Saturday, March 19, 2011

Put a Spring in Your Step and a Spring in Your Faith



Happy Spring everyone! This is a wonderful time of year for me... I think for pretty obvious reasons. The thought of going outside and playing in my Garden is just so exciting to me. That is something that I think began way back when I was a little girl. I loved putting on my nice clean clothes, taking my sparkling 'girly' tea set and play dishes...outside .... to play at making a 'mud' bakery!! That's right! A MUD bakery... lol. My Sister and my Friends and I would mix up a nice big 'batter' of mud and we would proceed to make cakes, pies, cookies....and decorate them with pretty leaves and flowers and all of the loveliness that nature had to offer. Of course, when the 'baking' frenzy was done, WE didn't look so lovely, cause we were covered in mud. :p Our poor Moms....

Another favorite activity of mine, was picking wildflowers like the clover in the above photo. I loved making flower chains. Sitting in the cool green grass and making bracelets and necklaces out of flowers. Hmmm... As I type this, I'm actually seeing that alot of what I love to do is rooted in my childhood and the influence that nature had on me... All of the things I loved to do never really left me I suppose. 

So, for me, there has been much to be gleaned from nature. It has led me to so many wonderful interests... like gardening, cooking and jewelry making. But beyond that, it has also shown me the glory of perseverence in the face of challenge.

Each Spring, I go back to my garden and I trim away the dead leaves and stems that became blighted by the winter elements. And underneath, what looks dead and withered, are tiny sprouts, ...little tender green buds of life, just biding their time for the warmth of the sun to return.  

And THAT too, I have taken with me as I have become an adult. Particularly  in trying times such as these. There is solace for me in the perseverant and simple beauty of nature. No harsh climate will take that from me, be it meteorologic or economic. So, with that said, I've got a Spring in my step, and a Spring in my faith that better times will come. In the meantime, I will be biding my time, and tending to my 'Garden'.  I wish the same for you.......  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For a Berry Good Time Call : Skinny Gelato !


Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn't illegal. ~Voltaire

How wonderful that the warm and breezy days of Spring and Summer are fast approaching! I have to say, despite the heat of the season that will soon be here, I will still love to engage in cooking and baking. I can't help myself!! I LOVE it!  I do find, however, that what I desire to make in my kitchen does change with the seasons.

It is Strawberry season here in Florida...and so my attention turns to the luscious berries and fruit that are  now, and will be,  available to us in the coming months... So, with that said... I have been on a quest for the perfect low fat treat. I know.... low fat treat sounds like a contradiction in terms.. doesn't it?

Nevertheless... as a Nurse, I value the healthy Lipid panel I have managed to maintain. But as a gal nearing 50 years... I'm looking to live it up with things that I enjoy. Ergo, just because my metabolism is fighting my efforts...doesn't mean I should quit trying to stay healthy AND to have fun.

I've been on a Gelato kick lately. Simply to cut down on the fat, sugar and calories that come with eating Ice Cream. 4-8 % butterfat in Gelato vs approx. 14 % butterfat in Ice Cream. But to drill down even further, I found that even many Gelato recipes call for a hot process that involves making a yellow custard base often made with egg yolks and heavy cream..... that's right... Heavy cream... yikes.... I have made my Gelato this way...and it is good!

But I went looking for a healthier way to go about Gelato, cutting back the fat content, without sacrificing that smooth , creamy texture I so enjoy.  Credit goes to Gale Group/ Sunset Publishing's 'Skinny Gelato' a marvelous way to make, well...not Guiltless , but with less guilt, Gelato.  Admittedly, I tweaked their recipe to suit my self... but that's the fun of cooking I think.

1/2 cup sugar
 3 thin strips lemon peel (yellow part only), each 1/2 by 3 inches ( I simply microplaned the lemon peel. I might omit this in the future depending on what flavor I am going after)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
 2 cups extra-light or low-fat milk ( I used 1% milk)
Berry puree (You can experiment by food processing your favorite fruit to a puree consistency) 
 2 teaspoons vanilla ( how about Rum flavoring? Almond? Grand Marnier? Go ahead and play! :)


In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine sugar and lemon peel; with a wooden spoon, press peel against sugar to release oils. Mix in cornstarch. Stir in milk. Stir over medium heat (with a whisk to remove any lumps) until sauce boils, about 5 minutes. When it boils, continue to stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Lift out lemon peel; discard. ( Because I microplaned the lemon, I left it in the pudding)

I pureed raspberries in my food processor and then  fine strained the puree into a bowl to remove the seeds.
 I used approx. 10 oz. of berries.


Stir berry puree and vanilla into hot pudding until smoothly blended. Cool, cover, and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours or up until next day. ( I refrigerated for 4 hours before I churned)





Pour into a 1-quart or larger container of a frozen cylinder, self-refrigerated, or ice- and salt-cooled ice cream maker (use 1 part salt to 6 parts ice). Crank or process according to manufacturer's directions until gelato is softly frozen and hard to mix; remove dasher.








Serve or, to firm and mellow gelato, cover and freeze for 1 to 2 hours.
 ( I tend to freeze mine for a few hours, since I like a more firm Gelato. Conversely, if you find that you have frozen your Gelato solid, simply let it sit a few minutes to soften up. )


Enjoy! You know you want to.... :) As long as there is life... there should be fun! Let's try to keep it healthy fun whenever we can.

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