Food

Katrina crack corn, and she don’t care

Katrina crack corn, and she don’t care 5

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Happy New Year! I hope you all had a blast ringing in 2014 with family, friends, fireworks…and of course…a little bit of bubbly!

I’m currently sitting in the far corner of the SeaTac airport “A” gates, my body still swollen and uncomfortably full from last night’s New Year’s Eve indulgences. Let’s just say there was a moment where I was legitimately afraid my stomach would rupture in my sleep and kill me as a result of being so full. Luckily, being that stuffed means it’s easy to fall asleep really quickly, despite worrying about expiring overnight due to too much crack corn.

That’s right, crack corn. (Named for it’s highly addictive properties.)

While I know today is all about juice cleanses, gym memberships and swearing you’ll never secretly eat an entire fruitcake ever again, I’ve decided to set myself apart from the pack of  “new year, new you!” bloggers by sharing a terrifically unhealthy holiday recipe.  I’d also like to publicly thank my friend Kaitlin for sharing this oh so simple concoction with me–my life has been forever changed for the better, Kaitlin. (My pants also no longer fit…but it was totally worth it.)

Crack corn requires just two ingredients: Almond bark or vanilla candy coating, and a few bags of puff corn.

puff-corn

 

How I’ve existed for nearly 30 years without being aware of puff corn is both a mystery and a tragedy. What is puff corn, you ask? Butter flavored Cheet-ohs that taste like greasy, delicious styrofoam. Admittedly, that might not be the most convincing description…but don’t let my words deter you. You should definitely give puff corn a chance.

So how does puff corn become crack corn? Prepare to be inspired….

Step One:

almond-bark

Melt 24 ounces of almond bark or candy coating in a large pan. The bigger, the better. (If you’ve never melted this stuff before, the key is to do it on super low heat and stir continuously.)

 

Step 2:

mix

Dump two bags of puff corn–not sure how many ounces they are…but use the medium ones marked ‘$2 only!’–into the pot of melted almond bark and stir until coated. You’ll definitely want to remove the pot from the heat before doing this. (Yup. Learned that one the hard way.)

 

Step 3:

cooling

Once the crack corn is fully coated, pour the contents of the pot onto a large sheet of wax paper to cool and harden. You’ll probably eat half of your yield before it cools, which is completely acceptable. It’s part of the process.

 

Step 4:

After 20-30 minutes of cooling, transfer the crack corn into a large bowl. You will most likely have to break some large clusters apart while doing so. Or you could just eat the large clusters, even if you have a difficult time fitting them in your mouth as they are so large. Smacking and chewing with your mouth open is encouraged and scientifically proven to enhance the crack corn’s flavor profile.

(This step is not pictured for what I hope to be obvious reasons.)

*******

I hope you enjoy this simply addictive recipe as much as I have over the past two weeks. Whipping up a batch guarantees your taste buds will love you…and your thighs will hate you. And really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

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The Fab Five: December 2013

The Fab Five: December 2013 4

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For this month’s installment of the Fab Five, I’ll be featuring all my favorite goodies from my recent trip to Australia. Southern-hemisphere dwellers, you’re in luck! (Although you probably discovered these gems long before I did.) As for those of you up here with me? Let’s hope you don’t mind spending a small fortune on shipping….

1. Drinking Custard

drinking custardI was completely crestfallen upon learning that drinking custard isn’t actually something you drink. (While I couldn’t find a photo online, I swear the label actually reads “Drinking Custard”. Back me up, Aussie friends?)

In contrary, this delicious sauce is intended to be poured over pies, crumbles, fruit, and if you’re me, pancakes. Think of it as a far superior alternative to cool whip. It is decadent, flavorful, and in my opinion, totally worthy of drinking on its own. (In secret, of course.)

I still can’t get over the fact that we don’t have this in the states. Surely, it would be an instant, pourable sensation! While I’m assuming it’s nearly impossible to ship, I did manage to find a super simple recipe if you want to whip up your own batch at home. Think  of it as my Christmas gift to you.

 

2. Lorna Jane

lorna jane

Think Lululemon, only….less douchey? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Lulu…but I think we can all admit that founder and former CEO Chip Wilson is kind of a jackhole. In contrast, Lorna Jane Clarkson–the founder of this Australian activewear brand–is an incredibly positive role model on multiple levels.  The brand has a truly positive message–Move, Nourish, Believe–that feels legitimately empowering and genuine. As far as the clothing goes, the price and quality is right on par with Lululemon. I actually prefer Lorna’s stuff as they tend to embrace more color and pattern. (Those floral mania pants have my name written all over them. Also on my list? The 2014 Move Nourish Believe Journal.)

