Saturday, January 20th is ‘National Cheese Lover’s Day. How many different kinds of cheese can you think of? There is at least one cheese for every letter of the Alphabet, but most letters have multiple cheeses, many more than I could ever thnk of. I could only come up with about 45 different cheeses without having to look them up. I was flabbergasted when I did look them and came up with 613. There are probably even more than the ones I found. Granted, many of these cheese are variations on a theme. That is, there are several different types of Cheddars – it seems that each of the English speaking countries have their own. Then there are the variations on Bleu Cheeses, Brie, Swiss and on and on.
Cheese is usually made from Cow’s Milk but there are cheeses made from Goat’s Milk and from Sheep’s Milk. If you want to count them as Cheese, then there those made from Tofu – a product that is supposed to resemble cheese, but certainly does not possess all of the qualities of ‘real’ cheese.
I was going to write this blog on all the different types of cheese and the uses that we have for them, but upon second thought, I am going to limit it to America’s favorite Cheese and i am guessing that would be Cheddar. Unfortunately, some of our Cheese Producer’s have taken a really good Cheddar Cheese and then turned it into something that may or may not be considered Cheese by an afficionado.
Cheddar Cheese is usually a firm Cheese, dark Yellow in color. The color certainly has to be added and hopefully it is from natural sources. There is also White Cheddar and if I am not mistaken Irish Cheddar is usually white. Cheddar Cheese also comes in many taste variations. There is Mild, Medium, Sharp and Extra Sharp. The Sharper the Cheese the firmer it usually is and the reason for this is that to be sharp a cheese is aged longer and when it is aged longer, it becomes drier and therefore, harder.
American Cheese, which is made from Cheddar Cheese is a version of Cheddar that is ground up and has gum arabic added to it to give it the consistency that some of us are familiar with. Cheese Spreads are also variations on Cheddar.
Cheddar Cheese makes great sandwiches and toppings for Hamburgers. It is also the basis for one of our most popular dishes and that Is Macaroni and Cheese. Cheddar Cheese is also a popular cheese for omelets, biscuits, breads and one of our most popular and succesful snack products – Cheese Puffs.
I was going to write this blog on cheese which I did. But after finding out how many different cheeses there are, I have decided that I will do a weekly Cheese Blog on either one type of cheese and its variations and/or once having finished the variants, will concentrate on the alphabet starting with A or Z? Please let me know. Would be much easier to start with Z as there are only 3 different types of cheese that I could find starting with the letter Z.
Happy ‘National Cheese Day’ everyone!
November 3rd is ‘National Sandwich Day’. The Sandwich is a very popular and almost necessary food here in the United States. Its creation is usually credited to the ‘Earl of Sandwich’, John Montague. It is said that the Earl loved gambling so much so that he did not want to stop playing and that he requested the servers to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread. Thus, the ‘Sandwich’ was born. Whether or not this is true, the legend lives on and the Sandwich itself has grown to mamoth proportions. Not necessarily in size, but certainly in variety.
Undoubtedly, the most popular sandwich in America today is the Hamburger. The history of the Hamburger is in itself another story. Our sandwiches can range from the humble Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich to the lately popular Panini which needs a special iron to be made. There are Breakfast Sandwiches consisting of Eggs and Bacon or Eggs, Sausage and Cheese. There are Cheese Sandwiches, Roast Beef Sandwiches, etc., etc.
The all popular deli sandwich from New York which has made its way completely across the country and then some would be a Hot Corned Beef or Pastrami Sandwich, consisting of so much meet on two slices of rye or inside a roll that it would actually feed two or more people. One could go on and on about sandwiches; the list is never-ending. Listed below are some popular sandwich fillings, their spreads and toppings.
FILLING: SPREAD: TOPPINGS:
Roast Beef Mayo & Mustard Lettuce & Tomatoes, Pickles
Ham Mayo & Mustard Cheese
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Cream Cheese & Lox
Egg & Bacon Mayo Tomato
Corned Beef Mustard Cole Slaw
Pastrami Mustard Swiss Cheese
Liverwurst Mayo Sliced Onion
Burgers Thousand Island Tomato & Lettuce
Cheeseburger Thousand Island Lettuce & Tomato, Onion
Grilled Cheese Butter (Jelly in some parts)
Tuna Salad Mayo Pickels & Lettuce
On and On we can go with no stopping in sight. What is your favorite sandwich? Or does it vary with the time of day and year? My all-Time favorite Sandwich is Lox and Cream Cheese on a Water Bagel. (From Western Bagel -no New York Bagels for me)
My next favorite sandwich would beRARE Roast Beefwith Mayo & Mustard and Lettuce, Tomato and Pickles. I also love good Cole Slaw with my sandwiches and Potato Chips with some.
Sandwiches can be made big or small, dainty or hearty. The dainty variety are usually Finger Sandwiches which are sometimes served for ‘Tea’ or for Bridal or Baby Showers.
Whichever way they are made or whichever is your favorite, the Sandwich is certainly here to stay as it affords a convenient and tasty way to eat. They are especially good in lunch boxes and on picnics.
So enjoy a Sandwich today on ‘National Sandwich Day’.
NATIONAL FOOD DAYS
National Hamburger Day
How many times have you heard that phrase ‘The All-American Hamburger”? And what is the Hamburger named after? Its name would imply that it is made from Ham, but that is not the case. Our Hamburger derived it name from the city of Hamburg, Germany from which many immigrants to this country were from. The immigrants made patties of seasoned minced beef which eventually came to be known as Hamburg Steak.
According to the Library of Congress, the Hamburger as we know it today, was originally made in New Haven Connecticut in 1895 and has grown into what is probably America’s most popular food. Today, Hamburgers are made not only from beef, but from Turkey, Chicken, Mushrooms and even Tofu. The Burger ranges all the way from mini-Burgers known as sliders to Monster Burgers that one could barely be able to bite into.
