Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles

Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles
Coconut Cantaloupe Popsicles

Gosh, I've been bad at this whole food blogging thing! Sorry I was absent for a while again. Life has been a little crazy. I feel like I say that once a month. As you probably know, I applied to be on The Great American Baking Show. That happened about 2 weeks ago and a bunch of crazy stuff has happened since then. Once I sent in my application, I took a deep breath and waited like 2 seconds. The next day I got a phone call that lead to another phone call, which then lead to a semi awkward facetime interview, and then all of a sudden I was preparing to do down to Los Angeles to audition in person. Holy cow! My little anxious heart was going to explode. So that's why I've been a little quite on the blog.

For the LA auditions I needed to bring a highly decorated bake, a pastry, and a loaf of bread following their super basic recipe. I had one week to figure out what I was going to make, practice each a few times, and figure out how the hell I was going to be able to bake all these thing at the right time so that they still taste good after a 7 hour drive to LA. Oh, and like still work a real full time job and deal with life all at the same time. I decided to a make a tahini layer cake filled with plum jam, covered in vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, and topped with matcha macarons and baked meringues for my decorated bake. There was a lot going on. For my pastry I made an oolong tea pastel de nata or egg tart if you're more familiar with the egg tarts you find at dim sum. The only component I've ever made before was the plum jam... and the bread sort of. So I was really pushing myself with this challenge.

Last week felt like Hell Week, which is what we would call the last week leading up to final reviews in architecture school. It's as awful as the name alludes to. We would stay up all night, eat a lot of vending machine ice cream sandwiches, occasionally suffer an x-acto knife injury, and design something eventually. I didn't really sleep, at least not peacefully. Did I mention that I'm an anxious person? I burned myself pretty bad on a 450 degree dutch oven while practicing my bread. I was being dumb and had a margarita that night... so don't drink and handle hot metal. But that bread was the best bread I've ever made! So that's something! It was a week of many many failures and a few successes. By the end of the week I was feeling somewhat confident in my bakes.

It had finally struck 6pm on Thursday and I was quietly packing up my things to head home and bake for the rest of the night. But my coworkers noticed and gave me a sweet little send off and cheered me on for the weekend. It was a great little boost that I needed : ) I headed home and baked for what felt like days. I slept for maybe 3 hours, got up at 3am to bake some more. Then all of a sudden it was 9am and I had a pretty cake, some egg tarts, and a b+ loaf of bread to transport down to LA. Thankfully Reuben also took the day off to be my personal driver, so I didn't have to be a zombie baker and a zombie driver at the same time. I thought I could sleep on the driver down there, but nope! I was a little too anxious to allow my mind to shut off. I just had no idea how this judging process was going to go. The unknown makes me nervous sometimes. I imagined that the judging would be like how my architecture critiques would go. I would stand up there, present my process and reasoning behind each bake and discuss their praises and critiques. That I felt comfortable with. But that's not really how it went down.

The judging took place in the ballroom of the hotel the production company got us a room at, which was super convenient. Reuben and I arrived at the hotel about an hour before my tasting slot. So I had a little bit of time to calm down and make myself look like a presentable adult person. I carefully gripped my bakes and brought them down to the ballroom. The room was filled with who I assumed were producers, one of whom I recognized from facetiming and chatting on the phone with all week. Hi, Matt! They placed my bakes on a big Cheesecake Factory scale platter and carried them into another mysterious room. I guess I wasn't going to be in the room as they were tasting. Reuben and I waited outside for about 10 minutes until they were ready to bring me in. There were 2 people in there- baking experts. They told me that overall my bakes were really beautiful. I had a minimal but impactful style that was refreshing to see. That's a good comment, right?!! I was feeling good. Then they told me that the tahini in the cake was a little too savory and that the oolong tea turned my custard a little grey. Ugh, not good. But overall they said that everything tasted good. Cool. The second half of the session was them asking me if I've made x,y, and z. Have I made a 3 tiered wedding cake? NO. Have you made puff pastry from scratch before? NO. Have you croissants? NO. Have you made a mirror glaze? NO. I did say yes to a few things, but about 75% of the things they asked about I had never made before.

