“I say your young men’ll be frittern!Frittern away their noontime, suppertime, choretime too!Get the ball in the pocket,Never mind gittin’ Dandelions pulledOr the screen door patched or the beefsteak pounded.Never mind pumpin’ any water‘Til your parents are caught with the Cistern emptyOn a Saturday night and that’s trouble,Oh, yes we got lots and lots a’ trouble.I’m thinkin’ of the kids in the knickerbockers,Shirt-tail young ones, peekin’ in the poolHall window after school.Ya got trouble, folks, right here in River City.”
When you first hear the words Fried Pie, you think to yourself why would anyone fry a pie? But then as the words begin to settle in your head you realize there are lots of fried pies in the world – we just don’t draw attention to them. I suppose, that’s why they deserve a National Day. Meat pies, which seem to be fairly common in England although haven’t really caught on here, are a version of a fried pie. All that savory goodness locked inside some tasty pastry and then fried so it’s nice and crispy on the outside. It’s not unlike a chimichanga although a tortilla is no substitute for a pie crust. Here, the most famous fried pie is at McDonald’s where their dessert menu was once dominated by these apple or cherry pies which were fried right alongside the French Fries. They are served in a little sleeve-holder that make it easy to eat on the go. Rumor has it that the current resident of the White House has a fancy for these pastries, which isn’t really a big selling point for me. But, any time I have been inside a McDonald’s (which is a very rare occasion to be inside a McDonald’s), you can see the pastries lined up in a specially designed McRack just for holding these pies. But, if I’m going for dessert at McDonald’s, I prefer the McFlurries.
My choice for pie today was going to be found at the land of convenience – Cumberland Farms. It’s right up the street so an easy enough place to get to, and they are usually well-stocked with all kinds of tasty treats. I was going to look for the pies in the snack cake section where all the Twinkies and Yodels are kept. I was looking for the pies that they used to sell in the school lunch line – the individually wrapped fruit pies. I found one right away – from the folks at Drake’s. It was apple pie although I would have preferred some kind of berry. But it was a pie that had definitely been fried at some point in it’s life like a doughnut and this too was frosted like a doughnut. The packaging was familiar – the crinkly, wax-paper – with two pieces of the pie kept safely inside. I bought it home to eat before dinner.
This is really like a doughnut – an apple filled doughnut. The pastry that surrounds it has that same texture as a nice, hardy doughnut and the glaze that covers it all gives it the sweet taste of those round pastries. It’s very filling. Even after eating one pie I was done. I could see it being better as a breakfast snack or on your coffee break, the coffee being a natural companion to the dense, sweet fried dough. There were plenty of apples in the filling. I knew it wasn’t going to have the fresh bounty taste of the local fall apple harvest – it was a processed apple filling – but it was fine. Drake’s puts out a good product. I was a fan of their coffee cake long before Seinfeld and I can support their efforts here too. I feel like Drake’s is the little guy tackling the Hostess conglomerate (although Drake’s is part of a big conglomerate). Still, they have local roots in Harlem, NY and have been around since the turn of the 20th century. They know what they are doing.
Again, when I heard the words Fried Pie, I thought I would be feasting on something that came fresh from the fryer – some kind of odd carnival creation. But in the end, I just had to go to the Farm. I guess we’ve been frying pies for years now and we’ve been enjoying the all along. I just never gave it much thought. But now I will, and I can say I have celebrated their deliciousness.
Next up: National Fritters Day
You’re going to think I’m not even trying anymore. I have to apologize but it has just been a particularly busy week of work. I’ve been getting out late every day and there’s been no time to really prepare for a giant celebration. Even tonight with a celebration like mousse, which is really not all that hard to make. However, it takes time to set up – like a few hours. That just can’t be accomplished if I don’t get home until 8 pm. I’ve had to take some shortcuts. Today’s shortcut took me to Clements.
