Family Reunion Lessons

My dad’s side of the family just had a reunion.  Most of those who came were my dad’s cousins and their kids, some whom I vaguely remember from when I was young, and some whom I’ve never even met.  It was interesting—all of these near-strangers, all somehow related to one another, gathering to meet or get reacquainted.

I chuckled to hear my 11-year-old nephew look around at the crowd and ask, “Am I actually related to all of these people?”  He had the critical duty of helping carry in the crock pots, platters, trays, and bowls of food from the cars pulling in the driveway.  He gleefully said to me, “Look at all of this food!  And half of it’s dessert!”

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I don’t know about you, but just watching the news is making me sweat! Record-breaking temperatures along the East Coast last week reached dangerous levels. One hundred-plus scorching degrees in cities like New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia kept cooling shelters open and community pools filled to capacity. Luckily, weather throughout Minnesota has been a little more bearable!

To take advantage of our great conditions, why not try these two recipes from the “Easy Eats” section of CobornsDelivers.com? These cold treats are sure to keep your family refreshed during these dog days of summer! What’s more, these recipes do not involve heating or baking, so keep that oven off and your home cool!

Chocolate Ice Cream Fondue

Chocolate ice cream fondue

Watermelon Granita

Watermelon Granita

July is National Culinary Arts Awareness month. If you’re not a pro when it comes to the kitchen, this month is the perfect time to try your hand at cooking! Here are some helpful tips for beginning chefs:

  • Keep basic equipment in your home: Invest in a good set of sharp knives and maintain them. You’ll also want sturdy pots and pans on hand, as well as a set of glass baking dishes and measuring spoons and cups. Smaller appliances like a hand blender are bound to come in handy, too, as you learn the ins and outs of food preparation.
  • Try out a new recipe (perhaps from the “Easy Eats” section of CobornsDelivers.com!): Start small by selecting a recipe with just a few ingredients and see how it goes!
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The only thing worse than being hot and sweaty in the summer is letting that heat make you a lazy bones! Don’t let summer weather get the best of you. Here are some tips that will help you stay cool and energized the rest of the season:

  • Drinks lots of water. As a rule of thumb, divide your weight by two to get the number of ounces of water you should take in daily. Bonus: Squeeze in a bit of lemon or lime juice for extra flavor!
  • Eat fruits with a high water content. Think watermelon, cherries, grapes, apples, peaches, and oranges. (For added refreshment, try them frozen!)
  • Consume colorful veggies. Leafy greens, squash, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and celery are easily digested and their vitamin and mineral contents help protect your skin from the sun.
  • Try adding herbs and spices to your drinks and recipes. Mint or chamomile iced teas are invigorating, while ginger and cayenne boost your body’s natural ability to cool itself.
  • Keep your potassium levels up. Bananas, cantaloupe, and potatoes ward off heatstroke. Carbohydrates also prevent exhaustion caused by heat.
  • Avoid fried foods, meat, alcohol, coffee, and yes…ice cream! These foods are more difficult for your body to digest, which increases your internal body temperature and makes you feel sluggish.

Summer is so fleeting, especially in Minnesota! If you’re smart about what goes into your body as the temperature rises, though, you’ll definitely get the most out of this great weather!

In this warm weather, it’s important to stay cool. Keeping yourself, your family, and your home at the proper temperature is key as the mercury rises. The same is true for your groceries and produce! With this heat, now is a great time to check your fridge and freezer and make sure that their settings are optimal to keep your food fresh and lasting as long as possible.

The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends that refrigerators be set at 40 degrees or below to protect contents from spoiling. Ideally, an entire refrigerator unit should stay between 36 and 40 degrees so that all areas are safe for storage of any food.

If your fridge does not have a built-in feature that displays the temperature, invest in an appliance thermometer. Should your power go out during a summer thunderstorm, the appliance thermometer will help you determine what stays and what goes; foods remaining at a temperature of 40 degrees or above for two hours or more should not be eaten.

Creative picnic foods

Once a summer, my in-laws host a picnic overlooking Lake Harriet on a warm summer’s night.  They put on the best picnics—everything is laid out to perfection, with red-and-white checked tablecloths, refreshing drinks, and of course mouth-watering food.  You never know what they’re going to serve, which is part of the fun.  At your next picnic, you may want to think outside the usual picnic basket box and serve up something that’s creative, mobile, and outdoor-dining friendly.

  • Summer Spring Rolls

    Main Courses: Dishes that aren’t messy, don’t need to be heated, and are fun to eat are good choices for al fresco dining.  You could make a teriyaki roast beef ahead of time and serve it chilled with a dipping sauce.  You could also pre-grill a steak and serve it chilled and sliced on a sandwich or with a sauce.  Sandwiches, wraps, and pitas are good, easily prepared choices.  For my favorite veggie wrap, I buy a spinach wrap, spread it with roasted red pepper hummus, and load it with greens, sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, pea pods—whatever veggies I have on hand.  Just be sure to leave enough space to roll up the wrap!  Pita pockets can be filled with tabouleh, chicken, or tuna salad.  I also like the “Summer Rolls” recipe from Cobornsdelivers.com under “Easy Eats” (look under “Seasonal”, then “All Seasonal”).

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Only three more days until the Fourth of July! I am very much looking forward to some time off, relaxing with family and friends, and of course, great food! Since summer berries are my favorite, I’m whipping up this effortless “Angel Food Berry Cream Dessert,” found on the Easy Eats section of CobornsDelivers.com, for my picnic. The best part? No cook time means that I can get this sweet treat ready before I head out the door without having to preheat my oven or use my stove in this sweltering July heat. Enjoy!

Angel Food Berry Cream Dessert – ABC Dessert

PREP TIME: 45 Minutes
COOK TIME: No cook time

1 Angel Food Cake, prepared
16 oz. Strawberries, halved
6 oz. Raspberries
4 oz. Blueberries
6 oz. Blackberries
1 cup + 1/2 cup Sugar
16 oz. Heavy Whipping Cream

1. Combine strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries in a bowl with 1 cup of sugar and let them macerate until they form their own syrup.
2. Slice an Angel Food cake into 3 layers and set aside.
3. Make whipping cream by mixing heavy whipping cream and ½ cup of sugar in a cold bowl and whip until slightly thickened.
4. Layer a trifle bowl with 1 layer of the cake, then the cream, then the berries and continue until you end with the top layer of the cake.
5. Spread the cream on the top layer and spread with the fruit and garnish with mint and serve – again a very yummy and a bit sinful dessert.