Posts Tagged With: Baking and Confections

356/365: National Date Nut Bread Day (Round 2)

Don’t forget to check your calendar, you crazy person, you! December 22 is National Date Nut Bread Day. (Apparently, the closer we get to the end, the more of a stretch these puns become).

And also, the less original the holidays, as we already celebrated National Date Nut Bread Day on September 8. I warned y’all back then we had another duplicate holiday! There were no alternatives back then, and there are none today. So we’ll add date nut bread to the list of duplicate food holidays.

With our challenge nearly over, I’m planning a special post afterwards, and would love to answer any questions you might have! The ones we most often hear are,

  1. What was the worst food you tried?
  2. What was the best?
  3. Which was the most difficult challenge to celebrate?

I’ll be answering all those, of course, but if you’ve got more – fire away! I’m also interested in knowing whether you’d see any value in turning this year’s challenge into a book. It would be a simple self-published Kindle edition costing no more than $2.99 or so. Be honest – my feelings won’t be hurt if you say no! I just need to know if it’s worth the effort to format and try selling. I also have friends in the app business (shout out to Heidi and Ross) who have approached us about making a National Food Holidays app based on the blog. It sounds like an intriguing idea to me. Thoughts?

But onto more important matters. That is, the date nut bread. Even though the holiday was a duplicate, the recipe was not. This time Tara tried a new recipe. It calls for soaking the dates in orange liqueur. ‘Nuff said!

National Date Nut Bread Day

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Categories: Bread | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

349/365: National Lemon Cupcake Day

Pucker up, baby! Today’s celebrated food is a little bit sweet, a little bit tart…and a whole lot delicious. December 15 is National Lemon Cupcake Day!

We’ve had multiple cupcake holidays this year, and on other occasions, have substituted cupcakes for cakes, saving us both calories and money. So we feel like we have paid due tribute to these small, individual cakes that – true to their name – really could be served in cups, if so desired. Most cupcakes tend to be very sweet, but I’ve always found the presence of lemon in baked goods to be a nice, light, tangy contrast to all that sugar. It’s no surprise that my favorite type of cake is lemon.

Not much else to say that hasn’t already been discussed elsewhere, so let’s just dive in! Tara made these from scratch. They were moist and delicious!

National Lemon Cupcake Day

Categories: Desserts, Pastry | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

339/365: National Comfort Food Day*

Today’s food holiday is a throwback to simpler times, and is sure to evoke a sense of nostalgia. December 5 is National Comfort Food Day!

It’s also National Sacher Torte Day. I was intrigued by this, as I had no idea what a Sacher Torte is. Turns out it’s a specific type of rich chocolate cake made only in Vienna and Salzburg, Austria. It’s been around since 1832 and consists of two layers of dense chocolate sponge cake, separated by a layer of apricot conserve in the middle and covered in dark chocolate icing. Holy cow, that sounds good! Fortunately, it can be shipped globally. Unfortunately, when I went to the website, here’s what I saw:

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 3.48.54 PM

Sadly, my experience with the Austrian language is limited to…umm…nothing. I don’t know one damn word. I mean, I get that the cake is 12 cm, but that’s about it. After some online research I was able to convert the price from Euros to dollars. $27.51, at the time of this writing. For a 12 cm cake. Plus international shipping. As dedicated as we are to this challenge, and as wonderful as I’m sure the torte is, I think we’re going to have to stick with comfort food instead.

The concept of comfort food may have been around forever, but the term wasn’t added to the dictionary until 1977. It is defined as food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being, typically any with a high sugar or other carbohydrate content and associated with childhood or home cooking. Comfort foods vary by culture and region. Some of the dishes commonly associated with American cuisine include apple pie, baked beans, chicken pot pie, chicken soup, fried chicken, green bean casserole, hot dogs, ice cream, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, spaghetti, tomato soup, and tuna casserole, according to a poll conducted by about.com.

With so many comforting choices, we weren’t sure what to make! We’re experiencing bitterly cold weather this week, with highs only right around freezing. So a hearty mac ‘n cheese sounded like the best bet! We combined that with a kielbasa sausage and ended up with a soul-satisfying comfort meal to ward off the chill!

National Comfort Food Day

Categories: Too Weird to Categorize | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

338/365: National Cookie Day

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me. And it ought to be good enough for you, too. December 4 is National Cookie Day!