As things are beginning to wind down in this land of celebration, I have been a bit reflective on what has happened over the past 500 days. One thing that has happened is that I have spent a lot of time perusing the aisles of Clements. I’m not sure if they think I’m some strange guy with some eccentric fetish for grocery stores, but anytime I have been faced with a dilemma about what and how to celebrate, I look for answers there. I usually find an answer too. Tonight, I began my search for something mousse-y in the bakery department. They have a section where they sell individual desserts and I thought I have seen individual portions of mousse there before. No such luck tonight. However, I did find a Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake from Hershey’s sitting amidst the cheesecakes and birthday cakes in the refrigerated display case. That would work, but just to be sure, I decided to look around for any other options. I looked in the frozen foods section for some kind of frozen mousse. I scanned the ice cream for any random mousse flavored gelato. I scanned the prepared foods-to-go section in case they mixed up some mousse for the person looking for dinner on the go. I even looked by the puddings and Jell-O. In the end, the Hershey’s Mousse Cake was all I could find, so I grabbed it and headed to check out.
If you are celebrating mousse, you really want to celebrate it by scooping that fluffy chocolateness right into your mousse-hole by the spoonful. That’s not what this cake delivered. This was a cake, but it did have a layer of mousse in the middle. The mousse was good – light and fluffy – and paired well with the richness of the chocolate cake that surrounded it. The dark chocolate ganache on top including the fancy shavings and décor added more flavor to the party. It was a good cake – fresh and tasty – with great chocolate flavor that you would expect from anything Hershey’s. But it wasn’t exactly a celebration of mousse. Maybe it was. I guess it highlighted a way to serve mousse outside of the mousse cup parameters. It certainly tasted like good mousse. At the end of the day, my celebration is going to have to be what it’s going to be. I searched for mousse. I found mousse. I ate mousse. That will have to do.
Next up: National Fried Pie Day
Like most people, I’m always up for a day devoted to chocolates. However, like most, this was a day that I didn’t have much time to put an effort into making chocolates. I suppose I am, by some standards, an amateur chocolatier. Making fudge and peanut butter balls would put me in that category. Although I don’t want to take anything away from a true person of that profession. It’s a skill. An art form. I’m not there. No matter, I was still having a gift card frenzied day and I didn’t have much time into putting an effort into celebration. I wasn’t going to make anything and I wasn’t going to search out any famed chocolatiers. I was just going to do the best I could.
I got out of work late again and when I left work, I stopped at the local Stop & Shop which is around the corner from my office. I was there to pick up a few essentials (milk and coffee) and while I was there, I thought I would look to find some kind of chocolate I could use to celebrate this day. I found some, naturally. Finding chocolate is not that hard especially in the holiday season. I just had to narrow down my search. I went with some chocolate truffles from Lindt. I felt that this would be a good tribute to the art of chocolate making. While these days, Lindt may be a mass producer of chocolate, their origins trace back to a small confectionery shop in Zürich in the 1840’s. That’s a tradition. I picked up a small bag of milk chocolate ones and when I got back in my car, because I was tired and hungry, started feasting on the chocolate balls on my way home.
Lola always has a place in her heart for Lindt chocolates as they make her think of her Dad. I think they were a candy that he would get on occasion. It doesn’t surprise me – her Dad knew a quality product when he saw one and Lindt is definitely quality. To me, Lindt reminds me of New Hampshire. That’s where I think I first tried a Lindt ball but also, we lived near the North American Lindt headquarters in Stratham (next town over from our old hometown of Exeter). You learn a few things about living near a chocolate factory: nobody ever goes in and nobody ever comes out. Just kidding. Actually, to my recollection, it was just a big old industrial complex – no different from any of the other company buildings in the area like Timberland and Sig Sauer. But they had a presence in the community and at some point, I had to see what all the fuss was about. It was about good, creamy chocolate and I like that. That’s what the chocolate balls that I was feasting on inside my card tasted like too. It’s just a good product. They have good packaging as well so it makes you feel each piece is special – wrapped like a present. Not that they need it, but I give them my nod of approval.
That’s how I celebrated National Chocolate Day. Sure a day where I went all out would have been more fun – if I Willy Wonka’ed the hell out of this day. But it wasn’t in the cards. Today was just about the delight and joy of good milk chocolate crafted into a small delight. That’s what the folks at Lindt delivered and it worked just fine for me today. I didn’t win a factory tour, a glass elevator or a lifetime supply of chocolate, but I did get to enjoy a scrumdiliumptious treat at the end of the day. That’s my golden ticket.
Next up: National Mousse Day
When it comes to French Toast, you have two choices. The first one is to have it for breakfast. I am not sure why French Toast is categorized as breakfast food. I guess whoever cataloged these things had a pretty steadfast rule about anything that uses eggs has to be a breakfast food. But I’m not sure who has time to make French Toast for breakfast in the middle of the week. Seems a bit indulgent. My next choice would be have it for dinner, scamp that I am. I’ve discussed this before, but I am a big fan for having breakfast for dinner. I think it’s a nice easy way to end your day. That would be my plan for National French Toast Day.
