Late Summer Sweets for Nostalgia and Comfort

Whether it is barbecue (cooked indoors or out), fresh-from-the-garden vegetables, or frozen summertime treats, flavors are part of the summer. That first taste of a popsicle or lick of an ice cream cone can trigger nostalgic feelings as we remember our favorite treats from summers past. You might associate what you are eating not just with food or flavor, but also with good feelings, or experiences that went along with what you’re eating.

With vacation plans sometimes scrambled by COVID-19, many of us have spent summer around the house. The extra time at home is leading to changes in cooking habits. A survey of 1,000 Americans by the food and beverage communications firm Hunter found that people are becoming more confident and adventurous in their cooking, developing new habits and looking for both health and comfort as they cook at home. More than half (54%) said they are cooking at home more than they were during COVID-19, and 46% say they’re baking more.

Survey respondents were split evenly between eating healthy foods (40%) and eating comfort/indulgent foods (40%). If you’re a comfort seeker, this post is for you. It’s time to indulge in some summer sweetness.

The Frozen

Remember coming in from playing outside in the hot summer sun, and rummaging around in the freezer for a cherry, grape or orange popsicle to help you cool off? (Did you prefer single or double stick?) You never outgrow popsicles, and those single fruit flavors are proven staples of summer. You can easily make your own by freezing your favorite fruit juice. But the popsicle is also a dessert that is ripe for experimentation.

These exotic popsicle recipes, prepared and photographed by AHAM staff member Matt Williams, will add a new twist, and perhaps become a new seasonal flavor craving. By the way, you don’t need popsicle molds to try these!

Tahini, Honey Roasted Fig and Banana Popsicles (from Foodal)

To make this Middle East/Mediterranean-inspired popsicle, you’ll need your blender and oven as well as your freezer. Time to bring some new flavor to your summer with this popsicle, which combines figs, honey, kosher salt, ripe bananas, tahini and milk or a dairy-free alternative.

Blackberry, Bourbon and Chevre Popsicles (from Jerry James Stone)

Goat cheese and bourbon in a popsicle? This intriguing frozen treat combines, both, along with milk, thyme, honey, blackberries and brown sugar.

The Decadent

Sous Vide Ultimate Crème Brulee with Flavor Variations (from Anova)

Calorie-laden goodness comes in many forms, not just frozen. While you might not normally associate crème brulee with the dog days of summer, it is a dessert that comes with a healthy dose of comfort, regardless of the time of year. And this recipe from Anova Culinary offers a great opportunity to move your sous vide cooking game beyond steak.

AHAM staff member Meagan Hatch prepared and photographed this recipe, calling it “the perfect sous vide dessert, because you can get your cream to an exact temperature and the custard will set perfectly.”

Beyond your sous vide cooker, you’ll need heavy whipping cream, egg yolks, granulated sugar or xylitol sugar substitute, ground vanilla or vanilla extract, and your choice of flavors. Anova suggests 1 tsp rose water; 1 tsp orange blossom water; 1 Earl Grey tea bag; 1 Tablespoon citrus zest of your choosing; 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger; 2 Tablespoons instant espresso; 1/4 tsp flavor extract such as almond, peppermint, anise, orange, etc; sprig of fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, tarragon; fresh or dried bay leaves; pinch saffron; teaspoon dried lavender or use your imagination.

The Traditional

S’mores around the campfire are a summer tradition. Not going camping? No matter—you can still enjoy them in the comfort of your kitchen, and they’re simple to make. All you need are some graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows and your microwave.

Put one cracker into the microwave. Top with chocolate and a marshmallow. Microwave it for 15 seconds at a time until the marshmallow expands. Top with the other cracker.

It really is that simple, and AHAM’s Natalie Cheung honored the traditional with this recipe. However, if you are looking for an alternative to the traditional s’more, try swapping the plain chocolate for a peanut butter cup or other kind of candy bar, the graham cracker for a cookie, or adding slices of banana. Or if you’re really feeling adventurous, go for the salty caramel bacon s’more or one of these creative twists on a classic from TheKitchn.

Spending More Time Inside? How to Make Your Indoor Air Cleaner

Whether it is because of social distancing or to avoid the summer heat, you might find yourself spending more time indoors this summer. That extra time at home has made it even more important to avoid the discomfort and potential health issues, like allergy symptoms, that can arise from poor indoor air quality.

