Monday, September 10, 2012

Hiatus...or maybe just sporadic posting

Unfortunately, this semester is shaping up to be a lot harder than I anticipated. Rather than fill this post with explanations why (which I did originally until I realized just how whiny it sounded), I'll keep this short.  I'll be putting Menu By Calendar on extended hiatus.  Hopefully, I'll get in some sporadic posting and post at least a list of the remaining food celebrations. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Oh, yikes!

I'm sorry folks.  With the start of school, a trip to DC, new work responsibilities, and a family visit, I got a little overwhelmed and have fallen behind.  Rest assured, I am working on getting caught up, and will hopefully get everything caught up by the end of Labor Day weekend. 

Sorry, folks, and I appreciate the patience.  As well as the concerned messages.  :)  Thanks.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18: National Ice Cream Pie Day and National Soft Ice Cream Day

Two cold treats are celebrated today!  Even though the temps aren't as hot as last month, cold treats are very much welcome.

National Ice Cream Pie Day

I couldn't find anything on the history of ice cream pie, but I did find out there's an ice cream pie for everyone.  Like chocolate chip cookies?  Try this chocolate chip cookie-inspired ice cream pie.  Can't start your day without your daily java jolt?  Try this coffee liquer ice cream cake.  There are just so  many different kinds of ice cream pie!  What's your favorite treat?  Because I really wouldn't be surprised to find it as an ice cream pie.  There's an ice cream pie inspired by turtles (the candy), Mississippi mud,  and grasshoppers (the drink, I think.) Oreos add nice texture and flavor to this ice cream pie. 

None of those ice cream pies strike your fancy?  Check out the recipe collections from Sunset MagazineAll Recipes, and Pillsbury.    You're very likely to find one you like.  (And as a bonus, there are tips over at the Pillsbury site.)

National Soft Ice Cream Day

Some places say this is the 19th, but it seems like it's supposed to be the 18th, so here it is!

Soft ice cream is what I know as soft serve ice cream.  Apparently you can make it at home...but you have to have the right equipment and I seriously doubt anyone reading this has a soft serve ice cream maker at home, so if you do, you won't recipes for soft ice cream here.  Maybe one, which anyone can do: take ice cream out of freezer, set it aside for 15 minues, and scoop out some soft ice cream.  Easy-peasy.

Soft serve ice cream isone of those foods with a disputed history.  Carvel claims Tom Carvel invented it, while Dairy Queen claims John McCullogh invented it and another site claims Margaret Thatcher invented it!  Whoever invented it did the world a favor - now we don't have to wait for our ice cream to melth just a bit before eating.

If you're interested in celebrating today, Burger King will sell soft serve ice cream for 50 cents until th end of the month,

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17: National Vanilla Custard Day

Vanilla custard is suprisingly very varied in form.  You can serve it with caramel sauce on top, in the classic Mexican flan.  Or how about pairing the sweet vanilla flavor with raspberries?  Try serving vanilla custard pie at your next brunch or take a cue from Guam and serve vanilla custard cake instead.  Or how about serving the vanilla custard in individual cups?

Food Timeline provides us with some history on custard, but there doesn't seem to be a way to pinpoint when vanilla became a popular custard flavor.

Well, no way yet with current techology.  I seriously doubt anyone has a working TARDIS.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16: National Rum Day and National Bratwurst Day

National Rum Day

The only way I've had rum is in mixed drinks and cakes.  I've never been one to savor rum on it's own, so I've never gotten to the point where I could identify all the notes of rum.  To me, one rum is the same as another rum.  Obviously, that's the completely wrong way to approach rum, as rums are all very different.

If you're planning a wedding and looking to serve a signature cocktail, why not consider a rum cocktail for your wedding?  Or do a rum wedding cake?  Or do a whole rum theme and give little bottles of rum to your guests?   (Sorry...seems everyone around me is getting married and I have weddings on the brain!)

Not planning a wedding anytime soon?  Check out everything you need to know about rum and use the above ideas at a party. (Bonus points if you tell everyone to show up as a pirate.)  Trust me, if you give little bottles of rum to every guest that comes by, they'll remember the party.

At least, the part before they drank.

National Bratwurst Day

Bratwursts, in the US, are typically pork sausages with a high fat content.  At barbeques, I prefer bratwursts instead of hot dogs - brats are just so much more flavorful.  I've always thought of brats as a German food, and while extremely popular and part of German cuisine, the bratwurst was actually invented by the Celtics.  Still, the Germans made bratwurst popular with each region of Germany making bratwurst with their own seasoning.  And, if I ever make it to Germany, I need to check out the Bratwurst Museum.

In the US, the apparent hotspot for bratwurst is Wisconsin, host to the World's Largets Brat Fest.  In a separate part of Wisconsin, there's Brat Days, another bratwurst festival.

To celebrate today, I suggest cooking up some of your favorite brats, and eating them topped with sauerkraut.  Or make Bobby Flay's recipe featuring bratwurst simmered in beer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August 15: National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

Lemon meringue pie is one of my all-time favorite pies.  I think that's why I'm so afraid to try making it.  What if I mess up?  Will lemon meringue pie be ruined for me forever?

Actually, I think I've never made lemon meringue pie because no one around me likes it.  The cool, tart flavor that I adore is unappealing to my friends and family.  I'm not one for baking sweet treats if I'm the only one eating them.  When I do get a chance to make a lemon meringue pie, I'll be using Alton Brown's recipe

Lemon meringue pie was reportedly created by a Philadephia cook who improved upon the Quaker-created lemon custard.  (Note to self:  add "Eat lemon meringue pie in Philadelphia" to bucket list.) 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August 14: National Creamsicle Day

Creamsicles are popsicles with ice cream in the center, and I think most people think of the vanilla ice cream and orange flavored popsicle combo when they hear "creamsicle."  Creamsicles appear to be very popular and can be found across the country. As with any popular food item, there are many recipes for homemade versions (some with grapefruit flavor.)  This recipe made for a Zoku (but can really be used with any popsicle mold) uses buttermilk to get the creamy flavor.  I don't think any ice cream molds exist yet that will allow for homemade versions to be like the real thing.

Also as with any popular food item, there are plenty of grown-up drink recipes that try to capture the flavor.  This recipe makes a whole mug of a very close match using whipped cream vodka. If a whole mug of drink isn't your style, try making jello shots instead.  For a super-easy jello shot recipe, check out this 3-ingredient recipe.

According to WiseGeek, today is not an official "National" day because there has been no official government action to deem it so, but August 14th has become known as "National Creamsicle Day."  I think we can thank the good folks over in the Unilever publicity department for that.

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13: National Filet Mignon Day

Recently, my parents went to a wedding where filet mignon was offered as a dinner option.  My parents enjoy a good beef dish, so that's what they chose and they loved it.  Apparently, it was tender, juicy and as my mom put it, "soooooooo good!"

