Part 2: Flavors of Summer — Seven Ways to Serve Ice Cream by Marilyn Ostermiller

Attention Ice Cream Lovers: Here’s a challenge to make you smile. Enjoy ice cream served a different way every day for a full week.  These seven suggestions demonstrate how easy and enjoyable this challenge can be. Feel free to include your own favorite ways to serve ice cream as well.

Ala Mode: A fancy way of saying, “I’ll have a scoop of ice cream on top of my pie.” A classic combination is warm apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Banana Split: Cut a banana in half lengthwise and lay together in an oblong bowl. Top with three scoops of ice cream. The classic combination is vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, but use your imagination. Spoon one or more syrups over the ice cream. Hot fudge is a good place to start. Garnish with whipped cream and chopped nuts.

banana_split_with_icecream

Brownie Alaska: Start with a pan of brownies cut in 3-inch-square pieces. Cut slices of ice cream the same size. Keep ice cream in the freezer until time to bake in a 350-degree oven. Make a meringue by beating six large egg whites, a dash of salt, and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar in a mixer, until soft peaks form. Continue to beat while gradually adding 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar, until peaks stand alone, when the beater is lifted out of the bowl. Arrange the brownies on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place a slice of ice cream on each brownie. Spoon the meringue over each brownie until no brownie or ice cream is showing. Bake until meringue begins to brown, but no longer than five minutes.

Cone: Legend has it the first ice cream cone was created by a fast-thinking waffle maker at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, when the ice cream vendor in the adjacent booth ran out of cups. He quickly rolled one of his waffles into the shape of a cornucopia and handed it to the ice cream vendor, who filled it with ice cream. The idea quickly caught on. Months earlier, an Italian immigrant to the United States was granted a patent for the ice cream cone. Like they say, great minds think alike.

i cream 2B

Root Beer Float: Place 2 scoops of ice cream into a glass. Hold the glass at an angle and slowly pour 3/4 cup root beer over the ice cream. It will fizz, but take it slowly and it won’t overflow.

Sandwich: Start with two cookies, 2-3 inches in diameter. Spread one with a generous scoop of ice cream, Top it with the other. Sugar, chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies are among the popular choices.

Waffles: Toast frozen waffles or bake batter in a waffle maker. When cooled, top with scoops of ice cream, and syrup or fruit preserves.

For a fun picture book about the joys of ice cream check out SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK by Patricia Keeler.  SCOOP, PIN & MAGNET

Marilyn Ostermiller

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

 

In case you missed Part 1 of this ICE CREAM series, here’s the link:

https://wordpress.com/view/darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com

 

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Celebrate July With the Flavors of Summer by Marilyn Ostermiller

If you need a reason to indulge in ice cream, here it is: July is National Ice Cream Month. It has been, since 1984, when President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation. Other flavors of summer celebrated this month as well, are baked beans, hot dogs and blueberries.

My favorite ice cream memory is a generous bowl of pistachio gelato my husband and I shared at the ancient town square in Taormina, Sicily, atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean, on a summer Sunday. Children played soccer nearby. Families strolled home from church. I savored the crunch of chopped nuts in every bite of that creamy green confection, served in a frosty, stemmed goblet.

dessert-gelato-ice-cream-3631

Ice cream has been enjoyed throughout history:

  • Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar (D. 54-86) is said to have frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.
  • Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what we call sorbet.

It wasn’t until the 1800s, though, the invention of insulated ice houses and other commercial equipment made it possible for ice cream to be widely enjoyed around the world.

