Posts Tagged With: New England

305/365: National Deep Fried Clams Day*

We hope to entice you out of your shell today and help us celebrate the food holiday for November 1st. It’s National Deep Fried Clams Day!

And also National Vinegar Day. No offense to this tangy, acidic, fermented liquid, but we’d rather honor a food that takes a starring role, rather than an ingredient that lends flavor to a dish. Clams it is! I only wish we were in Seattle today; they’ve got a great local chain called Ivar’s that specializes in fried clams. We’re going to be up there in a week, but our food challenge won’t allow us to take a rain check. Boo.

Fried clams are a quintessential seaside meal typically found in restaurants along the coast. They are especially popular in New England, but even out here in Washington and Oregon they’re easy to find if you’re spending a day at the beach. They date back to at least 1865, where they appeared on a menu at the Parker House restaurant in Boston. This place was mentioned not too long ago; it’s where Boston Cream Pie originated. It’s unclear whether they were deep fried or batter dipped, but either way, I’m sure they were delicious. Modern deep fried clams are said to have been the brainchild of Lawrence Henry “Chubby” Woodman, who owned a small roadside restaurant in Essex, Massachusetts. Woodman specialized in homemade potato chips. One day he dug up a bunch of clams from the mud flats near his home and fried them up using the large vats of oil normally reserved for his chips. Customers ate these up – literally. Another Massachusettan (Massachutan? Massa…whatever you’d call somebody from Massachusetts!) named Thomas Soffron created clam strips from the “foot” of sea clams and sold them exclusively to Howard Johnson’s restaurants. As that chain grew, clam strips became popular throughout the country.

To celebrate, we tried a bar and grill in Portland called Holman’s. A yelp search revealed they are known for their fried clams, and sure enough, the basket we split as an appetizer was scrumptious. Crispy, slightly chewy, and fresh-tasting. We enjoyed them!

National Deep Fried Clams Day

Categories: Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

203/365: National Penuche Fudge Day

If you accidentally skip today’s food holiday, you might end up muttering a few choice curse words like “oh, fudge!” July 22 is National Penuche Fudge Day.

I’ve had this one on my radar for some time, and planned ahead, buying a bar of penuche fudge the first time I found one for sale earlier in the year. Because penuche is one of those things that may leave you scratching your head in bewilderment, wondering if it’s a strange vegetable or a fish or a mysterious Chinese herb. Turns out it’s none of the above, but rather, a type of fudge made with brown sugar instead of the typical white sugar found in other flavors. Other main ingredients include milk, butter, and vanilla. Some people add pecans or other nuts, and in New England – where the recipe originates, and is particularly popular – they’re fond of adding maple syrup. The caramelization of the brown sugar gives penuche fudge a distinctive caramel-like flavor, and the color is usually tan.

If you want the history of fudge, click here. Been there, done that, so let’s move on.

I’ve actually had penuche fudge before. Several years ago I stopped by a chocolate festival in Portland where they were selling all sorts of chocolate confections, including fudge. For some inexplicable reason I bought the one bar of fudge that contained no chocolate, just because I was curious about it. It was penuche, and I thought it was incredibly creamy and decadent, so I was particularly looking forward to today’s food holiday.

National Penuche Fudge Day

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

118/365: National Blueberry Pie Day

Few things are as American as blueberry pie. Which makes April 28th a pretty patriotic day: it’s National Blueberry Pie Day!

Blueberries are native to North America, and weren’t even introduced to Europe until the 1930s. They grow like crazy in New England, and appealed to early settlers, who found many uses for the fruit – but strangely, eating them plain was rare. Until the 19th century, consuming fresh fruit was thought to be unhealthy, so the blueberries were typically baked into pies. I’m guessing the colonists’ food pyramid looked a lot different than ours! New England housewives almost always had a supply of both sweet and savory pies on hand, ready to serve to family and guests. Pies were proof that the family farm was thriving.

Most of the time, celebrating these food holidays is fun. But not so much when you’ve got a delicious leftover birthday cake, and the next day you’ve got to eat blueberry pie. We wanted to buy a slice to share and call it good, but blueberry pie is hard to find. Maybe if this were Maine we’d have better luck, since blueberry pie is that state’s official dessert. But blueberries would have to be in season for us to have any shot of finding one locally, and we’re still a couple of months away from that happening. We came up with a pretty good solution, though: bake a mini pie instead! I found some small aluminum pie tins in the grocery store, and used this recipe. The result? Pretty amazing, actually! The blueberries were fresh, at least (but flown in from California). I was left wondering why you don’t see blueberry pie on more menus around these parts. I probably could have gobbled the whole thing up in two minutes, but we did have that chocolate cake waiting. @#$! timing.

Blueberry Pie

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

17/365: National Hot Buttered Rum Day

Jack Sparrow would approve of today’s holiday: January 17th is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Of all the various liquors, I think rum has the best flavor, so even though we recently celebrated a hot alcoholic beverage and didn’t care for it, I had high hopes for this drink.

In fact, hot buttered rum is closely related to the hot toddy. Both drinks are popular in the winter months (duh). But where the hot toddy is traditionally made with whiskey and honey, hot buttered rum is made with rum and butter (duh again). Plus brown sugar and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. The drink was a big hit in Colonial America, and was created in the 1650s after colonists began importing molasses from Jamaica. They quickly learned this byproduct of sugarcane could be turned into rum, and a series of distilleries opened up across New England. (Similar attempts to turn maple syrup into bourbon, honey into wine, and the tears of Pocahontas into absinthe failed miserably). Soon they were adding rum to everything, including toddies and eggnogs.

Over the holidays, Tara and I saw containers of hot buttered rum mix for sale in area grocery stores. “Perfect,” we said. “We’ll pick some up later.” Only once later rolled around, the product had disappeared from grocer’s shelves. Oops. Had we not learned our own lesson about planning ahead? Fortunately, the internet yielded recipes for making your own hot buttered rum batter. It’s amazingly easy – here’s the one I used:

Recipe for Hot Buttered Rum Batter

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg or mace
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate in a sealed air-tight container for up to two months. This mixture can also be frozen for up to one year before using. Makes eight servings.

Preparing a Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail

  • 2 Tbsp refrigerated hot buttered rum batter
  • 6 oz boiling water
  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum
  • 1 Tbsp light cream (optional)
  • nutmeg for garnish

In a hot beverage mug, combine hot buttered rum batter with boiling water, stirring well until dissolved. Add in rum and cream, if using. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Serves one.

Remember how we didn’t like those hot toddies? Well, the hot buttered rum was…drumroll, please…DELICIOUS! Really, really good stuff. We were both impressed. I think we’ll have to make these an annual holiday tradition!

Hot buttered awesomeness is more like it!

Hot buttered awesomeness is more like it!

Categories: Alcohol, Beverages | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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