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Be Thankful

Today is National Bavarian Cream Pie Day. Melt a decadent and allow to chill; fold in whipped cream -please, use the real stuff- and then fill a graham cracker pie crust, or shell of choice. Chill again and enjoy.

Is the origin Bavarian? How does a rich cream pie get that name? Bavaria is a region in SE Germany in the area around Munich and Nuremberg. It borders Austria, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The area is well known for their beer consumption, especially during Oktoberfest.

But a cream pie? That’s odd. How did this prosperous region in Germany, known for lederhosen, dirndl and beer become synonymous with cream pie? It seemed bizarre to me that I couldn’t find any information on the origin of this dessert. And to make it even more confusing, when I looked up recipes for this dessert I found some that used chocolate and some that didn’t, but I think a true Bavarian Cream is simply a rich custard chilled in a shell and topped with chocolate curls. Add chocolate and you get a Chocolate Cream Pie.

So any way it rolls, and it likely is one of those dishes that is totally open to interpretation, I am thankful today that I am not a stickler for such details, and that I can make a short and simple post about the true meaning of this holiday.

Thanksgiving is quickly becoming one of my favorite excuses to cook. Like I need one, right? But when I haul my huge 22# turkey onto the grill in a few hours and smell the cherry wood smoke that billows out of it as it cooks, I get a little giddy. When I catch a whiff of the yams as they bake in the oven, or see the pillowy mounds of potato, the golden roasted carrots and the richly colored cranberries, it all serves to remind me that I have so much and am blessed with such abundance, and I don’t always make the time to remember what that is, and for that I need to be a lot more careful. Nothing is promised in this world, and given the current state of the economy, it teeters ever more precariously than ever before. We are healthy and strong and we manage- sometimes with a lot of prayer but we manage- and when I swiped my debit card at the grocer and packed up my bounty, I said a prayer of thanks for the fact that, for one more year, I can enjoy the harvest (figuratively….) and sit down to the repast that speaks of all the work that’s been done this year. My husband works so hard for us and I am so thankful that his business is prosperous and his hands are full, sometimes too full but he manages the best he can. I’m very thankful for the opportunities I have had this past year to utilize my skills and look forward to where that will take me. Our son is very healthy and strong, he’s really doing well in his first year of high school and he’s happy with life. Our families- God has blessed us so abundantly in that regard- our wonderful, loving and generous families continue to bring us so much joy and laughter. There is a lot going on in the next month with them and I look forward to it all.

So be thankful for a moment, whether your life is exactly where you feel it should be or you seem a little off track, take a moment and just say ‘Thank You’- for the fact that you can see, draw in a deep breath, and hear your heart beating.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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cashewsIt’s National Cashew Day. Today will be informative, but brief.

The cashew is a tree in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae, and it’s native to northeastern Brazil. The name derives from the Portugese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from an indigenous name, acajú, so it’s a derivative of a derivative. In Indonesia it’s named  “Jambu Monyet”, because the cashewnut apparently looks like a monkey hanging on something. The tree is now cultivated in many regions where there is sufficient warmth and humidity for proper growth. Vietnam, NIgeria, India and Brazil produce 90% of the world’s crop of cashews.

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The actually nut produced from the tree is a secondary fruit that forms at the end of the cashew apple, known as a pseudofruit, a thin skinned fruit also known as a maranon. The pulp is sweet and juicy but the skin of the fruit breaks easily making  it unsuitable for transport. The single seed is grown inside a double shell that contains the same potent skin toxin as poison ivy and often creates an allergic reaction in some to the cashew. Although we see it as a nut, a cashew is really a seed.

Cashews are rich in copper, magnesium and zinc- all containing antioxidant properties, but a serving of 18 nuts has 12 grams of fat containing 2.5 grams saturated. Yes, they are delicious and decadent. This is one of those items where the phrase ‘Everything in moderation’ really does apply. They figure prominently in Thai and Chinese cuisine, and are primarily ground for sauces in Indian cuisine. They can be used in a vegan diet as a substitute for cheese.

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{{{ photo courtesies: The Nut Factory (top), Wikipedia (center) Information from this post found on Wiki }}}

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More than a little excited….

