Day 477 – National Peanut Butter Fudge Day

With the Thanksgiving holiday just a few days away, this was a good time for a holiday like National Peanut Butter Fudge Day to pop up. This would allow me to make some peanut butter fudge and have something I could add to the dessert table when the feast day rolled around. When I make fudge, I almost exclusively make it chocolate. I have made other flavors in the past like mint, walnut, and maple, but chocolate always seems to be the most popular. I usually reserve peanut butter for peanut butter chocolate balls but I didn’t have the bandwidth to make those this week. Being someone who is not wont to turn down a holiday celebration, I started to look for recipes for peanut butter fudge. There were plenty and apparently there is a high demand for peanut butter fudge. I searched for a recipe that used Fluff because that’s what I use for my chocolate fudge and I like the results. I found plenty of those recipes too. I landed on one from GeniusKitchen.com which looked very similar to my regular fudge recipe, just with peanut butter added to the party. After work, I picked up all my supplies and started to throw a batch together when I got home.

It was an easy recipe to make and all it really required was the patience to stir continuously for five minutes and also a tolerance for pain to take the occasional spatter of hot sugar that would pop up and land on your arm. It filled the air with the smell of hot peanut butter, which isn’t a bad thing. While I was making it, I felt that having fudge made completely of peanut butter would be too much. I sensed a need for chocolate in there (as often I do), so before I poured the hot fudge into the pan where it could cool and set up, I poured some semi-sweet chocolate chips along the bottom of the pan. Then I poured the fudge over it all. I tried a taste of the still-warm fudge from the pot and it was tasty – sweet and creamy with good peanut flavor. I gave a taste to Lola too and she agreed.  Now we just needed to wait for the batch to cool.

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It was pretty good. It’s not exactly my thing because I still prefer going plain chocolate over peanut butter, but if peanut butter is your thing, then it was actually great. It was really rich. I thought it was going to taste like eating a spoonful of peanut butter but there was more to the bite. It was creamier and the added sugars sweetened it all up. Plus the texture of fudge brings in another dimension. The chocolate chips on the bottom did not melt at all (I thought they would), so each piece had whole chocolate chips at the bottom. That gave it a little chocolate flavor, but in truth, it was not necessary. If I were to make it again, I would keep the chips out of the mix and keep it all peanut butter. Still, this was a nice little recipe and a way to hone my fudge making skills. Lola liked it, which is always a good thing. Sometimes when I give her a taste, she’s not really ready for a good evaluation. But then she will reach for my creation on her own time she is ready for a treat and she will become a fan. I also brought them to Thanksgiving too and they were well received (although Lola’s Banana Cream Pie was the star of the dessert table). This was a happy little celebration of a new kind of fudge. That’s always a win in my book and a great way to start off our holiday week

Next Up: National Stuffing Day 

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Day 476 – National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day

Not much to say about this day other than it is very specific. It’s not just a celebration of caffeinated beverages, it celebrates caffeinated beverages that are carbonated. I love a good caffeinated beverage and it is why I have become a bit of a coffee fiend over the last ten years – craving the extra boost of caffeine. I’ve always been a fan of carbonated beverages too, at least sodas. That was more for taste rather than the caffeine boost (not that I didn’t appreciate the caffeine, but I always appreciated the sugar inside). I’ve tried to cut down my soda intake over the years and while I still have it too often, I am by no means a true soda fiend.  I have substituted coffee instead. (Which is healthier, right?) Recently I have been drinking a lot of flavored carbonated beverages like Ice and Frost which are like soda, I suppose, but no sugar or calories. I am not one that likes flavored soda water because soda water is too carbonated for my delicate gullet. It’s the flavor I crave which is why I fancy this new category of carbonated beverages which is lightly carbonated and full of sweet flavor, although I’m sure there are chemicals involved in producing the flavors that should be concerning. Regardless, those beverages don’t have caffeine, so today, I went all out and got the two sodas I could get with the most caffeine: Mountain Dew and Sunkist Orange.