So what is filet mignon? has that answer for us, along with a bit of history.  If you're more of a visual person, the Texas Beef Council has an image that shows where on the cow filet mignon comes from.  Because of it's location on the cow, filet mignon is difficult to find kosher.

Eatocracy argues that the best way to cook filet mignon is to sear it after seasoning.  I don't know about that - filet mignon with truffled mushroom ragout sounds pretty good to me.  Chef Patrick O'Neil from Washington seems to like the searing technique as that's what he uses in his filet mignon recipe over at Epicurious, pairing the filet mignon with charred onions, zucchini and balsamic vinegar sauce.  AllRecipes seems to like the balsamic and filet mignon pairing as well.  Simply Recipes uses a red wine sauce to dress up filet mignon - after cutting it into a heart shape.  (Might taste good, but I think meat in the shape of a heart is a little creepy.)  And of course, Food Network has a collection of filet mignon recipes.

So, if you're a red meat eater, celebrate today with filet mignon at your favorite steakhouse or try any of the recipes above.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 12: National Julienne Fries Day and National Toasted Almond Bar Day

National Julienne Fries Day

Today is the day for celebrating something most people in the US are familiar with: the julienne fry.  Usually, we just call it the French fry.  Julienne refers to how the potato is cut into thin strips, which is how most French fries are served.  Steak cut, curly, wedge cut... those are not julienne fries.  Julienne fries are the the thin strips of potato, deep fried and served warm.  McDonalds' French fries are a good example of julienne fries.  Celebrate today by making your own julienne fries or head out to your favorite restaurant and order some as a side.

National Toasted Almond Bar Day

Until today, I had never heard of Good Humor's Toasted Almond Bar.  I don't know if today was created in honor of it, but it certainly rules the search results for "toasted almond bar."  It seems to be a popular ice cream treat on the East Coast, but is apparently unheard of on the West Coast.  And there's apparently a tragic shortage this year.  At least, the news articles make it seem that way.  "Ice cream crisis" and "horrific" are used in two headlines.  Then again, if East Coasters love Good Humor's Toasted Almond Bar as much as the author of this article does, then maybe there's good cause for such hyperbolic titles.

I did manage to find recipes for toasted almond bars that have nothing to do with ice cream.  Toasted almond buttermilk bars make plain cake mix seem fancy by kicking up the flavor with cream cheese, buttermilk and toasted almonds.  Or you could try adding coconut for a more tropical flavor.  For the coffee lovers, there's Toasted Almond Cappuccino Oatmeal bars.  And, of course, for the adults who like their bars to be a location for strong drinks, there's even a toasted almond drink.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 11: National Raspberry Bombe/Tart Day

Some sites list today as National Raspberry Bombe Day, while others list it as National Raspberry Tar Day.  I also have down that May 3 was National Raspberry Tart Day and since I wrote a bit about it then, today I'm going to focus on raspberry bombes.  (Mainly because I had no idea what a raspberry bombe was until not too long ago.)  If you would like to celebrate National Raspberry Tart Day, check out this recipe from Emeril.

I had no idea what what a bombe was until fairly recently.  Essentially, a bombe is a two-layer ice cream dessert shaped into an inverted bowl (or other similar shape.)  It can be any two flavors you want and so many pair well with raspberry.  There's raspberry and vanilla bombe, which can be dressed up even further by the addition of merengue Lemon always provides a nice counterpart to raspberry flavor.  Chocolate is a favorite for many people, but you can also try white chocolate.  This old newspaper clipping recipe for raspberry bombe uses strawberry or peppermint ice cream and adds things like nuts, fruit pieces, and rum.  Even though most of the nation isn't feeling the heat like a couple of weeks ago, this is a great summer dessert.

Late! August 10: National S'mores Day

Made a decision yesterday not to write, because I was sick and needed rest.  Which is sad, because I love s'mores.  They're perfect when camping, and you can even fake 'em at home.  (I totally believe true s'mores are made with a marshmallow roasted over a campfire.)  All you need are graham crackers, Hershey's (or other plain chocolate in flat bar form), and marshmallows.  Sure, you can get all fancy and dress up your s'mores, but the classic recipe is always tops in my book.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

August 9: National Rice Pudding Day

Rice pudding is a delectably creamy and sweet dessert.  I've always done the "cheater rice pudding" where I take cooked rice, add milk or cream, add some sugar or honey and cook it down a bt in a saucepan.  Personally, I like mine with raisins mixed in and a little cinnamon sprinkled on top, but I know that's not for everyone.

Rice pudding is pretty ubiquitous.  Would you like Bulgarian rice pudding Indian?  EgyptianBritish?  Or do you have a rice preference?  Thai rice pudding can be made with black rice , sticky white glutinous sweet rice,  or with red rice.  Or maybe you want to pretend something made with cream and sugar is healthy and use brown rice.  You could probably use any kind of rice you want.  (Again, I vote for whatever leftover rice you have on hand.)

But then do you want to bake it?  Or just go with stove top?  And then would you like to add a flavor, maybe coconut or vanilla?  Raisins?  Nuts?  Ahhh!!!  Too many choices and all just for rice pudding!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 8: National Zucchini Day and National Frozen Custard Day

National Zucchini Day

Zucchini is one of those vegetables that I just don't understand why some people don't like it.  My parents have always grown zucchini and while we've done the "give a couple to the neighbors or visiting friends," we've never planted so many that we were doing the "ding dong ditch-the-zucchini-on-the-doorstep" you hear jokes about.  Then again, zucchini is a very popular plant for home gardens so it's entirely possible for a neighborhood to have an excessive amount of zucchini.

While I like eating zucchini sauteed or added to pastas, you can use zucchini in so many different ways.  (I recently tried making zucchini fries - didn't exactly work.)  Zucchini is a popular vegetable for magazines to do collections on: Health has 26 "quick and easy" recipes for zucchiniGood Housekeeping has a recipe collection for zucchiniTaste of Home has their top 10 zucchini recipes; and Marth Stewart also has a collection of ideas on using up your summer bounty of zucchini.

Surprisingly, it's hard for me to find good records of zucchini production.  This is likely due to the fact that zucchini often gets lumped together with the other summer squashes.

If you're ever at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market in the San Diego area, definitely check out the zucchini blossom tacos or quesadillas.  They're super tasty.  So much so that I wish it were more common for zucchini blossoms to be sold in stores.

National Frozen Custard Day

So what's the difference between frozen custard, ice cream and all those other cold confections?  Frozen custard is made with more eggs than ice cream and has a creamier texture.

Celebrate by going to your local Goodberry's (which I only mention because it is the only chain I know of that features frozen custard.)  If you're in Los Angles, LA Foodie has list of the best frozen custard places in LA.

Then again, you can always just make your own.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August 7: National Raspberries in/and Cream Day

Some places have today listed as National Raspberries and Cream Day, while other have it listed as National Raspberries in Cream Day.  Both seem pretty straightforward - eat raspberries with cream or in cream.  Simple!

