Sunday, May 30, 2010

May Food Celebrations: 30th-June 2nd

I do hope everyone is enjoying their holiday weekend. Hip Hip Hooray! However, we mustn't forget, in all our glee, that Memorial Day "is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service."

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all. (Memorial Day History)

May 30th

Adelaida Cuellar, founder of the tamale stand that grew into the El Chico restaurant chain, was born on May 30, 1871. I have an El Chico cookbook around here somewhere but I'll be darned if I know where it is. (I so dislike when that happens!)
National Mint Julep Day @ The Nibble

May 31st

There are lots of you who have celebrated National Macaroon Day. Lidian has Sure-Bet/Sherbet Macaroons. Anna in her Cookie Madness has tried a couple of recipes from Cooking Light & Ina Garten AND, Janet @ Dying for Chocolate shares a recipe for Chocolate French Macarons. Quite frankly, I never knew much about Macarons until I read The Macaron Chronicles @ Veronica's Test Kitchen. As Veronica says, Macarons can inspire an obsession that cannot be easily shaken off. I'm beginning to understand:)

Worcestershire Sauce began to be produced commercially on May 31, 1892. You can visit The Old Foodie for more history of Worcestershire Sauce. Or, I did a post titled *Fishpickle! That Lea & Perrins a while back. However, Janet's post is brief and to the point. Here's how I began my post.

It all began in a pharmacy...On January 1, 1823, John Wheeley Lea & William Henry Perrins two chemists from Worcestershire, England decided to go into partnership. Neither John Lea or William Perrins actually decided to invent Lea & Perrins Sauce. They didn't invent it at all. What they did do was, produce it, when no one else was. As legends go, Lord Marcus Sandys, the former governor of the province of Bengal in the British colony of India, who had returned from a trip to the Orient, requested a compound for a fish-based Indian sauce which he wanted duplicated. The recipe was a secret blend of spices and seasonings that lent to food a "new savor and delight." From this recipe, Lea & Perrins created the fish sauce, bought the rights to the recipe from Lord Sandys, and thus was born the sauce that later became Lea and Perrins Original Worcestershire Sauce; the brew from the recipe of a nobleman of the county.

You may not be interested in the history of Worcestshire Sauce, that book above has lots of info which I shared in my previous post. However, how do you feel about this recipe for Fritters a la Lea & Perrins which is also from the book?

Fritters a la Lea & Perrins
Cut slices of cold boiled ham or tongue about an eighth of an inch thick and trim all to the same size and shape. Lay in marinade for a few minutes, then take out, dry thoroughly and dip into fritter batter below. Fry in deep fat heated to 350-370 degrees. Drain on absorbent paper. Lay a slice of the fried meat on a heated plate, place a crisp lettuce leaf on top and cover with another slice of the meat. Pour hot tomato sauce or any preferred sauce, around sandwich and serve immediately. This makes a good meat item for a "blue plate" dinner.
1-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. Lea & Perrins Sauce
Sift dry ingredients, add egg, well beaten, then milk and Lea & Perrins Sauce. The batter should be just thick enough to coat the article intended to cover. If it is too thin, add flour; if too thick, and milk or water.
Marinade: Shake together in a covered jar, 3 tbs. oil, 2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tsp Lea & perrins Sauce

June is a very busy food month. Oh, I know I say that every month but June Really has lots of days and monthly celebrations that I still need to sort out. So, what I'm going to do is, leave you with a taste of the monthly celebrations for June and, a few morsels to hold you over until I can get back here on Thursday with the rest. And, BTW, start digging out those picnic recipes. June 18th is *International Picnic Day. Remember last year when we "played" the Picnic Game? Well, we'll be playing again this year!!! What do you have in your Alphabet Picnic Game basket to share?

Monthly Food Celebrations

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days...
Whether we look or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten...
James Russell Lowell

June is...
National Candy Month
National Dairy Month
National Fruit & Vegetable Month
Not only is June National Papaya Month, It's Mango Month too! Irish Cream Mango Smoothie, anyone? 
National Soul Food Month (I'm thinking of celebrating Soul Food Month on Juneteenth. We'll see...)
National Iced Tea Month @ Slash Food
National Turkey Lovers' Month

Daily Celebrations

June 1st

On June 1st 1495, the first written record of Scotch Whiskey appeared in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland. (PDF file courtesy of historymole.com ) Timeline:Food & Drink)

The Ice Cream Cone was patented today in 1920. Want to know by who and where? You can find a brief history of the Ice Cream Cone right here!

Andy Griffith was born on June 1, 1926. Last year I celebrated with a few recipes from Aunt Bee's Mayberry Cookbook. I called the post a *Mayberry Holiday because I had just returned from visiting the kids in Idaho:) (A bit like Mayberry to me:) Do you remember this recipe for Andy's favorite cake?
Andy's Chocolate-filled Angel Food Cake
6 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pints whipping cream
1 large angel food cake
1 cup blanched almonds, slivered & toasted
Combine the cocoa, sugar, salt, and cream. Chill for 1 hour. Whipp the chilled mixture. Cut a 1-inch layer from the top of the angel food cake. Cut out the middle of the cake, leaving walls and bottom about 1-inch thick. Fill the cavity with one-third of the cream mixture and one-third of the almonds. Replace the top of the cake. Frost with the remaining cream mixture and sprinkle the remaining almonds over the top and sides. Chill for 2 to 3 hours before serving. Serves 6. (contributed by John Faulkner, Greenboro, NC)

June 2nd

National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day Check out Janet's Rocky Road Bread Pudding! So cooool...

