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Deal with Holiday Stress & Beat the Winter Blues

The holiday season is here.  It is time for family get-togethers, decorating, shopping, gift-wrapping, baking, and attending special events.  You and your family may feel stressed because of the extra demands placed upon already busy schedules.  We put too much pressure on ourselves to create the “perfect” family occasion.  The three main causes of  stress  are relationships, finances, and physical demands.   Sometimes emotional disappointments combined with excess fatigue and stress result in post-holiday letdown.    It can take us the rest of the winter to recover.

 The  following  25  tips  can  help  you  to  avoid  stress  overload  and  ward  off  the  “blues”  :    Make time for yourself each day to relax and plan ahead.

  1. Remind yourself to slow down, take 3-10 deep breaths and relax!      
  2. Check our attitude – Focus on peace, love, joy, and fun!
  3. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. Avoid scheduling too many extra activities and obligations.  It is OK to say NO! Try these statements:  “Yes, if you’ll help me!”, “I really can’t give that the attention it deserves right now.”, or “I’d love to, but right now I just can’t.”  
  4. Don’t raise your expectations too high for the holidays.
  5. Get the whole family involved. Share the work and the joy.  Encourage children to keep up with their chores and responsibilities.   Sharing tasks allows everyone to feel like a part of the celebration and fun.
  6. Sit down as a family and make a list of all the things that need to be done. Let them volunteer to help or  delegate tasks.
  7. Make up a calendar that includes dates and times of all activities to attend, and a schedule of when tasks such as cleaning, baking, and shopping need to be done.
  8. Think about cutting out some activities. Ask your family members if they really enjoy and want to continue to do certain activities.  You may be surprised.  What you thought was a “must do”  may not really be enjoyed by most people in your family.
  9. Plan easy meals. Double batch casseroles and put one in the freezer for a quick meal.
  10. Control your holiday eating by not overeating; eating only what you really need; eating light healthy snacks; and drinking plenty of water (at least 8 glasses or 64 ounces or half of your weight in ounces of water).
  11. Exercise regularly for 30 minutes, get 6-10 hours of sleep, and don’t skip breakfast.
  12. Keep children’s eating and sleep routines as close to normal as possible to prevent them from becoming cranky, overtired, or getting sick.
  13. Expect young children to misbehave occasionally. Remember that they have short attention spans and tire easily.  Continue to enforce rules and limits.  Children need a stable and predictable world!
  14. Keep traditions and family gatherings simple. Allow for flexibility. 
  15. Shop with spending plan and gift ideas for each person. Stick to the spending limits you’ve set to avoid overspending.   When you spend more than you can afford, you prolong the stress into the New Year.
  16. Resist comparisons. Others may be able to do or give more, but more is not always better!
  17. Remember that people are more important than things, events, or tasks.
  18. Focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. Count your blessings.
  19. Focus on sharing and doing for others rather than receiving (What can I do to help others?).
  20. Discuss holiday schedules and traditions ahead of time. This way, the child and all family members can plan ahead and know what to expect.
  21. When visiting, share your plans with your host/parents, so everyone knows what to expect.
  22. Realize that there will be disappointments as well as excitement and friction as well as happiness.
  23. Don’t expect yourself or those around you to be at their best all the time.
  24. Laugh! Look for ways to keep humor in your life.  It’s good for you!

Happy Thanksgiving & Merry Christmas!  See you in 2019 at an Extension program!


Melanie Allen, REA, Family & Child Development

 256-200-2996    allenmg@aces.edu        



The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  Everyone is welcome!  www.aces.edu



Fall into Health Eating

Perhaps we eat more simply because bathing suit season is over, and we can start hiding excess calories beneath our winter clothes. Whatever the reason, it’s important to realize that fall foods (soups, stews, breads, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, pumpkins and all types of greens) can actually be healthier than foods of other seasons. They are typically packed with great nutrients, such as fiber, protein, beta carotene and vitamin C. Here are a few tips to keep the fall tasty and healthy:

Soups are great for you if they’re not made with cream or cheese. Just watch serving sizes–we tend to eat whatever’s in our bowls.

