Posts Tagged With: Benjamin Franklin

263/365: National Rum Punch Day

Avast, ye scurvy dog! I might just make you walk the plank if ye don’t be participatin’ in today’s food holiday. September 20 is National Rum Punch Day!

20130920_184628I’m not sure why pirates are so closely linked with rum. Actually, now I do. (Be careful if you click on the link, though – the skull and crossbones wallpaper might give you a headache and/or make you dizzy).  Rum punches date back centuries, to around the time of Christ; archaeological excavations in Pakistan have uncovered distilleries and “grog shops” where, it is presumed, ancient Pakistanis danced around with many a lampshade on their heads. The word is derived from the Hindi panch, and traditionally referred to a beverage made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. The British East India Company (those guys again!) brought rum punch to England in the 17th century. From there, it spread throughout Europe and beyond. By the 18th century, most American taverns specialized in rum punch; during Colonial times, it was the most popular drink around. In fact, Benjamin Franklin even printed a recipe for rum punch in his 1737 edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack. Some of the oldest rum punches are Planter’s Punch and Bajan Rum Punch; the latter even inspired a national rhyme that helped bartenders remember the key ingredients: “One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak.” Which translates to one part lime juice, two parts sweetener, three parts rum, and four parts water. A 1908 recipe for Planter’s Punch appearing in The New York Times reads,

This recipe I give to thee,
Dear brother in the heat.
Take two of sour (lime let it be)
To one and a half of sweet,
Of Old Jamaica pour three strong,
And add four parts of weak.
Then mix and drink. I do no wrong —
I know whereof I speak.

I think it’s great how bartenders long ago came up with clever little poems to describe their drinks. They were a talented lot back then, that’s for sure! In honor of National Rum Punch Day, Tara and I decided to hit up our favorite Portland tiki bar, Hale Pele. After all, they’re known for their rum concoctions. All I can say is: holy cow, these packed a wallop!

Hi, there.  Tara here.  Yes, those rum punches do pack quite the wallop.  So much so that Mark is now sprawled out on the couch and mumbling about feeling ‘spinny’.  Oh, I do love that husband of mine.  🙂

National Rum Punch Day

Categories: Alcohol | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

160/365: National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day

Today we’re enjoying something a little bit sweet, a little tart, and closely associated with summer. June 9 is National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day!

I’ve already talked about the kajillion and one pie holidays celebrated this year (20, to be exact). For some of these we’ve taken the easy way out. But, I promised that when June rolled around, I would make a strawberry-rhubarb pie from scratch. And I had every intention of doing so. Until I happened upon a strawberry-rhubarb pie at the grocery store for $2.99. Adding up the cost of the ingredients I’d need – fresh strawberries and rhubarb, flour, sugar, etc. – not to mention the time and labor involved – and I quickly realized that I’d be a fool to pass up the $2.99 all-the-work-is-already-done-pie from Fred Meyer.

I’ve already talked about the history of pie and discussed strawberries, so let’s delve into rhubarb, shall we? It’s such an interesting food: a giant celery-like stalk that is really, really sour. It’s actually a vegetable that originated in China, where it was used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, and was brought to the U.S. by Benjamin Franklin, the same dude-who-was-inexplicably-never-President-but-played-a-huge-role-in-American-history. It’s a member of the buckwheat family, but you have to be careful with it: only the stalk is edible. The leaves and roots are poisonous and should be avoided. Typically, the stalks are cut into pieces and stewed with sugar, then used for cooking in dishes like…well, pies. I don’t think I’ve ever had rhubarb any other way. It matches well with strawberries because the sweetness and tartness balance each other out.

In case you’re wondering how the grocery store strawberry-rhubarb pie tasted, it was pretty good! I suppose homemade would have been better, but I’ll just have to save that for a future pie day. We have a few left, you know. Pumpkin pie, for sure…mark my words.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Categories: Desserts, Pastry | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

158/365: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day*

Want the latest scoop? Psst…June 7 is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!

It’s also National Doughnut Day, a “floating” food holiday that occurs on the first Friday in June. Normally we’d be all over that, except for the not-so-insignificant fact that tomorrow is National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day. Gotta have a little variety, you know? Then again, a few days ago we celebrated rocky road ice cream…

But back-to-back doughnut days are overkill. So we went with ice cream instead.

When it comes to ice cream flavors, vanilla is the most popular choice hands down (with 29% of the vote). Chocolate comes in second place (8.9%). But hey, there’s no shame in being a runner-up! (Unless you’re only up against one other competitor. Sorry, Super Bowl-losing San Francisco 49ers). Chocolate ice cream is made by blending cocoa powder with eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla. It’s been around for centuries; the first ice cream parlor in America opened the same year we became a country, in 1776. Quakers brought over their favorite ice cream recipes, and the frozen treat became a widespread hit. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson all indulged in ice cream when they weren’t busy flying kites in thunderstorms or secretly crossing the Delaware River and stuff. In fact, there’s a brown smudge on one corner of the Declaration of Independence that is rumored to be a dripping from the chocolate ice cream cone that Jefferson was licking when he put quill to parchment. That’s a totally made up fact, by the way. But it could’ve happened.

To celebrate, we picked up a small container from Fred Meyer. And ate it in the bedroom by candlelight. Chocolate = romance, right?

Chocolate Ice Cream

Categories: Dairy, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

89/365: National Turkey Neck Soup Day

You’ll want to gobble up a bowl of delicious, hot soup today. March 30th is National Turkey Neck Soup Day! Which, let’s face it, is kind of bizarre. Turkey soup I could see. But turkey neck soup?! Sounds like something only Cousin Eddie would appreciate. Save-Neck-For-Me-Navy-Shirt

Few foods are as quintessentially American as turkey. Not only is it synonymous with Thanksgiving, but every signature on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other important documents dreamed up by the Founding Fathers was inscribed using a turkey feather quill. By the way, ever wonder why turkeys are referred to as Tom? Benjamin Franklin jokingly called them that because Thomas Jefferson chose the bald eagle over the turkey to represent the new nation’s symbol. I guess Jefferson really ruffled Ben’s feathers.

The turkey neck may not be the most popular part of the bird, but the meat it contains is pretty tasty – as long as you cook it for awhile. It is tough at first, but after several hours simmering in broth, it becomes quite tender and flavorful. Making a turkey neck soup was a breeze. We had some wonderful leftover homemade chicken stock which we used as a base, along with the requisite turkey necks (surprisingly easy to find – thanks, mom!), some carrots, celery, onions, garlic, bell peppers, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper. It made for a delicious lunch!

Turkey Neck Soup

Categories: Poultry, Soup | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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