Day 31 – National Trail Mix Day

This was one I didn’t need a recipe for because to me, trail mix is just a bunch of munchies thrown into a big pile.  So that’s what I did.  I started with nuts; raw cashews, almonds, walnuts and pecans. That’s always a good place to start, and then I added in some dried cranberries, some oat bran sticks, some dark chocolate covered raisins and then finally some Unreal Chocolate (plain and peanut).  Some thoughts on all this:

  • Pecans don’t hold water when you eat them alongside walnuts, cashews and almonds.  They are too sweet.  I’d probably keep them out next time.  Let’s leave them for baking.
  • Oat bran sticks are one of my faves.  I know they are not the healthiest of snacks, but they sure taste good.
  • Dark chocolate covered raisins were the star of this mix.  That surprised me. Although, on the negative side, they do melt in the sun (not ideal for trail mix).
  • Unreal Chocolates are gross.  They are supposed to be a healthier alternative to M&Ms made without junk, with less sugar, and supposedly with better taste, but they missed the mark on that last one.  Tom Brady endorses them, and for that, Tom Brady deserves to be kicked in the shins (or maybe I have to kick Jimmy Garoppolo until Brady’s back from suspension).
  • While it was good, if I were to perfect it and make Dan’s Famous Trail Mix Recipe, I would work more on finding a taste combination that worked together as a whole.  This one had too many different flavors working against each other.

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Now you can’t have Trail Mix without going on a trail (otherwise you are just eating a bowl of candy and nuts), so I headed out to a place I have driven by but never stopped to enjoy: The Aquidneck Land Trust Trails.  These are trails that wind through the heart of the island (yes folks, Newport, Portsmouth and Middletown are all on one island).  The trail I went on looped around the Newport National Golf Course, but the other trails take you to places a little more wooded and secluded.  I picked this spot because I always see the trail head while I’m on my way to Katie’s house or to Sweet Berry Farm and I knew there would be a place to park.  I had a bag of trail mix with me to make sure I had enough energy, but to be honest, I left the bag in the car while I was hiking because I didn’t want to carry it in my pocket and I knew I could survive the 45 minute stroll without a snack (barely).

A question for my readers: If I were to bring the Trail Mix with me, along with my phone, my keys, my emergency inhaler and some water, I would not have a lot of places to put them.  I never want anything in my hands if I am walking nor do I want my pockets to be full of stuff while either.  That weighs me down and  also swings awkwardly if I pick up any speed. That leaves me the option of using a back pack but wearing one of those seemed overly bulky and unnecessary for this kind of adventure.  That leads me to wondering if I what I need is actually a fanny pack?  Is that the only feasible solution?  Is there any way this is fashionably ok to do?  I’ll leave it up to you.  I think Becky has a few I can borrow.

The trail was easy, but it was nice too.  It was well kept and well marked with the one exception of an area that tricked me into walking the cart paths on the actual golf course.  Once I had two foursomes pass me and the beverage cart too, I kind of figured I had gone astray, so I hopped back on the right track.  The trail looped around the outside of the course so although I was in wooded areas, I was never far from a green or tee box.  I only saw a few people out there on the trails (not unexpected for 10 am on a Wednesday), but I did see a few dogs, no horses (the trail is also an equestrian trail too) but a ton of horse poop (Shouldn’t people curb their horses?).  It’s peaceful on any trail and a good way to appreciate the nature that is around us.  It reminded me of the trails we used to walk when we lived in Exeter, NH where Lola and I would often take long walks in the woods together.  I had kind of forgotten how fun that was and how much I used to look forward to it. Maybe we’ll start doing it again now that the fall weather is coming.  I’ll give a big thumbs up to today’s holiday!

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Today was also Diatomaceous Earth Day and I must admit, I had no idea what that was.  Diatomaceous Earth is (Wikipedia) “a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. Depending on the granularity, this powder can have an abrasive feel, similar to pumice powder, and has a low density as a result of its high porosity. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator.”

Now we can all say we know what diatomaceous earth is and next time we whip out the dynamite that we can be sure is stable or we feel that abrasive toothpaste rubbing against the enamel of our teeth clearing out plaque and other teeth diseases, we can all say, “Thank You Diatomaceous Earth!”

