A Few of my Favorite Things

Jump to recipe
Favorite Things
Random trivia qualifies as one of my favorite things. It’s useful as a conversation starter or when the subject needs to be changed—and it’s just plain fun!
Recently, I read that trivia offers certain health benefits, too. For example, answering trivia questions can create a surge in dopamine, also known as the “feel-good hormone.” Trivia also helps to engage the frontal cortex, or the part of the brain that plays a significant role in processing memories.
So along with my usual list of favorites, I’m kicking off this month’s list with some fun facts about June!

 

Fun Facts About June:

  • June is named for Juno, Roman queen of the gods.
  • Most of us know that the Summer Solstice (or the first day of summer and the longest day of the year) is in June. But did you know that this is also National Nude Day?😳
  • In any year, no month begins on the same day of the week as June.
  • The elder George Bush and Donald Trump are the only US Presidents to have been born in June.
  • In English-speaking countries, June was the 39th most popular name for a baby girl in 1925; it dropped out of the top thousand in 1986.
  • June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month (and, on the other end of the spectrum, Candy Month), as well Iced Tea Month, Great Outdoors Month, Adopt a Cat Month and-who knew?-Accordian Awareness Month.
  • Gemini (May 21 to June 20) and Cancer (June 21 to July 20) are the two Zodiac signs that represent the month of June.
  • Spanish: Junio Italian: Giugno French: Juin German: Juni Polish: Czerwiec Latin: Junius
ice cream

🍦Favorite ice cream:

I have long joked that I could be a taste tester for an ice cream company, as I think I have the palate for ice cream that some people have for wine. 🤷‍♀️😜 Choosing one favorite is a tall task, and flavors are such a personal thing, so I’m keeping my list fairly basic-but welcome reader input!

Best Vanilla Ice Cream: Turkey Hill Homemade Vanilla (not to be confused with Original, French or Vanilla Bean varieties by the same company, which are delicious in their own right but not quite as perfect!) This ice cream bursts with pure vanilla flavor and has just the right butterfat content, making perfectly creamy-neither too dense nor too icy-with just the right “mouthfeel.”  Note, there is a similarly named vanilla in Turkey Hill’s all-natural line, but I find the texture isn’t as smooth and creamy.

Best Non-Dairy/Vegan Ice Cream: Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss is denser than my previous favorite in a way that’s more like many premium ice cream brands. This ice cream truly shines where texture and flavor are concerned; five minutes on the counter will soften it to a creamy, easy-to-scoop delight, and though a light coconut flavor may be detected in some of the flavors, there’s no “off” taste as with many of the non-dairy alternatives. Available in pints only, Mint Chip Galactica is a personal favorite.

Best Premium Ice Cream: On nights off as a summer camp counselor in Maine, my friends and I would each buy our own pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, grab a plastic spoon and eat the WHOLE pint. (I know!!) I adored a now-discontinued flavor called White Russian, but Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch ruled the day, with New York Super Fudge Chunk trailing closely behind. These days, when I enjoy a more modest scoop (or two), I mine for those same big chunks of Heath Bar and dark and white chocolate chunks in the respective flavors.

Obviously, I’ve left out favorite soft serve, reduced calorie option, gelato, frozen yogurt and others. So please feel free to comment as to your personal favorite, noting any much-loved ice cream parlors that fellow readers may like to try on their travels. (I could write a whole post on this! 😍)

For a few of my homemade ice cream favorites, take a peek here. To satisfy all tastes and eating styles, there are no-churn, dairy-free, healthy and ice cream pie and cake options.

For fascinating and funny insight into how the Ben & Jerry’s brand came to be, I highly recommend the How I Built This Podcast with Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.🍨

 

Favorite Kitchen:

Featured Kitchen

Those of you who follow my Fountain Avenue Kitchen Facebook page likely know that I post a “featured kitchen” every Friday morning for readers to analyze, for good or bad. I’ve had requests to carry some of them over to this space, so shown above is the kitchen from the last month that, based on reader comments, was the clear favorite.

One reader, for example, rated this kitchen “a twenty out of ten on a bad day.” Some readers, however, did want to add a splash of color.

