Pretty Ice Bowls

6 Jun

I’m always looking for things to inspire me as a food editor. Within minutes of landing on the blog Kitchen Vignettes, by Toronto-based videographer Aube Giroux, I realized it was goose-bumps special. The first clip I watched told a winter story about Aube preparing rum babas for her late mother’s knitting club friends back in the Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia. It’s so poetic. A sped-up acoustic version of “In The Bleak Winter” is the soundtrack to yeast rising, dough kneading and liquor streaming, interspersed with snow falling, needles clicking and ladies feasting on warm fresh buns.

Aube, who has been posting food videos for less than a year, went on to be nominated for Saveur magazine’s prestigious 2012 best single video blog award for that same post, pitted against some notable U.S. bloggers with fan bases in the tens of thousands. It was just announced that she won. I was not surprised.

The girl can write too! To accompany her beautiful videos, Aube records details from the kitchen and her daily life with humour and warmth. I was doing high kicks in my home office when she agreed to start contributing to Reader’s Digest.

Aube’s most recent story is a simple how-to on making pretty ice bowls with edible flowers, herbs and fresh berries frozen into their sides. You can find it in our July issue.

These ephemeral bowls will knock your loved ones’ socks off–a very good thing in sandal weather. You can use them to keep frozen desserts, such as ice cream and sorbet, nice and chilled at summer dinner parties. They’ll last a good hour or so before melting begins.

Aube invited me to see how she makes the ice bowls and how she makes a video blog. She sets her digital SLR camera on a tripod as she cooks, so she can shoot herself chopping, mixing and measuring, or doing whatever needs done. Her lightweight Canon 60D is also small enough to perch on the countertop or squeeze into a tight spot for interesting points of view.

Aube mixes things up with regular video, slow-motion, time-lapse and stop-motion segments. The effects help keep things lively and draw attention to the natural beauty of raw ingredients as they’re being transformed into anything from massaged kale salad to Jack Layton’s gumdrop cake: With slow motion, Aube creates drama from something as simple as kneading dough; with time-lapse, she can show something slow, like yeast rising in sugar water, in just a few seconds; and with stop-motion animation, she can play around with things like leeks or berries to set a light-hearted tone.

Since we were preparing this a few months ahead for Reader’s Digest, Aube had to hunt around for imported rhubarb and strawberries. But normally, she works with local and seasonal ingredients, from places such as her garden, her dad’s maple forest or the local farmers’ market. “I feel like our food system has the potential to be really destructive to the planet or really in harmony with the natural world,” she says.

It can take up to four days to shoot and edit a video, and there’s no pay cheque attached to the work, but Aube has other motivations for spending so much time in the kitchen and sharing her adventures:

“I learned to cook from my mom and grandmother. Sadly, neither is alive any more. When you lose someone, their recipes become a way to connect with those people and feel their presence.”

Aube remembers making the ice bowls featured here 20 years ago–only with lavender flowers–for her surviving grandmother’s birthday. “She still talks about it today,” says the blogger.

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DIY Ice Bowls
By Aube Giroux 

Ice bowls with flowers, berries or herbs frozen into their sides will keep your ice cream or sorbet nicely chilled on a hot summer day. You can play with colour pairings—a lavender and blackberry ice bowl would be a great match for plum sorbet. Or work with contrasts—white strawberry flowers in an ice bowl filled with peach ice-cream scoops. Here’s how to make these pretty bowls:

What you will need

4 medium and 4 small plastic bowls, similar in shape, with a 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) difference in height and width
1 pitcher of ice-cold water
Around 4 cups (1 L) of small edible flowers, berries and herbs
Small heavy objects to use as weights, such as rocks or coins

1. Pour water into the 4 medium bowls so it covers about 2 cm (0.8 in) at the bottom of each. Put the bowls on a flat surface in the freezer until the water is frozen solid.

2. Remove medium bowls from the freezer, working on one at a time so the water doesn’t melt. Place a smaller bowl on top of the ice base inside the medium bowl, making sure it’s centred. Fill the smaller bowl with a layer of heavy objects to keep it anchored down.

In the gap between the small and medium bowls, drop flowers, herbs and berries of your choice.

Make them fill the space vertically as well as horizontally by squeezing the larger flowers, herbs or berries into the gap with a chopstick, so they’re held in place between the walls of the bowls and don’t float upwards.

Pour water to fill this space so it reaches 1 cm (0.4 in) from the rim of the bowl. Tuck in any leaves or flowers that are sticking out of the water.


3. Remove the bowls from the freezer. Run a little hot water on the outside and inside of the plastic bowls, being careful not to touch the ice, then unmould the bowls.

Fill with scoops of sorbet or ice cream and serve immediately.

Good luck making these, and be sure to check out Aube’s lovely video
and blog post about the whole process here!

5 Responses to “Pretty Ice Bowls”

  1. Aube June 7th, 2012 at 7:22 AM #

    Hi Val, this is a wonderful post, I’m very honoured! Thank you for coming over and enjoying this frozen treat with me, may we do it again soon 🙂

  2. andrea June 7th, 2012 at 10:20 AM #

    oh my goodness this is so beautiful! can’t wait to try it!

  3. JOHN RP June 8th, 2012 at 1:32 PM #

    WOW LOOKS PRETTY GOOD. Great idea. I can see this won awards.


  4. Carol June 8th, 2012 at 2:25 PM #

    What an absolutely terrific idea. I’ve done ice cubes with berries or little flowers in them but never thought of making a bowl. Definitely on the “must-try” list for summer! Thanks.

  5. MelodyFS June 8th, 2012 at 11:41 PM #

    Frozen edible bowls, that’s a great idea, so wonderfully inventive. Oh my! Thank you for sharing your invention!

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