Tuesday, July 23, 2019

I Scream! You Scream! We all Scream for Ice Cream! by Catherine Castle

July is National Ice Cream Month and, before it’s gone, I thought I’d share a bit about the history of America’s favorite desserts—well at least one of my favorites. I mean who doesn’t love ice cream. This dessert has a world history. In India it’s kulfi. In Italy, gelato. In Japan, mochi. Every country has its own spin on the frozen dessert Americans call ice cream.

 Ice cream has been a favorite dessert down through the ages. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the origins of ice cream date back to the second century B.C. but no particular persons can be attributed to this date. However, several prominent historical figures such as Alexander the Great, who ruled from 336 B.C to 323 B.C, and Nero Claudius Caesar, who reigned from 54  A.D to 68 A.D, are credited with consuming iced beverages and iced confections made of snow. Alexander was reputed to enjoy snow and ice flavored with honey. Caesar frequently sent runners into the mountain for snow which he flavored with fruits and juices.

 I don’t know about you, but I ate snow ice cream when I was a child, flavored with milk and sugar. My mother always made a batch with the first big snowfall, until the government said it was no longer save because of chemical fallout from the atmosphere. Such a shame since snow ice cream is a real treat.

 In earlier times, ice cream and ice cream-like desserts were mostly reserved for tables of the wealthy. After all, not everyone could send runners to the mountains to fetch ice in the summer. Nor did everyone have access to ice houses that required frozen water to create the delicacies. Some of the lucky people who enjoyed this frozen dessert included Marco Polo who brought a sherbet-like recipe from the Far East back to Italy. This sherbet-like recipe developed into something that resembled our ice cream around 1600, which was about the time that England discovered ice cream.  "Cream Ice," as it was called, appeared regularly at the table of Charles I during the 17th century. The Italian Catherine de Medici is reputed to have introduced France to similar frozen desserts in 1553 when she became the wife of Henry II of France.

Ice cream didn’t officially reach The New World until the 1700s. In 1744 ice cream was mentioned in a letter written by a guest of Maryland Governor William Baden. By the 1700s ice and ice cream recipes began to show up in cookbooks.  The desserts were often served in special molds shaped like animals, fruits or vegetables. Records from a New York merchant showed that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. He apparently enjoyed the confection at his home in Mount Vernon as well, since an inventory after his death showed “two pewter ice cream pots.”  Other early presidents also enjoyed ice cream. Thomas Jefferson supposedly had an 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy similar to baked Alaska. He also had several ice houses large enough to hold up to 62 wagons of ice. At President Madison’s second inaugural banquet in 1813 his wife served a strawberry ice cream creation. President Lincoln had a sweet tooth for ice cream as well. He and his wife hosted strawberry parties, before and during his presidency, that featured fresh strawberries, cake and ice cream

Until the 1800s when insulated ice houses were invented, ice cream was a rare treat for those who weren’t wealthy. As technological advances were made and mechanical refrigeration became common, so did the manufacture of ice cream. Today, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, the annual production of frozen dairy items in the United States alone is more than 1.6 billion gallons.
Ice cream is a favorite dessert across the globe, but often it doesn’t resemble our American confection. Gelato, an ice cream variety with less fat, more sugar and less air than other frozen desserts, is popular in Italy. In Turkey they serve an elastic stretchy ice cream called dondurma. Street vendors play with the ice cream before serving it to customers. Japan’s ice cream is called Mochi and is served as a small ball of ice cream surrounded by a sticky rice cake. Halva is served in Israel and is a sesame flavored, compact honey-like candy.  In Iran you’ll find ice cream served over pasta, flavored with rose water, lime juice,  and pistachios.   In Germany vanilla ice cream is run though a pasta machine to create a spaghetti shape, then drizzled with strawberry sauce to mimic tomato sauce and topped with coconut flakes, shredded almonds or shaved white chocolate.  Philippine’s sorbetes is a cheese flavored ice cream made with coconut milk and served in a bread bun. Malaysia and Singapore serve shaved ice topped with cooked red beans and evaporated  milk. India’s Kulfi is similar to our ice cream, but denser. It is served molded into a roll on a Popsicle stick topped with pistachios.

I don’t know about you, but after reading about the world’s ice cream varieties, I think I’ll stick the hundreds of variety available in the United States. My favorites are chocolate anything, black raspberry, butter pecan, pineapple, dreamsicles on a stick, soft serve… Well you get the idea. I love ice cream.

What about you? What’s your favorite flavor? Do you buy it or make it at home?

About the Author
Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.



