Limoncello

(VERY EASY TO MAKE)

My favorite summertime after-dinner digestivo is the limoncello made from the lemon trees in my mother’s yard in Calabria. You can purchase limoncello in many locations in Italy and the US, but the pre-packaged bottles are never as good as the ones made from those homegrown, freshly-picked Calabrian lemons.

I’ve found that I can make a great limoncello using organic lemons from the supermarket. Of course, they aren’t quite as great as those collected in the warm sunlight of my mother’s garden, but they still make something delicious.

Even the process of making limoncello is a pleasure, because you breath in the aroma of the fresh lemon zest as you prepare it. The only problem with this recipe is that you have to steep the lemon zest in alcohol for a week – or up to three weeks (depends on the point of view). I say 1 week is all is that is needed before you finish the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 20 organic lemons, preferably less-mature lemons with a very thick skin
  • 750 ML rectified spirit, or ethyl alcohol, such as Everclear (I do not recommend the use of vodka as a substitute, that is a terrible idea)
  • ½ KG superfine sugar
  • Water (purified or bottled)

 

Additional Supplies

  • A serrated vegetable peeler – One of the most important things about this recipe is that you need to use the lemon peel, avoiding the pith as much as possible. The pith gives the drink a bitter taste. Peeling the lemons “just so” used to be quite difficult, but my good friends Teresa and Carlo found a serrated vegetable peeler by OXO (it’s called the OXO Good Grips Serrated peeler, available in many stores as well as online). It makes the job easy.
  • A large glass jar with a cover. The jar needs to be able to hold at least 1 liter of liquid (more if you choose to double or triple this recipe).
  • Another large glass jar that you use for the filtration process.
  • Aluminum foil to cover the jar as the limoncello steeps in the rectified spirit.
  • Glass bottles for the finished limoncello. You will need 2 1-liter bottles for this recipe.
  • A store-bought permanent coffee filter.
  • One or two #4 paper coffee filters.

 

How to make this recipe

  • Wash and dry the lemons.
  • Peel the lemons, making sure that you avoid including the pith.
  • Chop the lemon zest, just a little bit.
  • Pour the 750 ml of the rectified spirits into the clean glass jar, then add the lemon zest.
  • Place the lid on the jar, then wrap it with aluminum foil or a cloth. The reason you cover it with aluminum foil is that the process is photo-sensitive. Therefore, you want to avoid exposing it to light during the one- to three-week steeping process.
  • Shake the jar, then place it in a cool, dry, and dark place. Some people say that it’s best to shake the bottle each day; others say just leave it alone. My mother leaves the bottle alone with a towel around it for at least one week, so I suggest you do it her way (moms know best)!
  • After the one-to-three week steeping period, you’re ready for the next steps.
  • In a very clean saucepan, heat 1 liter of purified water. Add, slowly, ½ kilogram of superfine sugar to the pan and stir it until the liquid is clear, meaning that the sugar has dissolved completely, creating a supersaturated sugar mixture.
  • Allow the sugar-water to cool in a glass container.
  • Strain the steeped limoncello mixture. Don’t squeeze or try to push the saturated lemon zest in order to extract a few extra ml of limoncello.
  • Once the limoncello spirits have been filtered, mix 1:1 with the sugar-water.
  • Decant the limoncello into your clean glass bottles, cap them, and put them in the freezer.
  • Enjoy after dinner in a shot glass. Remember that this is a highly alcoholic drink, so sip it.

Scuba Safety Tips for First-Timers

One of the best places in the world to experience marine life up close and personal is the shores of Hawaii. While snorkeling can be fun, there’s nothing quite like descending to more extreme, yet manageable depths via scuba diving. But, before you do so, there are a few considerations to take into account.

Receiving the appropriate certification is crucial in your first steps as a scuba diver. Many inexperienced divers may think that simply snorkeling has equipped them with the skills necessary to safely scuba. However, without proper training and a basic understanding of common mistakes made, you are putting yourself, and possibly others in danger. Be sure that you are officially recognized by your local scuba training agency before entering the waters.

Another important consideration is receiving verification from your doctor that you are physically able to take part in scuba diving. The conditions in certain depths of water can be extremely hazardous to individuals who may suffer from hypertension, breathing disorders, or certain muscular inabilities. This activity can be surprisingly demanding in terms of physicality, and the pressure that comes with extreme depths heightens those conditions.

A hazard that all divers should be aware of is what is commonly referred to as “the bends,” or decompression sickness. This occurs most often when divers swim toward the surface of the water from extreme depths without stopping every 10-15 feet to counterbalance decompression. Nitrogen bubbles can form in the bloodstream causing extreme pain, paralysis, and even death in dire situations. Divers who may experience the bends are placed in recompression chambers to counter the effects.

Maintaining a relaxed mindset throughout your scuba diving experience is imperative. Beginners will be surrounded by professional divers should a situation arise, but being able to stay calm, breathe, and manage yourself is important for divers of all levels of experience. Panicking will only worsen the situation.

Always prepare yourself beforehand. Scuba diving when you’re tired, hungry, or sick can directly affect the quality of your dive, and your ability to effectively navigate the waters. Avoid alcohol before a dive as well. Aside from the obvious inebriation, alcohol can dehydrate the body, which can dramatically worsen the effects of underwater pressure.
Scuba diving anywhere around the world can be a fun, and rewarding activity as long as the proper safety procedures are followed. Work closely with professional diver beforehand to ensure you are taking every precautionary step necessary, and have a proper understanding of the common dangers that come with it.

