National Pancake Day…Make Pancakes For Supper!

Tomorrow (March 12) is National Pancake Day, so why not celebrate this iconic food by serving it up for dinner? Give the kids a thrill from the ordinary dinner time menu and make pancakes for supper. There are many recipes out there, and Aunt Jemima makes a mix that passes the YUM test.

In my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, 11 year-old Jack takes his 4 year-old sister Katy fishing for the first time. When they catch a one-eyed fish,  Jack tells Katy it’s a magic fish that grants wishes. Read the poems to find out what this has to do with PANCAKES:

FRED
After lunch I’m ready to leave.
No fish today, let’s go, I say.

Maybe the fish don’t like worms.
Maybe they’re veterinarians, Katy says.
She means vegetarians because
she hands me a grape and says
put it on the hook, Jack, please?
Can you sit without making a sound,
quiet as a stone?
She puts a finger to her lips, Shhhhh.
I hook the grape, toss the line,
hand the rod to Katy.
Before I settle onto the grass,
the line gives a tug.
Too heavy for me, I can’t do it, Jack.
I grab the rod and pull a fish out,
a fish with one eye.
It’s Fred, I tell her.
Katy strokes Fred’s tail with a pinkie.
A special fish, I say.
Like magic special?
Katy’s two eyes as wide as Fred’s one.
Don’t know, I say.
Katy frowns, so I say,
make a wish, quick before Fred goes back.
Pancakes for supper! she wishes,
kissing Fred on the tail.
Pancakes, I agree. As I slip
Fred into the water, he seems to
wink his eye before he swims away.

TRUE
It’s true, it’s true,
Katy sings when we sit down to eat
towers of pancakes, stacked on plates,
waiting for butter and syrup.
What’s true? Mom asks.
Fred
Is
Magic.
Katy says each word
licking syrup off a spoon,
eyes closed like she is having the
best
day
ever.

As I tell them about the one-eyed
fish and Katy’s wish, can they hear
my heart banging? Do they see
the zinging jolts of electricity
running through me?
Gran smiles and says,
I woke up wondering what to cook
for supper today, and right after lunch
a little voice in my head
told me to make pancakes.
Isn’t that funny?
Funny, says Pops.
Funny, agrees Mom.

There’s something
funny
strange
weird
that makes me wonder,
did Fred the one-eyed fish
grant Katy’s wish?
And if he did,
do I
can I
why shouldn’t I
make a wish?
The only wish worth wishing.
First I need to find out
how this wishing thing works.

 

pancakes on a griddle

You don’t have to wish for pancakes. Here’s one of my favorite scratch recipes:

MULTIGRAIN PANCAKES

1/4 c FLOUR        1/4 c WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR       1/4 c OATS

1 T BROWN SUGAR        1 T WHEAT GERM              1 tsp BAKING POWDER

1 EGG, beaten               1/2 c + 2 T MILK            2 T VEGETABLE OIL

Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until moist. Pour onto greased griddle. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Happy Pancake Day!  Everyone loves pancakes, right?

squirrel pancake

 

 

 

You Choose Nachos

I don’t know about you, but this time of year, when skies are more grey than any other color, I tend to want to eat comfort food. Each of us has his own favorites, and one of mine is NACHOS.

But I’m way beyond the chips and cheese version. I add whatever I have handy and this recent version was a winner.

nachos

If you’d like to replicate the recipe, here it is:  black beans, chopped black olives, avocado chunks, tomatoes, chopped kale, shredded Asiago and cheddar cheeses.

You can add whatever you like to make a snack into a meal.  Very satisfying, and filled with vitamins, so even a comfort food snack can be good for you.  Just don’t overdo the cheese.

Celebrate National Popcorn Day! Make Popcorn Balls.

