NATIONAL CHOCOLATE PUDDING – This past weekend, for the first time in ages, I had chocolate pudding. But it wasn’t classic pudding … it was made with avocados and other healthy stuff. Surprisingly, it was quite delicious!
Chocolate pudding has come a long way from the parfait glass desserts that lived in the refrigerated display case in Mom and Pop restaurants.
There are so many recipes that use chocolate pudding: pudding pie, pudding-filled cupcakes, pudding pops, pudding trifle, pudding cake, pudding s’mores in a jar, and yummy sounding Mexican hot chocolate. What a versatile dessert! And the word pudding is awesome.
NATIONAL CATFISH DAY – When I was a little girl, my father took me and my brother mudcatting, a term for cat fishing commonly used by my folks. On a dark night, we travelled to nearby Lake Scugog to meet with my mother’s uncle. We climbed into his tin can (a small aluminum boat with an equally small outboard motor) and headed into a swampy bay of the lake.
Once there, we dropped our worm bobs over the side of the boat. A worm bob is a collection of worms on a string that is tied into a ball. My mom was a bit of a tomboy and had no problem making these ball o’worms with my dad. The bobs were tied to a rod and used as bait.
Mudcat, as we called them, live on the floor of the lake in the mud. They are bottom feeders and therefore have wide mouths to hoover up their food. I assume their cat-like whiskers were to avoid obstacles like a real cat. That may or may be true but that has always been my story and I am sticking to it.
Dad would put an empty bucket in the middle of the boat. There weren’t any hooks in the bobs as the catfish would just suck onto the worms. Dad would give us a quarter if we could get the fish into the boat and drop it in the bucket. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded as most times the fish would let go as soon as we got it over the edge of the boat. We were lucky if we got one or two quarters in one night.
Mudcatting was mostly exciting for me as it was late at night and we were never awake when it was really dark in the summer.
NATIONAL PRALINES DAY – I am confused. I have always believed that pralines are pecans that have been candy coated in a delicious sugary concoction. I think that I learned from Baskin Robbins’ Pralines and Cream ice cream flavour.
According to my research though, pralines wear many disguises. Belgian pralines have a hard chocolate shell with a soft centre, French pralines are almonds coated in caramelized sugar, while American pralines more resemble a softer creamy fudge with pecans or ground pecans.
The switch from almonds to pecans is said to have occurred when French chefs brought their almond recipe to the US where Pecan trees are plentiful.
No matter the recipe, pralines are delicious and should be celebrated today!
NATIONAL PINK DAY – Pink is a colour with some history!
Pink is the name of a flower, a rock star, flamingoes, pigs, and the type of slip one is given when being let go from a job. If you take hallucinogens you might see pink elephants. There are pink foods, pink drinks and pink cars.
Pink was primarily worn by boys in 19th century England but is now associated more with girls. It is the colour of innocence, femininity and tenderness.
FUN FACT: Madame de Pompadour was the mistress of King Louis XV of France in the mid 1700s. She had her very own shade of pink!
It was also the colour of my bedroom in my parents’ house. The walls were pink, the carpet was bubble gum pink and the bedspread was fushia. Although I love the colour pink, I am happy that my bedroom is no longer pink.
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!).