February 23rd annually recognizes a well-known food holiday, National Banana Bread Day.
A moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread, banana bread is made with fully ripe, mashed bananas. Some recipes call for yeast, and then the finished banana bread is sliced, toasted and spread with butter.
With the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks. It appeared in Pillsbury’s 1933 Balanced Recipes cookbook, too. Banana bread later gained further acceptance with the release of the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book in 1950.
Despite the banana’s arrival in the United States in the 1870s, it took a while before they appeared as an ingredient in desserts.
Early Banana Bread
One early recipe came from The Vienna Model Bakery. It advertised banana bread as something new in the April 21, 1893, edition of St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A new restaurant/bakery chain owned by Gaff, Fleischmann & Company, The Viena Model Bakery was known for its baked goods and was likely one of the first to produce banana bread in the United States. The recipe was made with banana flour, which is made by drying strips of the fruit, then grinding it to a powder. This process had long been used in the West Indies.
In Hawaii during World War I, a surplus of bananas resulted from very few ships available to export the fruit. To prevent waste, alternative uses for bananas were developed. For example, bakeries started incorporating the fruit into their bread.
This recipe was printed in The Maui News on April 12, 1918, for banana bread:
Yeast, coconut milk or water
There was also rationing of staple food items such as flour. Banana flour was a suggested substitute. It was touted as a health food and recommended for a vegetarian diet.
This, of course, is not the quick bread we know today. A recipe submitted by Mrs. Dean in the February 18, 1918, issue of The Garden Island paper for a banana muffin might more closely resemble the quick bread we think of today.
1 cup cornmeal
3-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 sifted banana
3/4 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Crisco
Mix dry ingredients, add banana, milk and egg and Crisco.
Quick Bread and Muffin
The difference between a quick bread and a muffin in baking has a lot to do with the type of fat and how it is mixed creating a different crumb or texture to the bread.
In 1927, Unifruit (a wholesale produce company) offered a free cookbook called From the Tropics to Your Table. The book offered recipes full of bananas as ingredients including banana muffins and breads. This little cookbook would have been handy during the Great Depression which was just around the corner. At the time, families utilized every scrap of food, including overripe bananas. They cooked overripe bananas, as well as other fruits and vegetables, into breads, stews and other dishes when flavor and texture were not as appealing raw.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalBananaBreadDay
Bake your favorite version of banana bread to celebrate. With so many varieties to try – banana nut, chocolate banana and more – you can make more than one! Invite someone to join you or give a loaf or two away. The celebration is just too good not to share! We like ours warm from the oven with butter!
Use #NationalBananaBreadDay to post on social media.
Recognized by the US National Confectioners Association, National Chocolate Mint Day is observed annually across the nation on February 19th. This holiday has been set aside for all the chocolate mint lovers to eat their favorite treats all day long.
The Aztecs and Mayans are given much credit for their ways with chocolate. And while chocolate was brought back to Europeans, they were not fond of the dark, bitter bean, so they used more for medicinal purposes.
As it was mostly consumed as a hot beverage, Europeans mixed mint, cinnamon and other spices to make it more palatable. Over time, they added sugar, and the combination of chocolate and mint became fashionable.
Fast forward to the mid-1800s when inventions and improvements in processes made it possible for confectioners to begin mass-producing chocolates. Even then, small candy shops served a local public. Advertisements for mint chocolates, or chocolate mints, did not start showing up in newspapers until the turn of the century.
The International Dairy Foods Association states that mint chocolate chip is the 10th most popular flavor of ice cream.
One of the earliest mass-producers of chocolate mints was Huyler’s in New York. Their chain of stores spread across the country.
We find mint chocolate in everything from ice cream to brownies, cookies and candies, liquors and sauces. Girl Scouts first sold Thin Mint cookies in 1953 and are still their most popular cookie. Mint chocolate is also the name of an herb with edible leaves that tastes like chocolate and mint.