I was still in Cyber Monday mode at work and in fact, I had an eleven hour day at the office trying to fill all those orders (this will be a theme for the week- just a warning). They fed us at about 1 pm. I couldn’t convince anyone to order French Toast and I’m not sure there are any restaurants that will make and deliver French Toast for lunch on a Tuesday (Denny’s?), so we went with your typical order of subs. I got out of work at about 8 PM and I was pretty hungry. On my way home, I had the thought of getting French Toast Sticks from Burger King. Those are good, they definitely would count towards my French Toast search and they would be quick and easy. I stopped at a Burger King in Seekonk and this was a bad choice. First, it was one of those fast food places that are just annoying. The entrance wasn’t an easy place to get to, the line was too long, the people in front of me were ordering the worst possible combinations, the staff weren’t the model of efficiency. Everything was amplified too because I was tired and hungry. I had looked online earlier to see if Burger King sold breakfast at all hours and I thought they said they did. This one did not. My request for French Toast sticks was met with a tone of incredulity. My inner Falling Down was starting to boil up, but I remained calm. It was the kind of drive-thru line where you couldn’t escape. I just ordered a burger as a consolation and was on my way, French Toastless in Seekonk (which is also the name of Tom Hanks next movie).
When I got home, I told Lola that I was going to make some French Toast. She had already eaten and said she didn’t want some, she just wanted a bite of mine. I can’t blame her – who doesn’t want a bite of French Toast when you see it? I got out the eggs and milk, mixed up the batter, added some cinnamon, soaked the bread and soon my toast was cooking on the griddle, browning nicely. When it was ready, I topped it with a nice dollop of butter and some maple syrup. My French Toast feast had come and not a moment too soon.
You’ve had French Toast before so there’s nothing jaw-dropping about my efforts here. I actually didn’t put all that much energy into making them. I could have given more effort – covered them in Frosted Flakes, used more flavorings, served them with cinnamon butter. Not tonight. Tonight I was looking for quick and easy. And they were. Sometimes after a long day and you sit down to a meal of warm, battered toast covered in maple syrup, your body is grateful. It’s the joy of comfort food at the basic level. And even though we were breaking rules and eating French Toast for dinner, they delivered in the most perfect of ways. I went to sleep with a full belly, the slight aroma of maple syrup in the air and visions of gift cards dancing in my head. That’s enjoying National French Toast Day to the fullest.
Next up: National Chocolates Day
I haven’t talked much about my job here. No real reason, it just hasn’t been relevant to the celebrations. However today it was. Today was National Craft Jerky Day but beyond that it was also Cyber Monday. While jerky is no more exciting than any other snack meat around my office, Cyber Monday is. I’ve been hearing about this day since I was first hired. The tales of craziness. The stories of how quickly things sell out. The million dollar plus sales overnight. You always hear about these tales but being the seasoned cynic that I am, I take everything with a grain of salt. The Cyber Monday offer was a nice one. Buy $1,000 in gift cards and you get $200 free, plus you get points on your rewards card for the purchase (which is essentially a $70 credit) and, the kicker, you can earn an overnight stay at our world-class inn in Newport. That was until supplies lasted. After they sold out, you would earn a dinner for two voucher at the inn which is not a bad little reward by itself. The sale went live at midnight while I was sleeping. I didn’t have to monitor anything, I just had to show up a little early on Monday morning and get ready for the craziness.
By the time I got to the office (8:30ish) we had already topped the million dollar mark. The overnight stays had sold out by 12:15. The phones were ringing. The emails were coming. The team of helpers was being assembled. We set up shop in a conference room, a place where we would be sequestered for the whole week. People peeked in on us to see how things were going. We were thanked. Congratulated. But most of all, we were filling orders. In my old job, we had a Cyber Monday special that I always thought had a pretty good response. On our busiest day there, we did 1/10th the business we did on this Cyber Monday here. It was nutty. It wasn’t as crazy as I thought it would be. It was all organized chaos and the team had learned some valuable lessons over the previous years and set up systems to make it work. But it was a shit-ton of business. We spent most of the day head down in envelopes. They bought us lunch. We endured some paper cuts. We kept going until about 7 pm. I emerged from the office to a moonlit sky. I was tired, worn down and a bit hungry.
