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Sue Spitulnik

Flash Fiction and personal thoughts

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dessert

My First Choice

It’s National Macaroon Day. Whenever there are holiday cookie trays in my reach, my first choice is the coconut macaroon. I never have liked those really dry, tasteless little coolies with lots of frosting. In the Jewish section of big grocery stores there are cans of Manischewitz macaroons. I have to resist buying more than one can, because I eat them all. What a treat! A moist morsel of coconut already prepared for me.

Macaroons are very easy to make. The National Day of Calendar gave two recipes; one made with egg whites and the other with condensed milk. I can’t tell you which one is better, but the fact one had you dip the cookies in melted chocolate got my attention. Chocolate at any time is a good thing.

In the novel I wrote, that is still just a pile of paper on my desk, I have my main character, Millie, making macaroons. It’s a cookie you can make as soon as you think about it because there is no waiting for the ingredients to warm to room temperature. They bake quickly and disappear even more quickly.

I think I need to stop writing and go put coconut and condensed milk on my shopping list. The next time my grandchildren are here would be a good time to serve macaroons, that way I won’t eat all but the two my husband enjoys.

Caramel and Nuts

It’s National Sticky Bun Day. I looked at the calendar last night to see what today’s subject was and woke up this morning thinking of a sticky bun. One of my favorites in any situation.

What makes a perfect sticky bun? The bun itself must be soft, easy to pull apart and be rolled with cinnamon between the layers. The topping should be a drippy, sugary, caramel goo, with so many nut pieces (I prefer pecans) you can barely see the bun. Now if you can have this, and have it warm, you have a bit of heaven. Too finalize the enjoyment, a good  cup of hot coffee as an accompaniment would be my choice. Oh, and if the topping is the right amount of drippy, a moist towelette to clean the hands when done eating, would be a good idea.

Any sticky bus is good, but some are better than others. I have had some that were a week old (I like to stretch and savor my package from the bakery) that were still wonderful. On the other hand, I have had some right from the bakery, that were hard, the goo was crystalized, and the nuts almost mushy. At least the flavor was there. I can’t imagine who picked the above picture, there aren’t any nuts!

If you follow my posts, you know I generally bake my goodies from scratch, but in the case of a good sticky bun, with a yeasty flavor, I don’t take the time. Some parts of me are lazy and want to be waited on. I’m already dressed, most often I write in my pj’s, I think I will leave you now and go to Leo’s bakery for the best sticky bun in my locale. Enjoy your day.

 

Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream

When it’s hot out, do you prefer frozen yogurt or ice cream? Well, that depends! If I want something tangy, refreshing, and fruity, I go for frozen yogurt. If I want a fat fix and have my usual caramel craving, it’s ice cream all the way.

Somehow I never jumped  on the frozen yogurt bandwagon, or the gelato for that matter. Maybe it’s my age. You know, I’ve always liked ice cream so why change now. I do know there is a common thread to eating it; it’s always better if you share it with someone.

We used to have a Harley before my husband’s back gave out. It was a regular weekend event in the summer to get together with some other Harley owners, have a big breakfast out, then go for a ride. It was the ride that was important, sometimes hours long. We would find back roads that ran through the countryside where the scenery kept our attention and there wasn’t a lot of traffic. Often times, ice cream or frozen yogurt was our lunch. One of our friends, J.C. could find an ice cream stand in the most out-of-the-way places. We let him lead the pack. We are still talking about the fun times we had.

Now days when my husband and I go for a drive in our Mini Cooper convertible, (one has to have some sort of toy) our lunch is still frozen yogurt or ice cream. If we have had a small breakfast, maybe it’s a sunday with toppings and whipped cream instead of just a cone. The fact remains, it’s better because we are sharing the experience.

Marshmallows and Chocolate

It’s National Heavenly Hash Day. In my neck of the world that means chocolate ice cream with chocolate bits and marshmallow swirl in it. According to the National Day of Calendar there are many other recipes from different ice cream makers, including one that is fruity. I’ll stick with the chocolate, thank you.

My husband works in big construction. Not outside on the projects as they are being built, but in the office, figuring out how much it is going to cost to build something, or renovate. He’s called an estimator. Today in western New York it is 20 degrees. I know, it isn’t zero, but it’s cold compared to being inside, and he has to go inspect an old building to decide if it is worth renovating. Bottom line, he’s going to be outside most of the morning. He left the house in heavy boots, warm clothes and his winter coat instead of dress shirt and tie.

What does this have to do with Heavenly Hash? Well, we aren’t 40 anymore, and when my husband gets cold, he doesn’t warm up as fast as he used to. I carried wood in yesterday and told him I would have a roaring fire in the fireplace and the family room up to 80 degrees when he got home. (When we bought our house, the neighbor informed us, our family room was the easiest room on the street to heat with its fireplace. That was learned during an ice storm in 1991 when there was no power for a few days and the neighbors congregated in our big room to play cards, share food, stay warm, and wait for the power to come back on.)