HOW TO OBSERVE #ChocolateMintDay
Below is a favorite frosting recipe for chocolate cake. It looks great decorated with chocolate mint candies, a perfect way to celebrate National Chocolate Mint Day!
Mint Frosting for Chocolate Cake
1 package cream cheese (8 0z), softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
Green food coloring
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in mint extract, 2 to 3 drops of green food coloring and 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar until mixed. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Store frosted cake in refrigerator.
Use #ChocolateMintDay to post on social media. Combine with National Vet Girls rock day, and give to as many female veterans as you can find.
Valentine’s Day began as St. Valentine’s Day, a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. February 14th first became associated with romantic love during the High Middle Ages as the tradition of courtly love was then flourishing. During 18th century England, this day evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending Valentine cards.
Mixed opinions prevail regarding who or what was celebrated in mid-February. Some point to martyred saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. The most popular story tells of the saint who defied a decree by Emperor Claudius II who outlawed marriage for young men because he believed single men made better soldiers. St. Valentine, preferring young lovers to be wed than have them sneaking around (or believing in the power of love), would marry them in secret. However, it may have been another Valentine who performed the marriages. Either way, at least two of them were beheaded for their actions.
Another possible origin for Valentine’s Day takes us back to a pagan festival called Lupercalia. As a way to discourage participation in the fertility festival, the Christian church placed St. Valentine’s Day in the middle of February.
Since the Renaissance, we’ve been exchanging Valentine’s cards. These handmade missives of romance grew into a more commercial venture by the Victorian era. Today, school children exchange Valentine greetings, too. They prepare for the day by making unique boxes to receive their many hearts, cupids, and pun-filled rhymes.
Chocolates and candy have also become a part of the celebration. While couples tend to be the focus of the day, singles celebrate being single, too. Friends take each other out or reject the overall notion of Valentine’s Day. Dinner and a movie, candlelight, and flowers also fit the bill for couples. It’s one of the busiest days of the year for florists.
HOW TO OBSERVE #ValentinesDay
You can surprise your special someone with flowers, chocolate or a card. Bring a smile to their face with an original poem or homemade meal.
Get Recipes that will impress without spending days in the kitchen. Many can be done at the last minute if needed.
Get something special for your Valentine and use #ValentinesDay to post on social media.International Book Giving Day
VALENTINE’S DAY HISTORY
Credit is traditionally given to Pope Gelasius for declaring February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day around the year 496 to separate the church from the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, an ancient pagan fertility festival which occurred on February 15th.
World Nutella Day celebrates what happens when hazelnuts and chocolate collide. For example, millions of people celebrating all on February 5th each year!
It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Adding hazelnuts when cocoa is hard to come by may have been an Italian trick during hard times. In the 1800s, in the northern Italian city of Piedmont, they made a paste of chocolate and hazelnuts at a time when the nuts were abundant, but the cocoa was not.
At the end of World War II, cocoa was once again difficult to come by. Pastry Maker, Pietro Ferrero, made loaves of this sweet paste and called it Giandujot. Soon after, the Ferrero Company was founded on May 14, 1946.
It wasn’t until 1951 that Ferrero made the paste into a spreadable form. We wouldn’t even recognize the spread by name until 1964 when Ferrero’s son Michele gave the jar of creamy hazelnut and cocoa the name Nutella.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldNutellaDay
Enjoy your favorite hazelnut spread. It’s that simple! Of course, we always suggest celebrating with a friend or family member. Celebrations are best when shared. Create a new recipe or try the one you’ve itching to try. Share your favorites while you’re testing and tasting, too!
Use #WorldNutellaDay to share on social media.
WORLD NUTELLA DAY HISTORY
Sara Rosso founded World Nutella Day in 2007 in celebration of and a way to introduce her favorite spread to her friends. She first discovered Nutella while living in Italy as a food blogger. Read more about her discovery and creation of World Nutella Day at whenihavetim
In the United States, National Croissant Day, recognizes a wonderful flaky pastry enjoyed at every meal. Croissants are buttery, crescent-shaped rolls that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
The key to a perfect croissant is laminating the dough. Laminating the dough, also used in puff pastry, is a process by which butter is folded into the mixture creating multiple thin layers of butter and dough. The result is a mouth-watering flaky crust and airy body.
