Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Limoncello, Part 2!

Hi Everyone,
So, two weeks have gone by, and the grain alcohol has done it's job and taken on the aroma and taste of the lemons.  Now is the time to finish the process.

People have been asking about this, so I digress for a quick moment.  This is Everclear grain alcohol, which is 190 proof.  This is the Grain Alcohol to which I have been referring.  There are some places where this is hard to find, but here in Rhode Island, it is available, especially at this time of year at most package stores.

First, you must stir up the lemon peel and alcohol.  Then you strain the lemon peels out.  Then squeeze the peels to get out as much liquid as possible.  Then you fine strain using cheesecloth.

Now, you must make a simple syrup.  This is made up of sugar and water.  In this recipe, you will need 2.2 cups of sugar and 4.5 cups of water for each 750 ml. bottle of grain alcohol.
Heat, but do not boil the syrup.  It is done when it is perfectly clear.  As you see, it will start out being white and cloudy, but will quickly turn when heated.  NEVER leave the simple syrup unattended on the stove, and take it off as soon as the clear liquid is seen.

Let the simple syrup cool completely.  After you have strained the limon alcohol, put it into a clean container; one big enough for the alcohol and the addition of the simple syrup.
When completely cooled, add the simple syrup to the limon alcohol.  As it is mixed, you will see that the limoncello will take on the cloudy appearance and traditional lovely lemon look of limoncello.  Stir gently.
Arancello and Limoncello 
Let it sit for another week, and then you can bottle it.  I use 375 ml cordial or ice wine bottles that I buy from Silver Lake Beer and Wine Supplies.  It's a great place to find everything you need for any kind of wine, beer or spirits production, and Tony is just fantastic and will help you find what you need.  Now, a lot of people say you can drink it right away, and I guess that's ok.  I like to let it mature in the bottle for at least a month or two before I use it or gift it.  That's why I make it ahead for the holidays.  It should be just about perfect for Christmas this year, and makes a lovely gift or a dessert cordial for your holiday table.
Here it is, ready to be put into the wine rack to mature.  And by the way, keep a bottle in the freezer all the time.  Because of the alcohol content, it will not freeze, but it needs to be absolutely ice cold for the best taste experience!
Limoncello and Arancello

All done and ready to be put into the wine rack to mature
Enjoy!!  And by the way, Happy Birthday to Roger!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Italian National Drink: Limoncello!

Hi Everyone,
This week, I have started my batches of Limoncello and Arancello.  I thought it might be fun to show you how this works.  It will be in two segments.  First, the prep and the beginning of the process, as the Grain Alcohol begins to absorb the lemon (or orange, as the case may be).  Second will be the finishing off and bottling. 

The process takes two weeks for the initial soak of the skins in the Grain Alcohol, and then one more week as the sugar water (called Simple Syrup) is added and the finishing happens before it is bottled.

Anyway, here goes:
First, it is very important that you use the freshest possible produce.  Here in Rhode Island, I am very confident in the fruit at Confreda Farm, as they are the local Farmer's Market and also have two wonderful farms of their own. Be sure to get fruit with thick peels, as this will help as lot in the process.  You will need about 15 lemons or oranges for each 750 ml of Grain Alcohol.
Wash produce, in case there are any residual pesticides on the skins, as this is what you will be using in your Lemoncello or Orangecello.  Drain the fruit in a collander. 


Next, using a potato peeler that has a very sharp blade (be careful!), peel the fruit, being careful to get as little as possible of the "white" of the peel portion as is possible.  A lot of "white" will make your limoncello or orangecello bitter, and you don't want that.  So, what you are looking at is like citrus zest, but in peeled sheets, as in the picture.
Put the peeled lemon or orange skins into the jar with the 750 ml Grain Alcohol.  Cover tightly and place in a cool dark place for two weeks, so that the lemon or orange will infuse well into the alcohol.

