Monday, January 31, 2011

GE Alfalfa, What does it mean for the Future of Our Food System?

Paris Hilton Goes to Jail!

Lindsay Lohan Goes to Jail! Rehab. Jail! Rehab.

Britney Spears Shaves her head!

Ok, now that I have your attention GE Alfalfa is about to be deregulated!
Don't stop reading!
Trust me this is more important than who's dating who this week. I'm talking about your food here, folks! The fuel that keeps us going! Shouldn't that be on 24 hour coverage on the cable news networks? Or at least mentioned in the evening news right before the dramatic "STORM WATCH" comes on telling you tomorrow will be a sunny day.

I'm going to step up on my soapbox now just to make sure you hear me in the back, this is important information.

Let's start with the "What is GE Alfalfa?" Also known as "RoundUp Ready Alfalfa" it is a seed with Monsanto's herbicide "RoundUp Ready" mixed with a sterile alfalfa seed from Forage Genetics (the same folks who own Land O' Lakes). The "magic" seed allows farmers to spray the herbicide on the weeds without harming their crop. This is the same RoundUp that made headlines last summer for creating Superweeds that the farmers have no way to combat in their fields except with more toxic herbicides and more manual labor, something that Roundup was supposed to prevent. The seed is sterile, can't be cleaned for the next year, which results in the farmers going back to Monsanto year after year for seeds. ($Cha-ching$). Ok, I hear you, "but I just won't eat Alfalfa", right? WRONG. This isn't the alfalfa you will see in the grocery store this is the alfalfa that is grown for hay for cows (dairy and meat), used in medicines for kidney, bladder, and prostate conditions, artheritis, balding. So you're a holisitic vegan? Doesn't matter, there are no guarentees of cross contamination- it has been DEREGULATED!- which means no food will no longer be guaranteed to be organic.

"Organic". I am going to use this term throughout this post for clarity, but "organic" is a government word. (One hundred years ago it was called "food") Organic has been the label the government came up with to tell you your food has been grown/raised in conditions without herbicides/hormones. Funny that you have "milk" and "organic milk", wouldn't you think it would be "hormone milk" and "milk". "Tomato" and "organic tomato" vs "geneticaly modified tomato" and "tomato". There is something very backwards there that the clean food has to be labeled, but the genetically changed food gets the simplier term.

With this deregulation of GE Alfalfa there are no rules in place, it can blow to where the wind takes it. Scary right?  That organic field a few miles away from a GE Alfalfa on a windy day is no longer organic. So what about those who don't want to eat frankenfoods? Well, it'll be like honey, no longer can be guaranteed organic. Did you know there is only one place on Earth that can even, maybe, kinda, be said to have organic honey? An 88,000 acre farm in Argentina and even THEY can't guarantee honey. No wonder the bees are disappearing. What are we doing to our food system!? When did we get so lazy that we decided it was ok to destroy the food system of "organic" food instead of go out and pull a few weeds or have an imperfect tomato?

These GM farmers keep claiming that the world is overpopulated and we have to keep up to feed them all, well grab some of those people and have them go pull the weeds in your field! Oh, right, that's money out of their pocket.

So OCA had a mouthful to say the other day after Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack made this deregulation call. They called out 3 companies who have been fighting the fight against GMOs. The 3, Whole Foods, Stonyfield Organics, Organic Valley, fired back. It's an interesting read...go ahead, I have a minute.

So now what? We just sit back and say goodbye to "organic" food as we know it? Heck no! We're America! We can fight this (yes, I am ignoring all influence GMO companies have in government). We can make a stand. We can write our President, we can write to Tom Vilsack. We need to start taking more of an interest in what's on our plate. You can vote with your dollar, avoid those GMO foods, buy organic, while you still can. Educate yourselves about the food we are eating and then tell one friend, tell another, keep the chain going. These companies want to make money, if we stop buying their "food" they will change.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Meatballs with Martha Stewart

A few weeks ago I found out I had 2 tickets to the Martha Stewart Show which I was super excited about since I am a fan of the Martha. My husband and I decided to make it our first trip away from our son. Oh the anxiety! We'd only be gone for a night and only in New York so as the day approached I became a little more relaxed.
We stayed at Fashion 26 which is a great location if you are coming in from out of town for the Martha Stewart Show (or anything at the Garden).  The rooms were small, but not uncomforatable. Clean, modern, and very pleasant staff. I would stay here again, especially for the ease of location. There is a garage a few doors down that the hotel recommends for parking that is $40/24hrs, an extra $10 for SUVs.

