Sunday, June 22, 2014

Looking forward to Camp Quest!!

You may recall the time I visited Camp Quest Minnesota (if not, see here). Since then, I've been trying to find a way to send my kids there.  The problem is that we only get to visit friends and family in the US for a few weeks every other year or so, and we have a fantastic time visiting with them!!

It makes it tricky for me to take a week of this precious visiting time to send my kids to camp, no matter how cool...

Imagine my surprise when I was reading Greta Christina's fabulous book Coming Out Atheist, and found she mentioned Switzerland as one of the places where there's a Camp Quest!!

Naturally, I got in touch with the organizers and not only signed up my kids but volunteered to come along and help out myself.

The stuff that's planned looks like loads of fun!!  There will be some cool Science experiments (and some Math games and puzzles provided by yours truly) in addition to the usual camp stuff (nature hikes, campfires, etc.)

The camp will be held from the 27th of July to the 2nd of August 2014, and there are still openings -- so sign up now!!  It will be primarily a German-speaking camp, though some accommodation can be made for English or French speaking kids (especially if they have some working knowledge of German).

I'm really looking forward to this!  I enjoyed going to camp as a kid, and this is sure to be so much more fun than LDS girls' camp!  I'll report on how it goes. :D

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Sun-dried tomato Mascarpone spread!

Here's another little recipe I invented!

I like throwing parties, so I'm always on the lookout for new finger-food ideas.  I would blog more of my creations, but I'm not that big on photography.

Anyway, I love sun-dried tomatoes, but they can be a challenge to work with because they have such a strong, rich flavor.  In the past, I've tried just spreading Mascarpone cheese on them (as a fresh and creamy complement to the sharp and salty tomatoes).  The flavors complement each other, but it was just too strong and rich.  So, I decided to chop the tomatoes and mix them into the mascarpone to make a spread.

Here's what you need:

  • (approximately) 250 grams of Mascarpone cheese.  Take it out of the fridge well in advance so that it will be soft when mixing it with the other ingredients.  It will also stick to cucumbers better soft (if you decide to spread it on cucumber slices).
  • (approximately) 50-75 grams of sun-dried tomatoes, chopped small.  I find that it's simplest to chop them all lengthwise first and then chop them crosswise in bunches.
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of pine nuts.
  • Oregano to taste, either fresh chopped or dried.  As you can see from the picture, I used fresh oregano sprigs from my garden as a garnish.
  • Grated lemon rind.  Basically take one small lemon and fine-grate all of the yellow surface of it off to use in this recipe.
Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly, and it's ready to spread!

This can of course be spread on bread or crackers, but it is especially good on cucumber slices because the light, fresh, crisp cucumber flavor and texture complement the sharp, rich, creamy flavor of the spread.  The biggest challenge with cucumbers is that spreads don't stick very well, but (as mentioned above) it sticks a little better if the spread is at room temperature.  A friend recommended placing the cucumber slices on paper towels (to eliminate some of the water), but that may reduce the crispiness.

I've tested this recipe at a party I threw for my colleagues and also at a party I threw for the post-Mormons of Switzerland, and it has been a hit each time.  I hope you'll like it!