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was born today in 1731. I did a rather in depth post on First Lady Washington in 2008. I also shared recipes from a small book titled Leaves From The Table of George and Martha Washington. it's a long post but full of info.

Chef Louis Szathmáry was born June 2, 1919, in Budapest, Hungary. An avid cookbook collector, Chef Louis' cookbooks are shared at the Szathmary Culinary Arts Collection at The University of Iowa.

To my delight, I discovered the cutest video over at Tina's. If you like animals, especially doggies and elephants, you must see this video. It is precious!!! Thanks for sharing Tina and BTW, Love your new look!!!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone. See ya on Thursday with lots more goodies!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quick Links: National Hamburger Day!!!

Happy National Hamburger Day!!! How convenient Hamburger Day visits just a few days before Memorial Day. I'm not going to get into the History and Legends of Hamburgers. I explored that avenue back in 2008 and quite frankly, it needs a bit of sprucing up. I will tell you that the origin of the word hamburger is believed to have been first cited way back on January 5, 1889 in Walla Walla Washington.

A Whole Lotta Hamburger Day Recipes

Hamburgers with Feta and Caramelized Onions @ For the Love of Cooking

‘21’ Club Hamburger @ Saveur

Brie Truffled Burgers w/Kumato Tomatoes & Ramps Mayonnaise @ 5 Star Foodie

A Great Simple Burger @ Chubby Hubby

My Most Favorite Burger Ever... @ The Pioneer Woman

Burger Mini-Panini Sliders @ Panini Happy

Taco Burgers @ Coleen's Recipes

Best Old-Fashioned Burgers @ The Bitten Word

The Best Ever Beer Steamed Burgers @ Steph's Cafe

Just Another Garlic Basil Cheeseburger! @ Zesty Cook

Spinach Burgers @ A Veggie Adventure (includes beef & turkey)

Home-Ground Hamburger @ Cook Think

Texas Beef, Bean and Queso Burgers @ Noble Pig

Angus Beef Burger with Mushroom Sauce @ The Cook Mobile

Where's the Beef?

Ranch Turkey Burgers @ My Wooden Spoon

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar & Smoky Aioli @ Culinary Covers

Spicy Grilled Turkey Burgers @ Tammy's Recipes

Teriyaki Turkey Burger @ Seriously Good

Chiptole Turkey Burgers @ The Kitchen Sink

Chicken Curry Burgers @ Vanilla Kitchen

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo @ Annie Eats

Asian Salmon Burgers @ Steamy Kitchen

Hawaiian Tuna Burgers with Maui Wowee Salsa @ The Global Gourmet

Spiced Lamb Burgers w/Herbed Yoghurt @ BBC Food

The Best Fresh Ground Lamb Burger Period @ A Mingling of Tastes

Jeena's Easy Bean Burger @ Jeena's Kitchen

Quinoa Burgers with Hummus & Roasted Red Peppers @ Enlightened Kitchen

Copy Cat Houston’s Veggie Burger @ Cookie Madness

Burger Cruising

Danish Pork Burgers @ Simply Recipes

Hambaagu or hambaagaa: Japanese hamburgers @ Just Hungry

Turkish Hamburger (Kofte)

Cuban Hamburger @ Saveur

Italian Burgers @ Gluten Free Expedition

Falafel from Lebanon (Chickpeas Burgers) @ Canela Kitchen Recipes

Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers @ Elly Says Opa

Caribbean Jerk Burger @ Seriously Good

Bulgogi Burgers with Roasted Thai Basil Garlic Potatoes @ Tiger's & Strawberries

Bulgogi Burger @ Closet Cooking ("Bulgogi is a Korean barbecued beef dish that translates to "fire meat")

Pick a Bun Any Bun!

Hamburger Buns @ Rosa's Yummy Yums

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns @ Prudence Penny

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns @ Baking Bites (no milk)

Hawaiian Hamburger Rolls @ Coconut & Lime

Hamburger Buns @ Annie Eats

Hamburger Buns & Focaccia Bread @ The Gluten Free Homemaker

Light Brioche Burger Buns @ Parsley, Sage and Line Drives

I had a ball gleaning the archives of my Hospitality Search Engine for recipe links to celebrate National Hamburger Day. If your "to die for" hamburger recipe is missing, throw a temper tantrum or simply leave a link comment. If you're in the Round-Up, thank you:) Just in case you're still craving the ultimate hamburger, check out the Blogger Burger Club over @ Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice and if you're like me, you put Mayo on your hamburger. Just take a look at this recipe for Scrumptious Homemade Mayonnaise as found at the Queen of the Castle's; Lynn. This recipe for Cola Burgers was gleaned from a back issue (2008) of Prize Winning Recipes from Taste of Home.

Have a safe and frolicsome weekend and I'll "see" you on Sunday! Louise

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Remembering Star Wars

On May 25, 1977, Star Wars hit the theaters with such force that even today, May 25, 2010, Time notes it as one of the 80 Days That Changed the World. Surprisingly, today is not Star Wars Day. Nope, I missed that day, accidently on purpose. You see, May 4th is/was Star Wars Day. Oh, I don't know, it has something to do with a play on the words, "May the force be with you." Apparently, on May 4th, the "go to" farewell is..."May the fourth be with you." For those in the know, today is also Geek Pride Day. Beats the heck out of me!