It was Restaurant Week in NYC so we originally checked out restaurants that were participating. After talking with many friends and having many mouthwatering recommendations we wound up at Crema. They have an "Unhappy Hour" which has buy 1 get 1 wine by the glass and margaritas, but really you should go here for the Toquitos. Oh my gosh, 2 days later as I am writing this up I am still tasting and desiring those toquitos! The whole meal was awesome, we did not do their Restaurant Week menu, but those around us did and it looked awesome. Great meal. Great service. Great atmosphere.

We Enjoyed:

The Guacamole Combo
Toquitos de Chilorio
Ensalada de Pancita
Alambres de Filet Mignon
Pay du Nuez con Rompope
The Restaurant Week Dessert Banana Split

The next morning we went to Martha Stewarts Studios for the Meatball episode! Mmmmm..... Meatballs. 
It was snowing, a nice snow, in New York that morning and the cold snap from the day before was a distant memory. We took our place in the line, in the front of the line, sipped our coffee and watched others come and join. The doors opened and we received tickets 1 and 2 (there isn't a door prize that comes with it). We went into a room after checking our coats and security and filled out our release forms. Joey, Martha's trusted sidekick, came in and got the audience going (handing dollars to the men who looked like they were dragged there by their wives- thankfully my husband was not one of them) and told us that only 1 in approx 30 audiences actually gets to eat and we were one of those! We were going to try 3 of the meatballs from the show. Awesome. Breakfast.
We headed upstairs to the studio and they place you all over the studio, based on what you're wearing, etc so we were on the floor seats. Great for being close to Martha and right next to Joey, crummy for getting on tv or seeing what is going on in front of the cameras.

It was fun, my husband even laughed a few times. Martha was fantastically funny, whether on purpose or not. Everyone on the staff/interns are very nice. We ate "Tony's" meatball, a buffalo chicken meatball, and a ricotto stuffed meatball. All were fantastic! The buffalo chicken meatball will definitely be making an appearance at our house for the Super Bowl.

We came home with some goodies: The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual and Frankies Olive Oil along with a Martha Stewart tote bag to keep it all in.

After the show we left New York and headed to Philadelphia for a cheesesteak. After much blackberry googling we wound up at Campo's on Market Street. It was a nice break in our drive and a perfect way to follow up having meatballs for breakfast. I had the classic cheesesteak cheese whiz and onions, where as my husband went a little bolder and had Extra Sharp Provolone on his. Whew. I smelled his hands the whole way home, and they smelled like New Jersey.

We took a walk after lunch down to the Liberty Bell. Apparently my husband has never seen it, so that was a must do. We then drove the rest of the way home and gave our kid a big hug. It was very nice to get away, but I missed that little guy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bzzzzzzz! Buzy Buzy Honey Bee

This week I had my first beekeeping class. It's part of my mission to get my degree in Sustainable Agriculture and be able to hold my own when we finally buy our hobby farm (fingers crossed within the next year). I have no idea what I will do with a degree in Sustainable Ag, I'm a stay at home mom who writes menus and recipes, but I know I want it. I figure I will have an epiphany at some point that will show me why I feel the need to go back to school so strongly. I do know what I want in my homestead though; chickens, bees (but not to be eaten by the chickens), an orchard, a vegetable garden, and some other livestock all depending on how much land we buy.

I have mentioned before that we are locavores. During the summer I can different foods, freeze others, and dry others so we can have local food all winter long. Having my own bees/honey just seemed like the next logical move. own honey! Awesomeness! I can make soaps, candles, honey, the possibilities of playing around with the sweet nectar is endless! Guess what every one's getting as hostess gifts and Christmas gifts.

