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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: It’s All About The Food —And Marketing Helps

Every food has its month — and every month has its food. Seriously, there is a day for every food you can think of to be celebrated or at least acknowledged. And it’s true that marketing has a big hand in the observances. We’ve already missed  Bloody Mary Day, Jan. 1, (well, some of us did, anyway!) National  Buffet Day, Jan. 2, (there goes the weight-loss resolution!) National Cream Puff Day, Jan. 2, (and again!) and  Fruitcake Toss Day was Jan. 3, (understandably) but it’s our lucky day now, because there are plenty more to choose from. So, I’m going to throw a virtual dart at a few January food days and dig up related recipes. I’d hate for us to miss out on some serious celebrations, since we’ve gone a whole week without one. But, I have to admit this strategy that food stores have to love also makes it easy for a food columnist. So, here we go!

National Bean Day – January 6

Herbed Green Beans

1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends removed

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried basil leaves

Steam green beans 5 minutes or until crisp tender. Rinse under cold running water; drain and set aside. Just before serving, heat oil over medium-low heat in large non-stick skillet. Add chopped basil; cook and stir 1 minute. Add green beans. Cook until heated through. Serve immediately.

Daphne’s Pintos

(Shared several years ago by my friend, Daphne Petrey)

Soak one bag of dry pinto beans overnight. Rinse beans in the morning and then put pintos into crock-pot. Add salt until you think you’ve added enough and then add two extra pinches (probably 4-6 good pinches total). Layer turkey bacon on top of your pinto beans. Cover with water and cook on low all day (or on high for half the day)

Once they start boiling keep an eye on the water level, as you may need to add a little extra liquid to keep them covered.

Daphne notes: “A few times I have not had any turkey bacon, but a beef bouillon cube or two will also add some great flavor. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.  Cornbread and fried potatoes go great with this dish as well.” 

National Milk Day

(The day milk deliveries in bottles began in the US) – January 11

Tres Leches (Milk Cake)

This delicious tres leches cake features three types of milk: whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. It’s topped with sweet whipped cream. An excellent cake for milk lovers!

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ cup unsalted butter

1 cup white sugar

5 eggs

½ tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

1½ cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan. Sift flour and baking powder together; set aside.

Beat sugar and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour mixture, about ½ cup at a time, mixing until well blended. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Pierce cake all over with a fork; let cool to room temperature.

Mix whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together in a bowl; pour over the top of the cooled cake and allow to soak in.

Whip cream, remaining 1 cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a chilled glass or metal bowl with an electric mixer until thick. Spread over the top of the filling. Keep cake refrigerated until serving.

National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day – January 14

Favorite Pastrami Sandwich

6 oz. sliced pastrami

2 Tbsp. whole-grain mustard

4 oz. beer (optional)

3 slices onion, rings intact

1 Tbsp. oil

Salt and pepper

2 slices rye bread or thick crusty brown bread

Preheat a grill. Season onions with salt and pepper and brush with oil. In a small saucepan combine beer and mustard and bring to a boil. Add pastrami and simmer for 3 minutes. Grill onions on both sides and toast bread on a cooler part of the grill. When all ingredients are heated, prepare sandwich.