A Little Yumminess Summer Camp 2016!

A Little Yumminess Camp Logo

We’re so excited that it’s time to start thinking about our A Little Yumminess Around the World summer camp, one of our favorite parts of the year.

For younger kids (entering 1st through 3rd grades in 20016) we’re bringing back our popular “Cooking Around the World” themed camp. Each day we’ll visit a different country  or region. We’ll explore a diversity of flavors and practice lots of cooking skills while we make a tasty spread of globally themed snacks and lunch each day. We’ll also have time for guided ingredient tastings, crafts, kitchen science and other fun, foodie activities.  It’s always amazing to see what kids, even this young, can do in the kitchen and how much energy and creativity they bring to the final dishes that we make together.

For our older campers (entering 3rd through 6th grades) we’ll focus on global flavors through cooking projects inspired by great chefs.  Each day campers will create a meal from concept to execution and will gain practical meal planning, budgeting, shopping, cooking and presentation skills along the way. The last day will be a friendly cook-off where campers can put the skills they’ve learned to work.

We’ll also be joined throughout the summer by guests chefs who will share their expertise and enthusiasm for cooking and eating well.

Here are basic details for all 4 sessions, please click over to our “Summer Camp 2016” page for more information. We hope to see your young, budding cooks this summer!

For All Sessions:

  • Location:  Bethany United Methodist Church (Sanchez Street at Clipper in Noe Valley, San Francisco)
  • $495 per session ($445 plus $50 materials fee)

“GREAT CHEFS”

“AROUND THE WORLD”

If none of the sessions work for you this year – please email us at alittleyum@yahoo.com and ask to be put on our mailing list for next year and other events throughout the year.

Yumminess camp collage part 1

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A Sweet Trip Back in Time: The Ice Cream Bar, Cole Valley

We made countless drives past The Ice Cream Bar in Cole Valley (815 Cole Street, at Carl) while it was still under construction —  drooling and plotting our first visit. It opened this month and we finally got our chance to stop in for a banana split and a twirl on the counter stools. The 1930’s ambiance alone (think wood, chrome, servers clad in white hats and aprons) gets a big thumbs up from both me and the kids. If you love vintage, trust me… this will be up your alley. But the menu is pretty interesting too.

The ice cream has it’s hipster moments, but it’s very traditional compared to what you’ll find at other hot spots like Humphry Slocombe, Bi-Rite Creamery or Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous. They showcase a short list of flavors among which you’ll likely find versions of old favorites like vanilla, milk chocolate and pistachio. The ice cream is solid, but I think this is much more of a sitting at the counter and having a sundae kind of place. We looked no farther than the banana split because it combined three flavors of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, tart cherry), hot fudge, butterscotch, tart cherries with syrup, whipped cream and toasted almonds. The best part was definitely the caramelized banana which the gal behind the counter bruleed to order, and it was all served up in a perfectly old fashioned stainless steel footed dish with long handled spoons. I can’t remember the last I had a banana split and in these days of olive oil splashed sundaes and bacon brittle, it was a nice return to the classics.

So you can go old school with the ice cream, but you can go, really, really old school at the soda fountain in back with turn of the century style sodas, frappes, phosphates, malts and the like. Their huge list of housemade extracts, syrups, and tinctures is kind of overwhelming with what seems like a hundred flavors ranging from sweet and dessert-y to medicinal — pineapple, pink peppercorn, rosemary, dill, and chicory coffee to name a few. You can get lost in the possibilities but luckily you can also just go with a tride and true made-to-order rootbeer or one of their signature creations. It’s a a really fascinating concept that starts the wheels turning about homemade soda experiments at home, and it’s  a great way to take the little ones on a mini trip back in time while discovering some new flavors at the same time.

The Ice Cream Bar place isn’t fast and it isn’t cheap, but that’s just part of the deal here. If you go in the evening or on the weekend, chances are you wont come by a seat too easily, so this is probably most do-able with kids in tow as a special afterschool treat. We hear they are going to be offering beer and wine, sandwiches, hot dogs and snacks in the coming weeks too.

Check out these other ice cream and soda fountain faves: Really Refreshing Fresh Lime Soda, We Love Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, Delightful Treats at the Twirl & Dip Soft Serve Ice-cream Truck , Smitten with Smitten ice Cream

A Homemade Version of the Much-Touted Speculoos a Tartiner (spice cookie spread)

I first heard rumblings of this elusive sweet spread called Speculoos a Tartiner (aka speculoos spread or Biscoff spread) while reading an article about waffle trucks. A-list foodies from David Liebovitz to folks at The Kitchn sing its praises, proclaiming this stuff is pure magic. We’ve kept our eyes peeled and haven’t yet come across it in our wanderings around San Francisco, although I have no doubt whatsoever that it’s coming. [I’m predicting a speculoos spread invasion of the neighborhood hipster coffee shops, high end ice creameries and pop-up dining establishments by year’s end.] Have you tried it? Have you been swept up into the frenzy? Please do tell!

So what is it you ask? Think finely ground Belgian speculoos cookies (think gingersnaps) turned into a creamy spread. It’s been compared to a spiced, un-chocolatey cousin of nutella and similarly, it can turn just about anything into an instant dessert. Biscoff, the company that makes the “Lotus” brand of speculoos cookies also makes the spread which has recently become available in the US. In fact, you can buy it on Amazon right now.