Vanilla is the popular flavor, according to a survey conducted last year by the International Dairy Foods Association. The next four most popular flavors, were chocolate, cookies ’n cream, mint chocolate chip and chocolate chip cookie dough.

chocolate-close-up-cone-161420

The trend is toward unusual flavor couplings. For example, The Bent Spoon, in Princeton, N.J., specializes in small batch ice cream and sorbets using local and organic ingredients. Ricotta-pistachio, strawberries and elderflower, banana chunk, crème fraîche, school garden mint nib, pink rose, and lavender and mascarpone, were among the 28 flavors chilling in the display case on a recent day. https://www.facebook.com/pg/the-bent-spoon-132592140111950/reviews/?ref=page_internal

There are plenty of family friendly ways to churn a batch of ice cream at home, ranging from hand crank freezers to electric freezers that create ice cream in about 30 minutes.

Here are two books to get you started:

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker by Robin Donovan and published by Rockridge Press. It features such time-tested flavors as Cookies and Cream, Classic Vanilla, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, and Red Velvet. The easy-to-follow recipes are all based on one classic base. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXY0ANB/ref=rdr_ext_sb_pi_hist_3  

  • The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker    

Marilyn will return later this month with PART 2 of the history of ICE CREAM.

 

Marilyn Ostermiller        Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

Spring Flavors Feature Earthy Delights by Marilyn Ostermiller

Spring awakens fruits and vegetables from their slumber, providing us with local produce that’s crisp, colorful and bursting with flavor. Locally grown asparagus, sweet peas, scallions and rhubarb are the seasonal treats I most anticipate when visiting farmers markets or pick-your-own farms.   asparagus

 If you’re looking forward to spring produce, check with your state Department of Agriculture for an approximate arrival date. The list New Jersey posts is an example. http://www.jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/availability.html

 Fresh radishes, strawberries or spinach is a treat, but it’s also fun to incorporate them in your cooking. I especially like to prepare a quiche for spring brunch or lunch that incorporates asparagus, green onions and mushrooms. Recipes for spring quiche abound. Basically, you prepare a pie crust, or — my personal favorite — buy it frozen. Then find a basic recipe online that incorporates a mild grated cheese, eggs and milk or cream. Chop a cup or more of spring vegetables and saute for about five minutes. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of a mild shredded cheese on the bottom crust of a 9-inch pie shell, add the vegetables, pour the egg mixture over it and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until the mixture sets. Let it rest for five minutes, slice and enjoy warm. A simple salad and crostini or soup fill out your meal.  getPart

 About the time rhubarb is ripe, I start thinking about a pudding my great aunt from Denmark fed me when I was a child. This recipe comes close to the flavor and texture I remember. The Danish name for it is Rabarbergrod.

                rhubarbClean and cut 1 pound of rhubarb into small pieces and cook together with 2 1/2 cups of water 7 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add 2/3 cup granulated sugar when almost done cooking.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed first with a little cold water. Heat and stir until thickened and clear. Stir a few times while cooling. Makes 4 cups. Add a few drops of red food color for a brighter color. Serve chilled.

 Despite their bright colors, it isn’t always easy to convince children to try fresh vegetables. A book that some parents found helpful is Little Bento: 32 Irresistible Bento Box Lunches for Kids by Michelle Olivier. It’s a collection of recipes that offers bite-sized combinations of fruit and vegetables by season to prepare for school lunches. Published by Sonoma Press, it is available at Amazon.com

 Please consider leaving a comment about your favorite spring fruit or vegetable and how you prepare it.

Marilyn Ostermiller

 Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

Finding Comfort in Winter Foods by Marilyn Ostermiller

Come January, when rich holiday treats are but a sweet memory, I take comfort in baking runzas, one of the hearty, yet simple foods, of my European heritage. Runzas are pockets of bread dough stuffed with a savory mixture of ground beef, onions and cabbage. The scent of bread dough rising and the hash simmering on the stove, the flavors melding, put me in mind of Grandma cooking in her kitchen.

Runzas are thought to have originated in Russia in the early 1800s and spread to Germany. Handheld and portable, they are similar to Italian stromboli, Greek pirouskia and Indian samosas. German Immigrants brought the runza recipe with them to the United States, but the sandwiches aren’t well known outside of Nebraska, where the Runza Hut chain has most of its restaurants. The recipe I reach for on Saturday afternoons in winter is from a cookbook published in 1976 by the Federated Woman’s Club in my hometown, Bellevue, NE.

