Recipes Day 13: Name that Cookie

*This post marks Day 13 of Miss Ginsu’s 2007 Advent Calendar. My dad’s family grew up poor. Six kids in an uninsulated shack. My uncle and his brothers were all stuffed into the attic, and he told me he remembers that on cold winter mornings they woke up with frost on the blankets. Grandpa built the place himself and worked a series of odd jobs to support the family. Grandma cooked, sewed, cleaned and did everything from scratch, from home-brewed cough syrup (rosehips brewed with honey and brandy) to the kids’ haircuts and clothes.

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Bottle and brew for the bird (and you)

If you’re reading this in the US, you’re very likely celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey. If you’ve heard this tune before, you may have noticed by now that the turkey can be a tricky dance partner. When the breast meat is done, the legs are overcooked. When the legs are perfect, the breast is raw.* A whole turkey takes up most of the oven for most of the day, leaving little room for side dishes or desserts.

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The Cookies of the Dead
Recipes The Cookies of the Dead

Much as I love Halloween, I think the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is waaay cooler. A couple of hundred years ago, Halloween held a solid position in the autumn calendar as a religious event. These days, I’d bet a lot of people don’t even realize that the “Eve of All Hallows” is supposed to be followed by All Saints’ Day on November 1st and All Souls’ Day on the 2nd.

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Recipes Banana-Walnut Muffins. The (Not Very) Scary Cakes

Long ago, of my coworkers earned the nickname, “Scary Cakes.” I wasn’t around at the time, but I gather it was hoisted upon him after he recommended that every conceivable occasion deserved a new line of themed cupcakes. Cupcakes were produced for Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, Mother’s Day, Football Season, Groundhog Day, National Tortilla Chip Day… you get the picture. It was scary. Last week, I was talking with the nutritionist at work about healthier Halloween treats and I thought about how the holiday really is a nutritional wasteland.

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Happy SSZoYNP Day!

Yes, friends… Early August means it’s once again Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbors’ Porch Day (or Night — your preference), one of those obscure and frivolous holidays we rootless Americans create out of festive necessity. That said, I think the concept is solid. The zucchini (or courgette, for you Europeans) tends to hit a point of outrageous surplus right about now. Once you’ve already sautéed, puréed, broiled, grilled, fried and stuffed them, there’s a risk of becoming bored with zucchini.

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A year of food, G-Cal style

It’s 46°F in New York City, and I just watched a guy walk down the street in a tank top and running shorts. Nevertheless, I’m feeling some holiday spirit. (Of course, that might just be the whiskey in my eggnog.) As my gift to all y’all, I’ve compiled the US Food Holidays list in an ever-available, easy-to-install Google Calendar format. Now you’ll know the appropriate day to celebrate pigs in a blanket (inexplicably, it’s April 24) and the proper night to sneak zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch (August 8, naturally).

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Deck the Halls With Lots of Groceries…

I’m sticking around New York this year for the holidays, but I thought I’d post this series I took a couple of years ago at the South Dakota state capitol building. They go all out there with the decorated trees. Local schools, boy scout troops, philanthropic organizations and fraternal clubs rally their resources to put up a pine and adorn it with homespun ornamentation. If you’re thinking, “Gosh, that sounds ever-so Norman Rockwell,” you’re on the right track.

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Happy National Tortilla Chip Day!

Every day is a day for celebration, yes? It appears that some days are more worthy than others. I just compiled a list of national food holiday days, and I discovered that July 18th is simultaneously National Ice Cream Day and National Caviar Day . Eww! Who coordinated that little gustatory nightmare? A few discoveries… The peanut growers’ lobby is a force to be reckoned with (National Peanut Month : March 1-31, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day : March 1, National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day : April 2, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month : November 1-30)

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Recipes Sugarplums contain no plums

It’s true. That sugarplum vision dancing in your head may not necessarily contain any plum. Mark another tally into the book of mythology and misdirection. If there wasn’t egg in the eggnog and fruit in the fruitcake, I might lose all faith in tradition. That said, a sugarplum in the right hands is not prohibited from contact with plums. It just so happens that the word “sugarplum” has changed from a sugary little fruit to a sugary little treat.

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Burns Day: Time to Roll Out The Haggis!

Yes, folks… It’s January 25. Beloved Bard Robert Burns’ birthday (say that five times fast), celebrated across the world (but mostly in Scotland) with dinners of neeps (turnips), nips (of whiskey, naturally), tatties (potatoes) and haggis, true evidence of Scotland’s love of the culinary arts. C’mon! When’s the last time you ate the “heart, liver and lights of a sheep,” eh? It’s a bit late to begin planning your Burns Night Supper (unless you have impulsive friends, happen to know a good source for haggis and your brother’s a decent piper.

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About Me

Miss Ginsu is a nom-nom-nom de plume of Leitha Matz, who worked at Tabla and FreshDirect in NYC, wrote about the food scene from 2004 to 2009 in Brooklyn and presently lives in Berlin. Occasionally seen on TV cooking segments, Leitha has also written for FreshDirect, contributed to Cee Cee Berlin, The Food52 Cookbook and has been interviewed/quoted in The Food Keeper as well as The Washington Times and Salon.

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