Feb: So Many Food Holidays, So Little Time

February may be a short month but it is in no way short of culinary holidays and foodie observances, including but not limited to:

  • Cherry Month – considering how many types of cherries there are, we may need more than a month to celebrate them all properly. And really, who wouldn’t extra time for cherry pie, cherry sorbet, cherry sundaes, chocolate covered cherries, dried cherries (excellent in summer salads not to mention in trail mix) and cherry preserves. Maybe we should – within National Cherry Month – declare a day for the top 20 or 30 most popular species? Someone get on that, right away! Thanks.

cherries_lots

  • National Grapefruit Month – I have a confession. I am not a huge grapefruit fan. I know lots of people are and there are heated debates among them regarding the superiority of pink vs white grapefruit but to me it’s just too sour. I have heard that in South America they are often cooked which renders them a bit sweeter. I may consider trying that this summer. Has anyone else tried it? How is it?

  • Hot Breakfast Month – I know, I know. No one has time for breakfast. Heck, I work at home and even I am hard-pressed to remember when my last hot breakfast was. But I can tell you what it was because when I do hot breakfast at home, it’s because I am craving softly scrambled eggs (the kind that take ages but are so worth it), a well-toasted and thoroughly-buttered (with unsalted butter) plain bagel, shredded potatoes-n-onions and orange juice. Bliss.

hot-breakfast

  • Macadamia Nut Month – since macadamias are often found in some of my favorite cookies (as in any cooking with chocolate chips in them), I approve heartily of celebrating them. I did wonder if we actually needed a whole month. It seemed to me, in my nutty ignorance, that a day would be more than sufficient – until someone pointed out that macadamia nuts are excellent for the diet (they lower bad cholesterol being high in monounsaturated fatty acids). So, instead of the cookies (which I tend to have around year-long) why not indulge in a handful of macadamias a few times a week for the month. It can’t hurt and it might help. But hey – do not give any to your dogs. Macadamias are toxic to our canine friends.

nuts_macadamia

  • Snack Food Month –a month? With SUCH a wide variety of snack food available for us to enjoy and celebrate, I personally would need a whole year or at least half a year.

Seriously? With all that we may need that leap day every year.

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Happy Cookie Day

Oh the weather outside is  … well, actually it isn’t frightful at all. It’s rather brisk and chilly, yes. But bright and sunny. Never mind the song then. What else can we talk about? Oooh, it’s December 4th – Cookie Day! We can talk about cookies. What is your favourite cookie? By which I mean either to eat or make (or both).

various_cookies

On the Occasion of Caviar Day

Today, so my research tells me, caviar day. Which kind? Whichever kind you like.

Black caviar is from sturgeon varieties – beluga, sturgeon and stellate sturgeon – and is not (as one might expect) always black. Sometimes it is grey (beluga), sometimes a quite a dark bronze-y shade (sturgeon) and finally deep inky black (stellate).

Black Caviar

Red caviar comes from either on of variety of salmon or trout – keta (dog salmon) is apparently considered the best type of red caviar.

Red caviar comes from either on of variety of salmon or trout - keta (dog salmon) is apparently considered the best type of red caviar.

Though interesting in a sort of intellectual and Trivial Pursuit sense, all this this leaves me essentially unmoved to take any action since, I confess, I do not care for the stuff.  No, it’s not because I have not had good quality caviar. It’s not because I wasn’t given the right “garnishes.” I have tried it on three occasions – and at BEST, I was able to summon an internal “meh.”

Caviar didn’t always have the cache it does today. In fact, it was used as pig and animal feed until the end of the 18th century and when it first became a “thing” in America, they gave it away free in bars – like a small fishy version of today’s free peanuts that are supposed to make you a thirstier and more profitable customer. The pigs and bar flys are welcome to it – at least, they are welcome to my share.

But don’t let me stop you – my lack of interest in caviar just means more for you. So grab your topping of choice and your champagne or ice-cold vodka (I gather there is some debate about which is best choice for maximum caviar enjoyment) and enjoy.

I’ll be over here prepping for Ice Cream Day (July 19).

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Banbury and the Bard

Banbury is, as you may know, forever entwined with Banbury cakes – flat-ish oval pastry filled with spiced currants. They’re not unlike Eccles cakes and they’re still available in Banbury though not in the two shops most associated with them in days or yore. I present to you – the days of yore.

banbury_cakeshop

E. W. Brown’s Original Cake Shop, 12 Parsons street.

BanburyCake

Betts’s Cake Shop on Banbury High Street in 1878

There was some dreadful idea being tossed around about turning that A. Betts High Street space (very much present and in use lately as a pop-up shop) into an arcade. Yes, a gaming arcade. I am very much hoping the request for the change of use required will be denied. But never mind that now. I will complain about that elsewhere.

