And finally, we present you with the conclusionary entry to the “Second-Most Wonderful Time of the Year” series. Welcome to August! As this month is also known as “Family Fun” and “Picnic” Month, I have opted to cater to these specifications for the blog entry. My go-to and all-important characteristic for each celebration? The great outdoors! Lather on the mosquito spray – it’s time to get in touch with nature! (Just don’t let nature get in touch with you, because poison oak is no joke. Seriously. Ouch.)
Sunday, August 10 – National S’mores Day
Let’s start the month off warm, toasty, and my most favorite way of all time – with S’mores! Though their origin is not completely certain, many give credit to the Girl Scouts of America for their ingenuity with delicious resources. The recipe for “Some Mores” appears for the first time in their 1927 publication entitled Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, describing a layer of chocolate along with a camp-fired marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers. “Some Mores” later resulted in the conjunction “S’mores”, and America has been thankful ever since. I am notorious for always wanting to enjoy s’mores under the most bizarre circumstances – most of which include 100+ degree and 100% humidity summers along the Texas coast. Luckily, here in Ohio, the weather is much more permissive to my notions. Also luckily, so is Creative Cuisine, with the perfect suit for this perfect day in the form of the Build Your Own S’mores Station complete with all the fixings and an indoor-safe roasting fire, in case “the outdoors” isn’t your thing. Still want to celebrate, but think your 2-year-old’s birthday party may not be the ideal setting for an open flame? Try our S’moresmallows – soft marshmallow sticks dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in graham cracker crumbs!
Friday, August 15 – Relaxation Day
Not that you need an excuse to kick back, but if you did – today has you covered. Take a long walk, go to the pool and get some sun, veg out and watch a movie, or just spend the day taking part in a series of long naps. If none of these options suit your fancy, try my personal favorite relaxation medium: eating! Believe it or not, dear reader, many foods provide your body with certain nutrients that facilitate the relaxation process. After doing a bit of research, I was able to compile quite the list of foods with relaxing agents, so for your convenience, I have summarized these soothing selections in a handy-dandy, alphabetically-ordered chart. This chart lists the food item, followed by the component within the food that provides the relaxing quality, and then the “effect” the diner experiences due to the relaxing component. There is so much to choose from!
|Avocado||Glutathione||Stress-proofs & prevents fat absorption|
|Berries||Vitamin C||Combats stress: lowers blood pressure & cortisol levels|
|Brazil Nuts||Selenium||Combats anxiety, depression, and fatigue|
|Dark Chocolate||Flavanoid (antioxidant)||Lowers cortisol levels|
|Green Tea||Theanine (amino acid)||Reduces anxiety, promotes sleep|
|Leafy Greens (Spinach, basil, etc.)||Magnesium||Relaxes muscles, calms nerves|
|Milk||Lactium, antioxidants||Calms: lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles|
|Oatmeal||Seratonin kickstarter||All day serenity and calm|
|Oranges||Vitamin C||Combats stress: lowers blood pressure & cortisol levels|
|Potatoes||Vitamin C||Combats stress: lowers blood pressure & cortisol levels|
|Salmon, Shrimp||Omega 3 Fatty Acid||Stress-proofs, keeps cortisol & adrenaline levels in check|
|Walnuts||Omega 3 Fatty Acid||Stress-proofs, keeps cortisol & adrenaline levels in check|
And that isn’t even everything! You may have been surprised to see some of these foods on here, and others were probably not much of a shocker, but the big takeaway: healthy food = healthy mood. Now, as far as the celebration is concerned, for obvious reasons, your relaxing evening absolutely has to take place outdoors, preferably in a spacious and private backyard. Provide your guests with tons of tables and seating (apply within for rental details!) and translate these healthy helpings into a mild-mannered menu. Begin with a Browsing Station for your Hors d’Oeuvres Hour: Guacamole in Tortilla Cups, Atlantic Oysters on the Half Shell with Zesty Orange Scented Cocktail Sauce, Spicy Cilantro Shrimp in Phyllo Cups, and a Fresh Berry Blend fruit display to start the relaxation off right. Create a calming buffet starting with Baby Spinach Salad with a Raspberry Vinaigrette. Offer Barbecue Salmon Filets and Citrus Orange Chicken complemented by Grilled Garden Fresh Asparagus and Healthy Golden Roasted Potatoes. Serve a plated dessert, so as not to require your guests to interrupt their relaxation by getting up: provide Assorted Dark Chocolate Truffles with an ice-cold glass of White Milk. Another consideration: serve slowly through means of different courses to accommodate that “series of long naps” relaxation method previously recommended. Ahhh, naps are the best. Thanks, Relaxation Day!