Monday, July 22, 2019

God’s Sweet Whisper of Comfort

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast…when I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:9-10, 18
I had almost reached my interstate exit that morning. Two more minutes, and I would’ve been on the off ramp, headed to the college to deliver my first oral presentation in more than two decades. I had sweated this moment the whole semester! Now the day had arrived, and I couldn’t imagine anything more terrifying than standing in front of all my classmates and speaking.
Ahead of me and to my left, a car started spinning. Cars in my lane came to an immediate stop. I narrowly missed hitting the bumper in front of me by inches. I wish I could say the same for the truck and car directly behind me. The crashing impact reverberated in my mind for weeks afterwards. But for the next forty-five minutes, I sat on the side of the interstate waiting for my turn to talk to the police. This was definitely worse than public speaking.
We have a way of thinking about what we perceive to be our biggest challenge, and then life happens. Often nothing goes as planned and tragedies happen—or conversely, unexpected blessings flow our way. Either way, God is in the midst of both to comfort and encourage us.
If we’re not intentional about our relationship with God through prayer and Bible study, it’s difficult to rest in the faith that he’ll come through for us. Even worse, life’s curve balls can make us cynical. After all, why plan anything if life can derail at any moment? But the bigger picture shows that God is in every moment, often ahead of us, waiting to offer assurance of his presence.
My wreck and the aftermath of insurance claims, my car being totaled, dealing with bureaucracy and then car shopping, reaffirmed to me that God’s sweet whisper of comfort is a necessity. I remind myself every time I go through a challenge that, like the Psalmist said, every day when I awake, I am still with God! He hasn’t left. And he’ll always be there to see me through the day’s challenges.
Can you think of a better promise to cling to than that? 

Laura Hodges Poole is a Christian writer with dozens of articles, devotions, and short stories to her credit. She is the author of five books and contributor to two others, all available on Amazon.  Laura is a 2019 Selah Awards finalist, the 2016 ACWC Badge of Honor winner, a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, and a 2012 RWA Emily finalist. As an editor and member of The Christian PEN, she enjoys mentoring and helping other writers polish their work. When she’s not writing, you might find her hiking, playing the piano, or being crafty. A mother of two, Laura lives in South Carolina with her husband and son. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Author Interview with Heather Norman Smith

HeatherNorman Smith is a devotional blogger and author of inspirational fiction. Her goal is to use the written word to entertain and encourage, while illuminating the redemptive love of God. She also enjoys writing songs and singing about Jesus.

Heather is proud to be a life-long North Carolinian and aims to present the beauty of the Tar Heel State in her writing. Her home is just outside Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with one husband, two daughters, one son, two cats, and two dogs. Heather loves words and does not enjoy math, except when it comes to counting blessings.

In the spring of 1961, ten-year-old Nate "Weenie" Dooley has a revelation-his father is not a good one.
Inspired by National Geographic, his favorite thing next to the Bible storybook his mother gave him before she died, Nate plans to leave his father and their home in the Smokies to set out on adventure.
When he discovers that his father has left him first, it will take the help of a stray dog, some kind neighbors, a one-man-band, letters from a long-lost-aunt, and a new understanding of God to figure out he isn't really alone.
Will he find that Copper Creek is where he's always belonged? Or will his wanderlust keep him from ever coming back?
In her second novel, Heather Norman Smith demonstrates that love makes a family, and that while fathers may leave, our Heavenly Father is faithful, and He has a plan for all of us. 

Heidi here. Thank you for stopping by to visit with us today, Heather, and congratulations on your newest novel, Where I Was Planted. I read it a few weeks ago and reviewed it here on Thursday. What an amazing and gripping story. Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Thank you! I’m excited to be here!
This book, and my first one, caught me completely by surprise. I don’t remember actually trying to come up with a plot or characters. They were just “there”, and I feel very grateful for that. Although, I’m sure there was some subconscious inspiration at some point.
Obviously you are a natural and gifted storyteller, keep writing! What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities 

I am probably the busiest I’ve ever been in my life right now. And when I don’t get time to write, I feel like part of me is missing. Then I wind up staying up way too late in order to fulfill that need. So, lack of sleep is definitely a challenge.

Ahh, sleep, Never enough. How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

Jesus is my purpose, in life and in writing. I enjoy telling stories, but if they didn’t point people to Him in some way, I don’t think I’d have the motivation to finish an entire book.

Well said. Time for a fun question…..You are alone and stranded on a desert island and can have ONE food product and ONE drink, what would they be?

I’ll be somewhat practical and say bread—something I enjoy but also that would be satisfying and I wouldn’t get too tired of eating.
I am addicted to black coffee and Diet Dr. Pepper, so that’s a tough one. For drink, I’ll say coffee. Even if the island were hot, I’d want my coffee.

No chocolate? I don't think I could survive without.....I adore your name. Believe it or not, your name connects with my life…..My father wanted to name me Heather, not Heidi. Obviously he was overruled. And, believe it or not, his given name was Norman. So, every time I come across your name I think of my dear father, whom I miss so very much. 

That’s so cool! And Heidi is a great name, too. Name meanings are very important to me.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?

I’m still fairly new to this writing life, but I’d have to say the most special moment was when my dad texted me after he read the first manuscript and told me I was now his favorite author. I know he’s my dad and he has to say things like that, but he’s the most avid reader I know, and just to know he’s proud of me is special.

That is super sweet! Tell us about future books planned..

I have one other completed, yet-to-be-published novel and three in process! So, there will be more coming. I’m just not sure when. I’m actually working on a devotional now that will probably be out before another novel is published.

Heather, thank you for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on your newest novel, Where I Was Planted.

Thank you, Heidi!