Banbury has another eponymous foodstuff lurking in its past and today seems a good time to mention it. Why today? Because today is April 23rd — anniversary of both Shakespeare’s birth and his death.

Banbury Cheese!

banbury_cheese

“Banbury cheeses, for which the town was noted until the 18th century, were first mentioned in 1430” (Cal. Close, 1429–36, 74). It was a cow’s milk cheese, yellow in colour and quite strongly flavoured, made in thin (about 1 inch) rounds.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “What does this have to do with Shakespeare?”

In “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Bardolf addresses Slender as “You Banbury Cheese!” – and this would have been commonly understood by the playgoers as an insult implying there wasn’t much to him (Banbury cheese being only about an inch thick.) That’s not to say Banbury cheese wasn’t popular – it was; in fact, it was better known than Banbury cakes at the time. It was just  … well, thin.

It was made in various places around the area but mostly in Grimsbury and Nethercote – what was then the Northamptonshire end of things*

And that’s not the only bardish thing about Banbury. No, there was a Shakespeare Inn on Parsons’ Street and we can still see the bust (sitting over Flora Bella Florists) that used to greet visitors to the Shakespeare Inn (1871-1891, I believe). *waves* Hi, Will!

banbury_bard

And that is my culinary history trivia for the day. Happy birthday, Will.
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* Boundaries tended to move around a lot and originally Banbury straddled two counties.

Marching to a Foodie Drum

March is full to the brim with culinary observances.

CAFFEINE AWARENESS MONTH: I’m hugely aware of it, thanks. In fact, the more I have, the more aware I am. We’re always been more or less in a constant state of caffeination at Fabulous Foodie. From a few facts in our Quick Coffee Trivia Round Up to our tips for Crafting a Cup of Coffee; from the mildly mind-bending Coffee Conundrum, Caffeine Continuum to choosing which coffee day to celebrate in Coffee Really Gets Around.

coffee_beans

CELERY MONTH: An entire year has passed since I posited that there was no reason celery needs an entire month and I have yet to hear anyone present anything that has changed my mind.  Not even the people who run Celery Flats in Portage, Michigan. What is Celery Flats, you ask? It is – I kid you not – an interpretive center (open seasonally) dedicated to explaining the importance and history of  celery farming to region. If THEY can’t convince me the stuff is worth commemorating, I am unlikely to be convinced.

celery-flats

FROZEN FOOD MONTH: Now, I suspect they mean commercially frozen food but I am going to take this to include the freezing of food at home. Because quite frankly, the only difference between our freezer and pantry at TransAtlantic Towers is the temperature. Our freezer space works as hard or harder than anything or anyone in the house. Worthy of celebrating, indeed!

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Jan 3: Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

I went to see if I could find some interesting or odd details about chocolate covered cherries when I was brought up short by the SHOCKING number of recipes online for making your own chocolate covered cherries.

choc_cherries

Don’t misunderstand. I love chocolate covered cherries but at no time, in no way and in no circumstances that I could ever imagine would I make them. Who does that? Anyone?

10 Best (Non-Baking) Uses for Bicarb

Before anyone asks: yes, my fellow Americans – bicarbonate of soda is the same as baking soda. Now that we’re on the same page – Happy Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

There was a time when I assumed the only thing bicarb was good for was, once mixed in with water, as a hangover remedy. These days I bake more so I realize there’s more to it than that. But I’ve also realized in the past year or so, that its usefulness as a tool in the cleaning arsenal around the house is unrivaled. Well, only rivaled by lemons. Between bicarb and lemons, I hardly need anything else.

Bicarb_lemon

I’ve been switching to greener cleaning options these days – for a number of reasons, chief among which is the obsession that cleaning product manufacturers have these days about scenting EVERYTHING. They clearly have a very different understanding of the word “lemony” or the phrase “pine fresh scent” than I do. YUCK!

baking-soda-for-cleaning

So, I thought to mark the occasion of Bicarbonate of Soda Day, I thought I’d round up a few of the ways I used bicarb around the house. You may find a useful tip or two – and by all means, share any others you might have.

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Foodie Resolve: To Avoid Resolutions

I don’t know about you but after the relentless crunch of holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, I need a break. As a result, I tend to ignore the culinary holidays during the first half of January.  If you’re one of those people who always makes the infamous “I will lose weight in the new year” resolution, you may wish to consider ignoring them as well.  The first half of January makes it pretty clear that the culinary calendar is against you.

January 2 is Buffet Day. Seriously? On January 2? Why not simply INVITE people to break all those New Year’s resolutions. Cruel, I call it. Even more cruel – you know what else Jan 2 is? National Cream Puff Day. Yeah, that’s right. Cream Puffs. Go on. Resolve to lose 15 lbs. Just not on Jan2.

Buffet

Maybe wait until the next day? I mean, one more day … oh wait.

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