Our food holidays seem to be running out of steam and turning more “generic” as the year winds down. Instead of corn fritters, we’ve had fritters. Instead of German chocolate cake, it was cake. And now, instead of oatmeal raisin cookies, we’re just celebrating cookies. (We also have a generic National Pastry Day coming up. And just wait until National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. The sky’s the limit on that one). On the one hand this is good, as it allows us to get creative and do whatever we want. On the other hand, the lack of direction can leave us scratching our heads at times while trying to decide what, exactly, we should do. The holidays are a busy time of year. Who’s got time to think?!

December is also synonymous with baking in general, and cookies in particular. For some reason, Christmas cookies always seem extra tasty. Plus, you’ve gotta leave some out for Santa, right?

To celebrate, we went out to dinner at our favorite local salad bar/soup restaurant, Sweet Tomatoes. They serve cookies there, and we had a delicious pumpkin snickerdoodle. Very appropriate for the season!

National Cookie Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

330/365: National Cake Day

Today’s food holiday is a piece of cake! Literally. November 26 is National Cake Day!

Hardly the first time this year we’ve celebrated cake. There have been cupcakes, shortcakes, spongecakes, pound cakes, angel food cakes, devil food cakes, applesauce cakes, cheesecakes, hazelnut cakes, coffee cakes, carrot cakes, and even – though this may be a stretch – pancakes. I haven’t done the math, but I think only pies have been better represented this year. Here’s a great chart I found detailing the history of many different types of cakes. Credit goes to a website called Foodbeast for this. Hey, at least I don’t have to type very much today!

caked-up-infographic

To celebrate, we shared a slice of lemon cake with vanilla frosting from the bakery at Fred Meyer. It was light, airy, and delicious!

National Cake Day

Categories: Desserts, Pastry | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

324/365: National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

Today we find ourselves in a familiar sticky situation. November 20 is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day!

Alas, yet another fudge holiday. There have been plenty already. We noshed on nutty fudge, chewed chocolate, and partook in penuche. Each time, we mentioned fudge’s storied history, how it originated in a women’s college in the 1880s and was such a sensation that other women’s colleges across the country attempted to make their own versions of fudge, with varying results. No need to rehash all that…but I do have a rather humorous story to share.

I mistakenly thought today was National Beaujolais Nouveau Day. I was so convinced of this, I popped open a bottle of the wine. We toasted and sipped. I posted the blog entry. We even planned dinner around this (spaghetti, which of course goes perfectly well with red wine). And then, when I was reading over the post – ironically, something I rarely do afterwards – I noticed that I had written the holiday landed on the third Thursday of November. The only problem with that? Today is WEDNESDAY. The problem is, as I’ve mentioned before, about a third of the way through the year I realized these posts are so time consuming, I should write them in advance. Knock out a bunch ahead of time, and fill in the blanks on that particular food holiday. This worked out well. At first I’d write a few ahead of time. Then a week’s worth. Then…well, let’s just say I had gotten in the habit of really writing far out in advance. The only downside is…well, today. Looking at my calendar weeks ago, I was off by one day. I thought the 20th was a Thursday. It was not. You know what really confuses me, by the way? I had also partially written this post in advance. I don’t know what I was thinking. Suffice it to say, at 6:30, we were suddenly scrambling to celebrate peanut butter fudge. I remembered a friend, Wendy, had mentioned how easy fudge is to make. You can even do it in the microwave, she said. A quick Google search confirmed this. I was able to find an easy four-ingredient microwave peanut butter fudge recipe. It’s here, if you’re interested.

Making the fudge took less than ten minutes, but then we had to let it set in the fridge for 90 minutes. Amazingly…it turned out delicious! The consistency was spot on, the flavor, rich and intense. Who knew fudge was so easy to make?!

National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

314/365: National Vanilla Cupcake Day

If today’s a little frosty, well, that’s no real surprise. After all, it’s November 10. And National Vanilla Cupcake Day, to boot!

Cupcakes again, eh? It seems we’ve celebrated these a dozen times this year, but in reality, there has only really been one other day specifically devoted to cupcakes: October 18 (National Chocolate Cupcake Day). But there have been several cake holidays where we opted to make or buy cupcakes instead, just to save us the trouble (and calories) associated with leftovers. Click on the link for a history of what the British refer to as “fairy cakes.” By the way, one alternate explanation for the name cupcakes has to do with the fact that the ingredients are typically measured out in cups: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, one cup of milk. And four eggs and one spoonful of baking soda. Commit that ratio to memory, and you’ll be able to whip up homemade cupcakes wherever you go!

