holiday

  • Kids of all ages have per­fected the art and tra­di­tion of egg dying for Easter.

    From waxy pen­cils to small tablets of color, not much has changed in the dec­o­ra­tion process. Or has it?

    The kitchen pantry is a stu­dio of nat­ural ingre­di­ents and inter­est­ing col­ors wait­ing to be used. Com­mon food items, and food waste in some cases, will trans­form an ordi­nary hard boiled egg into a beau­ti­ful show­piece.

    Nat­ural dying ele­ments have long been used in fab­rics and paper. Porous eggshells invite color no mat­ter the source.

    Red cab­bage and beets, brown, red or yel­low onion skins con­tribute to an array of egg color pos­si­bil­i­ties. So will cof­fee, tea, and dried spices.
  • Dads have that rep­u­ta­tion for being “super-​heroes”. That does not mean they have to eat like Super­man, right?

    Dads are just reg­u­lar peo­ple look­ing to stay fit and healthy for their fam­i­lies. They do like to eat, drink and be merry when the oppor­tu­nity strikes.

    Upcom­ing Father’s Day is a per­fect chance to share good food with the fathers in our lives. Like most hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, the ways we make merry are diverse and unique.

    Every­day dad food does not trans­late into “cheese, bacon and burg­ers”. Tra­di­tional fare from days long past was largely meat and pota­toes basics for Dads. Maybe for most con­ven­tional men, that would still be typ­i­cal.

    New dude foods, pre­pared by using the fresh­est ingre­di­ents, strike a cord with those favorite fam­ily tra­di­tions and deliver full of fla­vor on the plate.

    By exam­ple, Pops might like a nice ravi­oli with red sauce, skil­let chi­laquiles or mar­i­nated skirt steak on Father’s Day. Cook­ing at home can be a group effort. “No fuss” should be the mantra of the day, but if a lit­tle extra effort is made, we’re good!
  • Car­ni­val sea­son always cul­mi­nates on Fat Tues­day, the day before Ash Wednes­day, the first day of Lent.

    Peo­ple lucky enough to visit New Orleans the week lead­ing up to Mardi Gras will enjoy a feast of foods and sig­na­ture bev­er­ages.

    Influ­ence comes largely from Cre­ole and Cajun cuisines. Clas­sic crowd pleasers include gumbo, jam­bal­aya and étouf­fée.

    Loca­tion aside, plan a cel­e­bra­tion dur­ing the days of Car­ni­val. High­light slow cooked, fla­vor rich meals that can feed a large table.

    Build­ing depth in dishes is easy when it comes to mas­ter­ing the all pow­er­ful Miropoix. Three veg­etable basics — car­rots, cel­ery and onions com­prise this start to many fine dishes.
  • There are ten cel­e­brated national hol­i­days in the United States, so named by con­gress. After those stayed hol­i­days, peti­tions get intro­duced to local, state and national offi­cials for com­mem­o­rat­ing other wor­thy days.

    Fewer than 150 are granted in an aver­age year, across all cat­e­gories, by the pres­i­dent of the United States. Still oth­ers get invoked at a more local level procla­ma­tion.

    Even so, that still gives us every­thing from National Pome­gran­ate Month and National Cherry or Pecan Pie Day to draw atten­tion to the pro­duce indus­try and ingre­di­ents wor­thy of a food hol­i­day.

    How­ever man­u­fac­tured, some of the food related hol­i­days make per­fect sense. National Bar­be­cue Day and National Ham­burger Day coin­cide with the upcom­ing Memo­r­ial Day Hol­i­day week­end.

    For most of the coun­try, Memo­r­ial Day week­end launches the sum­mer out­door cook­ing sea­son. We build mem­o­ries around shar­ing food and cre­at­ing food events in more casual environment.
  • Decem­ber hol­i­days beg for some décor that is fresh and nat­u­rally fra­grant to com­bat the assault of plas­tic, glit­ter all things arti­fi­cial.

    Yule­tide cheer has evolved from past tra­di­tions into mod­ern day dec­o­ra­tions using ever­greens, berries, fruits and lights.

    Gar­lands, wreaths and can­dles were once the only sure thing when it comes to door­ways and man­tels.

    The sig­nif­i­cance of a wreath, sym­bol­iz­ing ever­last­ing life, goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times.

    A renewed approach to fresh arrange­ments main­tains mean­ing to the com­po­nents. Con­tem­po­rary designs appeal to a much broader con­sumer base.
  • Earth Day is just behind us. Mother’s Day is just ahead. The two cel­e­bra­tions bring aware­ness to the influ­ences of moth­er­hood.

    Mother Earth and Mother Nature cue their mes­sages from other like minded moth­ers. We are only on this lovely planet for a very short time. While we are here, we need to mind our man­ners and play by the rules.

    Things a mother might say–

    “Go out­side and play” was a mantra of all baby boomer moms. Get­ting on a bike or going for a hike meant ulti­mate free­dom.

    Being out in nature has a way is fast-​paced life of ours can eas­ily strip out any nat­ural rhythm that we humans long to be a part of. The cycle of each sea­son speaks to our pri­mal nature. Go outside.
  • Food his­to­ri­ans credit Por­tugese cooks for the tasty spread we’ve come to know as mar­malade.

    Orig­i­nally made of quince (marmelo is the fruit’s Por­tugese name), the sweet/​tart gel like paste is used in desserts, breads and cakes.

    Quince are a rel­a­tively unusual fruit in that they are rarely, if ever, eaten raw. Mak­ing them into a jelly/​preserve/​compote allows them to be savored well past their sea­son.

    In Brazil, most marme­los are boiled, sweet­ened and then reduced to a thick jelly-​like paste called marme­lada.