On my way home, I realized I had to get some jerky. I hadn’t had any time during the day to think about how to celebrate this day in any other capacity, so I figured I’d just find some jerky at Clements. Thankfully, Clements has a pretty nice selection of Jerky including some special craft jerky. I went with cracked pepper turkey jerky from a company called Field Trip. Field Trip is a company started by some Brooklynites looking for “meat snacks alternatives in a broken marketplace.” They use grass fed meat. No nitrates. No preservatives. All the buzz words. It was as crafty as I could get. I bought a bag and then when I got in the car, I opened it up and feasted like I had a food disorder.
Really good product here. Fresh tasting with lots of flavor. All those little things matter in jerky – the lack of preservatives, the dedication to good food – and it showed. I would highly recommend them for any of your jerky needs. I don’t usually reach for jerky but I do find that when you spend all day wrapped up in Cyber Monday order processing, jerky is a nice way to give you a boost of protein when you are out of energy. It was like a Cyber Monday Thanksgiving. So I chewed in happiness appreciative of the craft of making jerky while visions of gift cards danced in my head.
Next up: National French Toast Day
A little confusion on the day but it’s not my fault. Today was National Cake Day which is all fine and well. I had time to make a cake but I as I considered my options, I decided I didn’t want to. Cakes are easy enough to make, but they are not a practical food to have around a house with just two people in it. I could envision spending all that time and resources making a cake only to have one piece at night and then watch the whole cake go to waste the rest of the week. It just didn’t seem like the wise choice. But then I saw on the website that I use to discover all these National Days and it said it was also National Cookie Day. That was easier to celebrate. Plus, if I made cookies, it would be much more likely that we would eat them throughout the week. Online and in social media circles, National Cake Day seemed to be trending as the more prominent celebration of the day, but that’s ok with me. It did seem odd that one day would celebrate two pretty big categories of holidays. Cake and Cookies on one day? But who am I to argue. Later that afternoon, I went to the store and picked up a new product. It was an instant chocolate chip cookie mix from that saucy minx Betty Crocker.
In retrospect, I think I would have preferred just getting some cookie dough and making my instant cookies that way. The Betty Crocker mix had me just add water to the pre-made mix, so already I was skeptical. However I did feel like it was my duty to check out a product like this and compare it to the real McCoy and to the pre-made cookie dough batter kind. But just water? No eggs or butter? I guess those ingredients were all inside the package thanks to science, but that seemed like a big shortcut. They came together easy enough and cooked just as any other cookie would. They looked okay and in truth, they were okay. They just weren’t great. Maybe I was biased but I really felt it was lacking the deep flavor of butter and more natural ingredients. There was a slight hint of processed taste to these, not unlike that of the pre-made cookie dough batter kind. I would say that the pre-made dough kind are better, but that could be because I am so used to that taste. A homemade cookie is definitely best. But, in regards to ease of making, I can’t deny that this wasn’t an easy shortcut with a not-awful output at the end. It just wasn’t the same as homemade.
When I checked my holiday website later, something happened. National Cookie Day was gone. It was removed from the calendar on November 26th. Looking ahead, it reappears on December 4th with much more fanfare on social media. I think I fell victim to a typo or an error. No matter, the spirit of the holiday was still celebrated on this day. I enjoyed the quick and easy comfort of a new product that got our house smelling like fresh, warm cookies (the Cher trick from Clueless still holds true.) I got to enjoy a nice warm cookie with milk and then had cookies for the next day too – something we could easily tackle as a couple. You can’t ask for much more from a cookie, and that stays true for every National Cookie Day no matter when you celebrate it.
Next Up: National Craft Jerky Day (Cyber Monday)
I’m not sure why parfaits get so many days of celebration, but here we are again. To me, a parfait is nothing more than an ice cream sundae. Sure you can make them with yogurt, fruit and granola, but you can also make them with ice cream. I’ll choose ice cream over yogurt 100 percent of the time. A parfait really has to do with how it’s served – in a tall skinny vessel. My mom likes to serve parfaits after family dinners and I think this is because she has parfait glasses and even better, parfait spoons (longer spoons so you can get to the bottom). I don’t have these items (nor do I want them – you have to be careful about what kind of hints you drop this time of year). But I do have some pilsner beer glasses and those seemed to work fine. No great recipe here; I just loaded it up with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce and chocolate sauce, layering each ingredient as went along. Then I served it up.