NEXT TIME (IN TWO WEEKS): The second part.

Now before I leave you for this time, let me say a word about the fruit.  As I said above, you only use the skins in the Limoncello or Arancello.  So, what happens to all that lovely fruit???  Well, what I do is borrow my sister's fruit juicer and run the fruit through it, after taking all the "white" off-- see picture.  This will make the most delicious orange juice or the most beautifully pungent lemon juice that you have ever tasted!  So, as with most Italian recipes, nothing is wasted!

Back at ya' in two weeks with part 2!
Till then,
Take care and be happy,

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

Hi Everyone,
Father's Day was a warm, sunny and enjoyable day for us.  We went to George's in Galilee, RI.
It was great.  They have sushi and sashimi on the menu, which I wasn't sure would happen, but was delighted to see.  My nephew, Shawn works there, but Sunday was just too crazy to have him stop by the table.  But anyway, the meal was great, Shawn!
Here's a photo taken of us on the deck.  And by the way, there is a Narragansett Summer Ale, which is what they are holding in the picture.  Gives a whole new definition to, "Have a 'Gansett!"  Didn't have one myself, but they said it was fantastic.

Happy Father's Day to Roger and all the wonderful Dads out there!
Take care,

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day and Sumnmer Flowers

Hi Everyone,
Memorial Day is a good time to remember the sacrifices of our men and women in the Armed Forces.  I am grateful that so many in my family have served in one way or another, and I am very proud to be in an extended military family.

The other thing that often happens on Memorial Day weekend, besides the race to get a beach pass to the state beaches, is you get all things together to add floral magic to your home and its surroundings.  This year, we were ready with the deck flowers, herbs and trees, and the new addition is the row of hydranreas (blue, of course!) that now go the length of our yard's edge with our neighbor to the east.

Enjoy, and go outside in the sun and plant something!!

Have a great day,

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Cathedral of Saint John, Providence, Rhode Island

Hi Everyone,
Today, I would like to share with you that our wonderful Cathedral of Saint John has suspended its services, as of yesterday, after the 9:30 AM service.  We do not at this time know what is to come for the Cathedral itself.  That will await the next Bishop of Rhode Island.  But for the present, we experienced a very special time yesterday, with our congregation coming together for the last time for worship and fellowship.
I am including in this writing, a beautiful video of highlights of the Holy Eucharist, with a voice-over of the sermon, given by the Rt. Rev. David Joslin, out Acting Dean, as we look at some special moments of the day.  Many thanks to the sensitive nature of the press in its coverage, especially Alisha Pina, who was the journalist for this very fine piece.  And please take a look at this very special video from The Providence Journal.
With a grateful and sad but hopeful heart,

The Cathedral of Saint John, Providence, Rhode Island

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hard Work but a Great Fundraiser!

Hi Everyone,

The children of the Cathedral decided some time ago that for the holidays, they would have a fundraiser, and use the proceeds to support the Episcopal Youth Camping Scholarship Program.  This will help young people who do not have the resources, to be able to go to camp.  It was a great idea, and they decided that they wanted to sell "Cookies in a Jar."
All our ingredients
Jars lined up and ingredients for cookies ready to go!

The fun part was that we MADE the cookie mix and filled and decorated the jars as well.  With the help of the ladies of Episcopal Church Women, we were able to fill and decorate over 200 quart Mason jars!  The recipes were found almost exclusively on .  Just search "Cookies in a jar."  And everyone who has made their cookies has told us that they were delicious.

Jars filled, labels with directions to make the cookies and fabric and yarn tops added

It was hard work, but not so daunting as to stop us from achieving our goal.  Because we bought all the ingredients and made them ourselves, the profit margin was a lot bigger than if we contracted with a company that makes these type of jars for fundraising.  We ended up selling the jars at a very reasonable cost ($5), and still made $500 to give the scholarship program, after ingredients were paid for.  The jars were also donated, so that helped a great deal.  If you try this, you will find that there are a lot of Mason jars out there in people's attics and basements, looking for a use.  Don't be afraid to ask people!