Today is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day, and Celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Could any two culinary items be less alike??

Since I first began planning my foray into NaBloPoMo in early October, I have had my eye excitedly on November 20th, and really, the whole month in general because not only do we celebrate fudge today, I will honor the month of November as- ZOMG squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee– National PEANUT BUTTER LOVER’S Month!

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Hi, my name is Kate and I am a peanut butter-a-holic. Shamelessly. I am so blissfully addicted to the stuff that the very mention of a low quantity in the container is enough to send me into sort of a panic mode, slipping into my shoes with determination to get to the nearest store and replenish our supply. A day does not go by that I don’t consume peanut butter – whether on toast or some other form of transportation to my mouth- and I couldn’t be happier for it. This has been my life ever since I can remember.

And I’m not a Jif or Skippy girl by any means. For me, it’s Real or it’s Parker Farms and I don’t even care that I have shockingly witnessed first-hand the near catastrophic rise on the price tag of my one-and-only pantry staple that never runs out, I will never quit buying it. I even love an occasional indulgence in the gourmet aspect of it too.

There’s a website for people like me where even Olympic champions like Greg Louganis extol the virtues of peanut butter. It’s found in nearly 75% of homes in America, and as a food, surely you could do worse than to indulge in pureed peanuts with salt. Peanut butter contains high levels of monosaturated fat and resveratrol which protect against heart disease. It provides protein, Vitamins B3 (Niacin) and E, fiber, magnesium and folate along with antioxidants.

We even have a cat who loves peanut butter. See??? And apparently, I’m not the only one who seemingly loves the stuff and almost wants to wear it, it’s so good. The history of it is pretty interesting too.

My favorite item to mix with peanut butter has to be chocolate, although I’ve been known to press green olives on a peanut butter sandwich, spread it on a banana, eat it with bacon and drizzle it over ice cream. The classic Reese’s commercial of two people accidentally introducing one’s chocolate into one’s peanut butter stays stuck in my mind; it’s a match made in heaven. So is a thick and chewy chunk of fudge rippled in peanut butter goodness. I enjoy a hunk of fudge here and there but for the most part it’s awfully sweet for my taste, and if it’s ever grainy then I want nothing to do with it. A pure peanut butter version can be found here, so if you are so inclined.

And swerving completely away from food, the third Thursday in November is well known in the wine world as the release of Beaujolais Nouveau. This light and often fruity wine is produced in a quick fashion and makes a light red wine that is simple to drink, seeming more like a white than a heavy, tannic red. It’s meant to be consumed immediately; Beaujolais Nouveau is not made to be aged or kept at all, and in fact, should you find it after the holidays it generally isn’t worth purchasing. Beaujolais Nouveau is about the celebration; it’s release is closely guarded until midnight of the big day when celebrations around the world begin with the popping of the first cork. Ideally in the wine world, a wine that is released between it’s harvest and a date in the Spring is normally called a Primeur; one that is released between it’s harvest date and the next harvest date is typically a Nouveau.

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Whether or not it has the proper moniker, wine lovers go a little wild over the yearly release. I’m all right with a glass or two of it but I don’t rush out to buy a bottle as it’s just a bit too light and fluffy for my tastes. I love a good bold red and BN just doesn’t cut it. The idea that it is divine with your Thanksgiving meal is somewhat of a myth too; the wine is too fruity to be a perfect match, and the timing of the release has given rise to the belief that it’s perfect with turkey. Personally, a good earthy Pinot Noir is my ideal match for the bird.

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There’s 10 days to go for NaBloPoMo this year and some really great stuff is coming down the pipe. Stay tuned!!

{{{peanut butter photo courtesy of SlashFood, Beaujolais Nouveau photo courtesy of the Washingtonian}}}

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It’s National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day. Talk about ridiculous. Call it Pop, call it Soda or simply just call it what it is- garbage disguised as sugary, calorie laden liquid. I can’t even imagine anything worse to put in your body.

