National Raisin Day

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Very fitting to share a day with Oatmeal Cookies since the two are paired together so well.

Raisins are a delicious snack that go back thousands of years to around 2000BC.  Raisins are dried grapes, and during the time of 2000 BC ancient civilizations in Egypt and Persia grapes would be left to dry out in the sun making the healthy and sweet snack.  Raisins were highly prized by many cultures, the Romans even used them as currency for a while and as prizes for sporting events.

Today, half the world’s supply of raisins grow in California.  Fresno, California was named the “Raisin Capitol of the World”.  In 1873, when a heat wave destroyed many California grape vines, one grower began to capitalize on the commercial sale of raisins.  Selling his ruined grapes, calling them a Peruvian Delicacy.

Few know that raisins were also a large part of The Triangular Trade in early colonial times.  Along with sugar, rum, and slaves  Raisins played a large roll in sales.

National Oatmeal Cookie Day

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Oatmeal cookies originated from the oatcakes and bannocks of the ancient people of the British Isles.  These oatcakes, similar to the digestive oat biscuits you can still find in mane UK groceries, were made of oat/oatmeal, salt, water, and sometimes fat.  They were a festive treat served often on holidays.  During Rome’s attempt to conquer England,  English and Scottish soldiers carried oatmeal cakes with them in their saddlebags for quick and easily transportable nutrients.  The Roman’s mocked the soilders because oats were feed for animals and horses, and the Englishmen looked foolish.  However they provided the troops with energy and nutrients, and they lasted during the conflict, so I’m sure the Romans take back their ridicule.  The Oatmeals cookies filled with nuts, spices, and raisins come from a type of oatmeal cookie popular in The Middle Ages.

Oats were introduced to America in the 17th century.  During this time, especially the 19th century, oats and oat cookies were considered health food.  They were given to patients and considered to be part of a hearty nutritious breakfast.  By the 20th century however Oatmeal cookies made the cross over from health food to junk food.

Currently Oatmeal Cookies can provide a healthier alternative to other baked snacks and cookies.  Oats lower cholesterol, they’re high in fiber, and a good source of vitamin E, iron, and protein.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Stew Leonard’s.

National Shrimp Scampi Day

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Shrimp Scampi is simple to make and Delicious!!!! Who knew??

All it consists of is a few cloves are garlic, a dash of salt and cayenne mixed with olive oil.  Let the shrimp marinate in that for a bit.  Then melt some butter in a pan add the shrimp, flip them after the cook on one side.  Before the other side finished cooking add sherry, lemon zest, parsley, and lemon juice.  Cook it all up in the frying pan, and then add the linguine or spaghetti to coat.   It was SO good, it may become a new staple in the house.

I guess Shrimp Scampi just refers to the actual shrimp preparation.  You don’t need the pasta to make the meal.  Also, scampi just means shrimp.  It isn’t the style its prepared (in a frying pan as most people assume) or the ingredients used.  – Although most Italian recipes call for shrimp, garlic, olive oil, and parsley  they range in preparation from  boiling, broiling, frying, baking, shelled, unshelled, marinating, not marinating,… there is nothing specific.  Scampi just refers to Italian shrimp.

Shrimp Scampi became a popular dish in America after World War II

National Blueberry Pie Day

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During the Summer I like to go Blueberry picking and make a pie solely from Blueberries I picked on my own in the forest.  Unfortunately yet another delicious pie day when fresh fruit is not in season.  I used frozen blueberries AGAIN.  But regardless it turned out okay.

Blueberries have a lot of health benefits.  They contain anthrocyanins, which are the pigments that give blueberries the deep, purple color. The pigment contains of Vitamin C and is an anti-oxidant.  If you just use blueberries and not too much sugar or natural sweeteners,  the calorie content of a blueberry pie remains low and is not that bad of a dessert.

Pies have been around since colonial times in America.

National Prime Rib Day

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Prime Rib is a cut of rib roast located between the chuck and the short loin just above the plate.  It is one of the most expensive cuts you can order at a restaurant.

The ‘Prime’ in Prime Rib does not refer to the grade of meat, just the area of origin.  Although Prime also does refer to the best grade of meat, followed by Choice, Select, Cutter, and Canner as well.

Choose a cut with lots of white fat, the more yellowish the fat it the lesser the quality.  The less fat trimmed the better.

National Pretzel Day

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Pretzels originated as a Lenten food.  They are shaped to represent a child’s arms folded in prayer, with 3 holes to represent the trinity.  Monk’s developed the shaped dough scraps and gave them to children as rewards for memorizing prayers and Bible verses.  They go back to at least 610 BC and originated in either South France or Northern Italy.

It was originally called a Pretiola, meaning ‘little reward’.  In Italy it was referred to as a Brachiola, which means ‘little arms’.  Once the treat reached Germany the name Bretzel or Pretzel finally came about, and stuck.

Pretzels were a quick snack to be prepared and came to resemble good luck and prosperity.  They were sold on street corners and vendors, even early on.  Pretzel’s were served as specialties on Easter with hard boiled eggs (and hidden around the house like an Easter hunt) and as Weddings where the bride and groom broke a pretzel to make a wish [where we get the phrase tying the knot?].

Pretzel’s first came to America as early as on the Mayflower.  The first commercial pretzel bakery in the US was established in 1861 by Julius Sturgis from the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.    The automatic pretzel twisting machine was invented in 1935, and that is when the modern age of commercial pretzel businesses began.

HARD PRETZELS:

In Pennsylvannia during the late 17th century a baker fell asleep during the making of his pretzels and cooked the twice.  He completely dried out the pretzel giving it a new and delicious taste, as well as making something that could be preserved longer.

Pretzels have been a big part of food creativity and culture.  Many snack flavors are offered in pretzel including candy bars, goldfish, and M&Ms.  In 1954 a boardwalk vendor at Ocean City, MD sold cotton candy on pretzel rods.  In 1958 a pretzel baker turned politician ran on the slogan “a new twist in government.”  Barbie kitchen sets came with a miniature box of pretzels.  And there was even a dance called the Pretzel Twist.

Annual pretzel sales top $180 million and are the second most popular snack, right behind potato chips and just in front of popcorn.

My New York Pretzel:

National Zucchini Bread Day

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Zucchini Bread is a type of quick bread.  Quick Breads are simple breads raised with agents other than yeast such as pearlash and baking soda.  Recipes for quick breads were developed in the 18th century. Zucchini as an ingredient in quick breads most likely originated fairly recent.  Or earliest during the 19th century when zucchini began to be cultivated.

The squash is a healthy alternative to other flavourings for a bread.

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