There was a knock on the door and my audition was over. It all happened so fast. I walked out, met up with Reuben, and we were directed to just hang around the hotel a little bit until the judges decided if I was going on to the last and final round of the audition, which would be a technical bake the next day. So we went to the hotel bar. I ordered a white wine and we watching the first 5 minutes of the incredibly disappointing game 4 of the NBA finals. I got a call on my phone from Matt, my producer, and he told me that I was not going through to the next round. I had only been at the hotel for less than 2 hours and already my weird baking journey was over. I teared up just a little bit, but held it together because I was sitting at the bar of a hotel surrounded by strangers. By this point I was mentally and physically exhausted. But my sadness quickly dissipated. I realized that I did it. I put myself into this weird and challenging scenario and followed it through. I felt proud of myself. And I felt a sense of relief honestly. I felt like throughout the entire audition process I was pushing myself into this mold that I didn't really fit into. I'm not really baker. I would never say that I'm a baker. I enjoy baking and love experimenting with my bakes. But I'm really a cook. I love chopping vegetables and eating noodles to much. 

Plus we now had the whole weekend in LA to just hang out! The production company paid for our hotel all weekend, so I pretty much worked really hard all week for a free hotel in LA. It was great! We found some great beer bars and some really really amazing food. The hotel was in Glendale, Ca, which has the largest Armenian community in the US. So we got to experience some top notch Armenian food. If you're in LA, you must try Mini Kabob in Glendale, it's sooooooo good! The Chef also had a taco pop up at Smorgasburg, so we decided to stay a little longer on Sunday and stop by for some free tacos and all the other crazy food you can find there. It was so much fun! I wish San Francisco had one too!

This whole experience ended up being really wonderful, and I have absolutely no regrets doing it. Thanks to all of you who were cheering me on throughout the whole process and sent sweet words to me when I told you I didn't make it through. Thank you to my friends for being there for me and not getting annoyed of me as I was live texting the whole experience. And the biggest thank you to Reuben! Seriously, what a guy. He has to deal with the not so fun side of the experience. Everyone else just gets to say, "You can do it!" and cheer. But Reuben had to handle the many times I broke down from stress and dramatic moments. Like when I burned my hand and cried all night. I get sort of mean when I get grumpy. But thankfully Reuben still loves me after this who experience. He's so kind and patient with me. Really could not have done this whole thing without him by my side.

So this story really has nothing to do with popsicles! But I've been meaning to share this recipe for like a month now... I got a little busy obviously. This recipe is super simple, super fresh, and really visually appealing if you're into geometric color blocks like me : ) I hope you enjoy them and have a great week!


Coconut Cantaloupe Popcicles

makes 10 popsicles

materials:

3 cups cubed cantaloupe
1 cup + 1/3 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup coconut yogurt (I used Noosa Yogurt)
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup

steps:

1. Blend together cantaloupe and 1 cup coconut milk until thick and smooth. Taste for sweetness. You can add a bit of honey or agave syrup if you prefer it a little sweeter. 

2. Pour cantaloupe mixture into your popsicle molds so that they are filled 2/3rds of the way up. Place the popsicles in the freezer, propped up at an angle and allow to freeze for 1 hour.

3. Mix together coconut yogurt, 1/3 cup coconut milk and honey or agave syrup until combined. Fill the remainder of the popsicle molds with the yogurt mixture. Insert popsicle sticks and place back into the freezer to completely set up.

