Event Planning

September Foodie Holidays

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It’s the first of the month and Daisy’s here with your monthly holiday announcements!  Here she is enjoying her stick on one of the last few days of summer in the backyard.  September is another busy month for our “national” holidays.  Of course there’s Labor Day, and Back-To-School things going on, which also means college football starts up again (finally!!!).  There’s also the Mexican Day of Independence (16th), and Rosh Hashanah (28th @ sundown) and Talk-Like-A-Pirate Day (19th).  Plus, Daisy turns 2 on the 29th!

Daisy loves her stick!

This month we have:  National Chicken Month, National Honey Month, National Mushroom Month, National Papaya Month, National Potato Month, and National Rice Month.  As for specific days, we have:

National Welsh Rarebit Day

4  National Macadamia Nut Day

National Cheese Pizza Day

7  National Beer Lover’s Day

8  National Date-Nut Bread Day

11  National Hot Cross Bun Day

12  National Chocolate Milkshake Day

13  National Peanut Day

14  National Cream-Filled Donut Day

15  National Creme de Menthe Day

16  National Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Day

17  National Apple Dumpling Day

19  International Talk Like a Pirate Day

19  National Butterscotch Pudding Day

20  National Punch Day

21  National Pecan Cookie Day

22 National White Chocolate Day

26  National Pancake Day (maybe)

28  National Strawberry Cream Pie Day

30  National Mulled Cider Day

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2011 also marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  I know that this is not a holiday, but I feel that you can’t talk about a calendar of events without mentioning this day.  I thought it was important to address and provide just a couple of informational links for folks.  National Geographic has done some good specials about that day from different perspectives, including a special interview with President Bush about his personal experiences as the terrorist attacks unfolded.  Also Yahoo! News has posted some different profiles and personal stories on how 9/11 has changed our lives as a nation.  You should also visit the national memorial site to see how the memorial and museum are taking shape.  It is my hope that on this day,  we can put aside what separates us and remember what brings us together.

Take care everyone.

Champagne cocktails, part 2 — Peter Venkman, Camilla Parker Bowles, and a Tic-Tac

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Peter Venkman, Camilla Parker Bowles, and a Tic-Tac.  Sounds like the punchline to a bad joke.  It could be, but it’s not.  This is round 2 of my experimenting with my liquor cabinet and some sparkling wine.  By this time in the “trials”, I am starting to get tipsy, so the names of these drinks might be a little weird, but I swear they made sense at the time.  Now these names are not original, so hopefully they won’t cause any troubles.  I’m not making any money off these things, so I guess it should be okay.

For the Peter Venkman:

  • 5 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. Midori

Pour the Midori into a flute.  Top off with the sparkling or champers.  Now this one isn’t all that difficult to explain how we got to this name.  Originally, I was going to call it a Romulan Ale (and yes I’m a big Star Trek nerd).  Problem was that Romulan Ale is blue (if you follow any of the Trekkie lore).  There is another Star Trek drink that is green called Aldebaran Whiskey, but that didn’t seem to fit at all.  So what’s the next thing that popped into my head — Ghostbusters!  The color is definitely that of Slimer, but I couldn’t call it Slime, so Peter Venkman seemed like the next logical choice.

For Camilla Parker Bowles:

  • 5 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. raspberry liquor
  • dash of bitters

There was all that buzz about the royal wedding, I thought to myself that maybe I should make something that reflected all the hub-bub.  Plus there was all that rioting in London, I think over an increase in fees for students and they attacked the car that was carrying Prince Charles and Camilla.  Personally I don’t get the big deal over the hike in fees.  Maybe it’s because tuition in this country is redonk — I gots $50,000 in student loans after 2 years of school.  But I digress. . . the recipe is simple enough, but I added a dash of bitters. . . because I think Camilla has a dash of bitters herself.

For the Tic-Tac:

  • 4 oz. sparkling wine
  • 1 oz. mint syrup
  • 1 drop peppermint oil

This recipe packs a wallop.  All because of the oil.  I recommend closing your eyes when you drink this one.  Or try it with your eyes open, then you’ll know what I mean.