To celebrate, we stopped by Freddy’s on the way home and picked up some miniature vanilla cupcakes. Same kind we had on our chocolate cupcake day. These little bite-sized treats lent the perfect sweet finish to our dinner!

National Vanilla Cupcake Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

274/365: National Homemade Cookies Day*

Bad news if you’re a Keebler elf: today’s holiday just might put you out of business. October 1 is National Homemade Cookies Day!

It’s also World Vegetarian Day, but when given the choice between cauliflower and cookies, that’s a no-brainer. I’ve talked about cookies many times in this blog already, so there’s no need to rehash any of that. There’s something about homemade cookies fresh from the oven that awakens the inner kid in us all. I remember visiting my great-grandparents in Trenton when I was a wee lad o’ 6 or 7; they would always put out a container of potato chips and a platter of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Those were the best: rich, slightly chewy, and bursting with flavor. Sadly, homemade cookies are sort of a lost art these days, with all the prepackaged stuff (not to mention the refrigerated dough that only requires you to slice into uniform circles and stick in the oven). Come on, folks…that’s not baking!

The art of making cookies from scratch.

The art of making cookies from scratch.

Tara happens to have some really good recipes for homemade cookies, so I turned all the prep work for this holiday over to her. She says…

It’s that time of year and I’ve been craving one of my favorite autumn season cookies; Pumpkin Chocolate Chip!  These cookies are special for me because I’m reminded of growing up in Springville, UT.  One of the local grocery stores sold these cookies only during certain times of the year…at least from what I remember (feel free to correct me, Mom). Anyway, we never had much money and it was always such a treat to splurge on those cookies.  And then I moved away, grew up, and got married.  For years I kept an eye out for them in the local stores and for any similar recipe in cookbooks.  It was four years before we got our first computer when I finally found the recipe I still use today. 

Pumpkin Cookies
from the kitchen of Elk Creek Ranch; Island Park, ID

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup veggie oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Blend sugar, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.  Sift dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture.  Stir until smooth.  Add chocolate chips.  Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes.

National Homemade Cookie Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

262/365: National Butterscotch Pudding Day

Today we celebrate the happy marriage of butter and brown sugar: September 19 is National Butterscotch Pudding Day!

I was surprised to learn that butterscotch really is just a combination of the two ingredients mentioned above. A recipe in the “Housewife’s Corner” section of an 1848 newspaper for “Doncaster butterscotch” calls for one pound of butter, one pound of sugar and a quarter of a pound of treacle, boiled together. Mmm…treacle! (Treacle is simply uncrystallized syrup, but I had to look this up. I was afraid it was something far more disgusting). It was advertised as “The Queen’s Sweetmeat” (huh?) and billed as the best emollient for the chest in the winter season. As for the name itself, its exact origins are hazy. “Butterscotch” may refer to the method of cutting or scoring the confection into pieces before it hardens, a process known as “scotching.” It’s also possible that “Scotch” is derived from the word “scorch,” or is a reference to its creation in Scotland.

Butterscotch isn’t always a confection, and butterscotch pudding is a great example: it is flavored with brown sugar and butter for the taste of butterscotch, but isn’t actually made from a confection.

To celebrate, we bought some butterscotch pudding cups. We sure have had a lot of pudding holidays this year! Didn’t feel like going all out and making it from scratch, either.

National Butterscotch Pudding Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

236/365: National Peach Pie Day

There’s nothing fuzzy about today’s food holiday, and it’s certainly not the pits. August 24 is National Peach Pie Day!

By now, we’re well versed in the history of both peaches and pies. Whoever was the first to put the two together has been lost to history, but most likely the ancient Romans were enjoying peaches – which grew abundantly in Italy – baked into pies long before Caesar was even a gleam in his mother’s eye. Speaking of mothers, peach pie has long been my mom’s favorite dessert, with peach ice cream probably a close second. What can I say about my mom? She’s a real peach! Speaking of, that phrase originated from the tradition of giving a peach to a friend you like. Maybe that was a subtle hint to encourage your friend to bake you a peach pie in return?

We stopped by Shari’s, our go-to pie spot, for a slice of peach pie to share. By “share,” I mean Tara took just a single bite, because she “isn’t crazy about fruit pies.” WTF?? I may be marrying the woman in three weeks, but it doesn’t mean I understand her. I thought it was delicious!

National Peach Pie Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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