Orders ready to be delivered!

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ten Thousand Villages

Hi Everyone,
Today I am writing about a wonderful little shop in Garden City, not far from where I live.  There are many of them all over the globe.  This is a non-profit organization and this is a short quote from their website, , about how it began:

The global fair trade movement began with the founding of Ten Thousand Villages more than 60 years ago through the visionary work of Edna Ruth Byler, a pioneering businesswoman. Byler was struck by the overwhelming poverty she witnessed during a trip to Puerto Rico in 1946, where she was moved to take action. The seminal contribution of Byler ignited a global movement to eradicate poverty through market-based solutions.

In this store, you can find a wide variety of artisan works, from jewelry to garden pots, to books to coffee, spicy hot chocolate and tea.  Each purchase supports a woman's business somewhere in a developing nation.  Here are some things that I have purchased there.

Bracelet from India

Necklace from India

Necklace from Guatemala

I also found a very pretty pot for my indoor garden.  It was made in Vietnam.

I found a very lovely tagine here also.  It is a vessel for cooking Morrocan dishes and is originally Berber.  You can make wonderful and tasty dishes in it, as you see from my cookbook.

There are many beverages which are made by businesses supported by Ten Thousand Villages.  All these businesses are engaged in Fair Trade principles.  Some of the beverages include a variety of coffee and tea, as well as one of the best spicy hot chocolates that I have ever tasted.  If you are familliar with the film or book, "Chocolat", you will know exactly what I mean!

Here is their brochure.  Find one near you or go online.  It is worth your time and buying power!
Have a great day,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saint Joseph's Day and Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Hi Everyone,
On the 19th of March, we Italians here in America and in all parts of the world celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, the carpenter and earthly father of Jesus.  He is a very important saint in our culture.  He is the role model for fathers and you will find a great many people, especially in our Italian section of Providence, Federal Hill, provide celebrations in honor of him.  He is, by the way, also the patron of the laborer, and therefore is special to the Italian laborers who were immigrants to this country at the turn of the 20th century, as many of our granparents were.

Traditionally, we have a pastry that is synonomous with Saint Joseph's Day that is eaten and shared on that day each year.  It is called "Zeppoli de San Guiseppi", and I thought it might be good to share this recipe with you.  Here in Rhode Island, where many Italian Americans reside, you have many options for buying zeppoli in our numerous Italian bakeries,  However, you may not live near one, or you may have a spirit of adventure and want to try your hand at making them.  So, here is a recipe to try.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe
(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles

1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Maraschino cherries

To make the pastry:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt.
Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.
Return to low heat.
Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan.
Remove from heat.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each addition until smooth.
Continue beating until dough is satiny and breaks in strands.
Allow the mixture to cool.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip.
For each pastry, pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Remove and allow to cool before filling.

To make the filling:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.
In a bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolks
Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture.
Place the saucepan over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.
Stir in rum, orange zest, and vanilla.
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until cold.
Fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the zeppole:
Cut the pastries in half horizontally.
Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry bag with a star tip.
Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom half of each pastry.
Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.
Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.
Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.
Dust the pastries with confectioners' sugar.

So, have fun and Buono feste de San Guiseppe!
Have a great day,

Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby Hats made with Sock yarn!

Hi Everyone,

Today, I am going to show you a little bit of fun that I discovered a while ago.  As you know from previous posts, part of our Charitable Knitting in our group at the Cathedral, is baby hats for the newborns at Kent County Hospital. 
I have accrued a lot of sock yarn, in my efforts to actually begin to learn to MAKE socks--haven't quite got there yet!!-- and it occured to me that it was the same weight as yarn that we use for hats.  So, I have started to make some hats out of the really cute self-patterning yarn that is ordinarily used for socks.

Tell me what you think:

So, have a great day!