The good news? LJ has recently expanded to the United States! While they currently only have stores in California, you can shop till your blue in the face on their website. Did I mention the free site-wide shipping? Yes, please!

 

3. Weis Bars

weis bar

I discovered this tasty little treat on a hot day in Surfer’s Paradise. And it was heaven. (If heaven tasted like mangoes, vanilla ice cream, and macadamia nuts, that is.) These ice cream bars are made in Queensland with love — and real fruit! Surprisingly, they also aren’t too much of a splurge in the calorie department.

Obviously, shipping these frozen nuggets of delight to the states is out of the question, (unless you’re, like, Oprah or something), but I plan on recreating them at home with a scoop of mango sorbet, splash of cream, and tablespoon of chopped up mac nuts. (Sorry…that’s the best I can do.)

 

4. Bonds

bondsundies

Bonds. Bonds! How did I survive twenty-nine years without Bonds?

I learned about Bonds thanks to our Contiki tour guide, Carolyn. She informed us that all the ladies and gents in Oz swear by this Australian brand of underwear. “They are the most comfortable things you will ever invest in,” she claimed.

Turns out, Carolyn was right. I’ve since fallen madly in love with Bonds for the following three reasons:

  1. They ship to the U.S. Easy, peasy.
  2. By signing up for their free rewards program, you get twenty percent off every single thing you buy for, like, ever!
  3. They make granny panties suitable for someone under the age of 30. (And yes…I love me some granny panties.)

 

5. Dual Flush Toilets

dual flush toilet

I know, I know. Dual flush toilets exist in America. But they were absolutely everywhere in Australia. During my fifteen days down under, I don’t think I came across a single toilet that wasn’t dual flush. Congratulations, Australia — you have outdone us with your eco-friendly ways again!

Seriously, though. Think about how much water we Yankees waste every single day using a single flush commode. It’s kind of really insane. Let’s face it —  America needs more dual flush toilets. There. I’ve solved at least half of our nation’s problems!

While I have little control over the governments toilet mandates, I am able to made a difference at home. And Australia  has inspired me to jump on the dual flush bandwagon and never look back! Sure — there will be a bit of an up-front investment, but I’m hoping to save a bundle on  utilities in the future.  Particularly as I work from home — so I’m here flushing away all the live long day.

(Oh how I long for the days when our utility bills were lower as both Scott and I were at offices all day.)

(And yes. I realize that’s a really weird thing to think about.)

******

There you have it. My five favorite things from the land down under! Any Aussie treasures I left out? Of course, an honorable mention is given to my beloved runner-ups: Tim Tams and Harry’s meat pies. (Sorry guys. You just couldn’t compete with drinking custard.)

Psst! Want to check out Fab Fives of months gone past? Be my guest!

 

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Give tuna a chance!

Give tuna a chance! 2

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As a rule, I try to avoid eating anything that resembles tuna salad at breakfast time. Call me crazy, but it’s a guideline that’s seemed to serve me well thus far in life.  Unfortunately, it’s also the reason it took me nearly 30 years to try Bircher Museli.

It’s not that I’ve never had opportunities to indulge the Swiss-style oatmeal — I distinctly remember encountering it at several breakfast buffets during various trip to Europe over the past fifteen years. But did I ever once try it? Absolutely not. It looked like tuna with raisins in it!

Yet for some reason I still can’t completely pinpoint, I decided to give Bircher Museli a try when I spotted it at a breakfast buffet in Sydney. Leave it to me to discover Swiss food in Australia, of all places.

After one bite, I was sold. Why had it taken me so long to try this magical breakfast porridge? (Especially as I actually like tuna salad.) And perhaps more importantly, how could I make it at home?

Fortunately, the answer to that question was just a Google search away. As soon as I arrived back in ‘Sota, I put my findings to work.

Bircher Museli Recipe

Simply mix all the ingredients in a big ol’ bowl, refrigerate overnight, and prepare to be wowed the next morning.

Bircher Museli

Wowed by the taste…NOT the appearance. (Although to be fair, my homemade version looked WAY less like tuna than others I’ve seen.)

You can eat your museli plain, or with a bit of milk mixed in. The recipe is nearly fool-proof, and welcomes improvisations like different types of nuts, fruits, and various other goodies. I’m excited to try a “tropical” version with dried coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts. The best part? It keeps for a week (I’d argue it tastes better each day), so it’s a great breakfast to prep on Sunday and grab quickly during busy weekday mornings.

The recipe I’ve listed makes about six servings, weighing in at about 300 calories a pop. Each serving also packs a ton of energy-boosting “good” carbohydrates, not to mention 12 grams of protein. Not as much protein as tuna salad, but close. (And much more palatable with a hot cup of coffee at 7:30 am.)

