Eating a Klondike Bar Without Having It Melt

Preface: This tip might not be practical for picnics. Then again, you never know. [*]

So, you enjoy a succulent Klondike bar more than life itself? Or, it’s at least one of your favorite frozen confections? Either way, one of the common hazards of such treats is that, even if you wrap the keep the bar's wrapper snuggled around it as you eat it, the bars tend to melt toward glopitude by the time you get around to your last bite.

The solution? Oven mitts. Indeed, I came across this one by accident, but after grabbing a Klondike bar from the freezer and dreading its inevitable demise toward meltification, it struck me that an oven mitt—much in the same way that it insulates one’s hands when taking hot items from an oven—might also serve to insulate the Klondike bar from my own five-fingered 98.6° heat source.

I gave it a shot, and sure enough, it worked like a charm. Better than I could have imagined, even. Oven mitt on-hand and with only just enough wrapper present so as to shield the mitt from the bar’s chocolaty coating, I took a leisurely pace as I savored a (dark chocolate) Klondike bar after dinner this evening. I had an episode of Top Chef Masters rolling on the screen and it probably took me 20-25 minutes to make it all the way through. Sure enough, the ice cream was barely more melted upon the last bite as it was during the first.

Splendid. I may have just conquered the heat-borne menace that happens to attached (and inherent to) each of my opposable thumb-bearing appendages.

[*] Okay, okay—if you happen to enough oven mitts for everyone at your picnic, I suppose this could theoretically be put to use there. But, if you’re anything like me, I'm guessing you don’t exactly have a closet full of oven mitts.

Ben & Jerry’s Blueberry Splenda Ice Cream

I’m on vacation in South Africa celebrating my dad’s 60th birthday (returning on Saturday). I flew from Dallas to Atlanta and from there to Cape Town; and, as I walked from my incoming gate in Atlanta airport to my connecting gate, I passed by a Ben & Jerry’s. It was about 9am at the time, but I couldn’t resist a peek at their menu ;).

I looked around for any sugar free flavors as the last thing I really needed was full-sugar ice cream first thing in the morning. As I peered down the list of flavors, one of them had Splenda: blueberry. So, I ordered one scoop of blueberry and I ate it as I walked to my next gate.

I’ve had sugar-free ice cream before — though I’m not sure I’ve had Splenda-sweetened ice cream. And, while sugar-free ice cream is usually very close to the real thing, this was a disaster. It was as if it was all ice and no cream. As I plowed my plastic spoon into the ice cream, the ice cream merely broke off in chunks — like a rock face — rather than pulling apart like the creamy confection it should have been.

You might expect this sort of behavior from a fat-free ice cream, but that shouldn’t have been the case this time. I can only figure that it was over-frozen as even when I attempted to savor the ice cream, it merely disintegrated in my mouth like an ice cube rather than dissolving creamily. I’ve had Ben & Jerry’s ice cream before and it’s often very good (if over priced). So, it’s not that I’ve given up on Ben & Jerry’s, but I don't think I’ll have their sugar free varieties again any time soon.

Diet Root Beer Floats: Not a Good Idea

On Friday, Mike decided to make himself a root beer float. At the time, I resisted since I was about to eat dinner soon (it was about 6pm at the time). Mike made his float with a half-full IBC that had apparently been in the back of the fridge for quite some time. And, even though it was a bit flat, Mike said that the float still turned out well.

I went to an autocross on Saturday and, after returning, I thought that a root beer float could be rather tasty. And, I recalled that I still had a can of Diet A&W in my mini-fridge. I wasn’t sure how the float would turn out with diet soda, but I figured that I could always pour it out if I needed to.

I ventured to the freezer and took out a frozen beer mug along with some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream (the same ice cream that Mike used for his float the day before). I grabbed an ice cream scoop and added two scoops to the mug. I then added the root beer and, as root beer floats tend to do, it foamed up easily and so it took me several careful pours to get all the root beer in the mug.

It had been years since my last root beer float (perhaps ten years), and I was really looking forward to drinking it. After all, root beer and ice cream are two great tastes that taste great together. As I lifted my glass, I pondered for a moment whether the lack of sugar would have any effect on the float; but, I set that thought aside and took a big gulp. Man, it was awful.

Somehow — and perhaps due to the combination of the frozen mug along with the frozen ice cream — the root beer had frozen into chunks of rootbeersicles. It was as if I had a mug of ice cream with some caramel-colored ice tossed in. And, the full-fat/full-sugar nature of the Blue Bell only served to emphasize the watered-down quality of this pathetic root beer.

