National Day of the Mushroom

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Today may be the greatest food holiday ever. I do not think I can begin to describe the love affair mushrooms and I have. We go through them crazy fast in the house because I’m constantly putting them in salads, stir-fries, sauteed veggie mixes, omelettes, etc. Hell, I will just saute them with some onion and garlic to stir into pasta, no sauce. I think my favorite recipe, though, is one I learned when I was prepping to go to Spain. A few friends and I had a party where we all brought Spain themed food, made our own sangria (white and red), and ninja chalked (definition: a group of slightly inebriated adults grab a box of chalk and draw ridiculous but imaginative narratives in the cover of darkness).

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Toasted Bread with Mushrooms and Alioli – Tostada de Setas y Alioli

This tapa recipe comes from a bar in Madrid. I used to jog around the Retiro and then eat these tostadas washed down with a nice cold caña! When I serve this recipe at a party, it is always the first to go!- Sonia Chan

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 20 min.

Ingredients:

4 or 5 ounces mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
1 tsp sherry wine (or a dry white wine-which is what I usually use)
Alioli (garlic mayonnaise) *recipe below
French bread, sliced into rounds

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a pan that has a cover. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms, salt and sherry. Cover, and lower heat. Cook until liquid is released from the mushrooms, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Toast bread slightly, just to dry it out a bit. Spread with alioli and top with mushrooms. Broil for about 30 seconds or until alioli starts to bubble.

Alioli

2 garlic cloves, pressed, or garlic paste (found in a tube in the refrigerated produce section of your local supermarket)
1/4 teaspoon (or more) coarse kosher salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the most part, I eyeball this. In the mayo, mix the salt, garlic, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour (the longer, the stronger the flavors). Consider adding pepper to taste (I don’t usually, but then I’m not a huge pepper fan).

World Water Day

“World Water Day is March 22nd — a day when the world turns its attention towards the 750 million people who lack access to safe water.” (source)

I’d like to urge all of you to consider your water usage today (and every day). There are a number of places you can get information about World Water Day:

National Eat Your Noodles Day

Another gem from Steff Dechenes’ Eat the Year is today’s holiday. When I saw this on the calendar, I knew I had to do a post about noodles. Noodles are one of my favorite foods. Mushrooms will always take the cake on that, followed closely by garlic. Noodles are up there, though. Pasta with marinara, buttered noodles, Chinese lo mein, Thai pad thai noodles, it’s all good. Also, ramen! Which brings me to what I wanted to share most for today’s holiday.

On one of my recent trips to Whole Foods, I came across Annie Chun’s Spring Vegetable Ramen. It’s a packet of soup base and soft-dry noodles that you can customize yourself with protein and veggies.

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The first time I made it, I had just made my snow pea and mushroom concoction the night before and had some left overs. I added those after I tried the ramen on its own. The ramen and broth are really flavorful. Without any veg or protein, it definitely doesn’t feel like a meal, so that’s something to consider when you make it. Adding the snow peas and mushrooms, plus the bit of their sauce/juice they created was a very nice addition.

I’ve made it a second time now and ventured to add a protein. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken, so I hand shredded one of the legs and added it in with yet again leftover snow peas and mushrooms (they really are good!). All in all, a really good meal. I’ve seen the ramen at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger group grocery) in the natural foods section. If I remember correctly it also comes in two other flavors, but I don’t remember what they are. I’d say they’re worth a try.

National Cereal Day

Raise your spoons with me! Thank to Eat the Year, I know that today is the day to celebrate my love of cereal! Cereal and I go way back. Like every kid, I picked out the marshmallows from Lucky Charms, listened intently to the snap, crackle and pop of Rice Krispies, and begged my mom to buy the way too sugary Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That being said, my favorite cereal for the longest time (and still in my top five favorites) was Honey Nut Cheerios. They’ve got the perfect amount of sweetness, crunch, and nuttiness. Since I’ve had to switch to dairy alternative milks-primarily soy milk-my taste in cereals have changed.

Things do taste a bit different with soy instead of dairy. I think I taste the sugar more than I did before, which can be a plus for some of the more “serious” cereals-your Raisin Bran, Chex, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes-but can kill the joy of the likes of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms. As of late, my go to is Honey Bunches of Oats (neatly abbreviated to HBOO on my grocery list-ha). It’s just serious enough for my 25 years (it’s got granola!), but still a bit irresponsibly sweet.

What’s your favorite cereal? Will you celebrate today with a bowl?

National Cabbage Day!

When I got Steff Deschenes’ Eat the Year for Christmas I went a little post-it crazy and marked up the whole book (really, the whole book) with all of the days that I wanted to write about. Today is absolutely one of them.

Cabbage is amazing. It is second to only mushrooms as my favorite veg, likely because I grew up eating a lot of cabbage. Cabbage is a staple in Russian and German cooking, which is where I find my heritage. In honor of that heritage, I will celebrate today by sharing my family recipe for halupsi (the rest of my family spells it haloopsi, in case that’s any more familiar for you). Halupsi are cabbage rolls. The name, we think, is a corruption of the Russian word “galupsi,” which is what they call their cabbage rolls. My ancestry is all German, but several of the recent generations were German nationals living in Russia before immigrating to the US (I’m third and fourth generation on my mom’s side; dad’s side goes back to almost pilgrims). The recipe sort of straddles the two cultures, but whichever it is, it is soooo good. I usually make a double batch (leftovers of this are amazing).

