Donna Maurillo, food for thought


Ants!!! Hundreds of ants! They’ve crawled all over my kitchen counters, and I can’t figure out where they’re getting in. I cleaned up their tracks in hopes of removing the “scent markers” they use for communication. Did not work. I blocked all the openings where it seemed that they entered. They found new places. I hate using poison, but I sprayed some Raid to block a few tracks. They avoided it and then found new ways to enter.

This morning I found them walking through the trash to look for any pieces that may not have fallen into the sewer. They invaded my trash can under the sink. They even got into my countertop ice maker. Oh good? The ice machine?

I bet you are having the same problem. When I stopped at the hardware store to buy some ant bait, the salesman said everyone was coming to get it. “I think the heat pushed them all inside,” he said. “You’re not the only one.”

So I put a few drops of ant bait on a small piece of aluminum foil. Since my last check, they haven’t been there. We’ll see what happens. The bugs outside don’t bother me. They have their place in the ecosystem. I don’t want them to take control inside.

If you have any foolproof solutions, share them with us.

Origin of ramen

If you were like most college students, ramen noodles have become a staple on your menu. You can cover them with boiling water and eat them in soup. Or you can put them on a plate and serve them with sautéed vegetables. Or you can break them dry into a salad for a bit of crunch.

The possibilities were endless. The kids loved them because they were simple to cook themselves. People store them for emergency rations. (Has anyone ever had to use their emergency rations?) And others store them in desk drawers for a quick lunch on a busy work day.

They were invented by Momofuku Ando in Japan after World War II after he saw people queuing up to buy ramen on the black market during food shortages. He learned how to fry noodles and package them as Chikin Ramen. In 1971, after seeing a man smash noodles to boil in his cup of coffee, Momofuku invented the Cup Noodles we know today.

Its goal was to bring affordable and convenient food to everyone, and its motto was: “Peace prevails when food is enough”. This was during a time when more and more people were buying frozen dinners and baking mixes. Thus, his innovation was perfectly in line with the trends of a post-war world.

Momofuku’s invention is said to have helped launch the popularity of Japanese cuisine and culture in the United States, making him a national hero. In fact, when he passed away in 2007, his funeral was held at a sports stadium and celebrated by 34 clergy!

The second sale is in progress

One of my favorite events, the second pottery and glass sale, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 2 at the Cabrillo College parking garage A/B. Same place where Aptos Farmers Market is held. This is your chance to find great deals on plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, pitchers and other kitchenware. They are slightly imperfect or overstocked.

Stock up on original artwork for your table. Or find decorative items for the rest of your home – and even unique jewelry or other unusual pieces. Each item is made by a local artist, and often the imperfection is so slight that only the designer knows where it is.

It’s the same weekend as North County Open Studios, so you can do both in the same day.

Season crowns, anyone?

Don’t you love those wreaths made of pine or laurel branches, dried fruits, flowers and other seasonal items? Often they are quite expensive. But you can make your own Saturday at the Scotts Valley Farmers Market, 5060 Scotts Valley Drive. It’s in the same place as the Boys and Girls Club.

The market provides the materials and you can go crazy with your creation. And it’s free! Let the kids build their own wreaths to hang indoors or outdoors. Santa Cruz Public Libraries will also host a food-based scavenger hunt, and the event will include face painting and live music.

TIP OF THE WEEK

I understood it during the heat wave in Italy this summer. Fill a plastic bottle with water. Leave about two inches at the top for expansion. Cap it and place the bottle in the freezer. When you go out in the heat, place the bottle against your neck to stay cool. When the ice melts, you have cold water to drink.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

This recipe requires an electric ice cream maker such as a Cuisinart – the type that uses a frozen container. Or you can use a crank type.

COFFEE ICE CREAM WITH CHOCOLATE AND ALMONDS

Makes about 2 ½ liters

2 cups half and half

1 cup heavy cream

2-3 tablespoons of instant coffee

¾ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsalted, raw or lightly toasted almonds

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli

Directions:

1. Combine half and half and heavy cream in a 4-cup pitcher or measuring cup with a pour spout. Put aside

2. In a small bowl, mix the instant coffee and sugar to grind up the coffee crystals. Try to make them as smooth as possible so they dissolve. Then add the sugar and cream coffee mixture. Stir until blended. It’s okay if there are a few coffee crystals left.

3. Place the frozen ice bucket on its base. Add the dasher and lid, and turn on the machine. When the container begins to spin, slowly add the cream mixture through the opening in the lid.

4. Let the machine run for about 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. It should reach the top of the container.

5. While the machine is churning the ice cream, cut the almonds and chocolate chips into small pieces about 1/4 inch in diameter. They don’t need to be uniform in size. In fact, it will be impossible!

6. After the ice cream has churned for about 20 minutes, sprinkle with chocolate and nuts. Let it churn another minute or until the additions are distributed. Ice cream is ready when reasonably firm. It will retain its shape when you scoop a portion out with a spoon. You may need to churn a few more minutes.

7. Switch off the device. Remove the lid and the dasher. Scrape any ice cream from the dasher. (Lick the rest, if you must.)

8. At this point, the ice cream can be eaten soft. Or if you prefer a firm consistency, pour the ice cream into a 3-quart container and smooth the top. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the surface to prevent freezer burn. Cover container and place in freezer for at least four hours or until ice cream is desired firmness.

9. After scooping out portions, cover the leftover ice cream again with plastic wrap, cover the container and return it to the freezer.


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