I know, I know, I must live under a rock. I know about as much about Star Wars as I do about, let's see...the man in the moon. Wait, I know more about him, at least he's made of cheese. Isn't he? However, and that's a titanic however, my husband was a huge Star Wars fan. Humongous I tell ya! I didn't have to deal with trekki kids, they were too young. Nor did I have to deal with the perils of Luke, Han Solo and Princess Leia. I had to grapple with George. If memory serves me correctly, I do believe he had his very own lightsaber.

The Star Wars Cookbook

When my son, John, gifted me with The Star Wars Cookbook; Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes, © 1998 not once did it occur to me that I would be sharing it via the web and on this blog. I thought it would sit on my bookshelf as a gentle reminder of the sweet tempered man I was married to. I'm delighted to have this opportunity to share a few recipes with you, my welcomed visitors. 

While I was leafing through the book, it occurred to me that there were probably other nebula clusters of Star War Recipes From Around the Galaxy. You know how I feel about duplicating Recipes From a Galaxy Far, Far Away, there's no sense in repeating them. Most of the recipes in this book that fall into the category of breakfast have been compiled and neatly served by none other than Mr. Breakfast, himself, with a little help from his loyal followers. So, if the kids are thinking about having a sleep over, or if your husband is panting in the the garage trying to pass this day along as just another ordinary day, surprise them all with a Skywalker Smoothie or C-3PO Pancakes with a side order of Twin Sun Toast. If you just happen to be a fan yourself, and I know you're out there, indulge yourself with Princess Leia's Danish Dos and a Sith Speeder Sunrise, cloning allowed:)

There are gazillions of Star Wars Birthday Party Ideas floating in outer space. Well, maybe not that many but, I did find a rather cool R2-D2 Cake worthy of a go. If you need further temptation, its made out of red velvet cake. There's no recipe and it's a bit challenging but it sure looks neat! Grab a glass of Blue Milk to take along.

Speaking of drinks, there are a bunch of Star Wars Drink Recipes which contain alcohol @ idrink.com and the recipe for Yoda Soda, also from the book, listed on this forum. Don't forget to check out the Dianogan Hero Sandwiches, Spicy Jedi Burgers and Sweet Skywalker Crunchy Pie while you're there. They aren't from this book but they sure do sound Star Wars like...This celebration site warns you about their recipe for Nabooli Forest, apparently a recipe reserved for Star Wars Day. They say, "Prepare for an invasion of delicious tabouli made with couscous, garlic and onion with celery stalks." I don't know where Nabooli Forest is but I sure do know what tabouli is and I LOVE it!!!

The Star Wars Cookbook, if you can find it, is naturally geared toward children. In the introduction, it warns of essential safety steps.

The kitchen is a dark realm of peace, yet danger lurks in the most ordinary-seeming places. The two most important rules to remember are: 1. keep an adult in the kitchen at all times...(Even Luke would have been toast without Ben Kenobi to guide and protect him...) and 2. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before cooking. You remember the hideous creature in Miss Eisley Cantina? (I don't but maybe you do:)

Other safety precautions include, "Respect the mysteries of the Force" and "Cultivate the awareness of a Jedi." Cute huh? The introduction ends with"

Go forth, young Jedi. May your Hoth Chocolate be sweet, may your Dark Side Salsa be spicy, and may the Force always be with you!

I was under the impression that today is also National Wine Day. It seems, Unofficial National Wine Day was yesterday. No matter, everyday is Wine Day in my book!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

May Food Celebrations 23rd-29th

I'm feeling a bit cranky tonight. Now, that's not something you will often "hear" me say. Sure, I do get a rare case of the mubblefubbles every now and again but cranky; not usually. Not on this blog anyway. The thing is, I'm not sure why I am so perturbed. (another word I like when seeking a grumpy word with "texture") I have managed to narrow it down to three things. Ironically, each one of them involves my online experiences. In no particular order:

1. National Fruit Loop Day-As I write this, I can understand why you may have a devilish grin on your face. There are so many complications in the world, what reason is there to get discombobulated about National Fruit Loop Day? Well first, I'm not really sure if May 21st is indeed Fruit Loop Day as mentioned by some on twitter OR, if Fruit Loop Day is on July 22nd as mentioned on a few other obscure blogs and websites. Fact is, I don't even like Fruit Loops! However, the real bee in this bonnet's nest stems from an email I received yesterday. In summary, the sender wanted to know why I didn't mention National Fruit Loop Day in my listings for last week. Actually, they were rather rude in their inquiry. I'm sure none of my regular visitors are going to give two loops as to why it was omitted from my listing for last week. I'm sure they already know and understand that I do my best to verify any "foodie" days I include. 36 hits on a google search via twitter does not merit a mention. You also know, I am not biased when it comes to any food celebration whether I like the ingredient or not! Enough said...

2. Round and round I go; Uh Oh Spaghetti-O's-Okay, so I'm not too fond of Spaghetti-O's either but, that's not the point. Like many of my visitors, I have come to rely on wikipedia. I sometimes use it as a spring board. Will the real inventor of Spaghetti-O's please raise their hand? Oh, they can't. They have passed on to that "great" cafeteria in the sky.