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We had these while we were eating our leftover Thai food which was an excellent pairing – good sweetness alongside the spiciness. A soda with Asian food is a nice treat and one of the few times Lola actually craves a soda. Sadly, I have exposed Lola to more soda drinking than she has ever had in her life. I guess she was my coffee influence however, so it balances out. Mountain Dew has 91 grams of caffeine in a 12 oz. serving while Sunkist has 68 grams (Coke has 57 grams). That’s a nice little burst of energy and while it had no real function in our enjoyment, we still ingested it happily. I poured the soda in glasses with ice cubes so we didn’t feel like savages. There’s nothing quite like the color of Mountain Dew. You almost feel that your insides turn that color after drinking. Thank god it doesn’t react to your system like asparagus.

In any regard, our carbonated beverages with caffeine were sweet and refreshing and how we celebrated this day as we washed down our Pad See Ew. Some days are just simple like that.

Next up: National Peanut Butter Fudge Day 

Day 475 – National Apple Cider Day

I didn’t have to do much for this celebration. I was working all day at the Vineyard which just happens to make a delightful hard apple cider. When I got to work, I opened a bottle, poured it in my coffee cup and just had a day of it. Ok, not really. I did however make sure I was able to purchase two bottles before I was done. I paid for them with my employee discount and then kept them in the cooler so I could look forward to enjoying some at the end of the day.

Apple cider is essentially an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. Non-alcoholic cider is synonymous with apple juice or juice created by pressing apples. Hard cider takes that juice and adds yeast to the mixture to start the fermentation process. Like I said, Newport Vineyards makes their own hard cider which they have cutely branded as Rhody Coyote. I talk about it when I give my winery tours telling enthralled visitors that it is the only thing we don’t grow on our property but the apples all come locally from orchards less than a mile away (mainly Rocky Brook Orchard and Sweet Berry Farm). We do press and ferment the apples right on site. We use a variety of different apples in the cider but Macintosh seems to be the flavor that comes out the strongest. Today was no exception for my tour spiel and I actually set a new personal best by giving four straight tours throughout the day. My voice was hoarse by the end of it all, so when I got home, I was looking forward to sipping on a glass of cider with Lola. We decided to pair it with some Thai food which was the perfect choice.

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First off, Thai food is awesome especially after a long day of work. We got it from Siam Square which sounds far more exotic than it is, but still good. Typically if you were having spicy food you would want to pair it with something on the sweeter end. This Thai was not that spicy, so the cider worked well. It is a bit on the dryer side with a really smooth finish. It’s not quite as harsh as some of your other ciders on the market (like Angry Orchard), but it still has that effervescence from the fermentation (the bubbles). On rare occasion they will sometimes let us have a glass of wine after work and inevitably I’ll go for the cider as my choice. In that moment, after a long day, it is nice and refreshing. From a purchaser perspective, it comes in a nice little bottle which is not as big as a growler but has the same look (we call it a howler). It’s a great product and perfect to add to your holiday table.

I’m never a fan of apple juice but I really do like hard cider. It has a really nice drinkability to it which makes it a good drink for relaxing. It’s especially nice in the crisp autumn weather that has descended upon New England. A great pairing and an easy celebration. Now please feel free to tip your tour guide and please mention my name in the gift shop on your way out the door.

Next up: National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day 

Day 474 – National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month

Today was National Baklava Day and I was kind of looking forward to it. Last year I didn’t know exactly what Baklava was and I proceeded to make my own. It came out pretty good (good enough to make a second batch a few days later). I knew I could tackle this one today. It was a Friday, and I could toss a batch together in no time. Even if I backed out of making my own, I still had a backup plan to go to the Greek restaurant (Mediterranean restaurant actually) in Middletown and pick some up. Yep, everything was going to work out just fine. Then God laughed.