Well, if you want to take it a step further, try making a raspberries and cream layer cake.  Or go for cupcakesRaspberry and cream crepes are also a great way to change things up.  If you really want to change things up and celebrate in a slightly different way, try a variation on flavor with black raspberry and lemon crush ice cream cupcakes

Hey, it's still raspberry and cream.... ice cream, that is.  :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6: National Root Beer Float Day

Root beer floats are very simple to make.  You just put vanilla ice cream and root beer together.  If you put the ice cream in the glass first and pour the root beet over the ice cream, it will automatically foam up and be creamy instantly.  If you pour the root beer in the glass first and then top it off with the ice cream, it'll become creamy slowly as the ice cream melts.

Grab some root beer and ice cream and celebrate today!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 5: National Oyster Day

So May 5th was Oyster Day, but today is National Oyster Day.  I'm always a little leery of eating oyster when I'm nowhere near an ocean.  (Same with fish, unless I'm at a large chain restaurant.)  I also haven't always been a fan of oysters - it wasn't until a trip to Vegas with friends who love oysters did I learn to enjoy eating oysters.  My friends insisted on checking out the oyster bar at Red Rock, which they had heard was pretty good.  While there, they convinced me to try one.  I ended up ordering another platter for us, the oysters were that good.

Thanks to The Oyster Guide, I now know that the previous oysters I had had probably came from a different region than the ones I had in Vegas.  I will never know for sure, but at least I think understand why I didn't like the oysters I had eaten previous to the Vegas trip.

In a Half Shell has suggestions for how to celebrate the day.  And if you're in New York during National Oyster Day and you like oysters, you'll definitely want to meet the Naked Cowboy

Happily, Seafood Watch gives oysters a pretty good rating so no environmental guilt over eating one of nature's reputed aphrodisiacs!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

August 4: National Mustard Day

I've always been a mustard instead of mayo kind of gal.  So I was super-excited to learn that there's a National Mustard Day - a day that actually has a traceable history!  National Mustard Day is nearing the quarter-century mark and is celebrated in great fashion by the Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin.  There's even a parade every year!  Now that I know this, I will have to go. 

Have a little history on the condiment itself.  Global Gourmet even provides recipes with the history of mustard.

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 3: National Watermelon Day

Did you know that watermelon comes in many different colors?  Right now, my local farmers market is teeming with watermelon with red, orange, yellow and pink flesh.  While the outer rind is almost always green, it can come in other colors and plenty of variations.  According to Wikipedia, there are over 1200 varieties of watermelon.  You can see 104 of them here.

If you're interested in facts about watermelon production in the US or the world, check out all this watermelon information from the Economic Research Service of the USDA.  There is a lot of information there, so here are some highlights:
  • In 2010, the top 5 watermelon-growing states in order were: Florida, Georgia, California, Texas and Indiana.
  • Over 68 million metric tons of watermelon were grown in the world in 2009.
  • China produces most of the world's watermelons - 3.8 million metric tons.  The US is fourth, after Turkey and Iran. has some beautiful ideas for carving watermelon into bowls.  Always remember to wash your watermelon before you cut it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

August 2: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

The easiest way to have ice cream sandwiches is to simply buy them.    The next easiest way would be to let your favorite flavor of ice cream soften a bit, put a layer of the softened ice cream in between two of your favorite cookies, put the whole thing back in the freezer so the ice cream firms back up, and then enjoy!  If you really want to spend more effort to get your ice cream sandwiches just perfect for you, you can always try baking cookies from a cake mix for the outer part of the sandwich or making your own ice cream

There are plenty of ways to personalize an ice cream sandwich.  Instructables has a decent selection of recipes to choose from: there's one made with a thin cake-like outside, one with Rice  Krispie treats, one with cookies,  and a "sweet and salty" one that uses peanut butter.  HuffPo has 16 delicious-looking recipes to choose from.  You can also customize the size and go mini, like Ellie Krieger does.

The first ice cream sandwich was reportedly invented in San Francisco or possibly Blue Earth, Minnesota.  At the very least, the It's It was invented in San Francisco.  I can't confirm whether or not that's the first ice cream sandwich.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 1: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

Raspberry...cream...pie.  I know the what the words refer to individually, but I've never heard of raspberry cream pie.  So off I went to find an answer to, "What is raspberry cream pie?"

Well, it depends which recipe you use.  You can make something similar to a cheesecake with raspberries on top or you can make something reminiscent of key lime pie, except done with raspberries.  Rachel Ray provides a recipe that looks absolutely delicious with all those chunks of raspberries actually in the filling part of the pie.  Meanwhile, Epicurious offers up two recipes - one that's no-bake for those days where you don't want to be anywhere near a stove or oven and one that adds chocolate into the already tasty combination. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31: National Raspberry Cake Day and Jump for Jelly Beans Day

I have today down as National Raspberry Cake Day and Jump for Jelly Beans Day.  Some sites report National Raspberry Cake Day as July 19th, but I'll be celebrating it today as that's what's on my calendar.  Some places are also reporting that today's National Cotton Candy Day, but I have that down for December 7th and since that's what the majority of sites are saying, I'm going with today is not National Cotton Candy Day.  Besides, there doesn't seem to be any other food celebration on Dec 7th, so I'm obviously going to talk about cotton candy then.

Anyhow, on to the food observances for today!

National Raspberry Cake Day

I'm not sure if this day is honoring raspberry-flavored cake or cakes topped with raspberryThis cake recipe uses raspberries, but it's a lot like a white cake with raspberries sprinkled in so there's not a cake-wide raspberry flavor.

Raspberries pair well with a variety of flavors and raspberry cakes are no exception.  There's Banana Raspberry, Chocolate Raspberry, Lemon Raspberry and Orange Raspberry cakes, just to name a few.  Some cakes use cream for a richer, creamier flavor.  Try buttermilk for a new flavor when baking your raspberry cake.

Jump for Jelly Beans Day

Jelly beans already had their day on April 22, so I'm not sure what to talk about here.  I must admit, why jump?  ABC2News can't find a reason (or perhaps CNN's Eatocracy can't, since the articles are the same.) Maybe it has something to do with this video about a pretty well-known theory of management.

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30: National Cheesecake Day

Today is a day for all flavors of cheesecake, not just cherry(4/23,) blueberry (5/26,) white chocolate (3/6), or pumpkin (10/21).  I'm a fan of the Cheesecake Factory and I'm willing to try any of their cheesecakes that has fruit or caramel on it. 

Some sites say there's only two major types of cheesedake - New York Style and Italian Style.  Food Editorials claims there are many different regional cheesecakes in the US.  Wise Geek tells us there two main types - bake and no-bake.  (Personally, I think baked is the  better of the two.)

Whatever type you prefer, you're bound to find a recipe in either the AllRecipe cheesecake collection or that of Food Network and What's Cooking America both give us some interesting background on the history of cheesecake.  What interesting fact did I learn?  Cheesecake was popular with the ancient Greeks.