But if you have no patience to wait for a delivery, you can take a stab at a homemade version like we did. [Not that we need more sweets, not that we’ve even tasted the real McCoy, but that’s just how we roll.] As luck would have it we found our local  supermarket stocked with the “official” Lotus brand cookies and we were off and running, but I would think you could use any crispy gingersnap-type cookie and get a similar result.

Check out the German, vegan food blog Seitan is My Motor (awesome, right?)  for a base recipe:

  • 150g (or ~5.3 ounces) of speculoos cookies was about 17 individual cookies of the Lotus brand variety
  • We omitted the extra sugar because it seemed sweet enough. You be the judge.
  • We used melted butter instead of coconut oil, mostly because we didn’t have coconut oil (I think an oil would be way better for the creaminess factor)
  • Seitan is My Motor has two versions of the recipe. Version 2 will give you a creamier spread, but check out the addition of extra spices in version 1, especially if you use a more mild cookie.

As advertised, we ended up with a delicious spread that tasted well…. like cookies. I’m not sure what else I could have expected, but there you go. It took all of 5 minutes to make and I guarantee that you’ll feel like one of the “cool kids” when you whip this one up.

PS: In perusing our package of Lotus brand cookies, we saw an advertisement for The Biscoff Coffee Corner where you can sample “coffee the European way” and cookies of course, located in none other than Pier 39 in San Francisco. Maybe they should start selling Belgian waffles topped with Speculoos a Tartiner with that coffee. Just a thought.

A Little Something for Families with Picky Eaters

This short piece by Emily Franklin, author of “Too Many Cooks: 4 Kids, 1 Mom and 102 New Recipes” which aired on NPR’s The Splendid Table really, really made me smile. If you happen to dine with a picky eater on a regular basis you will certainly recognize the “5 stages of grief” her son goes through when presented with peas at dinner. Click here to give it a listen (and her recipe for The Best Split Pea Soup Ever).

Snack Attack: Orange Vanilla Creamsicle Smoothie

A yummy one for breakfast, snack time or dessert. It’s always a good time for a smoothie at Casa Stacie. This happens to one of our current faves and we almost always have the ingredients on hand. I keep some frozen OJ concentrate in our freezer for this express purpose.

We are always looking to tread new smoothie territory. What are your favorite combos?

  • 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt (if using plain yogurt, you may want to add a dash of honey, sugar or agave nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice Cubes

You might also like these snacky favorites: Luca’s Favorite Pink Milk, Banana-Avocado Bread, Smørrebrød, Just Banana Ice Cream, Charred Green Garbonzos

Rainbows and Pandas and Birthdays, Oh My!

It’s been a full week of birthday festivities here at Casa Stacie: pop-up dinner parties; panda cupcakes for school; rainbow cake and games at the park with pals; nibbles, big kid margaritas and yes… more cake at home with family. We’re taking the phrase “eat, drink and be merry” to new heights. And why not? We love a good party, especially when it involves rainbows, pandas and….cake! Along the way, we came across some recipes and tips that might just come in handy at your next fiesta. Enjoy!

A Clever Rainbow Cake

Check out this groovy rainbow cake. Finally a chance to test out a cool technique for baking an arched rainbow right into a cake from the blog, “Not Martha“. Genius, right? Okay, so I got more of a color explosion than a perfect rainbow, but the kids went crazy for it anyway. We’re definitely going to give the rainbow trick another try when we recover from this week’s dessert binge. I have a few ideas, so we’ll report back with the results.

An Easy, Not-Too Sweet Frosting That Really Holds Up

This rainbow cake project also gave me a chance to try a new, not-too-sweet buttercream-type frosting that I discovered on the blog “The Fat Bottomed Girl“. It spreads beautifully, holds up extremely well (it survived all morning at the park no problem) and most importantly dials the sweetness way, way back. Say hello to my new go-to, basic white frosting. We added both vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract with nice results.

An Easy Boxed Cake Makeover

I didn’t have time to bake from scratch, but I did use a handy trick from the book “Hello Cupcake” to gussy up boxed cake. Substitute a cup of buttermilk for the water called for, use 4 eggs instead of the number called for, and stick with the amount of oil called for. It does improve upon the flavor and texture, but could it have contributed to my crazy looking rainbow explosion?

Pandas!

These panda cupcakes were fun to put together and awfully cute if I do say so myself. I can take no credit for the design, the kudos for that go to “Hello Cupcake” once again. I liked this project because these little guys are adorable and because all you need besides basic cake and frosting are oreos, chocolate covered raisins (sunflower seeds, pomegranate seeds or even mini M&M’s), toothpicks and a couple of ziplock bags. Instead of using a mini cupcake for the panda head, we just used half of an oreo cookie propped up by a toothpick in back. As much as we love cake, the addition of the mini cupcake seemed like overkill.

Forget the Fancy Party Games, All You Need is a Bucket

We were reminded that the best games are the ones kids invent themselves. A few balls and a bucket and you’ve got hours of entertainment. Throw in a few Stomp Rockets and you might just be in the running for the best party ever.

Fabulous Vintage Cake Carrier

No matter your baking expertise, grab some style points by transporting your cake creation in a fab vintage carrier. We picked this one up on eBay and it’s one of my very favorite kitchen things. If we had more square footage, I guarantee I’d be collecting these things like crazy.