Archive | TODAY’S TRIVIA

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico. In the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

The day is celebrated in the state of  Puebla with parades, speeches, and reenactments of the 1862 battle. In the mid-20th-century U.S., the celebration of Cinco de Mayo became among Mexican immigrants a way of encouraging pride in their Mexican heritage.

Cinco de Mayo is not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which falls on September 16. The latter holiday was established in 1810, some 50 years before the Battle of Puebla occurred.

 

PERFECT MARGARITA

It’s generally agreed that the components of a classic margarita are tequila, Cointreau is a brand of triple sec (an orange-flavoured liqueur) produced in France and fresh lime juice. But how much of each? The secret is proportions; balance accounts for the difference between a good drink and a bad one.

For one drink

1 1/2 oz. tequila (100% agave a must)
1 1/2 oz.  Cointreau
1 to 1 1/4 oz. of lime juice
Salt for the rim of the glass

Shake all the ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker until the exterior frosts. Strain into a glass over rocks, into a cocktail glass. A slice of lime as a garnish, while not necessary, adds a nice touch

 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

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Happy Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)

 

Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” and is celebrated on the day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday is the last day of indulging for Catholics before Lent begins. Mardi Gras is the final day of Carnival, a celebration which begins on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.


Mardi Gras is observed in cities around the world, but the biggest and most famous Mardi Gras celebration in the United States takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana.  With big celebrations come great foods, such as beignets.  Beignets, in French literally means, “Bump.”  I can’t help but think of Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther Moveies  saying, “Bimp.”  Beignets are fried yeast dough squares, yum, which are then sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. In the U.S., beignets are associated with the city of New Orleans, where they are served at all cafes. These beignets are also the state doughnut of Louisiana. Must be wonderful to live in a state where you have a state doughnut! Here’s the recipe I have and will be serving my gang…

 

New Orleans Sweet Beignets                                                
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

1 envelope active dry yeast

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 cups flour, plus extra for work surface, divided

1 cup whole milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large egg, at room temperature

Peanut or vegetable oil for deep-frying

At least 2 cups powdered sugar for dusting
1. In a small bowl, combine one-fourth cup warm water and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture. Let sit 5 to 6 minutes; if the yeast is not absorbed, stir lightly until the mixture is creamy.

2. Combine the remaining one-half cup sugar, salt and 3 cups of the flour in a large bowl with a whisk, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

3. Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over low heat just until the butter is melted.

4. If you are using a standing mixer, swap out the whisk attachment for the dough hook. In a slow, steady stream, mix the milk mixture into the sugar-salt-flour mixture. If mixing by hand, stir with a fork or wooden spoon. Add the egg, the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 cup of flour. Mix until a soft dough forms (you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot until the dough doubles, 1 to 2 hours.

5. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven until the temperature reaches about 370 degrees.

6. Divide the dough into thirds. Working in batches on a floured work surface, knead each piece briefly. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle less than one-fourth-inch thick. Cut the dough into roughly 3-inch squares and gently drop them, 2 or 3 at a time, into the hot oil. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, then flip them over carefully with a slotted spoon. Cook 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer, until the beignets are puffed and evenly browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beignets to paper towels to drain off excess oil. Dust with powdered sugar and serve hot or warm.

Embrace the day,

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February 23: Banana Bread Day

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The addition of mashed, ripe bananas to a cake-like batter is what gives banana bread its distinctive taste and moistness. What better opportunity to enjoy a slice with a cup of tea or coffee than on Banana Bread Day?

Banana bread first started to become popular back in the 1930’s, during the Great Depression. Cultural historians suggest that resourceful and creative housewives of the era created the recipe as a way of not wasting over-ripe bananas. In fact, the riper the bananas, the better the taste of the banana bread, so it ended up being a very clever creation! It is traditionally known as a “quick bread”, but is actually more like a cake in both texture and flavor.

Extremely easy to make, banana bread is still a favorite way to quickly bake up a special treat for the family. Modern-day breads also include the addition of chocolate chips, nuts, or even dried fruit. Why not experiment and come up with a bespoke banana bread recipe that everyone will love?

BANANA BREAD RECIPE

IngredientsBananaBread
1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
 
Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.dashed-blog-divider
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February 7: Send A Card Day

Everyone loves and appreciates their friends, and we all just assume that they know how much we care and that we are always thinking about them. Sadly, many of our friends will experience loneliness and feel under appreciated from time to time. That’s just how life goes. That’s why Send a Card to a Friend Day exists, and why year after year it is so popular!

