Happy Ice Cream Month: Breakfast Trash Ice Cream

I am a heavy library user. Every Saturday we head off to our local branch of the Ottawa Public Library and I pick up half a shelf of holds. The OPL doesn't have a limit on how many holds you can have so at any time I tend to have a couple of hundred titles on my hold list. Yes, you read that right. 

I tend to rock the non-fiction pretty hard and every week when I head to the library there are a couple of cookbooks waiting for me. I preview all cookbooks via the library and have for years. This means all cookbooks I buy are ones I'll actually use and have recipes I really want to make. Most cookbooks don't make that list, especially specialty cookbooks. This past spring the Ample Hills Creamery Cookbook hit my shelf. I've been looking for the right ice cream recipe book for awhile and with this book I was pretty sure I'd found it. As I flipped through the book I knew there were lots of recipes I wanted to make but the recipe I had to make first was obvious. 

Breakfast Trash Ice Cream. 

Lee loves sugary cereal. LOVES IT. I am not a huge fan of cold cereal in general but when I do eat it, I have to confess I like the sugary stuff. Cap'n Crunch and I go way back. 

We had a long, cold spring that really did not scream, "Make ice cream now!" I filed the recipe away, buying a box of cereal here and there over the last few months. Last week we finally remembered to put the ice cream maker in the chest freezer and, as always, I came back from the annual BlogHer conference with a need to make all the things

July is National Ice Cream Month so it seemed like the right time to make ice cream. We ran a few errands Saturday morning to pick up the last of the supplies. And then a second trip out when I realized I had accidentally bought table cream instead of whipping cream. (Dear self, look at the words, not the colours, on the carton. Purple doesn't always mean heavy cream.) 

First, I steamed some milk and then put in some cereal to steep. Yes, I steeped cereal. It was odd. And perfect. You're essentially making cereal milk at this point. 

TIP: Breakfast Trash uses a lot of different kinds of cereal. You can find at least three of those types in the mini cereal packs and each box is the perfect amount for this step. We'll take the remaining boxes with us on our upcoming cottage vacation. 

Steeping cereal in hot milk is not something I thought I'd ever do... 

Steeping cereal in hot milk is not something I thought I'd ever do... 

After your cereal has steeped you need to strain it. Then you add the skim milk powder and sugar. Once that's all combined you add the cream and put it on the stove over medium heat to coming up to 110F. This won't take all that long but you'll want to stand there and keep and eye on it and stir occasionally. While it's coming up to temperature, separate two eggs and put the yolks in a medium bowl.

When your milk and cream mixture hits 110F, take about a half cup of the mix and slowly add it to the eggs, stirring the whole time. When it's a uniform colour, and it's obvious you haven't accidentally scrambled your egg yolks, add the egg mixture to the cream. Put the pot back on medium heat, attach a candy thermometer, and bring up to 165F. You'll need to stir regularly to makes sure nothing sticks to the bottom. As soon as it hits 165F you pull the pot off the stove and stick it in an ice water bath for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I didn't want to stick a hot pot in ice water so stuck a bowl in my water bath and poured the mixture into the bowl. I think this may have helped cool it down faster. 

Trix, Froot Loops, and Fruity Pebbles are a colourful combination.  

Trix, Froot Loops, and Fruity Pebbles are a colourful combination.  

While the ice cream base was chilling out in the water bath I started on the cereal crunch. The recipe calls for Fruit Pebbles and Froot Loops but we also had some Trix kicking about so I tossed in some of that, too. You have to knead the cereal with your hands to break it down a bit. Trix does not break down easily, just FYI. Fruity Pebbles, on the other hand, break down very easily. 

When you've broken down the cereal, you toss it with some skim milk powder and a very small amount of sugar. Take some melted butter and pour it over and mix it all up You'll have some small clumps. This is perfect! Spread it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pop it into a 275F oven for 15-20 minutes. You want it to get toasted but you don't really want it to brown. I found 15 minutes was perfect. 

Cereal crunch ready for the oven!  

Cereal crunch ready for the oven!  

While the crunch was in the oven, I poured the ice cream base into a container and stuck it in the fridge to cool down. The Ample Hills recipe says you only need to let it chill out for a couple of hours. Some people say it needs to chill for at least 8 hours. If you don't do the ice bath step after pulling the ice cream base off the stove I recommend leaving it to chill in the fridge over night. 

This is when you do all the dishes. Or, if you are me, when you get Lee to do all the dishes. I make messes. He cleans them up. We both eat yummy food. It works for us. Then you do nothing at all ice cream related for a few hours. I took a nap. Naps are delicious. 

I let the ice cream base chill for about 2.5 hours. Then it was time to grab the ice cream maker base from the freezer, attach it to my KitchenAid and play. 