I got a message midway through the day from sister-in-law Cherie who was looking for my wife. Both of Cherie’s sons were sick and she actually had to take one to the hospital, so she was hoping Lola could watch the other (and her daughter when she got home from school). Cherie and Lola found each other and all bases were covered. On my way home from work, I decided to stop by the hospital and see how Cherie and Calix were doing. Poor little Calix, on his birthday, had a pneumonia and he was getting all kinds of treatments to make him better. Two years earlier, we were in the hospital with him when he was born as he had decided to start his journey into life a few weeks early. Our first glimpses of him were seeing him all hooked up to machines inside an incubator. Seeing him on the hospital bed was a flashback to that day. He was again hooked up to machines and monitors and his little body was working hard to breathe. Seeing him today also flashed me back to my own youth when I was suffering from pretty bad asthma attacks. It was a sad little scene. Cherie had asked Lola to watch her kids until Pete could get home, so when I left the hospital, I went to their house and joined Lola. Brickie was sick too and laying low, although I got a few smiles out of him, and Wavy looked pretty tired too. It was a long day for the whole family and we were glad we could help in the smallest of ways.

All that however kind of put my Baklava plans on hold. I couldn’t put it together now. I had neither the time or energy (plus the stores were closed for the ingredients). I had to celebrate something else. That’s when I realized it was National Peanut Butter Month. That was perfect, so after a long afternoon, I made two pieces of toast slathered with lots of smooth Skippy peanut butter. I was hungry and this was as easy as it could be to put together.

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Everyone, excepting those with allergies, loves peanut butter when they are a kid. It’s a special treat. When you are an adult, you still love peanut butter, but it takes on a new quality of ease and joy. When you are racking your head trying to think of something to eat, peanut butter is always a good fallback plan. It’s delicious – nice and sweet and nutty. It’s also easy to make and you almost always have a jar on hand. Tonight, my peanut butter toast did the job. I came home exhausted and hungry and just wanted something simple and satisfying. Check and check. I love peanut butter on toast because the PB starts to melt and it brings a new depth to the party. No jelly tonight, just the basics. That was the perfect way for me to end this long day and the perfect way to pay tribute to National Peanut Butter Month.

Next up: National Apple Cider Day

Day 473 – National Fast Food Day

I opined the other day while celebrating Chicken Nugget Day that there exists no real fast food in Warwick, RI because there is no real fast way to get anywhere in Warwick. While there are plenty of options of fast food and fast casual restaurants, the traffic patterns are so congested on the main road that you’re not getting anywhere without stopping at lights and backed-up intersections. But, today was National Fast Food Day and I had to celebrate. I could always go the fast food option for dinner, but I didn’t think I’d be doing Lola (or myself) any favors by bringing home a bucket of chicken from KFC or some fries and a Frostee from Wendy’s for dinner. I decided to keep my fast food tribute to lunch and that was good because I had not brought my lunch to work today. I needed to get something for lunch that was quick, cheap and easy and that’s exactly the convenience that we honor in all fast food restaurants. This would be a true appreciation.

Ideally I would have gone to either McDonald’s or Burger King today. Those restaurants are the true stars of the fast food industry. The OGs. The place where it really began, or really took off. However, both of those location are located in the heart of the traffic nightmare area of town. It was only a mile away but would take me a half-hour to drive there and back. I decided to go more local. Oddly enough, the place for food that is in the closest proximity to my office is the Warwick Mall food court. Seems odd, but it’s about a three minute drive away and they have plenty of fast food options. I made the jaunt around lunchtime. I walked in the food court doors which open to a giant carousel complete with calliope, smiling kids and parents trying to take pictures. Behind that, the court opens up to all my options. I started to walk towards Panda Express. I felt that would be a good place to celebrate National Fast Food Day because it pretty much says it is a place for fast food in the name plus it gives you more options that the typical fast food spot. But then I noticed somebody from my office in line at Panda Express. Eating lunch in the food court is sad enough, I didn’t need to be recognized. I walked past Panda Express turning down their offer for a free taste and made a beeline for Taco Bell. While it wasn’t my first choice, this was fast food. This was just what today was all about. I ordered a hard-shell chicken taco, something called a Quesarito and a Coke. I paid. My food was ready in about a minute and then I took my tray out into the seating area making sure I was not in view of the guy from my office.