Legend surrounds this pastry, as is often the case with a popular, worldly treat. What is known, is that crescent-shaped breads have been found around the world for ages. One of these was the Kipferl which originated in Austria as far back as the 13th century. This nonlaminated bread is more like a roll.
Credit for the croissant we know today is given to an Austrian military officer, August Zang. In 1939 he opened a Viennese bakery in Paris introducing France to Viennese baking techniques.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalCroissantDay
Stop by the bakery for a fresh, warm croissant. Be sure to give your baker a shout out, too! Of course, you can always try baking your own. This Recipe is from Allrecipes.com
Use #NationalCroissantDay to post on social media.
National Blonde Brownie Day on January 22nd recognizes a treat often referred to as blondies.
Blonde brownies are similar to the traditional brownies known almost everyone. In place of cocoa, brown sugar is used, giving it a sweet-tooth-satisfying molasses flavor!
Most people like to add white chocolate or chocolate chips to their blonde brownies or other things like nuts, toffee or butterscotch. Blonde brownies are usually prepared unfrosted as the brown sugar flavor tends to be sweet enough. These blondies are sometimes served in sundaes, often topped with caramel sauce.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalBlondeBrownieDay
While enjoying a blonde brownie would count toward celebrating the day, that may be much too simple. Blonde brownies also make a delicious addition to a layered trifle dessert. Add a scoop of ice cream to a freshly baked blonde brownie and top with your favorite syrup. If you prefer the lighter side, serve a blonde brownie with a serving of fresh fruit. Pineapple, cherries or apricots seem appropriate.
Serve your blondies with tea, coffee or hot cocoa. And of course, you can’t enjoy them alone. You must extend an invitation to a friend or two. They’ll happily help you finish off a few blondies while catching up on the new year. You can make them for church, school or work occasions, too.
Use #BlondeBrownieDay to post on social media.
Enjoy combining a blonde brownie with your favorite book in honor of #NationalLibraryShelfieDay and #CelebrationofLifeDay
NATIONAL BLONDE BROWNIE DAY HISTORY
There is no found documentation of the beginning of National Blonde Brownie Day. It is known, however, that this light-colored treat was actually invented in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Recipes for blonde brownies can be found in recipe books dating back into the 1940s and maybe even earlier.
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day on January 3rd spotlights a favored treat during many holidays. The National Confectioners Association has even been noted to recognize the annual event.
It is almost impossible to eat just one of these chocolate covered cherry candies. The combination of two favorite flavors into one delicious treat turns into something irresistible. The candy often is made with a sweet liquid center and in some cases has a liquor filling.
Known to many as a mid-winter pick-me-up, chocolate-covered cherries, also called chocolate cordials, can be either store-bought or homemade. There are also many recipes that mimic the flavor of the long known and well-loved candy.
In the 1700s in England, cherries were enclosed in chocolate with a little kirsch (cordial) liqueur. After finding their way to the United States, Americans received them quite well, delighting in the little bit of alcoholic cordial surrounding the fruit dipped in chocolate. Although originally made with the liqueur, cordials/chocolate covered cherries are more commonly made with a sugar syrup flavored with cherries. The pitted cherries have been cooked in sugar syrup and jarred.
HOW TO OBSERVE #ChocolateCoveredCherryDay
Use #ChocolateCoveredCherryDay to post on social media.
Share your favorite chocolate cherry recipes for cake, cookies, candy and beverages like hot chocolate or a milkshake. Smoothies would be so good too.
NATIONAL CHOCOLATE COVERED CHERRY DAY HISTORY
While the National Confectioners Association recognizes this day honoring this tasty chocolate treat, National Day Calendar continues to seek the origins of the celebration.