You see, here's my beef. According to wikipedia , a "German-American chef" by the name of Kurt Eberling, Sr. invented SpaghettiOs. (just in case you're not familar with SpaghettiOs, they are, to paraphrase, the neat spaghetti you can eat with a spoon, originally marketed by Franco-American. However, that seems to be another story for now. Let's continue:

Kurt Eberling, Sr. (17 June 1930 – 6 March 2008) was a German-American chef and the inventor of SpaghettiOs.
Born in Aachen, Germany, Eberling served with the army in Germany and Austria during the Korean War, and met his wife during this time. After the war Eberling went to work in the kitchens of the research and development department at Campbell Soup Company, where he developed products for the US and international markets. Eberling created the idea of canned "spaghetti and meatballs" when he saw a strand of spaghetti curled up in the sink. He took the idea to his supervisor and Ralph Miller, and shortly after SpaghettiOs were created.

Well, that's just wrong! According to almost every obituary I read, including the New York Times and USA Today, Donald Goerke is the man who dreamed up SpaghettiO's back in the 1960s. Not only does there seems to be a stir involving the inventor, there also seems to be a bit of confusion as to when the Spaghetti-O made its debut. Was it May 16, 1965 or May 23, 1965. Does it matter? I guess not, only to me I suppose but, my point is, wiki is sometimes not as accurate as perhaps, it should be. Although, you knew there had to be an although:) wikipedia does also include a SpaghettiOs link which gives credit to Goerke with a link to a short bio. (be careful:)

Published: May 22, 1995 (New Jersey) New York Times:
Fettuccine Alfredo has come and gone as a trendy dish, yet some pastas are more durable: Spaghetti-O's, for instance. Thirty years ago tomorrow, the Camden-based Campbell Soup Company first released the circular-shaped pasta, and to this day the company still sells tens of millions of cans of it annually. When Spaghetti-O's were developed, Campbell was trying to boost its sagging pasta sales, and thought that small children might prefer the easily spoonable pasta to tough-to-fork spaghetti. What followed were some memorable advertising campaigns -- like "Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O's" -- and millions of mouths that bore the post-meal Spaghetti-O's imprint. Campbell, which is based in Camden, says that Spaghetti-O's remain its most popular pasta dish.

BTW, if you're so inclined to lift the lid on this Spaghetti-O roustabout, feast your eyes on this story from the onion. We baby boomers have names for articles like this...I can only tell you it involves a rather "frank" rumor about Spaghetti-Os, Lyndon Johnson and Charles de Gaulle, "Far-Out."

3. The straw that broke the camel's back; google. Tonight as I was preparing the May list for this week, to my chagrin, I discovered I have a "Social Circle through google. Do you use google? Do you have a google email address? Chances are you have one too. How did I uncover this "social circle" of mine? Well, off hand I can't remember the search I was doing. I do many searches while verifying. And, I know I've been out of the loop while visiting Idaho but, it seems, this social circle thing has been going on for a while. Once again, I'm not sure why I find this so disturbing but fact is, I do. According to my profile page on google:

This is the network of connections Google uses to identify relevant social search results. It is based on a combination of the following:

• Direct connections from your Google chat buddies and contacts (11)
• Direct connections from links listed on your Google profile (97) such as Twitter and FriendFeed
• Secondary connections (5) that are publicly associated with your direct connections

In addition to web pages from your social circle, posts from your Google Reader subscriptions may also appear in your social search results.
This is a recent snapshot of your social circle. Changes you make to your connections will be reflected in the next snapshot. Learn more »
Direct connections from Google Chat and Contacts (11)
Here is the list of your Google contacts who have a Google profile and have content that can show up in your search results.
Add new people to your social circle by adding them to the "Friends", "Family", or "Coworkers" group in your Google contacts. You can also follow your friends in Google Reader or Buzz, which adds them to your social circle.
If you would like to see more content from your Google contacts, encourage them to create a Google profile and add links to their content there.

I am going to have to do a bit of inquiring about this. Frankly, I think the reason why I can't remember what I was verifying is because I was startled to unveil my social circle while googling and it plum left my mind. Okay, I was a bit more than perturbed, I was downright angry for a very red split second. (I'm known to have a bad temper when I feel like my privacy is being invaded. As I said, further investigation necessary...

May 23rd

Celebrate Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus with a little bit of chocolate today. It's the day he was born in 1707. Not only did he rename the cocoa tree, Theobroma Cacao, which means food of the gods, he did a whole lot more.

Carl Linnaeus, also known as Carl von Linné or Carolus Linnaeus, is often called the Father of Taxonomy. His system for naming, ranking, and classifying organisms is still in wide use today (with many changes). His ideas on classification have influenced generations of biologists during and after his own lifetime, even those opposed to the philosophical and theological roots of his work.

It's National Taffy Day today! It's not too late to host an Old-Fashioned Taffy Pull or try these Tempting Taffy Buns. It look like they are a heck of a lot easier on the muscles:)

May 24th

National Vegetarian Week begins today. National Vegetarian Week "is the annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle."