Next Up: National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day 

 

Day 30 – National Toasted Marshmallow Day

There’s no better smell in the world than that of a toasted marshmallow.  That’s what I learned today.  I hope Yankee Candle has figured that out, or the folks at Febreeze.  We should be spraying that smell everywhere.  That’s what our house smelled like tonight.

Toasted Marshmallow seems like an easy holiday to celebrate because everyone loves S’mores.  In fact, we already celebrated them.  I thought that making s’mores again would be a bit of a cop out so I looked for other recipes and I settled on one that seemed intriguing: Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes.  Toasted marshmallow with ice cream – how can you go wrong?

The first thing you do for the recipe is toast the marshmallows, so I lined them up like little soldiers and tossed them under the broiler for a few minutes.  That’s when it started smelling like heaven in our kitchen.  They didn’t take long and I kept a careful eye on them because anyone who has ever toasted a marshmallow knows they can turn on  you fairly quickly.  They came out to a spectacular golden brown perfection.

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I added the ice cream, milk and the recipe’s secret ingredient, greek yogurt, to a blender and mixed it for a second, then scraped in the marshmallows and blended again.  Poured them in to two glasses and garnished with whipped cream (I used canned whipped cream – seemed more feasible for this purpose) and some crushed graham crackers.  They looked beautiful.

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I was so looking forward to this and especially Lola’s reaction.  In the end, they were good, but I had some technical issues. Number one, I added too much milk so they could have been thicker (remember, Lola was raised on Awful Awfuls, so she has a standard for thickness in her shakes).  My other error was misreading the recipe.  Rather than adding a tablespoon of the greek yogurt, I added the container (5 oz).  That changed the taste significantly.  I blame this on my impatience in not thoroughly paying attention to the recipe, but also because I have a recurring eye injury that was acting up today and things in my left eye were definitely blurry (loyal reader Mrs. Isacco can attest that I even went to see my eye doctor).  Nonetheless, it was careless and the taste of the yogurt overpowered everything.  These would be great had I made them correctly.  Really great, so we may see these again (maybe we will make them for Cherie).  But tonight they were just ok.

Nonetheless, we celebrated and anytime I can clink glasses of fresh milkshakes with my Lola as the smell of toasted marshmallow fills the air is a pretty good day.

Next up: National Trail Mix Day (also National Diatomaceous Earth Day)

Day 29 – National Chop Suey Day

When I saw that this day was coming, I got excited because there’s a phenomenon in these parts about this particular dish.  It’s a regional favorite.  They sell mixes of it in a prominent spot at Clement’s (including giant bags of crispy noodles).  Friends have their favorite recipes for it that they make for family dinners.  Best of all, it’s kind of a thing to have it as a sandwich.  You heard me – a sandwich!  I told Lola that I was excited about it all and she just looked at me sadly and shook her head.  “You are thinking of Chow Mein.”

Drat.  I was thinking of Chow Mein.  That’s the dish that’s the sensation around here especially as a sandwich.  Chop Suey is something completely different.  I took to the internet to find out exactly what the difference is and I found a clarification from the folks at www.DifferenceBTW.com:

Chop Suey is a stir fry made with vegetables, meat, seafood, and gravy. How it was developed has many versions. One is that it was that it started in the State of California, in the United States in the mid of 1800s by Cantonese immigrants. Another is that it was a Japanese chef who created it.

Chow Mein is a stir fry made with noodles, meat, seafood, and vegetables. The noodles are made with wheat flour, egg, and water which are crispy when fried. It is an authentic Chinese dish that originated in northern China where the staple food is noodles.

My Chow Mein day would have to wait.  I figured a good place to enjoy Chop Suey would be at a Chinese restaurant so seeing I had some spare time this afternoon, I headed to Jackie’s Galaxie in Bristol for some lunch.  This place was a Barry Mellow favorite.  It was his choice for Chinese food in the area and as far as Chinese food connoisseurs go, there are not many more qualified than BarMel. It’s good food and a wide array of choices from the Chinese menu staples to some pretty great looking fresh-made sushi.  It’s great for take out but also a nice place to sit down and feast.

