Posts Tagged With: Bread

364/365: National Bicarbonate of Soda Day

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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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307/365: National Sandwich Day

You can relax if your wallet has only a few dollars in it today: it doesn’t take a lot of bread in order to enjoy today’s food holiday. Two slices, to be exact. November 3 is National Sandwich Day!

Fittingly, this holiday is celebrated on the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. According to legend, this 18th century English aristocrat was an avid gambler who didn’t want to waste precious cribbage-playing time by putting down his cards to eat. So he instructed his servants to bring him meat tucked between two slices of bread, allowing him to eat his meal with one hand, and preventing his cards from getting greasy. Impressed with the portability and convenience of this meal, others began ordering “the same as Sandwich,” and the name stuck. While sandwiches got their name from the Earl, he was not the actual inventor; it is believed that Hillel the Elder, an ancient Jewish sage who passed away in 10 A.D., first took lamb and herbs and stuffed them between two slices of matzah during Passover to create the first true sandwich. During the Middle Ages, thick slices of bread – often stale – were used as plates for meat and other foods. After the meal, the food-soaked scraps of bread (known as “trenchers”) were fed to dogs. Or beggars. As lowly a practice as this was, it laid the groundwork for what we refer to today as open-faced sandwiches. Later still, in the 17th century, beef hanging from the rafters of taverns in the Netherlands was sliced into strips and served atop buttered bread. Here’s a great article that takes a look at the 50 greatest sandwiches of all time.

Narrowing down what type of sandwich to eat today was tricky, given the wide variety of available options. I just happened to be running to a little market/restaurant in Portland to pick something up, and they had a deli counter with a handful of sandwiches available. My favorite type of sandwich is tuna, so I ordered theirs; it contained Oregon coast tuna, Mama Lil’s bread & butter pickles, dijon mustard, and lettuce on Roman Candle whole wheat bread. Definitely a step up from the canned tuna I’m used to making. It hit the spot for a perfect lunch today!

National Sandwich Day

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134/365: National Buttermilk Biscuit Day

You don’t need a lot of bread to be able to afford today’s food of honor. May 14 is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day!

Biscuits are small “quick breads” that use baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent rather than yeast and are similar to British scones. European settlers appreciated their simplicity and brought them to America, where they caught on in the early 19th century when cooks were looking for a bread that could be made without yeast, which was expensive and difficult to store at the time. Biscuits were preferred over bread because their harder consistency enabled them to be used to wipe up gravy; as a result, biscuits and gravy became a popular meal. Pre-shaped, ready to bake refrigerator biscuits were introduced in 1931, making it easy for anybody to prepare biscuits whenever the biscuit mood struck.

Buttermilk became a popular ingredient in biscuits, particularly in the South, and are usually served as a side dish topped with butter, syrup, honey, or jelly. They are often used as a base for fast-food breakfast sandwiches, and are traditionally served alongside fried chicken at restaurants that specialize in spaghetti fried chicken.

To celebrate buttermilk biscuits, we didn’t want to take the obvious or the simple approach. We opted instead for a cheesy chicken casserole recipe that uses refrigerated biscuit dough as a topping; as it bakes the dough rises, and you end up with a crunchy, chewy top layer. In other words, deliciousness!

Buttermilk Biscuits

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115/365: National Zucchini Bread Day

Squash any thoughts you might have about giving away a garden’s worth of zucchini today. Turn it into a sweet, savory dessert instead: April 25 is National Zucchini Bread Day!

Similar to banana bread, zucchini bread is considered a “quick bread.” These bread types don’t use yeast as a leavening agent and require no fermentation, so the dough can be baked immediately. Quick breads originated in the United States in the 18th century with the discovery of pearlash, a leavening agent that produces carbon dioxide gas in dough. They became a favorite during the Civil War when food was scarce and a loaf of bread could be whipped up quickly to feed the soldiers, hence the name. Zucchini itself is the result of a squash plant, native to America, that was brought back to Italy and mutated. Which is not to say it grew teeth and started eating people ala Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, though that would make for a rather interesting history. Zucchini grow rapidly and can become quite large, exceeding 3′ in length. They are usually picked when they’re smaller, as the flavor is better and gardeners won’t break their backs hauling them into the kitchen that way. Because they are so easy to grow, they have a reputation for overabundance. Stories persist of people waking up to bags full of zucchini on their front porches, left there in the dead of night by gardeners seeking to rid themselves of excess squash. That’s never happened to me, though I did find a steaming bag of something else on the front porch once. Zucchini bread is the result of home cooks trying to come up with something, anything, to do with all that damn zucchini. The first time I heard of it I though, eww, even though I love zucchini. It didn’t sound very appealing in a bread – but it’s actually very good that way.

