Friday, November 18, 2016


President Obama

   The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation is an annual ceremony that takes place in the White House Rose Garden.  The tradition officially began in 1947, when members of the National Turkey Federation presented President Truman with the National Thanksgiving Turkey.  The ceremony allows the president to unofficially usher in the holiday season, and to reflect upon the meaning and value of the Thanksgiving holiday.  What makes this annual ritual so whimsical and memorable is that, for many years, the presidents has spared the life of the National Turkey by granting it a presidential "pardon".  Here are some fascinating facts about the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation.


President Clinton

  • It is believed that the tradition goes all the way back to the administration of President Abraham Lincoln.  As the story goes, President Lincoln spared the life of a turkey out of love and loyalty to his son, Tad, who wanted to keep it as a pet.


President Truman

  • There is no evidence that President Harry Truman ever pardoned a turkey.  Staffers at the Truman library have not been able to uncover any documents,speeches or newspaper clippings that prove otherwise. (even though he's pictured with one ) To the contrary, President Truman would often rib reporters by suggesting that the National Turkey would end up on the family dinner table.

President Reagan
  • There are differences of opinion regarding when the custom of "pardoning" the National Turkey began.  Some believe that it started with President Kennedy, others believe it was George H.W. Bush who "pardoned" the first Nation Turkey.

President Bush Sr.
  • Turkeys chosen to be candidates for the National Turkey are given VIP treatment.  They are separated from the flock, hand fed, and are trained to interact with people.  All this pampering and training helps to ensure that the National Turkey will be poised and well-behaved at the Rose Garden ceremony, that is what is hoped for, anyway.


President Nixon


  • A first runner up is always selected along with the Naitonal Thanksgiving Turkey.  This is done as a precaution just in case anything should happen that would prevent the National Turkey from fulfilling his duties and obligations. (possibly some nude photos from years ago will crop up)


President Ford

  • Believe it or not, for many years pardoned National Thanksgiving Turkeys and those selected as the first runner up lived out the remain years of their lives at Frying Pan Park in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Since 2005, however, they have been sent to the Disneyland Resort and Theme Park in Anaheim, California, where they become part of the holiday display and serve as honorary Grand Marshals for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.

President Bush Jr.

  • The White House has a contest on its web site for naming the National Thansgiving Turkey and the first runner up.  Members of the National Turkey Federation come up with a list of possible names, and the public votes for a pair of winners.  Winning names of the mast have included "Flyer and Fryer", "Marshmallow and Yam". and "Biscuits and Gravey".

President Kennedy







   Cranberry's are actually an evergreen shrub or vine.  The fruit starts out white and turns a deep red as they ripen.  The leading producer of cranberries is Wisconsin where half of the U.S. production of cranberries is harvested.  The second largest U.S. producer is the State of Massachusetts, and they grow 28% of the total domestic production.  The peak growing season for is from October to January, just in time for the holidays.  The Native Americans were the first known people to use cranberries as food and probably taught the early settlers about them.  Those two facts together may be how cranberries are considered traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas food.
  The Indians made a dish called pemmican, that is a mixture of cranberries and venison or bear meat, but they also used cranberries for medicine and for dye.  Cranberries are rather tart and not usually eaten raw.  Instead they are used primarily as sauces, juice or sweetened dried cranberries.


   When buying cranberries, you want to choose hard, shiny berries that are bright red.  They will keep in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 days and they can be frozen for 2 to 3 months.
   Cranberry sauce is one of the most common uses for cranberries, and it is easy to make, it is simply cranberries, boiling water and sugar.  Incidentally, it takes about 1 pound of cranberries to equal 4 cups of fruit.  Besides cranberry sauce, they are good sweetened and used as a topping for ice cream, cake or custard.  They are also often used as a glaze for ham or chicken.  Cranberries are extremely versatile and can be used in relish, in dressing or mixed with other fruits.
   Cranberries have approximately 26 calories for a 3 1/2 ounce serving and are a great source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.  Pioneer sea captains ate cranberries to prevent them from getting scurvy.  They are also believed to help provide protection from bacterial and viral infections so cranberries are definitely good for you.

Cranberry harvesting


   Cranberries are also a great addition to a gelatin salad, especially if you add apple or crushed pineapple along with some nuts.  You can also chop us cranberries and use them in muffins in place of blueberries or cook them until the skins pop, run them through a sieve and used the pulp in cranberry bread.
   Yes, cranberries are one of those things we connect with a pretty table spread with a large turkey or ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie, but they are useful for much more.  With all the emphasis on food in the 21st century, cranberries have gained recognition as a "superfruit" because of their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities.  So, this year, try some new cranberry recipes; or be different, freeze some and eat them in February or March instead of November and December.



   We all remember our first slice of cheesecake-that gooey, delicious dessert that almost melted in our mouths.  What you may not have realized is that the original cheesecake looked and tasted nothing like what we enjoy today.  Before you grab another slice of this tasty dessert, take some time to learn about the cheesecake origins you never knew.


Cheesecake History Starts in Ancient Greece

   The first cheese cakes were thought to be made in Ancient Greece.  On the island of Samos, archaeologists reported they found cheese molds that dated back to 2,000 B.C.-that means cheesecake is more than 4000 years old!  In Ancient Greece, cheesecake was not the creamy dessert treat we recognize today.  Instead, athletes used it as an energy source before the first Olympic games in 776 B.C. and newlyweds served it at their wedding reception.
   The Greek writer Athenaeus is credited with recording the original cheesecake recipe.  The simple cake included just wheat,flour, honey and cheese.  The cheese was pounded until it was smooth, mixed with honey and wheat flour then the batter was heated and served.

