Monday, July 28, 2014


Today I am taking you beyond the rootbeer float....back in time... to the old-fashioned soda and ice cream bar at the drugstore on the corner.  Few of these gems still exist. We had one in a small city I lived in in the South a few years ago. But, when the owner died, so did the business, along with the beautiful curved bar with chrome details. 

I didn't live in the era of the soda fountain. I'm too young. If you did, or if one still exists in your town, I'd love to hear about some of the drink combos and their names.  

Having a float bar was fun summer activity for our family. Everyone was excited to try out their own concoctions.  Below are a few that we especially enjoyed. Some of the names are borrowed from actual soda fountain drinks; others are our own invention. :)

This is extremely refreshing. One of those drinks that will always sound good. 

Creamy. Fizzy. Yummy.

An old classic. Oldie but goody.

My dad introduced this one to me as a kid. It is also yummy with grape juice. Seriously yummy.

The name says it all. 

This was a creative idea we concocted, and it was DELICIOUS.  
Different than it's reverse, but just as tasty. 

Chocolate ice cream in a float? Can it be so?  Yes, it can. 
My chocolate-loving daughter especially loved this one. 

The possibilities are endless. So many sodas, so many ice creams and sherbets!  Invite some friends, pull out the mason jars and straws, and it's a FLOAT BAR PARTY!  

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pocket Power Pancakes

I have a friend who is training for his first Ironman Triathlon. Wow! I feel both inspired and tired just thinking about that.  He told me he had been doing some experimenting in the kitchen to come up with a "pancake" he could eat while training that would have wholesome ingredients, good taste, and be easy to take along.   Could I help him in his quest?  I was willing to try. And I am so excited with the result!

I have run 3 marathons and have participated in other endurance races and events, so I have some experience with the challenge of fueling up while you are taxing your body.  I have used gels, sauces, gummies, bars, and waffles.  I think Clif Bars are my across-the-board favorite bar for taste. But they can be too much bulk in my belly if I'm running or riding hard.  I recently tried the Honey Stinger Waffles. These are tasty and didn't bother my stomach during a hard run. But they are pricey--about $1.50/each retail.  

I wanted to make a fuel-up treat that would be easy on the stomach, taste like REAL FOOD (and be made from it), and fit in your pocket.  I didn't succeed right away, but after a couple of tweaks, we had a winner!  

These are truly quick and easy to make. Even the baking-challenged can make pancakes, right? That's all it takes!

Here is the ingredient nutrition fact break down.  The chocolate chips are optional. They make them prettier, but aren't needed for taste. My pickiest child preferred them without the chocolate drizzle. 

Here 's the how-to:
(Recipe follows)

Put all dry ingredients in food processor. 1 cup rolled oats, 1/3 cup milled chia seeds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

This is the only ingredient you may not have on hand regularly. I bought mine at Fred Meyer (a Kroger company grocery store).  They are also available on Amazon here.

Process the dry ingredients a bit--just enough to break up some of the oats and blend the ingredients.

Add one banana, 1/3 cup honey, and 1/3 cup coconut oil.

Process a bit more, and you are ready to cook!

Heat a griddle or non-stick frying pan to medium-low heat.  I used my 1.5 Tablespoon scoop to make each one the same size; a heaping tablespoon would be about right as well. 

These won't spread out like pancakes on their own. Drop the spoonful onto the griddle and then flatten it with the back of the spoon to about 3" in diameter.  Cook about 2-3 minutes/side. This will vary from griddle to griddle.  

Totally looks like sausage patties, huh?  They are seriously yummy. The banana and coconut oil keep them moist and, along with the cinnamon, make them taste delicious!

To add the drizzle: Melt 1/3 cup of chocolate chips (white, semi-sweet, or milk), in a microwave dish, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Spoon the melted chocolate into the bottom corner of a plastic sandwich baggie. Snip a small hole in the corner, then drizzle the Power-Cakes.  I store mine in the refrigerator. They are delicious and moist right out of the fridge!

Here are some of the semi-sweet drizzled batch.

I wrapped them up and put them in the fridge. 

Easy to take on your next workout! You'll look forward to fueling up!

Pocket Power-Cakes
Makes 16

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup milled chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium banana
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1. Place dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a food processor. Process a few seconds, just cutting up oatmeal a bit (not fine).
2. Place wet ingredients into food processor on top of dry ingredients. Process until well incorporated.
3. Heat griddle or non-stick frying pan to medium-low heat.  Scoop batter in heaping tablespoons onto griddle, spreading each scoop to form a 3-inch circle.  Cook about 2 minutes per side.  Remove and cool.
4. In a microwave-safe dish, heat chocolate chips, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth.  Spoon melted chocolate into the bottom corner of a plastic sandwich bag. Snip a small hole in the corner with scissors. Drizzle the tops of the Power-Cakes. 
5. Store covered in the refrigerator. 

