Cheer Du Jour

A little cheer to forget your troubles, and better yet, to toast with a glass of bubbles!

Nov 2 – National Deviled Egg Day

Deviled Eggs shot during the Inaugural Portabl...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The history of this holiday is devilishly hidden, as is the origin of the deviled egg itself. According to author Rachael Rizzo, the indulgent treat may have originated in Ancient Rome as boiled eggs with spices. The toppings might have included wine, pine kernels, celery, fish sauce, honey, white vinegar, and pine nuts. Recipes in medieval cookbooks advised eggs to be stuffed with ingredients such as raisins, goat cheese, mint marjoram, cloves, and cinnamon (see Rizzo’s complete e-zine article here). Eggcited to make a batch for yourself? Family Circle has several recipes, from bacon and cheese deviled eggs to salmon deviled eggs. Food Network has a video for step-by-step instructions to boil the perfect egg.

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Aug 26 – National Cherry Popsicle Day

cherry popsicle

cherry popsicle (Photo credit: stu_spivack)

Enjoy a frozen cherry treat to celebrate this summer holiday. Making your own popsicles is as easy as pouring cherry juice (or Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, etc.) into a popsicle mold (or Dixie cups with sticks, or even an ice cube tray with toothpicks). If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, try some of these recipes: chocolate cherry popsicle, cherry yogurt popsicle, chocolate fudge cherry popsicle, cherry berry cardamom popsicle or the adults-only cherry mojito popsicle (what an extra cheery cherry treat!). Lastly, I have to share the most bizarre recipe I found while tracking down cherry popsicle recipes – and it even rhymes – would you believe cherry pickles? Click here to see the recipe, but be warned…even the author admits she doesn’t like them.

Foodimentary offers Five Food Finds about Popsicles:

In 1905 in San Francisco, 11-year-old Frank Epperson was mixing a white powdered flavoring for soda and water out on the porch

He left it there, with a stirring stick still in it.

That night, temperatures reached a record low, and the next morning, the boy discovered the drink had frozen to the stick, inspiring the idea of a fruit-flavored ‘Popsicle’, a portmanteau of soda pop and icicle.

Eighteen years later in 1923, Epperson introduced frozen pop on a stick to the public at Neptune Beach, an amusement park in Belmar, New Jersey. Seeing that it was a success, in 1924 Epperson applied for a patent for his “frozen confectionery” which he called “the Epsicle ice pop”.

He renamed it to Popsicle, allegedly at the insistence of his children.

via August 26 – National Cherry Popsicle Day | Foodimentary – National Food Holidays.

via August 26 – National Cherry Popsicle Day | Foodimentary – National Food Holidays.

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August 6 – National Root Beer Float Day

Root Beer_01

Root Beer_01 (Photo credit: rob_rob2001)

Customers seated at an unidentified ice cream ...

Customers seated at an unidentified ice cream and soda fountain, Seattle (Photo credit: UW Digital Collections)

Thanks to the good people at FreeFlys, I learned about another sweet holiday. August 6th is National Root Beer Float Day, a day to celebrate the summer classic by getting a FREE (yes, you read that correctly) small Root Beer Float at participating A&W restaurants from 2 p.m. til close. Click here to see details. Can this deal be any sweeter? Yes, it is also a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project. As I have probably mentioned before, despite my reservations about our participation in some of our current wars, I fully support our soldiers. Please click on the link to learn about other ways you can support this exceptional group, whether by donating money, volunteer time, or simply writing a letter to our troops.

As usual, I digress. If you can’t make it to your local A&W, or can’t wait to begin the celebration, make your own float. Punchbowl.com recommends that you pour your root beer into the glass BEFORE adding the vanilla ice cream, to avoid a big spill. I also learned from this site that the root beer float was invented in the late 19th Century by Frank Wisner, and is also called a black cow. All these years (let’s not dwell on how many, exactly), I thought a black cow was a Coke float…and here, I thought I was a dessert aficionado (well, confirmed dessert addict, in any case). This, of course, makes me digress again to thinking of Laverne and Shirley’s Pepsi and milk concoction (which never seemed like a good idea) and has been tested by Beverage Science as one of their pop culture experiments. I leave you to your own decision on this.

