Summe’, Summe’, Summe’time

Summer treat recipes and an article from Food Network Magazine.

We are riding a heat wave, here in North Carolina, and I’m sure there are a fair few of you in other states doing the same thing. It is, after all, officially summertime. (Notice the Fresh Prince allusion in the title.) Therefore, I would like to share with you a couple of my favorite summertime treats and wrap it up with a little something to say about a popular food magazine and their recent article on frozen foods.

To start out, this is one of our favorite summer traditions, but it’s a rarely-heard-of treat. It’s especially easy for us to whip up because we have a dehydrator, but it is also exceedingly easy in the oven. You do have to make them while you are at home to babysit the baking, but they are still a great treat from seasonal produce and keep well on the counter, or for longer storage, the fridge. Even though they do not contain added sugar, the dentist might tell you to take it easy on them, since the natural fructose becomes quite sticky. Or, if prone to cavities, you could give your teeth an extra brushing? It’s like making candy and not feeling guilty about it.

WATERMELON LEATHERS

  1. Cut a watermelon into nice, big pieces, without rind or seeds, and 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Consistency in thickness is important.
  2. Use your dehydrator per factory instructions (starting at 130F and raising to 145F after an hour) OR line baking sheets with parchment paper or oiled foil, lay out the watermelon in a single layer, and dry in the oven at the lowest setting with the door slightly ajar. Turn every hour and check for doneness. This could take a couple hours or a few more. You are going for a surface that is no longer tacky.

Perhaps lemonade is not the healthiest beverage option on the earth, but man does my family crave it in the summer. I let the kids indulge, especially when I have the reins. When I make it, I use 100% lemon juice (fresh squeezed would be awesome, organic too) and an earth-friendly, natural sugar such as raw, turbinado, demerara, or evaporated cane. The first three are brownish-sugars, which is how our summer treat got it’s name.

DIRTY LEMONADE

  1. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, swirling some, until sugar has disintegrated.
  2. Mix simple syrup (that’s what the concoction you just made on the stove is called)  in a 3-quart container with 1.5 cups lemon juice (or lime or orange) and 8 cups water (or water and ice). Optionally, you can add a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract, a handful of crushed mint, or 3/4 cups frozen cranberry juice concentrate. Stir, taste for sugar and lemon, and enjoy over ice!

So now for Food Network Magazine. I enjoy getting it because I love all the recipes and keeping up with the food trends. If you are looking for a healthier lifestyle, though, it may not be the first magazine you want to subscribe too. That’s just not its thing. Case in point: this month’s edition included a book of 50 different milk shakes. And no, we are not talking almond milk and spirulina. So stick with Clean Eating or Vegetarian Times or something. However, along with those 50 milkshakes, there was a two-page spread of things that freeze well for summertime snacking. I will NOT include items that do not fit this blog’s agenda. But–besides the one item that I already find to be an indispensable summer treat to have ready in the freezer (grapes)–I am planning myself to try a bunch of these out.

  • Grapes  (Clean first and keep in a baggie in the freezer, with or without stems, and serve as is. Excellent snack for hot days.)
  • Yogurt (Take plain yogurt, flavor it with honey, maple syrup, all-fruit spread, fresh fruit, or natural baby food, and freeze into ice pop molds.)
  • Watermelon (Cut into wedges, bag it up, and freeze. Serve as is.)
  • Oranges or Grapefruit (Slice into wedges, bag it up, and freeze. Serve as is.)
  • Melon (Cube or ball cantelope, honeydew, or whatever. Bag it up and freeze. Serve as is.)
  • Avocado (Slice, coat with lemon juice, bag it up (quickly), and freeze for a small amount of time. Serve with a mixture of salt and cayenne pepper, or just salt.)
  • Pineapple, Peaches, Pears (They suggest canned varieties, but why not try fresh fruit? Clean, slice, bag, freeze, serve.)
  • Mango (Peel and slice, coat with lemon juice, bag it up, and freeze, but not for too long. Serve as is.)
  • Iceberg Lettuce (Freeze wedges up to four hours and serve with blue cheese dip for a quirky and refreshing appetizer.)
  • Applesauce (Freeze in ice cube trays or ice pop molds. Try flavored applesauce, or add cinnamon. You can also throw applesauce in an ice cream maker and serve with cinnamon or caramel sauce and nuts.)
  • Fruit-sweetened or Stevia Soda or all-natural Root Beer or Cream Soda (For a special treat. Freeze in ice pop molds.)

And another great thing to freeze in ice pop molds: natural orange juice with no added sweeteners. For some reason, it has this great consistency when it is frozen that surpasses other fruit juices. Slurp!

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