Tuesday, August 26 – National Cherry Popsicle Day
Legend has it that in 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson revolutionized the dessert industry when he created ‘the drink that was eaten’ when he accidentally left a cup filled with powdered soda, water, and a stir stick on his front porch overnight, allowing it to freeze in the unusually chilly temperatures of San Francisco, California. Originally calling it the “Epsicle”, Frank made the name-swap after hearing his children continually refer to it as “Pop’s sicle”. The popsicle now comes in an endless variety of flavors; ranging from the common Orange and Grape, to the more unusual Hibiscus and Red Pepper Mandarin. But what has remained the most popular flavor throughout all these years? You guessed it – Cherry! Celebrate Frank’s legacy, and carry the cherry theme throughout your event with a backyard picnic with all the appropriate red décor. Choose the Ice Cream Treats with cherry popsicles and the Assorted Coke Products Package complete with stemless wine glasses for a Cherry Popsicle Bar. Simply serve your guest’s beverage of choice (Coke, Diet Coke, or Sprite) in the stemless wine glass, unwrap and invert the popsicle, and place it directly in the glass! The popsicle will flavor the drink and keep it cold. Recommended additions to the Cherry Popsicle Bar for your adult patrons: pair the popsicle with champagne or margaritas, or try an Oldfashioned for a signature cocktail. Pair the drinks with a buffet of Pear, Pecan, and Gorgonzola Salad with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette, Pork Medallions with Cherry Sauce, Bourbon and Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, and Brussel Sprouts Tossed with Bacon and Thyme. Dessert Bar of Cherry Cheesecake Dessert Shots, Cherry Cobbler, Miniature Homemade Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies, and Cherry-Blueberry Dessert Bars.
Saturday, August 30 – Toasted Marshmallow Day
Not to be confused with National S’mores Day, Toasted Marshmallow Day is intended to give special honor to the central ingredient of the S’more. Interestingly enough, the “marsh mallow” is actually a plant, indigenous to Africa, whose flowers were used for medicinal purposes, specifically for sore throats, dating back to Ancient Egypt. Introduced to the French in the 1800s, the marsh mallow sap was mixed with egg white meringue and corn syrup in a laborious process to create a puff candy similar to the modern marshmallow, but the method was simplified by American Alex Doumak’s development of the extrusion process in 1948 which gives marshmallows the cylindrical shape we are oh-so-familiar with. Creative Cuisine’s celebration recommendation: an outdoor Late Night Snack event with the Build Your Own S’mores Station, but this time, skip the chocolates and graham crackers and just go for extra marshmallows! Toast those suckers up to top the selections at your Dessert Assortment Station with Baked Apple Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cinnamon Apple Strudel, and Strawberry-Rhubarb Hand Pies. Don’t forget to include the Ice Cream Bar of Chocolate, Vanilla, and Salty Caramel Ice Creams with Ice Cream Sundae Toppings. Butler-pass Brûléed-Marshmallow-Topped Coffee and Hot Chocolate in Irish Coffee Mugs, White Milk in Highball Glasses, and Chocolate Milkshake Shooters.
So take a step back, and enjoy the little things. Relax, and have a cherry popsicle as you wait for the fire to reach the perfect toasting temperature for those ‘mallows. Winter may be just around the corner, but enjoy the sun and warmth as much as you can. After all, this is the Second-Most Wonderful Time of the Year.