It’s July! We are halfway to 2014 and it’s National Ice Cream Month. Yea!

Actually, I’m not excited about 2014, but National Ice Cream month does excite me.  I wish it didn’t because the pounds are creeping onto me again. They wouldn’t if I would just Work Out like any sane forty something woman should do. But, I don’t want to work out. Or run. Or eat better. I want to make ice cream and sit on my deck at 5 pm and drink a beer!

Which is what I’m doing right now because it’s 84 degrees at 5 pm on July 1 in Texas. That? Has never happened in my lifetime.

Hey, at least I’m drinking a Michelob Ultra.

Anyway. Three things are going to happen on the blog this month. One, I’m going to post every weekday. Two, I’m going to make ice cream and tell you all about it. Three, I’m going to read Historical Fiction and do a better job of writing reviews for each book. I’m going to have to if I want to post 23 times. I might even post about writing again since I haven’t in a while. I’ve been a slacker for the entire month of June in the writing department but that stops tomorrow! I need to do a little revising of my MS then get back on the wagon with the sequel.

But, back to ice cream because, really. Ice Cream.

My first ice cream post will be about a fool proof, inexpensive chocolate ice cream recipe I found. Except nothing is fool proof when it comes to me and cooking. More on that later.

I want to find a banana pudding ice cream recipe because, really. Banana Pudding.

I also want to make Peach Ice Cream because, really. Peaches in the summer is nirvana.

What’s  your favorite ice cream flavor? Do you make homemade ice cream? If not, why?

Also, unrelated to any of this: Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon was the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen my fair share of stupid movies.

My Favorite Things – Instapaper

I have long wanted a recipe program so I can get rid of this:

Yes, that is a ziploc bag full of recipes. I have never claimed to be super organized.

Let’s be honest here. I will never put all of my loose recipes into a computer program. My first job ever was data entry. This was the mid-80’s and it was mind numbing. I imagine typing in all of my recipes would be similar.

Another admission: I rarely use recipes from that baggie. Or the loose ones I cut from the newspaper. Or the ones I print out from the internet. I am an experimental creature of habit. Basically that means if I’m not making a new recipe, I am making a recipe I know by heart. Where do I get my recipes? From the internet.

Since I will also never step up and create The Great American Recipe App©, I have found the next best thing. Instapaper.

Instapaper is based on the simplest of concepts: saving digital documents, web articles or pages in one app to read later, which makes it the perfect tool to save the recipe for Nutella Cupcakes with Triple Cream Cheese Frosting. The FAQ says it isn’t designed to store thousands of pages to keep, categorize, tag and search contents of every web page you’ve ever found. As a long-term solution to a central storage place for online recipes, Instapaper isn’t ideal. But for someone who collects recipes to try later, it is darn near perfect.

It is super easy to save pages to Instapaper. Simply install a button on your bookmarks toolbar, like Pintrest’s Pin It button, and click it when you  want to save it. You will be able to access the saved pages through the Instapaper website or your iPhone and iPad app. Instapaper will sync your account across all of your devices. An Android version was just released, making Instapaper available on all Apple products, Kindle Fire, Nook and Nook Color as well as Android phones.

Cooking in the Swamp – Texas Pork Ribs

I have made ribs twice in my life.

I know, it is shocking when you consider I’ve lived in Texas, where there is a barbeque joint on every corner – usually next to a church ;) – for 40 of my 42 years. Those were dark, BBQ free days in Minnesota. In fact, I don’t make barbeque at home. I don’t have a smoker and frankly making true Texas barbeque is intimidating. The closest I get is having my Mom buy a pre-smoked brisket from HEB when she goes to South Texas to visit friends.

The leftover rub.

Apparently, this is the summer where I get outside of my cooking comfort zone because I bought a rack of uncooked, unseasoned pork ribs and determined to make them. The recipe I found through All Recipes was straightforward and surprisingly easy. Every recipe I found required cooking the ribs in the oven first then finishing them off on the grill. I thought that was only required for beef ribs, but maybe it is required for all ribs. I guess with either type it couldn’t hurt.

