Events

Happy Mustard Day!

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Just a quick post today about this great national holiday.  A couple of quick things to point out:  1) I don’t make my own mustard.  2) I don’t really have a recipe that uses mustard (although my dry rub recipe does have some dry mustard).  3) I love mustard, as you can tell from the mustards that I have in my refrigerator, not counting the Blue Cheese Mustard from Stonewall Kitchen that was just polished off the other day.  I totally recommend that mustard by the way.  But I digress. . . we all probably have some kind of mustard in our kitchen.  It’s a part of our everyday lives!!!. . . for the most part. . . maybe.

But back to the holiday. . . if you are somewhere near Madison, WI, you should pop on over to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton and celebrate at the festival.  Mustard from everywhere will be there — from Kaua’i, HI to Beaverton, OR to Clearwater, FL.  Unfortunately I can’t make it but I did have to order my very own 20th Annual National Mustard Day (NMD) T-shirt!  It sounds like a fun time and it looks to be a very well attended event.  So go celebrate everything mustard and eat a couple of free hotdogs.  Looks like they have some mustard custard to top everything off!

Does anyone have a recipe out there using mustard?

As a side note — today is also National Root Beer Float Day!  I am working on a cake to celebrate!

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 🙂

Pastyfest 2011 and The Strawberry Festival

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I am a big fan of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The natural beauty of the place is remarkable.  And if there’s one place that I have a particular fondness in the U.P., it’s the Keweenaw Peninsula (well, there and the Soo Locks / Sault Ste. Marie).  The Keweenaw is the northernmost tip of the state (here’s a link to the Convention & Visitors Bureau).  It’s not the easiest place to get to, especially from the opposite corner of the state over here by Detroit.  I’d equate it to driving from Miami, FL all the way to Pensacola, FL.  It’s roughly the same distance, but to get to Copper Harbor (which at the very tip of the Keweenaw) you don’t have some nice fancy interstates to take you anywhere.  The closest thing would be US – 41.  Interestingly enough, US-41 ends / starts at Copper Harbor.  The other end?. . . it’s in Miami, FL.

But here are a couple of events happening in the next couple of weeks that would be fun to attend.  Coming up on July 1 – 2 in Calumet is PastyFest 2011 (I already ordered a t-shirt.  The mascot is awesome!).  What better way to celebrate Independence Day that with a Pasty Festival?  And the following weekend (July 8 – 9) is the Copper Country Strawberry Festival in Chassell.  As an aside, this area used to be copper mining country, hence the name and the pasties.  Pasties, with a history dating back to 18th century England, were a standard lunch that miners took down into the mines.  They are a meat and vegetable filled turnover with a pastry crust.  It was portable and it could be warmed up on the lamp that miners had on their helmets.  Some pasties had even had a built-in dessert of fruit on one end of the turnover.  How cool is that?

So if you’re in the area or if you want something fun to do, check out these festivals.  It’s a nice weekend trip and I’m sure there’ll be lots of good food.

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 🙂

May Foodie Holidays and postings preview

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Well, it’s May and you know what that means.  Lots of things apparently.  First of all, all those April showers have brought in the May flowers.  But since it still feels a little chilly up here, maybe those flowers will come in June.

So what’s in store for this month?  There’s Cinco de Mayo, which is not the Mexican Day of Independence (that’s in September).  Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, too.  Culinarily speaking, it is also National Hamburger Month, National Barbeque Month, National Salad Month, and National Chocolate Custard Month, just to name a few.  There are a whole jumble of National ____ Days which I could do stuff on, but that’s really no different from any other month.  So this will be the some of the various themes that I’m going to try to focus on this month.  Stay tuned!