Stews can be hearty and fattening. Use loads of fresh vegetables, and go light on the meat and potatoes.

Avoid unconscious eating while watching football and the new fall TV lineup. Never bring the whole bag or bowl of anything to the couch or coffee table–pre-measure it in the kitchen beforehand. When it comes to chips, make sure they’re baked, not fried.

For pizza, watch the toppings–they can double the calories.

Celebrate the fall harvest in other ways besides making pies. Apples are low in calories when they’re off the tree, not in a pie.

If it’s got to be pie, try making pumpkin pie with artificial sweetener, egg whites and low-fat milk. And of course, just have one piece. Keep in mind that pumpkin seeds have about 300 calories per 1/4 cup.

Turkey is healthy, as long as you keep it lean and white.

Get out and enjoy the fall weather. The air is cooler, the leaves are turning and the countryside becomes more scenic. It’s the perfect time to go outdoors and do something: Take walks on the beach or by the lake; go to the zoo; or ride a bike.

Keep in mind that once we set the clocks back, it gets darker earlier, so there are fewer outdoor options for physical activities in the evening. Make adjustments by joining a gym, planning evening walks at the mall or becoming an early riser.


Taco Soup

2 lb. ground beef, browned and drained

1 onion, chopped

1 package taco mix

1 package ranch dressing mix

1 large can diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 can whole kernel corn (undrained)

1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 can chili beans (undrained

1 can black beans (drained and washed)

Combine, cook, and serve. This is good for a large crowd.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  Everyone is welcome!

 Elaine Softley, MS, Home Science Agent II, Family Nutrition and Health

Alabama Cooperative Extension System

2018 Farm-City Contest

Marion County Rules: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/09/Farm-City-2018-Rules.pdf

State Rules: http://alabamafarmcity.org/

County Prizes Provided by the Marion County ALFA Farmer’s Federation

1st Place $50.00

2nd Place $25.00

3rd Place $15.00

**ALL submissions must be made to the Marion County Extension Office by October 31st, 2018. The Marion County Farm City Committee will select the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. 1st Place work will be submitted by the Marion County Committee for state submission. **

DUE: You can turn in your entry at your scheduled 4-H club meeting or drop off your entry by October 31st, 2018 to the Marion County Extension Office.

The Alabama Territory was carved out of the Mississippi Territory in 1817, and Alabama was admitted to the Union as the 22nd state Dec. 14, 1819. In those days, farming was the way of life for, the majority, of Alabamians, but the interdependence between urban and rural communities was already evident. Cities sprang up along major waterways, which farmers relied on to ship goods from land-locked areas to worldwide markets via the Port of Mobile. In the past 200 years, technology has transformed Alabama’s agricultural footprint and its cityscapes. The old mule and plow have been replaced by GPS-enabled tractors and cover crops. Farmers have embraced the importance of crop rotation and agricultural diversification to conserve soil nutrients and protect against market fluctuations. The former “Cotton State” now produces a vast array of agricultural products-from timber, beef, pork and poultry to fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, corn and soybeans. The once bustling riverfronts teeming with farmers, merchants and traders have grown into densely populated city centers with towering skyscrapers. Today, numerous city-dwellers never drive past or walk by a working farm. Regardless of a person’s chosen career-be it lawyer, doctor, mechanic, banker, teacher or scientist-everyone relies on agriculture for food, clothing, shelter and much more. We celebrate the contributions of our state’s farmers over the past 200 years.

Call the Extension Office with any questions. (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu

Open Monday-Friday 7:30am-12:00pm & 12:30pm-4:00pm

372 7th Avenue SW Hamilton, AL 35570


2018 4-H Summer Day Camps

All Marion County 4-H Events are open to all youth in Marion County Ages 9-18 years old. Alabama 4-H and Auburn University require that all youth be at least 9 years old as of January 1st, 2018 in order to participate in any 4-H Events.