The photos shown below was the runner up for the month of May.

Favorite Kitchen - Cape Cod Kitchen

📚Favorite Book: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood

Bad Blood tells the inside story of the meteoric rise and total collapse of Theranos, a multibillion-dollar biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes, a Stanford dropout who was widely considered to be the next Steve Jobs. The company promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that could perform blood tests with a mere drop of blood.

Holmes surrounded herself with and received massive funding from well-known investors and politicians, ultimately building a company with a staggering valuation of $9 billion. But there was a problem: the technology on which the company was built did not work.

Carreyrou is the prize-winning Wall Street Journal investigative reporter who first broke the story doggedly pursued it, despite massive scare tactics and threats used by Holmes and her lawyers. He interviewed countless employees and industry players, many of whom were scared to reveal what they knew because they, too, were threatened.

The book introduces a lengthy list of the actual players and provides thorough details about the relevant technology, but I found this insight to be helpful in appreciating the overall scale of the fraud, considered the biggest corporate fraud since Enron. In many ways, the tale highlights what is often considered to be the “fake it until you make it” culture and bold promises of the Silicon Valley.

A friend of mine recommended watching the HBO documentary on the subject after reading the book, and I agree. The book digs far deeper and tells a much broader story, but the documentary provides an interesting follow-up and brings the real-life characters to life (and depicts Holmes’ uncanny ability to not blink and her often-referenced deep voice).

 

Favorite Creative Outlet: Making Art Every Day

Fun Art

If you’d like to give the challenge a go or simply see more, click on the links above or on Kalyn’s Instagram page.

Maybe you’ve noticed the graphics that introduced my last few “favorite things” posts. They are compliments of my talented friend and graphic designer Kalyn Kepner. As a creative outlet and a fun way to hone her skills, Kalyn follows the daily drawing prompt spelled out by Making Art Every Day and shares her whimsical creations on her Instagram page.

Remember how popular coloring books for adults became so popular a few years ago? The Making Art Every Day website, spearheaded by Lisa Bardot, follows the same wisdom-that this creative outlet is good for all ages. It’s a stress reliever that helps us focus and express ourselves. It also hones our analytical skills, improves hand-eye coordination and stimulates the brain…among other things.

The prompt is always simple-maybe an animal, flower or household item. Kalyn shared several of her favorite animals for me to use here. (Aren’t they fun?) Artists of all abilities can share their creations on Instagram using #makingarteveryday or simply do it for their own enjoyment.

If you’re interested in drawing or seeing the daily prompts, you can see them on Lisa Bardot’s Making Art Every Day website.

Fun Art Fun Art

Favorite reader question from last month: Is hemp oil the panacea it claims to be?

I’m taking a little latitude in this “favorite things” space to address a topic that has come up frequently in the last few months. I’m by no means an expert, but I have done some research and can point those seeking more information in a helpful direction.

One can hardly listen to or read the news these days without stumbling upon the word “hemp.” I’ve had conversations with readers, friends and family members about the merits of taking a full spectrum hemp extract (often referred to as CBD, which is short for cannabidiol), or even cooking with it.

There are lots of misconceptions, but this much is true: unlike marijuana, hemp extract is non-psychotropic, meaning that it doesn’t effect one’s mental date. But, as one reader asked, is it the panacea it claims to be?

On the pro side, hemp oil has been studied for its potential role in treating common health issues including anxiety, depression, acne and heart disease. It may also provide a natural alternative for pain and symptom relief for those fighting cancer.

Though generally well tolerated and considered safe, some may experience adverse reactions like diarrhea, changes in appetite and fatigue. It’s also known to interact with several medications, so consulting a doctor prior to use is advised.

Recently, I decided to see if the oil would alleviate the nagging pain I’ve been experiencing for months in my foot and hip. In my effort to educate myself, I found the answers in this extensive list of FAQs to be quite comprehensive. It’s a helpful resource, especially when coupled with this comprehensive guide.

The jury is still out as to whether there will be a material difference in my discomfort. If there’s interest, I’d be happy to provide feedback after I’ve given the experiment some time. I’m also curious as to what your thoughts and experiences are with this increasingly popular product.