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Like everything from Taco Bell, this was good. The taco was nice and fresh and a good crunchy shell. The Quesarito was good too. It is essentially a quesadilla that they add meat, rice, sour cream and nacho cheese to, then roll it up like a burrito and grill so the outside gets crunchy. It’s full of flavor although I imagine it tastes the same as any other burrito you get from Taco Bell. Taco Bell all kind of tastes the same (which is not altogether a bad thing). I woofed it all down while playing on my phone to avoid eye contact with anyone. When I was done, I cleaned up my area, tossed out my garbage and returned the tray. A quick shout out to the clean-up team at Warwick Mall who were spraying my table clean within 30 seconds of my departure. It’s an odd little world in the food court.

While we all hear about the negative side about fast food restaurants out there, we sometimes need to appreciate what they bring to our food landscape. They bring us food that we can rely on (to some degree) that’s conveniently available and fast. If you are in a hurry to get anywhere and need something to eat, the choice of going fast food just makes sense because you can get in and out within five minutes and have a complete hot meal in that time. There are feelings of remorse afterwards and even some shame, but it does the job. It brings you food fast which is what you need sometimes. That’s what today’s celebration was about and the folks at Taco Bell delivered. Cheers to all those working hard in the world of fast food – we appreciate all you do!

Next up: National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month

Day 472 – National Raisin Bran Cereal Day

Some days you find a recipe that really intrigues you. This actually happens a lot these days in the world of social media. I tend to follow a bunch of cooking-type people who frequently post their recipes which subsequently fills my feed with a delightful array of tasty options. Every once in awhile, I’ll see a recipe that I simmer on for a few days (pardon the pun) and by then, I am almost compelled to make it. I get excited. I get the ingredients. I set the stage. I look forward to surprising Lola. It’s the thrill of something new on the dinner table plus it brings a little change to our usual rotation. Afterwards we will break it down. I’ll get Lola’s opinion. We’ll discuss the pros and cons – what we could add, what we could take out. We ask the “could we serve this to Becky & Jeff?” question. Not that we really ever feed Becky & Jeff, we just value their palettes. This is the whole process of how great new recipes are found, made and brought to fruition.

Today was not one of those days. In fact, today was probably the polar opposite. When I saw it was National Raisin Bran Cereal Day, I spent about 30 seconds perusing recipes online to see what I could make using Raisin Bran and then scrapped the whole idea. I actually made some kind of marshmallow-cereal treat last year using Raisin Bran and that wasn’t that bad, but not what I wanted today. I wasn’t feeling up to baking anything sweet or cute or unusual. In fact, I wasn’t much in the mood for cooking anything. You are allowed to have days like that every now and then. I texted Lola that my plan for dinner was just to have a bowl of Raisin Bran and she was ok with that. Cereal is right up there with soup as one of Lola’s favorites, so I knew she would be up for it. I stopped at the Dollar General (spared no expense), picked up a box of Raisin Bran Crunch, a little extra milk and was home. When it was time for dinner, I busted out our fancy dinner cereal bowls, poured a heaping portion, filled it with milk and dinner was ready.