4. Enjoy once completely frozen!

Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles

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Happy first day of Summer! Happy Birthday to Momma Cho! I've always loved how those two days are the same, double the reason to celebrate! I spent about 75% of my waking hours outside in the sun this weekend, which is what everyone should be doing in preparation for summer. My shoulders were the color of tomatoes, but it was so worth it. It has been HOT in San Francisco this past week. Hot in SF = +70 degrees. My mom says it has been +90 in Ohio... we are wimps. This heat reminds me of summers in Ohio. When my brother and I were growing up at our family's restaurant we would keep cool by eat popsicles and running into our giant walk-in refrigerators. I remember walking in there and snacking on little bits of carrots and cooked roast pork. *Making a note to incorporate a walk-in fridge/freezer into the design of our future home.

On Saturday, we walked on over to Mountain Lake Park to check out the new playground. Reuben's coworker redesigned the new playground and it is so fun and colorful! I haven't been surrounded by that many kids in a very long time. I feel like I was being super creepy and staring at all the cute toddlers stumbling around and hoping they would walk over to me to play. I saw essentially my mini me and I wanted to be her friend so bad. Once we got our fill of kids and watching them wipe out on the big concrete slide, we headed down south for some rare time at the beach. It has been a while since we drove along the coast and saw the ocean. I often forget that I live in California when all I see most days is the stretch between Inner Richmond and Downtown. So it was a beautiful reminder that I live in a cool place : )

Sunday was picnic day. A great group of ladies and I get together for a Babes brunch every month or so and this month was a picnic edition! I look forward to these brunches so much. I love catching up with my girls and meeting the new babes that we invite each time. We found an amazing shady spot in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens to spend our afternoon. Did you know you can go in for free if your driver's license has an SF address?? Some how I did not, but now I want to go every weekend. It's gorgeous when the sun is out and it's not super crowded like Dolores Park. It's much more "civilized" than Dolores Park as well and less smells. Reuben was a little jealous of my sunny girl time so we went out for a Babes Picnic part 2 during the remaining hours of light. We drank beer and played soccer... I never play soccer.

I'm feeling great from maxing out on vitamin D and my shoulders are gradually settling into a nice tan. The heat is supposed to last until this weekend and then it will go back to a cool 65. To help cool down all week I made these refreshing Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles. Yes, a second stone fruit recipe. Yes, another tea based recipe. Peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots are really delicious right now. So eat as many as you can! If you are food nerdy and want to learn more about oolong tea, read this. I've been really interested in experimenting with tea flavors (see Mango Green Tea Popsicles and Oolong Tea Sugar Cookies). I have dreams of making a Jasmine tea cake very soon.  I personally, love oolong because of it's strong and slightly caramel-y flavor. It's a pretty great replacement for coffee too if you want a rich and dark tea in the morning. It pairs beautifully with the sweetness of peaches. This makes a gorgeous peachy colored simple syrup that would be delicious in so many other recipes! I had a pop during my commute to work the other day and it was great. Breakfast popsicles should be a thing.

I hope you all are keeping cool wherever you are! I need a friend with a pool.


Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

Steps:

1. Remove the pit from 2 peaches and thinly slice. Bring peaches, sugar, and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes and gently crush the peaches with back of a wooden spoon to bring out that peach flavor. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let the peaches steep in the sugar water for 20-30 minutes. Strain the peach infused simple syrup through a fine mesh strainer and dispose of leftover peach flesh or eat it with dessert.

2. Brew your oolong tea by steeping the tea in 2 cups of boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Dispose of tea bags. In a large pitcher or measuring cup, combine tea with 3/4 c of peach simple syrup. You can add more or less depending on sweetness preference.

3. Remove the pit and thinly slice your remaining peach. Add 2-3 slices of peach to each popsicle mold. Fill each mold with peach oolong tea. Place in the freezer for 1 hour. Add wooden popsicle sticks and place back in the freezer to fulling freeze for atleast 5 hours .

Materials:

3 ripe peaches

1 C water (for simple syrup)

1 C sugar

3 oolong teabags 

3 C water (for tea)