August 22 – National Eat A Peach Day

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Today is a day to celebrate peaches.

The peach is actually a member of the rose family and originated in China, as ascertained by genetic studies. There are two main varieties of peaches and one hybrid form: clingstone (the flesh sticks to the stone), freestone (the stone is easily separated from the flesh), and semi-free.

Peach flower, fruit, seed and leaves as illustrated by Otto Wilhelm Thomé (1885)

Peach flower, fruit, seed and leaves as illustrated by Otto Wilhelm Thomé (1885)

Could you really imagine celebrating Eat a Peach Day without considering making a cobbler? No, unthinkable. And since there are so many blueberries around too, I think it would only be appropriate to combine them.

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There are some great looking recipes all over the Web and Pinterest. Two that look especially good to me are at Picky Palate and Homestyle Report.

The picture shown below comes from another good recipe at The Browneyed Baker, a cook who always knows the importance of adding a dollop of ice cream to the top of whatever you’re serving!

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As you may know if you follow this blog, my favorite poem is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, which includes the famous stanzas:

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?”

On this day, I think the answer is decidedly YES.

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wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

June 12 – National Peanut Butter Cookie Day

As you undoubtedly are aware, today is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day. Throughout the years on this blog, I have posted many paeans to peanut butter, and have also told you how we are a divided household, with creamy for me and crunchy for Jim. And, just as Dave Barry said in his amusing book, How to Become a Successful Writer Without Really Trying:

There is basically nothing in my kitchen that I have not, at one time or another . . . smeared peanut butter on. I include pot holders in that statement.”

The National Peanut Board says it takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter, so yes, I kind of feel guilty for all the peanuts I personally decimate.

On my Pinterest Board for recipes, many of the recipes you will see include either chocolate, peanut butter, or both. (Viz: Peanut Butter Cup Overload Cake, Monkey Peanut Butter Bars, Crock Pot Peanut Butter Cup Cake, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake, and so on.) (Just to fake people out, most of my other recipes involve quinoa.)

Peanut Butter Cup Overload Cake

Peanut Butter Cup Overload Cake

According to ABC News, the peanut butter cookie was invented in the 1910′s, when George Washington Carver of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute published a peanut cookbook in an effort to promote the crop.  The cookbook titled How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption included several recipes for cookies that called for chopped peanuts.  Peanut butter was added to the cookies 20 years later along with the fork marks that are associated with the cookie today.

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What will I be making to celebrate this holiday? I’m thinking Peanut Butter Cookie with Toffee and Chocolate Chips. The recipe, from Back For Seconds Blog, is here:

Ingredients
• 3/4 cups unsalted butter (softened)
• 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cups brown sugar (packed)
• 1 egg
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
• 1 cup toffee bits

Directions

Preheat oven to 350
In a mixing bowl cream the butter, peanut butter, oil, and sugars.
Add egg and salt and mix again.
Add baking soda and flour gradually until incorporated. Do not over mix.
Stir in chips and toffee.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet 2″ apart.
Bake 6 minutes.
Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.

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Happy Peanut Butter Cookie Day!!

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wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

April 26 – National Pretzel Day

As you probably know, today is National Pretzel Day.

According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of a pretzel:

A pretzel … is a type of baked food made from dough in soft and hard varieties and savory or sweet flavors in a unique knot-like shape, originating in Europe. The pretzel shape is a distinctive symmetrical looped form, with the ends of a long strip of dough intertwine brought together and then twisted back onto itself in a certain way (“a pretzel loop”).”

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According to The Book of Threes, the term “tying the knot” grew out of the inclusion of pretzels in wedding ceremonies:

The couple wished upon and broke a pretzel like a wishbone, then ate it to signify their oneness. A 17th century woodcut copied from a stained glass window in a cathedral in Berne, Switzerland, shows the pretzel being used as the “marriage knot” between two royal families.”

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We go through a lot of pretzels, our favorite being Snyder’s of Hanover Sourdough in the box. Snyder’s has a great pinterest page on which they collect fun pretzel recipes, like this peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough dip for pretzels.

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But I bet they don’t have the recipe for Hearing Aid Pretzels.

As you may know, Jim, my blog co-writer and verbal sparing mate, has a congenital hearing disability. He needs the sound on the television turned up way too loud for me to co-exist in the same room (or even the same universe), so when he watches tv, he takes out his hearing aids and puts in TV Ears. (I love their ad – shown below – with the caption “TV Ears Saved Our Marriage” because it’s totally true!)

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One day, Jim was watching an especially intense football game, and I got him a bowl of pretzels and put it on the table next to him, where he also had placed his hearing aids (since you have to take them out to use TV Ears.) He never took his eyes off the screen, but kept inputting the pretzels, until he came to one that just wasn’t crunching up like it should. Yes, it turned out to be a $3,000 “pretzel”! I’m not posting that recipe on Pinterest. Just saying.

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wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

March 14 – Celebrate Pi Day!

Pi Day is an annual celebration commemorating the mathematical constant π (the Greek letter pi), the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated around the world on March 14th since Pi = 3.1415926535…

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Next year will be especially exciting: in the year 2015, Pi Day will have special significance at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m., with the date and time representing the first 10 digits of pi.

