Posts Tagged With: Pacific Northwest

213/365: National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

I just might blow raspberries in your direction if you try to skip out on today’s food holiday. August 1 is National Raspberry Cream Pie Day!

Yay. More pie.

But at least we haven’t celebrated anything with raspberries yet. These berries are related to the rose family, and originated in East Asia. They date back to prehistoric times – evidence has been found that Paleolithic cavemen enjoyed the fruit. As it grew in popularity, it came to be associated with fertility. In Greek mythology, legend has it that the berries were once white, but when Zeus’ nursemaid, Ida, pricked her finger on a thorn, the berries were stained red with her blood, and have remained that color ever since. European settlers brought red raspberries to America, where they were crossbred with our native black raspberries. George Washington was so fond of them, he cultivated raspberries at Mount Vernon. They grow throughout the U.S., with my home state of Washington being the nation’s top producer, churning out around 70 million tons per year. Oregon is second. It doesn’t surprise me, as the Pacific Northwest is well known for all sorts of wonderful berries.

I had never heard of raspberry cream pie before. It’s not exactly a common dish, but thanks to the Internet, recipes are easy to find. We decided to try this recipe from The Pioneer Woman because it features a crust made from Oreo cookies. Hello! Only, we didn’t want a whole pie, so we scaled it back by 2/3 and whipped up a mini pie instead. The result? Oh. My. GOODNESS. The Pioneer Woman knows her pies! Really, really good.

National Raspberry Cream Pie Day

Categories: Desserts, Fruit | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

146/365: National Cherry Dessert Day*

If you’re thinking that life is the pits, cheer up: May 26 is National Cherry Dessert Day!

It’s also National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, which is nice and specific. Cherry dessert, on the other hand? That could refer to anything. Cherry pie, cherry cobbler, chocolate-covered cherries…all of which we have already celebrated. A little more direction here would have been nice, especially since Tara and I are spending the night in a  hotel room on the Oregon coast for a little much-needed R&R. (That’s rest and relaxation, not ravioli and rutabaga. Not everything has to do with food).

Cherry dessert. Cherries are native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. The ancient Greeks and Romans were especially fond of cherries, as are little old ladies when three of them line up in a row on their penny slot machines. Early settlers brought cherries to America in the 17th century, where they flourished around the Great Lakes. The Pacific Northwest became another prime cherry growing area when Henderson Lewelling planted an orchard in western Oregon in 1847. The most famous sweet cherry variety, the Bing, got its start at Lewelling’s orchard, and was named after one of his Chinese laborers (not the search engine, contrary to popular belief). The Rainier cherry, another popular sweet variety (and my personal favorite), is a cross between a Bing and a Van. Today, 650 million pounds of cherries are produced in the U.S. Most of them are grown in two regions: Michigan (75% of the sour cherry crop) and the Pacific Northwest (60% of the sweet cherry crop). California, Utah, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and New York also grow cherries.

For the holiday, we stopped at an Arctic Circle in Newport, Oregon. Tara grew up with Arctic Circle fast-food restaurants, but there are only a handful in the whole state, none close by to where we live. It was my first time there, and I was impressed with the mushroom swiss burger and the fry sauce. Best of all, they had ice cream cones hand dipped in a hard cherry shell. Perfect! And because that might be stretching the definition of cherries, we also bought a pint of fresh cherries from a roadside stand on our way to the coast, and had some of those, as well. Either way, we covered all our cherry bases!

Categories: Desserts, Fruit | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

122/365: National Truffle Day

May 2nd isn’t a day to be trifled with. You can, however, truffle with it. ‘Cause that’s what we’re celebrating, folks. National Truffle Day!

It seems like we just celebrated truffles. As a matter of fact, we did: April 21st was National Chocolate Covered Cashew Truffle Day. A very specific holiday that almost left us grasping at straws. Fortunately, today’s rules are much looser and open to interpretation. I suppose since chocolate isn’t even specified we could even celebrate by eating the type of truffles that are a fungus dug from the ground, but where’s the fun in that?

Since I already covered the history of the truffle in the April post, I’ll talk about the history of where I got today’s truffles from instead. Ooh, way to mix things up! This past weekend, I made a special trip into downtown Portland to pick up some truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate. This company is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They were formed in Portland, Oregon, in 1993, with a simple mission: to produce handcrafted artisan chocolates that not only tasted delicious, but looked good, too. In other words, “a chocolate indulgence for all the senses,” according to their website. And to that end, they have been wildly successful. Their creations are beautiful and imaginative, and gained notoriety in 2005 and 2006, when their Oscar-shaped chocolate truffles were featured in gift baskets handed out during the 77th and 78th Annual Academy Awards ceremonies. Best of all, they taste remarkable! Each piece is still individually handcrafted using quality ingredients. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest and can get your hands on Moonstruck chocolates, you’ll find yourself asking, “Godiva who?!”

And no, this is not a paid advertisement. I just love them that much. (Besides, we had to have good truffles this time after getting scolded for eating stale truffles left over from Christmas a couple of weeks ago!).

I spent a good five minutes surveying the glass display case for the perfect truffles to celebrate today’s holiday. After much deliberation, I settled on a milk chocolate cow and pony, a peach bellini truffle, and a raspberry chambord truffle. They were all delicious!

Moonstruck Chocolate Portland

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

68/365: National Crabmeat Day

There should be a special claws stating that every day is National Crabmeat Day, because the sweet and tender crustacean is a delicious delicacy that we are happy to celebrate today! But I’m just being shellfish. We are fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to have access to Dungeness crab year-round. It’s one of my favorite seafood treats.

Crabs are ocean-dwelling crustaceans dating back to the Jurassic period. Many species live in fresh water, and some even exist on land. It is unknown when humans first realized crab was good to eat. Probably some early homo sapien ran out of saber tooth tiger meat before company arrived, and turned to crab because he was in a pinch. Crabs make up 20% of all crustaceans consumed worldwide. There are a wide variety of preparation methods: popular dishes include bisque, curry, and crab cakes. They can be boiled, steamed, baked, or fried. Some species (such as soft shell crabs) are eaten whole, while other varieties are prized for the meat in their claws or legs (snow crab). In Asia, female crab roe is considered a delicacy. In many countries and cultures, crab is beloved, but the expense makes it a rare treat, so imitation crab meat is substituted. In America, it is typically served in sushi (California rolls) or in crab salad, and is often made with pollock, a mild white fish abundant in the Bering Sea off of Alaska. The fish is skinned and boned, and the meat is minced and artificially flavored. It may contain a small amount of real crabmeat, but all I can say is: what a waste. Nothing beats real crab!

Tara and I are visiting family in Seattle this weekend, which gave us the perfect excuse to head down to Pike Place Market, an enormous public market overlooking Elliott Bay. Open since 1907, Pike Place is famous for its selection of fresh seafood. What better place to go to celebrate crab?

Our philosophy for this challenge was, simpler was better. Dungeness crab is so sweet and succulent on its own, we decided to pick up a couple of crabmeat cocktails. Big chunks of crab and a deliciously tangy, perfectly spicy cocktail sauce – and nothing else. Not cheap at $9 a pop, but you know what? I am declaring this my favorite food challenge so far. It was absolutely delicious.

Food at its most simple and finest: big chunks of fresh Dungeness crab, cocktail sauce, and nothing else. Delicious!

Food at its most simple and finest: big chunks of fresh Dungeness crab, cocktail sauce, and nothing else. Delicious!

Categories: Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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