The recipe below made a metric ton of spice rub, even though I halved the recipe. Yes, I put plenty of rub on. The rub could be easily adjusted to suit the taste of your family. When I make this next, I will decrease the amount of salt.

Because of my schedule, I cooked the ribs in the oven the day before and finished them on the grill before serving. It worked well enough. Be sure to pull the ribs out of the refrigerator so they can get closer to room temperature before you grill them. Otherwise, you might overcook them on the grill to get them hot through. Also, I did not use wood chips.

The homemade barbeque sauce was delicious. Important to note, 4 cups of ketchup will kill all but the largest bottle of Heinz. Plan accordingly.

TEXAS PORK RIBS

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds pork spareribs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons pan drippings
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup wood chips, soaked

Directions

  1. Clean the ribs, and trim away any excess fat. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup salt, ground black pepper, paprika, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Coat ribs liberally with spice mix. Place the ribs in two 10×15 inch roasting pans, piling two racks of ribs per pan. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Bake uncovered for 3 to 4 hours, or until the ribs are tender and nearly fall apart.
  3. Remove 5 tablespoons of drippings from the bottom of the roasting pans, and place in a skillet over medium heat. Cook onion in pan drippings until lightly browned and tender. Stir in ketchup, and heat for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring constantly. Next, mix in water and brown sugar, and season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, adding water as necessary to achieve desired thickness.
  4. Preheat grill for medium-low heat.
  5. When ready to grill, add soaked wood chips to the coals or to the smoker box of a gas grill. Lightly oil grill grate. Place ribs on the grill two racks at a time so they are not crowded. Cook for 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Baste ribs with sauce during the last 10 minutes of grilling, so the sauce does not burn.

Source

The Long Hot Hamburger Summer – This may be easier than I thought

Our first foray into making the perfect hamburger at home was surprisingly successful. My oldest son decided to help me and since he likes thin hamburger patties, that is what he made. I shrugged and said okay. I prefer thin patties as well. We used meat from Costco, which never puts what the fat content of their meat is, but I’m guessing at least 85/15, if not higher. Our seasoning was sea salt and cracked black pepper. Because of their thickness, the grilling time was short and they were cooked all through.

The verdict? Pretty darn awesome. Flavorful without being over seasoned. Juicy. Easy. My one complaint is the patties, after cooking, were a bit too small. If you want a big, beefy flavor for your burger – and most people probably do – then this isn’t the right equation. But, if you aren’t a huge burger fan but still want to eat a burger with everyone else, a simply seasoned, super thin patty will do the trick.

Son1 made the patties using a tupperware patty shaper. Nice and uniform to allow for even cooking times.

Check out the spread Son1 put together. He is going to make a fine husband someday and a great host. He says the key to good burgers are buttered, toasted buns. The secret to the buns? Butter on the top as well. The cooked patties are in the left hand corner. Look closely, they shrunk. Random red plate is random.

We are celebrating Father’s Day tonight with my husband’s family and I am making burgers. I told my son we have to make thicker patties for company, otherwise they will think we are being cheap. Plus, I need more fodder for blog posts. I’m going to make 1/3 pound patties. A half pound is too much meat, IMO, a quarter is too little.

Now, for a reader question: What was the last great hamburger you ate?

Cooking in the Swamp Yum Alert! – Strawberry Shortcake Pavlova

  1. pa·vlo·va/pävˈlōvə/

    Noun:
    A dessert consisting of a meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit.

Before baking.

Since the nightmare I had making a pavlova in May (or was it April? time flies I swear), I have been determined to make another pavlova to figure out what exactly I did wrong. Why did it take over an hour for stiff peaks to form? Were my egg whites were too cold? Should I not have used pasteurized egg whites from a carton? Was it my substitution of regular sugar for super fine sugar? Driven by the rapidly deteriorating state of an extra large clamshell of strawberries, I determined I would make Strawberry Shortcakes and use pavlova as the base.