While the American Pie Council (APC) denotes January 23 as National PIE Day, the U.S. Congress recognizes March 14 as PI Day, but both can be celebrated by baking pies.

According to the APC, the first pies were probably made by early Romans, and appeared in England as early as the Twelfth Century. Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them “coffins” like the crust was called in England. Among the other benefits of the American Revolution, it brought into common use the word “crust” rather than “coffin.”

How to celebrate? Make your pie big enough to share! “Hand pies” may not be appropriate, as shown by this calculation by Trader Joe’s:

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On the other hand, this “pi pie,” created at Delft University of Technology in 2008 suggests a more share-friendly approach to Pi Day!

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Happy 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939… Day!

wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

January 27 – National Chocolate Cake Day

Enough about food I won’t eat! (See my post here, on haggis). Today is the day to talk about food I can almost never resist, i.e., Molten Chocolate Cake.

What could be better than Molten Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream? (Well, the answer is obvious: Molten Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream With No Calories Whatsoever.) I think this “quick and easy” recipe from Food and Wine by master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten fills the bill, since no calories are listed.

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Ingredients:

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450°. Butter and lightly flour four 6-ounce ramekins. Tap out the excess flour. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet.

In a double boiler, over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed until thickened and pale.

Whisk the chocolate until smooth. Quickly fold it into the egg mixture along with the flour. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 minutes, or until the sides of the cakes are firm but the centers are soft. Let the cakes cool in the ramekins for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted dessert plate. Carefully turn each one over, let stand for 10 seconds and then unmold. Serve immediately.

Note: The batter can be refrigerated for several hours; bring to room temperature before baking.

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BUT: What if you prefer your chocolate cake to have a complementary flavor with it, so it’s not just chocolate goo inside more chocolate? How about caramel goo inside? This recipe for Gooey Chocolate Caramel Cake from Pinch of Yum is outstanding, and what you end up with looks like this:

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Happy Chocolate Cake Day!!

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wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

January 25 – Time for Haggis!

January 25, 1759 is the birthdate of the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns (perhaps best known in the U.S. for his poem and song “Auld Lang Syne”).

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

His birthday is widely celebrated, both in Scotland and around the world, with “Burns Suppers”.

The main dish at a Burns Supper is haggis, a traditional Scottish dish. Burns’s famous poem “Address to a Haggis” is read when the haggis is cut open. Haggis is usually described as a “savory pudding” which contains sheep’s guts (heart, liver and lungs) minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, stock, and then encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Haggis is often served with “neeps and tatties” (Scots: turnip and potato), boiled and mashed separately, with a glass of Scotch whisky to wash it down.

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Personally, I wouldn’t dream of interacting with Haggis except perhaps in the sport called Haggis Hurling, which involves throwing a haggis as far as possible. The world record for haggis hurling was achieved by Lorne Coltart on 11 June 2011, who hurled his haggis 217 feet.

A Haggis Hurler

A Haggis Hurler

You can learn more about Robert Burns in this short, entertaining video accessible here.

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wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

Sunday Treat – National Peanut Butter Lovers Month

sundae2As I’m sure you know, November is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month.

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I would be sad without peanut butter, and I am not alone. According to the National Peanut Board, the amount of peanut butter eaten in a year could wrap the earth in a ribbon of 18-ounce peanut butter jars one and one-third times. Most of that peanut butter probably comes from consumption in my house. Even Mr. Ed, the talking horse from old tv, ate peanut butter. In order to make the horse look like he was talking, they spread peanut butter inside his mouth, creating a “natural talking movement” every time the animal moved his sticky jaws.

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Another interesting fact is that apparently women and children prefer creamy, while most men opt for chunky. This is certainly true in our house; we are a two-jar family at all times. [It’s even worse than that: we are a two-BRAND family!]

His

His

Hers

Hers

Want more peanut butter fun facts? Check out this very cool peanut butter infographic.

So if there’s all this love for peanut butter, why is it so hard to find peanut butter ice cream? I don’t mean ice cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in it, I mean actual peanut butter ice cream. It being essential to my happiness, I often just make my own.

There are at least two ways to make it. There is the homemade ice cream method, a recipe for which you can see here.

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But I actually take the lazy road. Here is MY recipe for peanut butter ice cream.

Get a big bowl.

Dump a carton of Breyer’s vanilla bean ice cream into the bowl. (Breyer’s Lactose Free Vanilla works just as well.)

Let it soften.

Stir in a very large glob of peanut butter. Leave some swirly if you want but stir it in so it turns the color of peanut butter.

Put back into a large tupperware container and refreeze.

Well, put most back. Eat the rest.

But wait!

Don’t feel obliged to use up your tupperware! You can try this tasty alternative:

Before refreezing, pour ice cream into an oreo cookie crust and top with either hot fudge sauce or crushed peanut butter cups.

It’s a great quick dessert to make for company or a special dinner!


Happy Peanut Butter Lovers Month!

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wkendcookingThis post will be linked to this Saturday’s Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. where bloggers share food-related posts. Stop by her blog and see what’s cooking this week!

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