Archive for July, 2007
When Colm, the farmer who supplies us with Kerry Cow milk and who owns the Dingle Corn Maze told me yesterday that he had hired a helicopter to take aerial photos of his maze and that there was a chance I could go up, I was excited indeed.
Today he rang telling me the helicopter was on its way, and although I was in the middle of production, I dropped everything and headed over to the Skellig Hotel, which has a helipad. I’ve never been in a helicopter before, and was dying to take a look at Dingle from above.
What an experience! It was breathtaking. There should be someone offering helicopter tours of this area.
The best part was that I was able to bring along my nephew, Conor, who is mad about helicopters.
My brother Sean (right with Conor) wasn’t able to come up with us, but he was there when we landed, and Conor was speechless with excitement.
What a great day!
There’s a mention of us in the business section of today’s paper. It’s about alternative marketing and has a oddly huge photo of me and ice cream…
Fructose is a sugar found in fruit among other things, and is often recommended for diabetics because it has a very low glycemic index (GI). It is three times sweeter than normal sugar (sucrose) and has a slightly different taste – a little fruity or acidic.
I must say that there is mixed research on the health benefits of fructose. In fact, there are those who consider it quite unhealthy. Perhaps it’s like many things – use it in moderation.
What I do know for sure is that fructose can be caramelised. I’ve been playing around with it, and it makes an extraordinarily beautiful and tasty caramel sauce. It’s very, very sweet, so definitely use very small amounts of it, especially if you’re diabetic!!!
If you want to make it, here’s how:
Fructose Caramel Sauce
50g powdered fructose (I bought an organic box of it from my local health food store)
150ml apple juice
What to do:
- Put the fructose in a saucepan and shake it so it’s evenly dispersed.
- PourÂ 50ml of the apple juice over it and cook over medium heat.
- When it starts to brown, start stirring, and continue stirring until it turns a deep honey colour.
- Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the apple juice.
- It will still be very hot. Let it cool.
That’s all! Enjoy!
Things are getting quite crazy here in the world of ice cream as we really enter the height of high season! Bad weather or not, we’re busy! Mind you, it seems that here in Dingle we’ve been spared the worst of the weather that has hit the East Coast of Ireland and the UK. We’ve had our sunny days!
Most of my time is spent keeping things going and trying to give our customers attention, but I’ve also managed to finish our new websiteÂ (photo above). One thing I love about technology these days is that it has become much more democratic. There are so many tools out there that it’s not necessary to hire a webmaster or farm it out. So this time, we did it ourselves. Our site might not be perfect, but I’m happy with it, and it wasn’t even all that time-consuming… Ruth at Urru was asking about it, so here’s a link for the software we used. It cost a whopping $49…
Yesterday, my brother and I made a mad dash up the country for a meeting with our distributor, and on the way back we stopped for a quick snack at La CucinaÂ in Castletroy, Limerick. Lorraine wasn’t there, but we met her mother, and this little place has a great vibe and a steady stream of visibly happy customers. There are all sorts of Italian goodies on the walls to take home as well. We didn’t have time to sample the coffee or tempting display of sweet things, but the pizza and pasta certainly helped us make it home safe to Kerry. Thanks, Lorraine!
I just received confirmation that I will be writing a weekly column in the Irish Times for the month of August. It will be in the Friday issue, under special features. It came directly from this blog. Now… who says that blogging is a waste of time?
I realise that juice pops and frozen bananas are not, strictly, sugar free. Fruit does have sugar in it (fructose), although not refined. For those for whom fruit sugar is a problem, and for something slightly more adult, you can try making pops from coffee and tea. The flavour comes through quite well, and you can use your favourite sweetener if you feel it needs it. Herbal teas can work quite well (the photo above is a rose/licorice tea), but brew them quite strong!
Back to juice pops – I wrote in my previous post that the kids in our family loved them. On the right is the proof – a photo showing my brother, sister and I enjoying them on a summer day in upstate NY.
Our favourite flavour was grape, but since my mother was usually faced with melted grape pop-stained clothes, she pushed us toward orange!
Another quick and easy sugar-free iced option is frozen juice pops (lollies). This one really brings me back to my childhood. I have many memories of hot summer days that involve these treats. My mother was really into natural foods and organics, and although we were never weaned off ice cream, she tried to keep our sugar intake down by making these. We ate them quite happily indeed.
What’s really brilliant is that you can choose a juice that you (or your little ones) like and make the frozen equivalent. It’s hard to go wrong with that!
I found a form for the pops in my local hardware store, and nothing could be easier in terms of making them. Simply pour the juice into the form, insert the stick, and put it in the freezer. Within a couple of hours, you will have a wonderfully refreshingÂ frozen snack.
It’s definitely worth buying the good stuff here or using fresh juice. There are many delicious organic juices that you can find in health food shops. In any case, the taste will reflect the quality of the juice, and clearly if you add a juice mix that has sugar in it, it will not be sugar-free!
My favourites were and are:
- Pomegranate Juice
- Orange Juice
- Grape Juice (red grapes)
I have written about trying to come up with sugar-free ice cream alternatives here and here. It’s been a challenge to which I return from time to time. A few days ago in our Killarney shop, I met a family with an 8 year old girl, Shona, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes. It has given me another push.
The difficulty in making a sugar-free ice cream naturally (and I won’t do it any other way) is that diabetics need low-fat as well as sugar-free (at least according to all the medical advice I have received). That makes it very, very hard, at least in my experience, to make a commercial product both tasty and viable.
We haven’t given up on it, but in the mean time, I though I’d pass on a few sugar-free frozen desserts that are easy to make at home, extremely yummy, and free of, or very low in, refined sugar (sucrose). Not all might be appropriate for every diet – I know that bananas are quite high in fructose, but that’s where I’ll start. I will also pass on an ice cream recipe or two in the coming days.
Frozen Banana Pops
My mother often kept frozen bananas in the freezer for us when we were small, and we loved them! It’s a great treat that won’t have a little one bouncing off the walls from a sugar high.
Making frozen banana pops is simple:
1. Peel a ripe banana.
2. Cut it in half.
3. Push a plastic spoon or lolly stick into one end.
4. Put it/them in a freezer-safe dish and stick it in the freezer for a few hours.
That’s it! You can serve them straight from the freezer, and they will disappear quickly.
If you want to take it a step further, melt some bittersweet (70%+) chocolate (generally quite low in sugar if the quality is high) or good quality dark diabetic chocolate, pour it on a shallow plate and roll the frozen pops in it (see top picture). Do the rolling quickly as the chocolate will harden on immediately! Now you really have a special treat…
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