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How To Make a Camp Stove from a V8 Can

As you could have guessed, I'm not the only one in my house with a compulsory need to make stuff.  It turns out I'm married to a creative guy, and we have breeded some pretty creative offspring.  :)

So the true author of this post is my 12-year-old son.  He, his 10-year-old brother, and my husband have been on a camp-stove-making journey over the past few months. They have made (and we have used) tuna can stoves, Coke can stoves, and various others. Do an internet search for the various YouTube tutorials out there, and you will see there are many. 

We have had a fair amount of luck with the tuna can stoves, but on the trail they only really burned long enough to make ramen noodles or hot cocoa.  The Coke can stoves burn a bit longer, but are less stable (READ: my husband caught his shirt on fire in my kitchen!).   

This V8 can stove, though tiny, is mighty. It has proven to be stable and more efficient: able to burn for a whopping 17 minutes without needing to re-fuel! 

This stove along with the windscreen pot rack weighs very little and fits nicely in most mess kits, so it easy to bring on any campout--whether you are backpacking or car camping!

To our knowledge, this is the first tutorial for this particular type of stove. My son took all the pictures (and did an amazing job). He was very thorough with each step.  

You will need: 
  • 2 empty (5.5oz) V8 cans
  • ruler
  • hole punch
  • sheath metal (3"x 23", available at home improvement store, roofing section)
  • needle-nose pliers
  • heavy text book
  • sharp scissors
  • box cutter/ X-acto knife
  • push pin
  • 3 metal tent stakes
  • pocket knife with an awl tool (or other awl-like pointed tool)
  • penny
  • denatured alcohol (located in paint section at store)

Step 1. Build the  wind screen. This will be a pot stand and a wind screen when you cook with the stove.  Punch two off-set rows of holes on one length of the sheathing.

Use the needle nose pliers at each short end to make folds (one inside, one out, so they can "lock" the screen). Carefully pull the sheathing to make a circle and lock in place with the folds. 

Punch holes near the top of the sheathing (about 1 inch down), close at one end and wide at the other (as shown). This will create a rack for your pot to sit on.

Step 2. Score the cans. Set scissors in the heavy text book so the top blade is 3/4 inch high. Press down on the scissors while turning the can around the open blade. Be sure to only score with the top blade. 

This is what the can will look like once it is scored. 

Step 3. Use the X-Acto knife to cut  the bottom end of the can off, about 1/2 inch above the score line. This cut can, and will be, rough.

Step 4. Remove excess to achieve a smooth edge. This is illustrated in a few pictures.  Make a few cuts from the rough edge to just barely above the score line.

Fold down the loose pieces. This makes room for the scissors to cut.

Cut along score line.

When you get close to the slits you cut, unfold them and cut them off. 

This is what two "clean-cut" cans look like. 

Step 5. Create burner vents.  This is for ONE of the cans--not both.  Set the other can aside. Get your push pin ready. 

Push 6 equally spaced holes into the ridge of the bottom of the can (as shown).  This can be eyeballed to get estimated even spacing.

Step 6.  Use push pin to make 3 holes in center of can bottom. These should be close enough together to be covered by a penny set in the middle of the can bottom. 

The penny should also be able to be moved to the side, still sitting in the can, with all three holes uncovered. 

Step 7. Widen the burner holes. Using an awl or other similiar tool, widen each of the burner holes to about three-times their original size. This is done by applying a bit of pressure and making a twisting motion with the awl. 

This shows how big the holes should be when done. 

Step 8. Making dimples on the can you just punched holes in.  Using needle-nose pliers, pinch the can half-way up the side, directly below one of the burner holes, bending it in at a 15° angle. 

Here is what one dimple looks like. Continue around the can, making a dimple above each burner hole. 

Here it is with a dimple at each hole.  Looks kinda pretty--but you're not done dimpling yet!

Now make another 15° dimple between each one you already made. 

NOW you are done dimpling. Still pretty. Don't stress out if your dimples aren't perfect. 

Step 9. You have one can bottom with all kinds of fancy holes and dimples and one without. 

Place the fancy can into the plain can, as shown. This will be tight, so do this step carefully and evenly. It will be hard to undo a crooked-placed can. 

Congratulations! You have made a V8 Can Camp Stove.  Now to use it...

Step 10. It's time to set up to cook.  Have a lighter ready. Place the penny over the holes. Carefully pour denatured alcohol into the trough, with the penny in place, just until it fills the trough. Move the penny away and let the alcohol drain.  
Replace the penny over the holes. Pour more alcohol into the trough, this time enough to overflow and cover the burner holes (on the outside edge).  Light the alcohol. This will prime the fuel that is already inside the stove. 

Place the windscreen pot stand over the stove.

Slowly set your pot on the stake racks. 

This fuel burns invisibly in daylight. But turn off the light....

And, let it burn! 

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