In the end, I really wanted to like it. I even tried grabbing a spoon so that I could just extract the ice cream bits. But, the root-ice had permeated the beverage and infected all of it. I had no choice but to pour it all down the drain. So, I not only didn’t end up with a tasty beverage, but I’m still itching for a good root beer float (or even a decent one). Perhaps I’ll have to buy a real root beer so that I'll be ready for next time.

Strawberry Smoothies — with Blue Bell

It’s been a little while since my last update and I’ve been crazy-busy at work until now. This all started last Monday; under the original deadline, I had until the following Monday to complete all 90-some pages in the site. Fortunately, the deadline was extended a bit and they also allowed me to bring on another contractor to help. The site is just about done now, and I’m glad that it’s behind us.

In any case, I wanted to celebrate the progress and — coincidentally — Mike and I had a 6 lb bag of frozen strawberries that was taking up a good deal of room in our freezer. Mike suggested that we could make strawberry smoothies and that sounded pretty good to me.

As it turns out, I had originally bought the strawberries (at Sam’s Club, natch) for use in smoothies. And, my intention was to create some kind of healthy protein-based drink. At the time, I filled the blender about a third-full with frozen strawberries, and added a about a cup of milk, a quarter cup of Splenda, a tablespoon of vanilla, two scoops of protein powder, a quarter-package of tofu, and some ice.

Considering the nature of the ingredients, that smoothie wasn’t too bad. It wasn’t something that I’d find myself craving and I’d say that it fell more on the side of a meal-replacement smoothie than a dessert smoothie. But, considering the project completion at work, I wanted something that was extra-tasty this time.

So, Mike suggested that we use ice cream instead of tofu — not exactly a health-motivated substitution, but a potentially delicious one. We needed to go to Sam’s Club for some groceries anyway, so we headed off and picked up some Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream there.

Being that Mike had made ice cream-based smoothies before, I let him man the blender. First, he added both the strawberries (about two-thirds full) and the ice cream (about an inch up the side of the blender). He blended those, and then added about a quarter-cup of Splenda, about a teaspoon of vanilla (not too much since the ice cream was already vanilla), and half a banana. And, the ice went in right at the end.

I’ll have to admit — this was a very good smoothie, and the recipe wasn’t hard either. It was definitely better-tasting than my original smoothie, but I’m guessing that the tofu / ice cream substitution may have had something to do with that ;). Considering the nature of the recipe, I’m curious whether our creation may have been more of a milkshake than a smoothie (?).

So, we made a couple smoothies on Monday evening and again on Tuesday evening (yeah, they’re that good). And, we’re working our way through that 6 lb bag of frozen strawberries, so all this smoothie-drinking has the side-benefit of freeing up some room in the freezer as well :).

Katie’s Party

I went to Katie’s party on Saturday night and I had a good time — it was just what I needed after moving things all day (I helped Leia move in the morning and my new roommate Mike move in the afternoon).

Katie lives in a large house in Highland Park — she doesn’t own the house, but she’s staying there to fulfill some insurance requirements for one of her friends (somone had to stay in the house, apparently).

Each room was decorated in a theme based on a country. For instance, the foryer had a Japanese theme (complete with a giant kimono encased in glass hanging on the wall). That room scared me a bit, but some of the other rooms were more tasteful. As I headed out for the evening, Katie suggested that I blog about the food. Sure, I can accommodate that :).

I first had some mini double-chocolate Oreos. Yeah, both the cookie and the creme-filling were chocolate. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a a chocolate nut, but chocolate-filled Oreos didn’t quite have the same creamy essence as the original vanilla creme. Perhaps if the filling was dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, they might be even better.

There were also some iced sugar cookies. Yeah these were the regular sugar cookies with thick pink icing that you can find at any grocery store. But, they were very tasty (as always). I think I had two of these.

In the freezer were some Blue Bell ice cream sandwiches (the small kind). These were obviously fresh from the creamery, as the cookie was still crisp. I didn’t mind that, though I suppose I’m more used to having ice cream sandwiches with more of a soggy cookie. Fresh ice cream sandwiches have more of a crisp cookie because the cookie is completely dry and crisp when ice cream sandwiches are made (like a graham cracker). But, over time, it absorbs some of the moisture from the ice cream and softens. (I learned all this from Unwrapped on the Food Network.)

This party was well-stocked with snacks. It’s not often that you’re offered iced sugar cookies, and you can’t go wrong with ice cream sandwiches either. It seems that the major snack-categories were all covered. Snackarific.