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Growing up, Raisin Bran was always one of my favorite cereals but always the Kellogg’s brand, never Post. The raisins in the Kellogg’s version were sprinkled with sugar and that made a difference. The Post variety was plain and boring – a let down. In my youth, I would naturally add a few scoops of sugar to my bowl because that’s what we did back then and I liked to get to the bottom where there was a layer of sandy sugar left behind on the bottom which you could eat by the spoonful. I don’t do that anymore. In fact, adding sugar to a cereal seems silly to me. I still enjoy Kellogg’s Raisin Bran but ever since they introduced their Crunch version, it is my new favorite. The little clusters of oats brings a little extra sweetness to the party plus it adds a great texture to the bowl. They really are audibly crunchy like the television commercial suggests and when you are chomping on a spoonful, you can’t really hear. Lola and I were watching a Narcos episode while eating our cereal and we had to really turn up the volume like my grandmother would do when she watched General Hospital. I think our neighbors got concerned when they started hearing the sounds of mad Columbians shouting coming from our house, but they didn’t report us (like the puta Judy Moncada would). Raisin Bran Crunch is not a suitable dinner for interesting conversation, but it is just fine for chilling, watching a show with subtitles and crunching away. Every now and then, cereal for dinner is just perfect.

We didn’t really pull out all the stops today for National Raisin Bran Cereal Day. In fact, all I did was have a bowl of cereal. But sometimes, that’s just what you want. Cereal is so often associated with a morning treat that we forget how convenient it is for a quick and easy meal. Lola will sometimes have a bowl in the middle of the night when she wakes up with insomnia and gets hungry. I’ll wake up briefly and hear her crunching away which makes me smile. There’s nothing wrong with feasting on cereal. It’s a great way to lift your spirits and bring you some nourishment with little effort. There is no shame in cereal dinner and that’s what I celebrated today.

Next up: National Fast Food Day

Day 471 – National Spicy Guacamole Day

There’s really no need to celebrate National Spicy Guacamole Day when we already celebrate National Guacamole Day. The only difference between the two is that you add something spicy to your guacamole. One of the reasons why we celebrate Guacamole Day is because we honor how easy guac is to make and how adaptable it is to alter the recipe to meet your personal taste. Lola likes things spicy, so every now and then, I will toss a few spicy ingredients into our guacamole to surprise her. Any guacamole celebration could be a spicy guacamole celebration. But who am I to argue with how these days rollout? Today I would celebrate National Spicy Guacamole Day and I’d make it pretty much the same way I always do.

I start with ripe avocados. That sounds like something you wouldn’t have to express but having an avocado that is not ripe will ruin everything. You think you might be able to work with an under-ripe avocado, but you really can’t. An under-ripe avocado is hard to work with and has a bitter taste. My advice is that if the avocado isn’t ripe, scrap the guacamole plans altogether and wait until nature says it’s time. But if your avocados are ripe, you want to remove them from their skins and take the pit out. Then toss in some salt, pepper, garlic powder and cumin (lots of cumin). You mash that all together (I use a potato masher) and then scoop in a few spoonfuls of salsa. When I have it on hand, adding fresh cilantro is always a plus too and really cranks up the fresh taste. To make it spicy tonight, I had a three-pronged approach. I used a spicy salsa. I added fresh garlic. I added red pepper flakes. Ideally I would have added fresh jalapeño peppers which always bring some good heat, but I forgot to pick them up at the store (even though I went into the store specifically for avocados and jalapeño peppers). Nonetheless, the heat was turned up on this batch with what I added. Garlic always adds a nice subtle hint of heat along with all that flavor and red pepper flakes do the job too. On a scale of one to ten, I would say it was about a 6.5 on the heat scale. Spicy, but plenty of room for more. I suppose that’s one of the things to celebrate on National Spicy Guacamole Day – how we can control our spicy destiny by utilizing a whole cacophony of ingredients.

