This year, we celebrated the Fourth of July in style. It was the first time in over 10 years that our award winning Spirit of America Band was able to participate in our hometown parade in Orleans, Massachusetts. It was a day marked with patriotism and pride, and one to remember all of our loved ones that have sacrificed so much for the great freedom we have today. Like most families across America, we concluded the day with fireworks and “All American” cookout topped off with these magnificent Stars and Stripes Pies.
I am reminded of a beautiful prayer that Billy Graham offered to this Nation – may we pray it together for the future of America:
“Our Father and Our God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen. “
September is season unto itself on Cape Cod. As many of our visitors return home to school and work, there is a quieter spirit. Yet the air is warm, gardens are full, the beaches are less crowded and the sunsets are beautiful. We are enjoying the best month of the year here. There is still lots of outdoor living to be done before the crispness comes with days of shorter daylight. Thought this recipe for one of the best and freshest tasting gelatos might be just the thing for some of those late summer warm nights.
For more than a year now, kale has succeeded in holding the titled “prima dona” position of most nutritious vegetable in the current food world. At the moment, no other vegetable has stepped into that position to replace it. Whether one has acquired a taste for kale or just has a natural appetite or appreciation for it, the fact remains that this versatile green is such a rich source of so many valuable nutrients, surpassing even Popeye’s proverbial spinach.
I think it’s obvious that I’m a kale enthusiast and I enjoy it prepared in many different ways. However the first time I heard that kale salad was going to be on the convent dinner menu, I had strong reservations about eating it uncooked and did not look forward to it. When others who sampled it before me started exclaiming over it I was curious to give it a try. One taste led to another and before I knew it I had joined those singing its praise.
The very next day I experimented with my own version of the dish and was amazed at the variations that were possible with this hearty winter salad. Try having fun with it yourself and see what interesting versions you can come up with.
Crepes are one of my favorite foods and can be quite versatile. Used for dessert, they can be filled with a variety of ingredients: chocolate, Nutella, mascarpone to name a few. Or served at breakfast with ricotta cheese and just a touch of sweetness. At lunch or dinner, they can be filled with spinach, chicken and mushroom cream sauce, or thinly sliced ham and a lightly scrambled egg or even an herbed cream cheese with smoked salmon and sliced radish. Any way you serve them, they are delightful, and light on carbohydrates.
Cheesecake is one of those “back pocket” desserts that I always like to have on hand. It freezes well, and you can even slice it frozen and re-freeze what you don’t use. I have my favorite NY Cheesecake recipe that I’ve used for years, and it’s a no-fail, but when I was living in Italy, I didn’t have the same access to graham crackers and cream cheese as I did at home, so I had to do a little improvising. That’s when I stumbled upon this recipe for a Mascarpone Cheesecake. This was something I always had on hand – mascarpone is pretty much a staple in Tuscan homes, and much less expensive than it is here. But if you’re looking for something different, give this a try. It is light and delicious, and lovely served with fresh berries tossed in sugar!
A few tips to making a successful cheesecake:
- Always start with room temperature cream cheese and beat the cream cheese until very smooth and before adding any other ingredients.
- Have your eggs at room temperature
- Using the zest from fresh limes, oranges or lemons is what will give your cheesecake a flavor boost. Zest contains the essential oils, which adds the depth of flavor without the tartness and “liquidity” of juice.
- Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and cook the cheesecake in a water bath to prevent cracking, just make sure you have a tight fitting springform pan to do this, otherwise the water will leak in. You can also bake cheesecake without a water bath, but use a lower temperature oven.
- When the baking time is up, turn off the oven and let the cheesecake just sit for an hour or so. This helps the cheesecake to set up well.
- If not using right away, remove the spring form pan sides and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, leaving the bottom of the pan on, and freeze.
- After a day, you can remove the pan bottom and re-wrap the cheesecake.
- Slice your pieces while still frozen and put the rest back in the freezer.