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  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes in the juice
  • 2 small cans of diced tomatoes in the juice
  • 1 tsp. salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola or other vegetable oil

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Soften cabbage leaves by cutting off of head and immersing in boiling water for approximately 2 to 3 minutes and then drain.  Mix the ground beef, rice, chopped onion, part of the diced tomatoes (the large can and part of 1 of the small cans) and salt and pepper together.

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Spoon the mixture into the cabbage leaves, fold the leaves around the filling.  Place in a covered roaster or large frying pan, add approx. 1/4 cup oil (I usually do this on the bottom of the pan) and the rest of the tomatoes.

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Bake in a 350º oven for 1 to 1½ hours until rice is tender (the cabbage may brown a bit, I usually cook them for about 1 hour 15 mins and they’re prefect).  Check for moisture as it is baking and add more tomatoes and juice as needed.

National Corn Chip Day

According to Eat the Year, today is National Corn Chip Day. To celebrate, I thought I’d share my family’s super simple taco salad recipe. Now, I know you’re thinking, how hard is taco salad that you have a “super simple” version. Well, this is not your ordinary taco salad. This, my friends, is the perfect mix of “I want good food” and “I’m too lazy to do anything more than dump stuff in a bowl,” i.e. big bang for your cheap college dollar. The only equipment you need is a big ass bowl and either tongs or salad servers.

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For a family of 5 (with a bit left over), in a big bowl, mix up:

  • 1 large bag American style salad mix
  • About half a bag of tortilla/corn chips (preferably broken into bite size pieces)
  • 1 can of ranch style beans, with the juice in the can
  • 1/2-3/4 can pitted black olives (to your own taste), without their brine
  • 3/4 bottle Catalina dressing
  • 1 pkg grape tomatoes (or, 2-3 diced tomatoes)

Once it’s all in there, stir and serve. Could it get easier than this?

National Irish Coffee Day

Another day from Eat the Year! I decided I had to write about National Irish Coffee Day because of my Irish friend. Okay, she’s not actually Irish, but she really should be. My friend Amber studied abroad our junior year of college in Ireland and fell in love. So deeply in love that she’s back there now getting her Masters in Creative Writing. I’m lucky Skype exists, because otherwise I don’t know what I’d do!

Now, so you don’t think I’m hijacking my food blog to brag about my awesome friend, there is a connection between her and Irish coffee besides her love of the country. Where she goes to school is in County Limerick, which just happens to also be where Irish coffee was invented!

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I thought it only appropriate to share this photo of (not my) Irish coffee and Tullamore whiskey today, especially since I’ve actually had Tullamore, thanks to Amber. Cheers, all!

National Pie Day

More from Eat the Year! Today is National Pie Day. Now that I think about it, I maybe should have saved yesterday’s post for today. Oh well. Doesn’t mean I can’t share one more photo of that pie. I’m so proud of how well it came out!

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I was hoping to share a funny thing today, but I couldn’t find my copy of it. Years ago I was at my grandparents’ house in Washington and my grandmother made a pie. It was Christmas time, and as we sat around eating it, we composed a Baker’s Prayer. It was our own irreverent version of the Lord’s Prayer. I had hoped to find the paper I wrote it down on, but it seems to have gone missing. It might be worth mentioning that my grandfather was a minister for several years, as was my grandmother’s father. We shared our “prayer” with our own pastor when we got home (to California at the time), who was thoroughly amused as well. If I find it soon, I’ll make sure to share it with you.

On a totally different note, I think I should actually talk a bit about pie on National Pie Day. My personal favorite, as much as I love apple pie, is actually Olallieberry pie. According to Wikipedia, “The olallieberry is a cross between the loganberry and the youngberry, each of which is itself a cross between blackberry and another berry (raspberry and dewberry, respectively).” It’s sweeter than your average blackberry, but not overly so. Polly’s Pies is the first and only place I’ve ever had the pie. Olallieberries have a very short season over the early summer, but if you can catch it and have a pie or just some of the berries, you’ll understand why I enjoy this pie so much.

What’s your favorite pie?

National Peking Duck Day

Maybe you remember on Christmas that I posted a picture of a book I got:

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I didn’t really explain what the book is, so let me do that now. Eat the Year, by Steff Deschenes, is a national food day catalogue based on her blog of the same name. She ate the year through celebrating various national food days.

I didn’t want to get the book because I wanted to do the same (there are too many food holidays in here that are foods I can’t eat), but rather to stimulate blog writing. Well, as it tends to do, life has gotten in the way of that lately. But I’m here to recommit! I’m not going to post the holiday every day (that’s the point of buying the book, so I won’t take away from her efforts), but I plan on noting particularly interesting days to you. Like today.

Today is National Peking Duck Day. I chose this as my first post from the book because, well, the holidays up until now haven’t been too inspiring. On the third was National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, which I could have written for with a post about how much I hate chocolate covered cherries, but really, that pretty much covers. I hate chocolate covered cherries. On the tenth was National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, for which I could have written about how I’ve come to realize why it’s important to use bittersweet chocolate in chocolate chip cookies (you really do have to change the batter recipe if you’re using a different type of chip). But really this is the first interesting (for me as a writer) eating day from the book.

I have never had Peking Duck. I have never had duck period. I have no idea why that’s the case. Chinese is my favorite type of food (next to no dairy! and plenty of noodles! Win-Win!), but I’ve never bothered to try it. So I’m making it a goal for myself, the next time I have the opportunity to try duck, I will.

Have any of you had Peking Duck? Thoughts?