After baking. Note how they increased in size. These are larger than what I consider “individual size.” If you make them small, adjust the baking time down a bit.

The answer to my April pavlova debacle  is my egg whites were too cold. Actually, the pavlova I made that day was still very good, but it took forever to get the egg whites to form stiff peaks. This time, I wanted to make individual pavlovas and wasn’t sure about the cooking time. I found this recipe on Good Life Eats. Super easy and delish. I plan on making the lemon curd and raspberry version sometime this summer. What is wonderful about pavlova is it will literally go with any combination of cream and fruit. You are only limited by your imagination. Granted, after days with children fighting their way through summer break, you may not have much imagination to tap. In that case, follow the recipe. :)

Strawberry Shortcake Pavlova

For the Meringue Nests:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla bean (seeds only)
juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 ounces egg white, about 5-6 large eggs

Toppings:
Lemon Curd – Recipe: Citrus Curd 3 Ways
Fresh Raspberries, Strawberries or Blueberries
Whipped Cream
Mint Leaves, for garnish

Directions:

Divide the egg whites from the yolks. Save the yolks for a later use, such as Citrus Curd or another favorite recipe that requires egg yolks. Bring the egg whites to room temperature for 30 minutes before beginning the recipe.

Prepare by preheating your oven to 250 degrees F and lining a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Whisk the cornstarch and sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, turn the speed on to low. Mix for 1 minute, then gradually increase the speed to medium-low.

Continue to beat at medium-low for another minute, then increase mixer’s speed to medium. Continue until the mixture has small bubbles and soft peaks start to develop, about 2 minutes.

Slowly add the sugar mixture into the bowl as the mixture continues to beat. Increase the speed to medium-high. Beat for 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional 2-3 minutes. It is ready when the meringue is shiny and has developed stiff peaks.

For individual pavlovas, you can spoon little nests (6-8 total) of meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. Then, bake at 250 degrees F for 45 – 65 minutes. Rotate the pan(s) halfway through baking.

Finished meringue should be crisp and dry, but not cracked. The insides will have a marshmallow-like consistency. Cool baked meringue on a wire rack.

Tip: Form a dip in the center of each pavlova with the back of the spoon before baking to act as a dish to hold the lemon curd and berries.

After pavlova has cooled, top with lemon curd and fresh berries. Best served immediately. If you assemble the dessert too soon then the lemon curd with begin to dissolve the meringue.

Cooking in the Swamp – The Long Hot Hamburger Summer

I didn’t make this but it was awesome.

I make horrible hamburgers. No really. It’s true. Even my family thinks so. Last year when I suggested we make hamburgers for the dinner we make for everyone at the beach house, all three balked. “Hamburgers aren’t your best meal, Mom.” Bless him, he was so polite it gives me hope he will make a good husband one day.

I don’t think I have made hamburgers since.

It is shameful I can’t make a good hamburger, the most American of foods and the easiest, crowd pleasingest cook-out dish there is. So, I have decided that this summer, instead of focusing on ice cream I am going to search high and low for the best way to make a good hamburger. My perfect hamburger is cooked through but still moist, not too thick and cooked on a grill. My burgers have a tendency to shrink into a little ball no matter how thin I make the patty. I am sure that has to do with using meat with a too high fat content but fat, in some form, is needed to make the patty moist and fat is what gives a burger its flavor. Fat is not a friend to my pouchie stomach.

In the past I have tried different tips to make a better burger, such as:

  • Using equal parts higher fat burger meat with lower fat. That tip was from Bobby Flay. It gives you the fat content to keep the burger moist but the lighter meat decreases the calories and the shrinking. Of everything I’ve tried, this has worked the best.
  • Forming the patties loosely. You can imagine how this turned out. It was a mess. How can you even “form patties loosely?” Seems like an oxymoron to me.
  • Adding diced cubes of butter to the meat. Of course, that suggestion came from Paula Deen. I was set to do it but could not in the end. It’s like fried chicken. I can eat it out but can’t make it at home. Seeing that chicken fry in an inch of oil takes out all the joy of eating the fried chicken. I prefer to eat high fat foods in willful ignorance. If I don’t see it’s bad for me then it isn’t, right?