I went there at about 2 PM and there were actually a couple of other tables.  I was going solo – Lola was sequestered in her writing room for the day and I didn’t want to bug her.  I walked into Jackie’s at the same time as a little old lady using a walker (whom I held the door open for) and to start things off on an awkward foot, the host thought we were together.  After some clarification, I was seated at my own table and I quickly ordered Pork Chop Suey and a nice cold Coke.  I really had to make sure I ordered the right thing because my mind was still confusing Chow Mein and Chop Suey, but I got it right.  It came out within minutes (pretty impressive) and it was piping hot.

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That was it.  I guess the big difference is the veggies.  W will say the broccoli was particularly fresh and tasty.  The other veggies were the Chinese food veggie staples: carrots, sprouts, lots of onion, water chestnuts, scallions.  They were all coated in the gravy along with the pork and it made for a pretty typical Chinese tasting dish.  Chop Suey seems like something you would order if you didn’t really know what to order at a Chinese restaurant.  It has a very Don Draper take out feeling to it – kind of old fashioned.  It’s still tasty, but given my druthers, I would opt for General Tso’s Chicken or Mongolian Beef over Chop Suey any time.

It was very filling and it pushed me into a Chinese food coma later in the afternoon.  It was a good celebration but oh how I wish I was feasting on a Chow Mein sandwich instead.

Today was also National Lemon Water Day too so I started my morning with a nice glass of hot water with half a fresh lemon squeezed into it.  At least I started the day out on the right foot.  They say Lemon Water is pretty good for you.  It’s always tasty to me too, so maybe I’ll make that a new habit.  One way to keep the celebration going.

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I’d also be remiss if I did not take a moment to say thanks to one of the great comic geniuses of our time, Gene Wilder, who passed away today.  I’d like thank him for the many laughs and cinematic moments he shared with us that helped shape an admiring mind.  From his first steps forward as a hobbling mysterious Willy Wonka, to his “We Bad” walk alongside Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy, his dancing alongside the Monster in Young Frankenstein and of course his calming presence throughout the madness that was Blazing Saddles. Every one of those movies are in my Top Ten and Gene Wilder was the common thread to them all.  Cheers to you!  We hope you are dancing with Gilda tonight.  So much time, so little to do.  Scratch that.  Reverse it.

Next Up: National Toasted Marshmallow Day 

Day 28 – Cherry Turnover Today

Today was a rough one.  The first challenge came when it came time to actually make the turnover.  I wasn’t exactly sure what constitutes a turnover but apparently, they are pretty similar to the pies you get at McDonald’s (I also hear Arby’s has a pretty good cherry turnover, but not many Arby’s in these parts).  Once I realized what I was looking at, I searched out recipes and the one that spoke to me was from good old Martha Stewart.  Martha can get a little fancy for my blood, but this recipe looked easy enough.

But it wasn’t.  The instructions were simple but when it came to the part about rolling out the dough and stuffing the turnover, it got a little vague.  I could have really used a picture at this point which made me ask the question why this maven of the do-it-yourself world does not have proper photos for her recipes?  One little picture of what the dough and cherry mix were supposed to look like at this essential point of the recipe would have been of great help.  All I could do was read the recipe.  Reread it.  Then muscle through as best I could.

The issue was when I went to stuff the little rectangles of dough, the cherry mixture would ooze out, but if I put less mixture in, it looked like I had too much dough.  When I finally was able to make one and pushed the dough over to form the turnover, the dough wouldn’t seal properly and the juice from the cherry mixture started to drip onto my sheet pan.  That was my other concern: they never said to line the sheet pan with parchment or grease and the pastry dough seemed to stick to the pan creating a bigger mess (and burning the edges).  All in all in wasn’t the easiest to make, but in the end, they came out alright – I guess.  Cheers to the true pastry makers of the world out there for what you do!

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I ate it later that night with some Bryer’s Vanilla Ice Cream (the best vanilla ice cream you can get in my opinion).  They were tasty.  The turnover was nice and flaky and the cherries were sweet.  You got plenty of both tastes in each bite and the ice cream proved to be a delightful complement.  It was pretty much a mini pie and that’s what it tasted like.  The recipe called for frozen cherries and I bet fresh cherries would be a lot better, but fresh cherries would have been a lot more work.  In the end, it was not my favorite celebration, but still a pretty fine tasting dessert.

