Homemade Sorbet: Sor-Good With Booze

a glass dessert cup of raspberry sherbet
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve discovered the perfect end to a summer evening, dessert and aperitif all rolled into one. It’s homemade sorbet. With booze. I didn’t exactly invent the stuff–the idea came to me when I was writing about champagne sorbet for the July issue of Hemispheres–but I think I’m perfecting it. So far I’ve made peach-strawberry-tequila and mango-raspberry-Cointreau. Sounds good, right?

Because I’m a frozen-produce kind of gal (phobia of spoiled fruits and veggies; normal), I was able to shave off chopping/pitting/stemming time. I let my fruit thaw about halfway, dumped it all in the food processor, pureed, added a little brown sugar and booze to taste, mixed, put in a container and put in the freezer. You’re supposed to use an ice cream maker, but I just took it out and stirred every few hours. The raspberry-mango-Cointreau one utilized Goya frozen mango pulp, which is available in an array of delicious tropical flavors. So, viva la summer, I say!

[Incidentally, this is the second post in a week that has mentioned Goya. They’re not giving me money to talk about them, but if they want to, I’m down.]

Knitting for Your Neck (Summer Edition)

This was a post originally written for ReadyMade.com’s 30 Days of Creativity. But ReadyMade is no more (seriously sad news), so here it goes. I-cord necklace!

As a knitter, there’s some expectation that I make things for people. I’m fine with the occasional baby hat or booties. They’re quick! But to be totally honest, there aren’t many people I actually want to spend six-plus months crafting gifts for (you’re welcome, Dad). These necklaces are easy gifts and are great for using up leftovers, as you only need maybe 10 yards, depending on the weight of the yarn and the length you’d like the finished piece to be. The thinner the yarn, the thinner the necklace, so I used a lace-weight (superthin) wool mixed with something sparkly that I got at a swap. I knit one piece of i-cord* long enough to be the main part of the necklace, then four short pieces to drape around the center. Then I just sewed it all together and tied on a clasp. The nice thing about i-cord is that there are no ends to weave in! Just tuck all the ends into the center of the tube, and you’re good to go.

So the big question is, do I start an Etsy store?

*To make i-cord, a little knit tube, you just cast on three stitches using a double-pointed needle. Every row, instead of turning your work, you slide it to the other end of the double-pointed needle, so that when you start your row, the yarn is at the end farthest from the tip of the needle.

My Great Goat Taco Experiment

First things first: These are not exactly tacos! They’re more like burritos but smaller (burrititos?) and open, not wrapped. Whatever. I made some goat, I made some yellow rice, and I made some refried beans from scratch. If you want to quibble about what this dish should be called, please do so in comments! It will be fun.

Anyway, here’s what all went down to bring this creation into the world. [Ed. note: I used multiple Goya premixed products. I am unapologetic. But if you want to be a show-off, go ahead and sub in your homemade equivalent.] 

Refried Beans
Make these the night before or even a full day in advance, as both they and the goat are made in the slowcooker. Unless you have two slowcookers.
1 lb. dried kidney beans
1 onion
1 tsp. Adobo
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Lots and lots of water

Put beans in large pot. Add enough water to cover, plus about 50 percent. Let soak for eight hours.

Drain, transfer to slowcooker. Dice onion and add it to beans along with salt and Adobo. Once again, add enough water to cover plus about 50 percent. Cook on low for 10 hours.

Heat olive oil in largest skillet you own. Add beans in batches, and kind of mash and fry all at once. They should be pretty soupy, so they won’t really stick, and they will stiffen up nicely. This is a good time to taste. You may want more salt, although I didn’t.

Please note that this is WAY more than you’ll need for your tacos. Put some in the freezer. Nothing bad can possibly come of having too many beans on hand.

1 lb. cubed goat for stew (this is basically the only way they sell it at my grocery store)
1 packet Goya Sazon
2 c. chicken stock
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Goya soffrito
1 Tbsp. Tapatio hot sauce (any other brand will do, but I highly recommend that you don’t use anything too fancy, as the expensive stuff tends to be somehow both thicker and more vinegary)

Rub goat with Sazon and place in slowcooker. Mix all other ingredients, and then pour the mixture over the Sazoned goat. Cook on low for six hours, mixing occasionally to make sure all parts of the goat get equal liquid coverage so that none of it gets tough.

