The last days of summer are finally here. The kids spent weeks at camp. We took a great family road trip. As we march toward the first day of school, the kids have very few scheduled activities, so I try to bore them into wanting to return to school. But the kitchen is always open. Anyone want a snack?
Nothing beats fresh, cool fruit on a hot summer day. This fun Australian site is filled with interesting fruit and veggie facts, history and recipes. Did you know the peach is a member of the rose family and is related to the almond? Or that peaches are considered a symbol of immortality and friendship, and are found in Chinese paintings and porcelain dating back to 551 BC? When perusing the fruit availability calendars, keep in mind that because the Australians are south of the equator, they eat their summer fruits in November through March. Be sure to try the concentration-style Market Memory game (Shockwave required).
Much of the early history of ice cream remains unproven. One folktale tells of a sumptuous state banquet hosted hundreds of years ago by Charles I of England. "After much preparation, the King's French chef had concocted an apparently new dish. It was cold and resembled fresh-fallen snow but was much creamier and sweeter than any other after-dinner dessert. The guests were delighted, as was Charles, who summoned the cook and asked him not to divulge the recipe for his frozen cream. The King wanted the delicacy to be served only at the Royal table and offered the cook 500 pounds a year to keep it that way." In the end, however, the cook did not keep his promise. Poor Charles fell into disfavor and was beheaded in 1649.
Wow! The Ice Cream Parlor is an extensive collection of frozen dessert recipes: not only ice cream, but also gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt, granita, and ice cream toppings. Although the recipes are written for use with an ice cream maker, the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) includes instructions on how to make both ice cream and granita without a machine. The site is sprinkled with typos, but I'm willing to overlook them because I want to try the homemade peach ice cream with fresh raspberry topping.
If you are ready to go beyond Jell-O with bananas sliced into it, this site is for you. This collection of kid-approved Jell-O recipes includes a chocolate pudding dirt cup topped with gummy worms that is my daughter's perennial (restaurant) favorite. Each recipe lists preparation time, elapsed time, and skill level required. Additional (and more difficult) Jell-O recipes can be found in the Kraft Cookbook using the ingredient search function.
Cold sodas and milk shakes are still part of summer, even if the soda fountain counter is gone from the local pharmacy. This comprehensive nostalgia site looks at every aspect of the soda fountain era from the stories that surround the histories of Coca Cola (its original recipe included cocaine) and 7 Up (it contained lithium) to pictures of antique soda fountains. Although there are no recipes intended for use at home, I found this site to be a fun historical romp through summer days long past.