Day 152 – National Bacon Day

There are few foods in the world that are celebrated more than bacon, and rightfully so.   It’s everything you want in a meat product.  Salty, fatty, crispy and oh so flavorful.  It makes anything it attaches to more tasty as well.  On Christmas, I served bacon covered crackers that were a big hit.  But if you really look at what I served – it was essentially a cracker.  Just a plain old Townhouse cracker with a little bit of cheese.  What made it remarkable?  Bacon.  You can wrap anything in bacon and make it better.  Shrimp.  Water chestnuts.  Potatoes.  It’s pretty versatile and it will always make whatever you are eating better (ok, maybe not if you were eating Jell-O or something like that).  The world knows this and cheers for bacon at every chance it gets.  If you have ever checked the “Man” section at a gift store (an awful section of any store that reduces my gender to a group of bourbon drinking, sports watching, bacon eating buffoons), there’s always an area devoted to the love the of bacon. Bacon books.  Bacon coozies.  Bacon puns.  The world knows that men love bacon and they are cashing in on it.  Bacon is a holiday in and of itself.

I always have a tough time on holidays that are bigger and more widely recognized than my usual celebrations.  It’s easier to celebrate a day like Pepper Pot Day because not too many people know what it is.  When you celebrate something like bacon, you feel you have to come out strong and up your game.  You start seeing it pop up on social media and trending and you start questioning how am I going to make my mark out there?  I don’t want to let down my fans.  I have to go big here.   I have to make an impression.  Then I realize that this is a long quest, not a one day thing.  Sure I am going to celebrate bacon and I will do so happily.  I just don’t have to put on the biggest celebration for it.  I’ll leave that to others while I prepare for the 200 plus days left of this quest.  You have to pace yourself over this journey.  I need to stick to the basics and just celebrate.  I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses (who are probably making bacon-wrapped waffles in bacon syrup served with bacon beer).

I was a little slow at getting to it today and I kept pushing off going to the store until later in the day and when I went, I just went up the street to the Dollar General (a noted purveyor of fine meats).  My shopping list was simple: Bacon and Tortilla Chips.  I was back home in five minutes (it really is up the corner).  I picked up three packages of bacon and immediately started cooking them.  I had some strange thought that even though I wasn’t going to make anything big, I would just make a lot of bacon – as if that would impress you.  My logic was a bit twisted.  In any case, I loaded up two sheet pans with bacon and then placed it in a cold oven and turned it on to 400 degrees.  This is the Alton Brown method and in theory, by the time the oven is preheated, the bacon is done.  It never works perfectly for me though.  I always have to wait longer and spin trays around losing patience while I do it.  But, it’s a good way to cook lots of bacon at once.  I still had some bacon that wouldn’t fit onto a tray, so I cooked that on the stovetop in our cast iron skillet.  That was a bit messier but got the job done and the bacon crispy.

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Suddenly I had a plate full of three packages worth of bacon which is not an altogether terrible problem to have.  It was lined with paper towels to soak up some of the grease and the kitchen was smelling pretty good too with the scent of bacon in the air (I bet you they sell bacon scented candles at the Man-porium).  My plan was to make some Bacon Garlic Nachos which was pretty simple.  I spread tortilla chips as a single layer on a sheet pan, sprinkled some minced garlic on top, covered in cheese, then repeated with another layer. When it was all covered in cheese, I cut up some cooked bacon and sprinkled it over the top and placed it in the oven until the cheese melted.  This was a version of nachos that were on the menu where I used to work and was one of Lola’s favorites (although they usually came with tomatoes on top too, but we were fresh out of tomatoes as was the Dollar General).  Garlic on nachos is a great addition especially if you are a garlic fiend like Lola is.  The bacon also adds that salty bacon goodness to the nachos too.  It’s a pretty good combination.  We had a ripe avocado, so I made a quick guacamole and served up some salsa as well.  A pretty nice little meal.

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I had a few bites but with all that bacon cooked, I felt I had to do a little more, so I went for a BLT but really just had an BLC because we were still out of tomatoes but had cheese.  I happened to have a fresh ciabatta roll so I used that as my bread and slathered some mayo on the bottom half.  Topped it with some lettuce.  Added a heaping pile of bacon to that.  Usually I am more delicate about putting bacon on a sandwich.  I place it deliberately so I can be sure there is bacon in every bite.  That’s usually because the bacon supply is limited, but that wasn’t an issue today, so I just plopped a bunch on there.  I topped it with a slice of American cheese because why not?  I had my BL.

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BLTs (or BLCs) are always a great sandwich.  It’s just a good combination.  The crispiness and saltiness of the bacon gets soaked up by the bread and then the addition of the fresh vegetables and mayo balance the whole thing out.  Whoever invented it deserves a raise.    He or she really elevated their bacon game.

So that was our bacon day which wasn’t a big gala or giant viral stunt, but it was a day that ended with a delicious feeding of bacon served two ways (plus I have a whole container of cooked bacon waiting for me in our fridge).  Bacon will always have a special place in the heart of anyone that enjoys food.  There’s probably nothing as tasty that is so readily available.  It’s not like it’s a new food, but it still keeps bringing the party to the table.  That’s what we celebrated today – the joy of bacon.  I didn’t need an apron with a funny saying to make it.  I didn’t need some bacon ice cubes in my bourbon to truly appreciate it. I didn’t need to wear my bacon suit to Clements to make the celebration worthwhile.  All I needed was the Dollar General, an oven and a partner in swine (probably the worst thing I have ever called Lola).  That was the celebration that best suited me and it was delicious.

Next Up: National Champagne Day 

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Day 151 – National Pepper Pot Day

Pepper Pot?  What the hell is that?

I had to do some research on this one.  In pop culture, there is a character in the Marvel Universe called Pepper Potts who is Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) assistant and love interest.  The words Pepper Pot seem perfectly suited for comics or cartoon names.  It has that alliteration element along with a sense of silliness that makes it fun to say and hear.  It could be Tony Stark’s assistant or it could also be someone Bugs Bunny meets on his trip to Albuquerque.  In another use, if you put the words together as ‘pepperpots’,  you get the collective name of any of the middle-aged, matronly types played by the men of Monty Python.  That seems somewhat fitting too as you can almost see their characters in their stout shapes and peppery attitudes.  It’s kind of a great little pairing of words that have a nice pop culture tradition, but that’s not what we are celebrating today.