In 2010, Victoria Day falls on Monday, May 24. Victoria Day celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday. You could celebrate with a Victoria Sponge like Jasmine did or Cherries Jubilee! created by the great Escoffier in her honor. Actually, Queen Victoria had many dishes named or created in her honor. Her likeness even appeared on canned peaches and on peach crates. Some say, "during Queen Victoria's reign, all elegant dinners included a peach served in a jeweled box lined with cotton." Coronation Chicken Salad may be another dish fit for a Queen:)

May 24th is *National Asparagus Day. I celebrated way back in 2008. I'm not sure if I included this link for Asparagus-Lime Pie. Just in case, here's the link.

Lillian Moller Gilbreth, mother of 12, was born on May 24, 1878. Not only did she lead a most energizing life, she also "developed important inventions such as the foot-pedal trash can, shelves inside refrigerator doors, and an electric food mixer!"
Lillian Gilbreth was the mother of modern management. Together with her husband Frank, she pioneered industrial management techniques still in use today. She was one of the first "superwomen" to combine a career with her home life. She was a prolific author, the recipient of many honorary degrees, and the mother of 12. She is perhaps best remembered for motherhood. Her children wrote the popular books Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes about their experiences growing up with such a large and famous family. But Lillian Moller Gilbreth was not only a mother; she was an engineer and an industrial psychologist. source
At the nibble, I dug up National Escargot Day, which is also celebrated today.

In Michigan, May 24th was once declared Michigan Pasty Day.
The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in the hand, and begin to bite it from the opposite end to the initial, so that should any of it
be uneaten it may be consumed later by its rightful owner.  And woe betide anyone who take's another person's "corner"!" 
(source )
Pasties, Plain and Simple
To many people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the pasty is much more than merely food -- it is an identifying cultural mark that gives them their own identity. The same is true of the citizens of Cornwall, England.

The pasty is a simple food, really. While it doesn't do justice to its taste, the pasty can be described as a pot pie without the pot; or a smaller, more portable meat pie. ( source includes history & recipes)

Although the pasty is no longer celebrated on May 24th, every June the residents of Calumet Michigan honor the venerable pasty with a celebration known as Pasty Fest. This year, the Pasty Fest is June 26 - 27.

Over the last 200 years the Copper Country has attracted people from the four corners of the Earth who settled here and established long standing communities. One of the notable “treasures of the north” that resulted from this mix of customs, ideas and traditions was a meat pie known as a pasty. A mainstay of Cornish miners and their families, the pasty was adopted by virtually all ethnic groups inhabiting the Keweenaw Peninsula in northern Michigan. Today the pasty stands as a local icon and is recognized as a traditional Copper Country dish.
On May 25th 1913, Brownie Mae Humphrey was born in Georgia. SHE WAS THE first woman ever to make the cover of BusinessWeek. Who was Brownie Wise? Well, if it weren't for Brownie Wise, Tupperware Parties may have gone by the wayside. She was, "a legendary saleswoman largely responsible for the success of Tupperware through her development of the "party plan" system of marketing."
If it weren't for her, the burping plastic bowl invented by Earl Silas Tupper right after World War II would never have become a cultural icon recognized by millions around the globe. Tupper was a reclusive inventor from Central Massachusetts and his products were gathering dust on department store shelves in the late 1940s. But that changed in the 1950s when Brownie Wise recruited an army of Tupperware Ladies to sell his plastic wares in living rooms across the country -- at Tupperware parties.source
Brownie Wise was a self-made woman with a genius for marketing products and an intuitive understanding of how to motivate others. She was a role model for thousands of other women, and a businesswoman ahead of her time.

As a young mother at home in Detroit, Michigan in the early Forties, Brownie Wise contributed regularly to the Detroit News' "Experience" column, where readers, mostly women, shared comments about their lives.

Using the pen name "Hibiscus," Wise reminisced about her childhood in a Natchez, Mississippi plantation home. She also wrote idealized accounts of her home and family. Some of her writings for the newspaper column are excerpted below. The special poignancy of Hibiscus' descriptions is that none of them were true: in reality, Wise's origins were working class, and her husband was a violent drunk. (source)

Today is National Wine Day and, the day Star Wars made its debut in 1977. I won't be back with any wine, but, I will be back (hopefully) with a few recipes from this very cool cookbook. (Who knows, I may bring some wine too:)

H. David Dalquist, the inventor of the Bundt cake pan, was born today in 1918. I celebrated *National Bundt Pan Day back in November of 2009. (warning, I did get a chance to update or check links but, there's Bundt Pan history and a recipe or two)

May 26th

May 26 is National Blueberry Cheesecake Day and National Cherry Dessert Day @ The Nibble.

May 27th

National Grape Popsicle Day

Jamie Oliver, was born today in 1975. Let us know if you celebrate with a post, will ya?

"To stand at the edge of the sea...is to have knowledge of things that are as eternal as any earthly life can be."
-Rachel Carson-
Born May 27th, 1907

May 28th

The 24th Annual Gullah Festival-"The Gullah Festival of South Carolina celebrates and recognizes the history, customs, cultures, language and accomplishments of the African Americans of the low-country. Festival activities will commence Friday, May 28th and will end on Sunday, May 30th. The festival is always held on the weekend leading up to Memorial Day."

