Friday, April 1, 2011

April is Bursting with Food Celebrations!

In April in old calendars is drawn
A gallant hawker, pacing on a lawn,
Holding a bell'd and hooded fowl of prey,
Ready to loose him in the airy way,
For daily now, ascends the solar beam,
And the warm earth seems in waking dream;
Insects creep out, leaves burst, and flowers rise.
And buds enchant the woods and wing the skies...

Edmund Spenser

April is bursting with food celebrations. I better get to them, quick!

April is National Fresh Celery Month. Okay, so it slipped my mind to mention March was just plain ol' Celery Month, beat me with a wet noodle:) "What's exciting about celery," you ask. Well, Miranda, asked me the same question a while back and for those of you who didn't see my answer, here it is.

Pecans seem to have a few celebrations throughout the course of the year. March 25th was National Pecan Day and, April is National Pecan Month! I harvested this gem of a recipe for Southern Pecan Granola from Cross Creek Kitchens. Here's a bit of pecan trivia for you, "No two pecans have the same markings on their shells. Each one is as unique as a fingerprint." How cool is that!!!
Cross Creek Kitchens
Southern Pecan Granola
12 cups rolled oats
1 cup unprocessed bran
3 cups chopped pecans
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup light oil
1 cup can syrup or light molasses
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a very large bowl, mix oats, bran, pecans, and coconut. In a saucepan, mix oil, cane syrup, and honey and heat until warm and well blended. Do not boil. Stir in vanilla.
Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix thoroughly. Spread mixture 1/2 inch thick on greased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 minutes, turn in sections and bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on waxed paper. Sore in glass jars. Makes about 18 cups.

It's been a long time since I celebrated National Grilled Cheese Month in April. I think it's high time I do a quick links post don't you? Any grilled cheese sandwich links you'd like to share? I'd be thrilled to post them on National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, April 12th! In the mean time, find out how to make grilled cheese with an everyday iron and then hurry back and feast your eyes on this intriguing Brie & Basil Grilled Cheese on Chocolate Bread courtesy of Kathy @ Panini Happy. Thanks Kathy!!!

April is National Soft Pretzel Month @ Slashfood and April 26th is Pretzel Day! (previous post)

I've never attempted to celebrate National Soyfoods Month which also happens to be in April. I may need to remedy that situation this year. For instance, did you know John Harvey Kellogg (as in Kellogg's cereal) was a pioneer in the soy foods industry? Gee, I wonder if that explains the commercialization of Soy? As much as I appreciate soy's nutritional and medicinal versatility, I'm not too crazy about the latest "Silk instead of Milk campaign. Just my humble opinion:)

April is Fresh Florida Tomato Month. Watch for them in the stores. I've seen florida strawberries that are looking pretty good. Of course it could be I'm simply dying for both:)

April is National Applesauce Month. I have no complaints stemming from Applesauce Month. Next to home made applesauce, Mott's works for me. I use applesauce in many of my every day meals. It's an excellent fat substitute in many recipes. The next time you bake a cake from one of those box mixes, substitute applesauce for the oil. Surprisingly, there isn't usually an aftertaste of applesauce in the final presentation and if nothing else, it works great if you happen to be low on oil or just in the mood to experiment. Don't laugh, but I also always add a bit of applesauce when I prepare meat loaf. (I usually add oatmeal too but don't tell Marion:) It seems to make the meat loaf just a tad more moist with just the right amount of sweetness. Try it, you'll like it and please let me know one way or the other:) Here's a recipe to kick-off Applesauce Month. I found it in a Mott's recipe book titled A Better Way to Bake Delicious Low Fat Recipes. (1995) You may want to prepare it for National Coffee Cake Day, April 7th!!!