YumSugar expands the history, by explaining that Wisner was inspired to add the vanilla ice cream to root beer (which began being sold thirteen years earlier, in 1881) by the snow on top of Cow Mountain.

A turbo-charged recipe, by MidwestSimple, incorporates vanilla vodka into the mix. Another alternative is the Root Canal Float, proposed by Vintage West:

Posted on May 30, 2013 by nswentz under Drinks

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via Yep, that will play | Vintage West.

Whatever your pleasure, be sure to enjoy the cool treat and toast the holiday!

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July 24 – National Tequila Day

Tequila Sunrise

Feliz Dia de Tequila! Now, this is one of those holidays that really, really needs to be on a Friday (for full weekend recovery). Listed below are some Tequila facts from the Jose Cuervo website to get you started. According to food.com, during the 1918 worldwide flu epidemic, Mexican doctors prescribed doses of tequila as treatment. So, drink a glass to your health!

Later today, from 6-7 p.m. (PST), BevMo! and Casamigos Tequila will be hosting a Twitter party, and will answer your questions about the drink of legends. Details via MarketWired: To participate, Twitter users must follow @BevMo and @Casamigos and join the conversation by searching and using the hashtag. BevMo! and Casamigos will be tweeting all things tequila, from the best way to enjoy it, to the ultimate tequila cocktails. In addition to the Twitter party, fans will have the opportunity to submit their tequila-related questions answered by Casamigos founders Clooney and Rande.

Of course, the holiday isn’t all about drinking (well, mostly) – tequila is a great addition to many dishes (click here to get some great Tequila Day food recipes from examiner.com).

And, we can’t possibly end the day without singing and dancing to “Tequila” – preferably Pee-wee Herman style (white platform shoes optional):

My Tale of Tequila-Enhanced Table-Dancing (sans platform shoes): As you’ll note in the facts and links below, tequila is not stronger than other spirits. It is not the demon drink that inspired the blurred t-shirts that warn: “1 tequila, 2 tequilas, 3 tequilas, FLOOR”. Respectfully, I have three words to dispute these claims – Carlos n’ Charlie’s. On occasion, I will indulge in one of those salty-rimmed frozen concoctions that masquerade as margaritas. These are usually made from mixes and are very light on alcohol. I had never had pure tequila until that alice-down-the-rabbit-hole experience that was my visit to the Cozumel bar. Carlos n’ Charlie’s has quite a reputation, and I decided to see what it was all about while on a cruise a few years ago. My intent was to sip on a Diet Coke while everyone else got plastered. It was a warm afternoon, and there was a special (warning #1 – beware of the specials!) on an ice-cold frozen strawberry daiquiri. Innocent enough, and the price was barely higher than a soda. The speakers blasted a great mix of music, and the eclectic decor instantly made you feel relaxed and ready to party. A fair few spring breakers were in attendance, as well as a number of people old enough to know better (putting myself safely in that category). I found a table next to a group of people I had met earlier on the ship, all at least 10 years my senior. We settled ourselves in for a good show, being drunk vicariously through those wild young people. Then, a whistle blew, announcing a waitress ready to ply you with a shot of tequila (warning #2 – when you hear the whistle, run the other way). A short while later, the dj got everyone up to form a conga line (final warning – keep your mouth closed at all times during a conga line). As we danced our way through the acres of bar tables and chairs, helpful waitstaff provided a refreshing pour (which is significantly larger than a shot) of tequila. I couldn’t really tell you much more, as the rest of the stay became a blur. I do remember returning to my cabin, wondering how a rose found its way into my purse. The next morning (after a hefty dose of aspirin), I looked at digital photos from the prior evening. Those well-mannered ship mates of mine (the very same ladies who wore Estee Lauder perfume with their pearls, and their husbands who sported the classic knee-sock pairing with their pressed shorts) were captured in infamy. They were dancing on the tables, posing with roses between their teeth, getting up close and personal with the twenty-somethings. Thank goodness, I seemed to be the photographer and remained (upright) on the floor, escaping with nothing worse than a terrible hangover…and a healthy respect for the agave nectar.