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We ate some with some tortilla chips but then I made some chicken enchiladas for dinner and I served them with the guacamole (and sour cream). Fresh guacamole, whether spicy or otherwise, is the perfect complement to any Mexican dish. It’s the slight tinge of boldness from the sauce and cheese that beckons for the cool and refreshing fresh taste of guacamole. Plus, the green of guacamole cuts the stark redness of the Mexican mess on your plate. It’s kind of the perfect pairing. Having been to Mexico and having seen the abundance of avocado trees, I understand how natural it is for Mexicans to include guacamole and avocados in nearly all their local cooking and flavors. I’m glad that tradition carried over to the States. Life without guacamole would be a little less enjoyable. But not today. Today’s menu was filled with a a nice spicy guacamole freshly made. And that’s just the way we like it.

Next up: National Raisin Bran Cereal Day

Day 470 – National Chicken Nugget Day

If you are really going to celebrate National Chicken Nugget Day, there’s really only one place to go: McDonald’s. They did not invent the Chicken Nugget, but they did make them popular after they began selling them in the 1980’s. When they first arrived on the scene (yes, I remember that), I was excited for this invention because I was a big fan of chicken and I was not a huge fan of McDonald’s burgers (filed under “Dan’s hatred of mustard”). When McNuggets arrived on the scene, it gave me the opportunity to enjoy a meat product to go along with my already professed love of salty fries at the Golden Arches. While we may now be aware of the nefarious ingredients that are hiding inside a McNugget, back then (and even now), you couldn’t deny that these crispy little pieces of chicken were packed with flavor. Crunchy on the outside, nice and meaty on the inside, sufficiently salty for all your needs. I’m not too proud to say it, but I enjoy a good McNugget every now and then.

According to Wikipedia, the chicken nugget was invented in the 1950s by a food science professor at Cornell University named Robert C. Baker. It was Baker’s innovations that made it possible to form chicken nuggets in any shape. I guess that makes him the Patron Saint of McNuggets which I’m sure is exactly what it says on his gravestone. He basically turned chicken and chicken parts into a moldable, cookable substance. Again, that’s a good thing as long as you don’t do a deep dive into the ingredients. He kind of changed the world so much so that whole generations have grown up with chicken nuggets as the choice for dinner on the kid’s menu at almost every restaurant. Millennials and Generation Y’ers were raised on chicken nuggets. Maybe that explains a few things. I was not raised that way, but was excited when they came along when I was a young teen new to the world of fast food, finger-sized chicken and dipping sauces.

I headed out for lunch today to McDonald’s to get my McNugget fix for the holiday. While the city of Warwick has plenty of fast food options, there is no real fast food in Warwick because there is no fast way to get to a fast food restaurant, especially McDonald’s. Most of these spots fall on a an overdeveloped street called Bald Hill Road which is a traffic nightmare. It’s stop and go traffic all the time between the gaggle of traffic lights, the murder of bad drivers and the pride of crazed shoppers. You can’t get any place fast. It’s really a test of patience. Mickey D’s is probably just over a mile away from my office but a fifteen-minute drive. I got there eventually and pulled up to the drive-thru window. I’m not sure when, but on the McDonald’s value menu, the typical serving portion for McNuggets are the ten-piece size. It used to be a six-piece which made me wonder why we upped the game. I imagine this falls under the category of gluttony that skewed the sizes of sodas for at fast food restaurants forever, but I went with the ten-piece. I pulled up to the first window and paid and then waited to be able to pull up to the second window to get my food. The car in front of me asked for a fancy coffee drink at the last minute in addition to her regular order and while they were making that for her, the pick-up line came to a halt. Eventually, it was my turn. I was handed my bag of food, my soda and I was back out into the hell that is Bald Hill Road.