Roman Influences on the Original Cheesecake Recipe

   When Romans conquered Greece, they took the opportunity to put their own twist on the cheesecake recipe.  Romans crushed the cheese, instead of pounding it, and added eggs to the mixture.  Like the Greeks, Romans served their cheesecake-or "libuma", as they called it, on special occasions.  Politician Marcus Cato was the first Roman to write down their version of the recipe.

The Cheesecake Discovery takes over Europe

   As Romans moved through Europe, they brought cheesecake along.  Soon, all of Eastern Europe and Great Britain was enjoying the cake.  Each region used ingredients unique to the area and the cheesecake we recognize began to take shape.  The biggest change to the original cheesecake recipe came during the 18th century, when beaten eggs were used instead of yeast.  This made cheesecake less like bread and more like cake.

Adding Cream Cheese to the Mix

   When Europeans came to America, they brought the cheesecake recipe along.  Little did they know, they were opening this recipe up to one of its most distinctive changes.  In 1872, a New York dairy farmer was trying to make Neufchatel at his home.  Instead of recreating the French cheese, the farmer made the first cream cheese.  The distinctive cheese was packaged under the Philadelphia brand and sold in 1875.  More than 50 years later, the Kraft Company purchased the cream cheese recipe and is still making it today.


The Original New York Style Cheesecake

   New York cheesecake is a favorite for its smooth texture that comes from extra egg yolks.  In the 1900's, cheesecake was the hot dessert at New York restaurants-just about every restaurant had its own version on the menu.  However none of these were the New York cheesecake we know today.  The unique cheesecake is said to have its origins with a sandwich maker.  According to the story, sandwich shop owner Arnold Reuben (1883-1970) attended a dinner party at which the hostess served a cheese pie.  Rueben said he was so intrigued by the pie that he kept experimenting with the recipe until New York cheesecake was born.

More American Additions to Cheesecake History

   New York is not the only place in America to claim a distinct way to make cheesecake.  Pennsylvania Dutch cheesecake uses farmer's cheese, which has bigger curds and more water than other kinds of cheese.  The "country-style" version of cheesecake uses buttermilk to get more texture and increase the cake's shelf life.

Cheesecake Variations Around the World

   Countries around the world are still putting their own spins on the classic dessert as well.  In Bulgaria, a cheesecake will be made with cream cheese and a heavy souring cream known as smetena.  French cheesecake used Neufchael cheese and gelatin to keep the cheese together.  Meanwhile in Poland, cheesecakes are made with fresh cheese known as quark.



   I know there are thousands,  if not millions of chocolate lovers out there.  I happen to be one of those people and have tried several different chocolate treats in my lifetime.  So what do I consider to be the top chocolate treats?  I find that there are several different chocolate treat categories and there are treats in each category that are better than the rest.  This article will stick to foods you can buy in almost any grocery store.  These chocolate treats are low in price but high in taste.


Candy bars:  We've all tried several varieties of this chocolate treat, but which ones are the best?  Throughout my life, my tastes have changed and I've had several different favorites.  My favorites lean now to either the milky way bar , with it's chocolate and caramel, or a nice big snickers bar, with the chocolate and caramel and a little dose of peanuts to go with it.


Ice Cream:  Let's face it, just plain old chocolate ice cream is wonderful. It's right up there with vanilla.  Vanilla you say?  But I thought this was about things chocolate.  You're right, but vanilla is like a canvas of a painting you can add anything to it to make it whatever flavor you're craving at the time.  Anything from hot fudge to chocolate chips, a little or a lot, it's up to you to decide.  When we talk ice cream it's all about the quality of it and the QUANTITY  of it.  We can go to the local market and get anything from rocky road to brownie batter ( chocolate ice cream with chunks of brownies.  The ice cream world is your oyster, shuck it and eat it all up!!!


Cookies:  When most of us think of a cookie, it's probably a nice, chewy, gooy, dunk in your milk, chocolate chip cookies.  My family can't even wait for them to go into the oven, they'd rather eat cookie doe instead.  You can  make up a batch of them and after they come out of the oven, take some chocolate chips, put them in a microwave safe bowl,  and when the chocolate has melted,  dip half of the chocolate cookies in it for a little bit of a chocolate high!


Snack Cakes:  Nothing says comfort food more than a box of individually wrapped ding dongs or ho ho's!  A couple of them with a glass of ice cold milk hits the spot.  I don't think there's a snack cake made that isn't good.


Candies:  When you think of loose chocolate candies, does anything come to mind?  Anyone??  Anyone??....You in the back row,  with your hand up, what is it?.......I box of See's candy sir!  Nuts and chews if you please!!.....Good answer!  Good answer! 
   Anything from truffles to chocolate covered almonds with caramel and everything in between.  Like Forrest Gump always says, "Life is like a box a chocolates! You never know what you're gonna get!"  So be sure that it's a good quality chocolate,  not a box of some unknown companies chocolates that you got at the Dollar Store (that sure doesn't taste like the chocolate I'm used to!).

   While there are several other chocolate treat categories, these are some of the best.  I hope this article made you think of all of the different flavors and smells coming this holiday season and make sure you eat it in moderation.   So next time when you're having a craving for more of that ding dong or those nuts and chews, there will be some more for you to eat, that little stash you keep for yourself,  your family doesn't know about.