The other challenge that I came up against today was that after 28 days of the quest, I think I finally broke Lola.  She has just had her fill of all these sweets and creations, and I can’t blame her.  She’s been a trooper all along and so, so supportive.  She just couldn’t keep on this pace and the thought of eating one more bite put her over the edge.  I will still have her support behind the scenes and she will be trying things beside me when the feeling is right, but for some of these tastings, I may be on my own.  The quest goes on, but I’ll take a minute to honor the fallen tribute who got me to this point.  May the odds be ever in her favor.

Cherry Popovers celebrated.

Next up: National Chop Suey Day 

 

Day 27 – National Pots de Creme Day

Surprisingly, I knew about this.  We’ve had them before on some of our adventures.  For those who don’t know, Pots de Creme are essentially little servings of a type of custard.  My extensive research on Wikipedia tells me that they are actually “a loose French dessert custard dating to the 17th century. The name means “pot of custard” or “pot of creme”, which also refers to the porcelain cups in which the dessert is served.”  Now we all know.

The first time we saw them was on our trip to England when we were visiting my sister who was living there.  Lola and I took an extended trip to visit her and to do some exploring.  We had booked the trip because we had secured some tickets to see the one and only Michael Jackson in concert, however Mr. Jackson failed to live up to his part of the agreement and so we were left without a concert to see.  However, it was still an opportunity to explore a foreign country and to take a trip that we both needed.  Thanks MB and Doug for hosting us!

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Lola grieving for MJ in London.

We didn’t have any grand plans while we were there, so we would just wake up, take a train into to London proper and explore.  We immersed ourselves daily in history, museums, culture and food.  The food was a big surprise for us as we had heard such bad things about English food, but there was so many new tastes to try all over the city, it became a bit of a Foodie trip.  That’s where we first saw Pots de Creme which made an appearance on menus throughout the city (right next to the treacle tarts).  They were also available in the markets and quick serve places as an easy grab and go item.  How could you resist?  Little pots of chocolate (other flavors too, but chocolate always looked the best) just waiting to be picked up and enjoyed.  Enjoy we did.

A few years later, the summer after Lola’s Mom had passed away, we were invited to see a baseball game in Pittsburgh (thanks Charlie!).  Because we were once again in need of a break, we decided to turn the trip into a vacation.  So after the drive West to Pittsburgh and a fabulous game, we made a pit stop on our way home in the Poconos of New York (home of the beautiful Mount Airy Lodge for anyone that ever watched New York’s Channel 11 in the 80’s).  We found a place called the Lodge at Woodloch which billed itself as a destination spa resort (something we needed).  It was a beautiful spot and offered massages, treatments, activities – everything you would want to relax.

The food there was good too but because it was a spa, the meals were designed more for healthy eating.  Nothing wrong with that, it just wasn’t what we expected/wanted.  So while it was tasty, at the end of the meal you would always be a little hungry.  That’s when they would roll out the dessert and to our delight, Pots de Creme were usually an option.  They would be the perfect sweet finish to the meal.  Lola and I started really looking forward to them – kind of like two kids hoarding pudding cups in the school cafeteria.  Sometimes we’d sneak an extra one during lunch when they weren’t looking.  They were that good and I would say the bright spot of the dining experience all week.

That’s why we like Pots de Creme and I was excited to see that they now have their own day of celebration.  I found a recipe on Food Network which looked pretty easy. There are only a few ingredients: egg yolks, milk, cream, sugar and chocolate.   It took about ten minutes to make and then I just put them in the fridge to set.  There is a moment where you have to pour the heated ingredients over chocolate in a blender and then blend together and I am always a little hesitant about putting any hot items in a blender.  There was an incident a few years back involving my arm, some carrots and squash soup, a big mess and some nasty burns, so I am always extra careful when attempting this.  However, no problems this time and all looked good when it was finished.  I poured them into some ramekins and some short glasses (I only have four ramekins) and then waited for them to set.