Sunday, January 19th is NATIONAL POPCORN DAY.  popcorn

Why not celebrate one of our favorite snack foods by having the kids make up some popcorn balls. Here is an easy recipe for MARSHMALLOW POPCORN BALLS taken from the I (heart) Eating website:

https://www.ihearteating.com/easy-popcorn-ball-recipe/

Ingredients

1 bag natural microwave popcorn*

1/4 cup butter

10 ounce bag mini marshmallows

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Pop popcorn according to package directions; set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, melt butter.
  • Continue cooking until butter begins to turn golden brown.
  • Add marshmallows, and stir constantly until marshmallows have melted.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.
  • Add popcorn, and fold into marshmallow mixture.
  • When mixture is cool enough to handle, lightly spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Scoop about 1 cup of the popcorn mixture and smoosh it into a ball.
  • Place on a sheet of waxed paper, parchment paper, or silicone baking mat to cool.

Notes

*Or about 9-10 cups of popped plain popcorn
**You can press candy pieces into the outside of popcorn balls.

***Nutrition values are estimates.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1popcorn ball: Calories: 131kcal (7%)Carbohydrates: 23g (8%)Fat: 4g (6%)Saturated Fat: 2g (10%)Cholesterol: 12mg (4%)Sodium: 63mg (3%)Sugar: 16g (18%)Vitamin A: 140IU (3%)Calcium: 1mgIron: 0.1mg (1%)

Popcorn balls with M&M's on the outside

More popcorn ball recipes

HAPPY POPCORN DAY!

Culinary Traditions Flavor Three Upcoming Festivities: by Marilyn Ostermiller

The week before New Year’s Day features three celebrations, punctuated by feasting, that embrace religious and cultural heritages.

Hanukkah, one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, begins Dec. 22.

—  Christians celebrate Christmas Dec. 24 and 25.

Kwanza, a cultural unity celebration for African-Americans, follows on Dec. 26 through Dec. 31.

Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration, commemorates the victory of a small group of Jewish rebels, known as the Maccabees, over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Modern celebrations of Hanukkah focus on family and friends, and include the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, one candle for each night, according to reformjudaism.org

According to the legend of the Miracle of the Light, when the Maccabees entered the Temple, they found a single jar of oil, which was sufficient for only one day. The messenger who was sent to secure additional oil took eight days to complete his mission, and miraculously, the single jar of oil continued to burn until his return. The rabbis of the Talmud attributed the eight days of Hanukkah to the miracle of this single jar of oil.

Foods prepared in oil, such as potato pancakes. are traditionally served during Hanukkah.  Latkes, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, are often served with applesauce and sour cream. Recipes and a helpful video is available from popular cooking and lifestyle blogger ToriAvey.com at https://toriavey.com/toris-kitchen/potato-latkes/

thumbnail latkes

Christians celebrate Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian-American Christmas Eve tradition that grew out of the practice of not eating meat on Christmas Eve. A typical menu includes clams casino, fried calamari, seafood salad, oysters shooters and pasta with clam sauce. according to www.thespruceeats.com/la-vigilia-napoletana-feast-of-seven-fishes-2019493

A newly published book,  Feast of the Seven Fishes: A Brooklyn-Italian’s Recipes Celebrating Food and Family, by Daniel Paterna, features recipes and memories handed down through three generations.        

African-Americans celebrate Kwanzaa from December 26 to January 1. Dr. Maulana Karenga, a black nationalist who became a college professor, introduced the festival in 1966 to the United States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home and counter the deadly Watts riots in Los Angeles the previous year. The seven principles of the custom include unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. On New Year’s Eve, participants celebrate with a banquet. Main dishes include African creole, Cajun catfish, jerk chicken, or Groundnut stew from West Africa, which features warm spices, sweet potatoes and peanuts. For a recipe, visit https://www.strongertogether.coop/recipes/african-groundnut-stew

Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and sharing recipes.     Marilyn Ostermiller

Mincemeat Enjoys a Storied Past, by Marilyn Ostermiller.

“Would you like a mincemeat cookie?”

When I offer holiday guests a platter of fresh baked mincemeat cookies, I’ve come to expect one of two responses, happy or sorta queasy.

It’s understandable. Minced meat and cookies aren’t a famous pairing, like peanut butter and jelly, or cheese and crackers.

 

Mincemeat can be traced back to Medieval Times in Europe. Back then, it was a way to preserve food without refrigeration. Finely chopped lamb was mixed with dried fruits, sugar and vinegar to keep it from spoiling.

