NATIONAL ONION RING DAY – If I were offered the choice between french fries and onion rings, I would likely choose the onion rings!
I love onions … raw, sautéd, fried and even soaked in vinegar. We always had lots of onions in our house when I was growing up. My father would eat them like apples.
Every fall, Dad would buy a huge bushel of Spanish onions to last throughout the winter. He would use panty hose to store them.
First, he would put one onion in the toe of the stocking and then he would knot it tightly so the onion was tightly encased by the nylon. Then, he would drop another onion in the leg of the hose and knot it again, repeating until the stocking was filled with onions.
Using a staple gun, Dad would attach the onion string to the wooden ceiling joists in a storage room in our basement. When he wanted an onion, he would use scissors to cut the bottom-most onion from the hanging string. It was quite the sight but truly genius.
I have not continued this tradition but my family and I all love onions. We cook with them often. One of our favourite onion recipes is onion strings. When we have our annual Fundue (fondue for diehards), we devote one pot of hot oil just for the onions.
We thinly slice them using a mandoline, soak them in water and milk for several hours, drain and dredge in seasoned flour, and fry in the oil. They are FANTASTIC and barely hit the plate before they are gone!
They may not be classic onion rings but they are equally as yummy. If offered the choice today, go for the onion rings.
SUMMER BEGINS – Often described as the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solistice is technically not any longer than any other day of the year. It does, however, have more daylight than any other day of the year. It beats yesterday’s cumulative daylight time by less than a second. Tomorrow will be four seconds shorter.
My parents were engaged on December 21st, the first day of winter and they were married on June 21st, the first day of summer.
Dad, ever the romantic, said that he wanted to be married on the longest day of the year because he wanted that day to last forever. Ironically, my brother and I were both born on the 21st of different months.
Following my birth, my father gave my mother a red rose every 21st of every month for twenty-five years. On the 21st of Juhe, he gave her a dozen red roses. He never missed a month in all that time.
The first day is summer means many things to many people but for me it brings to mind red roses.
NATIONAL VANILLA MILKSHAKE DAY – I rarely drink milkshakes but if I were to order one, it would be vanilla. I wonder if, with the advent of fancy drinks like ice caps and lattes, the milkshake has taken a hit in popularity. I sincerely hope that it survives lactose intolerance and the nut milk craze because milkshakes are iconic.
My husband likes chocolate and thinks I am crazy to prefer vanilla but it has always been my favourite. I also prefer vanilla ice cream and vanilla Girl Guide cookies.
There are many great milkshakes in the world but the best are homemade. I have my grandmother’s milkshake maker. It is a green appliance with a large metal cup and weighs a ton. When I was a teen, my dad would make occasionally make milkshakes with milk and vanilla ice cream. They were delicious!
I have not used this contraption in several years but I think it is time to change that and enjoy a lovely, cold beverage.
NATIONAL MARTINI DAY – A true Martini is technically gin and vermouth with either a twist of lemon or an olive. The ratio of gin to vermouth varies according to historical accounts but there is one thing that is common in all martinis … pure alcohol.
“Shaken, not stirred” is one of the most famous quotes from James Bond but did you know that the proper name for a shaken Martini is a Bradford? True afficiandos of the Martini claim that they should always be stirred. Can one bruise a Martini by shaking it?
There are many cocktails these days that have “tini” added onto the end but they share little with the original Martini other than the iconic glass.
I don’t know if I have ever had a real or even dirty Martini. I have had designer versions like the Appletini and Chocolate Martini. I think it might be time to experience the real thing!!
NATIONAL GO FISHING DAY – Unless you live under a rock, you already know that it’s Father’s Day. It is the day that we celebrate the men in our lives whether is be our father, our children’s father or any other father for that matter.
My father passed away nearly 10 years ago. I will always miss him and wish that I could hear his stories just one more time.
When I was a teen, we built a family cottage. It was on an island in large Lake Simcoe. We had to travel by boat in summer and by snowmobile in winter to reach the cottage. For me, the prospect of crossing a frozen lake is as exciting as braving the rough waters in a boat. I love it all!
Dad was an avid fisherman and took us out fishing in the boat quite often but it was ice fishing that I really loved.
Our fish hut was several miles past our island and he would wake us at four or five in the morning to head there in the dark cold to catch some trout and whitefish.