For today’s challenge, Tara baked up a loaf of zucchini bread ourselves. It turned out delicious!

Zucchini Bread

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91/365: National Sourdough Bread Day

The yeast you can do is help us celebrate today’s food holiday: April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day, and that’s no joke!

Today also marks a quarter of a year for our project. We’re 25% finished! Woo-hoo! Which means we still have 75% to go, of course, and that’s a sobering thought. But we’ll just keep taking this one day at a time, and we shall persevere. Mark my words.

Sourdough dates back to ancient Egypt, around the year 1500 BC. It is the oldest form of leavened bread, and was discovered by accident when somebody left the bread dough out too long, enabling wild yeasts in the air to settle into the mix, causing it to ferment. I’m not naming names, but that Tut character was always a bit flaky, if you ask me. By the way, a leavening agent is any substance added to dough to make it foam, causing it to lighten and soften. Once the Egyptians learned that they could make a starter – a mixture of flour, water, and sugar left out for a few days until it begins to ferment – and keep it going indefinitely, sourdough became the bread of choice for hundreds of years, until beer and then cultured yeast were substituted. Sourdough starters are often passed down through families, and can be kept “alive” for decades if cared for properly. All you’ve got to do is add equal parts of flour and water to the refrigerated starter dough every couple of weeks. Talk about leftovers that never disappear! Pioneers in the West relied on sourdough starter as a ready source of fresh bread while on their adventures panning for gold in Alaska and California. In fact, legend has it that Alaskan miners slept with their starters to keep them from freezing. Legend also has it they slept with their dogs because women were scarce, but that’s a story for another blog. Sourdough became synonymous with the California gold rush in 1849, and has been associated with San Francisco ever since.

I love sourdough bread, and usually pick that as my toast choice when dining out for breakfast. Tara can’t resist the sourdough pancakes from the Original Pancake House. You might say we both love the power of sour! We decided to honor San Francisco’s rich sourdough history by making clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls for dinner. These are a great invention: sturdy enough to withstand a thick soup, and delicious enough to eat afterwards! Which means fewer dishes to wash, too. Dinner was great!

Sourdough Bread Bowl

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80/365: National French Bread Day*

Bonsoir! Today’s food holiday is c’est bien. It’ll please even the crustiest of individuals and fill their hearts with loaf. It’s National French Bread Day!

It’s also National California Strawberry Day. No offense to Californians, but your strawberries pale in comparison to the ones grown in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, we have to wait until June until those are ripe. So, French bread it was!

By law, French bread must contain four specific ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. The French, you have to understand, love their bread, and even went to war over it. The storming of the Bastille in 1789 was more about bread for the commoners than freeing enemies of the crown; mass starvation gave way to anger and led to the French Revolution. Think about that the next time McDonald’s screws up your order and forgets to give you your six-piece chicken McNuggets. Afraid that history might repeat itself, when Napoleon ruled he passed laws establishing standards for French bread. The classic baguette is long and slender, but it wasn’t always so; wide, flat loaves were popular until the 1920s, when the French passed a labor law prohibiting bakers from working between the hours of 10 PM and 4 AM. (Boy, the French sure have a fondness for silly laws, don’t they)? “Sacré bleu!” they declared in unison. In order to get around this loophole, French bakers started making their loaves of bread long and thin, no more than 2.5″ in diameter, in order to speed up baking time. It’s got a soft, chewy interior and a crispy, golden brown crust and is cooked in a steam oven, which leads to a light and airy loaf that is, to borrow a phrase, c’est magnifique! French bread in other countries doesn’t adhere to such particular standards. In America, loaves are typically fatter, and available in whole wheat, multigrain, and sourdough varieties.

Since Tara and I can’t afford a trip to Paris at the moment, we had to settle for an American-style loaf of French bread instead. Not that either of us was complaining; French bread is quite tasty even if it is made contrary to Napoleon’s original desires. We served it two ways: with bruschetta as an appetizer, and sliced with a smear of butter to go along with grilled steaks.

French bread with bruschetta.

French bread with bruschetta.

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