So, who wants ice cream on a 20 degree day. Well, if I’m true to my word, and the fire is raging, a bowl of Heavenly Hash might just be the right thing to have for dessert tonight. Maybe I’ll add some peanuts on his. He likes that.

A Healthy Snack

I invite my adult nephew to join us occasionally when my kids come for dinner. With the grandchildren involved it makes for a full table and there is a lot of talking all at the same time. Jim doesn’t come empty handed. He often brings a bag of bittersweet chocolate covered almonds. I put a bowl of them on the table when we clear the dinner plates and most of them are gone by the time the house gets quiet.

Have you ever seen that cartoon; vegetables are plants, cocoa is a plant, chocolate is made from cocoa, so chocolate is a vegetable and I can eat all I want. I don’t have that totally correct, but you get the idea. The fun part is scientists have proven that bittersweet chocolate does have healthy benefits. Almonds are also good for people so are a healthy snack. Add the two together and you have the ultimate healthy snack. So is there a drawback? Yes! It should be a snack, not a meal!

I know lots of ladies that their go to when they are sad or depressed is chocolate. I don’t fit in that category and can have chocolate around the house for weeks and not find it a temptation. I also like almonds and other nuts. Those I have been known to make a meal out of. So, I’m thinking you can figure out how long bittersweet chocolate almonds last when they are visible in a bowl. Sometimes I put them in a metal tin so I can’t see them and they stick around longer.

I think you should put them on your shopping list! Enjoy!

 

National Trail Mix Day

Have you gone shopping for trail mix lately?  In the super market I use, Wegmans, there are multiple kinds in the nut section, there are different kinds in the bulk food section and there are yet others in the health food section.  So, I leave the definition of trail mix to you.  I have read the first one made was just peanuts and raisins.

I like to take a bag of trail mix when we go on a car trip.  {It used to be motorcycle trip but the husband’s back gave out, and we have had too many close friends get hurt; I’m actually afraid to get on one now days.} The handy snack satisfies all sorts of cravings.  You can pick out just the chocolate when you need a sweet fix, and you can pick out all the cashews at one time, before anyone else gets to the bag.  The little pieces of dried fruit often give a more sour flavor burst if that is what you desire; and all jumbled together sends the taste buds into happy land, plus puts off the “I have to stop to eat!” demand for a while.  It’s a great staple for in the room too, no refrigeration or heating necessary.

Trail mix was “invented” for just that, eating on the trail when hiking.  I have been on some beautiful trails in my life.  Number one would be on Mt. Rainier in Washington state.  We parked in the Paradise parking lot and my friend pointed UP.  “You see that bench up there?” “Yeah.”  “That’s where we are eating lunch.” “Really?”  I didn’t have the exercise gene back then either, but I made it.  Trail mix was our dessert and the begging jay birds had some too.

Now I am back living in New York state, home territory.  There is a park named Harriet Hollister Spencer State Park that has wonderful views from the trails.  If you didn’t grow up around here, you’ll need a GPS to find it.  We also have Letchworth and Stony Brook state parks, plus many others.  I’m sure you have a great park near you.  Grab a bag of trail mix and go check one out.

One word of caution; dried fruit and chocolate can last almost indefinitely, not so with some types of nuts.  In an open bag in the cupboard they can go rancid.  So buy yourself some fresh trail mix and enjoy the Labor Day Weekend  (If you are in the U.S.)  while eating it, even if you do so in front of the TV, on the golf course, or around a fire pit.

National Toasted Marshmallow Day

Toasted Marshmallows go hand in hand with campfires, fires on the beach or around the back yard fire pit, and sometimes over the gas flame on the stove in the kitchen.  They are an age defying treat some like golden brown and others like charred black with a gooey white center.  But be careful, I have heard of a rule that if your burning delight falls in the fire, you don’t get another one!

Ghost or scary stories come to mind when I think back about marshmallows.  There was always that one camp counselor that could tell an animated tale that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up.  We called that fun, but now I’m not quite sure why.  Most of us knew there really wasn’t a boogeyman in the woods, but because of our age, there was always that niggling concern there might be.  Laughing as a group and walking back to our tents with marshmallow strings stuck to our chins made the hairs lay back down.

I would guess the statistics are pretty high that people who rent cottages for a time during the summer have marshmallows on their list of food items to take with them, or they make a quick trip to the nearest grocery store to get them before the bonfire is lit.  I’ve only been in a few RV camp registration offices that have essentials for sale, but  those essentials include marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars.  S’mores are not an optional item when camping; whatever your definition of camping might be.

If you don’t like your marshmallows toasted they are great in Ambrosia Salad, melting on the surface of a cup of hot chocolate, or as a swirl in chocolate ice cream.  The fluff form is used in making fudge, and mixed with yogurt it makes a great fruit dipping sauce.

There’s a way to make any form of marshmallows even better.  Enjoy them with friends or multiple generations.