I loved sitting on the hard wooden bench with my dad while we watching the ice fishing sticks. We would drink thick dark coffee that he brewed on the little propane heater and count down the hours until we could dig into mom’s fantastic egg salad sandwiches.
I have always said that my best conversations with my dad were either over a jigsaw puzzle or in a fish hut.
NATIONAL STEWART’S ROOT BEER DAY – I was fully intending to celebrate Eat Your Vegetables Day but unknowingly celebrated Stewart’s Root Beer Day at a friend’s backyard bbq / lobster party today.
We were gathering for an early Father’s Day feast and had eaten a silly amount of food. My husband grabbed a dark brown glass bottle of root beer after dinner. I looked at the label and noted the name Stewart’s and the rest is history!
My father was a huge fan of root beer but mostly in float form. He even had his own very tall float glass with a matching spoon. He would put several scoops of vanilla ice cream into the glass and then pour in the root beer. What a lovely memory of both root beer and my father (whose middle name was Stuart!).
NATIONAL SMILE POWER DAY – When I said the word SMILE to myself, the tune and lyrics to Charlie Chaplin’s song with the same name instantly began playing in my head.
I am a HUGE believer in the power of a smile. I do believe that if people smiled more, we would live in a friendlier and more connected world. Naive as that may seem, I have noticed over and over the power of a sincere smile.
Most people have a resting bitch face. Some people’s expressions are neutral but others are actually frightening. You know those people.
A smile, even the tiniest of one, can change a face from disconcerting to welcoming in an instant.
When I was in an African Hand-Drumming band, we had upwards of a dozen drummers at any given time. One of our more advanced drummers was named Allan. When we performed, he never smiled but rather looked forward with little expression. Our leader Ron once told him that he looked mean. It was hilarious and true.
I became the Smile Captain in the group. I would smile maniacally at the various drummers to remind them to look as though they were actually enjoying themselves.
Smile at someone you don’t know everyday and see how different you feel. Who couldn’t use a little connection?
NATIONAL STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE DAY – Strawberries are ripe for the picking in Ontario which means one thing; strawberry shortcake is officially in season! (actually it means two things; strawberry shortcake and homemade strawberry jam are being enjoyed but today is all about the shortcake).
My mother served strawberry shortcake for dessert in June every year. She would slice angel food cake into thick pieces, drizzle with her sweetened strawberry mush and top with whipped cream. FANTASTIC!
Last year, I learned that many people prefer their strawberry sauce on a biscuit rather than sponge cake. How did I not know this? Apparently everyone else knew about this but me (and clearly my mom).
I tried the biscuit version of this dessert but can honestly say that I found it to be heavy. Angel food cake is light and melts in my mouth so I am going to stick with my mom’s recipe for this strawberry season.
NATIONAL SEWING MACHINE DAY – Although I do own a sewing machine, I would never consider myself a sewer. Home economics in Grades 7 through 9 did certainly teach me some skills but, alas, sewing more than a straight line is not one of them.
I have made my share of flannel pajama bottoms and curtains but when it comes to clothing, I just do not have the patience. I have the “it’ll be good enough” mentality when sitting at the machine. It truly isn’t good enough in the end and I am ok with that.
My mother, on the other hand, was a fantastic sewer. She made many of my clothes, including my prom dress. She also made a dress for my high school commencement … it fit perfectly when I returned home from university.
My mom’s Singer sewing machine is at least 50 years old and is very basic. I have peeked at a few of my friends’ electronic sewing machines. I wouldn’t even know where to start! I would be happy if it auto-threaded that darn needle.
Here’s to the sewing machine and all the mad skills of great sewers of the world!
NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE DAY – When I was in grade 2, Miss Buffett put together a booklet of all of her students’ favourite recipes. My chosen recipe was my Mom’s Peanut Butter cookies. She made them regularly and put the standard fork cross pattern in them.
As these recipe booklets were made in the late 1960s, making copies of each kid’s recipe was quite an undertaking. There were no computers or photocopy machines in the schools at that time.
The printer was known as a spirit duplicator but everyone called it a ditto machine. The ink colour was most often purple and the freshly printed page smelled of the isoproponal/methanol duplicating fluid.
I can almost conjure up that smell right now but I’d rather smell peanut butter cookies.
I still have my recipe page written in Mom’s writing so it’s time to fire up the oven.