Thursday, June 26, 2008

Specifically Summer Part 1

Summer appears to have officially arrived in Michigan...I'm fairly positive. It has been consistently warm here for one week. That is my criteria for judging Michigan summers.

So, I'd like to greet this great season with a series of "Specifically Summer" articles.

I'm thankful for Michigan's four seasons. It gives one an appreciation for spring, fall, winter, & summer, respectively. Things always seem to be changing as the seasons trade places. I like that.

One thing I know that is particular to summer, is food preparation. In our household, we consume less food. Our meals are also lighter and more convenient.

Heating up the house by baking and cooking can be a pain in the summer, but is part of my life at least once per week. My children eat lots of homemade bread and yogurt, so we have to keep that stocked. I also bake gluten-free items for one of my children. Nevertheless, I try to keep the baking heat to one day per week in summer. I try to be positive and think of it as the "sauna" effect. I love saunas.

A brilliant idea came to me a few years ago on an online forum of moms of many children. One participant mentioned that she uses her crock pot often in the summer, but puts it either outside or in her garage, plugged into an exterior outlet. An extension cord can also be used if an outside power source is not available. This helps to cut down on the heat inside!

It is also important to have those seasonal fresh fruits and veggies available. We will be picking many pounds of strawberries very soon so we can freeze them. I still have lots of peaches in the freezer from last summer. I cut and peeled peaches for hours while viewing Rick Steves' travel videos (smile). The children and I went to the Alps as well as Croatia via Rick Steves. These videos are both educational and transporting!

Frozen fruit is one of our favorite treats. Just the other night I made a delectable strawberry sorbet in my food processor. Strawberries, lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and water to ease blending. I then put the processor bowl in the freezer. After a time, the bowl can be put back on the base to blend the mixture again. The children loved it! My husband added it to his glass of red wine, a sort of wine smoothy. This idea would work with any frozen fruit, or a combination of the different fruits.

If you are trying to get a bit more fiber in your diet, you could add ground flax seed or ground psyllium seed to your fruit sorbet. This is great for children or adults who need it. If an irritated digestive tract is a culprit, you could add aloe vera gel or juice to the sorbet instead of water. If you cut an aloe leaf lengthwise, and then scrape out the gel inside, you get a wonderful, soothing pure aloe vera. Be careful not to use to much or it will cause diarrhea. For convenience sake, capsules or packaged juices and gels can be purchased in a healthfood stores.

Hope you are all staying comfortable in the summer heat. I'll try to get to some raw food stuff in the next entry (my summer favorite!).