2 Day RiverKids Event Cost: $5

JUNE 6: 8:30am-11:30am Meet at the Extension Office. Lunch Provided.

JUNE 7: 9:00am-12:00pm RiverKids Float (Location Disclosed June 6th)

2 Day RiverKids Event Cost: $5

JUNE 14: 8:30am-11:30am Meet at the Extension Office. Lunch Provided.

JUNE 15: 9:00am-11:30am RiverKids Float (Location Disclosed June 14th)

2 Day RiverKids Event Cost: $5

JUNE 21: 8:30am-11:30am Meet at the Extension Office. Lunch Provided.

JUNE 22: 9:00am-1:00pm RiverKids Float (Location Disclosed June 21st)

REQUIRED FORMS: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/05/Summer-Day-Camp-Forms-1.pdf

FLYER: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/05/2018-Summer-Day-Camp-Flyer-1.pdf


JULY 9th: Painting/Art Day Camp Cost: $5 (Spaces are first come, first serve)

8:30am-12:30pm Supplies and Lunch Provided.

Come enjoy a day of painting with Mandi Sexton and the 4-H Agent.

JULY 11th: Archery/Wildlife Day Camp Cost: $5  (Spaces are first come, first

11:30am-3:00pm Supplies and Lunch Provided.

Come try Archery with the Hamilton Parks and Recreation staff and learn about wildlife conservation with Matt Brock , Wildlife Biologist

JULY 12th: Cooking Day Camp Cost: $5   (Spaces are first come, first serve)

8:30am-12:30pm Supplies, Lunch, and Snacks Provided.

Come cook your own lunch and snack with Susan Hill, Food Safety Regional Extension Agent

JULY 13th: Cupcake Decorating Day Camp Cost: $5  (Spaces are first come, first serve)

8:30am-12:30pm Supplies and Lunch Provided.

Learn cake/cupcake decorating basics and take home your own baked treats!

**The Alabama Cooperative Extension system encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Rebecca Danley at (205)921-3551 in advance of your participation or visit. **

REQUIRED FORMS: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/05/Summer-Day-Camp-Forms.pdf

FLYER: http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/05/2018-Summer-Day-Camp-Flyer.pdf

Call or email the 4-H Agent with any questions. Spaces will be filled on a first paid, first served basis. (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu



2018 4-H County Round-Up

Project Ideas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vkfstHOKKE

Photos from the 2017 County Round-Up Event: https://www.facebook.com/pg/marioncountyal4h/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1698085383818391


County Round-Up Event Schedule May 17th, 2018

8:30am – 9:00am            Registration (Bevill State Community College Community Building)

9:00am – 9:15am            General Assembly/Set up Exhibits

9:15am – 11:30pm          Competitions/Outdoor Games

11:40pm-12:40pm          Lunch

12:50pm – 1:30pm         Awards in the Bevill Community Center (Parents are welcome to attend)

1:30pm                              Bus Dismissal

County Round-Up is a reward for active 4-H members! It’s also a celebration of what 4-Her’s have learned and the skills they have developed throughout the 4-H Year! The Marion County 4-H Round-Up is a great place for each Marion County 4-H member to “show off” their talents. Junior winners are selected in each event and will advance to the Regional Competition in June at Bevill State Community College in Sumiton, AL. Senior winners are selected in each event and will advance to State Competitive Events Day in July at the Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana, AL.

Youth attending 4-H Round-Up MUST compete in at least ONE competition, and may compete in up to TWO competitions. Youth MUST sign up for their County Round-Up Competition with their 4-H Teacher/Sponsor/School Secretary by April 13th (they will have the sign up sheet after your scheduled March 4-H Meeting). Spaces will fill up quickly so register ASAP!

Required Field Trip Form MUST be returned to your child’s SCHOOL (not the Extension office) by April 27th in order to attend County Round-Up. (this form doesn’t apply to Winfield Students): http://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/04/2018-Marion-County-Schools-field-trip-parent-permissions-form.pdf

All youth are expected to follow the 4-H Rules found below for their selected competition. Please call or email the Extension Office if you would like the rules printed and delivered to your school (205)921-3551 or rgd0007@aces.edu.