National Cherry Turnover Day

The only thing I can say for sure about cherry turnovers is there is never enough cherries and always too much crust.  I’d rather have a piece of cherry pie with the woven top crust, that way you can see up front, just how many cherries you are getting.  And then of course it’s always better with vanilla ice cream.

When I was a kid there was a great bakery in the town I went to school in.  I’ve mentioned in past posts that we did most of our own baking at home, but things like maple bars, apple fritters, fried cakes, salt rising bread and turnovers were left to the Fitzpatrick family.  I lived in a neighboring town and rode the bus to school so it was a real treat for me to be able to walk home with a classmate and stop at the bakery.  My favorite then, and now, is still the pudding filled, chocolate frosted doughnuts.

Let’s get back to cherries; these are some interesting facts: 

  • Related to plums, peaches and nectarines, cherries are drupes or stone fruits.
  • Cherries were brought to North America in the 1600s by the English colonists.
  • There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the United States.
  • There are an average of 44 cherries in one pound.

Do you know anyone with a cherry tree in their yard?  I’ve known a few people and the complaint is always the same; the birds get the cherries before the human can get out  to pick them.  So that leads me to question how an orchard keeps the birds away long enough to make it worth while to raise them.  I’m sure they have a trick or two, but I don’t know what they are.

In western Ney York state, especially along Lake Ontario, there are orchards that grow cherries, apples, peaches, pears and plums.  The state’s Finger Lakes region is well known for it’s grape vineyards and wineries. Strawberries and red and black raspberries are also plentiful.  To facilitate buying the fresh fruit easily there are public markets in a lot of the local cites, towns and suburbs.  It can be even be a fun family event if you are inclined to go pick your own.  When the fruit is in season, there are bargains and you eat your fill knowing fresh is best.  We wish the seasons lasted a little longer, but then the juicy unadulterated flavors wouldn’t be such a treat.

If you have a favorite cherry turnover memory I would love to hear about it.  And, just in case you are one of my regular readers, yes, I mixed up the chop suey date and cherry turnover date.  Sorry, not as precise as I used to be.  Today is really the 29th.

 

 

 

 

 

National Banana Split Day

Two different people claim they invented the banana split, one in 1904 and the other in 1907.  Originally it was vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream settled between a  banana that had been cut in half lengthwise, with chocolate, pineapple and strawberry syrups ladled over the ice creams, then topped with whip cream, nuts and a cherry, served in a “boat” shaped dish.

These days, in my area anyway, you can pick your own ice cream flavors and toppings, it’s only the banana that is consistent.  At Bruster’s, on Thursdays, if you bring your own banana, you get your treat for half price.

In 1955 Tom Wahl’s opened in Avon, NY.  It was, and still is, a hamburger joint, serving fresh-made burgers, root beer made in-house and ice cream.  They ran a promotion that if you could eat two complete banana splits, they were free.  My uncle would have been about thirty at the time.  He got so many free banana splits they asked him nicely not to take advantage of the special any more.  He was building his landscaping business at the time, so after a day working outside, I imagine two banana splits would have made him a fine dessert.   Think of all that sugar!

Late update from my sister……the promotion was   Eat Three—Get them Free!!  They changed the sign to read “except Herb M.”

 

 

National Waffle Day

The first United States patent for a waffle iron was issued to Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on August 24, 1869.

1911 – First electric waffle iron introduced by General Electric

1953 – Frank Dorsa’s Eggo Frozen Waffles are sold in Supermarkets for the first time

1964 – Belgian Waffles debut at New York’s World’s Fair.

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So now you know, the waffle you usually get when you order one in a restaurant is a Belgian Waffle.  In North America, they are a variety of waffle with a lighter batter, larger squares, and deeper pockets than ordinary American waffles. They were originally leavened with yeast, but baking powder is now often used.

I don’t ever remember eating a waffle at home while I was growing up.  I rarely ate breakfast food for breakfast.  I ate left overs from the night before, like cold spaghetti or pizza.  Sometimes it was fresh venison fried in butter then put on a piece of toast.

I spent many years working in the restaurant business.  One of my favorite treats was to get a waffle, slather it with butter, then fill all the squares with maple syrup and leave it under the heat lamps for at least fifteen minutes.  Of course it lost all its crispness, but that was the idea.  The buttery maple flavor was heavenly as I purposely chewed it in a deliciously slow manner.   I still like the occasional Belgian Waffle when I eat out, but now I order it with bananas, nuts and cinnamon sauce.  My tastes have matured some.

My grandson in a waffle lover.  His favorite is Eggos, heated in the toaster, any time of day or night.  He’s a skinny kid, he could eat waffles all day for a month with no adverse effects; unlike me.  I offer him an egg , bacon, or sausage to go along so he has some protein, but he usually declines.

And now we have waffle cones to eat our ice cream out of.  I like them much better than the round ones with the flat bottom that cut the roof of my mouth.  Shoot, now I want one!  Either will do, a gooey Belgian waffle or chocolate raspberry truffle ice cream on a waffle cone.

 

 

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