Rainy Days in Oahu: An Itinerary

Although the Aloha State is known for its ideal weather of constant sunshine and cooling trade winds, there are days where Mother Nature decides to look the other way. In the event of a rainy day or week, it can be hard to figure out what to do in a state known for its outdoor activities. But, there is nothing to fear. The island of Oahu is well-prepared for inclement weather, and has a variety of attractions should the day consist of rain.

Rather than staying inside your hotel room all day, consider taking a trip to Kahala Mall. This indoor community has over 90 stores and restaurants for all family members, with authentic Hawaiian-made clothing, boutiques, and more. Oahu’s indoor shopping does not end there. The Honolulu Night Market consists of a large array of goods, including clothes, art, food, and even live music, all contained within a large warehouse.

The new International Marketplace in Waikiki, which opened August of 2016, is another indoor playground consisting of 75 different retailers, seven signature restaurants (with three more coming soon), and a banyan tree that is over 100 years old. It also features Hawaii’s first Saks Fifth Avenue. The construction of the marketplace has been greatly beneficial to all locals, as Robert Taubman, president and CEO of Taubman Centers, stated that over 2,500 jobs were created, and part of the marketplace’s revenue will be donated to hospitals around the island.

Similarly, the Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping mall in all of Hawaii, and the seventh largest in the entire country. With more than 290 stores, it’s easy to get lost in a day of shopping and dining. Many of which are considered luxury stores with high-end fashion brands and name brands. Additionally, the mall houses many locally-made products from the Aloha State. Transportation here is made easy by the Ala Moana Shopping Trolley, that takes visitors to the mall and 10 separate locations around Waikiki.

If what you’re truly missing due to rainy days is the water or ocean life, look no further than the Waikiki Aquarium. Home to all of Hawaii’s natural marine life, this aquarium is the second oldest in the United States. The most remarkable feature of this attraction is its variety of exhibits. Coral reefs, local marine communities, monk seal habitats, and marine protected areas are all things visitors can see while learning a lot about the subjects themselves.

For the entire blog and more, check out Michele-Carbone.com!

Beach Safety in Hawaii

Like all travel destinations, practicing proper safety and maintaining your health when visiting another state or country is extremely important. In Hawaii, the same precautions should be followed. For those planning to visit the Aloha State in the near future looking to indulge in the beautiful beaches, here are a few tips and guidelines that will allow you to have a fun, safe stay.

With the high temperatures of the South Pacific comes an increased risk of dehydration. Always be sure to drink plenty of water, and have a bottle or two on you at all times, especially when hiking, or performing other recreational activities. When enjoying some time on the beach, the sun’s rays can be deceptively dangerous; a place you’ll want to ensure hydration, as well as protect your skin with a proper SPF level sunscreen.

People unfamiliar with the beaches of Hawaii should not assume that they are just like every other. First, pay attention to any aggressive currents or undertows. Swimming in these conditions is extremely dangerous. When in the ocean, stay within a reasonable distance of the beach to remain visible to those you are with, as well as lessening your chances of losing your footing in deep waters.

A safe rule of thumb for dealing with the waves along Hawaii shorelines is “Never turn your back on the ocean.”  What this means is that when you are exiting the water along the shoreline, always walk sideways towards the beach, looking over your shoulder at the incoming waves. It is not uncommon for people to get knocked down by unexpected waves and then have to struggle to get out of the water.

Pay attention to the surf warning flags along all of Hawaii’s beaches.Here’s a quick guide to beaches and conditions for all Hawaii island beaches, published by the Hawaii State government: http://www.hawaiibeachsafety.com/

A common misconception about Hawaiian beaches is that sharks pose a serious threat to beachgoers. Surprisingly, sightings are so infrequent that many locals look forward to spotting them offshore. However, swimming with the mindset that a sighting is impossible would be unwise. Avoid swimming at sunrise or sunset, as this is when sharks are most active. Also, stay away from murky bodies of water with little vision, as a shark’s eyesight is negatively affected in these areas as well.

The most common stings among swimmers in Hawaii are those of jellyfish. Two of the most common are box jellyfish and Portuguese man-of-war, both of which have different types of poison and should be treated respectively. Be on the lookout for floating bubble with a bluish hue and a long trail of tentacles. These are Portuguese men-of-war, and can cause painful, yet rarely serious stings. Box jellyfish on the other hand, are nearly invisible in the water, and tend to have much more painful stings. To avoid both, avoid swimming during morning hours, and when water temperatures are unusually high. If stung, do not scratch or rub the affected area. Apply an ice pack, and see a medical professional if symptoms worsen.  The box jellyfish arrive on Waikiki beaches on a rather predictable schedule, so you can check this calendar published by the Waikiki Acquarium:  http://www.waikikiaquarium.org/box-jellyfish-calendar/

An important consideration when walking into the water is to watch where you step. Many puncture wounds come from people not seeing sea urchins upon entering the ocean. Avoid areas where you can’t clearly see the bottom, and be mindful of where the current pushes you should be in a deeper area, as sea urchins tend to gather in colonies.
Open wounds or cuts should be taken very seriously. Prevention is important, and wearing wet suits, water shoes, or gloves can help. Should you experience an injury that causes bleeding, exit the water and seek the nearest medical area for help. Depending on what caused the wound, treatment may vary.