My first goal is to make the best plain (seasoned only with salt and pepper) hamburger, then to start experimenting with flavors and add ins after that (Juicy Lucy, anyone?). Then I will start on tricked up hamburgers – salmon burgers, black bean burgers, etc.

Here is what I need from you: tips. What is your advice on making a good burger? Have a tried and true recipe? Let me know in the comments. Later on in the summer, I will ask for your tricked up recipes. I will be posting about this as I go. My plan is to make burgers weekly. I just hope I, and my family, don’t get sick of them before its all over and never want to eat my perfected hamburger again.

Goal this summer to learn how to grill a good hamburger.

Cooking in the Swamp – To fail or not to fail, that is the question…

Thursday, in a characteristic fit of procrastination, I made a Sourdough Starter. I followed the directions to the letter, leaving it in a warm dry place, stirring a couple of times a day. It looked great Thursday and early Friday. Then, Friday afternoon when I checked on it, the water was still separated from the flour slurry at the bottom of the bowl. I pursed my lips and wrinkled my nose, wondering where I went wrong. That I went wrong somewhere was without a doubt. I’ve had too many failures of this kind to blame anyone or anything but myself. Coming up with nothing, and seeing little bubbles percolating still from beyond the layer of murky (and frankly unappetizing water) I decided to Let It Ride. I’m working on my Zen, handwaving, it’ll all work out in the end attitude. How am I doing?

This morning, same thing. Hmm. Too early to call friends. I could post a question on Food52, but I am going to be leaving soon for a lacrosse game so Google-Fu it is! After very little research (again, time constraints) I decided I could either start over, dashing my hopes of making sourdough pancakes tomorrow morning, or I could feed my starter. I went with the latter option, adding one cup of flour and one cup of water and hoping that makes it look like it looked earlier in the process. Of course, nothing in the recipes I’ve read tell you what the finished starter is supposed to look like and none of the pictures I’ve seen illustrate it very well.

Anyway. We will see how this goes.

National Food Holidays

I love Twitter. Not only has it become my go to news aggregator – especially using the Flipboard app on iPad – but almost daily the people I follow shower me with writing quotes, motivational snippets and, by far my favorite, recipes and, thanks to Foodimentary, a heads up about food holidays.

If it seemed like there was a holiday for just about everything you could put in your mouth, whether it be liquid or solid, the list below will confirm it. It is no surprise that today, Valentine’s Day, is National Creme Filled Chocolate Day.  Some days are redundant – what the difference between National Chocolate Mint Day (Feb 19) and National Peppermint Patty Day (Feb 11) is, I’m not sure. Nor does it make sense why there is a National Peanut Butter Day (Jan 24) and a National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (March 1). There is a National Celery Month (March) and a Fresh Celery Month (April). Frankly, I didn’t realize there was any other kind of celery than fresh, the limp, forgotten celery at the bottom of my crisper drawer notwithstanding.

Anyway, this is a fun list for reference. I can’t find a google or iCal food holiday calendar to subscribe to. I wish someone would make one. Maybe one night, when I can’t sleep, I will make one for all of us. Until then, check out Foodimentary which is a nifty food website or peruse the list below and tell me in the comments which celebration you are most looking forward to.

 

January

National Hot Tea Month
National Oatmeal Month
National Slow Cooking Month
National Soup Month

January 2 National Buffet Day
January 2 National Cream Puff Day
January 3 National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
January 4 National Spaghetti Day
January 5 National Whipped Cream Day
January 6 National Shortbread Day
January 7 National Tempura Day
January 8 National English Toffee Day
January 9 National Apricot Day
January 10 National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
January 12 National Marzipan Day
January 13 National Peach Melba Day
January 14 National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day
January 15 National Strawberry Ice Cream Day
January 16 National Fig Newton Day
January 20 National Buttercrunch Day
January 20 National Cheese Lover’s Day
January 21 National Granola Bar Day
January 22 National Blonde Brownie Day
January 23 National Pie Day
January 23 National Rhubarb Pie Day
January 24 National Peanut Butter Day
January 25 National Irish Coffee Day
January 26 National Peanut Brittle Day
January 26 National Pistachio Day
January 28 National Blueberry Pancake Day
January 29 National Cornchip Day
January 30 National Croissant Day
January 31 National Popcorn Day