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When it was time to enjoy them, I threw together some whipped cream (I’m getting really good at making whipped cream) and then took the Pots de Creme out of the fridge plopping a dollop of whipped cream on top.  They were really good.  This could have been one of my favorites.  I waited for Lola’s reaction and she was equally delighted.  It surprised us both.  When you take your first bite, you think you are just eating an easy pudding or similar, but then the taste melts in your mouth and suddenly there’s a party.  The texture is something too – light, almost crumbly, but not.  Big thumbs up for this one.  What a great day for Pots de Creme!  Let’s bring these into regular rotation around here!

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Next up: Cherry Turnover Day (Are there any Arby’s around here?)

Day 26 – National Cherry Popsicle Day

If you paid attention to your social media feeds today, you would have easily surmised that today was National Dog Day as everyone was posting pictures of their favorite canines in appreciation.  Not that there has ever been a shortage of dog pictures on Facebook, but seeing everyone’s pictures of their pups was a good reminder at how much these four-legged friends mean to us all.  However, when it comes to my quest, my issue was that I do not have a dog and, for that matter, never have.  I like dogs, I just have been allergic to them for all my life, so a life with dogs has never been my thing.  That makes it a tough holiday for me to celebrate.  I will however give a shout out to those dogs in my family’s lives that provide their respective owners with such companionship and joy: Rosie, Gracie, Kody and Wilbur.  Woof to your mother.

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My brother Mark with his widdle Gracie-Wacie.  Happy National Dog Day!

Today was also National Women’s Equality Day too.  That’s something that deserves celebration.  To honor this, I spent all day treating Lola as my equal.  I paid her the same wage I pay her male counterparts.  I gave her the right to vote.  I even let her leave the dinner dishes over night so she didn’t have to clean up until the morning.  Seems fair.  I joke, of course.  Women’s Equality is something we need to celebrate every day and it even seems weird that it is still something women are fighting for in 2016.  But the battle continues, so we all need to make sure we recognize what women’s rights (equal rights for all actually) means to advancing our society as a whole. And while I’m all for this holiday, my conundrum again was how to actually celebrate it?

There were two other holidays I found for this day: National WebMistress Day and National Cherry Popsicle Day.  To my surprise, National WebMistress Day is not in celebration of AshleyMadison.com.  Rather, it celebrates women who design, develop, market and maintain websites.  I suppose that’s something to celebrate (although it could very much be a holiday created by a clever WebMistress).  I appreciate any kind of cool design or creation; never gave much consideration to what the gender of the designer was.  I feel that this appreciation is kind of what we are celebrating in our Woman’s Equality celebration.  Regardless, it is another tough one to actually celebrate.  By process of elimination, my celebration would fall to the Cherry Popsicle.

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Today was friggen’ hot.  The humidity came back to RI and I couldn’t seem to find that homeostasis of comfort, especially in my office.  I’m not a fan of being hot – it makes me irritable and grumpy.  It was Friday, I was frustrated with searches for jobs on websites, I was sweating and just in a foul mood.  That’s when I realized we had a box of Popsicles in our freezer.  I set up the umbrella on our deck so I could secure some shade, grabbed the box of popsicles and opened it up.  I was excited about this multipack box because it had three great flavors: orange, grape and cherry.  I seem to remember this box always had an off flavor inside (like lemon or kiwi) that no one would eat, but orange, grape and cherry are probably my top three popsicle flavors so this box was ideal.  The only issue I had was that the popsicles were all individually wrapped in unidentified white paper that gave you no clue as to the flavor inside and orange, grape and cherry all have similar shades of darkness when you try to guess what it is through the packaging.  I figured the grape would be the darkest, orange the lightest, so I picked the other one and I was right – Cherry!

I can’t tell you anything about a cherry popsicle that you don’t already know, but it was the prefect afternoon treat on an awfully hot day.  I savored it underneath the umbrella looking out at what was actually a beautiful day.  Popsicles could fall into the perfect food category, at least perfect for what they are intended for.  They are sweet and flavorful (cherry syrup is a flavor of summer).  They have the perfect delivery system (what’s better than food on a stick).  They are cold and cooling.  That was pretty much perfect for this day.  Thank you Cherry Popsicle.  Consider yourself celebrated.