**Please click on the name of the competition below to view the rules.**


  • Chef 4-H (Individual Event) This Event will be held May 15th at 5:30pm at the Extension Office. Youth still get to come to Round-Up on the 17th and the winners will be announced then.
  • Freestyle Demonstration (Individual Event or Team of 2)
  • Poultry Que (Individual Event)



Questions? Ask your teacher or call the 4-H Agent, Rebecca Danley

4-H Music Education Matters Summit Scholarship Application Open Now

2018 4-H Music Education Matters Summit 

Deadline to Apply: May 1, 2018 4:00pm

Send all submissions to Rebecca Danley via email rgd0007@aces.edu

Scholarship Applicationhttp://offices.aces.edu/marion/wp-content/uploads/sites/56/2018/04/4-H-Music-Summit-Scholarship-Application.pdf

The Georgia 4-H Music Education Matters Summit will take place at the Rock Eagle Georgia 4-H Center July 17th-19th. Youth will get to watch the Georgia Clovers and Company perform on July 18th. Youth will be working with industry specialists in their selected area of interest to learn and practice techniques, grow in music education, network with industry specialists and youth from around the nation, and get to perform what they’ve learned on the last day of the Summit. This is an excellent opportunity for any youth in grades 8th-12th interested in getting into the music/theater/art industry. Incomplete applications and late submissions will not be considered. The scholarship covers travel from the Alabama 4-H Center to Rock Eagle Georgia 4-H Center, meals, and lodging for 2 days and 3 nights. Please contact Rebecca Danley with any questions you might have.

2017 Facebook Video: https://www.facebook.com/marioncountyal4h/videos/1726112444349018/

January is National Soup Month!

News Article from Susan Hill

January is the perfect month for soup!  Soup is a great menu item for lunches and dinners.

You can add different condensed soup over rice or noodles to make a quick and easy meal which takes no time at all.  There are so many varieties of soup, everyone is sure to enjoy something. Whether you enjoy the creamy varieties, condensed or chunky, they’ll make your mealtime enjoyable, especially with their low fat, reduced sodium and healthier versions.
Since it is National Soup Month there are some fun facts about soup, which to me was very interesting! Check some of these out.

Soup lovers across America consume more than 10 billion bowls of soup each year. On average, American consumers stock six cans of soup in their pantries at all times. Soup can even be used to refresh leftovers from a previous meal. Two cups of rice, pasta or mashed potatoes and a can of your favorite chunky style soup make a quick and easy dinner that’s ready in minutes and costs under $4.

The three most popular varieties of soups are chicken noodle, cream of mushroom, and tomato.   These varieties are among the top ten in grocery purchases every week.  Many soups are a ‘secret’ ingredient in a favorite recipe.  Some people believe that soup is the perfect weapon in weight loss because it gives a feeling of satiety with fewer calories.

Soup flavors have been inspired by almost every country around the world… From Mexican-style to Italian-style, soup is literally a cultural melting pot!  It is suggested that in the late 1700s, a French king was so enamored with himself that he had his royal chefs create a soup that would allow him to see his own reflection in the bowl. As a result, consommé (clear broth) was born.

Soup is a great, easy and cost-effective way to get a full serving of vegetables.  Soup is also a breakfast food in many cultures. In Japan, the day is started with a bowl of miso soup or fish broth with rice. In France, children traditionally eat leftover homemade soup before going to school. And, in any country, soup can take center-stage in delicious breakfast dishes like Egg Noodle Breakfast or Spinach Mushroom Frittata.

Frank Sinatra always asked for chicken and rice soup to be available to him in his dressing rooms before he went on stage. And, what a great idea that was! There’s nothing like a delicious, soothing bowl of soup to get you ready to do anything – even belting out a few tunes!

Although there is no official origin of the pairing of the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, government-issued cookbooks tell us that World War II U.S. Navy cooks broiled hundreds of “American cheese filling sandwiches” in ship’s kitchens. The tasty combination was economical, easy to make, and because tomato soup is packed with vitamin C, it met government nutrition standards.