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I cuddled it. (And then I ate it.)

I cuddled it. (And then I ate it.) 2

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Out of all the goals I had set for my Australian holiday, (and yes, I set goals for my vacations), one aspiration stood out above the rest.

I wanted to see a kangaroo. In the wild.

After hours spent peering out the coach window, my eyes scanning the Australian bush for even the slightest form of movement, my dream was realized. On the way to a surf lesson outside of Coffs Harbor, our group spotted half a dozen ‘roos basking lazily in the early afternoon sunshine. We even witnessed one hopping! I may or may not have gasped so suddenly, I nearly aspirated a Tim Tam.

But it got better. So much better. Hours later, we found ourselves at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Within the first fifteen minutes, I was cuddling Aukkie the Koala.

holding a koala

Fact: Holding a Koala feels more natural than holding an infant. (At least for me.)

He smelled strongly of eucalyptus and body odor, and clutched onto me for dear life. I kissed his head three times before asking the Koala handler, “Can I give him some belly rubs?”

“Absolutely not.” he responded with sternness and confusion.

You win some, you lose some.

I didn’t think my day could get much better. A wild kangaroo sighting and three-minute snuggle session with Aukkie? I hadn’t been that content since July 1997, when my parents finally agreed to get cable.

And then, I walked into this.

kangaroos currumbin wildlife sanctuary australia

Words cannot describe the one-acre area where kangaroos, emus and humans alike roamed freely. To call it the best petting zoo in the world would be a gross understatement. I must have spooned a dozen different ‘roos, offering kisses, pets and ear scratches to even more. The best part? No one was there to stop me from giving them belly rubs.

I must have spent over an hour mingling with my favorite marsupials, yet it felt like mere minutes. Turns out, time flies when you’re witnessing first-hand how simultaneously disgusting and adorable a mama kanga’s pouch is. Also? The abundance of hopping–a truly impressive feat to observe up close–certainly makes the minutes whiz by.

While the three hours spent at Carrumbin didn’t feel like nearly enough, I was able to leave the premises knowing I had achieved my primary goal.

Now, it was time to move on to objective number two — eating a kangaroo. (Clearly, emotional detachment comes naturally to me.)

Our tour manager Carolyn had informed Kayla and I that kangaroo is absolutely delicious, not to mention incredibly healthy. She cooked it at home on a regular basis and was able to provide some very helpful insight: kangaroo is best enjoyed when cooked medium rare.

Because kangaroo meat is so lean (similar to venison) overcooking it results in a tough, chewy, not-all-that tasty steak. In contrast, undercooked kangaroo can lead to some unsavory digestive issues which could prove particularly problematic while traveling. Medium rare, it was.

During our final night in Sydney, Kayla and I ventured to Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Darling Harbour, prepared to have our taste buds wowed. I’m pleased to report that our meal did not disappoint.

kangaroo steak from nick's seafood restaurant in darling harbour, sydney

Kangaroo loin with pan-fried polenta and sweet tomato chutney

I cannot say enough good things about Nick’s, or the incredible dinner we had there.  The atmosphere was lovely, the view was stunning, and the food was the hands-down best we’d had during the entire trip. I left the restaurant feeling deeply sad it was over, and even more discouraged that kangaroo meat isn’t readily available in the U.S.

Oddly, I didn’t feel at all bothered over chowing down on the critters I had so lovingly spooned with just days prior.

kangaroo steak

The ultimate betrayal.

But I have no regrets. The kangaroo steak was so delectable, its continued to haunt my dreams even after leaving the southern hemisphere. Literally. While stranded at the Dallas airport for three days, I was able to catch a rare moment of sleep — thanks to some much-needed Ambien — on the airport-issued cot I had acquired. My sleep was so deep, it involved an incredibly vivid dream where I was eating–you guessed it– kangaroo steak. Unfortunately, the meat in my dream had been prepared incorrectly. I took a large bite, immediately discovering the ‘roo had barely been cooked, still completely cold and raw in the middle. Carolyn’s warning of food poisoning flashing through my subconscious, I immediately spit the steak out, hoping to avoid a foodborne stomach bug.

It was at this point I awoke, realizing my shockingly realistic dream had caused me to spit at least three large mouthfuls of saliva onto my cot. Not wanting to waste my Ambien buzz, I wiped it up with my sweatpants before immediately drifting back to sleep. I don’t think anybody saw me…but something tells me those Kangaroos at the sanctuary were snickering with vindication at my unfortunate spit situation.

Once again — you win some, you lose some.

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