I missed International Bacon Day, which is observed on the Saturday before Labor Day. I don’t remember what I was doing that day, but since it was a Saturday, I was probably eating bacon anyway. So, I won’t miss a time to celebrate eating something again, I downloaded a food celebration calendar. This comes in handy if you don’t know what to fix for a meal. Just look at the calendar and your menu is set. A side note is that everybody and his or hers uncle can declare a day as a Celebrate (Food) Day. I noticed that my celebration calendar did not match the next calendar that “Google” listed when I did my search.
So let’s look to see what’s coming up for October. This month is Eat Country Ham Month, Apple Month and National Pork Month. With just those ingredients, a month of menus can be created. There is no reason for saying, “I don’t know what to fix tonight.” There is also a list for each day of the month, so your decision making is done for you. I picked four days in October that I will celebrate by eating the honored food of the day. On October 12, I will celebrate Gumbo Day. Who would not like to celebrate that! Now, I admit that just because it is gumbo day and you know what to fix, you still have to decide what recipe to use. Gumbo is like tuna salad, pimento cheese, potato salad, and nachos. Everyone has a special way of preparing it. Sometimes, like in the case of tuna salad and pimento cheese, it is the way your mother fixed it while you were growing up. Gumbo is a stew, and there are different varieties, (Cajun or Creole) and different thickeners (roux, okra or file powder) and versions are numerous. There is a quote from, Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine, “Gumbo is a veritable art form in Louisiana. There are as many gumbo recipes as there are cooks.”
We move on to October 23rd and National Chicken Day. We have the same dilemma as we had with Gumbo Day. There are too many ways to prepare chicken. We need to narrow down our choices.
We look at October 25th and it is Greasy Foods Day. Good thing this is a one day celebration and not a month! But oh there are so many ways to celebrate. Two great greasy foods that come to my mind are Deep Fried Twinkies and Paula Dean’s Fried Butter Balls. Or another favorite is a Deep Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich.
The last celebration day could be everyday when the red light flashes in the front window to tell you that a hot batch has just finished. October 30th is Doughnut Day. In my early days you ate doughnuts for breakfast or at a break during a meeting. Now there is the Luther Burger, a hamburger or cheeseburger with a glazed doughnut in place of the bun. You can use two glazed doughnuts, one for the top and one for the bottom. And to complete the heart attack, add a fried egg, cheese and bacon.
Anytime you make a sandwich you can use doughnuts instead. How about serving a breakfast of Eggs Benedicts made with Crumb Cake Donuts.
So I have four days I want to celebrate but two of these days are dangerous. I’ll live recklessly and go out and order a cheeseburger with bacon and a side of fries from my favorite fast food restaurant on Greasy Foods Day and I bet on Doughnut Day someone is going to have a free doughnut available. I could log on to Pinterest and do a search for doughnuts, with bacon and one of the “tasty” treats that will appear is a bacon mac’n’ cheese doughnut burger!! I’ll stick to the glazed doughnut and a cup of coffee. That leaves me with National Chicken Day and Gumbo Day.
So my first recipe will be for the Gumbo*. The saying is that the first line in every Cajun recipe is, “First you make the roux.” This recipe is no exception. I make a batch of roux ahead of time and keep it in the icebox to add to my recipes. This way if the gumbo isn’t thick enough, I can always add more roux. I like using bacon dripping as the oil for my roux. It has more flavor than vegetable oil and won’t burn like butter and is cheaper than peanut oil. Use equal amounts of oil to flour; like one cup of oil to one cup of flour. But even this is not an exact science. Start with heating the oil and start with a small sprinkle of flour, and when it starts to sizzle in the oil it is hot enough. Keep adding small amounts of flour and stir to keep from getting lumps until a thick paste forms. Constantly stir until a deep brown color appears. A cast iron pan and a long wooden spoon work well. Be careful, I have scars on my forearms from splattering roux.
Now the recipe for National Chicken Day*. This day appears all over the calendar depending which calendar you look at. But no matter when it occurs try a different method of preparation. This time I am going with a Paula Deen recipe. I like it because I like spicy food and any time there is a recipe that calls for a cup of hot sauce for four servings, I’m going to try it.
Next month is Thanksgiving! It is never too early to plan your meal and make sure you have all the utensils needed. And I know that tradition is paramount with some holidays, especially Thanksgiving. One family tradition we have is that my wife always makes the dressing on Veterans Day. But try at least one menu item that you have not had before or prepare it differently. Who knows, one way or another, if it is a hit or a flop, it will be the subject of talk for the next Thanksgiving.
*Click on the pdf to view the full page with recipes.