 Runzas:         Ingredients

Dough*                                                           Hamburger Filling

2 cups very warm water                       1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 packages active dry yeast                 1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup granulated sugar                      3 cups shredded cabbage

1 1/2 tsp. salt                                       1/2 cup water

1 egg                                                    1 1/2 tsp. salt

4 Tblsp. melted butter, cooled 1/2 tsp. black pepper

6 1/2 cups flour                                   dash of Tabasco

* Use prepared bread dough instead, if you prefer. Two loaves should be enough.

Directions: Mix very warm water, yeast, sugar, salt and stir until dissolved. (This process is known as proofing the yeast. If you aren’t familiar with it, the information is easy to find online.)

Add egg and butter. Stir in flour. Put dough in a covered bowl, greased with vegetable oil, and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, brown ground beef, and onion. Drain grease.  Add cabbage, seasonings, and water. Simmer 15 minutes and cool.  Punch down the dough and roll it out in an oblong about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 16 squares. Spoon a few tablespoons of the meat mixture in the middle of each square of dough. Pull the four corners of the dough up over the meat mixture and press the edges together. (Some cooks favor a round bun; others, an oblong.) Place the filled buns on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Runza Huts serve French fries or onion rings on the side, but, in keeping with the comfort food theme, I make a broth-based mushroom soup to accompany my hot sandwiches. This recipe is easy to make at the same time as the runzas. http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/broth-based-mushroom-soup-super-simple-413306

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.   

Fall Menus Warm Us Within: by Marilyn Ostermiller

When days grow shorter and leaves turn flamboyant, we gravitate toward foods that warm us within:

  • Four-alarm chili at the tailgating party.
  • Steaming mugs of apple cider at the Harvest Festival.
  • Pumpkin Spice Latte to go from Starbucks.

There’s something about fall that especially makes me want to spice the air with cinnamon and simmering soup.  Here are some perfect recipes you and your kids can make to compliment the fall season.

Baked Oatmeal 

There’s nothing like starting the day with a hearty bowl of hot cereal. This Martha Stewart recipe appealed to me because it includes a generous portion of fresh berries, bananas and toasted almonds. It bakes for 35 to 40 minutes, so save this one for a leisurely morning or weekend brunch. https://www.marthastewart.com/1050163/baked-oatmeal

Butternut Squash Soup.

I make a habit of ordering butternut squash soup in restaurants to sample all the variations. For cooking at home, I like this recipe that incorporates a Granny Smith apple and doesn’t rely on heavy cream for its flavor and consistency. Instead, the ingredients are cooked and pureed.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes  /butternut_squash_apple_soup/

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice

This has become  a popular flavor for a host of packaged snacks. The name refers to the mix of spices that have been used for making pumpkin pie since at least the 1890s. It’s easy to make and have on hand for pie as well as cookies or pumpkin bread.

Mix together:

  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon                 
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves

Store in a small jar to have on hand for all the fall recipes that call for it.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-make-pumpkin-pie-spice/

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.   

 

https://www.dessertnowdinnerlater.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Homemade-Pumpkin-Pie-Spice2.jpg

Under the Radar: Low Profile National Parks Part 1, by Marilyn Ostermiller

More Americans than ever plan to vacation with their families this summer, according to a recent AAA survey. Many of them are going to America’s national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains expect about 10 million visitors this year, compared to five million each at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.

Looking for a “road less traveled” experience? Five low profile national parks, based on the number of annual visitors, are listed below.

Ultimate Wilderness

 Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve was created to preserve and protect 8.4 million acres of the diverse Arctic ecosystems of Alaska’s Brooks Range. It serves as the headwaters for six wilderness rivers. There are no facilities, roads or trails. Visitors should come equipped to backpack, hike, camp and cruise the rivers. Transportation in and out of the park, usually by plane, must be pre-arranged.

