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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Welcome December; Let's Celebrate

If you take a peek to the left over there, you will notice the pickins' are slim for national food celebrations for the month of December. Quite frankly, I for one, am delighted. What we may be missing in monthly celebrations, we'll surely make up for weekly and daily. However, we'll get to those later.

Egg Nog Month

That's right "kiddies" December is National EggNog Month! (forgive the dual spelling, after all these years, you would think I would know how to spell egg nog, or is it eggnog?) If you think the spelling is blurry, the history of egg nog is even more obscure! Here's one explanation from the folks at Pillsbury.

"Nog is an old English word for a strong ale. Since eggs were an important part of the creamy ale punch, the rum-laced drink became known as eggnog." Pillsbury Easiest Ever Holiday Entertaining ©1994

Makes sense to me:) I've never been a big fan of drinking eggnog. Despite my aversion, I find baking with store bought eggnog palatable. Take this Banana Eggnog Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce for instance. I have a friend who "flips" at the ease of this recipe:)

Pudding:
1-1 pound loaf raisin bread, cut into cubes
2 medium bananas
3-1/2 cups store bought eggnog
4 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Rum Sauce:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
2 tbs. butter
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
Directions:
Heat oven 350°F
Butter 13x9-inch (3 quart) baking dish.
Place half of the bread cubes in buttered baking dish. top with banana slices and remain bread cubes.
In large bowl, combine eggnog, eggs, sugar, and nutmeg; blend well.
Pour over bread cubes. Let stand 5 minutes.
Bake at 350°F for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Rum Sauce:
In a small saucepan combine all sauce ingredients except rum extract. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes stirring onstantly. Stir in rum extract. Serve warm sauce over pudding. 12 servings. Pillsbury Holiday Baking & Gifts ©1995
"In the 1820's Pierce Egan, a period author, wrote a book called "Life of London or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne and His Elegant Friend Corinthina Tom". To publicize his work Mr. Egan made up a variation of eggnog he called "Tom and Jerry". It added 1/2 oz of brandy to the basic recipe (fortifying it considerably and adding further to its popularity). (source)

Fruitcake Month

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that December is National Fruitcake Month. (or is that fruit cake:) Okay, so beat me with a wet noodle, I don't care for fruitcake either. Apparently, Martha Washington, wife of George Washington, used 40 eggs and 5 pounds of fruit in her "Great Cake." Not quite like Martha's, here's a recipe for Mini Fruitcakes from Ideal's Christmas Kitchen Cookbook.

Mini Fruitcakes

National Pear Month

And a partridge in a Pear tree...National Pear Month is new to me. I just learned of it a couple of months ago. Don't laugh, but, I'm not a huge fan of pears either. (I just want you to know I'm giggling to myself as I type this:) Why oh why is she sharing these food celebrations when she is so darn picky, lol...However, I LOVE cooked pears!!! Go figure! (I feel the same way about blueberries btw LOVE them cooked in goodies, fresh and juicy, not so much) Very strange since I don't consider myself a fussy eater. Although, you sure couldn't tell by this post, lol...On to the Pears!

Now be honest, doesn't this alluring dish of pears look "divine?"


Roasted-Rosemary Gorgonzola Pears
4 un-peeled ripe firm pears, cut in half lengthwise, cored*
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (coarse salt)
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed.
1/3 cup finely crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Directions:
1. Heat oven 375°F. Cut thin slice from rounded side of pear halves, if necessary so they'll rest level in pan. In 13x9-inch pan, arrange pear halves, cut sides up. Brush tops of pears with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary.
2. Roast uncovered 35 minutes. Fill cored hollow of each pear half with 2 teaspoons cheese. Roast uncovered 10-15 minutes longer or until pears are tender and cheese soft. Sprinkle with walnuts.Drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.
*a melon baller or the tip of a teaspoon works well to core the pears. Be sure to make the hollow large enough to hold 2 teaspoons of cheese. Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook ©2006

You may have noticed that I skipped right over Made in America Month. I'm working on a special post for that celebration and hopefully, good Lord willing and the creek don't freeze, it will be done before the end of the month. We'll see...

Meet Aunt Chick. Actually, that's her pen name. Her real name was Nettie Williams McBirney and, she was the "Martha Stewart" of her day. Mrs. McBirney was quite the woman! Not only did she host a home makers radio show for many years, she also wrote cookbooks and invented a few innovative kitchen aids during the depression. One of her most famous was a cookie cutter designed to easily release molded cookie dough so it could maintain its 3-D appearance. She began selling them in 1948 and they were an immediate success. They are also highly prized by collectors. I'll be posting more about Aunt Chick on Sunday for National Cookie Day and, since the first week of December is National Cookie Cutter Week, it may just be the perfect day to drag out those rolling pins!

Before I forget, today is Eat A Red Apple Day. And, tomorrow is National Fritters Day. Stay tuned for Cookie Day on Sunday!!! If you really must know more days of celebrations in December, check out Lisa Loves Holidays! You'll be delighted:)

Resources
1. Brief Eggnog History
2. Cookie Cutters & Aunt Chick (this link is one of the first post I ever did. Be that as it may, you may enjoy the Ginger Snap Rhyming Recipe. It's cute:)