February

National Cherry Month
National Grapefruit Month
National Hot Breakfast Month
National Macadamia Nut Month
National Snack Food Month

February 19-25 National Pancake Week

February 1 National Baked Alaska Day
February 3 National Carrot Cake Day
February 4 National Homemade Soup Day
February 4 National Stuffed Mushroom Day
February 7 National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
February 8 National Molasses Bar Day
February 9 National Bagels and Lox Day
February 10 National Cream Cheese Brownie Day
February 11 National Peppermint Patty Day
February 12 National Plum Pudding Day
February 13 National Tortellini Day
February 14 National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day
February 15 National Gumdrop Day
February 16 National Almond Day
February 17 National Indian Pudding Day
February 19 National Chocolate Mint Day
February 20 National Cherry Pie Day
February 21 National Sticky Bun Day
February 22 National Cook a Sweet Potato Day
February 22 National Margarita Day
February 23 National Banana Bread Day
February 24 National Tortilla Chip Day
February 25 National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day
February 25 National Clam Chowder Day
February 26 National Pistachio Day
February 27 National Chocolate Cake Day
February 27 National Strawberry Day
February 27 National Kahlua Day
February 28 National Chocolate Souffle Day

March

National Caffeine Awareness Month
National Celery Month
National Flour Month
National Frozen Food Month
National Noodle Month
National Nutrition Month
National Peanut Month
National Sauce Month

March 1 National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day
March 1 National Fruit Compote Day
March 2 National Banana Cream Pie Day
March 3 National Cold Cuts Day
March 3 National Mulled Wine Day
March 4 National Poundcake Day
March 5 National Cheese Doodle Day
March 6 National Frozen Food Day
March 6 National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
March 7 National Crown Roast of Pork Day
March 7 National Cereal Day
March 8 National Peanut Cluster Day
March 9 National Crabmeat Day
March 10 National Blueberry Popover Day
March 11 Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day
March 12 National Baked Scallops Day
March 13 National Coconut Torte Day
March 14 National Potato Chip Day
March 15 National Peanut Lovers Day
March 15 National Pears Helene Day
March 16 National Artichoke Heart Day
March 18 National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day
March 19 National Poultry Day
March 19 National Chocolate Caramel Day
March 20 National Ravioli Day
March 21 National French Bread Day
March 23 National Chip and Dip Day
March 23 National Melba Toast Day
March 24 National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day
March 25 National Lobster Newburg Day
March 26 National Waffle Day
March 26 National Nougat Day
March 27 National Spanish Paella Day
March 28 National Black Forest Cake Day
March 29 National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day
March 30 Turkey Neck Soup Day
March 31 National Clams on the Half Shell Day

April

National Fresh Celery Month
National Pecan Month
National Soft Pretzel Month
National Soyfoods Month

April 12-18 National Egg Salad Week

April 1 National Sourdough Bread Day
April 2 National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
April 3 National Chocolate Mousse Day
April 4 National Cordon Bleu Day
April 5 National Raisin & Spice Bar Day
April 6 National Caramel Popcorn Day
April 7 National Coffee Cake Day
April 8 National Empanada Day
April 9 National Chinese Almond Cookie Day
April 10 National Cinnamon Crescent Day
April 11 National Cheese Fondue Day
April 12 National Licorice Day
April 13 National Peach Cobbler Day
April 14 National Pecan Day
April 14 National Hot Cross Bun Day (Good Friday)
April 15 National Glazed Ham Day
April 16 National Eggs Benedict Day
April 16 National Baked Ham with Pineapple Day
April 17 National Cheeseball Day
April 18 National Animal Crackers Day
April 20 National Pineapple Upside-down Cake Day
April 21 National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day
April 22 National Jelly Bean Day
April 23 National Cherry Cheesecake Day
April 24 National Pigs-in-a-Blanket Day
April 25 National Zucchini Bread Day
April 26 National Pretzel Day
April 27 National Prime Rib Day
April 28 National Blueberry Pie Day
April 29 National Shrimp Scampi Day
April 30 National Oatmeal Cookie Day