*Elizabeth “Lizzie” Black [Kander], author of The Settlement Cookbook was born today.
Settlement cookbook

May 28th is National Hamburger Day! (May is also Hamburger Month)

Gaston Lenôtre, founder of the restaurant, catering, retail and cooking school empire Lenôtre, was born May 28, 1920, on a small farm in Normandy. Wiki says May 20 but The Guardian and the NYT say May 28 in their obituaries as does Encyclopædia Britannica

French pastry chef, restaurateur, and educator who rejuvenated the neglected art of French pátisserie by rejecting traditional heavy desserts in favour of lighter, more innovative pastries, mousses, and meringues. Lenôtre, whose parents were both Parisian chefs until his father’s ill health forced the family to move back to rural Normandy, opened his first bakery in Bernay, Normandy, in 1947. Ten years later he and his wife opened a pastry shop in Paris...Encyclopædia Britannica
National Brisket Day

May 29th

National Coq Au Vin Day
National Mint Julep Day

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

You Devil; You're a Darn Good Chocolate Cake!

I know, beat me with a wet noodle. I'm just under the finish line for National Devil's Food Cake Day. I have an excuse, honest I do. You see, I have had this unquenchable desire for fudgy chocolate "something" for what seems like months now. I do believe it "struck" me when I moved to Pennsylvania in January. Anyway, due to circumstances beyond my control, so I thought, it just wasn't happening. Oh, I did manage to do a bit of baking here and there through the months but I knew a decadent, fudgy moist cake was way out of my league. I'm baking challenged. (Actually, I'm beginning to think I'm cooking challenged too but that's for another day:)

Oh, I had huge plans for National Devil's Food Cake Day. I'd say they were Mile High anticipations. I was going to bake the infamous Ebinger's Black-out Cake. I even had a recipe, which before the days of the internet, was worth its weight in gold. Yes, yes, I know, Black-Out Cake does not fall into the category of Devil's Food Cake. Black-Out Cake is in a classification all its own; Chocolate Heaven on Earth, with a history! However, Black-Out Cake would more than consummate by burning desire for decadence. I didn't think you chocolate loving visitors would object either. I mean really, a thing of beauty, isn't it?

So what happened? Right off the bat, I made a boo boo. The first step to making Black-Out Cake is the making of the pudding. I suppose, I should remind you, Black-Out Cake goes by an assortment of names. Some, like Joelen, call it Chocolate Blackout Cake. Others call it Brooklyn Blackout Cake and still others, such as myself, call it Ebinger's Black-Out Cake, a namesake of the beloved Brooklyn institution, Ebinger's Bakery. What ever happen to Ebinger's Bakery anyway?

...Named for wartime blackouts, their famous and beloved chocolate-pudding-filled Blackout Cake was a chocolate layer cake filled and frosted with dark fudge and dusted with chocolate cake crumbs...

Although, I grew up on Entenmann’s Black-Out Cake, I never found myself entwined in the never ending question; which of the two bakeries baked the very best Blackout Cake? No not me, not I. I wanted no part of it. I have so many wonderful memories of both Ebinger's and Entemann's, which in themselves would make a most delectable post, I refuse to get sandwiched in the middle. I don't care how much creamy pudding you entice me with! As you may have surmised, there's more to Blackout Cake than meets the eye or the tummy for that matter:) Which, leads me to my next excuse. I just couldn't bring myself to post unless I included a bit of history. Oh, the history of Devil's Food Cake is scattered all over the world wide web. That wasn't the problem. However, the history of Backout Cake is a wee bit more sketchy and apparently involves "buried treasure." Well, kinda sorta. So, I procrastinated, dawdled and yes researched. You think I would have just gone to the sources. (I have a copy of The Brooklyn Cookbook which has a dollop of Blackout Cake history in it. After all, Blackout Cake is Brooklyn's Long Lost Dessert:) No, not me, I have to check, recheck and dig deeper. Now, that wasn't helping my craving none. So, I decided to tackle the cake and get back to the history later. Sure:)

Why is the cake called Devil’s Food?
Folk lore says that a group of Pilgrims that lived next door to a Chocolate House in Amsterdam in the late 1600’s, witnessed chocolate house patrons cavorting and making merry while they consumed chocolate.  The Pilgrims were convinced that chocolate was made from the devil.  They named chocolate “Devil’s Food.”   Later on, when dark chocolate cake gained in popularity, it was named Devil’s Food Cake for its sinfully delicious nature.

Devil’s food cake is moist, airy, and rich.  It is multi-layered and covered in lots of thick chocolate frosting.  Yum!

There are different variations of Devil’s Food cake such as Red Velvet, Red Devil, Waldorf Astoria Cake, and $100 Dollar Cake. Red velvet cake has a more pronounced red color because the high concentration of baking soda caused a reddening of the cocoa powder when baked. Today, red food coloring is sometimes used. Chocolate University Online

Armed with my edition of America's Best Lost Recipes published by the editors of Cook's Country Magazine, I began at the beginning; the pudding.

Blackout Cake Pudding
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half 
1 cup milk 
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, half-and-half, and milk in a large saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat. Add the chocolate and whisk constantly over until the chocolate melts and the mixture begins to bubble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla and transfer the pudding to a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to avoid creating a skin, and let chill for at least four hours or up to one day.