A small gesture that we may not think make any difference could actually make our friends’ day. All it takes is a cute little card with a nice personal message in it to put a smile on their face. This could be an e-card that you send to them online, a store bought card, or better yet, a home made one that oozes thoughtfulness, ideal for your extra special besties. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on celebrating your friendships on this special day!

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February 4: Homemade Soup Day

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BIG, oops! Forgot to post this on Saturday!

Soup is a common meal in many countries and probably dates back to the invention of the earliest cooking pots. Today it’s easy to open a can and heat some premade soup, but soup is even better when it’s made at home. Soup is easy, cheap and usually quick to make and can be stuffed full of healthy vegetables. When better to enjoy a delicious bowl of soup than Homemade Soup Day?

The origins of Homemade Soup Day are lost in time but you don’t need to know how it started to celebrate the day. Certain soups are traditional to particular areas, such as Borsht in Eastern Europe or the well-known Italian soup, Minestrone. Unusually, the famous Spanish dish Gazpacho, is generally eaten cold, making it perfect for summer.

The internet is full of recipes for soup so find one you like the sound of and get cooking! Below is my Chicken Gumbo Soup Recipe.

CHICKEN GUMBO SOUP  
3 tbsp. butterchicken-gumbo-soup
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 c. cooked or canned okra
1 1/2 qt. chicken stock (can use canned broth]
1 (16 oz.) can tomatoes, chopped
1 sm. bay leaf
1 tbsp. parsley, minced
1 c. leftover chicken, chopped
 
Melt butter in saucepan. Saute onion and green pepper until golden; add okra. Stir in chicken stock, cooked tomatoes, and bay leaf. Cook over low heat, simmering gently for about 45 minutes. Season to taste. About 15 minutes before serving add minced parsley and cooked chicken. Serves 4-6.

Thanks for stopping by,

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January 28: Year of the Rooster

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People born in the Year of Rooster according to Chinese zodiac have many excellent characteristics, such as being honest, bright, communicative and ambitious. Most of them are born pretty or handsome, and prefer to dress up. In daily life, they seldom rely on others. However, they might be enthusiastic about something quickly, but soon be impassive. Thus, they need to have enough faiths and patience to insist on one thing.

  • Strengths
    Independent, capable, warm-hearted, self-respect, quick minded
  • Weaknesses
    Impatient, critical, eccentric, narrow-minded, selfish

This is the most important holiday in China – like Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving combined. It has been celebrated for over 4000 years.  The actual date is not fixed because China used a lunar (moon-based) calendar. It’s on the first day of the first moon and falls between January 21 and  February 19. The exact date used to be announced by the Emperor himself. As the Son of Heaven, only the Emperor had the right to set the calendar. It was a major event because farmers planted their crops according to the Emperor’s calendar. If the calendar was correctly set and the growing season was successful, there would be plenty of food.

Chinese families spent weeks getting ready for New Year. They would clean house, pay bills, bathe, have their hair cut and put on new clothes, usually red in colour. In the old days, many poor people could afford to eat meat only once a year. They would save their copper coins and go hungry the rest of the year for this special occasion. The main meal was eaten at a round table. If someone was absent, a place would be set for him anyway in front of an empty chair.

chinese-foodThe holiday is celebrated in much the same way now. Special foods include rice cakes, pork, noodles, fish  and dumplings stuffed with chives and pork. There is a special dessert called Eight Treasure Pudding which signifies family union. It is made with sticky rice, lotus seeds, red dates, dried candied fruits and red bean paste. In the afternoon, people visit family and friends and exchange gifts. Children are given lucky money in red envelopes.

On the streets there may be a lion dance or a dragon parade, accompanied by beating drums, cymbals, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, and musicians. Firecrackers are supposed to scare away evil spirits. In the evenings, colourful lanterns dot the storefronts and fireworks light up the sky.

Chinese New Year celebrates family and friends, and symbolizes good luck and a new beginning. It is the most important holiday in China.

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CHINESE ZODIAC

Chinese Zodiac relates each calendar year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year cycle. The twelve animals are the following: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse. Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.  Legend has it the twelve animals were chosen by Buddha.

 

So, go and treat yourdelf to some Chinese food today to celebrate Chinese New Year. Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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January 27: Chocolate Cake Day

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Before you is the ultimate in birthday confections, a rich and luxurious chocolate cake with rich Raspberry filling, you know it’s going to be a good day. Maybe you’re just coming into work, and some thoughtful soul has laid out a tray of chocolate cupcakes, each with their own design and one waiting for your mouth to wrap lovingly around it and fade away on a cocoa fueled holiday. However you like your chocolate cake, Chocolate Cake Day gives you an excuse to indulge as deeply as you’d like!