 

A tradition evolved that tied mincemeat pie to Christmas. The pie crust was rectangular, like the manger in Bethlehem. It was filled with mincemeat and a small replica of baby Jesus rested on the filling. A sprinkling of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg symbolized the gifts of the Magi. 

 

Over the years, the meat — finely chopped beef became popular — gradually began to be supplanted with preserved fruits, and sweeteners.

Crosse & Blackwell Rum & Brady Mincemeat Filling & Topping ~ 1 count ~ 29 oz jar

Today’s mincemeat is made mostly from preserved fruits. The brand I prefer doesn’t have a trace of meat or suet. Instead, it’s made with apples, raisins, and orange peel, mixed with corn syrup, vinegar, cornstarch, spices and salt. Some other brands still include beef and suet. Some are spiked with brandy or rum.

While I take the shortcut of prepared mincemeat, two of the cookbooks that will guide more adventurous cooks through the steps to make theirs from scratch include:

  • The Forgotten Arts: Making Old-Fashioned Pickles, Relishes, Chutneys, Sauces and Catsups, Mincemeats, Beverages and Syrups (Yesterday’s Skills Adapted to keywords=Mincemeat+recipes&qid=1571846370&s=books&sr=1-1
  • Preserve & Pickle Recipes (Preserve & Pickle Recipes : With these Fruit Cheeses, Curds, Mincemeat, Conserves, Chutneys And Relishes Book 2) Written by Ana Bridge.

Like pumpkin pie and fruit cake, mincemeat pies, tarts and cookies have their season. It begins at Thanksgiving and ends at Christmas, although leftovers are fair game until New Year’s Eve.

My family favors this recipe:

mincemeat

Mincemeat Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 cups unsifted flour

1tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/3 cups mincemeat (I use Crosse & Blackwell brand)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar in a mixer. Add eggs, one at a time. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. Stir in mincemeat. Drop tablespoon-sized rounds of batter on a greased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes 6 dozen.

Marilyn Ostermiller      Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist, who enjoys baking for family and friends.

 

 

Celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese Day With Phil, Jim, and Harry.

Did you know that Sunday, July 14th is NATIONAL MACARONI AND CHEESE DAY? I think it’s fitting to have a special day for such an iconic food. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love some form of this dish? Many of us grew up with that orange-staple-in-a-box and survived college eating it. Just about every restaurant has some kind of mac & cheese on its menu. And, I’m sure we all have our favorites.

To celebrate the day, I am giving away a copy of the delightful PB by Robin Newman titled NO PEACOCKS, where peacocks Phil, Jim, and Harry set out to sample the local school’s world famous mac & cheese.

No Peacocks!: A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies

To enter for a chance to win, please share what you think is the best macaroni and cheese ingredient ever. The one special thing you add to your recipe that elevates it to new heights. I will put your name in my hat and draw one random entry for the give-away.

Enjoy the day, and may all your macaroni and cheese be DELICIOUS!

2016

Memorial Day Activities

Since Memorial Day Weekend is the official start of summer, that usually means more time outdoors and lots of outdoor eating. If you’re going to a picnic this weekend, here are a few simple games, activities and food ideas to help win the day.                      patriotic-dove

MAKE PATRIOTIC NECKLACES using red, white, and blue straws cut into one inch sections. String them onto a piece of yarn and everyone looks ready for a parade or backyard barbeque.

Try frozen STRAWBERRY POPS to cool off after a fun day in the sun. Wash and remove the stems from a quart of strawberries. Toss them in a blender and add a splash of orange or grape juice.  Puree until smooth. Pour into small paper cups. Place a popsicle stick in each one and freeze until firm. Peel away the paper and they’re ready to eat.

At the next family reunion, have the kids dress up in red, white, and blue and have a backyard parade. You can decorate wagons and bikes, and play some peppy marching band music to add to the festivities. Adults can join in and everyone can “perform” by doing whatever they’re good at: acrobatics, card tricks, puppet show, singing, dancing, telling corny jokes.  Getting everyone – young and old – involved adds to the fun.

While you are celebrating, remember those brave and selfless men and women in uniform who gave their lives  to keep our country free.

Happy Memorial Day.