For those who may be wondering, I’m using Barlean’s oil because of my familiarity with the company and trust in their quality.

Barlean's Extra Strength

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. Helen S.

    My all time favorite ice cream store WAS The Minute Man between Morristown and Bernardsville, NJ. The summer favorite was peach ice cream.I have never had a peach ice cream as delicious ever since the 1970’s.During the year, their chocolate mint and coffee were favorites.
    Now we purchase Vanilla Bean ice cream made by Friendly’s at a local Food Lion.
    I have tried many recipes for peach ice cream and not one has come close to the Minute Man’s recipe!!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m suddenly craving peach ice cream, Helen! It’s such a refreshing summer treat and a good one can’t be beat. Peachy Paterno from Penn State’s creamery, perhaps? Speaking of Friendly’s, I coincidentally just read a rating of chocolate ice creams that ranked Friendly’s chocolate in the top spot, mentioning that the flavor is perfectly situated between milk and dark chocolate. Now I feel compelled to try!

      Reply
  2. jane link

    Sorry Ann, but in the ice cream category, I am not a fan of Ben and Jerry’s. Aldi makes a premium version and it is much better, and cheaper! Fudgey Wudgie is the best!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jane, Though I ate a lot of Ben & Jerry’s in my younger years, these days I usually opt for the less premium options-and I love a bargain. Now I will most certainly have to try Aldi’s. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Reply
  3. Trudy

    Hi Ann,
    Interesting coincidence, I just ordered some CBD oil and am hopeful it will alleviate back pain and sleep issues. I am definitely interested in your feedback. My college-age son pulled up some resources on the internet for me to use as research after we were involved in a discussion. He said, ” I know you, and you are not going to just accept someone else’s thoughts, you will want to do your own research. Here are some scientific sources.” He does know me so well!

    PS I still miss you in the newspaper!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Trudy, Thank you for your comment…and I miss the paper, too! I hope the oil helps and will be happy to report back. Feel free to check in with your feedback as well. Interestingly, on Friday the FDA held its first hearing on the subject. There’s so much confusion in the marketplace and this was supposed to be the first step towards answering questions and clarifying regulations surrounding the product.

      Reply
  4. Alexis

    Turkey Hill homemade Vanilla is hands down the best vanilla. Have you tried Lapp Valley Farms? Their ice cream is outta this world raspberry, chocolate marshmallow and mint chocolate chip are family favs!!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I know, right?? And I haven’t tried Lapp Valley Farms. Where do you buy it? Now I have more to try! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Susan Ericson

    My favorite ice cream place is Boehringer’s in Adamstown, Pa. Home made ice cream in a fun drive in setting. I haven’t been there in a while due to food allergies of two family members. I do miss their lemon ice cream with sprinkles! That brings me to another favorite thing to do –antiquing! Love all those old one of a kind treasures!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Antiquing is so much fun! We used to do more of that but haven’t in recent years. My husband has always enjoyed it, so I learned to appreciate it through him. A little antiquing followed by a refreshing dip of ice cream – maybe a scenic drive to get from one place to another – sounds like a pretty great day to me!

      Reply
  6. Judith

    Thanks to a previous post of yours, I became a Turkey Hill Homemade Vanilla convert. I keep only vanilla in my freezer on a regular basis and that is now my vanilla ice cream of choice. I am also a huge fan of Fox Meadows ice cream (west of Ephrata and coming soon to Leola) and especially their Nutella. Delicious! Thanks also for the book recommendation! I work in a hospital laboratory and we had heard a lot about this company a few years back . There was even supposed to be a lab established in central PA. So, I am very interested in reading this book. Another very interesting lab related book is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot about a woman whose cells were taken without her knowledge in the early 50’s and are still being used in medicine today to produce vaccines, gene mapping, and more.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m so glad you mentioned the Henrietta Lacks book, Judith. I sort of forgot about that one and think I would enjoy it. With your job, I’m sure you will have a special appreciation for what went on at Theranos. I’m also delighted you’ve become a fellow homemade vanilla fan…and Nutella ice cream? Yum!

      Reply