February Wrap Up

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Through out the month I celebrated a few of month long Food Holidays.

National Grapefruit Month:  My dad and I each had half of a Crushman’s Grapefruit sent to us from Florida.

National Macadamia Nut Month: My favorite form of Macadamia Nuts come in Pepperidge Farm Cookies.

National Hot Breakfast Day: My idea of the perfect Hot Breakfast is a Denny’s Grand Slam.  I couldn’t make it to Denny’s this month, but any breakfast of that nature is a good hot breakfast for me.  There was a place near me called Pancakes Plus I’ve been wanting to check out, so I went there for a big breakfast one morning this month.  $7 for 3 pancakes, eggs, 6 pieces of bacon, and DELICIOUS hashbrowns!

 

*** Note:  In the event of a Leap Year Feb 29th is National Surf and Turf Day

National Chocolate Souffle Day

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A souffle is a very delicate dish to make, consisting mostly of eggs.  It can fall very easily so when making you must be sure to whip the eggs to firm strong peaks, and not move to much while its in the oven or else it will collapse.  The souffle has a more cake like firm edge with a very very soft center.  It is often cooked in a porcelain ramekin for the best results.

Souffle is derived from the French word Souffler which means ‘to blow/puff up’.  The egg whites in the souffle are the ingredient that cause this puffing when cooking.

For my first souffle I was very impressed at how well it came out.  Mine cracked, which i guess is the result of a hot oven and its not suppose to do that, but I think it only added to the aesthetics.  Very delicious:

National Kahlua Day

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Kahlua is a rich, dark brown coffee liqueur made from Arabica coffee beans.  Its a much thicker drink than most other alcoholic beverages.  It was created by a Mexican chemist, Senor Bianco, in 1936.  The beverage was modified in 1962 by Montalvo Lara, and by 1964 is was imported to the United States, quickly becoming the number one coffee liqueur.


In 1984 Kahlua was the number one liqueur brand in the world, currently is it the second largest single liqueur brand worldwide.  It can be served straight on the rocks or as a common ingredient in many recipes for drinks and desserts (cakes, ice cream, cheesecake).  A popular Kahula drink is the Mudslide.

Aside from a shot of straight deliciously smooth Kahlua, I also had these tastey Kahlua candies!

Kahlua means “House of the Acolhua people”.  People who spoke the language of the Veracruz region of Mexico – where the original recipe’s coffee beans grew.

National Strawberry Day

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Today was a perfect Strawberry Day!  The weather was nice, and I went for a lovely walk outside with my friend Liz snacking on tart juicy strawberries.  It was ideal.

The name Strawberry came from a few different words.  Strewnberry is one of the derivatives, after how the berries are strewn on the plants.  The other is from the words streowberige, streberi lef, and streowberge. The word “streow” in Anglo-Saxon meant hay (the berry was once called “hayberry” too) because it ripened around the season for hay mowing.  They are a member of the Rose family.

Strawberries are not actually berries, nor are they fruit.  They are the enlarged end of the plants stamen, which is why the seeds are all on the outside.  The medicinal benefits of Strawberries include aiding in relief of sunburn, discolored teeth, digestions, and gout.  They are also a common aphrodisiac.

Strawberries were a popular food symbol in Medieval Times.  Having Strawberries on the table was a symbol of prosperity, peace, and perfection.  They weren’t cultivated as a crop though until the Renaissance.  The most popular consumption of Strawberries is probably for Wimbledon.

Strawberries are also native to North America, and popular in many Native American traditions.  A strawberry and cornmeal cake is also an early version of strawberry shortcake.

I also enjoyed a lovely Strawberry frosted cream filled doughnut on this fine day:

(the heart shaped one)

National Pistachio Day

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Hartford, CT has a Pistachio Celebration every year on the 26th.

Pistachios grow on trees and it takes 7-10 years for the first crop to be harvested.  When I was in Greece, my friends house I was staying at had Pistachio trees in the yard.  We saw them grow at their tender young stage.  The Pistachio is related to the Mango.

Pistachios are native to the Middle East and quickly spread to the Mediterranean area.  They are the oldest flowering nut dating back to 7000 BC.  Pistachios were viewed as a specialty food and a delicacy enjoyed by all classes of people.  They have always been an important nut in ancient royalty.  The Queen of Sheba decreed Pistachios were for royalty and forbid commoners from growing and enjoying them.  Nebuchadnezzer planted many Pistachio Trees in his hanging gardens of Babylon, and Emperor Vitellius brought Pistachios to the city of Rome.

Pistachios have more antioxidants per serving than green tea and one serving of pistachios contains 3 grams of fiber – more than most other nuts.

Pistachios first came to America in the 1880’s and stayed mainly in cities and were only eaten by people of Middle Eastern descent.  They gained more popularity in the 1930’s with American citizens.  They were a popular vending machine snack as well as street vendors.  They were dyed red to seems more appealing to a new demographic of customers.

Today California is the second largest producer of Pistachios world wide.  With over 100,000 acres of orchards producing 200 millions pounds of Pistachios a year.  They are a popular snack eaten on their own and also mixed in cookies or ice cream.  James W. Parkinson of Philadelphia is credited as the first person to create Pistachio flavored ice cream in 1840, and were most likely imported.

As I was snacking on some Pistachios today, I decided to make these cranberry pistachio biscotti, they came out great!

National Clam Chowder Day

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Since last month we had New England Clam Chowder, I figured for Clam Chowder Day I would give Manhattan a try.  Manhattan Clam Chowder is a soup made with a clear broth, spices, vegetables, tomatoes, and clams.

A chowder is a creamy stew-like dish.  It’s very heavy and very thick consisting of few vegetables and lots of cream, flour, potatoes, or any thickening agent.  Manhattan Claw Chowder is technically not a chowder, it’s an adaption of an Italian Soup from the 18th century that was renamed chowder to capitalize on the popular food trend of the mid 1800’s.  The “Coney Island Chowder” or “Red Chowder” as distributors began calling them was popular in Manhattan 1900’s and was renamed ‘Manhattan Clam Chowder’.

Manhattan Clam Chowder begins with a tomato-onion base to cook the clams in.  Other vegetables are added including the potato of its New England cousin, and it is spiced with oregano and thyme.  It has a very strong taste and people usually love it or hate it.

There is a myth that people from New England felt so strongly about their chowders and resented the foux Manhattan Chowder that in 1939, a state assembly man of Maine attempted to ban tomatoes from being added to chowders.

National Chocolate Covered (Pea)Nuts Day

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Got some conflicting info. – Not sure if it’s National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day or National Chocolate Covered Peanuts Day.  So I had both!  Goobers are a popular brand of Chocolate Covered Peanuts, and I got some generic brand of Chocolate Covered Almonds to go along.

Nuts have been part of a person’s diet for years.  They taste great and have many nutritional benefits.  After the invention and popularity of Chocolate in the 17th century the two were soon combined.

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