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I wasn’t that anxious to bring back a big bag of McDonald’s to eat at my desk (no one wants to get earmarked as the McDonald’s lunch guy), so I decided to pull off into a parking lot and enjoy my feast there. I parked at the very end of a shopping center lot with no one around. I munched away at my nuggets which were just as I remembered. Crunchy, moist on the inside, the resemblance of chicken flavor in every bite along with the recommended daily allowance for salt. I am not a dipping sauce fan so I was eating these plain and soon, between the taste of the fried chicken and the French fries, my belly had that too-full feeling. Then my solace of McShame was interrupted by some old woman in a car. I saw her pull in the lot and she started driving around slowly and confusedly. My spider senses were tingling. Then she eventually came to a full stop just two spaces over from where I was parked in my own tranquility. We were within eye contact distance. This infuriated me. If you could see the overhead shot of this scene you would share my anger. She didn’t do anything. She just stayed in her car looking out and she never made any indication that she knew I was there. But I knew she was there and my nugget party had come to an early end. I tossed my remaining nuggets and uneaten fries into the bag, crumpled it up and then drove away giving my parking lot encroacher the evil eye.

Today was not a celebration that I’m particularly proud of but in the end, I still think the chicken nugget deserves our praises. It came from an innovative food scientist who was trying to make life easier and tastier. Who could foresee where the nugget would go? The restaurant people who embraced the nugget are all smiles now – a cheap product that uses up scraps, tastes good and people keep coming back for is all you could ever want in a fast food item. Getting a generation of youth hooked on these morsels of white meat is a goldmine and McDonald’s knows this. But I’m no snob. I like a chicken nugget just as much as the next guy. I was on board with them from the get-go. So today, I raise my nugget as a toast to the goodness and smiles they have delivered! McCheers!

Next up: National Spicy Guacamole Day

Day 469 – National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day

Chicken Soup for the Soul was originally the title of a book published back in 1993 by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. It was essentially a compilation of inspirational, true stories that they had heard from their audience members during their talks. The book and its tales of everyday motivation and hope became a quick success. They followed up with Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul and then after that, they started cranking them out for every demographic. Chicken Soup for the Elderly Soul, Chicken Soup for the College Graduate Soul, Chicken Soup for the Left-handed Barbers Named Bob Soul, and so on and so forth. Today, it’s a bit of an empire with more books, shops, podcasts, videos and even dog food available for sale. In fact, it’s a multimillion dollar enterprise. I guess that means there is a strong desire for hope in our world, so that’s a good thing (especially in a  capitalist society).

I remember the original book back in the nineties. In fact, at the risk of oversharing, I distinctly remember reading it in the bathroom. That’s what we used to do in the bathroom before we had smartphones. The book was perfect for those brief interludes because each story was only a few pages so you could get inspired while taking care of business. If you made it through one of the longer tales that meant that you needed more roughage in your diet. I’ve said too much. But it was a book that was always around back in the day and I understand why it was popular. It filled you with bits of hope which, like a nice bowl of chicken soup, warms up your insides.

While National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day is meant to commemorate the book and the whole Chicken Soup movement, I decided to take it literally and make some chicken soup. While that may seem like cheating, I contend that actual chicken soup will nourish the soul just as hardily as any book can (and it will also nourish the body as well). Chicken soup is the feeling of warmth and home and healing. It is comfort. The name of the book/series is a loose metaphor for what all the comfort and nourishment those tales bring to us, so by making and enjoying actual chicken soup, we are symbolically (and physically) warming our souls. Plus, Lola likes soup (a lot) and she was coming home today.

I made my Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup which I have mentioned here before and even given you the recipe. It’s a Lola favorite – nice and creamy with chunks of chicken and rice inside. I am not sure what I did or why it came out the way it did, but this batch was particularly good. I made it just before noon which worked out well because I had to let it cool. I was leaving the house at 4 pm to go pick her up and by the time that rolled around, the soup was cooled and carefully packed into the fridge. Lola’s flight was right on time so there were no delays. She had a wonderful trip and was full of excitement when she got into the car. She was even excited for some of my work and blog stuff too. She was anxious to get down to it all. When we got home, Lola wanted a nice hot shower to get the travel off her. While she was doing that, I warmed up our soup and got ready for a nice cozy feasy.