I had this after a day of work at the Vineyard which wasn’t too taxing. When I came home, Lola had cooked more turkey for our continuation of Thanksgiving leftovers enjoyment. Then later, I had my parfait. It was good, just like you would expect. But it was essentially an ice cream sundae, so you knew that would be good. I’m still not sure why Big Parfait has sunk so much money into getting parfaits on the holiday calendar. I hope it’s paid off for them in more sales of parfait glasses and spoons. But for me, it was just a way to make cleaning a beer glass a little harder. Still, count this day as celebrated and happily so.
Next Up: National Cookie Day
Well friends, today is day 495 of my quest. That’s 495
straight days of celebrating every day. That’s a whole lot of celebrating. It’s been a whirlwind tour but I think the time has come to end the streak. The daily grind of keeping it going is starting to wear me down. So, on this day of infamy, I respectfully announce that Day 500 will be my last day of consecutive celebrations.
I’ll fill you in more when I get there. It’s not the end of this, just a new beginning. There’s more to come, I just had to stop the every day (and I hope you can concede that 500 straight days was quite a run). So stay tuned. I will still be playing catch up with my blog posts and hopefully I will get them all out there in the next six days.
But thank you all for the support and love from the bottom of my tired and much-celebrated heart.
To say we like National Leftovers Day as much as we like Thanksgiving would be an understatement (as long as National Leftovers Day falls on the day after Thanksgiving). It’s already a lazy day. We’re not much for Black Friday sales or any of that shopping nonsense, but it’s always a good day to recoup after a few hectic days of cooking and running around. We usually take naps. We usually watch a movie or something similar. And then we feast. Becky and Jeff were kind enough to send us home with a boatload of leftovers. That was really nice of them and we weren’t too shy to take them up on their offer. When the time for eating came around, we basically recreated our Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, corn casserole, cranberry sauce, arugula salad, Brussels sprouts and biscuits. It takes a while to heat it all up. I went with the strategy of microwaving each element separately although in retrospect, it would have been easier to make a plate and microwave the whole thing that way. Either way, it still came out great and we feasted just like we had at the Thanksgiving table only this time we could stay in sweatpants and on the couch. That’s the joy of National Leftovers Day.
Probably the star of any day after Thanksgiving is the Thanksgiving sandwich (which we made as part of our feast). It’s turkey, stuffing, mayo and cranberry sauce on a roll. We put mashed potatoes on there too (because why wouldn’t you). We use the Grands biscuits that we had with Thanksgiving dinner and although it makes a small sandwich, it’s a good bread choice. These sandwiches make us think of Lola’s mom because she always enjoyed the Day After Thanksgiving sandwich. We used to have them with her. It used to be a quiet time in her house and we would be down visiting for the weekend. She too liked a low key Thanksgiving Friday and she was probably exhausted from putting together her whole dinner. Barry would be at work usually, so it was just us and Gigi. She was always happy to have the sandwich and always seemed appreciative when we would make one for her. This would be the meal she would savor. Thanksgiving was too busy for her to really enjoy. This was one she could sit down for and relax. We’d have it with little Cokes too in glass bottles which was always a treat that she pulled out at holiday dinners. An ice cold Coke goes perfect with a Thanksgiving sandwich and it’s why I made sure we had some for our feast today. With Gigi, it was always harder to make everything, usually because the food was either stored in the downstairs fridge or in a cooler on the porch. It was a trudge to just get everything into the kitchen. But it was always worth it just to enjoy a delicious sandwich with one of our favorite people. We thought of her a a lot today.
As I am writing this about ten days after the actual holiday, I can say that our celebration of leftovers continued throughout the weekend. We actually ended up cooking some more turkey and more biscuits so we could keep the party going. We thought for a minute we could keep the party going all year round, just making new batches of each element as we ran out. That wouldn’t be terrible. The Thanksgiving sandwich has become one of our all-around favorites, even when it’s not Thanksgiving season. But it’s especially good on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That’s why it was the perfect day to celebrate the joy of leftovers. It was plate full of happy memories that we just couldn’t let go of until the very last morsel was gone. That’s how we roll on Black Friday.
Next Up: National Parfait Day