Class #1 went well. I want to go back to class #2 which is a great way to start. We're ordering our equipment soon. And each person in the class has 2 colonies reserved for them. I'm super nervous and excited about this whole endeavor. Beekeeping is supposed to be as hands on as you want it to be. You can be out there fussing all the time or you can leave them bee (ha!). And my vegetable garden will be nice and pollinated this year.

This week we went over some of the terminology and the history of bees. I am a big fan of the teachers who keep you engaged for the 2+ hours of learning. I will keep you posted as I continue on this semester.
My tidbit from class: Bees don't like alcohol breath, it's scent is similar to a sting. The scent of stings gets them agitated, so watch out at your summer bbq's!
Oh and don't bother buying "Organic" honey, there is no way to guarentee organic honey anymore. The only spot on Earth that could possibly have organic honey is an 88,000 acre farm in Argentina and even that isn't a sure bet. So save your money.

Wild Flower Honey Semifreddo and Honey Sesame Wafers

For semifreddo
1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz package)
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons mild honey (preferably wildflower)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks

For sesame toffee
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mild honey (preferably wildflower)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds (not toasted)
For honey wafers
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon mild honey (preferably wildflower)
1 large egg white
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

For orange topping
2 navel oranges

Make semifreddo:
Sprinkle gelatin over 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl and let stand to soften.

Beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks, then chill, covered.

Stir together honey, sugar, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons water in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Boil, undisturbed, until mixture registers 238°F on thermometer (soft-ball stage; you may need to tilt pan to get temperature; see cooks' note, below), about 4 minutes.

Beat yolks in a medium bowl with cleaned beaters at high speed until they are thick and pale, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and pour hot honey mixture in a slow stream into yolks (try to avoid beaters and side of bowl). Reserve pan. Immediately add gelatin mixture to hot honey pan, swirling until dissolved, then beat liquid gelatin into yolk mixture and continue to beat until mixture is pale, thick, and completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes.

Fold one third of whipped cream into honey mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined, then fold in remaining whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

Divide mixture evenly among ramekins, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until frozen, at least 1 hour.

Make sesame toffee:
Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Stir together cream, sugar, honey, and salt in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and boil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is golden and registers 260°F on thermometer (hard-ball stage; see cooks' note, below), about 6 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat and immediately stir in sesame seeds, then pour evenly onto parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and spread into a very thin layer (about a 9-inch round) with an offset spatula. Cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes (candy will be slightly flexible), then chill on sheet in the refrigerator until hard, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove toffee from parchment and break into very small pieces (less than 1/4 inch) with your hands or a rolling pin.

Make honey sesame wafers:
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, then add honey, beating until combined. Beat in egg white until combined well, then reduce speed to low and add flour and salt until combined. Chill batter, covered, until slightly firm, about 30 minutes.

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment. Using offset spatula, spread half of batter (about 1/3 cup) into a very thin, sheer 14- by 11-inch rectangle on 1 sheet. Using tip of spatula or a butter knife, section off 12 squares by scraping knife through batter to make a 1/4-inch-wide space between batter sections. Sprinkle half of sesame toffee evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining batter and brittle on second sheet. Bake wafers, switching position of sheets and rotating 180 degrees halfway through baking, until golden (some parts may be pale golden), about 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature on sheets on racks, about 10 minutes. Peel parchment off wafers.

Make orange topping:
Peel and cut any white pith from oranges with a sharp knife. Cut oranges lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, discarding white pith from center, then cut slices into 1/4-inch dice.

Assemble dessert:
Fill a large bowl with cool water and dip 1 ramekin (with semifreddo) into water 3 seconds.

Run a sharp paring knife around edge, then invert ramekin onto a dessert plate, gently releasing semifreddo. (It may be necessary to run knife around more than once and gently pry semifreddo out slightly; if necessary, smooth top and sides with knife.) Repeat with remaining ramekins.

