Posts Tagged With: Ronald Reagan

278/365: National Apple Betty Day

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but it won’t keep Betty from crashing your party. October 5 is National Apple Betty Day!

Apple Betty (also known as Apple Brown Betty, Brown Betty, Apple Crisp, and Apple Crumble) is an American dessert dating back to Colonial times. It’s like a cross between a cobbler and a bread pudding, and consists of layers of apple seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar, and buttered or sweetened bread crumbs. It reminds me of a deconstructed apple pie (I’ve always thought “deconstructed” was a cop out chefs use when they run out of time to properly finish a dish). The recipe first appeared in print in the Yale Literary Magazine in1864, though there is no record of who Betty was, or why she had a dessert named after her. We do know that the “brown” refers to the brown sugar used to sweeten the apples, and that it was a favorite dessert of Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

My mom once again helped out with this challenge. She made an apple betty and brought it over for dinner. Tara’s mom, Tracy, is in town visiting for the weekend, so we all had dinner together. Mad props to my mother-in-law for making a perfect whipped cream swirl on top of the apple betty. Which, by the way, was wonderful! It was like an apple pie with a crumb topping instead of a crust. Delicious stuff. Thanks, moms!


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

112/365: National Jelly Bean Day

April 22nd won’t amount to a hill of beans unless you’ve got a sweet tooth and are ready to celebrate today’s food holiday. We honor a tasty treat that comes in dozens of creative flavors and was adored by a former President. It’s National Jelly Bean Day!

Jelly beans were inspired by a Middle Eastern treat called the Turkish Delight, consisting of soft jelly covered in confectioner’s sugar. Exactly how and when they were reinvented is a mystery, but in America they can be traced back to 1861, when a Boston candy maker by the name of William Schrafft urged his customers to send jelly beans to soldiers during the Civil War. Nice idea, but bullets work better. In 1905 an ad in a Chicago newspaper advertised jelly beans on sale for 9 cents a pound.By the 1910s the slang term “Jelly Bean” was used to describe a young man who would dress stylishly in order to attract women, but had no additional redeeming qualities other than his clothes. Men like this were also called “dandies” or “fops” and were, essentially, famous for being famous. Like Paris Hilton. In the 1930s jelly beans became synonymous with Easter because they were shaped like rabbit turds eggs.

In 1960 Herman Goelitz Rowland, a fourth-generation candy maker in Oakland, was looking to carry on the family business but times were tight; the candy corn they were known for just wasn’t keeping them afloat. Probably because candy corn pretty much only sells during Halloween. He decided to take a chance and expand the product line to include Gummi Bears and jelly beans. Not just any jelly beans, though – gourmet jelly beans using the most expensive, finest ingredients, and flavors cooked into the center (previously only the shells were flavored). These jelly beans caught the attention of California governor Ronald Reagan, who became a big fan and was known for always keeping a jar of jelly beans in the White House. Reagan famously wrote, “we can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around the jar of jelly beans.”

In 1976, David Klein had an idea for jelly beans made with natural flavorings. He contacted Rowland, whose company was now called Jelly Belly, and the two collaborated on a new type of intensely flavored jelly bean made with natural ingredients. They were a hit right from the start, beginning with 8 flavors (Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Root Beer, Grape and Licorice) and eventually expanding to more than 50. Some of the more exotic flavors include Chili Mango, Cantaloupe, Cappuccino, Margarita, and my favorite, Buttered Popcorn. Today, Jelly Belly is the #1 seller of gourmet jelly beans.

For this challenge, I was more than happy to pick up some Jelly Belly Buttered Popcorn jelly beans. I love them! Tara is not quite as fond of jelly beans as I am, but she tried a variety of Jelly Belly flavors herself – watermelon, coconut, and ice cream – and declared them “okay” and said they “tasted fine.” Hardly a rousing endorsement, but at least she didn’t spit them out.

Jelly Belly's Buttered Popcorn flavor.

Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn flavor.

Categories: Candy | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

65/365: National Frozen Food Day

Today is a nICE day to celebrate food. Specifically, food that comes from the freezer. March 6 is National Frozen Food Day!

Frozen food has been around as long as the last Ice Age, when Neanderthals subsisted on a diet made up largely of Popsicles. In 1912, Clarence Birdseye went on a fur-trapping expedition in the frigid Arctic region of Canada. While there, he noticed that fresh-caught fish froze instantly in the bitter cold, and discovered when it was cooked weeks later, it still tasted delicious. “That’s pretty bitchin’, eh,” he said, quickly latching onto the native vernacular. When he returned to the U.S., he figured out a way to flash-freeze food, and started General Seafood Corporation, which began selling frozen foods to the general public on March 6, 1930 – exactly 83 years ago today. You might say Birdseye had a really good view (ha-ha), as he went on to develop freezer grocery display cases and cellophane wrappers for frozen food, and used insulated rail cars to ship his products across country. Altogether, he held over 100 patents, and was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

Freezing is an excellent way of preserving foods, and thanks to its convenience and economic value, the frozen food industry is a multinational, multi-million dollar industry.

I'm sorry, but the White House decor is hideous!

I’m sorry, but the White House decor is hideous!

We can actually thank Ronald Reagan for National Frozen Food Day. The Great Orator had a soft spot for salisbury steak, and in 1984 passed a proclamation declaring that March 6 would forevermore honor frozen foods. This is one of the few food holidays that can be linked directly to the Oval Office. “I call upon the American people to observe such a day with appropriate ceremonies and activities,” said The Prez, and who are we to argue with a former leader of the free world? For today’s food challenge, Tara and I heated up frozen TV dinners for lunch.

Frozen Food

Categories: Too Weird to Categorize | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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