I think we can safely say that cheesecake is not a fad and will always be a hit.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29: National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day and National Lasagna Day

National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day

This has got to be one of  the most puzzling days on the food observance calendar.  I can't really find anything about this day on the internet, yet everyone seems to be going, "Whoo!  It's Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day!  We know nothing about it, but whoo!"

There is the theory that today is supposed to be about the cheese that is used to catch rodents.  I actually wonder if the day came about during one of the wars...y'know, maybe cheese was too expensive or there was a "Save the Cheese for the Troops!" movement like there was with some other foods

So how to celebrate today?  NYCFoodDays has some suggestions for New Yorkers that want to celebrate.  You could send an e-card.  (Believe me, I was surprised to find one for Cheese Sacrifice Day.)  You could also make a "sacrifice" by not purchasing cheese today. 

National Lasagna Day

I can't help it - I think of Garfield (the cat, not the actor or president) when I think of lasagna.  I also remember the time I shocked one of my friends by eating lasagna with chopsticks.  (We were living in the dorms and she had no extra forks.)

This lasagna recipe is extremely popular and well-ranked - 5 stars after nearly 7000 reviews!  Also from AllRecipes, here's a vegetarian recipe that's well-ranked.  Or try this White Vegetarian Lasagna recipe - I didn't know you could make lasagna without a tomato-based sauce.  I also didn't know you could make lasagna in your slow cooker!  That idea really intrigues me and I'll definitely be trying it.  Of course, for the vegans, here's a vegan lasagna recipe that uses vegan cheese and tofu.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28: National Milk Chocolate Day

Well, some places also list today as National Hamburger Day, but none of my calendars had today labeled as such and I feel like I've talked enough about hamburgers so I'm just going to focus on the fact that today is National Milk Chocolate Day. 

I used to like milk chocolate, but then I became an extremely dark chocolate fan.  Still, every now and then I have a small piece of milk chocolate and I just revel in the sweetness.  I always try to make sure I only buy "ethical" chocolate - chocolate that has no ties to child slavery and is sustainably grown.  And yes, a lot of chocolate is linked to child slavery.  Visit for more information and a list of companies that are considered slave-free.

To celebrate National Milk Chocolate Day, People magazine offers up an 80's Milkshake recipe.  Try some chocolate for breakfast.  Chow Bella suggests a cocktail that is remarkably similar to spiked chocolate milk.

Check out the history of milk chocolate, courtesy of What's Cooking America.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27: National Scotch Day

I tried scotch once. 

We didn't agree and we decided to go our separate ways.

So I'm very lacking in knowledge when it comes to scotch, which is apparently a type of whisky.  (And I thought the correct spelling was only "whiskey," but it turns out that use of "whiskey" or "whisky" is dependent on country of origin.) bills itself as the "definiteive online guide to whisky" and it sure looks like it is.  Everything from the distilling process to guidance for hosting whisky tasting parties is covered at

You can find a brief history of scotch here and 61 cocktails using scotch here.  TheKitchn suggests four mixed drinks to ease you into liking scotch.  Apparently, you can't just like it, you have to learn to like it.  Which might be true, considering my experience.

NOTE:Some sites are saying that today is creme brulee day.  Others list July 21, which is when I celebrated it.  I'm sticking with July 21st as creme brulee day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26: National Bagelfest Day and National Coffee Milkshake Day

National Bagelfest Day

Hey!  We have a starting date for this one - 1986.  This is probably the most recent of the food observance days to be added to the calendar.  So how to celebrate Bagelfest?  Well, eating a bagel is the easy way.  You can always make your own.  Try toasting a plain or savory bagel, slicing it in half and then using it to make a sandwich.  Try using a different topping or a new flavor.

National Coffee Milkshake Day

Well, I've already posted about milkshakes and I think I'd be belaboring the topic by talking about another flavor. so just a few notes on this one.  Food Stories Blog is having a giveaway in honor of National Coffee Milkshake Day and provides a recipe for a coffee milkshake with banana.  This article suggests adding alcohol for extra kick and this blogger goes for a peanut butter/banana/coffee flavor.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

A hot fudge sundae is just another variation of a sundae - except this one is both hot and cold.  I have to admit, dishes that combine the two temperature extremes of hot and cold are always intriguing.  They cause my brain to lock into a weird loop of "It's's's hot...cold.." which leaves me unable to function until my brain finally goes, "I don't care.  It's good."

Anyhow, if you're curious, there are actually tutorials on how to make a hot fudge sundae.  Which just seems so silly to me - just take a couple scoops of your favorite ice cream, add some sprinkles or nuts if you want, then pour a hot fudge sauce on top.  Add cherry and whipped cream, if you feel like it.

You can buy chocolate fudge topping at the store and heat it up, or you can try making your own hot fudge sundae sauce.  If you add espresso to the sauce, you get a little extra kick and you get to call it Italian hot fudge sundae.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24: National Tequila Day

Today is National Tequila Day.  Tequila is not the actual drink, but rather a denomination of origin.  So when you say, "What tequila do you have?" you're actually asking "What agave-distilled spirit from the Mexican region of Jalisco or from certain nearby regions?"  Tequila is a mezcal or agave-distilled spirit. 

My experience with tequila is limited to tequila shots, a cake recipe that uses tequila, and a fish recipe that uses tequila.  And there is a lot to know about tequila, so I'm just going to point you to two really good sites about tequila, both of which do a great job at explaining the different types and the tequila-making process.  If you're interested in learning more about tequila, check out Tequila Source and

So while I'm confused why the US has a National Tequila Day when tequila is from Mexico, I'm just going to shake my head and accept it as another national food observance that makes no sense.  But I did find it interesting to learn that there is a drink called Temequila, which is an agave-distilled spirit made in Temecula, CA.

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23: National Hot Dog Day and National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

National Hot Dog Day

Maybe eating as many hot dogs as possible in a short amount of time is your thing.  Maybe going for the most expensive hot dog available (title currently held by a hot dog stand in Sacramento at $145.49) is your thing.  Or maybe you're vegan and you prefer the vegan dogs.  However you like to consume your hot dog, there's no getting around the fact that the average American consumes about 60 hot dogs in a year.

I've always been a "catsup, mustard, onion and relish on my hot dogs" kind of girl.  Oh, chili is a great topping, too.  And I'd never say no to a dog topped with sauerkraut (and just try to keep me away from a hot dog with Romanian sauerkraut!)  Still, it never occurred to me that hot dogs, like barbecue, is a hotly disputed regional food in America.  The HuffPo has their roundup of the best regional style hot dogs - which I'm sure not everyone was happy about.

And if you've ever been curious as to what is actually in your hot dog - Scientific American has the answer.

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council held a slogan contest this year.  Maybe I'll come up with a snazzy slogan for next year. Hrm...

National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

Okay, while I think both hot dogs and vanilla ice cream are definitely summer treats, I don't think I'd ever want to eat them together.  They do have one thing in common, though - they make great bases for epic dishes.