A room air cleaner can reduce allergens and make home environments more comfortable in a time when many are placing renewed emphasis on staying healthy. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a portable air cleaner can also be part of your plan to stay healthy while COVID-19 remains a threat.

“When used properly, air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space,” the EPA stated. “However, by itself, a portable air cleaner is not enough to protect people from COVID-19.” When used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, operating an air cleaner can be part of a plan to protect yourself and your family.”

There is no way to determine if an air cleaner is effective at removing viruses and bacteria from the air. However, air cleaners that earn the AHAM Verifide® mark are rigorously tested for their ability to remove common household pollutants like dust, smoke and pollen. Some allergists recommend that their patients use air cleaners to reduce their allergy symptoms by removing those three pollutants and other particles, known as PM 2.5.

Dust, smoke, and pollen can trigger symptoms like coughing, wheezing and asthma. PM 2.5 is a significant enough issue for those with breathing difficulties that it is tracked in air quality reports and monitored by the EPA.

Make the right choice for cleaner indoor air

It only takes a few minutes of research for consumers to find an air cleaner model that meets their needs. The AHAM Verifide® Air Cleaner Directory allows those looking for an air cleaner to find a list of models appropriate for the size of the room in which the air cleaner will be used. Each listing carries the recommended room size for that unit, along with the air cleaner’s CADR – Clean Air Delivery Rate – showing its ability to filter tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. The EPA called CADR “The most helpful parameter for understanding the effectiveness of portable air cleaner.”

Air cleaner models are assigned their CADR based on the results of rigorous testing conducted by independent laboratories. During testing, the air cleaners are exposed to specific quantities of tobacco smoke, dust and pollen. After the air cleaner is operated for a certain duration, the amount of each pollutant in the air is measured. The higher the CADR, the greater its ability to filter that specific pollutant. Air cleaners with HEPA filters are designed to remove 99.7% of airborne pollutants .3 microns and larger.

CADR is a helpful guide to finding a room air cleaner that can be part of your toolkit to fight COVID-19. When you’re shopping for an air cleaner, know the size of the room or rooms in which the air cleaner will be placed for maximum efficiency. Choosing one rated for a larger room may use unnecessary energy and generate excess noise.

Check the directory first: As a result of increased interest in air cleaners by consumers, some manufacturers are making claims about their products, including CADR ratings. The only way to know if the air cleaner is certified is to check AHAM’s directory. If an air cleaner is not in the AHAM Verifide directory, it has not been tested or certified.

Get the most out of your air cleaner

Air cleaners are easy to use, but there are a few steps you should take to ensure they’re performing at their highest level.

Place it near the center of the room: Putting the air cleaner against a wall will block the air cleaner from filtering as much air as possible.

Change the air cleaner’s filter Whether the air cleaner has a HEPA filter or an electrostatic precipitator, clean it or replace it regularly. Check your use and care manual for specific instructions.

An air cleaner is only one appliance that can help you improve your indoor air quality. Vacuums, central vacuums, and ventilation hoods all play a role in keeping the air in your home as clean as possible.

AHAM’s COVID-19 Round Up

COVID-19 has, in many ways, turned our lives upside down this year. With work and school now taking place remotely for many of us, the way that we use our homes has changed dramatically. The home appliances we rely on for comfort and convenience are filling more roles in our lives than ever before.

Over the past five months, AHAM has been gathering resources to help you adapt to our new normal. Wondering about the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, how to make the most of your freezer space or turning your kitchen into a multi-function room? We have that information, and more, in AHAM’s COVID-19 resources.

Sanitizing Cycles and Other Ways to Kill Illness-causing Bugs

Working at Home? Homeschooling? Making your Kitchen Functional During the COVID-19 Quarantine

Quarantined? Using what you have at home

How to Improve Your Living Space, Simplify Life, and Build Comfort During COVID-19

Organize Your Refrigerator and Reheat Leftovers for Food Safety

Your Guide to Appliance Repair During COVID-19

Indoor Air Quality is an Essential Part of a Healthy Home

Get the Most Out of Your Freezer

Ask Your Manufacturer Before You Disinfect Your Appliances

Is there a COVID-19 topic you’d like to see us cover? Let us know in the comments.

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