Cucumber, Mint and Gin Sorbet

cucumber gin sorbet 1 Cucumber, Mint and Gin Sorbet

Apparently not having a kitchen is not keeping me from making stuff.

We were clearing out the fridge to move it, and I became obsessed with the use of three quarters of an English cucumber. We couldn’t just eat it – I had to transform it. I almost made fattoush, which would have utilized a couple pitas in the freezer (extra points! It’s like the culinary version of Scrabble) but the gin won. And besides, I needed to get that ice cream machine insert out of the freezer too – those things take up some serious real estate.

cucumber gin sorbet 2 Cucumber, Mint and Gin Sorbet

W was not pleased when he heard the machine going and learned I was making cucumber ice cream.

It’s the easiest sorbet ever – chop a cuke into your food processor, add mint, gin, and a simple syrup made my warming sugar and water – which you can totally do in the microwave. It deserves a good gin, like Hendrick’s – something smooth and herbal. Puree + freeze for a refreshing patio sorbet that’s also perfect for scooping into a glass of prosecco or tonic.

Cucumber, Mint and Gin Sorbet

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 large English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
small handful fresh mint
2-4 Tbsp. (1-2 shots) good gin

In a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, heat the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Pour into a glass or other container (to speed up the cooling process) and put into the fridge until it’s cooled down.

Put the cucumber, mint and gin in the bowl of a food processor. Add the simple syrup and pulse until as well blended as you can get it. Scrape into the bowl of an ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Alternatively, pour into a large loaf pan and freeze, stirring every hour or so until it’s frozen.)

Makes about 1 L.

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August 20 2014 | dessert and freezable | 1 Comment »

Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out

Kitchen reno 121 585x390 Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out
Kitchen August 1 Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out

It’s going in the right direction! Slowly. Baby steps. This is the current state of my kitchen. We expected it to be a slow process, and it is, but I don’t mind the breathing room.

A big part of the reason it took me so long to do a kitchen reno was the pressure to design my own kitchen. Yes, it sounds dreamy. Yes, I’ve often imagined what I’d do if I had the opportunity to redesign a kitchen space. But the pressure to make the right decision! It’s like getting a tattoo – not as permanent, I suppose, but expensive to do over if you don’t want to live with it. I can’t even make up my mind about what to order in a restaurant. Knowing what I like when I see it is different than visualizing what could be done with my own space, which is long and narrow and really fairly limiting. I don’t have a designers’ eye – my mom can look at a room and imagine how it would look painted, or with built-in shelving or a torn out wall, or with everything rearranged in a new way. I look at before and after pics of other kitchen renos – they have great ones over at the Kitchn – in fact, they did a story on my kitchen back in 2009! – anyway, I just cannot visualize the potential transformation of a “before” pic… what a space could potentially look like. (Apparently there’s an app for that – I downloaded it but never did figure out how to use it…)

Kitchen August 4 585x395 Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out

Honestly, I don’t know how people design entire houses. Kudos to you guys.

So it was fortunate, really, that my decisions have been relatively limited. The counters needed to stay where they were, but my big thing has always been replacing my (relatively useless, access-wise) lower kitchen cabinets with drawers. My mom’s kitchen is all drawers, and it’s so much easier to access dishes and bowls without having to bend/squat and reach back into the back. I only used whatever was in the front of the cupboards, forgetting what was even in the back row.

So it’s all drawers. We pondered going the IKEA route – they do some beautiful kitchens – but ultimately decided that considering this particular room will be used far more heavily than most home kitchens, we’d have it custom built. They’re not fancy – just sturdy. We went for 4 drawers, smaller ones up top and deeper in the bottom, but not so deep that they’d get awkwardly heavy. We’re still looking at countertops (countertops! can you get more grown up?) and sinks (ditto), and the box for the sink, which also has a deep drawer to be used for garbage or recycling, is a little awkwardly stuck out as a result of a pipe behind it with nowhere to go – the joys of renovating a 106 year old house.

Kitchen August collage 1 Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out

One of the other joys? Trying to figure out what to do with our old wood floor. To replace it would have been too pricey – and there was the question of a strange hump in the middle that we imagine was caused by an earlier kitchen extension and the settling thereof. So rather than pull it up and reveal whatever other structural issues lie underneath, we decided that ignorance is bliss and we’ll do what we can to repair the surface. Unfortunately it’s fir that is already stretched too thin, and the flooring guy who came to assess our situation said sanding to refinish it would tear it apart. So we shopped around for a super durable paint to paint the old, rough hardwood – you can see a blue-green-grey colour test patch in the above photo on the right. Brick red or bluey green? Choosing paint colours is also not my forté. Expect tweets for advice from the paint store. (And the drawer handle store.) Maybe I’ll have the first kitchen entirely designed via social media.

So – countertops? Anyone? Advice? This is a big one – people seem to love or hate them. Our old ones were repurposed from the UofC science lab. I have never had to choose a countertop, but it needs to be resilient – and photo-friendly! ie no sparkly blue, as cool and ’57 Chevy-esque as it may be.

Kitchen ceiling Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out

And hey – WE COVERED THE CEILINGS! They were a lovely 80s stucco – the pokey kind, with a ginormous hole (the result of our own toilet installation upstairs) and old unused track lighting in the living room, and the remains of a purple smoothie W dropped when he was about three in the dining room. So we covered it all with these wood slats – kitchen, dining room, living room – and it looks so much better. This happened while we were in Tofino! Look, I was getting stuff done while lounging on the beach!

Dining room ceiling1 Kitchen Mission: Laying it all out

The bright whiteness of it also bounces the light around far more efficiently – I’m thinking that in the kitchen it will almost act as a diffuser when I shoot on the kitchen table. Which, I’m thinking, I might make a big wood butcher block. What do you think? It will bring back some of the warmth that will be lost by painting the wood floors. Hey, that’s designer lingo… maybe all this is wearing off on me.

Also: I HAVE A NEW OVEN. It’s not here yet, but it’s very squeeworthy. We still need to get our electric sorted (lath and plaster walls! yay!) and the gas hooked up, and the next problem is a hood fan that will allow us to keep the cool old window behind the stove, but our new BFFs at Jerome’s have a guy. Stay tuned!!

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August 18 2014 | Kitchen Mission | 16 Comments »

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