History of Chocolate Cake Day
Chocolate cake has been with us just over 150 years, having first come on the scene in 1764, when it was discovered that grinding cocoa beans between heavy stones produced cocoa powder, which could then become chocolate.

How to Celebrate Chocolate Cake Day
The way to celebrate Chocolate Cake Day is deliciously simple and perfect. Throughout your day, incorporate as many types of chocolate cake as you can! Below is one of my favorite Chocolate Cake recipes.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever} from Robyn

Chocolate Cake with decadent chocolate frosting that will quickly become your favorite!

Serves: 12
omg-chocolate-cake-7_1
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
 
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

 

For the cake:

  1. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  2. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  3. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Frost with your favorite frosting.

 Notes
The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted! xo
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January 21: Granola Bar Day

homemade-granola-recipeTo honor all those busy times when a small cereal bar helped you make it through a hectic day at work, start celebrating Granola Bar Day right away!

Nutritious, yummy granola is typically based on rolled oats full of proteins and useful fibers. It’s been an increasingly popular type of breakfast food since the 19th century, but wasn’t compressed into a snack bar before the 1970’s. There’s been a dispute on who invented granola bars, but Stanley Mason remains accredited for creating this compact form out of loose granola by pressing it. To produce a firm bar, granola is bonded with honey, butter or syrups, and it is then baked. The exception are so-called chewy granola bars which are either briefly baked or completely raw.

The biggest fans of granola bars are hikers and other outdoor sporty types whose energy depends on highly nutritious snacks. Although there are no records of how Granola Bar Day started out as a food holiday, we should keep it up to promote a healthier lifestyle. The perfect way to celebrate it is to throw a home-made granola bar party for friends

GRANOLA BAR RECIPE by Ina Gartenpumpkinchocolatechipgranolabars

Ingredients
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Directions:
Watch how to make this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.dashed-blog-divider

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January 10: Houseplant Appreciation Day

house-plants-decor-grouping-0213Houseplants are a wonderful addition to any home, adding the freshness of nature;  just a bit of the outdoors in the indoors. While some people have difficulty being able to sustain these little treasures, it has been shown to be incredibly therapeutic to have this touch of the natural world inside your home.

iron21History of Houseplant Appreciation Day
Houseplant Appreciation Day was established by The Gardener’s Network, establishing an official opportunity to remind people of the benefits of houseplants. Often with the holiday’s fading into the past, our homes lose some of their beauty and joy. This makes Houseplant Appreciation Day the perfect opportunity to brighten up the home with the sharp splash of green of a living plant. There are so many things that houseplants can help with when it comes to enhancing your life. Aloe Vera grows quite well indoors, and is perfect for minor cuts and bruises, helping to moisturize skin, and healing minor burns. A small herb garden in your window sill can bring the delicious taste of fresh herbs to your meals, while catnip can make your cats happy. Though you may want to grow those someplace they can’t get to them.

How to Celebrate Houseplant Appreciation day
Houseplant appreciation day is all about bringing the joy and pleasure of the Houseplant into your home. Whether you decide to start growing a small group of flowering plants for their color and fragrance, or a small herb garden to enhance your kitchen, Houseplant Appreciation Day is your chance to really brighten up your home. If you’ve got a brown thumb, then try some of the plants that require very little attention. Aloe Vera is very forgiving as it’s a desert plant, it will actually prefer an environment where you DON’T water it too often. Household Appreciation Day is finally time to celebrate all the little nooks and crannies in your home, by filling them with plants!

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January 5: Bird Day

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Anyone who knows me, knows I love birds. Today is Bird Day, observed primarily in the United States. Even though it’s Bird Day, it’s not a National Holiday.  For a day to technically be a National holiday, an Act of Congress is required, and there’s no evidence that has ever happened. That being said, it is popularly known as Bird Day, regardless of whatever Congress might think of that.

History of Bird Daygold-finch-1
Back in 1894, Charles Almanzo Babcock, the superintendent of schools in Oil City, Pennsylvania, declared the first holiday in the United States to celebrate birds. Babcock wanted to advance bird conservation as a moral value and it seems that his holiday caught on.  Bird Day marked the end of the annual Christmas Bird Count in the mid-21st century.

How to Celebrate Bird Day
Birds are important. Many of them sing and quite all of themare beautiful to look at. On a serious note, approximately 12 percent of the world’s bird species could face extinction in the next century. That includes nearly a third of the 330 different species of parrots. Things don’t look a lot better for numerous species of songbirds, not to mention some penguin species and others like the kiwi bird. The largest components of these threats of extinction are habitat destruction. You should celebrate the day by learning about all of the wonders of birds and educating your friends, because the survival of the world’s birds hinges on public awareness as well as support for conservation.dashed-blog-divider

 
 
 
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