Vanilla ice cream is delicious in its own right, especially if you like vanilla.  For those that love vanilla ice cream, just a plain scoop is enough.  (Okay, maybe two scoops.)  For others, though, vanilla ice cream is an ingredient in such things as root beer floats or smoothies.  For others, vanilla ice cream is base for super banana splits or record-setting sundaes.  For those who like to imbibe, vanilla ice cream is used in a variety of cocktails.

So go forth and celebrate National Vanilla Ice Cream Day!  And if you do decide to mix vanilla ice cream and hot dogs together?  Well, let me know how that goes.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A little housekeeping....

You may have noticed a lack of pictures lately.  I've come very close to the limit of images for my account, not because I have a lot of pictures but because my pictures are all pretty large.  Oh, I know they don't seem large here on the blog, but they are large if you were to look at them full size. 

Thus, over the next couple of weeks, I'll be going back and reducing the size of the pictures I have used and I'll be adding pictures to posts from the last few weeks.  My grad project is finally over (pending a short presentation) so here's hoping that I'll get caught up on photos before classes start.

July 22: National Penuche Fudge Day

Penuche fudge is fudge make with brown sugar.  This gives the fudge a light tan color and a caramel flavor.  You may have also seen this called brown sugar fudge in some places.  Some recipes call for cream, others half-and-half, some milk, and others use evaporated milk.  According to's candy page, penuche is popular in Mexico but I remember Mexican fudge being different when compared to any penuche I've had in the US.  Then again, I'm not sure if Mexican fudge is the same thing as penuche.  According to Wise Geek, penuche in New England is sometimes made with maple syrup and in Hawaii penuche is often used as a cookie topping.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21: National Creme Brulee Day and National Junk Food Day

National Creme Brulee Day

When I hear the words "creme brulee," I immediately think "blowtorch."  Then I remember the one time a friend tried making creme brulee and her blowtorch leaked, creating a small fireball in her kitchen.  Most exciting creme brulee EVER.

Creme brulee isn't terribly hard to make, but it is time consuming and requires a blowtorch, soI don't think very many people actually make it at home.  What's Cooking America has a recipe that requires less time than Alton Brown's, but you'll still need a blowtorch for that perfect crust.  Cooking For Engineers also does a breakdown of cooking creme brulee.

A blowtorch wasn't always used to get the carmelized top - at one point an iron was used.

The blowtorch approach just seems like more fun.

National Junk Food Day

Well, a lot of things that are perfectly normal food to most people are things I consider junk food, so I'm not really the most impartial person to write on this topic.  Instead, I'm going to pass you on over to Serious Eats for 16 foods you can eat to celebrate National Junk Food Day and to GalTime's tips for surviving the day.

Personally, I think a great way to celebrate today would be to go through your pantry and identify what is junk food.  You don't have to toss it out, but at least go through and recognize what foods you have that are not good for you.

My biggest junk food sin right now?  I still have Girl Scout cookies.

That is the one treat I will never give up.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20: National Lollipop Day and National Fortune Cookie Day

National Lollipop Day

Whether you like your lollipops bigger than your face or filled with gum or some other candy, I think everyone is familiar with lollipops.  Lollipops have been around for quite some time, dating back to at least the 17th century.  Making your own lollipop isn't all that hard - it's basically just cooking sugar to the hard stage.  Food Network offers up a cherry lollipop recipe, Martha Stewart has some pretty lollipops, and Leite's Culinaria shares a recipe for adults that still love lollipops - liquor lollipops.

I wonder if dentists experience a bump in business after National Lollipop Day.  Hrm...

National Fortune Cookie Day

Did you know that fortune cookie are not Chinese?  Despite being provided at the end of a meal in just about every Chinese restuarant in America, fortune cookies are American with a Japanese background.  While the exact inventor of fortune cookies as we know them today is in dispute, it can be agreed upon that the fortune cookie was made popular by a Japanese immigrant in California.  (ne of the descendants of one of the possible inventors provides her family's understanding of the fortune cookie here.)

While making your own fortune cookie is actually pretty easy, how do you decide to what fortune to put it in?   I suppose if you're a fortune teller and you can see who the cookie will be going to, you can easily put in a fortune.  For the rest of us, though, a computer-generated fortune is probably the way to go. 

And to wrap up this fortune cookie posting, two things:
1.) Yes, you can win the lotto playing fortune cookie lucky numbers.
2.) XKCD has probably the best addition to fortune cookie fortunes ever.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19: National Daiquiri Day

Mmm...daiquiris.  I fully admit, I love cold, fruity alcoholic drinks.  Even more so when they come with cute garnishes like a citrus peel curl, or even that tacky paper unbrella.

I think most people are familiar with strawberry daiquiris (I know I am!) but did you know that the daiquiri started out as a single drink and has evolved into a category of drinks?  A classic daiquiri is pretty easy - rum, lime juice, and a simple sugar syrup.  (Alton Brown's classic daiquiri recipe gives you strict instructions so you end up with the best daiquiri possible.)  Pretty much any flavor of daiquiri is possible.  Looks for some daiquiri inspiration?  Check out this collection of daiquir recipes.

LATE - July 18: National Caviar Day

Sorry this is late, folks.  Stayed in a hotel last night that had the worst connection ever. 

Caviar.  Is it just a hoity-toity name for fish eggs?  Is it really fish eggs?  I need to know!

Turns out caviar is fish eggs, specifically sturgeon eggs.  You can get other types of caviar, like salmon caviar, but if it's only "caviar" then it's from sturgeon.  If it's orangish, then it's not "caviar."  True caviar is black to gray.

What's Cooking America encourages us to consume American caviar, not foreign. (See?  Even hoity-toity food can be local!  Well, local as in "same country.")  Did you know there's California caviar and Washington caviar

As always with seafood, please check the Seafood Watch list. (2 of 3 red, not good.)  The WWF has an excelent primer on why caviar isn't the most concious-friendly choice.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17: National Peach Ice Cream Day

Not a combination you usually see in ice cream stores (at least, if I have recently, I don't recall it) peach ice cream is the total summer treat.  It features peaches which are normally in season right now (this year is a little off due to the crazy weather) and ice cream which just hits the spot on these super-hot summer days.

If you have an ice cream maker, you can always make your own peach ice cream.  Or try a variation that adds honey.  Try making peach ice cream without egs.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16: National Corn Fritter Day and National Fresh Spinach Day

National Corn Fritter Day

I only very recently tried corn fritters.  I'm not a huge fan of battered and fried foods, but the best friend ordered some as an appetizer and I tried half of one.  It was just... there.  Nothing spectacular, nothing super tasty.  It tasted just like corn and the batter had no real flavor.

Wise Geek mentions that there's also a version of corn fritters where egg white is used instead of batter.  This does sound a little better, so I may have to try making it someday.  Maybe what I need to do is make them spicy and add some greenery. 