Tequila Facts from JoseCuervo.com:

Fact #1  Was there really a person named Jose Cuervo?  Yes. Jose Antonio de Cuervo was the first Tequila producer, obtaining the land from the King of Spain in 1758, before Mexico became an independent republic. In 1795, Jose María Guadalupe de Cuervo made the very first Vino Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo when he received the first official permit from the King of Spain to produce Tequila commercially

Fact #2  Who was the first producer of Tequila in the world?  Jose Cuervo, of course, since 1795.

Fact #3  Where is Jose Cuervo Tequila really made?  All Jose Cuervo Tequila is made in the central Mexican town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. According to the DOT (Declaration for the Protection of the Denomination of Origin—this is the Mexican law that oversees the protection of Tequila), only alcoholic beverages made with Blue Agave or agave azul (Agave Tequilana Weber blue variety) grown in the states of Jalisco,Michoacan, Nayarit, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas can be labeled as Tequila. No agave grown outside this region, including other countries, can be used for any product labeled as “Tequila.”

Fact #4  What is Tequila made from?  Real Tequila is made from a plant called Blue Agave. Only the Agave Azul Tequilana Weber variety (Blue Agave) can be used for Tequila. Classified by German botanist F. Weber in 1905, the Blue Agave is commonly mistaken for a cactus, but it is really a relative of the lily (amaryllis) family. Blue Agave is sometimes known as maguey, mexic, pita and teometl.

Fact #5  How long does it take for an agave plant to reach maturity?  Blue agave can take anywhere from 6 to 12 years to mature. This is when the Agave reach their peak in sugars and will yield the most Tequila. The plant is used entirely once and then more agave must be planted to continue the production process.

Fact #6  Is Tequila mezcal?  No. They are often confused, but they’re really not the same at all. For example, Tequila can only be made from the Blue Agave, grown in specified regions of Jalisco, while mezcal can be made from many different varieties of agave such as Mano Larga, Espadin, etc..Tequila is always double-distilled, while mezcal is generally distilled once.

Fact #7  Why is there a worm in my Tequila bottle?  THERE ISN’T. What you have is not a bottle of Tequila. The worm is found only in certain bottles of mezcal. The worm is nothing but a marketing gimmick!

Fact #8  What is a piña?  The piña (Spanish word for pineapple) is the heart of the agave from which sugars are extracted and Tequila is made. The word piña is used because once harvested, the heart of the plant resembles a pineapple.

Fact #9  What is the secret to great Tequila?  Experience, handcraftsmanship and recipes that have been handed down generation through generation. Jose Cuervo has been making Tequila the same way for over 250 years. Carefully choosing the best agaves, meticulous fermentation and distillation, and final processing result in the world’s finest Tequila.

Fact #10  Why is Tequila stronger than other spirits?  It isn’t. Jose Cuervo produces at 38% to 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), just like most spirits. Tequila, however, has a unique flavor and is frequently consumed straight as a shot. This intense taste experience may be what leads people to mistakenly think that Tequila is “stronger.”

Fact #11  Which Jose Cuervo products are gluten-free?  Being straight distilled spirits, all Jose Cuervo Tequilas are gluten free. In addition, Jose Cuervo Authentic Cuervo Margaritas, Margarita Minis, and Golden Margaritas are also gluten-free.

Fact #12  What does “añejo” mean?  Translated from Spanish, “añejo” means “aged.” In Tequila terms, “añejo” is the designation for Tequila that has been aged in oak barrels for at least one year.

Fact #13  What does “reposado” mean?  Reposado means “rested.” Tequila must be “rested” in wood barrels, for a minimum of two months. This is a requirement of the Mexican government. The “resting” mellows and refines the Tequila, producing a combination of superb smoothness and great taste.