Churn baby churn! #icecream

A video posted by Karen Ballum (@sassymonkey) on

Remember, your ice cream maker needs to already be moving before you start to to pour in the ice cream base. If you pour in the base before you start churning it will lock up. I churned for 20 minutes. It possibly could have gone a bit longer but my kitchen was rather warm and humid yesterday so I was going for the coldest churn I could get. 

If it's your first time making ice cream, you will find that your ice cream isn't super solid at this point. It's the consistency of soft serve. I took a taste of the base at this point and it tasted like cereal milk but also like ice cream and it was kind of mind bendy. 

While you can add your solids to the last couple of minutes of churning, I didn't want to do that for this particular recipe. (I totally would if I was adding something like chocolate chips or Oreo crumbs.) I scooped the ice cream out of the churn with a large spatula and folded in the cereal crumbs. I didn't add all the cereal crumbs. I had about half a cup left over. Save them. You'll want them. 

All mixed up and ready to chill out in the freezer until after dinner.  

All mixed up and ready to chill out in the freezer until after dinner.  

At this point I stuck the ice cream in our chest freezer. When we pulled it out three hours later the centre of the container was still pretty soft but the edges were nice and firm. Making ice cream takes time. And patience. 

Ready to eat!  

Ready to eat!  

The verdict? Good. Really good. Lee is absolutely smitten with it. And that leftover cereal crunch I didn't mix in? Lee sprinkled it over his ice cream like sprinkles. He declared it perfection. It tastes like our childhood. 

Want to make it? Head over to Delish to get the full Breakfast Trash recipe. Play with the different cereals. Tell me your favourite combinations. 

Drab to Fab: DIY Black and White Painted Stairs 

From Drab to Fab: DIY Black and White Painted Stairs 

From Drab to Fab: DIY Black and White Painted Stairs 

I'm sure you've heard all the cliches about Canadian winters. They are longer. They are colder. We walked to school uphill both ways in the snow and ice and bitter cold. (Which, to be fair, really was my truth in university and that was a Montreal winter.) Canadian winters last well into March, sometimes even April, and I've even seen snow in May. 

It sucks. And you get very, very bored.

For me, boredom hits a peak around mid-March. I'm tired of snow and cold and I'm sick of everything in my house. This is dangerous. Just ask Lee. 

In March 2014 (Yes, I realize it is currently summer 2015. Hush.) I got really bored one Saturday. As I walked by the stairs I happen to notice the carpet was a bit loose in one corner. The carpet was, we believe, original to the house, which was built in 1988/1989. That was some old grungy carpet. It was worn. You had to be careful on certain steps because the nails were starting to poke through. 

A loose bit of a carpet is a dangerous thing at the best of times. It's far more dangerous when it's March and I have been stuck inside the house yet again, bored, and sick of just about everything. 

I peeled the carpet back a bit. "Hmmm," I thought. "You know, the wood under there doesn't look too bad. It looks like it's pine." So I poked a bit more and turned to Lee and said, "So ... I'm going to pull the carpet off the stairs. What do you think about that?" 

Smart man that he is, he stood back and told me to rock my socks off as long as he didn't have to do anything except clean up the mess in the end. He's a good man. 

So, I spent most of that afternoon yanking off carpet and then pulling up nails and pulling out staples. It took a long darned time. 

TIP: Use a wrench to grip the carpet when you are pulling it up. It's much, much easier to pull off with a wrench and you are far less likely to go tumbling backward down the stairs. No, that didn't happen to me but I came kind of close before I discovered a wrench is a beautiful thing. 

Removing carpet from stairs reveals levels of gross you can't even imagine. Goodbye gross carpet. 

Removing carpet from stairs reveals levels of gross you can't even imagine. Goodbye gross carpet. 

By Sunday afternoon we had a gross pile of truly disgusting old carpet and bare stairs. Seriously, the grunge and dirt that was under that carpet was horrific. We were thrilled to have it gone. Well, I was thrilled. Lee was cautious. He was worried that uncarpeted stairs might be a bit too slippery. (A totally fair concern considering I took a serious tumble down the carpeted stairs in the first six months in the house.) We didn't know how the cat would adapt to uncarpeted stairs. We didn't make any decisions on what to do next. We decided to live with them for awhile. And by awhile I mean a full year. 

Yes, our stairs stayed in this unpainted condition for a year. Pro? You totally could not see dust on the stairs when they were like this. Also, I did mention it was winter and I live in Canada so you know lighting conditions are total crap, right?

Yes, our stairs stayed in this unpainted condition for a year. Pro? You totally could not see dust on the stairs when they were like this. Also, I did mention it was winter and I live in Canada so you know lighting conditions are total crap, right?

Flash-forward to March 2015. It was winter. It was stupid cold. I was bored. And I was on Pinterest. 