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Ok – this is the same photo as above but without the fancy Instagram filter.  Maybe it was the heat stroke kicking in, but does anyone see a face at the top of this popsicle?  Oh my god, I think I ate the Jesus popsicle.  

Next Up: National Pots De Creme Day

 

 

Day 25 – National Whisky Sour Day

This was another day I was really looking forward to.  I love a good whisky sour.  I remember ordering my first one when I was at a bar on Cape Cod with my brother, Mark, who was living there for the summer before his senior year of college (coincidentally and in a moment of synchronicity, his son actually just left today to start his senior year at college).  I had gone to visit him for a few days and it was an interesting peek into his life.  He was enjoying his last summer of freedom.  One night, we went out to a bar in Hyannis – a club really – with his roommates and friends.  I was having one of those nights where the thought of another beer just made me too full and I had reached my limit, so I thought about what else I could have.  I went with a whisky sour.  Albeit a bit of an old fashioned choice, it was cool, refreshing and did the trick.

That was the same night that has been ensconced into the annals of Mark and Dan history because later in the evening, one of my brother’s friends got in a little bit of a scuffle at the bar. In the ensuing chaos, Mark, always my protector, looked at me and said, “Dan, go home!”  So I walked back to his house.  However, Mark’s recollection of that moment does not recall the same exactness of his instructions to me.  In his version, he just directed me to stay safe and away from the melee (maybe because my fake ID had his name on it).  So, in the midst of being in a potential brawl and taking care of his buddy who had a broken nose, Mark suddenly had to worry about his little brother who had disappeared.  His night had him travel to the hospital with his friend and then searching the Hyannis area for a lost brother.  Meanwhile, I was at his house snacking on chips and ready for bed.  That was life before cell phones kiddies.

Whisky Sours actually bring me to memories from my childhood at the Lake, our summer cottage on Lake Candlewood in CT.  Dinnertime there was always separated into two groups: kids and adults.  Kids would eat around 5 PM.  We’d all gather round the table on our porch, have a feast that couldn’t be beat, then we’d clear the table and make room for the adults.  When adult hour came, the porch became off limits to kids (a true torture when it was the only room with a television).  The adult hour would naturally start with a Happy Hour at the bar and that’s where I would witness my first whisky sours.  It was a Happy Hour staple for my Aunt and Uncle (Peg and Doc).

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I always thought all the adults were drinking whisky sours, but my Mom tells me it was usually just Doc and Peg.  My parents would join my other uncle, Father John (a priest, just to clarify why we called him Father John), in one of his famous Manhattans.

There were three reasons why whisky sours stood out to me and why I remember them so well to this day.  Number one was the box of Whisky Sour Mix (see above).  It was such distinct packaging – colorful and appealing.  The box was always found in the corner of the bar on the porch.  I probably looked at it every day during the summer for over ten years, so it has etched itself into my subconscious.  The second reason was because the drinks were always garnished with fresh orange slices that were cut into half-wheels and kept on a plate throughout Happy Hour.  Kids were not allowed to eat the oranges until the adults were finished with Happy Hour (literally forbidden fruit), but if I was lucky, when they brought any unused slices back to the kitchen, they were up for grabs.  As long as I could fend off my cousins, I could feast on one of my favorite treats.  The last reason why I remember whisky sours was because my aunt would make the mix in the blender.  The sound of a blender ringing out in a quieted house is very distinct.  It also meant that kids had to be quiet as Adult Time was happening.  But my real question, why did Peg use a blender for this?  The instructions say to shake up the ingredients, not blend, and I am not aware of a frozen whisky sour, so why use a blender?  I will say that the froth she would achieve on her drinks was unbeatable.