National Fresh Spinach Day

There's no getting around it - spinach is good for you.  Okay, I suppose once you start loading it up with dressings and cheese, spinach loses its glamour as a super-food.  Keep away from the extras, and spinach stays awesome.  Eating Well has a collection of healthy spinach recipes to help you avoid the extras. 

Personally, I love raw spinach added to salads- spinach, strawberries, mandarin oranges, and walnuts go very well together.  Fresh spinach is also a great addition to instant noodles.  I also like wrapping a baby carrot in a spinach leaf before dipping it in a vinagrette dressing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15: National Gummy Worm Day and National Tapioca Pudding Day

National Gummy Worm Day

As a child (and sometimes now as an adult), it was always  fun to pretend that gummy worms were the real thing.  You could mix them with crushed oreos and chocolate pudding to create Wormy Mud Cups.  There are many variations of this child-friendly treat and it's pretty popular at children's Halloween parties.  One variation is Dirt Cake, which is essentially Wormy Mud Cups done on a larger scale.  For another child-friendly snack, try adding gummy worms to Rice Krispie Treats.  Or put them in popsicles.  For a creepy Halloween drink, you can add gummy worms to punch for the extra ick factor.  (For an even creepier punch, try also adding gummy eyes or spiders.)

For the more grown-up parties, gummies soaked in alcohol are apparently the big hit.  While I've had vodka infused with Skittles and Jell-o shots before, I have never had alcohol-soaked gummy worms.  (Or Jell-o shots that use gummy worms.)  The Gummy Worm Martini doesn't use gummy worms, but it gets a pretty close flavor and I imagine a gummy worm garnish wouldn't be out of place.  Check out these 5 drinks that use gummy worms.

Gummy worms are a popular candy to make at home.  There are even sugar-free and vegan recipes available.  Check out this video on making gummy worms at home or this one on making diabetic-friendly gummy worms.  Of course, if you really want to up the cool factor of your gummy worms, you can make them so they glow under blacklight.

National Tapioca Pudding Day

June 20th was National Tapioca Day, but today celebrates tapioca puddingSlow-cooker tapioca puddings are very popular because, well, slow cookers are a blessing to any home cook with little time. Just toss things in and go! Alton Brown's tapioca pudding makes use of the slow-cooker, but the recipe is a "start the night before" recipes since the tapioca has to soak overnight.

Public Radio Kitchen has a good article about tapioca pudding, as does Eat History.  Both describe memories associated with tapioca pudding, emphasizing what an impact tapioca pudding has had on many people.

National Ice Cream Day

Since today is the third Sunday in July, it's National Ice Cream Day. The International Dairy Foods Association provides us with the history of ice cream.  Because most people are familiar with ice cream, I'm just going to help you celebrate today by letting you know of some ice cream coupons.

First off, the coupon in the Whole Foods coupon packet for Ben and Jerry's is still good.  (Plus, my local Whole Foods has B&J's on sale, so double score!)  If you live near a Bruster's, here'a coupon for a free size upgrade.  Sign in at the Blue Bunny website and get a $1 off coupon.  In fact, because today is National Ice Cream Day, there are lots of ice cream freebies out there today.  Check them out!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July14: National Pick Blueberries Day and National Grand Marnier Day,

National Pick Blueberries Day

If you're looking to celebrate today by going out and picking blueberries, use Pick Your Own to help you find a local farm that has blueberries available.  If there are none near you or you want to simply head down to the grocery store for an easy picking experience, be sure you know how to select and store blueberries.

Once you've picked a bunch of blueberries, enjoy them by eating them by the handful, putting them in pancakes or waffles, preserving them for the winter, or by adding them to your cereal.

National Grand Marnier Day

Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored brandy liqueur.  While I've never purchased a bottle of Grand Marnier, I wouldn't be surprised if I've had some at some point, since Grand Marnier is often used in cosmopolitans, B-52s, and tequila sunrises

Grand Marnier is also used in some food recipes, such as Crepes Suzette and can be added to many classic recipes to create such things as Grand Marnier Souffle.

Alcohol that can be used for more than just drinking?  That's the best kind.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13: National French Fries Day

Back in December, Burger King debuted their new and improved fries and launched a massive advertising campaign.  Falling prey to the marketing campaign, at least three of us headed out and ordered the new  fries.  Maybe the hype was too much, butI thought they weren't anything special.  I still think that in terms of fast food French fries, McDonald's still reigns supreme.  (Although the seasoning Jack-in-the-Box uses on its curly fries is pretty tasty.)

French fries don't have to be just the plain-potato fried in vegetable oil.  Duck-fat fries from the Smoking Goat in San Diego are a must have when you're there - just don't think about the health consequences.  I wonder if French fries made with sunflower oil taste that much different than French fries fried in vegetable oil.

And French fries can make a great base food to a variety of toppings.   At the San Diego Fair, my friends and I share garlic fries, with the fries with the most garlic and parsley being the most coveted.  Carne asada fries are a great late-snack food after a night of bar-hopping.  And who can forget the weird fries that you can get at gas stations and random snack shacks where you add copious amounts of a scarily-bright yellow goo or a weird gloopy substance the store believes is chili.  When making fries at home, I perfer to make "nacho fries," topped with shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, onions, jalapeños, and a taco-seasoned meat or meat replacement.

In honor of today, the HuffPo seeks an answer to the all important question of: is there really such a thing as a healthy fry?  The article doesn't find an aswer to the question, but it does provide some pretty pictures of French fries to look at.  Personally, I like making French fries at home, because then I can control the amount of oil and salt used.

Like a all popular foods, the origins of French fries are in dispute.  The Belgians claim they invented fries.  Check out a possbile history of French fries.  Or how about this one?  It has royalty in it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12: National Pecan Pie Day

Pecan pies are probably the only "Southern" food I truly like.  Surprisingly, it may have originated in Texas (I was betting on Louisiana.)  Delish offers up 15 variations of the pecan pie.  You know, for when you tire of the original.

With all the sugar that goes into a pecan pie, I didn't think a diabetic-friendly recipe could exist, but it does!  You can also make a gluten-free pie.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11: National Blueberry Muffin Day and National Vegetarian Food Day

National Blueberry Muffin Day

Blueberries have been putting in a big show at the markets lately, but I feel like they're almost done for the season.  Why?  The prices for blueberries has gone up in the last week.  Prices are always lowest when the produce is in season.

So what to do with all the blueberries you see in the store?  Well, you could always eat them.  Try making smoothies with them.  Put them in pancakes or waffles.  Freeze them or can them.  Add them to your yogurt or cereal.

Or honor today by baking blueberry muffins.

True muffins are not the huge, peaked, cake-like baked goods most people are familiar with.  Instead, a muffin should be somewhat dome shaped without a peak.  These true muffins result when you use the muffin method.  Basically, you make sure to not over-stir the batter so there is no tunneling in the muffins.  (Check out this Good Eats clip to hear Alton Brown discuss the muffin method.  Or just follow his recipe and make sure to follow the stir count directions.)

