Gunga Galunga (Via Corona yard update)

After writing the final check to our builders in early 2018, we laid low with Via Corona for most the year.  It was nice to just hang out, let her settle (literally) and, you know, not hemhorrage money.

Our one major task for Via Corona in 2018 was to address the remaining strip of dirt that was our front and side yards.

Lest you have forgotten just how awful Via Corona’s yard began, allow me to refresh your memory.  Though there isn’t much to it, when we moved in, Via Corona’s yard was derelict.

Though we encountered its destitution every time we visited the house, we somehow completely forgot to include it in our renovation plans.

Which turned out to be okay since TD and I watched a ton of YouTube videos and learned how to do some yard stuff.

You can see the entire madcap adventure (montage included) in our Working Har Har Hard on the Yard Yard Yard post.

We gave ourselves some serious back pats for our landscaping accomplishments and have continued to do so while we’ve kept everything alive.

YouTube learning (actually, let’s be honest, TD and I) has its limits however and alas, a significant portion of the yard remained, shall we say, au natural.

A couple of things were keeping us from moving forward.  First, we needed an irrigation system and we needed to figure out if we could do it ourselves.  I’ll cut to the chase tout suite.  The answer was no.  Like, NO! With that out of the way we had a second obstacle: our neighbors.  We’ve got a leaning wall between the two properties.  They’ve got a leaning fence.  We wanted to pull down the wall and have a nice redwood fence built.  They had some “concerns.”  After several months and unsuccessful attempts at understanding their concerns in a way that would cost us less than $50,000, we gave up on that version of the plan.  We’ve got bigger, badder ideas for that wall down the road and have decided to play the neighbor long game.

Obstacles out of the way, we had the irrigation and sod installed in something like 48 hours. Almost over night we went from “dirt patch alley” to “pass me a beer, where’s the corn hole?”

Cool slider alert:

While we may have conceded (temporarily) on the long wall battle, we did win some view.  We’re quick learners and when it came to the short wall, we didn’t consult with anyone and had the nice professionals open things up a bit for us.

Another cool slider alert:

 

Via Corona has wrap-around grass.  All my life’s wishes I didn’t know I had have been fulfilled.

Final cool slide alert:

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished.  The sod had been down less than a week before the gophers moved in.  And then the skunks and raccoons started taking advantage of the worm-rich soil and regularly aerating the sod.

So, we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Mula Pie

Growing up in San Diego my family had a tradition of visiting Jake’s in Del Mar for special occasions.  Part of the TS Restaurant Group (think Kimo’s and Dukes), Jake’s edges right over the surf and is a favorite spot for watching the sunset while enjoying excellent seafood and fresh sourdough bread.

As much as we’d ooh and ahh over the the tenderness of the sea bass or buttery ahi, the whole meal was just prelude for the dinner’s denoument: the hula pie.

If you haven’t already been inducted (and you’d know if you were), hula pie is a concoction of mounds of macadamia nut ice cream perched on top of a cookie crust and drenched in hot fudge.  While meant to be shared, even a slice of the slice is enough to put you into a deep sugar coma in the very best way.

Since my parents moved to Montana full time nearly 10 years ago and Dukes in Malibu is a hearty drive, I decided to make my own version for my folk’s visit last month.  My parents live just outside of Bozeman Montana.  According to Sunset magazine and more than a handful of best places to live rankings, Bozeman is a happening place.  While this may be true, they still don’t have a Trader Joe’s and so as an homage to my mom’s favorite state’s away grocery, I used as many Trader Joes ingredients as I could muster.

The original hula pie I made with an alarming amount of academic nut ice cream.  This version has that in additional to a layer of coffee ice cream elevating the hula to a mula: the hula and mud pie love child.

I started with a nine-inch pie tin.  I quick baked a Joe Joe’s chocolate crust and painted on a thin layer of hot fudge.  To this I added a leveled-off layer of coffee ice cream.

Since macadamia nut ice cream can be hard to find outside of Hawaii, I came across an easy fix (that I really should have come up with on my own): soften the ice cream and then beat-in the macademia nuts.