Easy right? Wrong. For some out of this world reason, I grabbed the wrong unsweetened chocolate. Instead, I judiciously chopped semi-sweet chocolate to perfection. (My son let me borrow his mini food processor which worked so wonderfully, I may not give it back. Can mother's get away with such things?) Unbeknownst to me, la di la di la, I stirred and stirred until the ebony of smoothness gently covered the back of the spoon. I whisked it into a bowl, covered it ever so tightly, not leaving any air bubbles on the shiny pudding wrap enclosure, and placed it in the fridge. I didn't even taste it. Seems, I should have because, when I went to clean up the mild mess for the next step, I discovered the words semi-sweet on the box of Baker's Chocolate as I tossed it in the garbage. Uh, Oh. To tell you the truth, I wasn't sure it would be an actual disaster. How bad could it be? I happen to adore bittersweet chocolate. I suppose it wouldn't have been so utterly sweet had I not used so much sugar. I'm not sure about that because, once again, I'm not a baker. I can only guess that when you use semi-sweet chocolate, you cut down on the sugar. Although, the complexities of chocolate confuses me much like wine so, it could be the composition of both are not the same:) Whatever, the pudding was just to sweet to my liking. It looked good though:) Blackout Cake

Needless to say, I'll just tell you anyway, I was quite distraught. I had a short nonsensical talk with myself, something to the effect of I should just stop trying to bake, I'll never get to bread at this rate AND, what kind of blogger am I, I can't even bake a simple Blackout Cake for National Devil's Food Cake Day! No, I didn't cry. But boy oh boy, I wanted to. (I'm not a good cryer:) Then, miraculously, Marion came to my rescue.

"What's going on in here? she said kindly.

"Are you experimenting again," she smiled.

I explained my dilemma to her and quite off hand-idly she said, ""You need a break." "Why don't we have a cup of tea?" she continued. "You get the cups, I'll make the tea." As we sat to chat, I exploded with all of my blog worries of the day. She listened carefully. (You must remember, Marion is 90 years young and blog talk sometimes sends her in a whirl:) And then, it happened, I got an epiphany! Not only is today National Devil's Food Cake Day, it is also the birthday of one of my very best favorite authors, Nora Ephron! I jumped for joy!

A while back, I stumbled upon an article in The New York Times titled, The Cake Doctor Makes a House Call

...Nora Ephron, one of the most accomplished and least snooty home cooks in New York, bakes plenty of cakes from scratch, though she's not above making one that includes devil's-food cake mix, sour cream and chocolate chips. A variation of it appears in ''The Cake Mix Doctor,'' called Darn Good Chocolate Cake.

''People will do anything to avoid sifting flour and measuring it,'' Ms. Ephron said. ''And people will do anything if only one bowl is involved. Sifting and bowls -- that's it.''

Ms. Byrn agreed. ''People think that if they use a mix, they don't have to measure,'' she said. ''That's a big mistake, but the No. 1 mistake is the oven temperature. If it's not right, it won't work...''

Not only did I make note of it, I bookmarked it!!! Delight. Why? I remembered that Darn Good Chocolate Cake was going to be my go-to-cake when I could no longer stand my insatiable desire for fudgy goodness. And, I just happen to have a copy of the book. Gee, I thought, if Darn Good Chocolate Cake made from a Devil's Food Cake Mix is good enough for Nora Ephron, who am I to quibble? Scratch the Black-Out Cake for the time being and get to that other darn cake, I thought out loud. Marion agreed:) I was going to post the recipe, but, I found it over @ Cake Central and, at The Cake Mix Doctor website, I found an interesting variation. (I'll be trying this next time for sure! I did contemplate substituting Kahlua but after the semi mix-up, I decided to stay the course:)

"Amaretto Darn Good Chocolate Cake: Following my directions for Darn Good Chocolate Cake adding ¼ cup (or more to taste) Amaretto and ¼ cup of water instead of the ½ cup water.

Funny thing about this Darn Good Chocolate Cake recipe. It didn't include a frosting. Could the cake be so dang good that it didn't need a frosting? YES!!! Of course, you could whip one up if you so desire but don't ask me what kind. (I didn't tell you about the simple layer cake I made the other day and the horrible frosting I saddled it with for exactly the same reason. The cake would have been a success if I hadn't messed up the frosting. And you thought I was dramatizing:) Okay, the darn cake doesn't look over the top but I'm telling you, it was just what this ol' girl needed.

Just for "Kicks N Giggles," and because I'm trying to conserve on waste, yeah sure:) I dolloped a bit of that darn good sweet pudding on an oversized piece of Darn Good Chocolate Cake and ate the entire thing!!!Darn Good chocolate Cake

May all your devilish desires be sweet:) Happy Devil's Food Cake Day! Louise:)

1. Steamed Devil’s Food Cake @ Serious Eats
2. Devil's Food Cake Recipe (made with coffee) @ David Lebovitz
3. The Devil and The Monk Cupcake Recipe (adaptation @ the Cupcake Project from David Lebovitz's Devil's Food Cake Recipe)
4. Product Review: Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Devil’s Food Cake @ Gluten Free is Life
5. Darn Good Chocolate Cake ( Cake Mix Cake) @Recipezaar
6. Darn Good Chocolate Cake @ Julie Cooks
7. Entenmann’s Black-Out Cake discussion @ Chowhound
8. Blackout Cake (if you want to buy online but I don't vouch for it:)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May Food Celebrations 16th-22nd

I'm Back!!! Blah, blah, blah, I'm back and I had a wonderful time!!! I must admit, I did miss "you guys." I'll be posting some pictures as soon as I get settled. For now, it's a GREAT week for food celebrations. Enjoy!