    Quince are very tart and tan­nic, mak­ing them almost impos­si­ble to eat in their nat­ural state. Dur­ing cook­ing, their tan­nins mel­low and change color, giv­ing cooked quince a lovely pink-​to-​reddish hue.
  • Memo­r­ial Day and week­end are focused on cel­e­bra­tion and remem­brance for those who’ve made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice. We honor those who’ve died while serv­ing this great nation.

    Invari­ably, the week­end also ends up being the unof­fi­cial start of sum­mer. Vaca­tion travel, pic­nics, camp­ing, bar­be­cues and patio par­ties bring fam­i­lies and friends together.

    Lucky for us all then that with warm weather trend­ing, sum­mer berries are com­ing into peak play. Cal­i­for­nia grow­ing regions are now har­vest­ing sen­sa­tional blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, boy­sen­ber­ries and black­ber­ries.

    Multi-​dimensional, berries add that burst of color and fla­vor zing, just where expected. Plan­ning for break­fast, smooth­ies, sal­ads or sum­mer desserts? Berries are a knock­out for pre­sen­ta­tion and get an A+ for taste.

    Straw­ber­ries always seem to top the list for favorite fruits. Blue­ber­ries are inch­ing up with kids and those adults who like to power up with super foods.

    The antiox­i­dants in berries just seem to be an added bonus. We eat them because we love them. The fact that they are a health­ier alter­na­tive to other pos­si­ble warm weather treats makes them all the more desirable.
  • Good­bye mon­key, hello rooster”. The Lunar New Year begins on Jan­u­ary 28, with fif­teen days of cel­e­bra­tion and feast­ing ahead.

    Shrug off the shenani­gans of 2016 (those mis­chie­vous­ness mon­key traits) and usher in the con­fi­dence of the rooster.

    Always well dressed, other rooster traits include loy­alty, talk­a­tive­ness, punc­tu­al­ity, hon­esty and hard-​working dis­ci­pline.

    As the two week Spring Fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions take place, fam­i­lies and friends travel great dis­tances to be together over shared meals and spe­cial events.
  • It could very well be a savory pear tart. Or a car­rot souf­flé or even a Brus­sels sprouts Cae­sar salad with pecans that starts a hol­i­day dis­pute.

    A seem­ingly nice sur­prise and uncon­ven­tional approach to fruits and veg­eta­bles this time of year might sound per­fectly ratio­nal.

    Thanks­giv­ing is a time to gather with friends and fam­ily around a table that holds mostly tra­di­tional favorite dishes.

    The mere thought or sug­ges­tion of sneak­ing in a new take on a famil­iar salad, side, appe­tizer or dessert may be grounds for a fam­ily fuss.

    Chances are good that if the group assem­bled at your Thanks­giv­ing table has been there year-​after-​year, the expec­ta­tion is to serve exactly those same “tried and true” dishes that have been plated before.
  • Essen­tial to any good cook’s essen­tial ingre­di­ent list is the globe onion. A well stocked pantry will have on hand at the very least, one or two vari­eties.

    The two main types of globe onions are pun­gent and mild. Both are clas­si­fied into either long-​day or short day bulbs, the length of day­light time required for the actual bulb to form.

    Mild vari­ety onions are typ­i­cally large and juicy with thick rings and thin, papery skins that peel eas­ily. They can be cooked, but are the likely can­di­dates to be used raw on sand­wiches, in sal­ads and the like. These are the ones that make great onion rings.

    Unfor­tu­nately, mild onions are very poor “keep­ers”. Even in ideal stor­age con­di­tions, they will only main­tain their eat­ing qual­ity for a cou­ple months. Ide­ally, a wind­fall of mild onions can be pre­served in pick­les, sal­sas and chutneys.
  • Hol­i­day cheer — as we gather around a beau­ti­fully set din­ner table– will have a dif­fer­ent mean­ing to every indi­vid­ual.

    This last week of the year serves as a vehi­cle to reflect, rejoice, rem­i­nisce and pon­der.

    Good health or a healthy recov­ery (from injury, ill­ness or dis­ease) is a bless­ing with tremen­dous value.

    Impor­tant to remem­ber are those friends and fam­ily mem­bers who have expe­ri­enced chal­lenges and set­backs over the past twelve months. Not every­one comes to the table with a clear mind, body and spirit.

    Invari­ably, real life changes in 2017 will prompt emo­tions, anx­i­ety, stress and expec­ta­tions when it’s time to cel­e­brate with others.
  • The Spring Fes­ti­val known as Lunar or Chi­nese New Year offi­cially begins on Feb­ru­ary 16th and cul­mi­nate on March sec­ond with the Lantern Fes­ti­val.

    Cel­e­brated in a vari­ety of cul­tures and coun­tries — includ­ing China, Japan, Korea, and Viet­nam — fam­i­lies will gather around a reunion table to honor mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions.

    Lucky foods are served dur­ing the 16-​day fes­ti­val sea­son, espe­cially New Year’s Eve. This most impor­tant meal is believed to bring good luck for the com­ing year. The sym­bol­ism of these foods is based on their pro­nun­ci­a­tions or appear­ance.

    Sym­bolic foods such as fish (pros­per­ity and sur­plus), dumplings and spring rolls (wealth) and cit­rus (health and full­ness) are read­ily shared along with other fine del­i­ca­cies.

    Not only do the dishes them­selves mat­ter, but so does the man­ner of the prepa­ra­tion, the ways of serv­ing and the eat­ing of them. Spring onion pan­cakes, noo­dle dishes and Jai (veg­e­tar­ian stew) are easy to get behind.