Spoon diced orange over and around each semifreddo and serve each with 1 or 2 honey sesame wafers.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Easy Winter Dinner

So tonight while my kid was asking for bacon for dinner, I was trying to come up with something to create that was healthy and simple.
We had wild rice last night for dinner. It is great as a leftover as it keeps it's moisture and is super easy to reheat and add to many dishes. So I knew that was going in. As I have mentioned I have big ol' boxes of white sweet potatoes and regular sweet potatoes in our dry storage. Those are great to add tons of nutrients while my kid is happy too.

It doesn't have a name, feel free to leave a suggestion in the comment section, maybe I will update this post with your name, but here it is "Another Easy Winter Dinner"

Put the wild rice on the stove. Start that cooking process according to directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Then start the bacon lardons. Slice 4-5 strips of bacon across. Add to a pan over medium-high heat. Let them crisp up, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes. Then using a slotted spoon remove bacon lardons onto a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

While the bacon is sizzling, peel and cube 3-4 medium sweet potatoes. I used both white and red, but you can do whatever you have on hand. After bacon is removed from pan add sweet potatoes into pan and coat with bacon fat (for a healthier option coat sweet potatoes with extra virgin olive oil and discard bacon fat). Pour sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes flipping half way through.
Add bacon lardons back into cleaned saute pan and add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and a large drop of cider vinegar. Chop 4 green onions, separating whites and greens. Add whites into pan. Warm over medium-low heat for a few minutes, till warm. Stir. Then set aside.

When rice is done, give a big ol' heap onto each plate. When potatoes are done pour dressing onto sweet potatoes. Spoon a few heaps on top of the rice and garnish liberally with the greens of the onions. Serve immediately.

Adult Plating Option

Kid Plating Option (with added dried blueberries)


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where Does My Food Come From?

I read this tweet today:
@fairoaksfarms Overheard at Fair Oaks Farms today: Mother asks her child, "Do you know where milk comes from?" Child replies, "Yeah, the grocery store."
Thankfully. After asking as to the response by the mother, I received this:
@ To her credit she then began to teach the chain of command on milk. It was actually very nice to see...

How many kids out there have no idea of where their food comes from? How many of you don't know where your food comes from?

In our home we are primarily locavores. We have a 1/4 of a cow (that's 45 lbs of ground beef, not including all of our other cuts) in our deep freezer that we picked up from the processor after discussing which cuts we wanted. Next to all the beef are a winter's worth of chickens. There are frozen fruits and veggies in wire baskets above the meat. We have boxes of onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and apples in our dry storage. We also have jams, butters, and other fruits and veggies that I canned during the summer. It's cheaper to buy in season. It's cheaper to buy meat in bulk. And it's reassuring to know who it is who is growing my food, to be hands on with the process. It also just tastes better.

My son requests to go to farmer's markets. He enjoys picking out new foods to try. He knows which farmer's we get certain items from and goes up and strikes up conversation with them. He plays with his pretend kitchen "Farmer's Market" and talks about the food as he plays with it. He's 3 years old. And whenever he eats meat (no we don't eat it every meal, not even every day) we learn what part of the animal it comes from. He started it. One of his favorite books to look through is Alton Brown's "I'm Just Here For the Food". He had the opportunity to meet Mr. Brown at a booksigning and ever since he has LOVED looking through his cookbooks. He also loves Everyday Food. We also talk about fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, etc. We even have regular comversations about dairy because of his dairy allergy it is probably the most important food group we can talk about.