May

National Barbecue Month
National Chocolate Custard Month
National Egg Month
National Hamburger Month
National Salad Month
National Salsa Month
National Strawberry Month

May 1-7 National Raisin Week
May 3-9 National Herb Week

May 1 National Chocolate Parfait Day
May 3 National Raspberry Popover Day
May 3 National Chocolate Custard Day
May 4 National Candied Orange Peel Day
May 4 National Hoagie Day
May 6 National Crepe Suzette Day
May 7 National Roast Leg of Lamb Day
May 8 National Coconut Cream Pie Day
May 12 National Nutty Fudge Day
May 13 National Apple Pie Day
May 14 National Buttermilk Biscuit Day
May 17 National Cherry Cobbler Day
May 18 National Cheese Souffle Day
May 19 National Devil’s Food Cake Day
May 20 National Quiche Lorraine Day
May 22 National Vanilla Pudding Day
May 23 National Taffy Day
May 24 National Escargot Day
May 25 National Brown-Bag-It Day
May 26 National Blueberry Cheesecake Day
May 31 National Macaroon day

June

National Candy Month
National Dairy Month
National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
National Iced Tea Month
National Papaya Month

June 1 National Hazelnut Cake Day
June 2 National Rocky Road Day
June 3 Donut Day (1st weekend in June)
June 3 National Chocolate Macaroon Day
June 5 National Gingerbread Day
June 6 National Applesauce Cake Day
June 7 National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
June 9 National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day
June 11 National German Chocolate Cake Day
June 12 National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
June 13 Kitchen Klutzes of America Day
June 14 National Strawberry Shortcake Day
June 16 National Fudge Day
June 17 National Apple Strudel Day
June 17 National Cherry Tart Day
June 21 National Peaches & Cream Day
June 22 National Chocolate Eclair Day
June 23 National Pecan Sandies Day
June 24 National Pralines Day
June 25 National Strawberry Parfait Day
June 26 National Chocolate Pudding Day
June 29 National Almond Buttercrunch Day

July

National Baked Bean Month
National Culinary Arts Month
National Hot Dog Month
National Ice Cream Month
National July Belongs to Blueberries Month
National Picnic Month

July 1 National Gingersnap Day
July 2 National Anisette Day
July 3 National Chocolate Wafer Day
July 4 National Barbecue Day
July 5 National Apple Turnover Day
July 6 National Fried Chicken Day
July 7 National Strawberry Sundae Day
July 7 National Macaroni Day
July 8 National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day
July 9 National Sugar Cookie Day
July 10 National Pina Colada Day
July 11 National Blueberry Muffin Day
July 12 National Pecan Pie Day
July 15 National Tapioca Pudding Day
July 17 National Peach Ice Cream Day
July 18 National Caviar Day
July 20 National Ice Cream Day
July 20 National Lollipop Day
July 21 National Creme Brulee Day
July 22 National Penuche Day
July 23 National Vanilla Ice Cream Day
July 25 National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
July 26 National Bagelfest
July 28 National Milk Chocolate Day
July 28 National Hamburger Day
July 29 National Lasagna Day
July 30 National Cheesecake Day
July 31 National Raspberry Cake Day