May 16th

Today is National Coquilles St. Jacques Day. National Coquilles St. Jacques Day honors "the Shell of St. James the Great" whose Feast Day is July 25th. (that link also includes recipes:) Why we celebrate National Coquilles St. Jacques Day on May 16th is beyond me:)
"The beautiful mollusk know on menus as Coquilles St. Jacques are emblematic of the pilgrims who visited the shrine of St. James of Compostella. They ate the mollusks as penance and afterward fastened the cockle shells to their hats. Scallops are also responsible for the cooking term scalloped which originally meant seafood creamed, heated and served in a shell." Joy of Cooking (1975)

May 17th

National Cherry Cobbler Day @ Home Baked Memories and, here's a recipe for Sweet Cherry Cobbler from Gourmet. It seems, Gourmet editors prefer frozen cherries for their Cherry Cobbler:) When it comes to Cobblers & Crisps, does it matter? Absolutely NOT! In fact, I wouldn't mind a slice of Cheery Cherry Cheesecake about now:) Thanks, Grace:)

May 18th

National Cheese Soufflé Day

National No Dirty Dishes Day is always May 18th. I found the following Epitaph in a spiral cookbook titled, Esther's Edibles. Apparently, the author, Esther W. Pyle is/was a preacher's wife and the book contains recipes she gathered along the way.
Here lies a poor woman
Who always was tired,
She lived in a house
Where help wasn't hired,
The last words she said
Were, "Dear friends I am going
Where washing "aint" wanted,
Nor sweeping nor sewing;
And everything there is
Exact to my wishes.
For where folks don't eat
There's no washing dishes.
In heaven loud anthems
Forever are ringing,
But having no voice
I'll keep clear of the singing.
Don't mourn for me now,
Don't mourn for me never,
I'm going to do nothing
For ever and ever.
-Author Unknown-

May 19th

"I think that all of life is what you ate,
what you wish you'd eaten,
or how glad you are you ate it, 
and what you're going to eat next." 
Nora Ephron

Widely successful author and director, Nora Ephron was born on May 19, 1941. I am a huge fan of Nora Ephron. How 'bout you??? 15 Food Questions for Nora Ephron @ Newsweek.

Nora Ephron is the author of "Crazy Salad," "Heartburn," "Wallflower at the Orgy," and "Scribble Scribble." She has received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay for "When Harry Met Sally," "Silkwood," and "Sleepless in Seattle," which she also directed. (source)

Are you looking for a way to celebrate Nora Ephron's birthday in style? I just happened to find this recipe for Nora Ephron's Key Lime Pie from "Heartburn" @ Uncle Phaedrus' (Finder of Lost Recipes) It makes 8 servings:)

First you line a 9-inch pie plate with a graham cracker crust. Then beat 6 egg yolks. Add 1 cup of lime juice (even bottled lime juice will do), 2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tablespoon grated lime rind. Pour into the pie shell and freeze. Remove from the freezer and spread with whipped cream. Let sit five minutes before cutting to serve.

May 19th is also, National Devil's Food Cake Day! I'm really going to try to post a home baked memory that day. Hopefully, it will be good enough to share:) In the mean time, there's a vintage recipe for Devil's Food Cake @ Rochelle's Vintage Recipes' blog.

Helen Porter Mitchell; Dame Nellie Melba to most, was born on May 19, 1861. As a successful operatic soprano, Nellie Melba had many dishes named in her honor including Melba Toast* and Peche Melba (Peach Melba) created by the great Escoffier. BTW, National Peach Melba Day* was in January. I celebrated with a few quick links from some of my favorite blogs:)

The first advertisement for ice cream appeared in the New York Gazette on May 19, 1777.

May 20th

The Congressional Club, "a non-partisan setting for friendships among the spouses of members of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C." was founded on May 20, 1908. I have a couple of Congressional Club Cookbooks I would one day like to share. In the mean time, here's a bit of Congressional Club Cookbook History to fodder on.

In case it has slipped your memory, I'm a Levi's kinda gal. So please, indulge me today, the day Levi's were "born" in 1873:) Oh, Thank you Mr. Strauss!

Today is also Dolley Madison's Birthday.* I did a post in her honor last year. Why yes, it does include a few ice cream recipe ideas. If you don't have time to visit my previous post, here's a tidbit I found @ The Dolley Madison Project.
A famous hostess, her name and portrait were suggestive of good food and fine entertaining. Food companies and advertisers used her image to suggest that any woman could entertain, as did Dolley Madison. There were companies named after her: the Dolly Madison Bakery, the Dolly Madison Diary, and the Dolly Madison Ice Cream.
National Quiche Lorraine Day
Pick Strawberries Day

May 21st

I know it's Friday but it seems, International Pickle Week begins today. It says so right here!
National Strawberries and Cream Day, now that's more like it!

May 22nd

The doors to The Culinary Institute of America opened on May 22, 1946.
National Vanilla Pudding Day

Just A Reminder

May is National Hamburger Month and National Barbecue Month. I'll be updating a previous post for Barbecue Month one day. In the mean time, here's a nibble from that post.
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May is National Asparagus Month (Asparagus Day * is May 24th)
May is National Salad Month
AND, National Strawberry Month

A red * denotes a previous post of mine:)