There are naked Burgers, Cheese Burgers, Mushroom Burgers, Double Burgers, Hawaiian Burgers, Turkey Burgers, Vegie Burgers, Tofu Burgers. We could probably do a whole word search, just with the names of all the Burgers joints there are around the country. Lately, Burgers have enjoyed an upswing on the Gourmet Scale. New Burger places have opened up which price there Burgers at $10 or more. These upscale burgers offer a better grade of meat and a great variety of garnishes and sauces.
BUILD A CHEESEBURGER
THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING
BUN TOP DRESSED WITH MAYONNAISE
See the complete recipe at cheeseburgers/
For a Chili Burger recipe see: chili-burgers/
For a great Portobello Mushroom Recipe see: portobello-mushroom-burgers/
My favorite all-time Burger during my High School Days and later was Bob’s Big Boy. I still like to have one for old times’ sake and will go out of my way to get one at least once a year.
Below is a list of some of the Hamburger Restaurants in Southern California. The ones with the asterisk are either out of business or there are very few left.
Bob’s Big Boy – original location is Toluca Lake –
Burger King – all over
Fat Boy – Studio City
Five Guys** – Thousand Oaks
Habit – Santa Barbara based – now in many locations in Ventura County
Hamburger Hamlet – original on Sunset Blvd. Westwood Village was my favorite location. Van Nuys Blvd. in Sherman Oaks and Sunset Blvd. still open.
In and Out – All over
Jack in the Box – All over
McDonald’s – goes back to the fifties when it was known as Peak’s, a licensee of McDonald’s.
The Counter** – Westlake Village and other locations
Umami Burger** – Westlake Village and other locations
Wendy’s – all over
** – Relatively new – Umami is also located in Beverly Hills
If you can add to this list, please do so in the comment box.
Also, please Vote for your Favorite Hamburger place!
Thursday was Day Five and it was another early rising day. Again we had breakfast on the go and that consisted of hard-cooked eggs, banana bread and apple bananas. We drove to Koke’e, a natural area located in the upland area of northwestern Kauai, along with Waimea Canyon and Nä Pali Coast State Parks. Our purpose was to view the native birds that inhabit this area. This time we did the easy trails and did get to see quite a few different birds. When we were here in 1996, we actually did the trail in the Alaka’i Swamp. By the time we finished our clothes were covered in Kauai’s red dirt mud and actually had to hose off in the park before we got into our car. It was quite an experience though and am glad we got to do it.
The birds that we say this time were: Hawaiian Amakihi, which is a greenish bird with a long curved beak, the Kauai Elepaio, which is a small bird with a long tail. Its head is a reddish brown and it has a small beak designed for foraging for insects. We also saw the Akeke’e, which is a greenish-yellow bird with a black mask around the eye (especially prominent in the male) and a bluish bill. We saw an Anianianu; a honey-creeper with distinct yellow coloring. This bird unfortunately has been prey to malaria brought in by mosquitoes and its numbers are dwindling. The birds can now only be seen in the higher elevations where there are fewer instances of mosquitoes. The last native bird we saw this day was the Hawaiian Iiwi, whose bright red feathers, pink curved bill, and black wings and tail distinguish it from the rest of Hawaii’s forest birds.
Other than native birds there were a few introduced species such as Erkel’s Francolin, Jungle Fowl and the Red Crested Cardinal. We also had many Red Crested Cardinals visiting us at our condo. The Jungle Fowl are chickens who roam freely around the island. The Jungle Fowl have become so symbolic of Kauai that you can even purchase a red dirt t-shirt with a picture of a jungle fowl on it.
This has been enough about birds now, when I’m really supposed to be talking about food. But the birds did lead us to our lunch today and that was at the Shrimp Station in Waimea. We did get there a little early and had to wait for them to open up. The Shrimp Station is more of a stand than a restaurant and all seating is outdoors. Since their kitchen is open to view, we just sat and watched them set up for the day. This is mainly a lunch and early dinner place as the hours are from 11 AM – 5 PM daily. Ev had a craving for Coconut Fried Shrimp and that is what he had along with fries. My cravings went towards the sweet chili garlic shrimp and that was served with white rice of potatoes. The portion of the sweet chili garlic shrimp was more than ample and even though it was sweet chili there was still a kick to it that the rice helped to buffer. A salad would have been good with this dish as well as some bread. Fortunately we did have cold drinks.
Again, the afternoon was spent on the beach and just relaxing and enjoying the tropical weather. For dinner, I made hamburgers which I ended up calling Tropic Burgers and will probably feature in one of my classes. I had purchased the ingredients the day before and that included ground sirloin, buns, and we had lettuce and tomatoes from the farmers market along with cheese from Big Save. The items I did forget to purchase were mustard, mayo and ketchup so I became innovative and used our Papaya Seed Dressing as our only condiment. They turned out very good.
Here is how I made the burgers; sautéed sliced red onions in butter until they were soft and just starting to caramelize. Toasted the buns in the toaster and then cooked the burgers with salt and pepper and some garlic powder. Put cheese on them after they were turned and started to cook on the second side. The dressing went on the buns and the burger on one side and the onions on top of the meat, and then the tomato and lettuce. This really turned out to be an excellent burger. Along with the burgers we opened the bottle of wine that came with the condo. All in all, it was a very good dinner.
After dinner, we drove around the corner to the beach and checked out Brennecke’s Beach Broiler for a future meal. The downstairs portion of Brennecke’s makes fresh sandwiches for breakfast and lunch and even dinner, if you are so inclined, and they also sell chips, sodas and other various sundry items. Later on we went back to the condo and sat on the balcony and enjoyed the sunset.