Monday, July 17, 2006

Fruit on the Bottom?

Do you love yogurt with fruit on the bottom? Have you looked closely at the nutritional facts on the container? Many commercial yogurts with fruit have also added an extremely generous portion of sugar, sweetener or other additives designed to prolong shelf life. Why not put your own fruit on the bottom?

I've been enjoying the season's plentiful harvest of big fat juicy blueberries, one of the most potent SuperFoods, by covering a serving of berries with Stonyfield Farms organic, fat free, yogurt. Not only is yogurt another of the SuperFoods, providing prebiotics as well as probiotics, aiding in maintaining a healthy digestive system, but combined with fresh fruit, it's a super tasting snack! In addition to the powerful disease-fighting antioxidants contained in blueberries, recent studies have shown blueberries to be an effective food to lower cholesterol. Read all about it.

Frozen Yogurt
Take advantage of the abundance of fresh blueberries available now and whip up a batch of frozen blueberry yogurt.
Zest and juice of one small lemon
2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (sweeten to taste)
1 pint blueberries.
In a bowl, blend the lemon zest, lemon juice, yogurt and sugar until smooth. Stir in the blueberries. Freeze in a plastic container for easy scooping or make pops by lining twelve 2 1/2" muffin pan cups with fluted paper baking cups. Divide the mixture among the paper lined cups and freeze until almost firm (1 1/2 hours) Insert a popsicle stick in the middle of each pop. Freeze until firm.
Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften slightly for easier eating.
Cool Greens
Summer salad options abound with farm stands bursting with crisp greens and lovely sun-warmed red, ripe juicy tomatoes. I'm a romaine or green leaf lettuce lady but on a hot summer day, the crisp cold sweet juicy crunch of fresh iceberg lettuce is so refreshing. I've indulged lately and had bacon and blue cheese dressed iceberg wedges several times for lunch. With the warm salty richness and the cool crispy crunch offset by the smoky flavor of the bacon and the delicate juicy tang of sweet vine ripened tomatoes, who can resist?
Iceberg Wedge with Bacon and Blue Cheese
This is one of those wonderful, quick and easy to prepare dishes that needs no careful measuring. Play it by ear based on how many servings you need.
Cut a generous wedge of lettuce per serving.
Cook 2 -3 strips of bacon per serving until crisp, drain on paper towels, then cut or tear into 1" pieces. While the bacon cooks, dice 1/2 well ripened tomato per serving and whip up some dressing (you can use bottled blue cheese dressing if you don't want to bother with homemade - but use a good one, like those found in the refrigerated portion of the produce department.) If you choose to whip up your own dressing - use approximately 1/4 cup mayo per serving, thinned with a tsp of lemon juice and a little buttermilk until it's a nice consistency to flow over the lettuce. Add some freshly ground pepper and a generous serving of crumbled blue cheese. Assembly is next: drizzle some dressing over the wedge, sprinkle on the warm bacon pieces and the diced tomatoes. Thin slices of red onion are a great addition.
Three books to recommend this week. The summer heat and humidity is my excuse to hunker down in the house and get lost in a novel. Amy Ephron's short light fiction is entertaining reading. I chose her novel set in the jazz-age era of flappers, bobbed hair and ladies looking for husbands. One Sunday Morning is a fun fast read set in New York and Paris among the socially elite. Fancy clothes, grand mansions, gossip, luxury liners, mystery, murder and not too much mayhem as the engaging cast of characters seek Mr. Right. If you like this be sure to pick up her equally well-crafted novels, A Cup of Tea and White Rose.
Early in the week, I was pleased to find the new Lincoln Rhyme novel, Cold Moon, at my door courtesy of PEP Express and the Orange County Library. Diligently devious Deaver does it again, pitting the abrupt yet brilliant quadriplegic Rhyme against an equally brilliant criminal mastermind, the Watchmaker. The plot has more twists than a skein of yarn. A bizarre yet intriguing array of plots within a cunning master plot unravel with the mystery, clues and police procedures offset by the personal interplay with Amelia Sachs, Rhyme's partner and love interest. Cold Moon, coming so quickly on the heels of Jeffery Deaver's The Twelfth Card in 2005 is a nice treat for Deaver fans.
I wrapped up my reading week with another of Peter Abrahams clever psychological thrillers, Cry Wolf, set in a New England college town. Abrahams uses the architectural features of the college to generate mystery and intrigue while developing characters that we've all met before. The poor, bright boy who attends the posh, exclusive school by dint of merit, scholarship, loans and campus employment who falls into the malleable hands of a pair of gorgeous wealthy twins and is introduced to a world and lifestyle hitherto never dreamed of. We're whisked off to Christmas Eve in a New York penthouse, then by private jet to the family's Caribbean island for the Christmas break then back to school and the ensuing complications of a suicidal roommate, a larcenous townie, loss of funding for the second semester and then the devious plot to kidnap one of the twins for ransom. This is not the stuff Pulizter's are made of, but Abrahams is a master storyteller and this tale has enough mystery to keep the pages turning to the end.
Till next time. . . keep on cooking!

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