The trick with the macadamia nut ice cream (that I somehow didn’t photograph) is to use a bowl with the same diameter as the inside of your pie tin.  Line that bowl with plastic wrap and then fill it with the softened ice cream.

This next part is important: freeze both the bowl and pie tin of ice cream over night.  The pieces need to be really, really frozen for what comes next.

Once everything is frozen and the pieces are fit together, it’s time for the fudge.  I’ll tell you, I had a hard time with this.  My suggestion is to have the fudge ready at room temp.  Then place the pie tin on a larger plate and working very quickly, pour out the fudge and “ice” the dome with an off-set spatula.  You are going to have some drippage over the side.  You may have more than some.  Don’t worry about it.  Just know–there will be chocolate all over your kitchen.

When you are ready to serve, heat up the leftover hot fudge, cut a thick slice.  Smother in the warmed fudge, sprinkle some macadamia nuts and garnish with whipped cream (if you dare).

It took four of us five sittings to get through the entire pie.  It was rough, but we’re not quitters.

Mula Pie

Ingredients

for the hot fudge

  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (pick your type)
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 C corn syrup
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

for the pie (this makes a nine-inch pie, adjust ingredient volume as needed)

  • One column plus two cookies of your favorite chocolate sandwich cookie (Oreo’s, Joe Joe’s, Hydrox etc)
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 Quart coffee ice cream (strongly recommend Trader Joe’s version) [you probably won’t use all…]
  • 1/2 Gallon vanilla ice cream [you won’t need all of it]
  • 4 + 1 ounces of macadamia nuts (I prefer roasted and salted) separated
  • Hot fudge sauce
  • Whipping cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. If using a 9-inch pie tin, find a bowl that fits just inside the inner rim of the tin.  It’s okay if the bowl is just under the diameter (up to 1/4 inch) but it shouldn’t overhang.
  3. Using a food processor or by hand (a ziplock and rolling pin will work), finely grind chocolate sandwich cookies until you’ve got chocolate dirt.
  4. Melt butter.  Combine with ground sandwich cookies and press into pie tin.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  5. While crust bakes, pull ice creams from the freezer and allow to soften.
  6. Chop macadamia nuts.
  7. Once vanilla ice cream is softened to soft serve consistency, place in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add-in four ounces of the chopped macadamia nuts and mix on low until nuts are combined.
  8. Line your pie-tin fitting bowl with plastic wrap so that there is enough allowance around the edges to wrap across the top of the bowl once it is filled.
  9. Fill plastic-lined bowl with the macadamia nut ice cream.  Press ice cream into the bowl so that it is densely packed.  Wrap top of bowl with edges and freeze over night.
  10. Fill cooled chocolate crust with coffee ice cream so that the ice cream is densely packed and level with the top of the crust (I know there is a layer of fudge in the pictures–my recommendation is to wait until you are ready to cover the dome with fudge to make the sauce–it will be easier to work with than attempting to reheat and spread).  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze over night.
  11. To make the fudge sauce, in a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan, warm corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk, whisk to combine.  Remove from burner and add-in chocolate (chopped if not using chips) and butter.  Allow to sit for five minutes to melt.  Once chocolate is melted, add in salt and whisk until smooth.
  12. Pull pie tin and bowl of ice cream from freezer and unwrap. Fit ice cream dome on top of unwrapped pie.  The dome should fit level with rim of the tin (or just below).  Place pie tin on plate with enough lip to catch overflowing hot fudge.
  13. With the fudge sauce at room temp and starting at the top of the dome, quickly pour and spread 2/3 of the fudge with off-set spatula.  Work quickly and don’t worry if you have an occasional bald spot.  Place pie in freezer and allow to freeze for at least an hour.
  14. Check pie.  There is a good chance that some of the fudge will have migrated off the pie and onto the plate.  If so, scoop up and add to the top of the pie.  Freeze until ready to serve.
  15. To serve, gently heat remaining fudge sauce.  Cut pie, drizzle warmed fudge, sprinkle with remaining macadamia nuts and garnish with whipped cream.