August

National Catfish Month

August 1 National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2 National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 2 National Ice Cream Soda Day
August 3 National Watermelon Day
August 4 National Chocolate Chip Day
August 5 National Mustard Day
August 6 National Root Beer Float Day
August 7 Raspberries ‘n Cream Day
August 8 National Frozen Custard Day
August 9 National Rice Pudding Day
August 10 National S’mores Day
August 11 National Raspberry Bombe Day
August 14 National Creamsicle Day
August 15 National Lemon Meringue Pie Day
August 17 National Vanilla Custard Day
August 18 National Ice Cream Pie Day
August 19 National Soft Ice Cream Day
August 20 National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
August 21 National Spumoni Day
August 22 National Pecan Torte Day
August 23 National Spongecake Day
August 24 National Peach Pie Day
August 25 National Banana Split Day
August 26 National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27 National Pots de Creme Day
August 28 National Cherry Turnovers Day
August 30 National Toasted Marshmallow Day
August 31 National Trail Mix Day

September

National Chicken Month
National Honey Month
National Mushroom Month
National Papaya Month
National Potato Month
National Rice Month

September 3 National Welsh Rarebit Day
September 5 National Cheese Pizza Day
September 8 National Date-Nut Bread Day
September 11 National Hot Cross Bun Day
September 12 National Chocolate Milkshake Day
September 14 National Cream-Filled Donut Day
September 15 National Creme de Menthe Day
September 16 National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day
September 17 National Apple Dumpling Day
September 18 National Play-Dough Day
September 19 National Butterscotch Pudding Day
September 20 National Punch Day
September 21 National Pecan Cookie Day
September 22 National White Chocolate Day
September 26 National Pancake Day
September 28 National Strawberry Cream Pie Day
September 30 National Mulled Cider Day

October

National Apple Month
National Applejack Month
National Caramel Month
National Cookbook Month
National Cookie Month
National Cookie Month
National Dessert Month
National Pasta Month
National Pickled Peppers Month
National Pizza Month
National Popcorn Poppin’ Month
National Pork Month
National Pretzel Month
National Seafood Month

October 4 National Taco Day
October 5 National Apple Betty Day
October 6 National Noodle Day
October 9 National Dessert Day
October 10 National Angel Food Cake Day
October 11 National Sausage Pizza Day
October 13 National Peanut Festival
October 13 National Pumpkin Festival
October 15 National Mushroom Day
October 17 National Pasta Day
October 18 National Chocolate Cupcake Day
October 20 National Brandied Fruit Day
October 22 National Nut Day
October 23 National Boston Cream Pie Day
October 24 National Bologna Day
October 26 National Mincemeat Day
October 28 National Chocolate Day
October 29 National Oatmeal Day
October 30 National Candy Corn Day

November

National Fun with Fondue Month
National Georgia Pecan Month
National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month
National Pepper Month
National Raisin Bread Month

November 1-7 – National Fig Week

November 2 National Deviled Egg Day
November 4 National Candy Day
November 5 National Doughnut Day
November 6 National Nachos Day
November 7 National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
November 8 National Split Pea Soup Week (November 8-13)
November 10 National Vanilla Cupcake Day
November 12 National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day
November 13 National Indian Pudding Day
November 14 National Guacamole Day
November 15 National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day
November 20 National Peanut Butter Fudge Day
November 23 National Cashew Day
November 25 National Parfait Day
November 26 National Cake Day
November 27 National Bavarian Cream Pie Day
November 28 National French Toast Day
November 29 National Chocolates Day
November 30 National Mousse Day

December

December 1 National Pie Day
December 2 National Fritters Day
December 4 National Cookie Day
December 5 National Sacher Torte Day
December 6 National Gazpacho Day
December 7 National Cotton Candy Day
December 8 National Brownie Day
December 9 National Pastry Day
December 11 National Noodle-Ring Day
December 12 National Ambrosia Day
December 13 National Cocoa Day
December 14 National Bouillabaisse Day
December 15 National Lemon Cupcake Day
December 16 National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
December 18 National Roast Suckling Pig Day
December 21 National French Fried Shrimp Day
December 23 National Pfeffernuesse Day
December 24 National Egg Nog Day
December 25 National Pumpkin Pie Day
December 26 National Candy Cane Day
December 27 National Fruitcake Day
December 30 National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

Of Course Today Is National Nutella Day

© Fredrika Stjärne

Mmmm, the wonderful, chocolately sweet, hint of hazelnut goodness of Nutella. Perfect spread on a banana, paired with marshmallow cream on a sandwich or, my personal favorite, straight out of the jar on a spoon. Horrible for your diet. A feast of flavor for your tastebuds. Of course, there is a day celebrating this sinful spread. Convenient that it is today, two days after I made Mini Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecakes, a simple, individual serving size dessert for a group.