Today I happened to be visiting my sister in Connecticut as my Mom was making a venture outside her house for the first time all summer (she had a fall back in May and has been pretty much confined to her house ever since).  I brought along the whisky sour ingredients as I knew MB would be up for celebration as she has been throughout the quest.  After some lunch and some relaxation by her pool, we decided it was time to enjoy.  I filled a cocktail shaker with ice and poured in the whisky (I used Canadian Club because that has always been the whisky of choice in our family).  Added the packets of Whisky Sour Mix (one for each drink) and then added equal parts water.  I put the cover on and then shook the crap out of it.  I had my nephew Zack help me shake it up too which seemed like a job an almost 13 year old kid would enjoy.  The key to any good sour is to really shake it up well so you can achieve maximum frothing.   We had excellent results.

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I have to give Doc and Peg credit because these drinks are fantastic summer delights to enjoy while sitting poolside (or lake side).  They are light and refreshing.  Not too boozy, but just enough.  MB had her doubts on whether or not she would like it, but it turned out she enjoyed them.  My Mom refrained (probably not the best time for her to drink), but I bet she was tempted at how refreshing they looked.  Success and cheers to Doc and Peg!  We could feel Doc looking down on us and giving us a wink of approval.

When I got home, Lola was at her sister Katie’s house celebrating our niece Eva’s fifth birthday, so I headed over there to join the festivities.  It was about 8 PM and it was just Katie and her family, her neighbors and Lola left.  The kids were excited because Gary had a secret stash of fireworks he was saving to mark the occasion (nothing big, but big enough to make a five year old’s day).  I brought my whisky and whisky sour packets with me (doesn’t everyone travel like that?) and even though I was offered my share of wine or beer, I asked if they minded if I made a whisky sour.  They did not, and Gary even joined me.  These drinks are really tasty!  And as the kids danced around with sparklers in their hands, I celebrated with my whisky sour with Lola by my side under a starry night sky.  That’s a pretty nice whisky sour day.

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Next Up: National Webmistress Day (uh Lola, I’ll be on my computer all day) 

Day 24 – National Waffle Day

I’ve been looking forward to this one.  Not that I am alone in my love for waffles, but they do hold a special place in my heart.  They used to be my go to Lenten Friday night dinner.   Those were the nights we good Catholics couldn’t eat meat, so while my brother and sister feasted on fish sticks, I opted for the non-traditional breakfast-for-dinner route and would have waffles.  On reflection, my Mom must have liked that because there was nothing easier than throwing a couple of Aunt Jemima frozen waffles in the toaster and serving it up to a happy kid.

We have been watching Stranger Things all week on Netflix (highly recommend this show), and one of the characters has a particular fondness for Eggos.  I knew that bode well for Waffle Day too because when we get into a really good show and they tend to feature a certain food, Lola starts to get a craving for it.  When we watched The Sopranos, our pasta intake increased dramatically, not to mention our Gabagool consumption.  So I knew that if I were to make waffles, Lola would be all in.  And, because it’s a holiday, I figured I would serve them for dinner as a small way to celebrate the day (breakfast for dinner is always a celebration).

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I made two kinds of waffles tonight.  The first was from a recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago (one of those videos that just start playing).  It was a brunch recipe from Bobby Flay for Banana Bread Waffles with Bananas Foster Sauce.  Sounds pretty complicated but the recipe looked pretty easy.  We also, as serendipity would have it, had five bananas that were at the peak of ripeness, which made it perfect for the recipe.  I made the banana bread yesterday using a recipe from Lola’s sister Becky which I think was passed down from their mother.  It’s a slam dunk of a banana bread and I have made it before, so nothing too hard.

The Bananas Foster came together pretty quickly with butter, brown sugar, a little rum, some cream and bananas.  For the waffle portion, the recipe has you cut slices of banana bread and cook them right in the waffle iron.  This is going to be the way we serve banana bread from now on because the outside gets nice and toasted while the inside stays fresh and warm.  I plated them up and then topped them generously with Foster sauce.   I wasn’t sure what Lola was going to think – if she was craving regular waffles, this could go terribly wrong.  But after I served them, I heard her take her first bites and she almost immediately started slapping the table in glee – that’s a good sign.  She called them the bomb – another good sign.