Pepper pot is actually a special food.  There’s a kind from Guyana which is one of the country’s national dishes.  It is traditionally served at Christmas and other special events and it is made slowly with chicken, curry and rice (perhaps served with some Kool-Aid).  It’s essentially a stewed meat dish, strongly flavored with cinnamon, cassareep (a special sauce made from the cassava root) and other basic ingredients, including Caribbean hot peppers. I’d be interested in trying that, although I was not interested in making it.  Seemed pretty complicated plus we were fresh out of cassareep.  And unless there was a Guyanese restaurant in Newport that I didn’t know about, I was not going to be able to try this version.

Then I read about Philadelphia Pepper Pot which is a thick stew of beef tripe, vegetables, pepper and other seasonings.  Tripe, as in cow stomach?  That’s the traditional ingredient, but all the recipes I peeked at allowed you to substitute meat for the tripe, so I kept reading.  The origins of the stew are steeped in legend which attribute the dish to Christopher Ludwick, baker general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.  As the story goes (according to noted historian Lin-Manuel Miranda), General Washington was quite despondent. The troops had resorted to eating their horses and the local farmers had sold their supplies and harvest to the British, so sing a song of sixpence.  On Washington’s request, Ludwick created a soup made of tripe, vegetables, and whatever else he could find to help feed the troops.  He called it Pepper Pot and it provided the Continental Army with a warming meal which helped boost morale and get them through the harsh winter.  It was nicknamed the soup that won the war.  This got me interested especially since I have been part of the Hamilton hysteria of the past year and my interest in the Revolutionary War has been piqued.  The recipe I found looked doable.  It was not the simplest of recipes, but it was not unmanageable.  I would be making the soup that won the war.

I found an authentic recipe on Allrecipes.com.  Not sure if it really is authentic, but that’s what it was called and it looked easy enough to make.  It called for tripe, but I decided to use stew beef instead.  That seemed like a reasonable substitution.  I got my ingredients from Clements including fresh leeks, parsley, green peppers and potatoes. I also picked up a loaf of crusty bread because I knew this recipe would be better with some on the side.  Like any soup, it doesn’t take too long to put together, it just takes time to cook.  You cook the meat and the bacon, then add in the vegetables, top it off with the beef broth and then let it cook.  Ok, maybe stir it every once and awhile.  But that was it.

I ladled out a bowl for myself and cut off a chunk of crusty bread with a slab of butter.  I kind of wanted to recreate the Revolutionary War feel.  I wish I had started a fire outside and I could eat the soup sitting in the glow of the embers, a ratty old blanket around my shoulders.  A pewter cup of ale to wash it all down.  I would eat the soup just using my grubby hands to scoop it up with the bread.  I’d slurp like a soldier and listen to the sound of the fife being played in the distance.  But rather than that, I ate it in our living room, on our couch in the glow of our television screen.  So much for my reenactment career.

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It was actually really tasty and especially hardy.  I can see how this would be a welcome meal for anyone trudging through the battlefields all day.  The leeks were a bit overpowering – perhaps I didn’t chop them up enough, but it seemed like they were in every bite.  I was right about the crusty bread a being the perfect addition because it just was.  It soaked up the broth and brought some crunch to it.  A warm and hardy soup that was good to the last drop.  I felt like I was giving a nod to General Washington too, acknowledging his fight that brought us the freedom we enjoy today.  That’s the kind of memories good food should elicit.  There will be more for us today too and with the recent cold weather, this could be the soup that wins our war with winter.  Cheers to the Revolution!

Next up: National Bacon Day 

 

Day 150 – National Chocolate Candy Day

I can get behind this one.  No fruitcake today!  It is however a pretty broad holiday to celebrate.  Chocolate candy can be chocolate covered anything.  Or just straight up chocolate I suppose, like a Hershey bar.

This is a good time of year if you like movies because all the Oscar bait movies are released so they can receive consideration for the 2016 prizes.  So after a few months of mediocrity at the box office, you are suddenly overwhelmed by an influx of good quality films.  Plus, it being that week between Christmas and New Years, it feels like a festive time and that you should be relaxing and enjoying yourself.  Going to the movies is one of our favorite things to do, so Lola and I usually see a few movies this time of year.  That’s what we decided to do today which would also be a perfect spot to enjoy our chocolate candy too.

The idea of going to a movie came to us late in the morning after both of us were busy doing our thing.  We decided that we wanted to see the Casey Affleck movie called Manchester By the Sea which was playing about fifteen minutes away in Dartmouth, MA at the AMC theater.  That’s one of those fancy theaters with the reclining lounge chairs.  It’s always packed, so I bought our tickets online.  I kind of like the ability to pick your seats too.  It gave me an idea of how crowded it would be and where our seats would be.  It’s a good system.  We made our way there and with five minutes to spare, I headed to the concession stand while Lola made her way to the bathroom.  We were having a Siskel and Ebert lunch.  I got our usual: medium popcorn and medium soda (no, I do not want the larger size for just a quarter more).  But then the choice of candy was at hand.  I picked up a box of Milk Duds, Lola’s go-to movie candy.  I perused the display for a while looking for my choice.  If I had my druthers, I would have gone for Nestle Crunch bites which are sometimes a nice little addition to the party, however those were not an option here.  In the end, I opted for a candy I don’t think I’ve ever purchased at the movies: Reese’s Pieces.

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Taking pictures in movie theaters.  Shhh! 

I don’t usually eat candy in a movie – I stick to the popcorn (I’m a bit of a health nut, you see).  But when I do get candy, it’s always a nice little surprise.  Reese’s Pieces are as good as you remember.  The chocolate shell with the smooth creamy peanut butter inside.  They have a different crunch than your typical M&M.  They are less hard, almost soft to chew.  A great combination of flavors too.  A Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup would be too much at once in the movies.  The Pieces allow you to sustain your enjoyment over a longer period of time (and this movie was particularly long).  I will say the bag was hard to get into.  I was in fear that if I tried to pull it open too hard, Pieces would fly everywhere in a moment of movie shame.  I could have used some better packaging.  I got it open slightly so one candy could slide out at a time, but I wanted the whole thing to be open.  Other than that, I was happy wth my choice.  At some point I dumped them into the popcorn for a ‘popcorn salad’.  The salt and sweet combo together – that’s good living.

The movie is long like I mentioned, but it’s really good too.  It has a tone to it that perfectly reflects the emotions and feelings of the Casey Affleck character.  He is especially good in it too.  It deals with grief and life and adjusting.  It is honest about pain and about hearts that are broken.  You’ll hear more about this film around Oscar time, but it has the Dan and Lola seal of approval.  Casey Affleck will definitely be nominated for Best actor, but the other cast were great too, even with their Boston accents.  It was filmed locally and the scenery of Manchester By the Sea is a vibrant character in the film as well.  Lola did not know that Manchester By the Sea is a real town in Massachusetts even though we actually drove through there once on our way to Gloucester.  I think when spring rolls around, we may make the trek back there because it’s a beautiful spot.

The only negative part about the whole movie was the guy next to me – an elderly gentleman with his wife (which you expect to see at a matinee).  First, he was awful at whispering.  I think there should be a license for whispering because so many people are terrible at it, yet it somehow never stops them from talking.  He wasn’t too bad in how much he was talking (I’ve seen much worse), but it was just one of those little annoyances.  Then he started eating.  He would shake his popcorn bag to get the good bites, plus he brought some snacks from home to indulge in including some kind of candy that was wrapped in very crinkly individual packaging (was he eating caramels?) and an apple.  That’s right, an apple.  A crunchy, juice-slobbering, crispy apple.  Can I get an usher please?

When we got home, we went back to doing our things.  I tried to keep the candy party going and opened up a bag of York Peppermint Patties that I had leftover from my recent batch of cookies.  That’s one of my favorite candies, but you can’t eat too many at once – the peppermint is too much.  In moderation however, they give you a nice little burst of freshness wrapped in chocolatey goodness.  I then wondered if my fudge would count as chocolate candy.  I came to the conclusion that it did because it is definitely chocolatey.  I cut it into bitet size pieces, so it’s like having a piece of candy, and candy is defined as “a sweet food made with sugar or syrup combined with fruit, chocolate, or nuts”.  That means my fudge qualifies, so to cap off my Candy Day, I enjoyed a nice fresh piece of homemade fudge.

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My Peanut Butter Balls get a lot of hype, but I will say my fudge is pretty good.  I make it with the Never Fail Fudge recipe right off the jar of Fluff.  Actually, I use the recipe that they used to have on the jar – they altered it slightly over the last ten years.  It’s chocolatey, smooth and sweet, just like me.  Lola likes to have a piece with an occasional glass of wine in the afternoon.  She says they pair together perfectly.  Our nephew Brickie likes it too.  He calls it Chocolate Sludge.  I’ll take that.  In any case, if I am celebrating Chocolate Candy, it was nice to have a stash of homemade goodness tucked into some Tupperware just waiting to be celebrated.

That’s how today rolled by and it couldn’t have been better.  There are a few more movies that are out now that are on our list to see, so this may not be the last of our movie adventures of 2016 (although next time there will be less chocolate).  We took the time today to appreciate the greatness of chocolate candy.  We enjoyed it as part of one of our favorite pastimes (watching movies) and we enjoyed it in the comforts of our home. We ate the popular kind, the chewy kind, the minty kind and the homemade kind.  That’s a day full of chocolatey goodness.  Candy is a special treat, so we should never take it for granted.  But we should always take it for celebration, unless it’s from a stranger – there are rules about that.

Next Up: National Pepper Pot Day 

 

Day 149 – National Fruitcake Day

Ok, so I know what you are thinking.  You just celebrated Fruitcake Day last week.  Why do it again?  Are you on some kind of fruitcake agenda?  Well, last week I celebrated National Fruitcake Month because I was at a loss for daily holidays to celebrate.  Little did I know that fruitcake had its very own day.  And there was no denying fruitcake’s hold on this day.  Almost every website I check for holidays listed today as National Fruitcake Day.  I had no choice but to celebrate it.  Lucky for me, I still had a loaf of fruitcake leftover from last week in my refrigerator.

I wonder if anyone else is in my predicament of having a leftover loaf of fruitcake?  Do people still give fruitcakes or is that one of those cartoon myths we all learn to believe (like mice living inside perfectly arched holes in the wall)?  A good fruitcake, I’m sure, is probably really tasty, like any homemade baked good would be.  It likely tastes of tradition and of holiday cheer to those who have been raised on it.  It’s kind of a victim of having a pretty bad rap to go along with an awful name.  Maybe we need to rebrand it.  Maybe if I said I made an artisan cake of farm-to-table scratch ingredients including free range fruits that have been candied by solemn monks with vintage brandy, I might get a few more takers.  But for now, we are stuck with uttering that awful phrase, “would you like some fruitcake?”

Last week, I just ate a piece of fruitcake for my celebration and what I remembered most about it was it was filling.  I knew that this was kind of a repeat, so I had to think a little outside the norm for how to enjoy it today.  Some way to make it special.  As usual, the answer was liquor.  The idea was to make a fruitcake shake.  I don’t think this has been done before, so this would truly be an original concoction.  I’ve been known to have a few crazy ideas that involved blenders.  I am recalling my brief lived concept of Twinkie Drinks (frozen drinks made with Twinkies and other Hostess products) that never made it out of the drawing room, but I still feel there was potential there.  In concept, the blender would chop up the fruitcake so you would still get the flavor, but you wouldn’t have to labor over chewing it.  I started off by throwing in a piece of the fruitcake which I had chopped into small pieces into the blender.  For booze, I went with coffee liqueur because fruitcake goes well with coffee and I also poured in some whipped cream vodka because that too goes well with any baked good.  I topped it with some milk and let it soak for a few minutes hoping to soften the cake a bit more.  I then scooped in some vanilla ice cream and added a few ice cubes, then blended away.  It came out smooth and creamy looking.  I poured it into a glass and topped with whipped cream and garnished it with a slice of fruitcake.  Not too shabby, I thought.

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Lola saw me making a milkshake and saw me pour it into the glass, so I asked her if she wanted to taste it.  She had not yet seen the fruitcake garnish.  So when it was just a milkshake, she was very much interested, but when she learned what kind of milkshake it was, she lost interest.  She gave it a taste however and for a split second, it looked like it was a pleasant surprise.  Then her face turned to one of disgust.  She wanted no part of it and offered some comments about never needing dates in her drink.  She was not a fan.  Then I tried it.  I made the mistake of eating the fruitcake slice garnish first so my palate was full of the flavor of fruitcake.  Had I not done that, it would have been a more milder flavor. It wasn’t that bad because it’s still a milk shake, but it just did not cover up the fruitcake taste.  Plus I started to get little chunks of unblended fruitcake that would get stuck in the straw causing me to have to suck it out.  I can say this: if you have to eat fruitcake, it’s not an altogether bad way to eat it.  The ice cream lightened it up slightly and I picked the right liquors to pair with it.  But in the end, it’s still fruitcake.

Later, I decided to have one more slice of fruitcake to end my celebration (hopefully forever).  It was really a dilemma for me because our house is so full of great desserts and treats.  We have carrot cake, pumpkin pie, fudge, chocolate balls, gingerbread cookies, shortbread cookies, oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies.  Every one of those items are so much better than a slice of fruitcake, but I felt obligated to my quest, so I turned down all those delectables and went for the fruitcake.  This time I topped it with whipped cream just to give it a little something extra.  It’s still just ok.  I may have said last week that it wasn’t that bad, but I think I got tired of it.  There are worse things, but it’s a strange combo.  It tastes dry yet also moist and really filling.  The fruit inside is always the worst to me.  It’s preserved in weird preservatives so it’s almost like fake fruit.  It was just too much for me and I secretly dreamed of cookies and fudge as I tried to swallow down this stupid seasonal delight.

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The best part of National Fruitcake Day was that it was over and I had survived.  Yeah, it’s a festive treat, but let’s not get carried away.  I think every person that celebrates the holidays should try a piece.  We shouldn’t have all this fruitcake bashing unless you have indulged in it.  Then you can bash away.  Or maybe we just stop perpetrating this tradition and end it once and for all.  Replace it with something better.  Regardless, fruitcake will always have an odd festive yet negative reputation hanging over its head.  At least now I know why.

Next up: National Chocolate Candy Day (now that’s more like it) 

Day 148 – National Candy Cane Day

Candy Canes come to us from Cologne, Germany where they were created in 1670 when a choirmaster was looking for a way to keep children in his church quiet during the long services of Christmas Eve.  He asked a local candy maker for some “sugar sticks” hoping that these would keep the little buggers occupied.  In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick which would help children remember the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus.  Plus, he added white color to the red peppermint sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus.*  That’s how we got stuck with candy canes.

Nothing wrong with candy canes of course.  It’s still a tasty candy that’s pretty festive.  I think however that the world of candy has progressed a lot since the days of peppermint sticks, so given the choice, I’d opt for almost any other sort of candy other than a candy cane.  Still, you can’t beat that peppermint taste, especially if you are looking for some minty breath.  Plus, peppermint can be good for the digestive system.  It’s got function which is always good.  And they are festive.  You can’t deny that.  I always end up hanging them on our Christmas tree just to add a little fun.  Inevitably, the kids find them though and then we start finding remnants of candy canes in strange little nooks.

If I were to start a list of cons for candy canes, I would list their brittleness right up there.  Sometimes they don’t even make it out of the wrapper before they smash in two, and once you loose the hook of a candy cane, it becomes much less fun.  How they are individually wrapped in plastic can be annoying too.  You have to release them from their plastic binds slowly and carefully lest you break the fragile cane.  But they have their plus side too.  They are fun gifts to get from Santa or at Christmas parades when they are hurled off of floats.  It’s a little gift of sweetness.  And kids still go crazy for them.  Maybe they forget that they are peppermints and for that moment they forget about things like Skittles, Nerds and Warheads.  The having is part of the fun.  Plus adults are always a little more free with sharing candy canes than other sweets.  A candy cane grievance of mine is watching that person that slowly and methodically eats a candy cane, sucking on it until the red is gone and they just have the white left.   Just finish it!  It’s candy – gobble it up!

We were having a pretty lazy day today.  The holidays knocked it out of us.  Lazy days are good things and I wish we were allowed to have more of them.  Once you settle in to them and get past the things you could be doing or should be doing, they are pretty fantastic.  Plus, we had a house full of leftovers, so that made it better.  We watched a couple of movies, tried to nap (I did, but my snoring kept Lola from enjoying the same).  Had some cookies and just chilled.  The world will be there for us tomorrow.

After dinner, which was kind of a rehash of our Christmas feast (although I turned Lola’s into a nice French Dip sandwich accompanied by some kale salad), we decided to get our candy cane celebration underway.  Rather than just sitting there sucking on a candy cane and gazing into each other’s eyes (that’s what we do on Thursday nights), I decided to make some hot cocoa and I would garnish it with some candy canes.  I put some milk on the stove and found a container of specialty hot chocolate from a Lake Champlain chocolatier and scooped some into some festive mugs.  When the milk was hot, I poured it into the mugs and gave it a stir.  I then plopped in a big scoop of homemade whipped cream which I still had in the fridge.  I grabbed two candy canes off the tree and carefully unwrapped each one, then gently placed it into the mugs.  Our after dinner treat was ready.

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A candy cane in your hot chocolate is actually a nice little addition as it swirls in that peppermint flavor.  It melts the candy cane nice and slowly.  You can use it for a little bit to scoop up the whipped cream, but eventually it softens and breaks away into the drink leaving you with a hint of peppermint flavor in the cocoa.  I was a fan and it was a delightful addition to our lazy party.

To go along with this, we also happened to have a special dessert that I had made for Christmas that was made with candy canes.  They were Peppermint-Kahlúa Ice Cream Sandwiches which I found online from the folks at Liquor.com.  You take some candy canes and smash them up in a bowl, add in some softened vanilla ice cream and some Kahlúa, then mix it together.  You put it back in the freezer so it can firm up and then when it’s ready, you cut out little circles and place them between two chocolate wafer cookies.  I made these on a bit of a whim because I was skimming my Facebook feed and the recipe popped up.  I asked Lola what she would say to an ice cream sandwich made with crushed candy canes and Kahlúa and she gave me the most enthusiastic, “YES!”  So I made them.  I busted them out on Christmas after dinner and despite a table full of cookies and sweets and bellies that were full, I got a few takers.  They all said it was awesome.  That was a good sign. I skipped having it myself on Christmas but decided to have it tonight, appropriately on Candy Cane Day.  This was really good.  It’s a great combination of all three flavors (ice cream, peppermint and coffee liqueur).  Plus the chocolate wafer cookie is the perfect vehicle for it, giving it a sturdy cookie base that has a deep chocolate flavor.  These are a star and a great little treat.  They were small too, so you didn’t feel like you were binging on a giant ice cream sandwich.  They were a bit soft and melted fast (I think this was because of the Kahlúa which probably doesn’t freeze as easy), but so damn good.

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So that’s how our Candy Cane Day celebration came to a close.  Pretty much a perfect day of relaxation with a peppermint twist to finish it off.  You can’t have too many days like this, so when they roll around, you have to take them.  I’m glad we are able to celebrate candy canes too.  All things considered, they’re not so bad.  They bring us minty flavor and they bring us festive fun.  Those are both good things to commemorate and something I’d be happy to celebrate on any day, as long as I can be lounging on the couch with Lola.  Cheers!

Next Up: National Fruitcake Day  

*SOURCE: Wikipedia

Day 147 – National Pumpkin Pie Day and Christmas

Well, we had ourselves a bit of a day yesterday (I am writing this on the day after Christmas).  I love the feel of Christmas morning with Lola.  It’s quiet, calm and filled with  the joy of the day.  We usually have our coffee in front of the tree, open our presents, maybe have some kind of fancy breakfast and just relax.  We did that this year, but a bit of an abbreviated version.  We knew everyone was coming over later and we had to get everything in order.  Our trip to Connecticut on Christmas Eve meant we couldn’t get much done beforehand, so we knew that our morning would be cooking and cleaning.  But still, we had some nice quiet moments together and soaked it all in before we switched in to work mode.

I started off by making a pumpkin pie.  That may have seemed an unusual place to start, but it was National Pumpkin Pie Day and I had an obligation to get one ready.  I was using a recipe from Paula Deen, who I kind of figured knew a thing or two about good pies.  It was pretty easy.  Mix some cream cheese with pumpkin puree, add in some sugar, eggs, cinnamon, ginger, half and half and of course butter (it is a Paula Deen recipe).  I poured it all into a pre-made pie crust and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, I looked to see if it was ready.  It was supposed to be set in the middle, and I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but it was definitely still jiggly in the center, so I put it back in for another 20 minutes.  Then another 20.  I wasn’t sure if I had overcooked, but it had still been wobbly in the center.  Eventually it started looking like it was done to me, so I pulled it out and let it cool.  It looked a little dark (although the crust looked fine), but overall the pie looked pretty good.

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Meanwhile Lola was on a vacuuming tear and getting everything ready.  I kept futzing around the kitchen cleaning off counters, cleaning and setting up the area for drinks, etc.  Lola and I make a pretty good team.  She works in one direction and I work in another and we come together at the end.  We are a good balance.  We had a moment of high tension, but cooler heads prevailed and we went back to getting it all ready.  By the time three o’clock rolled around, the house was looking beautiful, inviting and warm and we were ready for our holiday guests.

We were hosting Lola’s sisters and they all arrived about the same time.  There was Becky and Jeff along with Molly, Tara and Ben, then Cherie and Pete with Wavy, Brix and Calix.  Pete was actually finishing up the Christmas rib roast at his house, so he and Brix would be coming a little later.  Katie and her family were having a bit of a day themselves, so they were celebrating at their house as their schedule was a bit up in the air.

We started off with some great appetizers including some bourbon bacon BBQ meatballs that Jeff had made (which were as good as they sound, maybe even better).  I made some bacon wrapped crackers which was the third time I broke out that recipe over the last two weeks, but they are still a favorite.  Then Tara broadened her portfolio to include a shrimp scampi dip which as good as you want a scampi dip to be (garlicky and buttery goodness in every bite).  Pretty impressive all around.  I had made a drink called the coquito which was billed as a Puerto Rican Coconut Egg Nog.  I got the recipe at Blithewold Mansion when we took the holiday tour.  They had little cards printed out with the recipe on them and I am still not quite sure why they were featuring this, but it looked tasty.  It’s made with rum, coconut milk, condensed milk, water and cinnamon.  I poured it out over ice and served them up and they seemed to be a fan favorite.  Lola said this could be her new favorite drink, so I am sure we will see them again.

Pete arrived at about 4:30 as all people should: with a giant rib roast in his hand cooked to perfection.  That set the troops into action for dinner and we all gathered around the table.  Pete carved the roast beast which was cooked to perfection.  He also hooked us up with some au jus and some horseradish dipping sauce.  Cherie had made her famously awesome cheesy Brussel spouts casserole which we lost out on over Thanksgiving.  I had cooked some cheesy scalloped potatoes which I had put in the oven around noon because I have screwed up on making the potatoes before and I didn’t want to take any chances.  I also made the now standard fare of Paula Deen’s corn casserole (which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to step up your corn game.)  Becky made her kale salad which I joked with her about bringing kale to the feast, but it’s actually a super tasty salad made with garlic, lemon, cheese and garlic.  It was the perfect fresh veggie addition to the meal.  I also put out some warmed challah bread as a little shout out to the celebration of Chanukah that we are also having. It was a Christmas dinner that couldn’t be beat.  To make it even more festive, Mike and Tina joined us for some dessert.  We couldn’t convince them to partake in the meal, but it was nice to have them at our table and joining in on the conversations.

This was a filling meal and by the time it wound down, there were some full bellies and food comas were starting to settle in.  Lola adjourned everyone to the living room for coffee, desserts and presents.  Our dessert spread was pretty impressive.  Becky made two trays of her famous sugar and gingerbread cookies, all decorated in incredible details.   Almost too pretty to eat. Tara, a famous cookie maker herself, had a giant Tupperware filled with her chocolate chip and oatmeal delights.  We had peanut butter balls and fudge there too.   Then sitting atop a cake pedestal was my pumpkin pie (not that it needed to be on a pedestal, it just happened to be on one).  The problem was, no one was particularly hungry.  Nibbles of cookies and chlocolate balls were taken, but no one was ready for a big dessert plate.  I had made some ice cream sandwiches which were actually a big hit (more on this tomorrow), but I couldn’t get any takers on the pumpkin pie. It looked like I’d be on my own.

I sliced a piece on the smaller side and plopped on some fresh whipped cream which I had just made.  Pumpkin pie is another pie that I haven’t really tried all that often.  I’m sure I’ve taken a bite here and there, but I wasn’t exactly sure if I would be a fan.  I was, and am.  It’s nice and fluffy and the flavors are warming for a cold night.  There’s the perfect amount of sweetness too.  I was really impressed with my creation.  I tried to get others to join in, but bellies were too full (although I was able to get Brickie and Wavy to try some of the whipped cream).  It was really good.  I look forward to more today after my belly has recovered.

Presents were exchanged and smiles were made.  You could feel the love in the room and everyone seemed to be merry and happy.  It was a nice little day.  It ended on the early side it felt (everyone was on their way home by 7:30), but that’s how the holidays should be so everyone can end their day in the comfort of their own home and enjoy the peace and quiet of a Christmas night.  Lola and I worked as a team again and had the kitchen cleaned up in no time.  She did the dishes; I dried and put away.  It was a model of efficiency.  Order was restored and we got a few more moments to sit by our tree and be grateful for all the wonderful gifts we have in this world.  Plus, we have more pumpkin pie waiting for us whenever we need it.  Merry Christmas one and all!

Next Up: National Candy Cane Day

 

Day 146 – National Egg Nog Day

Egg Nog on December 24th seems right.  I must admit – I’ve never had Egg Nog.  There’s something about a drink with egg in the name that just skeeves me out, especially when it looks like it could turn into scrambled eggs if I just heated it up on a skillet.  Plus what’s a nog?  I don’t know, but the combination of egg and nog in one drink was never my jam, so I have always avoided it.  (A nog is actually a beverage made with beaten eggs, so drinking egg nog is like drinking eggs.)

It being Christmas Eve, we headed down to Connecticut to my Mom’s house for some holiday celebration with my family.  My mom has been feeling a bit better and felt up for hosting (despite some concerned children protests), but she’s as stubborn as a bull, so we went along with the plan making sure we gave her some assistance.  We pulled up around 12:30 and everyone was already there – my mom, my brother, his wife Lesley and their two kids (Tom and Kate) and my sister, her husband Doug, their son Zack and Doug’s mom Esther.  It was a packed house.  Our plan was for feasting at 3 so we began the day by opening some presents and relaxing.

We really made out on the present front too.  I got an official limited edition “Today is a Holiday” apron from my sister and family so I can be properly logo’ed while working on my creations for this blog (a very thoughtful gift).  I also got a gift card to Clements along with a carton of Egg Nog from my brother and family showing their support for the blog too along with an acknowledgement that it was National Egg Nog Day.  When I opened it, I had already opened some kind of giant holiday beer from Anchor Steam Brewery that my sister had purchased for the celebration (it was in a magnum bottle), so I couldn’t switch over to egg nog at that moment, although I wish I had.  Still, very thoughtful gift and it’s so nice to have some support and cheerleaders along this little adventure.

We had our usual Christmas Eve dinner of roast beef with scalloped potatoes which was good and all so familiar in that traditional way.  My Aunt Peg and cousin Mary came over too to join us for dinner.  This is the first Christmas without my uncle Doc who passed away earlier this year, so while it was joyful to see them, there was a sadness for not having Doc there as well.  Doc and Peg would always come over to our house on Christmas Eve for some festivities.  Mary would come by too if she was in town and in fact, Mary and her friend Pat would help my Mom wrap presents on Christmas Eve and help her play Santa for we kids who were fast asleep upstairs.  It’s a long tradition of seeing them on Christmas Eve, so it was nice to see them once again.

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We were on the road by 6 PM and back to Rhode Island and made good time on the way back despite the strange fog that kept lingering over the roads (Lola with her nose so bright lit the way).  When we got inside, we took a moment to relax and I poured us some Egg Nogs.  Lola is a fan of Egg Nog so she guided me on how to make it.  She said ice, egg nog, spiced rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.  I put them together carefully and served them up with a  little toast to the season with Lola.

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I think I went a little heavy on the rum especially for these glasses which were on the smaller side.  I looked at Lola and she was ready to spit it out and contorting her face in all kinds of weird ways.  I asked her what was wrong and she was able to squeak out, “Too Strong!”  And so it was.  To me, it wasn’t bad but the rum flavor was the prevalent taste.  I tried to fix Lola’s drink and I did by putting it in a bigger glass and adding more egg nog.  That did the trick.  All in all, it’s a nice festive drink. It’s like a sweet yummy milk and you don’t even taste eggs in any way (which was a relief).  I will not be afraid of the nog and even have more on Christmas.  It’s just the season for it.

Today was also the first day of Chanukah too and I wanted to mark that occasion in some small way.  If I’m celebrating holidays, I should participate in the ones that have been around for thousands of years.  My family on my father’s side have Jewish roots, although my grandfather (whom I never met) had to give up his faith when he married my grandmother (a Catholic).  Lola’s father was Jewish and raised in the faith and although he was never the go to temple kind of guy, he was always proud of his heritage.  It’s very much a part of our ancestry and we wanted to honor their legacy.  I purchased a menorah at some point over the last few weeks in anticipation of this holiday and when we got home, after a quick consult with a Jewish friend, we lit the first candle (the middle candle first and then lit the candle on the far right with the middle candle).  Lola found some kind of Chanukah prayer online too and played the audio of the chant while we lit the menorah and took a moment of silence to soak it in.

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It’s funny, but we both felt something from this.  Just a little connection to our past and the power of faith.  I’m glad we participated and we will keep it up for the next eight days.  There’s always room for more celebration in the world and it’s important to recognize all the celebrations out there.  So to our ancestors, we raise our nog and wish them all “Chag Urim Sameach!”

Lots of celebrating on deck for Christmas day (and so much to get ready for).  ‘Tis the season.  So on behalf of all of us here at Today is a Holiday, we send you tidings of joy and happiness for you and all your family.  Cheers!

Next up: National Pumpkin Pie Day (and Christmas) 

Day 145 – National Bake Day

The holidays, the Big Ones, keep creeping forward so I again found myself in the dilemma as to how to celebrate the holiday today while still staying on task with our seasonal holiday preparation.  It didn’t make it any easier that today was actually National Pfeffernusse Day.  Pfeffernusse is a German cookie that is made with nuts and pepper and then covered in either sugar or icing.  I’ll be honest – I was intrigued.  I had never had a cookie with pepper in it.  The recipe I found online made them look particularly delicious too, although that’s where I hit a little snag.  It called for 2 teaspoons of Lebkuchengewürz and I was fresh out of Lebkuchengewürz. I did see that there were some store bought varieties available, one made by Archway cookies, so I would look at the local supermarkets.  I looked in both Clement’s and Stop and Shop, hoping for a Festivus miracle, but I came up empty handed.

There were some other recipes, but they all seemed a bit intricate and time consuming, and time was not my friend today.  I decided that Pfeffernusse would not be on the menu.  Just too much to do.  Then I looked at what other holidays I could celebrate and I found one site that said today was National Bake Day.  That I could do.  In fact, I had intentions of doing just that.  Off to the kitchen I went.

We had a few bananas hanging around that were past peak ripeness and anyone who has ever made a banana bread knows that this is exactly what you are looking for in bananas for baking.  That’s where I started.  I have a recipe from Becky (who may have gotten it from her Mom) that makes a great bread.  I mixed my wet ingredients and then alternately mixed in the bananas, the flour and dry ingredients and some milk.  Put it in a loaf pan that I must say I expertly greased and floured, and then put it in the oven.  It took about an hour and a half at 300 degrees.  I let it cool after taking it out of the oven, and when I popped it from the pan, it came out smooth as silk.

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Later in the day, I grabbed the last of our carrots and grated them up and went to work making a carrot bread, an old recipe from my grandmother.  It’s super easy to make and I even have a picture copy of her typed out recipe (thanks to cousin Clare).  You have to interpret the recipe in parts because she keeps out some info that she must have assumed you would know, but it’s easy enough to follow along.  I almost forgot the cinnamon which would have been bad, but remembered at the last minute.  It took about an hour to cook and it too popped easily out of the pan when cooled.  Success.

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So I know that seems like an easy way out to celebrate, but I baked for National Bake Day.  I’m sure they made this day a holiday because everyone is baking for the holidays, and in that spirit, I celebrated perfectly.  I don’t think I would have made either of these had it not been Bake Day.  I was all set making fudge and chocolate balls.  But this quest gave me that push to move forward and now I have some great additions to the table.  We may even have some Banana Bread waffles with Banana Fosters sauce on top for Christmas breakfast.

Today was also Festivus for the rest of us.  I would have loved to really celebrate this one.  Put up a festivus pole.  Invited everyone over for a festivus feast.  Had the feats of strength contest and then shifted to the airing of grievances to help keep everyone grounded, but it wasn’t in the cards this year.  There’s always hope for a festivus miracle in 2017.  For the sake of celebrating, I will continue my airing of grievances of grocery shopping behavior as I witnessed two incidents of preposterous proportions today.  In one incident, I was blocked by a man from proceeding down an aisle.  His cart was parked opposite an in-aisle display leaving only a small space in which to get by, and the man was standing in that space reading labels.  The path was completely blocked.  To make things worse, he was playing music from his phone on speaker and singing along.  It was a country-style Christmas song, I think, and I will say he wasn’t a horrible singer, but he did not move when I came up and needed to pass.  He sauntered slowly back to his shopping routine, singing merrily and eventually moved.

Later, I was in another grocery store eyeballing the cookie selection, when a couple came in the aisle to find something.  They were giddy and giggly and had a bouquet of flowers from the flower cart.  They were looking for a nice sweet accompaniment for their pretty flora.  They gave each other a nice sweet hug and even a little PDA because obviously there’s no place quite as romantic as the cookie aisle.  But when it was time for me to pass them, they didn’t move!  They stayed in their embrace and ignored me.  I really wanted to ram them.  Later, I saw them checking out.  What cookie did they opt for?  Nutter Butters. Ah youth, it’s wasted on the young.

So those are my grievances for Festivus.  Trying hard to keep up the holiday spirit here and I hope you are too.  Don’t lose sight of the big picture.  It’s all for fun and festiveness.  Don’t make it stressful or you won’t enjoy it.  Just let it roll.  It will get done.  It will be ok.  Let’s just have fun, and all our baking will be put to good use.  Merry, merry.

Next Up: National Egg Nog Day (and first day of Chanukah) 

Day 144 – National Fruitcake Month

So yesterday I said that National Date Nut Bread was today (and it is).  I was planning to celebrate as best I could.  I found a recipe from the folks at King Arthur’s Flour which looked as good as any.  I wrote down the ingredients that I needed (really just dates) and had it with me when I went to the grocery story.  However, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I was really hoping that I would find a simpler solution at the store – a pre-made loaf in the bakery section.  Fingers were crossed. The grocery store was packed with crazed shoppers trying to grab all their ingredients for Christmas dinner.  Carts were crashing, people were fighting tug-o-war style over the last of the roast beasts, and people were stopping in the middle of aisles to browse blocking all from passing.  It was shopping chaos.  Still, I was ready for this.

I think people blocking the aisle is my biggest pet peeve about grocery shopping.  For some reason, people have no perception of space and of what’s happening around them.  They’ll head straight down the aisle and if they see what they are looking for, they will leave the cart in the exact middle of the aisle and then block the only passable passage with their own person as they try to select their item not allowing anyone else to pass.  It drives me nuts.  I wish shopping carts had horns built into them (or thicker bumpers).  I’d speed up my shopping by 25%.  The worse is when you say excuse me and you don’t get an immediate apology.  You get a look, usually over reading glasses perched on tips of noses along with an up-down before a reaction is made.  They’re usually annoyed that you dared ask them to be considerate.  I’m a fan of leaving my cart parked to the side (out of the way) in one area and walking up to find my item.  Granted most people can’t do that if they have a purse in the cart, but it makes it easy for me.  I’ve left my cart four aisles over and walked to get something else in a complete other section.  I find it quite freeing.

In any case, the bakery section was full of all kinds of tasty treats and goods, undoubtedly beefed up for the holidays.  I began my search and found all kind of homemade loaves (banana bread, pound cake, coffee cake), but I was coming up short on the Date Nut Bread. I looked in the bread aisle too hoping that the folks at Pepperidge Farm or at Arnold’s had some kind of version, but alas my search came up empty.  I was going to have to make one.  I had a hundred other things to do today, but a quest is a quest and I was not going to let this one slip by.   I pulled out my phone and read through the recipe again.  That’s when I realized it started to sound familiar.  Very familiar.  I did a quick search on my blog (a lot of research happening in the bakery corner today) and lo and behold, I celebrated National Date Nut Bread Day back 0n September 8th.  Remember?  That’s when I learned the word drupe.  That was a day that my usual holiday site listed three holidays that were hard to celebrate (National Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses Day, National Ampersand Day & Stand Up To Cancer Day).  I found another site that listed it as Date Nut Bread Day.  That’s what I made.  I even used the exact recipe that I was going to use today.

I had to make a quick call as a stood there on my phone in the middle of the grocery store, my vanilla ice cream daring me to take more time.  I looked for other holidays and the first thing I saw was that December is National Fruitcake Month.  That makes sense, and as serendipity would have it, there was a fruitcake staring back at me at that exact moment.  I tossed it in the cart and had found direction for my celebration.