I discovered this recipe through Flipboard, an iPad app which deserves its own Swamp of Boredom post and has, in just a month, become the primary way I get my news. It also has great sections for Travel, Tech and Food and Wine. The recipe below is from Food and Wine and is by Grace Parisi. The original recipe can be found here, along with 9 other cheesecake recipes. Really, is there any doubt that I am going to make more of these?

 

 

 

Mini Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecakes

Ingredients

15 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
2 tablespoons raw or roasted hazelnuts, skinned
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread, preferably Nutella
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Spray the liners with vegetable oil spray.
  2. In a food processor, combine the cookies, hazelnuts and butter and process to very fine crumbs. Divide the crumbs among the cups and, using a flat-bottomed glass, press on the crumbs to compact them. Bake for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, wipe out the food processor bowl. Add the cream cheese, Nutella, sour cream, eggs and sugar and puree until smooth. Spoon the filling into the cups until it nearly reaches the top; there may be a few tablespoons of leftover batter. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheesecakes have risen and the surfaces are lightly cracked. Let the cheesecakes cool slightly, then transfer the muffin tin to a rack and freeze for 10 minutes, until the cheesecakes are slightly cooled. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Make Ahead: The mini cheesecakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
My Notes:
  • I didn’t have hazelnuts so I omitted them from the cookie crust. The hazelnut flavor would probably be more pronounced with them included.
  • This is the first time I’ve used a food processor to mix the cheesecake batter. It worked fine, but I think I prefer the mixer.
  • If there is one drawback to this recipe is the individual servings aren’t big enough. I might double the recipe and make them in a larger muffin tin next time, which would necessitate increasing the cook time.

Abandoned Book – Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Food item a day #10

Image via Wikipedia

One of the most difficult aspects of dieting is making good choices. If I’m craving something sweet, I know an apple is a better choice than a Swiss Cake Roll. So, I choose an apple. Something like this follows:

  1. Use apple corer to slice my apple.
  2. Take a bite, enjoy the healthy crunch of good nutrition.
  3. Chew for an exceptionally long time (I left the skin on.)
  4. Swallow. That? Was awesome.
  5. Be proud of myself.
  6. Eat another slice.
  7. Feel better than all those fatsos eating Swiss Cake Rolls.
  8. Eat another slice.
  9. Think about how much I despise people who eat apples whole. Note that it reminds me of horses eating apples and that eating apples is almost as loud as eating chips.
  10. Wonder if I have any chips.
  11. Start on slice number four.
  12. When will this fucking apple end?
  13. Consider adding peanut butter to my apple to make it interesting again.
  14. Calculate how many calories/grams of fat that would add.
  15. Decide to just have a little peanut butter on one slice of apple.
  16. Open the peanut butter jar and smell the wonderful aroma of high fat food.
  17. Thank the lord there are no life threatening allergies in my home.
  18. Spoon some peanut butter on my apple slice. Lick it off.
  19. Decide that half an apple is better than a whole Swiss Cake Roll.
  20. Toss the remaining apple in the trash, where it belongs.
  21. Eat a spoonful of peanut butter.
  22. Repeat, with chocolate chips.
  23. Feel a bit of guilt.
  24. Resolve to eat an apple tomorrow.

In the scenario above, Cry the Beloved Country is the apple. I liked it for a while. Then I got bored. There is nothing that is drawing me back into it and there are too many enticing alternatives. Sure, they probably won’t enrich my mind but now I want to be entertained. I’m sure I will finish it. One day. But, not today. Or tomorrow. Or this week. Maybe next month.