I imagined that these would be what Bobby Flay would serve us if we ever get invited to his apartment for brunch.  That would be weird.  Would he cook?  Wouldn’t he want the day off?  Would I tell him that I once made the Banana Waffles too?  Could I ask him about the other Food Network people, or would that not be polite?  Would Lola pick up on his thick accent and start talking like him in that subtle mimicking way she does so unconsciously?  What would we bring as a house gift?  What if we didn’t like the food?  Maybe we’re not ready for brunch with Bobby just yet.

Because you can’t celebrate National Waffle Day without regular waffles, I made a batch of them too.  Nothing fancy – I just used a box of Waffle Mix in which water, eggs and oil needed to be added.  These came out delicious as well.  No offense to frozen waffles, but waffles fresh from a waffle maker always seem so much better.  The outside gets crisp while the inside is still soft and doughy.  The bad part is the clean up – it always seems like the waffle iron gets covered in dried batter in hard to reach places.  I actually broke the waffle iron on the banana bread (pushed down too hard on the lid and the handle popped off), so this batch was particularly messy.  Oh well, all part of any good celebration.

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Next Up: National Whiskey Sour Day  

Day 23 – National Sponge Cake Day

I found out today that sponge cake is a cake made from a batter containing eggs which have been beaten into a foamy consistency.  That’s what gives it that spongey quality.  Angel Food Cakes are made the same way but made with egg whites only – the sponge cake uses the yolk too.  I had never made a sponge cake before so looked online and found a recipe from a site called Natasha’s Kitchen that had a few words I like seeing in the search results line: easy and four ingredients.

Natasha didn’t steer me wrong either because it was easy and it really only had four ingredients (eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder).  I whipped it together in no time, tossed it in the oven and had two beautiful cakes in about 20 minutes.

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But now what?  Do I just feast on plain sponge cake?  I decided that it needed a little something to spruce it up so I cut up some strawberries and sprinkled them with sugar and let them macerate for a while (will that give them hairy palms?).  I later cranked out some homemade whipped cream so I could build a Strawberry Sponge Cake (not sure if that’s a thing, but it is now).  I started with one cake, topped it with whipped cream, topped that with a layer of strawberries, put the second cake on top, topped with whipped cream and then finished with more strawberries.

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It wasn’t perfect looking, but it got the job done.  Lola and I shared a piece after dinner.  Not surprisingly, it’s a little difficult to cut into as the cake is spongey and the knife kind of bounces back, but once you make it through, the piece comes out neatly.  It was really tasty.  The strawberries were fresh and ripe and blended well with the sweet fresh cream.  The cake really has a different texture to it with a lot of give, but a firmness too so when you are eating it, you really get the cake taste and crumbly consistency.  The three flavors were great as one and I even got a “this could be my favorite so far” from Lola.  Success.

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All in all, a sponge cake is a pretty easy cake to make and definitely deserving of our celebration.  Don’t be shy if you want to try a piece – we have a bunch left over.  I’ll deliver locally!

Tomorrow: National Waffle Day (Eleven will be so excited) 

Day 22 – National Eat a Peach Day

I ate a peach today.  It was delicious.

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I was worried it wasn’t going to be ripe enough – nobody wants an underripe peach that is as crunchy as an apple and has no flavor.  This one was just below peak ripeness.  It was juicy, tasty and still firm enough so that when I got to the pit, the pit came out as clean as a whistle.  Perfect.  One of my favorite fruits.

I also listened to the Allman Brothers album “Eat a Peach” which seemed appropriate.  I am not sure if I have ever listened to this whole album before as I am not much of a Jam Band fan.  However, if you can’t listen to some Allman Brothers from time to time, especially on a beautiful ramblin’ summer day, then you shouldn’t be listening to rock and roll.

Consider Eat a Peach day celebrated.  I am kind of glad we got an easy one today.  We needed a little break.  There’s been pies and ice cream aplenty over the last three weeks so having a day to enjoy the simple pleasure of a summer peach was most welcome.  The quest continues to be a challenge and looking ahead to what’s next, planning for it, making it and celebrating it takes up more time than I imagined.  It’s fun though and I love having all your support.  As the job hunt has begun too, the quest is an odd little side project that has been keeping me looking ahead and positive in a time where moments of reality start to overwhelm.  So I’ll keep grinding away at it.  Thanks for reading.

Next up: National Sponge Cake Day