Fact #14  What are Normas?  Normas are the standards set by the Mexican government, specifying what Tequila is and how it must be made. Each bottle of real Tequila must have a NOM (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas) 4-digit number on the bottle. This number indicates the distillery where the Tequila is made. Jose Cuervo’s NOM numbers are 1104 and 1122.

Fact #15  Which Tequilas are real Mexican Tequilas?  Real Tequila can only be produced in five very specific regions in Mexico. Tequila received a Designation of Origin (appellation de controlee) in 1997. It’s the same as an appellation for Bordeaux, Bourbon or Cognac. The Mexican federal government has established strict requirements governing Tequila production.

via Jose Cuervo.

Toast birthday girl Amelia Earhart with a tequila cocktail – just be sure NOT to celebrate National Drive-Thru Day after so imbibing.

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July 15 – Return of the Twinkies!

Box of Twinkies

English: Ding Dong

Twinkie

Twinkies are back! Not just back, but storming store shelves today. Hostess plans an initial roll-out of 50 MILLION creme-filled sponge cake wonders just for this week alone. The company has designated this “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” Some of you may have already scored a hit, as Wal-Mart stores had early access.

It was mid-November when the sweet hit the fan – radio stations broadcast the dire news that Hostess was shutting down operations. Like any rational adult, I made a mad dash to my local Hostess outlet store – just in time to see a crotchety, older man snatch the last box of ho-ho’s (I admit to thinking, for just a split second, that perhaps a Jerry-Seinfeld-marble-rye-snatch-and-run was in order. However, with a checkout line of 40+ people, the getaway was challenging…I mean, that of course such action was completely out of line. Following my momentary lapse of conscience, I admitted defeat – proceeding to check all retail establishments along the way home, searching for the elusive blue and white boxes. I searched the aisles, looking behind other brands’ snack cakes, in case someone had squirreled away a package of the good stuff. Not a single fruit pie was to be found. When I returned home, I spied all the postings on e-Bay. Twinkies were suddenly worth their weight in gold. Now, truth be told, I am more of a Ding Dong fan (oh, the chocolate enrobed ring of snack cake perfection), and the coconut-coated Snowballs, but I had become quite attached to the chocolate-filled Twinkie (slightly less calories than my beloved Ding Dongs). It was hard to believe that they were all gone, and I fielded more than a few calls from fellow mourners that day. We consoled each other with the belief that a brand as nostalgic as Twinkies couldn’t be gone forever. They were the stuff of legends, after all, the food that had a gazillion-year shelf life, and could stock yesterday’s bomb shelters and today’s go-bags to sweeten any apocalypse.

This past May, we made our annual trek to Hilton Head, SC. However, we wondered if our traditional stop at Street Meet was in jeopardy. This little gem turns out the most delicious dessert of a fried Twinkie ala mode. Although this definitely is not allowed in my diet (I know it is supposed to be a lifestyle change, but any deprivation of such calorie-laden delights must be a diet), I make an exception for this dish. Of course, I split it, so I’m sure there are hardly any calories (let alone fat grams) in my portion. Thank goodness, the restaurant had amassed a stockpile of Twinkies large enough to carry them through to the return of the Twinkies. As always, the deep-fried golden sponge cake (with its light, crispy batter on the outside to contrast against that airy cake and dreamy, creamy filling, all sopping up the melting ice cream) was incredible. By this time, the news was out that Twinkies would indeed return, so the dessert was extra sweet.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Hostess plans to roll out additional products, aimed at today’s market (smaller portions, lower calories) along with its historic favorites. Also, expect to see Twinkies and their cousins in many new environments, from hotels, to cruise ships, to movie theaters. And, still at Street Meet, I hope!

To celebrate, you may want to try a Twinkie fry yourself. Food.com has a recipe – I haven’t tried it….yet. I’m pretty sure a nice glass of Prosecco would pair perfectly with either the fried or original version. To add to the nostalgic pleasure, watch Twinkie the Kid (below, circa 1985), as he interviews kids to solve the mystery of the creamy middle.

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