Other interesting facts about soups are:

The colors of Campbell’s soup labels, red and white, come from the colors of the Cornell University football team.

In Nebraska, it is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are brewing a pot of soup.

A 12th century physician named Moses Maimonides first prescribed chicken soup as a cold and asthma remedy. More recently, University of Nebraska researcher found that chicken soup may ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. So, when you’re fighting off a winter cold, simply enjoy a steaming-hot bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Soup etiquette reigns supreme in New Jersey, with a law in Ocean City, making it illegal to slurp soup.

Now we can see can see why January would be the perfect month for soup!

Cream of Potato Soup

1 ½ cups water

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped onion

2 beef bouillon cubes

1 ½ cups unseasoned mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons corn-oil margarine

2 cups skim milk

½ teaspoon paprika, or to taste

Combine water, celery, and onions in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until mushy, about 30 minutes. Strain mixture (should make about 1 cup liquid). Add bouillon cubes to hot liquid and stir until dissolved. While liquid is still hot, pour it over potatoes in saucepan. Stir. Add the margarine, milk, and paprika. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly.

Makes 4 servings. One serving: 1 cup

One serving contains; 162 calories, 2 mg cholesterol; 548 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrates, 7 g protein, 6 g fat or 33% of total calories.

Note: To reduce sodium, use 3 teaspoons low-sodium beef bouillon in place of 2 regular bouillon cubes.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  Everyone is welcome!






Holiday Food Safety Tips: Out with the Old and In with the New

By April Hill, Regional Extension Agent Food Safety and Quality


Reckless Thawing

OLD HABIT: More than one out of four Americans admit to thawing their frozen turkey or other main meat dish on the kitchen counter, in the oven or even under hot water in the kitchen sink.  Many people also forget to allow enough time for a large turkey to thaw completely.

NEW TRADITION: To prevent the spread of harmful bacteria, frozen meats should be thawed in the refrigerator. Or, if pressed for time, you can thaw a wrapped frozen turkey in a large pot of cold running water do not thaw in warm water in the sink. Or for smaller pieces of meat you can thaw it as you cook it or defrost in the microwave.  Remember a large 10-15 lb. turkey could take up to 3 days to thaw in the refrigerator.

Holding Out on Hot Stuff

Old Habit: Nearly four out of five home cooks think it’s necessary to wait until the foods cool completely before putting them in the refrigerator because it will cause the temperature to rise in the refrigerator.

New Tradition: When storing leftover foods in the refrigerator they should be cooled quickly or put in the refrigerator in less than 2hours.  To insure that foods will cool down in the refrigerator make sure you cut up meats and put larger containers of food in smaller more shallow pans.  Make sure your refrigerator is 41 degrees or lower and that your freezer is 0 degrees or less.

Covered Dish Delivery

Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold

Old Habit: Three out of five holiday families typically travel for at least one hour with their homemade holiday dishes to a relative or friend’s home.

New Tradition: If it’s going to take more than an hour consider packing your cold dish in a cooler or hot dish in an insulated bag to keep it safe and bacteria-free.  Keep hot foods 140 degrees or hotter and cold foods 41 degrees or lower.

Rocking the Gravy Boat

Old Habit: While a majority of home cooks remember to bring gravy to a boil before serving it, many forget the same rule also applies during the encore presentation. In fact, more than half just reheat leftover gravy in the microwave until it’s hot before serving again.

New Tradition: In order to eliminate harmful bacteria, always bring leftover gravy to a boil on the stove before serving it a second or even third time around.  Always reheat foods to 165 degrees

Cooking all Night

Old Habit:  Many people prepare some of their foods like turkey, dressing and some casseroles during the night by turning the oven down to 250 degrees or lower so they will slowly cook.