Of course, if you're of legal drinking age, you can always make a blueberry muffin cocktail.

National Vegetarian Food Day

There are many different types of vegetarians, so if you decide to go vegetarian, you'll need to decide what kind of vegetarian you are so you can learn what to watch out for on food labels.  If you want to avoid all animal products, you'll want to look for foods labeled "vegan."  If you are okay with consuming eggs, milk, and honey, you should be fine with foods labeled "vegetarian."  A lot of vegetarian burgers that are widely available use eggs as binders and many vegetarian energy bars use honey.

Of course, if you make the food yourself, then you know exactly what went into it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10: National Piña Colada

Oh, man!  I wish I had looked at my calendar earlier!  Today was a rough day for a lot of people I know.  Kicking back with a cold piña colada would've made the day seem less miserable.  Ah, well.

Piña coladas are probably familiar to anyone over the age of 21 who has been somewhere tropical.  Or at least to a tropical-themed bar or restaurant.  Traditionally made with pineapple, rum, and coconut cream blended with ice, the piña colada is usually made these days using a mixer, rum and ice.  That's fine with me, since most people won't have any use for coconut cream beyond piña coladas.

According to, the piña colada has its origins in piracy.  I suppose this is possible, since pirates probably started figuring out how to be creative with all the rum they purpportedly drank.  There's even a piña colada song for you to relax to.

Granted, I'd much rather be enjoying a piña colada somewhere tropical with regional music (steel drums?  guitar? pipes?) playing in the background.  Maybe someday...

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9: National Sugar Cookie Day

Sugar cookies are one of the two great fallback cookie recipes out there.  (The other being chocolate chip cookies.)  Sugar cookies are great because you can just do simple ones where you drop them on the baking sheet or you can make rolled ones that you cut into shapes

Sugar cookies are a great basic cookie and can be decorated for any holiday.  Personally, I like colored sprinkles (pink and red for Valentine's Day, green for St. Patrick's Day, pastels for get the idea) because I feel they add just enough festiveness without overloading on the sugar.  Another common topping is icing, but I find that it usually too sweet for my tastes.  You could also use icing to hold candy decorations in place.

Plain, undecorated sugar cookies are also great for dipping into coffee or hot cocoa.  Or for slathering with your favorite ice cream and making an ice cream sandwich.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8: National (Milk) Chocolate with Almonds Day

Some places list today as National Chocolate with Almonds Day and others list it as National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day.  My guess is that it started as Chocolate with Almonds Day but, of all the different types of chocolate out there, a lot of people like milk chocolate best so the day morphed a bit.  Then again, National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day occurs in November, so maybe there was a need for today to celebrate milk chocolate with almonds.

There really isn't much to say about today.  I mean, really - it's chocolate with almonds.  (Which is different than covered almonds.)  SlashFood claims that chocolate and almonds is a relatively new pairing, having been around for only about 20 years.  Eatocracy suggests celebrating today with an Almond Joy, but I prefer to celebrate today with a bar of Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds - also known as the Wolf Chocolate Bar from the brand Endangered Species.  If milk chocolate is more to your taste, Endangered Species also has a milk chocolate bar with almonds.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7: National Strawberry Sundae Day and National Macaroni Day

National Strawberry Sundae Day

With the heat driving everyone crazy and cranky, celebrating a cool treat is perfect timing.  Made  fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream, strawberry sundaes are a refreshing treat.  There's some history for the sundae and, as usual, there's dispute over how the sundae came to be. 

To boost the flavor, try roasting the strawberriesCookies and jam are a good addition to strawberry sundaes.  Try pistachios as a topping.

National Macaroni Day

Macaroni is a type of pasta.  Often served as macaroni and cheese, it's a familiar pasta to most in the US. Macaroni is also used in some pasta salads.  There are many uses for macaroni pasta.

Personally, I love adding vegetables to my macaroni and cheese, but you can also add meatballs.  Or you can just keep it simple and just add more cheese.

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6: National Fried Chicken Day

Fried chicken.  When I look at nutritional information, I dislike it.  But when I smell fried chicken and I taste a perfectly seasoned one, I just don't care.  After about three or four bites though, I catch myself thinking about the (not-so-good) nutrition of fried chicken and I usually stop eating.

When it comes to fried chicken, I think KFC, Chik-fil-a and Popeye's are known all around the nation.  But when you're in the Southeast, there's a whole slew of fast food places that sell fried chicken, including the well known Zaxby's and Bojangles.  Fried chicken is very popular in the Southeast.  I'm not sure what the difference between Southern Fried Chicken and "regular" fried chicken is, mainly because, like barbecue, everyone has their own secret recipe.  You can use a deep fryer or you can use a skillet.  Either way, it's hard to mess up fried chicken.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5: National Graham Cracker Day and National Apple Turnover Day

National Graham Cracker Day

Hey, another food named after a person!  Graham crackers are named for Sylvester Graham, the inventor.  He was a Presbytarian minister that believed that carnal urges could be controlled by following the Graham Diet, a strict vegetarian diet which included his "Graham bread."  (I think that's the first time I've linked to Snopes since I started this blog.)  Graham made a few enemies with his diet - bakers were mad that he espoused whole wheats, tobacco and alcochol companies were mad that he was against both tobacco and alcohol. While the original "graham cracker" was made using graham flour, today's graham crackers are made with unbleached enriched flour.

Graham crackers are very versatile.  You can have them lone as a snack or paired with a glass of milk.  They're essential to'mores'mores and s'mores cookies.  You can make pie crusts with graham crackers.  You can make toffee bars with them or easy Christmas bar cookies.

Want to make your own?  Smitten Kitchen and Alton Brown offer up recipes.  You could also try this gluten-free graham cracker recipe.

National Apple Turnover Day

Why apple (a autumn fruit) instead of a berries (summer fruit) I don't know, but today's National Apple Turnoever Day.  It's still too hot across most of the nation to turn on an oven, but maybe you could build a solar oven and bake an apple turnover in that.

There are plenty of recipes for apple turnovers.  Ina Garten has a recipe that is pretty popular- 5 stars after nearly 100 reviews.  Apple turnovers are best when they're flakey and filled with delicious apples.  You can use store-bought puff pastry or you can make your own.  Since apple turnovers are basically portable pies, you can even use pie crust.

Once again, the Food Timeline gives us a little bit of history on turnovers.  Apple turnovers are also apparently "essentially English."  And I still can't figure out what the difference between English apple turnovers and Dutch apple turnovers is.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4: National Caesar Salad Day, National Barbecue Spareribs Day, and National Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

National Caesar Salad Day

Caesar salad is a fairly simple salad - lettuce, croutons, a sprinkling of parmesan, and caesar dressing.  Instead of buying your dressing, try making your own.  (Did you know that anchovies or anchovy paste are an important component?)  What's Cooking America not only serves up the history of caesar salad, but also provide plenty of supplemental information such as how to make croutons.  Many state that the salad is named for its creator, Caesar Cardini, an Italian chef who lived in San Diego but ran a restaurant in Tijuana to avoid Prohibition.  This however is a bit of controversy, with many people claiming to be the creator and that the real name of the salad is "Aviator's salad."