*taking a deep breath* Ok, now would you like to know how I really feel about it? Sorry for the rant.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that I have never been much of a pop-a-holic. Sure it’s OK once in a while- I mean, nothing tastes quite like a Diet Coke over ice that has been liberally doused with fresh squeezed lime juice and when I was first pregnant with the Little Carnivore, and mind you had not drank a soda in like a million and one years, I craved Coca Cola over ice to a near fatal extent and was at a point where I wanted to literally gnaw my arm off in exchange for one. I tell you, those pregnancy cravings are something else. And that first sip, ever, of that first Coke over ice made that little zygote residing deep inside me so darn happy, quelling the intense craving and I was saved, thank God. At least for a while, you know….until I had to have the next one.

No wonder my now 14yo teenager has such a sweet tooth.

ANYWAY……gosh, could I get any further off track? That soda craving never took hold once my son joined the world and although I indulge here and there, especially enjoying a Diet Cherry Coke now and then, I simply don’t get the current craze of Rockstar, Red Bull, Bawls (what the…??) Envigo or the really intense hair-pulling I think of when I see bottled water with caffeine. And what’s worse is that these beverages are ridiculously popular. Coffee consumption has spiked to new highs in our society, leaving no other conclusion than the fact that we, as Americans, are absolutely and ridiculously addicted to caffeine.

Now I am a coffee drinker, and I am sipping on a delightful mug of java as I write this, so I am not one to point a finger at another’s addiction. I’m all there on it too. But in coffee, not carbonation. I’ve tried several of the new-fangled “energy” drinks and found them disgustingly sweet and yucky. I think Red Bull tastes like liquid Sweet Tarts, which I never liked anyway, and Rockstar is no better. But there is a market for these, and given the sheer number of people I see clutching an “energy” drink in their tight fists, apparently it’s not going away any time soon. It makes me wonder though- do people really like the stuff, or are they conforming to something popular? I can recall watching a group of teenage girls one day, each one gripping a can of Red Bull, and noticing that none of them ever took a sip of the drink. They just carried it like some badge of honor. It leads me to wonder; is caffeine trendy?

Shouldn’t we be more careful of the potential side effects of too much caffeine????

What ever your poison, enjoy the day. It’s a holiday after all and count me in as one of the addicted. I love my coffee and have indulged in it daily since I was a teenager. I’ll never quit drinking it.

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From zambezihoney.com, this 1# jar of honey cost $9.95. It’s amazing honey, rich and sweet but not cloying, with an almost smoky taste and fruity finish. It’s organic, raw and naturally created in a sustainable method, derived from a specific honeybee found along the Zambia river that feeds exclusively on the nectar of flowering trees. A few clicks of the mouse and it was at my doorstep. I don’t know if it’s sold at stores in the USA. It is way better than any honey I have ever tasted. This is what honey should taste like.

The Fruit Crisps are another product available on the ‘net (crispygreen.com), and again, I am not sure if they are in stores anywhere. I would guess natural food/co-ops etc. would be the place to look. It is all natural, freeze dried fruit that retains all it’s nutritional value. It comes in a 6-pack at $7.99, each individual pouch has about 1 cup worth of fruit in it, 35 calories per individual pouch and no fat. I bought a six-pack of peaches and apples, and was sent a sample of pineapple and apricot free of charge! Bonus! They are crisp little pieces and flavor-wise it’s a great treat. The apple were very light in flavor, similar to what we have dried in our dehydrator. I thought the apricot were somewhat tangy, Mike said they had the taste of sulphur in them but I didn’t get that when I ate them. The peach and pineapple were my favorites; the peach were fantastic, way better than the traditionally dried pieces I have bought. Light and very peach-y. The pineapple were excellent, really really flavorful and they still gave me that kind of tingly feeling in the mouth that fresh pineapple does, the chemical bromelain in the pineapple is what causes that- a natural sedative, sort of. (And something good as a natural defense against mouth pain from dental work. So next time you’re getting a cavity filled, tooth pulled or some other work, eat pineapple or drink the juice before and after. Trust me, from experience I know) OK, enough of that! The texture of the fruit was really interesting; crispy and light, you could hold it in your mouth and it simply collapses, somewhat like popcorn does. This is a great snack, a good, healthy alternative.

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