Champagne Cocktails, part 1 — a Classic and Nelson’s Blood

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I hosted a wine tasting recently with a focus on whites and sparkling wines.  So I thought it might be nice to see what recipes are out there for drinks that use sparkling wines (champagne, cava, prosecco, spumante, etc. . . ) as a base.  Probably most everyone knows about mimosas and bellinis.  But I am looking for something a little bit different from even a sparkling sangria (which will probably be my fall back).

Now my booze cabinet isn’t the most well-stocked, but I do have a couple of mixers that I could use, plus there are some things that I have already stocked in the refrigerator.  So here’s what I have:

Mixers, liqueurs, syrups, etc:  Midori, raspberry liqueur, cranberry mix, sour apple mix, Angostura bitters, rhubarb syrup, mint syrup, Apple Pie liqueur (luv this stuff.  it really does taste like boozy apple pie!), and sugar cubes.

Booze:  Appleton VX, Appleton 12-year-old, Pisco, Cachaca (actually two types), Bison Grass vodka, Apple Jack, Yukon Jack, Bulleit Rye, and Woodford’s Reserve.

I am not using my good Appleton rum (If you are ever lucky enough to try some 30-year-old Appleton, by all means get it.  Exquisite stuff!  Too bad the oldest available in Michigan is the 12-year-old.), the vodka, or my bourbon.  No sense in wasting those on something that may or may not work.  Plus, no sense in using a bottle of Krug in making champagne cocktails.  I am using prosecco from Cupcake Vineyards.  Not a bad wine, especially for the price — about $8!

So for this first post I did find some recipes for a couple of traditional cocktails.  I apologize for the picture; the cocktails looked a little ominous for some reason.  One of them is just a Classic Champagne Cocktail.  I guess it’s been around forever.  The other one is called Nelson’s Blood.  Now if you don’t know the story behind the name, it’s not a pretty one, but more on that later. . .

For the Classic Cocktail:

  • 1 sugar cube
  • bitters
  • 5 oz. champagne

On a plate, place the sugar cube and splash on a couple of dashes of the bitters in order to soak the cube.  Now transfer the cube to a champagne flute and top off with the champagne or sparkling wine.  The sugar cube has lots of nucleation points for the sparkling so this will be extra bubbly (think about sodas and Mentos, but not as violent. . . if you don’t know what I’m taking about, click on this).

For the Nelson’s Blood:

  • 1 oz. Tawny Port
  • 5 oz. champagne

In a champagne flute, pour in your Port.  Now top it off with the champagne.  I do confess though — the pic does not have port in it, but some of the Appleton VX instead.  Although most recipes I found just have the port and sparkling in it, there are some which have rum.  These are more complex and have better ties to the provenance of the drink.  So here’s a cultural nugget and a little bit of history. . .

Picture it — Trafalgar, 1805. . . The British fleet has just scored another victory against the rival French, but the victory would cost Admiral Horatio Nelson his life.  Admiral Nelson was a war hero beloved all over England and a burial at sea would just not sit well with folks back at home.  The problem was that getting him home could take possibly months.  So to keep his body, er. . . fresh. . . it was preserved in a casket of brandy where it was essentially pickled.

It has been reported that since he was so beloved by the people and admired by his crew, some of the sailors aboard Nelson’s ship secretly stole a sip of the pickling brandy to hopefully take in some of his qualities.  So this has given life to numerous concoctions paying homage to him.  Check out this one which has brandy (to symbolize his “preserves”), tawny port (to symbolize his spilt blood), rum (because he was a sailor), and blood orange juice (since he died just off the coast of Spain).  Tasty!

