In Praise of Rice Noodles

What is it about noodles? Almost every culture has them; that must mean something, that they have universal appeal. If I have a choice between steamed rice and rice noodles, I’ll take the noodles every time. Why? They are both made with rice and water. But somehow I find noodles more appealing, tastier even. Go figure!

Mostly I use the flat noodles for Pad Thai, usually dried because the fresh ones are not easily available. I have also used rice macaroni and fusilli, although I guess strictly they are not noodles. Are they? Lately, though, I have been using rice vermicelli in this, my new favourite recipe: Cold Rice Noodle Salad with Chicken and Peanut Sauce . I’ve made it 3 times in the past 2 weeks: doubled it once for a potluck, and halved it once for a dinner for one. This is the photo from the recipe in the New York Times:


Isn’t is beautiful? Mine did not look like that but I can’t imagine that it didn’t taste as good. The recipe says that it takes 45 minutes, but that doesn’t take into account prep time, like making the sauces and marinating the chicken. But if you do that ahead of time (earlier in the day, say) it comes together pretty quickly. I think that it also lends itself to using shrimp or a non- meat alternative like firm tofu. As long as it has rice noodles!



Icy Treats continued:

Here’s some useful information. A little bit of lavender flavour goes a long way! The Honey Lavender ice cream was yummy and interesting. So was the Honey Lavender Earl Grey ice cream (Earl Grey tea bags infused with lavender). But for 2 people who don’t eat a lot of ice cream, they last a LONG time. Makes smaller batches you say? But most recipes are calibrated for a quart, which seems SO little…….until you have 4 different kinds of ice cream in your freezer, and now it’s a gallon. Sigh.

So I suspect that I will be taking an hiatus from making frozen treats. BUT, exciting for me: I scored a second hand compressor ice cream maker! Yes, an ice cream maker that has built in refrigeration! And it works! No need to remember to put a canister in the freezer (or take up room there!) Unfortunately it weighs almost 45 pounds and has to stay stable, so it has a permanent home in the laundry room.


The first batch I made in it, a salted caramel, was awesome. We kept a tiny bit and gave most of it to a neighbour (no room in the freezer(s)! The texture was amazingly different from my previous products, way softer and more scoopable. This apparently means that the ice crystals in the ice cream were either fewer or smaller than my usual, or both. For everything you ever wanted to know about making ice cream (and WAY more), check out

The second batch, which I made today, is a preserved ginger  and chocolate stracchiatella (means with bits of chocolate), and is completely yummy and not leaving this house! image

So that’s pretty much it for the icy treats theme, unless something else amazing comes along – recipe to die for or have-to-have equipment. There’s a cold noodle dish I’ve been making lately, so I’ll post about that soon.



Icy Treats


It has been a long, hot summer, and it’s not over yet. This was our South facing deck 4 days ago; fortunately we have had some huge thunder, lightning and rain storms since.

So Strawberry season came and went, as did Blackberries, Blueberries, and Peaches (pretty much). And other than baking a few pies, I froze most of what I picked. Of more interest to me has been the figs, which seem to be a big deal in this part of the South.

It started with some friends mentioning to me that they used to enjoy a Fig and Rosewater Ice Cream at a local restaurant. I haven’t seen it there, but it sounded like a challenge I could meet! However our fig tree is still young and doesn’t bear enough fruit for a recipe like that. So I made the ice cream with dried figs from the grocery store. And it was quite nice! Then a neighbour happened to mention that her fig tree was bearing and asked if I wanted any? Did I????????? Long story short, since then I have made the ice cream a number of times – with figs dried, fresh, stewed, and with preserved ginger added. And they were all good. But I’m done with that now!



In the meantime, I was in Florida a few weeks ago, in the area known for Tupelo Honey (and oysters!) I am actually not a huge fan of honey; maybe it was growing up with that waxy white stuff in the plastic container that you scooped and spread on toast. Since then of course I have tasted other, shall we say artisanal, honeys – alfalfa, clover, orange blossom, wildflower…….apparently there are 300 different types of honey in the US (and probably many of the same in Canada). But I must say, unprocessed, unfiltered Tupelo Honey beats any that I’ve tried. The flavours are complex, more so than my palate can grasp, but I certainly get lime and roses and maybe oranges as well.

I was thinking of using it to make ice cream and when I started looking at recipes, I was inspired by one from Gourmet Magazine September 2003, Honey Lavender Ice Cream, using dried food-grade lavender blossoms. I’ve made a few “adjustments” to the recipe, including one version with Earl Grey Lavender Tea bags which give just a hint of the bergamot as well. Fortunately they are all small batches, about a quart/litre each, so they go pretty quickly (especially if we get invited to friends for dinner!)

Speaking of dinner, I sure miss those oysters!