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.