August Foodie Holidays

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Daisy says, “Happy August everyone!”  If you thought that August is a slow month for national holidays, you’d be wrong.  Not only is it National Catfish month, but this country celebrates a whole bunch of things ranging from raspberries to mustard to toasted marshmallows (I just found out that it is also National Peach Month, too).  So grab a root beer float and a bag of trail mix cuz it’s August!  Here is what we have to look forward this month:

National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

3  National Ice Cream Soda Day (or June 20th)

4  National Chocolate Chip Day (or May 15th)

5  International Beer Day (just found this out!)

6  National Mustard Day (check out the Mustard Museum!)

National Root Beer Float Day

7  National Raspberries ‘n Cream Day

8  National Frozen Custard Day

National Rice Pudding Day

10  National S’mores Day

11  National Raspberry Bombe Day

14  National Creamsicle Day

15  National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

17  National Vanilla Custard Day

18  National Ice Cream Pie Day

19  National Soft Ice Cream Day

20  National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

21  National Spumoni Day

22  National Pecan Torte Day

23  National Spongecake Day

24  National Peach Pie Day

25  National Banana Split Day

26  National Cherry Popsicle Day

27  National Pots de Creme Day

28  National Cherry Turnovers Day

30  National Toasted Marshmallow Day

31  National Trail Mix Day

July Foodie Holidays

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Happy July everybody!  Lots of stuff going on in July, much like every month.  Of course, there’s the 4th of July for us in the States, but there’s also Canada Day on the 1st (it’s like the 4th of July. . . . but Canadian!).  And there’s Bastille Day on the 14th.  Guess lots of people went independent this month.  I think it’s because of the heat.

There’s lots going on in the world of food, too.  Month-long celebrations include:  National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Ice Cream Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Picnic Month, and National July is for Blueberries Month!

Here are some days of interest:

1  National Gingersnap Day

4  National Barbeque Day

5  National Apple Turnover Day

6  National Fried Chicken Day

7  National Strawberry Sundae Day, National Macaroni Day

9  National Sugar Cookie Day

10  National Pina Colada Day

11  National Blueberry Muffin Day

12  National Pecan Pie Day

17  National Peach Ice Cream Day

20  National Ice Cream Day

21  National Creme Brulee Day

22  National Penuche Day

23  National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

25  National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

26  National Bagelfest

28  National Milk Chocolate Day, National Hamburger Day

29  National Lasagna Day

30  National Cheesecake Day

31  National Raspberry Cake Day

That’s lots of “national holidays”!  As always, I will try to keep these in mind when trying to post stuff on the blog, but I really don’t have any experience working with penuche 🙂

June Foodie Holidays

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Happy June everyone!  It’s a lovely day here in SEMI, especially since it was mid-nineties hot here for the past couple of days.  Just wanted to give everyone a little heads up on what we can celebrate this month.

This year, Father’s Day and Juneteenth are both on the 19th.  But culinarily speaking, June is:  National Candy Month (here’s a nice nutritional link from Kansas State University’s Dining Services),  National Dairy MonthNational Fresh Fruit and Veggies Month,  National Papaya Month (which is also in September for some reason), and  National Iced Tea Month to just name a few.  Here are some days of interest:

1 Hazelnut cake day

2 Rocky Road day

3 Chocolate Macaroon day

7 Chocolate Ice Cream day

9 Strawberry Rhubarb Pie day

12 Peanut Butter Cookie day

14 Strawberry Shortcake day

22 Chocolate Eclair day

26 Chocolate Pudding day

I will try to keep these in mind for this month’s postings.  I still have to post some things for National Hamburger Month and National Salad Month which was last month.  Maybe I’ll save them for next year.

Cinco de Mayo Menu — Guacamole, Ceviche, and Margaritas

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!  You know what that means — time to get your drink on!  But what it really commemorates is the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (the Mexican Day of Independence is September 16, 1810).  Napoleon was looking to get some money back that Mexico owed France and this invasion was a way of doing that.  But things on this day didn’t turn out the way he had planned and Mexico defeated the superior (yet uncoordinated) French force.  It’s like the Alamo. . . if Texas had won.

So this isn’t really a menu per se.  More of a collection of recipes that are easy to make and that you can have for your holiday celebration.  So let’s start off with the Guacamole.  It’s simple and easy to make.  Plus it’s easy for you to put your simple twist on it.  Por exemplo, you could keep everything in a rough dice and make an avocado salad, or add some jalapeno or serrano chiles, or add cilantro (yuk — I am one of those folks who cannot stand cilantro).  Here’s what you need:

  • 3 or 4 Hass avocados, about 1 1/2 lbs.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1/2 of a small white onion, diced
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the avocados by cutting them in half lengthwise and twisting them to open up the halves.  Remove the seed.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl.  Now mash it with a fork (depending on how chunky you want it).

