the lemon juice. It should measure about 1 quart. Stir until combined, then add immediately into your ice cream maker. Hopefully you remembered to freeze it. Wait 20-30 minutes, or until desired thickness. If you wish, you may toss in a handful of extra berries 5 minutes before it finishes the freezing process. If you use 95% blackberries, like me, it should be a rich velvet color. This recipe makes for a rather lemony frozen yogurt, so if you want more of the berry flavor as opposed to a tart one, half the amount of lemon juice.

Good luck!


worm tea!

Hello All!

I was with the Foodlums, one of my favorite groups on campus the other day, and we made WORM TEA!

It was great! It actually looked about this color and everything.

The way to make worm tea, if you have access to fresh worm castings, is very simple. Just put about a cubic foot of worm castings in a cheesecloth, burlap sack, scrap cloth sack or anything somewhat porous and permeable. After that, put this bag of worm poo in a 5-gallon pail for 48 hours. Save the worm castings and voila! Worm tea. Be sure to use distilled water though.

Worm tea is basically steroids for your plants. According to wikipedia...

"Vermicompost can be mixed directly into the soil, or leached in water and made into a worm tea by mixing some vermicompost in water and steeping for a number of hours or days.
The microbial activity of the compost is greater if it is aerated during this period. The resulting liquid is used as a fertilizer or sprayed on the plants."

Have fun!


far too long

It has been WAY too long since I've done a spontanious experiment, not to mention spontanious anything!

Recently I made a bunch of Pain a'l'ancienne baguettes, but more or less the ciabatta form. Above is really what they look like -- mine turned out very similarly.
Well, here is the recipe! Take care in making sure that the bread dough, formed/shaped, sits out for an hour or two undisturbed if you want those big air bubbles.
Pain al’Ancienne
The bread bakers apprentice

6 cups (27 ounces) flour
2 1/4 tsp (.56 ounce) salt
1 3/4 tsp (.19 ounce) instant yeast
2 1/4 cups plus 2 T to 3 cups (19 to 24 ounces) water, ice cold
Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
Combine the flour, salt, yeast, and 19 ounces of water in the bowl of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix for 2 minutes on low speed. Switch to the dough hook and mix for 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl but it should release from the sides of the bowl. If not, sprinkle in a small amount of flour until this occurs (or dribble in water if the dough seems to stiff and clears the bottom as well as the sides of the bowl). Lightly oil a large bowl and immediately transfer the dough with a spatula or bowl scraper dipped in water into the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Immediately place the bowl in the refrigerator and retard overnight.
The next day, check the dough to see if it has risen. It will probably be partially risen but not doubled in size. Leave the bowl of dough out at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours (or longer if necessary) to allow the dough to wake up, lose its chill, and continue fermenting.When the dough has doubled from its original prerefrigerated size, liberally sprinkle the counter with bread flour (about 1/2 cup). Gently transfer the dough to the floured counter with a plastic dough scraper that has been dipped in cold water, dipping your hands as well to keep the dough from sticking to you. Try to degas the dough as little as possible as you transfer it. If the dough is very wet, sprinkle more flour over the top as well as under it. Dry your hand thoroughly and then dip them in flour. Roll the dough gently in the sprinkled flour to coat it thoroughly, simultaneously stretching it into an oblong about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. If it is too sticky to handle, continue sprinkling flour over it. Dip a metal pastry scraper into cool water to keep it from sticking to the dough, and cut the dough in half widthwise with the pastry scraper by pressing it down through the dough until it severs its, then dipping it again in the water and repeating this action until you have cut down the full length of the dough. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.
Now, place a baking stone in the bottom of your oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F. Also, place a baking pan or a cast iron skillet on the top rack of your oven. Cover the backs of two half sheet pans with parchment paper and dust with semolina or cornmeal.Cut the dough into 6 roughly equal strips using the dough cutter. Using floured hands, gently transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheets (3 to a pan). Be careful to space them as you do not want them to touch. Using a very sharp knife or kitchen scissors, make three incisions on the top of each loaf. Spray with oil and then cover with plastic wrap and let them rest until the oven is ready, roughly an hour. *** or several, if you want those big holes! ***
Heat about 3 cups of water to a simmer. Measure out 1 cup of it. Have a spray bottle full of room temperature water at the ready. Open the oven and slide the parchment paper (with the bread, of course) directly onto the baking stone. Then pour in the 1 cup of water into the baking pan or cast iron skillet. Close the oven door and wait 30 seconds. Then spray the walls of the oven with water. Repeat two more times. Then reduce the heat to 475 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating midway through the baking time if the loaves are baking unevenly. When golden brown and the internal temperature is at least 205 degrees, transfer the loaves directly to a cooling rack. Repeat the baking process with the remaining loaves, remembering to increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees.
Good luck!