Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22: National Margarita Day and Cook a Sweet Potato Day!

National Margarita Day

I love how the HuffPo describes National Margarita Day: "one of those completely made up and unnecessary holidays that you can't help but love."  There is also a collection of margarita recipes at the site, if you're so inclined to celebrate.

A classic margarita, according to the International Bartender's Association, is a shaken and strained cocktail of tequila, Cointreau, and fresh lime juice.  I don't think I have ever had a margarita like that.  I believe I've only ever seen frozen or blended margaritas served in restaurants.  Blended margaritas are so popular that you can buy buckets of mix to make your own at home.  Actually, margaritas are just a popular drink and you can buy mixes for non-blended ones.  There's even sugar-free mixes (Emily of B is for dia-Betus loves using sugar free margarita mixes for cocktails.)  There are many options for margaritas- you're sure to find one you like.

While the actual origin of the margarita is debated, the margarita is definitely associated with Mexican food in the US.  One of the regular restuarants for my group of San Diego Comic-Con attendees is Fred's Mexican Cafe in the Gaslamp and whenever we're there, just about everyone has a margarita (or two).  Oddly enough, while I almost always have a margarita (or horchata if I'm driving) when eating at a Mexican restaurant, I don't think I've had a margarita in Mexico.

So, to celebrate, I had a strawberry margarita (pictured).  It was a little too sweet for me and a little light on the alcohol content.  Next year, I'll celebrate National Margarita Day by making my own.

Cook a Sweet Potato Day and National Sweet Potato Month

Uncooked sweet potatoes
February is National Sweet Potato Month and today, Feb 22, is Cook a Sweet Potato Day.  (I just love it when the food observances line up like that.)  Sweet potatoes are a big deal in North Carolina, since NC produces most of the sweet potatoes in the US.   Sweet potatoes probably originated in South or Central America and if you go to South America, there are so many different types of sweet potatoes than there are in the US.  And if you go to Okinawa, Japan, (or if you're lucky and live near a Marukai or Mitsuwa in the US) you really should try beni-imo (aka Okinawan sweet potatoes or murasaki-imo, which literally means "purple potato.")  Beni-imo have a light brown/tan skin and are white inside when raw, but turn a bright vibrant purple when cooked.  Beni-imo are hugely important in Okinawan cuisine.

The cooked sweet potatoes, with skin pulled back to
reveal brightly colored flesh.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any beni-imo in time for today, but I did cook up three different sweet potatoes- one purple, one orange, and one that was described as being "bright red."  It just looked like a different shade of orange to me and was nowhere near what I call red.  I can't remember what variety any of them were, though.  (I'll have to remember to write down the names next time.)  The purple one was kind of dry, not super sweet and would probably be good for making potato chips or a colorful scalloped potato dish.  The darker orange potato was so good.  It was super moist, practically creamy.  I loved the texture and thought it was sweeter than the purple potatos.  The other orange potato was very sweet, very good, and really reminded me of the canned "yams" (really sweet potatoes) that are ubiquitous during the winter holiday season in the US.

When cooking sweet potatoes, I prefer to roast them over hot coals.  I don't typically have access to a grill, so I usually just cook sweet potatoes in the oven.  They're super easy to cook, but can take a while.  Just wash the potatoes, stick them in an oven safe dish, and bake in the oven until you can easily stick a fork in them. 

Looking for reasons to eat sweet potatoes?  Self magazine reports that sweet potatoes are a food to eat for young-looking skin and provides some recipes to help you eat sweet potatoes.  Reader's Digest provides you with three more reasons and some recipes, including one for Sweet Potato Cake.  And WebMD, along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) both love the sweet potato.
Lightly mashed sweet potatoes, side-by-side for color comparison.

No comments:

Post a Comment