2.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Serve with some tortilla chips or use as a topping for tacos, burritos, eggs. . .  anything really. . . except like blueberry pie and the ilk.  Press down a cover a plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole if you’re not using it immediately.  I have heard that in order to keep this from turning brown, you can place the avocado pit on top of the mixture.  Not sure how or even if this works.  But if it does, in theory, you won’t need to cover this dish and can even cut back on the lime.

Ceviche.  There are all different kinds of ceviche, but they all involve “cooking” or marinating fresh seafood in some citrus juice, usually lime.  “Cooking” doesn’t necessarily happen in this dish, but the citrus does denature the proteins in the seafood, which is what the heat from cooking does.  It probably originated in Peru and made its way up the coastline to Mexico, although some place origins of the dish closer to Central America.  There are some cultures in Asia who may also have a claim on “inventing” the dish (I luv Hawaiian Poke).  Again, a variety of seafoods are used — different fishes, scallops, squid, octopus, crab, I even saw one with smoked fish for those who have concerns about eating raw fish.  Since this is Cinco de Mayo, I will “de-Asian” my recipe to put it closer to the Mexican version (I like to put a little ginger, green onion, and soy sauce in mine).  I will be making some later today.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb. ocean fish like halibut, mackerel, or snapper (go to your fish monger and see what’s fresh and use that.  you could also tell them that you’re planning on making ceviche and ask them for suggestions.  any good fish monger should be able to help you out.  if they can’t offer any good advice buy your fish somewhere else!).
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
  • 1 c. fresh lime juice
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley
  • hot chiles, to taste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sugar

1.  Cut the fish into about 1/2 in. cubes.  Place in a non-reactive bowl (like glass or stainless) with the onion, garlic, and lime juice.  The fish should be covered with the lime juice, if not just add some more, or top it off with some water.  Let marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours, to get the fish well done.  If you want it more raw, just marinate it for about an hour or two.

2.  Strain out the lime juice and discard it.  Add your tomatoes, chile, cilantro (or parsley), and olive oil.  Stir to combine.  Season with the salt and pepper.   Balance out the flavors with just a scant amount of sugar, maybe 1/2 teaspoon.

Margaritas.  What would today be without a good margarita?  Origins of this drink are highly debatable, with several stories about where and why this drink was created.  But it is definitely Mexican in origin and can be made in lots of variations, which I’m sure y’all know.  Just go to a local restaurant and see what different kinds they have.  This recipe is simple, requires only three ingredients (not including ice and salt or sugar on the rim of the glass) — Silver Tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau.

1.  Prep the glass by running a lime around the rim and dipping it into a shallow plate of salt or sugar, depending on your taste.

2.  Pour your tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau into a pitcher.  If you use a cup of each, you’d probably get 5 margaritas, depending on how much of a booze hound you are.  Fill a cocktail shaker about half full of ice.  Add enough of your Margarita mixture for a couple of drinks and shake vigorously for about 15-30 seconds to chill and dilute it.  Strain into the prepared glass.

Now these are just a couple of things that you can make today to help celebrate the holiday.  We typically think of this day as an excuse to drink, but take some time to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.  One e-magazine that can offer some information on a wide variety of topics ranging from culture to cuisine to travel is MexConnect.  On the Culinary side of things, one great resource is Chef Rick Bayless.  He has a series on PBS called Mexico – One Plate at a Time where he explores the culture and food traditions  of Mexico, as well as the variations across the different regions of the country.  He has won various awards including a couple of James Beards.  You can learn about his books, restaurants, products, and his bio at the hyperlink above (I did not know that he did some doctoral work in Anthropological Linguistics at the University of Michigan).

Sorry for the long post, but hope it was helpful.  I’ll try to post some other things throughout the day that are Mexican themed.  Depends on how many margaritas I have 🙂