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To me, this soup is the best of both worlds. It has the flavor and warmth of a nice chicken soup, but has the creaminess of a nice buttery cream soup. When I make a batch of my soup (which is what Lola calls it – YOUR soup), it will usually last us for about 4 or 5 days. We’ll both eat it for the first two days but then Lola will have it for five days straight to the very last drop. Did I mention she is a soup nut? We always think it’s kismet that we ended up together – a fine soup maker and a passionate soup enthusiast. The yin to my yang. Coming home from a day a travel makes you want to settle in with a nice cozy dinner. For Lola, I hope that meant a nice warm bowl of soup freshly made just for her. I was excited that she was back home and I wanted to give her a soup that would warm her soul, just like the book promised.

Next up: National Chicken Nugget Day

Day 468 – National Sundae Day

I had something today that I haven’t had in a long time: a Saturday off. It wasn’t a planned day off and had I planned for it, I would have made sure Lola was around to enjoy it with me. However, I had switched shifts at the Vineyard so I could come in late allowing for travel time after the wedding and as I was driving home from the wedding on Friday night, I got a message that said they wouldn’t need me at all. This news came after I had left the wedding, so I couldn’t go back and tear it up on the dance floor, and the message went to voicemail, so I couldn’t tell them I really didn’t mind coming in. So I was left with a whole Saturday off and I did what every young-blooded American would do: I squandered it in a day long exercise in laziness. Yep, I just did nothing. I watched the new Spiderman movie (a big thumbs up on that too). I napped. I watched some Netflix. I did some things of merit – Lola was coming home tomorrow and I had to make sure the house was nice and clean and get rid of all my dirty clothes scattered around the floor, but in general, laze was the theme of the day.

Knowing it was National Sundae Day, I started making plans. It started by saying I would go to Friendly’s and enjoy a sundae right at the counter. Friendly’s is probably the place I most associate with ice cream from my youth and it’s also a restaurant Lola will not go to, so it seemed like the ideal place to go to when Lola was not around. The closest one to us is in Fall River so I could go grocery shopping and then sundae eating. But as the day went on, the idea of sitting in a Fall River Friendly’s seemed less and less appealing. My next plan was to go to Newport Creamery and get a sundae to go. That’s a fine institution for anything ice cream and it seemed like a good idea. But as my lazy day moved along, getting dressed and out the door to go clear across the other side of the island for an ice cream sundae just didn’t thrill me. Nope, if I was going to have a lazy day, I was all in. At the end of the day, I did leave the house for sundaes, but it was just a quick jaunt up the road to Cumberland Farms for ice cream and whipped cream.

My sundae making came at night. I started with the vanilla ice cream. I don’t really have a sundae glass (my ideal sundae glass is the Jim Dandy sundae bowl from Friendly’s) so I decided to use a glass that I recently acquired. It is barrel-shaped to reflect the brewing company from whence it came, but in a pinch, I thought it made an interesting serving vessel. I was going to use some chocolate sauce but then I thought some hot fudge would be more appropriate and I just happened to have a tub of freshly made fudge in our fridge. (Doesn’t everyone?) I threw a few pieces of fudge into a sauce pan with a  touch of milk and melted it down. Soon I had a nice thick fudge sauce. I dumped that onto the ice cream, put in more ice cream, more fudge, then topped with whipped cream and chocolate jimmies or shots (not sprinkles). For a lazy day, I put together a nice little sundae celebration.

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As the renowned 20th century philosopher Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And even though I slowed my life down today to almost a crawl, I did stop to appreciate the joy of an ice cream sundae. It could be the perfect dessert with the coolness of ice cream, the sweetness of fudge, the fluffy, creamy tones of whipped cream and the chocolate nibbles of some jimmies. That’s a pretty happy spoonful. It’s an indulgence and we should always allow ourselves some indulgences. And even though they taste a little more exciting at an ice cream parlor, sometime they are best served in the comfort of your home on a day filled with nothingness.

Next up: National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day