Apple Sauce Coffee Ring
1 pkg. active dry yeast (or equivalent)
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (105°-115° F)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup Mott's Natural Applesauce
1 egg
2 tbs. margarine, melted and cooled
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. skim milk

1-1/2 cups Mott's Chunky Applesauce
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbs. skim milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1. To prepare bread:
In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar over warm water, stir until yeast dissolves. Let stand 5 minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Stir in 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup applesauce, remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, egg, margarine, salt and lemon peel.

2. Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto floured surface; flatten slightly. Knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding any remaining flour to prevent sticking if necessary. Shape dough into ball; place in large bowl sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Turn dough over so the top is greased. Cover with damp towel, let rise in warm place 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

3. Punch down dough. Roll out dough on floured surface into 15-inch square. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

4. To prepare Filling:
In a small bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups apple sauce, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread filling over dough, to within 1/2 inch of edges. Roll up dough jelly-roll style. Moisten edges with water; pinch to seal seam, Moisten ends of dough with water, bring together to form a ring. Pinch to seal seam. Place on prepared baking sheet. Make 1/8 inch deep cuts across width of dough at 2-inch intervals around ring.

5. Let dough rise in warm place, uncovered, 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush top lightly with 1 teaspoon milk.

7. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until lightly browned and ring sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire rack.

8. To prepare Glaze:
In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over top of ring. Cut into 24 slices. Makes 24 servings.

Ed Note: As written, each per serving in this recipe contains 170 calories, 1.3g total fat, 110mg sodium and 10mg of cholesterol.

And finally, as monthly food celebrations go in April of 2011, we have Grange Month. I didn't know very much about the history of the country's oldest general and rural public interest organization rooted in agricultural until I did a post for Grange Month back in 2009. The history is quite fascinating. I'll just leave the link below in case you want to visit or just grab some of the Grange Cookbook recipes I shared like this one below, a personal favorite of mine and my Thursday night card playing son:)

Hot Onion Snacks

3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons salad dressing or mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
10-12 thin shredded whole wheat wafers
2 drops tabasco sauce
dash of pepper

Mix onion, salad dressing, salt, paprika, pepper and tabasco sauce in a small bowl.
Spread on wafers. Place on broiler pan under broiler unit so snacks are 3-4 inches from the broiler unit.
Cooking Time: 5 minutes Servings: 10-12

The month of April has become a time for those of Thai heritage to celebrate their heritage. Thai Heritage Month is organized around Thai New Year -- known as Songkran -- and the traditional Water Festival. The festival's characteristic tradition of throwing water at others is linked to the new year and its underlying significance is one of cleansing and purification.
I'll be back on Sunday, Chocolate Mousse Day, with next week's tasty delights. Now don't forget, the great Brillat-Savarin, author of La Physiologie du gout was born on April 1st. A fine tribute to him would be in the baking of his cake, Savarin. April 1st is also National Sour Dough Bread Day. (I know I really should get around to baking some kind of bread. Me and my yeastaphobia:) Here's another heads-up I know one Culinary Type will want to be reminded about, April 2nd is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. "Celebrate by chowing down on a delicious PB&J sandwich while reading these 10 facts." Sunday is also Mothering Sunday in the UK. Closely associated with Mother's Day, on Mothering Sunday or Mid-Lent Sunday the traditional fare is Simnel Cake. I posted a recipe for Simnel Cakes for Mothering Sunday a while back if you would like to read about the tradition or just "grab" the recipe, go here.

Just in case I don't make it back until the fourth, have your chocolate milk powder ready because April 4th is Chocolate Milk Powder Day!!! Really:)

1. Celery Wins For Best Supporting Vegetable
2. Cross Creek Revisited (previous post)
3. Grilled Cheese Month (The history in a previous post)
4. Topsy Turvy (A previous April Fool's Day post with Humpty Dumpty Cake:)
5. The Loves of Brillat-Savarin (previous post)
6. Grange Month

Have a GREAT weekend, Louise:)


  1. Cross Creek Kitchen - wow, have't thought abut that book for years. Thanks for the reminder, Louise.

  2. The brie & basil grilled cheese on chocolate bread really sounds so good!

    Happy April, Louise :)

  3. Louise, this absolutely lovely post and a yummy recipe, sen dyou huggs, have a nice weekend, gloria

  4. Love baking with applesauce, so the cake looks right up my alley!

  5. I did not realize April had so many interesting holidays and celebrations!
    Also the tips on how to use applesauce are very valuable, thank you!
    I may plot a cake for the coffee cake celebration, why not?

