It was Friday night at the end of a shortened work week and we were as tired as ever from the week that was. It’s like you have to pack more into less time when there is a holiday in the middle of the week and that left us as tired as we always are on a Friday night. At least this week came with a reward at the end of it. Not only was it National Strawberry Sundae Day, it was also National Macaroni Day too. You have to like a day that creates your dinner menu for you. On my way home from work I stopped by the supermarket to pick up the fixings for our celebration. I had a good idea what I needed so I made quick time through the aisles. I was in the checkout line at about 6:15 when Lola started texting me. She was hungry (and bratty).
I knew that Lola barely slept the night before so I knew she was tired. Exhausted even. I also knew that she had a pretty long day taking care of a bunch of things for us that involved calls with all those people you hate to call. The kinds of calls that eat up your time where you spend most of it listening to repeating on-hold music and then when you finally get a person on the line, they shuffle you along to someone else. Then they accidentally hang up on you. Those kinds of calls. I’m sure that added to her tiredness. She was spent and she probably put off eating while she was on the phone, so she probably had not eaten anything since breakfast. This means that she needed food fast and I was still fifteen minutes away from home and our dinner was in shopping bags with me and still needed to be cooked. This was a dilemma and in the end, for the safety and sanity of all, Lola ended up eating her leftover fried chicken for dinner. Believe me, the world was better for her getting food into her system. That meant however that I would have to enjoy my macaroni feast by myself.
I started with putting a pot of water on the stove (Lola actually got this going for me so it was ready when I got home). I added in some macaroni. I opted for some spiral pasta from Rienzi which just seemed like a good option for what I was making. I like pasta with a little heft to it and this had that, plus it was hollow tubes so it allowed the sauce and cheese to get inside the pasta. After that cooked, I added it to a mixture of ricotta cheese, vodka sauce, parmesan cheese and some seasoning. I mixed it up well so that all was covered. It came out looking pretty good – nice and saucy.
I made my self a little bowl and then enjoyed it alongside Lola while we watched a few episodes of Game of Thrones to get us ready for the season premiere next week. Lola was still working her way through the chicken and once again attested her love for the biscuits and honey butter from Winner Winner (those are unforgettable). My dinner was good too. It delivered everything you need in a macaroni dinner. The sauce mixture really spread out and covered the pasta generously and it was light and fluffy. It was missing a little bit of something – not exactly sure what – but it didn’t really have a deep flavor to it. It was good, like any saucy pasta dish is, but it needed some salt and a little more oomph to the sauce. Still, I enjoyed it and it was the perfect dinner to celebrate National Macaroni Day. Because I was planning on making enough for both of us (and then some), I made a ton of it. I decided to take all the leftovers and spread them into a baking dish with more sauce and topped it with some mozzarella cheese before baking for about a half-hour. Now we had a fully cooked baked macaroni for leftovers. I have hopes that this will have more flavor now because it looked fantastic and we’ll be eating it for days.
The true reward after a long shortened week would come in the form of our strawberry sundae and that’s what I was looking forward to, as was Lola. I picked up vanilla ice cream for the sundae although I did have an internal debate about whether or not I should have picked up strawberry ice cream. In the end, I thought that strawberry ice cream topped with fresh strawberries and strawberry topping would be too much. Maybe that’s how Strawberry Shortcake would make hers, but I didn’t want to go over the top. I had fresh strawberries at home as well as strawberry topping so the only other thing I had to pick up was the whipped cream. I wanted to get the can whipped cream for this so I could make it look nice. I know the homemade stuff tastes better, but the can has its benefits too (especially in the boudoir – that’s a joke).
Apparently there is a heated debate about the origin of the sundae. The debate involves Ithaca, NY and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Both claim to have created the dessert. I was surprised to know that it was not invented until the late 1800’s and that it was preceded by the Ice Cream Soda. I figured that someone would have thought about adding a topping to ice cream before they thought about adding a soda, but apparently not. As the debate goes, Two Rivers claims that the sundae was created by Druggist Edward Berners in 1881at Ed Berners’ Ice Cream Parlor. A customer, George Hallauer, asked Ed for an ice cream soda but because it was Sunday, apparently soda was a no-no on the sabbath. Ed then tried to skirt the rules and put ice cream in a dish and poured the chocolate syrup that they used to flavor their ice cream sodas on top of the ice cream. From there, it took off in popularity. He called it a sundae in honor of the day it was created but changed the spelling to avoid any criticism from the hyper-religious nut jobs in town. In Ithaca however, they claim to have made the first sundae. It was served at Platt & Colt Pharmacy in downtown Ithaca in 1891 when Chester C. Platt had a craving for some ice cream with a friend after church services. He asked his fountain clerk for two bowls of ice cream and on a whim, topped it with cherry syrup. Hence the birth of the cherry sundae. It’s a hard thing to document for sure and the Ithacans will point out how the timeline in Two Rivers tale has some holes in it, but we may never know for sure from where the sundae originates. All we can do is enjoy it. (Info from What’s Cooking America.net)
Tonight I didn’t really care about who invented it, I just wanted one. This would be our reward, so after my leftovers were done baking, I went back out to the kitchen to clean up and then I came back armed with two fresh made strawberry sundaes. I gave Lola a small one in a little ice cream dish. I wanted a more interesting looking sundae so I peeked around for a more impressive vessel. I wanted to serve it in the Jim Dandy dish that they serve at Friendly’s. That was my vision, but I do not have that dish. I settled on a small mason jar which did the trick. Vanilla ice cream went in first, then a layer of fresh sliced strawberries and some strawberry topping went in next. I added a little bit of chocolate sauce here because I thought it needed a little chocolate. Then I repeated with more ice cream and topping. To top it off, I filled it above the brim with whipped cream (which was easy to dispense from the aerosol can). Came out looking great.
You won’t be surprised, but this was delicious. I am not one that usually reaches for strawberries in my ice cream, but maybe I need to start. The strawberry topping from Smuckers that I used was really good. It was sweet with plenty of strawberry flavor and easily spread throughout the sundae. The fresh strawberries were actually incredibly ripe. They were from a local farm and so, so good. It was the strawberry taste you want from fresh berries. Adding in the chocolate sauce was a nice addition too. I had asked Lola for her opinion on adding in the chocolate and she said absolutely. It just needed that extra taste so the whole thing wasn’t over-strawberried. Finally the ice cream was spot on too. It was Vanilla Bean from Edy’s who make a fine product. It was that clean vanilla taste which helped balanced out the abundance of strawberry and chocolate sweetness. Plus it had whipped cream on top.
A fine reward to enjoy in the quiet of a Friday night after a long and tiring day. Some days just wear you down when all your tiredness catches up to you. Those are the days where you have to listen to your body and take it easy. Reward yourself for the triumphs of the day (or for even just showing up in the arena). We are all doing hard things and life takes it toll, but life also offers us rewards too, so take them. Enjoy that macaroni dinner as an indulgence of comfort. Dig that spoon into the bottom of a sundae dish with joy. You earned it and you deserve it. That’s what we celebrated tonight. We were tired but we made it through another week. We deserved our reward and that happened to come with a cherry on top.
Next up: National Chocolate with Almonds Day