Sunday, July 15, 2012

They're Cool, They're Creamy, They're Green Tea Latte Pops

We are fortunate here in Tallahassee to have a wonderful local establishment that helps us get each day off to a great start! Here's a shout-out to you, Bagelheads, for the variety of locally roasted, fresh coffees you serve every morning:

For knowing that sometimes we don't have time to chat:

For giving us the perfect place when we do have time to linger:

And for your variety of delicious flavors:

Once we have gotten our java and navigated a typically hectic day, it's time to wind down! Thanks to Matcha Green Tea from Mocafe and the sample they sent me, I have found a new way to cool off as the sun goes down:

Mocafe encouraged bloggers to create recipes using their product. As I was deciding what to make, I was trying to figure out what to do with this citrus left over from our vacation week, and I found these adorable stirrers that seemed to go along with my plan:

I started with a can of Sweetened Condensed Milk, brought it just to a boil, then reduced the heat to low and stirred it almost constantly for 15 minutes until it got very thick:

In a separate container, I combined 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of heavy cream, and a tablespoon of the Matcha Green Tea Latte powder:

When my sweetened condensed milk was thick, I slowly whisked in the milk/cream/green tea mixture, keeping the very low heat going.

I then took everything off the heat and added a teaspoon of vanilla, a squirt each of fresh lemon and fresh lime juice, and a hint of fresh lemon zest and fresh lime zest. I also squeezed in a few drops of green food color to enhance the final look.

I poured the mixture into my mold (this is actually an ice tray used to make ice that will fit into water bottles):

Then it was off to the freezer. I inserted the sticks at around the 1.5 hour mark. I checked them pretty regularly, waiting for the perfect time when they were firm enough to support the sticks. I froze them overnight. To dislodge them, I ran a bit of warm water over the mold to encourage the pops to dislodge.

And then I enjoyed!!

Here's the recipe (without pictures):

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups milk (I used skim)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Matcha Green Tea Latte powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Splash of fresh lime juice
Small pinch of fresh lemon zest
Small pinch of fresh lime zest
2-3 drops of green food coloring (if desired)
Ice Pop Mold

Bring sweetened condensed milk to a boil in a medium saucepan (stirring frequently), then reduce heat and stir constantly for 15 minutes until it is very thick.

Whisk together milk, cream, and green tea powder.

Add milk/cream/tea powder mixture to sweetened condensed milk in saucepan, whisking it in slowly until well blended.

Remove from heat.

Add vanilla, lemon/lime juices, zest, and food coloring (if desired).

Cool mixture completely (about 30 minutes).

Pour mixture into molds (about 3 oz per pop). Freeze for about 1.5 to 2 hours, checking periodically to see if the pops are firm enough to insert the sticks. Insert sticks, then freeze until firm. This will be a minimum of six hours; they can be frozen overnight.

To dislodge pops, run warm water gently over the mold.


For more information on Matcha Green Tea, visit this link.

Mocafe (creator of Matcha Green Tea) would love for you to like them on Facebook.

I also encourage you to check out Blendtec Blenders here. (One of the bloggers participating in this promotion will win one!)

Lastly, thank you to 5 Minutes For Mom for coordinating this promotion.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Sahel - Why It Matters

When I read audiobooks, sometimes a passage goes by and I find myself driving along, thinking "did I really hear what I think I heard?" That was the case in a passage of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See when the protagonists are traveling from Shanghai into the countryside, to rescue a family member from starvation during the Great Chinese Famine. As Pearl drives along, she and her companion discover a field where people are in holes. The people are alive, but they can't get out of the holes (they have been left to die). At first Pearl sees just one person, and she is starting to think of how she can rescue the person. Then she sees that the field is filled with others in the same situation. She is resigned to the fact that she can help no one as her companion Z.G. reminds her that they are on their way to rescue their own flesh and blood.

Like Pearl, when I learned from OxFam America of the desperate situation in the Sahel, and the need to put this situation back in the minds of people, I wondered what I could say or do that would make a difference to even one person in the Sahel. The difference between Pearl's situation and mine is that she existed in a work of fiction (although the famine was very real); the people of the Sahel are at the epicenter of a crisis and their situation is very, very "non fiction" and we do not have to leave them behind to die.

Photo credit: Oxfam International
First, the basic facts:
The Sahel is a region of West Africa, spanning the southern border of the Sahara Desert, where drought and rising food prices have put an estimated 18 million people at risk of hunger. This number is very likely to increase in coming weeks.
Harvests were poor last year, and drought this year threatens to exacerbate a situation that is already dire. People forage for wild food and search anthills for bits of grain.
 “The situation is difficult here. There’s a problem of rain. It’s been irregular,” said Founé Danfakha, a 60-year-old grandmother of four from Bembou, Senegal, who grows rice, maize, and groundnuts to feed her entire household. “If there’s not enough rain, there won’t be a harvest. And if there is no seed, there’ll be no harvest.”
1 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition. Parents are forced to sell essential tools and livestock in order to feed their families.What can you and I do to help any of these 18 million people? There are several things.
Donate online via this link. Oxfam America always aims to use your gift to help build lasting solutions to poverty (as opposed to short term fixes).
Spread the word about this issue. Even if you can't donate right now, you can raise awareness; that can make a difference too. This infographic presents the facts really well. These facts speak for themselves; they go beyond numbers and stats about this crisis; they speak to my heart and emotions.
Support community development When I tweeted on Friday about my plans to blog about the Sahel this weekend, @martinpenner suggested this:

I must admit, I have a lot to learn about what can be done to increase community resiliency. It is mentioned in this informative and compelling article by Nathalie Bonvin as a key strategy to impacting this problem. Gotta say, Martin, learning more is on my to-do list!
Teach your children. Those of you who know me personally know that I am a big believer in "showing" children the issues that exist in our world rather than only "telling" them. I have only been able to travel internationally to see poverty (and the most incredible people) first hand, but that week taught my teenager (and me) more than any book ever could. Show your children what you can; encourage them to care. Few of us can travel; everyone can watch a YouTube video:

Spread the word. In our age of social media connectedness, it is easy to forget that the old fashioned method (conversing) works just as well. That was the case for me yesterday when I was telling people about preparing for this blog. Face to face -- mom to mom -- friend to friend -- sometimes the most elegant way to ignite interest is to invite someone to learn along with you by saying, "I'm learning about the Sahel - have you or your child heard of it?"
There are several graphics here that can be shared via Facebook and Twitter.
Speaking of spreading the word, celebrities are investing their time and fame to help remediate the funding lag that exists. These celebrities include Kristin Davis and Djimon Hounsou.
I agree with Hounsou: "To some of us, this problem is a world away and is easy to ignore, but I implore you to pay attention.”
 Visit Djimon Hounsou's personal fundraising/awareness page here.