Well, whatever name it goes by or who invented it, caesar salad is a very common salad in US restaurants so if you like caesar salads, you'll have no problem finding one whenever you eat out.

National Barbecue Spareribs Day

When I saw this holiday on my calendar, my immediate thought was "What exactly are spareribs?"  Well, has the answer to that question, along with cooking tips.  AllRecipes has a whole section on how to cook ribs, with plenty of information on spareribs and lot sof recipes.  Cooking for Engineers has directions for cooking spareribs in an oven.  Food Network has a tasty-looking recipe for cooking spareribs on the barbecue.

One of my friends makes really great ribs, including spareribs.  She boils the ribs in the cheapest beer she can find and then either cooks the ribs on her shiny, awesome barbecue or in the oven with a tinfoil tent and lots of sauce.  I realize boiling ribs is a controversial issue, but I think it results in some pretty tasty ribs.  You can also use Coke as a marinade, which tenderizes the meat a bit and gives it a slightly sweet flavor.

National Sidewalk Egg Frying Day

Who comes up with the days like this?  The phrase "Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk" or variations of it are commonly heard on hot summer days.  Bill Nye (yes, the Science Guy) had a blog post a couple of years back about frying an egg on the sidewalk.  The Library of Congress also gets in on the possibility of frying an egg on the sidewalk.  If you do a search for "fry an egg on the sidwalk" on YouTube, there are way too many interesting results to post here, but there are videos that make it very believable.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3: National Chocolate Wafer Day and Eat a Bean Day

National Chocolate Wafer Day

I like the wafers that are layers of super thin cookies with a cream sandwiched in between.  They do this weird, but cool, thing where the cookie part dissolves in your mouth, leaving you with a sugary goo of cream filling.  Anyone else?  *crickets*  No?

Well, what exactly is a chocolate wafer?  I guess we should start with.... what is a wafer?  According to, there are five definitions of wafer, two of which deal with food.  Since I don't remember the Euchrist ever having a chocolatey flavor, I'm going to go with the first definition of: "a thin, crisp cake or biscuit, often sweetened and flavored."  So therefore a chocolate wafer must be a thin cookie with a chocolate flavor.

Purchasing wafers is definitely the easiest and least time consuming route, but you can easily make your own chocolate wafers.  Joy of Baking claims that their chocolate wafers are relatively low in fat.  (I'm just curious if they're low in fat compared to other wafers or to other cookies, because if compared to other cookies, of course they're low in fat - they're smaller cookies.)

Of course, after you buy or make your chocolate wafers, you can use them to create a refrigerator roll, which I can see being a surprise hit at a party.  Or use them to make a chocolate-flavored pie crust.  Try adding chocolate wafers to your ice cream sundae for a bit of flair.  Or you can always sandwich some frosting or icing between two chocolate wafers and create your own cookie sandwiches.

Eat a Bean Day

Beans have already been acknowledged a couple of times now, but since it's Eat a Bean Day and it's a hot summer, here are some cool bean-based dishes that won't require you to heat up the kitchen at all.

- For a quick snack, eat edamame beans.  You can microwave or quickly boil them if you want, but most of the frozen ones are pre-cooked so if you let them thaw, you can eat them while they're cool.  Or you can buy dried edamame beans for a crunchier alternative.  I've seen dried edamame sold as "lightly salted" and "wasabi."

- Make a bean salad.  Bean salads are best served chilled.  You can cook dry beans to make these salads, but if you really don't want to heat up the kitchen at all, use canned beans and rinse them if you're concerned about sodium levels.  This is really a dish that is impossible to screw up because you can put anything you want in a bean salad.  Start with one or two cans of your beans of choice, then add fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers.  Marinate with your favorite salad dressing or simply add olive oil and your favorite herbs.  Mix it all together, let it sit for a few minutes, and then enjoy!

- Make a bean dip to enjoy with chips.  Along the same lines, make hummus for use as a dip or as a sandwich spread.

- Eat pole beans raw.  Beans straight out of the garden make crunchy snacks and you get the full flavor of the beans.  You can dip them if you'd like or even marinate them in your favorite dressing.

- Make a slaw for use in tacos or as a side dish.

I'm sure you'll find an easy way to eat at least one bean today.

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2: National Anisette Day

I really don't like anise flavored foods, so this is definitely not a day I'll be celebrating.  Anisette is anise flavor liqueur typically made in Europe.  (Some sites say Italy, some say "Spanish-speaking countries," and others say France.  I figure sticking with "Europe" is my best bet.)

You can make plenty of different drinks using anisette.  As with all liqeuers, you can also bake cookies and cakes with anisette.  Or how about Anise-Raisin Focaccia?

Of course, you can always just drink it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1: Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day and National Gingersnap Day

Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day

I've seen this also called National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day, but I'm not sure if this is an officially recognized food observance, so I'm leaving of the "national."

What makes an ice cream flavor creative?  Obviously, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry wouldn't count in this day and age because you can find them everywhere, but once upon a time they must've been considered creative.  There was a time when I would've considered bacon ice cream to be a creative flavor, but it seems to be everywhere now.  Does it have to be a combination of flavors you don't find anywhere else?

Ben & Jerry's ice cream is the easiest way for many of us to experience creative ice cream flavors.  You can find them in all the major grocery stores.  Ben & Jerry's ice cream is on sale right now at Whole Foods, plus there's a coupon in the Whole Foods Whole Deals booklet, so the roomie and I bought some of our favorite flavors.  It's really tempting to go back and buy some more.  Ben & Jerry's ice creams are definitely worth using my Lactaid pills for.

Better Homes and Gardens lists 10 of the craziest ice cream flavors ever.  (I'm actually very tempted to try the sauerkraut ice cream and I wouldn't say no to the garlic ice cream.)  The HuffPo has a list of places in Los Angeles for creative ice cream flavors and the Examiner takes us to the other side of the nation with the best ice cream stands in New England for creative ice cream flavors.  Serious Eats suggests ten different ways to celebrate today's food observance.   

And as hot as it is today, this food observance seems perfectly timed.  Unlike the other food celebration for today...

National Gingersnap Day

With the raging heat most of the US is experiencing today, it seems very strange to celebrate a food that requires turning on the oven.  Yet, it's National Gingersnap Day.  If it were up to me, this food observance would be in December.  Gingersnaps are just so tied to the holidays for me- they just pair so well with hot chocolate. 

Gingersnaps are spiced cookies.  They pair well with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, making them perfect for ice cream sandwiches.  Alton Brown has a recipe that ranks a full five stars.  Smitten Kitchen's recipe results in darker cookies.  Wise Geek tells what exactly gingersnaps are, while eHow gives us the history of gingersnaps in colonial times