  6. Happy April. Love anything pecan...

  7. That grilled cheese is so original and intriguing! I'm a big fan of pecans and coffee cakes.

    Have a lovely weekend, dear!



  8. Thanks for reminding us about national celery day. loved the grilled sandwich .... cheers !

  9. CELERY?! Really? Oh my. Celery. Well, I do make a mean cream of celery soup. And by mean, you understand, that when I serve it, my husband thinks I'm mean because he doesn't particularly care for it. Moving on to PB&J day!

  10. Now I'm craving a grilled-cheese sandwich! Yay, for the month of April!

  11. oh that sandwich looks so good!

  12. I don't know how you keep track of them all. I'm awfully glad you do, however. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  13. So many things to celebrate - I'll be eating all month! That pecan granola recipe looks delicious, but I'd have to cut it in half or maybe in quarters! That's enough granola to feed a small army!

  14. .... making this a really delicious month!! Not so cruel after all, what with Florida crops. '

    Contrarian view: in northern Europe in pre-transportation days, early spring/April was really cruel as the winter stores would have been running out, and close to nothing was ready to harvest yet. So another theme here: count our blessings!

  15. This post made me hungry! Everything looks tasty especially the panini.

  16. Oh my gosh...a different version of "my" panini w/ chocolate, basil and brie...how delicious! Thanks for the fun facts as always, Louise! =)

  17. Oh so much good food to celebrate

    I've just put a pecan recipe in my to do list - sounds like it is the month for it

    I also think a jar of applesauce in my fridge look past its best - not a good sign that I use the stuff enough despite good intentions! and now I want some applesauce for that lovely recipe - must try it

  18. Cross Creek Kitchen is filled with yummy recipes, Cynthia. I must dig mine out again. Thanks for dropping by...

    Happy April, Selba! It was no kind of Cathy to share. I've put the recipe in my "someday" list.

    Thanks, Gloria. I had a wonderful weekend!!!

    Applesauce is an amazing "moisturizer"yummy. (not on your face of course:)

    Oh my, Joumana you haven't see anything yet. There's baskets of food celebrations this month!!! Do share your coffee cake with us.

    Happy April, Channon. Pecans rule!!!

    It is a GREAT month for grilled cheese, pecans and coffee cakes, (and buns:) Rosa. Where to begin?

    You are welcome, Sonia. Enjoy!

    I'd love to see your "mean" celery soup, Pattie. I wonder how soup and sandwich day would be with cream of celery soup and PB&J sandwiches? Hmmmm....

    Yay! for April. I don't even mind that it's raining today, Veron.

    It sure does, Simple. I wouldn't mind a bite about now either...

    I have a calendar of infinite food holidays, Mary. If only I could figure out a cohesive way of sharing it:)

  19. Whip up a batch of granola, T.W. and bring some to work with you. You'll be the "star" of the office:)

    Sure thing counting those blessings Mae we narrowly missed more snow, again!

    It made me hungry posting it Pam:)

    Oh my, Heather. I am SO glad you mentioned your recipe. I was wondering why it didn't come up in my Hospitality Search. When I was tweaking it, I must have overlooked your blog inclusion. Not to worry, you're definitely in there now!!! Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention:)

    This post left me craving pecan "something" too Johanna. I just had my second piece of Butter Pecan Cake with Banana Cream Cheese Frosting. I may just need to share it later on in the month. Go buy new applesauce or, make a batch, Sylvia will thank you:) I know you have a new oven just "dying" to be played with...


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise