My second consecutive hat trick. That could be a record for me. I didn’t plan to go this celebration crazy over the weekend; it just kind of came about organically. Perhaps I came down with a slight case of March Madness which was running rampant here in Lil’ Rhody. (Go Rams!) Or maybe I was just filled with the hope of Spring which officially arrives on Monday. Spring fever as it were. Whatever the reason, at the end of the weekend, when I looked back at what I had celebrated I had celebrated six holidays in two. Whew!
Sunday was National Poultry Day which would technically be a day to celebrate all the domestic birds that are raised for meat and eggs. In retrospect, had I planned for this, I should have made a Turducken which is basically a turkey stuffed with a chicken which is stuffed with a duck. Now that’s some poultry celebration. I’ve actually always wanted to try this but it’s not easy to find a place for it. Turduckens don’t show up everywhere. They usually poke their head out around Thanksgiving, but on that day, it would be hard to introduce this creature to the dinner table in place of good ol’ roast turkey. I missed the opportunity today, although to be honest, I think it gets a little pricey to make not to mention time consuming and I didn’t have that in me today.
Celebrating poultry is really not a big whoop in our house (or anyone’s house typically) because we are always using chicken, turkey and eggs. I think I had that in some form every day last week whether it was eggs for breakfast, turkey sandwich, chicken soup or eggs in something I was baking. I guess that’s exactly why we should celebrate poultry – because it it is such a vital part of our lives. Today, I was making a soup for the week and I made one of Lola’s favorite: Thai It Up Chicken Soup. It’s from “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen” cookbook by Rebecca Katz which was a book that became to be known as “The Text” in these parts as it was filled with recipes that were delicious and full of nutrients and goodness. The soup always stood out to Lola as being spectacular. Her sister Tara used to make it and bring it over by the potful. Nowadays, whenever I think of a soup to make that would be on the healthier side, I make it. It fills the house with great smells as the broth is made with ginger, lemongrass and lime zest. Then you add in coconut milk. Eventually, you add in some chicken which I always cut very thin so it eats well with the rice noodles that are in the soup. It’s always a success and I made it today in honor of poultry day.
Later in the day, for dinner, I decided to cook up some boneless, skinless chicken thighs which I seasoned with some Campmix seasoning found on our spice shelf. I have been trying to use up some of the spices that we have in our cabinet because quite frankly, we have too many. Some of them are leftovers from the whimsy of Lola’s Dad who was always picking up strange new rubs or seasonings. I know seasonings go bad too, but it seems a crime to just throw them out. So I use what I can when I can and I have very slowly been thinning the herd. I’m not sure where the Campmix came from, but it was essentially a combination of salt, pepper and other spices, so I sprinkled it liberally on both sides of the chicken, then I cooked it for a few minutes in some coconut oil that was heated in a cast iron skillet. After five minutes of cooking to crisp up the outside, I flipped them over and tossed the skillet in the oven to finish. I served it with a salad and some leftover potatoes.
This chicken was actually really great and a testament to the Campmix. It gave it the perfect mix of flavor and seasoning. They were cooked right too so the chicken itself was moist and juicy with the perfect about of browning on the outside (as much as you can expect from skinless chicken). It surprised me how good it was. I’m a fan of chicken thigh meat. It has a richness too it and tends to stay more juicy. Plus it works well with seasoning. This was great and Lola agreed. So we really nailed this poultry day celebration.
Sunday was also St. Joseph’s Day. St. Joseph’s Day is a holiday on the Roman Catholic calendar to honor Joseph who was the stepdad of Jesus. You know, the guy who was cool with his wife turning up pregnant with God’s child? He is also the patron saint of Sicily which is why the day has become associated with Italian culture. The Italians were suffering a terrible drought and famine during the Middle Ages and they prayed to St. Joseph to bring them rain. St. Joseph answered their prayers and the rain returned saving the country. A giant feast was held to honor the protection of St. Joseph and that continues today in Italian communities. It was actually the fava bean crop which flourished after the drought saving the population from starvation and to honor that, the fava bean has become a traditional part of most St. Joseph’s Day feasts and traditions (which pairs well with a nice chianti). Another traditional food for St. Joseph’s Day is the zeppola*, which is kind of a cream or custard filled doughnut made especially for the feast. I’m not sure why this tasty treat became associated with St. Joseph’s Day, but I did know they look delicious. That’s what made me celebrate it today. For the past week, I have been seeing messages on social media from bakeries in Providence that were taking orders for zeppole on Sunday. St. Joseph’s Day is a big celebration in Providence and the classic Italian bakeries in the city gear up for big sales. When I kept seeing the notices, I started to drool. I knew I must have one.
Luckily, I also saw that a bakery in Bristol was preparing them as well: the Beehive Cafe. Lola and I have been there before and it’s a great spot for coffee, plus the food we have eaten there is always delicious. It’s kind of small. The ground floor has a counter where you order your food and drinks. It has a bakery case filled with all kinds of fresh made goodness. The kitchen is off in the back and very cramped and busy. When you get your food you can go upstairs to eat it where there are about ten tables or, when the weather’s nice, you can go outside. It’s a popular spot and is usually alway busy. Sunday was no exception. I went inside and I was worried they would be sold out, but after a few minutes of peeking around the people in front of me, I saw a beautiful tray of zeppole resting atop the counter. I just had to hope the person in front of me didn’t get all Harry Potter on me and say she would “take the whole lot!” and I was in. She opted for something else, so my zeppole quest had been fulfilled. I bought two to go (and a cappuccino) and then headed out. When I got home Lola had been vacuuming the whole house and ready for a break. At first, she wasn’t paying too much attention to me, but when she saw the zeppole sitting on a plate on the table, she perked up and was interested. I served her one with a nice cup of coffee.
Ok – that cherry on the top? That was soaked in some kind of liqueur I think because it tasted kind of boozy. I’m not a fan of cherries served this way so I pulled it off. I ate it just to taste it, but it wasn’t my favorite. But once I got that out of the way, everything else was dreamy. They were soft and fluffy. The custard on the inside was nice and creamy as was the frosting on top. I mean really, it’s a doughnut, but this was particularly good doughnut. All these flavors coming together nicely. It was filling and wholly satisfying. Another miracle of San Giuseppe! Lola said she would even have God’s child to have another one. (She didn’t really say that, although I bet you she’d be tempted.)
To round out the hat trick, Sunday was also National Chocolate Caramel Day. This too seemed like too obvious a celebration. No argument from me that the combination of the two is one of the great tastes in the world and for that alone it deserves a day. I guess my dilemma came in on how to celebrate it. There are recipes up the wazoo that include chocolate and caramel in different forms. Plus if you walk the ice cream section of your supermarket, you can bet that half the flavors are dedicated to the combination. The candy aisle even more so. I thought that at a minimum, Chocolate Caramel deserved at least a tip of the cap today on my parade of celebration. That’s when I decided to go classic on this one. I went to the original, in my mind: the Caramello candy bar.
This was one of my favorites growing up and not a candy you came upon that often. Sure you had caramel in candy like the Milky Way and even the 100,000 bar, but this was just plain old chocolate and caramel. The Rolo would come along with its fancy look and catchy jingle, but the Caramello was the first – at least in my mind. It was pure enjoyment for me – everything I wanted in a candy bar. When I bit into the bar today, it still had that same satisfaction. The delicious milk chocolate that melted on your tongue, the gooey sweet caramel in the center of every square. If you don’t have a string of caramel going from your mouth to the candy bar then you’re eating it wrong. That’s the pleasure of the Caramello. On a day that pays homage to the delight of chocolate and caramel, there is no better tribute than the simple, classic Caramello bar. That’s how I celebrated it today.
Two consecutive hat tricks! That’s a lot of celebration packed into forty eight hours. I really didn’t intend to do that this weekend, but things just fell into place, like life was a giant Plinko game. I just opened myself up too celebration and they just came. And they were delicious too. Sometimes that’s how the quest goes – you end up celebrating things that are just there in your every day life. That’s what great about life – there are always things to celebrate. We have a wonderful chicken soup in our fridge now which may be a celebration of poultry but it is also packed full of love, flavor and memories. I also am smiling at the sweet taste of a Carmello candy bar that brought back memories of being a young boy and discovering this amazing candy combination, like young Charlie biting into his favorite Wonka Bar. On top of that, I had a zeppola which is something I have always wanted to try. Now I have. Yes celebration is all around us. All we have to do is answer the call.
*I did not know this: one of these pastries is called a zeppola. The plural is zeppole. Kapeesh?
Next Up: National Ravioli Day