We had considered staining the stairs but I realized that it would take far, far too long to get the stairs into condition where I could stain them. Yes, they were actual wood stairs but they were still pretty crappy builder grade stairs that were meant to be covered up. They had lots of dings and scratches and stains from who even knows what. So I started to think about paint. And that's when I found Susan's "Painting Stairs: DIY Tips and Tricks." It was exactly what I needed. I had a plan. Lee quickly agreed because he's awesome and he really doesn't care what I paint as long as he doesn't have to paint. He's clean-up crew. (He also thinks he doesn't have good opinions about home decor but he's wrong. He knows when he hates something and that's important to know.) 

And so I started painting, letting Susan guide me. First I did the risers in a Behr white semi-gloss. We have oodles of the stuff because we also use it on baseboards. The risers actually turned out really well and immediately everything looked better.  I felt good about things. Really good. 

Things are already looking brighter! Lighting conditions for photos still crap. This will be a trend. 

Things are already looking brighter! Lighting conditions for photos still crap. This will be a trend. 

The risers barely took any time at all. It was fast! Speedy! I was sure I was going to finish this whole process quickly. 

Are you laughing? You should totally be laughing. 

The next step was to paint the treads. I followed Susan's colour advice and went for Behr's Stealth Jet. It's a fabulous colour and everyone who has seen our stairs in person loves the colour. It's not quite black, or really grey, and it has hints of blue and brown. It's great. The specific type of paint I used was Behr Porch and Floor paint in a low luster finish. That's what Susan used and I thought it made a lot of sense. Our stairs are a high traffic area and I wanted something that was designed to stand up to that. It also has a decently short drying time. 

First coat on every other tread and loving it. Lighting still sucks. I told you. 

First coat on every other tread and loving it. Lighting still sucks. I told you. 

TIP: Only paint every other tread. At first it will be easy to see where you can step and where you can't but once everything has one coat of paint, switch to putting Post-Its on every other step so you know where you can step. And put them close to the edge of the step or you won't be able to see them when you are coming down the stairs. 

I did two coats on each tread. (No, I didn't prime. I'm lazy. And I knew I'd be doing three coats total. More on that soon.) Painting the treads actually went fairly quickly, even once you consider that I taped the crap out of the treads. I know people who can freehand edging. I am not one of those people. I am especially not one of those people when I have to become a contortionist to get into all the nooks and crannies. Painter's tape is my friend. It's probably yours,  too. 

Even though I said this went "quickly," it still took well over a week. I liked to wait a least a full 24-hours between coats (though you don't have to) and to be honest, my back often needed more than a day off between rounds. Lots of bending and twisting and yep. Rest. Listen to your body. 

Loving it so much! Note the Post-It. Post-Its are your friend. Accidentally matching your stairs to your chalkboard wall for the win! 

Loving it so much! Note the Post-It. Post-Its are your friend. Accidentally matching your stairs to your chalkboard wall for the win! 

At this point we LOVED how it looked. We realized it accidentally matched our chalkboard wall, which we had painted two years earlier. Happy coincidence! Yay us! This is also the point where I started to procrastinate because I knew what was next. 

Spindles. 

Painting spindles takes a long time but watching that medium brown oak disappear was magical. arm yourself with audio books. You can thank me later. 

Painting spindles takes a long time but watching that medium brown oak disappear was magical. arm yourself with audio books. You can thank me later. 

Painting spindles is not fun. SO NOT FUN. It takes a long time. It's awkward. It's, quite simply, a pain in the ass. And before you paint the spindles (and your bannister!) you need to give them a rough sand to remove some of the veneer and give the paint something to glom on to. 

Susan's post says it took her 25 hours to do her spindles. It took me longer. Way longer. I think in part because of the way my stairs are designed. And I did three coats of white semi-gloss. And my spindles are a bit more intricate. 

This is my advice for spindles. Use a small brush. Stock up on audio books. When you run out of audio books, watch Netflix on your tablet or laptop. Find a way to distract yourself so you don't lose your mind (completely). It took me more than a full month of working on spindles here and there. And yes, that could have gone faster but I took lots of breaks because, again, my back would start to protest after awhile. 

Once I finished the spindles in the upstairs hallway I took a break from spindles to paint the hallway bannister. I could make a up reason why but really, I was just sick of spindles and desperate to paint anything else. 

Loving the black and white SO MUCH MORE than medium brown oak. SO MUCH! 

Loving the black and white SO MUCH MORE than medium brown oak. SO MUCH! 

So, remember above where I said that I knew I was going to be doing three coats of paint on the treads? And that I only did two before painting the spindles? SMART CHOICE. You see how squishy it is between the hallway bannister and spindles and the ones on the stairs? As I was reaching between the spindles in the hallway to the spindles on stairs, I whacked the paintbrush on the bannister and it went flying out of my hand. Down the stairs. And bounced. Leaving a trail of white paint down my nice dark stairs. That was an awesome day. Gold star for me! 