I’m not going to bother with a recipe for yellow rice. Either buy the mix or make regular old brown or white rice and add some Sazon and a splash of olive oil while cooking. Use your favorite taco shells or tortillas or whatever, your fave cheese (I put the cheese on the bottom so that it melts onto the warm tortilla), a dollop of sour cream, a splash of hot sauce, et voila!

This is a good meal, guys. You should really, really make it. I mean obviously have some veggies, too. Health comes first. But goat burrititos. Yes.


The Fish Market: An Exploration

[Ed note: I feel like this may need a disclaimer that the title’s not a euphemism? Gross. Another disclaimer: graphic fish images ahead!]

Part of my new life is that I can do things like go to the butcher and the fish market and the green grocer on an almost-daily basis. Except that I haven’t found a decent butcher in my hood. But yesterday I did go to the fish market, a kind of awe-inspiring place. Right there on Nostrand Avenue, between a hair store and a liquor store (I think?) is a salty-smelling haven of glassy-eyed fish luxuriating on beds of ice.

There were fishes I’ve never heard of (baby kingfish, which turns out to be a kind of whiting) and others I didn’t know people ate (angelfish). But I settled on bluefish. I have a fond memory of going deep-sea fishing with my dad, grandfather and uncle in Florida. I was a scrawny 10-year-old who caught a massive bluefish. My dad soaked it in milk to cut the oiliness before grilling it. He also cooked some of it with tapenade. Both were delicious and left me with a soft spot. Plus it was $1.99/pound, and it’s a great source of selenium. I don’t know what that is.

Although I was tickled by the idea of carrying home a giant fish and trying to fillet it with subpar knives, I got the guys there to cut it for me. To my great delight, they included the head. When I say I was delighted, I don’t mean because I actually had designs on cooking or eating it. I just had great fun trying to think of pranks I could pull and ways to dry and cure it to make a hat for Beatrice the cat. Because what could be funnier than a cat with a fish head on its head? Nothing, that’s what. After a quick photoshoot, I discarded the head, made a marinade of milk, lime, garlic, onions and cumin. About three hours later, I broiled my friend the bluefish with a little bit of salt. Perfection.

As for those fish I didn’t know so well, it turns out angelfish is often used for braai, or South African barbecue. This looks stupid-good. Watch out angelfishes. I’m coming for you.

Be It Ever So Humble

Exciting news, my reader-friends: I’ve created a proper home office/craft area.

More exciting/panic-inducing is that this is where I’ll be spending my days from here on out. After three-and-a-half years in the inflight mag biz, I’m becoming an unattached woman. I’ll be freelancing and blogging from here on out (until some website will have me as an editor).

Doing one thing a day that scares you has become a popular theme for bloggers–such as the lovely One Bad–and authors. For me, not having a job is about as scary as it gets. I’m literally terrified of my own life.

But I’m being positive! I won’t blog about that side of things! The good news is I have time for elaborate projects around the house and fancy meals. And I can tell all of you about it. Then you’ll tell your friends, and they’ll tell their friends, etc., and Spiffy will become famous. A book deal will follow shortly. I’m told this is how these things work.

As I embark on this weird new life, I welcome questions and suggestions (including “Dance, monkey, dance!”). This is going to be fun guys.


That’s One Bad Yam Pajama-speak for help, and I need yours, ya freeloaders. Filed under awesome things that come across my desk (actually One Bad’s, I think) is a box of postcards of vintage Penguin Books covers.

That’s just a small sampling. I have at least 100 of these. I also have a very bare wall behind my TV and lots of lovely molding that kind of sold me on my apartment. So my thought is get s bunch of cheap postcard frames and line the crown molding on that wall with the covers.

But should I maybe put them on the big blank expanse behind the TV, arranged all asymmetrically and perfect? Should I decoupage something? Should I make little false book-boxes and fill them with thematic gifts for people? Ha, that last one obviously wouldn’t happen. Mekkin, if you’re reading, do you want to lay claim to them for something in the wedding?

Clearly, I’m overthinking this. I just think I have an opportunity to do something really cool with these. I’ll at least consider any and all suggestions. Thanks, friends.

Chop Chop Chop It Up

This morning, my coworker Brooke sent out a link about her experience at a knife skills class, and I was wicked jealous. Knife skills are one of those basic cooking things that I always feel like I could be doing better but maybe can’t teach myself through trial and error or sheer instinct. I tend to like my veggies very little but get bored chopping about halfway through, and I feel like if I got one really good chef’s knife and learned to wield it with the power of a master samurai, this wouldn’t happen anymore. Any suggestions for a nice knife that will make carrots quiver with fear? Or should I just use my food processor?