Annual visitors: 10,047

Photo Credit: National Parks Service:  A Student Conservation Association volunteer stands on the Continental Divide in the Brooks Mountain Range, which divides the continent north and south.

Sunken Ships: Isle Royale National Park is a remote island in Lake Superior near Michigan’s border with Canada. Cars aren’t allowed in this wilderness of forests, lakes and waterways where moose and wolves roam. There are dive sites where visitors plunge into the lake to explore several shipwrecks. Ferry is the only way to get there and camping reservations are required for visitors who want to spend the night.

Annual visitors: 18,684

Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink:  Dry Tortugas National Park is a cluster of seven islands 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. The “Dry” in its name came from the Spanish explorers who determined the sea water surrounding the islands was not fit to drink. “Tortugas” is the Spanish word for the sea turtles that build their nests in the protected sandy shores.  The waters around the islands particularly appeal to snorkelers because their coral reefs teem with interesting marine life.

Annual visitors: 70,862

South of the Equator:  National Park of American Samoa, Territory of American Samoa, is 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii. It is America’s only national park south of the equator. Rain forests and extensive coral reefs are its main draw. Visitors should pack snorkel or diving gear; air tanks can be rented. The only land mammals are three types of bats, among them the fruit bats with three-foot  wingspans.

Annual visitors: 13,892

Newest National Park:  Pinnacles National Park in California was designated the 59th national park in 2013. It dates back millions of years ago, when multiple volcanoes erupted, flowed, and slid to form the land encompassed by this 26,000-acre park. Rock climbers and hikers are drawn to it. Another attraction are the condors. About 30 of them are tagged, but fly freely.

Annual Visitors: 206,533

A sequel to this blog post, scheduled for July 10, will acquaint readers with five more of the less-traveled parks around the country. The U.S. National Parks Service provides extensive information about the 59 parks it operates  including trip planning information. https:www.nps.gov

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

 

 

 

How to See More Rainbows by Marilyn Ostermiller

Would you like to see more rainbows? You must be in the right place at the right time.

It’s not just a matter of luck when we look into the sky on a rainy day and spot a glorious arc. The sun has to be shining behind you and rain or mist or spray must be in front of you. That’s when you are in the perfect spot to enjoy one.

Rainbows occur when sunlight and rain combine in a very specific way. When a beam of sunlight travels toward Earth, the light is white. But, if the light beam happens to hit raindrops at a certain angle on the way down, the different colors that make up the beam separate so that we can see them as a rainbow.

The angle for each color of a rainbow is different, because the colors slow down at different speeds when they enter the raindrop. The light exits the raindrop in one color, depending on the angle it came in, so we see only one color coming from each raindrop. Light at different angles coming through many raindrops form the rainbow that we see.

The spectrum of colors is always in the same order with red at the top, followed by orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. (ROY G BIV is an easy way to remember the order)

April, with its famous showers, is a good time to be on the alert for rainbows. But if Mother Nature doesn’t provide one when you are in the mood, you can create a miniature one for yourself with a garden hose. Meteorologist Joe Rao suggests you simply stand with your back to the sun and adjust the hose to a fine spray. Rainbows can also be seen against the spray of a waterfall.

There are even ways to use water, mirrors and windows to form rainbows in the house. For instructions, visit www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Rainbow

Rainbows are the subject of several children’s picture books including nonfiction books that explain the science behind the beauty and fictional story books. 

Among them:

Ready-to-Read Level One Rainbow. Newbery Honor recipient and New York Times bestselling author Marion Dane Bauer teaches beginning readers about rainbows in this one. It is illustrated by John Wallace.

A Rainbow of My Own, by Don Freeman. A small boy imagines what it would be like to have his own rainbow to play with.

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.