I had a full cart and the lines at the check out were two or three people deep.  It is what it is and everyone was doing their best, so I just got in line and waited patiently.  When it was time to check out, there was a lady on the register and a lady bagging and they couldn’t have been nicer.  I appreciate that especially on a day that had to be pure hell for them – they were making the best of it.  They had nice little comments about some of the items I was buying (“that smells good” or “that looks fun”).  She looked at the wafer cookies I bought and she told me that her family puts whipped cream in between them which was a nice little tip (my plan is to put some ice cream in between them – if it survives).  It just made me feel good and I appreciated the holiday spirit.

When I got home, I got to cooking and made a quick double batch of fudge.  I’m really getting fast at making fudge, or efficient.  After that was ready, I finally got to make tacos which I had been hoping for taco night for the last three days.  It was well worth the wait.  After clean up, I made a couple of other things and got a start on some of the things we will need over the next few days.  Then it was time relax.  We had White Christmas on television, so I sat down with a nice piece of fruitcake to enjoy with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.  I naturally asked Lola if she wanted some and she was not so interested.

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Fruitcake isn’t as bad as it’s reputation would make you think.  It’s different.  It’s really dense.  Almost heavy.  But it’s chock full of flavors.  In my first bite I saw that a maraschino cherry was coming, so I braced myself.  That’s probably the worse part – the present of rubbery fake fruit.  Otherwise, it’s a bread that’s a tad bit bitter but the sweetness of the fruit and the marinade (or whatever it is soaked in) overcomes that.  The nuts add some great flavor and texture too.  Really, it’s not as bad as you think.  If a food fight ever broke out at the dessert table, I’d grab the fruitcake as my weapon of choice because it’s that heavy.  You could knock someone out with it.  But if you are eating it civilly watching a holiday movie, it’s a nice little taste of cheer, and really not all that different than a date nut bread.

I can’t believe I almost had a repeat today.  My mind must be fading.  Nonetheless, I turned it around and ended up being able to celebrate with a festive holiday food.  Lots to do over the next few days, so I learned the lesson of just rolling with it.  We’ll get through this together.  Just show some kindness to others, learn how to operate a shopping cart, be kind to yourself, and if you end up having to eat fruitcake at the end of the day, it’s really not as bad as you would think.  Cheers!

Next Up: Festivus for the Rest of Us!  

 

 

Day 143 – National French Fried Shrimp Day

Bah humbug to fried shrimp!

Had to get that off my chest.  Shrimp are not my favorite thing.  They’re ok, I guess, but I just don’t get all the excitement around them.  I guess they look exotic with their fancy tails and different preparations, but they always really taste the same to me.  It’s just not my thing.  I’ve never been much of a seafood fan and shrimp just seem to be part of that culture that never took to me.  That’s just how it goes.  I can usually avoid them and when I can’t, I just eat them.  I’ve eaten worse and they never taste bad, just nothing to get excited about.

When I saw it was French Fried Shrimp Day, I knew that I would have to eat some today so I had to come to terms with that.  I first had to clarify what French Fried Shrimp was because I know what a fried shrimp is, just wanted to make sure I knew what French frying was all about.  Essentially, that’s just deep frying, so it was exactly what I thought.  I had no desire to fry seafood at home because that would just bring an aroma to the kitchen that I was not ready for.  Truth be told, I wanted to keep things low key today so I looked for an easy solution.  A few weeks ago, on National Fritters Day, I was able to pick up some clam cakes in the middle of the afternoon from a place called Samantha’s Seafood which is right around the corner.  I thought they would be the perfect spot and I also had to go to the Post Office which is right across the street from Samantha’s.  Alas, they are closed during the week (only open on Thursday through Saturday during the winter) so my fried shrimp plan was spoiled.  I did however manage to get to the post office and mailed out our annual holiday card and poem.  That was a good feeling of accomplishment.  We’ll see what people think of our work.  This year’s poem may be a little too political for some.

I returned home downtrodden and still with the dilemma of where to get fried shrimp.  I still wanted to keep it easy today so I started thinking about all the restaurants close to us and wondering if pizza places have fried shrimp.  Then I realized that Chinese restaurants feature fried shrimp on their menus.  I took out the menu from our local Chinese spot, New China, which we keep in a Trapper-Keeper folder with all our take out menus and there in the appetizer section was what I was looking for: Jumbo Fried Shrimp.  I had a plan.  Lola was not so much into this.  She has been sick lately and the thought of fried shrimp just didn’t settle well with her.  So I would be on my own.  I placed the order and picked it up about ten minutes later.

The shrimp were packed into a wax paper bag and not the usual food box you would expect from a Chinese restaurant.  I suppose that helps keep the shrimp warm and protects everything from the excess grease of the frying.  They looked a little weird too.  They were flat and oval shaped.  In fact if they didn’t have the tails peeking out the back side, I’m not sure I would have guessed they were shrimp.  They must butterfly the shrimp (cut them so they spread out to increase the cooking surface) and then pound them down a bit before adding them to the batter. They were nice and golden brown, so they nailed the cooking part, and they were still nice and hot.  They included a very light duck sauce to go with it too, which I appreciated.

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Honestly, these were not bad at all and I was surprised.  Ok, so what I really liked about them was eating fried batter.  That was the prevailing flavor.  They were nice and crispy and every bite had some substance to it.  The shrimp was good too.  Not overcooked or rubbery and balanced out with the batter. It didn’t taste fishy, always a plus, and in fact, I’m not sure if the taste of the shrimp was even present.  It really just tasted like good fried food.  So despite my protests, I ended up enjoying this.

The aftermath however was not as enjoyable.  My belly was hurting from eating all that fried food (I was expecting that), but the worse was the fried seafood smell that lingered long past the shrimp was gone.  It arose almost minutes after I was finished.  I had to move my plate and throw out the scraps. I lit a candle to help try to offset the smell.  I washed the plates and while I was washing them, the smell kept coming.  I ended up having to take the trash outside because the smell wouldn’t go away.  That seemed to work, but it kind of put a damper on an already ominous fried shrimp day.

Shrimp and I are still trying to work out our relationship.  It’s complicated.  I don’t like them but they keep showing up on my plate and have to at least be civil in how I accept them.  Maybe there is that best version of shrimp that I have not tasted yet that will change my mind (but I don’t think they’ll be fried in that scenario).  We are working on it and someday, we will find some kind of harmony together.  Today I celebrated the fine craft of French frying shrimp and was briefly and pleasantly surprised.  So I learned about hope today; hope that someday I can learn to be a fan of those crazy little sea bugs that so many celebrate with such fervor.  We can get there together.

Next Up: National Date Nut Bread