But eventually I did finish the all the spindles. And I finished the bannisters. I put extra coats on the top of the newel posts because we touch them often I've seen the way they wear down. I'm hoping the extra coats will make them a bit more durable. Then I went back and did a quick, final top coat on the treads. 

And the end result? 

Drab to fab! DIY Painted Black and White stairs FINISHED! I love it! 

Drab to fab! DIY Painted Black and White stairs FINISHED! I love it! 

I love it. I love it so much. It's so, so much nicer to look at. 

Painted stairs are pretty! 

Painted stairs are pretty! 

The stairs are pretty. They are us. And they are worth every single hour I spent on them. 

image.jpg

Supplies used: 

  • 1 gallon Behr semi-gloss white paint
  • 1 gallon Behr Porch and Floor paint in Stealth Jet (we actually have quite a bit of this left)
  • Sandpaper (I used 120 and 100 grit) for the bannister, spindles, and newel post
  • 2.5 inch angled paint brush for risers and treads
  • 1 or 1.5 inch angled paint brush for spindles (I used a 1.5 but 1 might have been better - depends on your spindles)
  • Lots and lots of painters tape
  • Audio books (free from the library but trust me, you want them)

Time: 

  • Risers: about 3 hours 
  • Treads: about 8 hours (including taping - taping took a long time) 
  • Spindles: I stopped counting after 25 hours. I listened to lots and lots of audio books. 
  • Bannister: 3 hours.

Total time? Well, a year and two months from the time we took the carpet off to when I actually finished. Had I done it start to finish all at once and didn't take breaks it easily would have taken me a full month. Spindles, yo. Spindles. 

Worth it? YOU BET. 

What I Read in May

May was all about the home DIY projects (in progress, none finished, such is my life). DIY projects are actually really good for me in terms of reading because when I'm DIYing I'm all about the audiobooks. They are my secret DIY weapon, especially for painting. They actually make you want to go back to painting if you've told yourself you can only listen to the books while painting. Here's what I read/listened to in May. 

Books I read/Listened To  In May!

Books I read/Listened To  In May!

I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star by Judy Greer. Audiobook. She cracks herself up a few times while reading, which with some people would be eye roll inducing but I found just plain amusing. 

Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming. Audiobook. Honestly, one of the best memoirs I've encountered in a long time. It's not an easy read, particularly if you have a complicated relationship with your own father figures. It's powerful and compelling and I'm very thankful he wrote it. Audiobook highly recommended. I want Cumming to narrate my life. 

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Audiobook. I'm finally getting around to all of Gladwell's books and they are generally recommended. I listened to this while painting and running. His books are always interesting and he's a good reader if you grab the audio. 

How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer. Interesting tips. She, of course, advocates for having your clothes adjusted by a tailor so they fit you perfectly, which isn't always practical for many of us. (I wouldn't even know where to find a tailor.) But also stain-blasting tips, etc. She's anti-Spanx (though she does like an old-fashioned girdle) but pro-granny panties. She believes you should hang absolutely everything, making her the total opposite of Marie Kondo (see below).

Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Plot for Global Revolution by Giles Milton. While I took a course on post-revolutionary Russia with an excellent professor, I've long forgotten much of what I studied and it never looked at this particular topic. I've read far more about Russian spies in England than vice-versa. And how the heck did I not know that Trotsky was detained in Halifax for three weeks during WWI??? Did I know and forget? It does not seem like the type of thing I would forget.  

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport. Audiobook (excellent narrator to boot). I accidentally had a revolutionary Russia theme this month. Interesting and sad. It's hard not to play "what if" and think about how different their lives could have been... What if Nicholas and Alexandra had been stronger leaders? What if their daughters had been able to go out in society? What if Alexei had not been born with hemophilia? What if Grigori Rasputin had never entered their lives? What if the household had not been hit with measles right as the revolution was happening, allowing them to escape? Their lives were undoubtedly privileged, but also very isolated and rather sad. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Audiobook. This is one of those books that worms its way into your brain and you will keep thinking about it. I don't want to KonMari my entire house but it did make me want to go through my clothes and books. It has me rethinking possessions and thinking more about what I want to bring into my house. I might also be utterly fascinated with how she folds clothes. I possibly also have spent way too much time (and continue to) watching YouTube videos and reading articles by people who have started purging possessions after reading this book. 

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Audiobook. I listened to most of this one on the train. I had planned to read an actual physical book but I was dealing with travel-induced vertigo that made reading a big no-no. Bleck. David and Goliath was interesting (as always) but I often found myself struggling to connect the stories and having to remind myself of the overall thesis. It just didn't feel as strong to me as his previous books. 

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell. Audiobook. Reviews are mixed on this memoir but I rather liked it. That said, I'm not sure I'd have liked it as much I had read it rather than listened to it. The audiobook, at least, is recommended.