There are a couple of amazing kids that put together a great video "What's On Your Plate?" that I highly recommend as a movie for the whole family to enjoy. It will start the wheels turning in the brain, get them thinking. They will start thinking about what you are serving up. Appreciating what you are serving. Does it have ingredients you can't pronounce? Even worse things you don't even know what they are??? My rule of thumb in my house, we buy things that don't come in packages, if we go to the grocery store we stay in the outer perimeter, and if it's out of season we don't need it.
It's overwhelming to begin this process, but you will find the small changes eventually add up. Also more and more year round farmer's markets are popping up. Take advantage of a family outing and go meet your local farmers. Start with one meal a week where you know where all of your food comes from, then make it two. Eventually you won't even be thinking about it anymore. Talk with your kids about the food on their plate. Tell them what it is, we do this every meal, discuss where it comes from. Take them to the grocey store, it may take a little longer, but engaging them will get them excited for food. Have them help you cook, getting them involved will up your chances of getting them to eat healthier foods and interested in what they are eating. Talk about healthy food vs junk food. Go out to a farm on a family trip, many farms will welcome you out for a farm tour, just call and ask. Grow a garden, any size. Food is our fuel. It is what keeps us alive. Celebrate the animal that gave it's life for you to enjoy it over dinner and learn about it! Take time to enjoy what you are eating!

courtesy of Thank you, Darya!

Friday, January 7, 2011


I recently read an article posted by Take Part that had me arguing with my computer screen.  You should probably read it first, or skip it so you don't have to be misinformed. There is soooooo much information out there regarding our food that is inaccurate and when I come across it it makes me cringe with frustration. But this was someone with good intentions, I guess, but inaccurate and misleading. The author of this article was being "cute" while "describing" the different classifications/labels of eggs, but he put too much time into being cute and not enough time into his research.

I knew I had seen a great layout recently of the different standards of labeling foods and I am very grateful to  Animal Welfare Approved for finding it for me. Please print this out, or bookmark it, it is very helpful, and a link that is good information in the quality of your food.

I will give Mr. Trunell credit in his light description of battery caged eggs, he touches on the highest of the low lights but it is a brief and lightly goes into how the air is unbearable filled of feces, illness and death, the hormones and antibiotics that are pumped into these birds even before hatched just to keep them alive in such conditions and that their beaks are clipped to prevent them from pecking each other to death. Many are too weak to even stand.

Then he groups cage free and free range chickens into the same category. He does give them different explanations, but isn't accurate in them.
Cage free just means that they aren't in a cage, which is kind of silly since these birds most of the time never see the light of day, still breath feces and death filled air and still have no room to move, still have their beaks clipped, and are still full of hormones and antibiotics. I had the opportunity to attend an AWA panel discussion where former Perdue chicken farmer Carole Morison spoke. She has since left chicken farming and is activist for family farmers, she was also seen in "Food, Inc". She spoke of her lack of rights and the horrors of the chickens, granted her chickens were broilers, but same mentality.

Free Range is where the author of lost me. Free range as with many of the wording in the food industry has many loopholes and is misleading, it just means "I can charge more money than if I say it's cage free". There aren't regulations as to chickens per area, conditions, only that they are out of cages, and have "access" to the outside, which can include a small door to a dirt or concrete patch of space outside.
*A small note here before we go into Organic, "no hormones" and "hormone free" can be tricky as until the chicken takes the first breath it is not considered living under the laws so they can be injected with whatever the farmer well pleases and it is allowed to be labeled misleading.

Organic. Huh. This can send me to many many different side situations, but just because your farmer at a farmer's market doesn't say organic it doesn't mean that those eggs should be avoided. Organic is a bought label. Yes, it has to meet certain standards, but it is an expensive label to receive. Organic chickens do have standards that they have access to clean dry bedding, but there aren't any ammonia restrictions in place. There aren't any standards to their living space and there aren't any regulations as to how long they can stay in the dark. They are however prohibited growth hormones and antibiotics. Organic is a government owned label, and well, it's better than previous options.

AWA and Pastured eggs. AWA is a private label that has great, tough standards. More and more farms are achieving the AWA label all the time, which is great, as it is a label to be trusted. If you look at the chart I attached at the beginning this is when those labels all begin to come out with "Certified Humane", "American Humane Certified", and "Global Animal Partnership". There are ammonia standards, bedding, sleeping standards, etc. Pastured eggs can be penned or cage free. The penned are moved to fresh pasture frequently and the pens are there to keep them safe from predators. True free range birds happen in this area of certification.

