Monday, March 2, 2009


Boy, was I cute or what?
My mother was a wonderful woman. She had her faults like anyone, but the life she led was not much less remarkable than the life of my immigrant grandmother. But, she got very sick when I was a youngster. I ended up being kid, caretaker and a fugitive looking for a life outside the house. Mom realized that there were others who could give me opportunities, open doors for me. I know it was hard for her, but she let me become involved with Alberta Burrill and Madelyn Crawford. Alberta was my sister's husband's mother. Now there is an obscure relationship. She gave me Art lessons and taught me French when I was floundering and was a companion for unusual adventures through many of my early years. Madelyn involved me in the recreation department, and the Summer playground program. There she gave me responsibilities and involved me in crafts and administrative experiences that would color the rest of my life. She was also from the area of New Brunswick that my father was from. She exposed me to our father's culture beyond what my sister and brother had. It was like having an aunt or grandmother that could tell me all about the rest of my father's world, a world beyond the woods, fields, animals and building trades that my sister and brother learned about. She was a great cook. Now that she is in her nineties and I have only talked to her three times since the seventies, she is closing up her retirement home apartment. I hope that she will be able to pass on some of the recipes that she used to do. Here is one that I loved years ago. Of course you only really appreciate the sweets when you are young. The rest is sometimes just fuel. This is of course a dessert. It is a sorbet. It is very much in the tradition of Italian Sorbetti or perhaps a granita, and I am often reminded of this recipe when I am at gelato shops in Italy. No milk of course, but still it just takes me right back to Madelyn's kitchen with a tall cut crystal glass and a tiny scoop of Sorbet.

Madelyn did this with strawberries at the height of the season. Before people had Air Conditioning, as most did not in Northern Maine, this was a real treat in July and August. Come to think of it, did anyone have Air Conditioning in the early sixties?

Crush 3 cups of cleaned strawberries.
1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of lemon juice
3/4 cup of orange juice
1/8 cup of Grand Marnier

You could bring all the liquids to a boil if you wish to remove alcohol and dissolve the sugar to a simple syrup. This would alter the juices somewhat and be less fresh tasting. To be sure the sugar dissolves, it would be wise to let this sit for a couple of hours after mixing.

Mash and mix well or process in a food processor. Do not puree. Leave a little texture.
Pour into metal trays. Old fashioned ice cube trays with the dividers removed would be perfect.
Place in the freezer and allow to freeze to a slush.
Break ice crystals with a fork and mash up again.
Return to the freezer and allow to freeze to a slush again.
Break up the crystals and mash again.
Return to the freezer and freeze completely, packed into tupperware or paper containers.
If you really want this smooth you could do the mash one more time.
Alternatively freeze the Sorbetto in an ice cream freezer.

You could substitute any berries for this and the liqueur could be varied according to taste and purse. Any soft fruit would work just as well. I would think that pureed stone fruits would be nice.(they have a stringy texture that you might not notice when eating these casually, so it is best to start smooth) Cherries perhaps?

Make this really special. Berries are expensive and the batch is not large. Add the cost of Grand Marnier, and a couple of full scoops could be budget busters. Take the containers out of the freezer and allow to sit in the refrigerator for half an hour or so. Use the tiny scoops...You know the ones that are not much bigger than a melon baller. Put it into a coupe Champagne or Martini glass, decorate with a fresh or frozen berry or other decoratively cut fruit, and stick a tuille, Pizelle, short-bread or sugar cookie into the scoop so it stands up at a jaunty angle.

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