So. There. I hope it clarifies a little into the world of eggs. And not to always trust what you read. And remember, as Micheal Pollan likes to say, "vote with your dollar". If we all start buying higher standards the rest will follow.
Here's a link to my blog entry from the AWA panel I attended last May.
Oh yea, and Mr Trunell there are blue eggs too. What color earlobes do those chickens have? Answer: the earlobe statement in the article is inaccurate, it's all genetics. Earlobes can be an indication, but not a rule.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Easy Winter Dinner

A very easy tasty dinner I make pretty regularly is Mushrooms over Polenta. It's filling, easy, can feed a lot or a little, and I ALWAYS make extra mushroom mixture to save in the fridge or freezer for fast and easy meals in the future. It is also popular with my kid, always a bonus.
Polenta Fries are a favorite of mine from the days I worked at Casablanca Restaurant. Sooo delicious and easy. Servers used to eat them during meal service (Shhh! Don't tell) by just dripping some hot sauce on them for a quick bite to help the grumbling hunger pains/pangs and get us to the end of shift.

The mushrooms I put over them are awesome to freeze/fridge for omelettes, over bread, meats, fillers for soups, pot pies, really so versatile and nice to have on hand.
Make a lot, freeze in small batches. You will thank me.

How to make this easy dinner that can serve an army or serve 2?

First polenta:
Go ahead and make this a day ahead, if you want
I use Bob's Red Mill polenta (please don't use the premade stuff, it just isn't the same)
Make polenta as directed, if it's just 2-4 of you make half the recommended directions.

After polenta is finished, pour into a 9x9 pan if made half, a 9x12 pan if you did the full directions. Smooth out and refrigerate, cover if doing over night, if same day wait till firm, 30-45 minutes.

Cut polenta into 1 inch by 3 inch rectangles and carefully place on a greased baking sheet. Bake on 400 degrees 10 minutes a side.

In the meantime make the mushrooms. Clean and slice 1 pint of mushrooms and chop 1 onion.
Put 2 Tbsp of olive oil, a quarter cup of water, and onions in a saute pan over low heat. Let them cook until opaque, slowly add more water if necessary to prevent browning. Add mushrooms and cook until browned and softened. (if saving some for later, remove 1/2 at this point) Add 1/4 cup of almond milk or cream (try the almond milk, it really adds a nice flavor) to pan and a large pinch of flour. Mix quickly so flour doesn't clump. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and let liquid reduce.

Once polenta fries are done, mushrooms will be reduced. Place 3-4 polenta fries per plate and spoon mushroom mixture over. Serve immediately.

Adult Plating Suggestion

Kid Plating Suggestion

Kid's Plate After Dinner!


Monday, January 3, 2011


My son has a slurpee addiction....well, he tries to anyway. It's the one logo he recognizes, probably because there are 7 in a one mile radius of my house, so whenever he sees the 7/11 logo  he starts repeating over and over "can I get a slurpee?".

Santa thankfully brought a great gift to both my kid and to us, a Spongebob SnowCone Maker (Santa's elves were unfortunately out of the Snoopy one).

Why I love it:
It doesn't cost $1.30 per slurpee
It doesn't contain the sugar content a regular slurpee does
We get to make it together
It's a nice low-no calorie/make you exercise snack (made of just ice and you try cranking that thing!)
*I did throw aside the kool-aid packet it came with and the squirt bottle. We use just a couple drops of juice or just straight ice.

Why he loves it:
He can make any flavor he wants (just a few drops of any beverage makes him happy)
He gets to make his own slurpee whenever he wants (as long as mom says yes)
He likes the little size (and so does mom)

Now I realize that this can be accomplished in a blender, but you don't get the small size from a blender and the kid doesn't get to make his own snack. Plus who doesn't want to watch SpongeBob spit out crushed ice?

Yes, we use Jack Daniels shot glasses. They are the perfect size and my husband works in a bourbon focused restaurant- dixie cups are a perfect size, or just pour into SpongeBob's cone and then dump into a dish for more eco friendly option.
Thanks, Santa!