New Tradition: Either cook the day before refrigerate and reheat to 165 degrees the day of the meal or cook two smaller turkeys at 325 degrees or go out for lunch.  Foods like turkey should not be cooked below 325 degrees because cooking any lower is adding flames to the fire of the already growing bacteria that is there.  Cook an unstuffed 8-10lb Turkey at 325 degrees in an oven cooking bag for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hrs.  It should be 180 degrees when measured with a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or breast.

Too Hurried to Clean

Old Habit:  Many people have lots of people or family in during the holidays and too many times we either have so many in the kitchen or visited the night before and did not take time to clean the kitchen well.

New Tradition:  Always try to clean counters and utensils well and wash your hands before and during the cooking process to prevent cross contamination.  Cooking ahead of time and freezing is a great option too to save time.  Make sure your helpers in the kitchen wash their hands often too.

Storing Foods on the Porch or in the Cold Garage

Old Habit: Many people like to store their pies, cakes and some meat on the porch or in the garage that is not insulated because of lack of storage space and you know great great great grandmother always did this.

New Tradition: Unless you live in Alaska this would not be a good idea because it would need to be 41 degrees or cooler to maintain what refrigerator temperatures would be.  Also animals could happen along and either eat or do something worse to your food.   Also great great great grandmother did not have the environment and additives we have today most of their food was raised on a farm and everything was fresh and more than likely her immune system was much stronger than most of ours today.

Toooooo Many Leftovers

Old Habit: Many people believe leftovers as long as they are kept in the refrigerator will last 7-10 days.

New Tradition: Foods not eaten within 3-4 days should be thrown away.  After 6 or 7 days or more do not feed to animals either.  Leftovers used within 4 days should be reheated to 165 degrees.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University), is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  Everyone is welcome!

Holidays in December 2017

December is full of holidays.  December 1 is National Fried Pie Day.  Everyone loves fried apple pie.  Who knew frying a fruit and a bread would be so yummy.

December 3rd is National Peppermint Latte Day.  Aahh….the Latte, who can resist that pretty heart shaped, espresso and steamed milk goodness in a cup.  Its’ definition, the Italian café latte or ‘milk coffee’ is the beverage of all beverages for most folks.

December 4th is National Cookie Day.  Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodles, and peanut butter, the list is endless.  Our favorite snack dates back to its beginning in the 7th century.

December 5th is National Comfort Food Day.  Comfort food is food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation.  What is your nostalgic or sentimental food or foods?  I have two favorites.  My first is my mom’s chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake.  This is my birthday cake my mother has made for me as long as I can remember.  It’s great, no its Heaven on a plate!! How can anyone not like chocolate cake, and homemade chocolate icing with cherries and walnuts in-between each layer, yes and yes?  I’m sure there are at least 500 calories in a slice.  My second favorites is her homemade biscuits.  Have mercy!!  Another favorite was my grandmother Hood’s dressing at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my Grandmother Robbins’ homemade vegetable soup.  No one can match them.

Comfort foods are prepared as gifts, are prepared when people are sad, happy or just because.  Comfort foods were introduced to us in 1966.  The comfort food evolved due to emotions running high.  Individuals would turn to the food or foods they enjoyed most.  It is said that comfort foods almost are like a medicinal or therapeutic cure for stress.

So what are the chosen comfort above all foods?  In a survey the top five comfort foods are chicken Pot Pie, Chili, Chicken and Dumplings, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Mac& Cheese. It would be hard to list all of America’s favorite comfort.  Other countries have comfort foods too.  Canadians choose milk shakes, egg sandwiches, pea soup and waffles.  In Australia and New Zealand enjoy mutton and sausage and mash, while India likes porridge.  Comfort foods are everywhere.  What is your favorite comfort food?

December 6th is National Microwave Oven day.  The microwave discovered by accident, self- taught American engineer Percy Spencer discovered a way to heat food safely with microwaves. The year was 1945.  I remember using the microwave oven for the first time.  I prepared a baked potato and didn’t wait for the potato to cool.  I really think it cooked my insides it was so hot.

December 7th is National Cotton Candy Day.  Cotton Candy!! That sugary mound of fluff!  Also known as fairy floss, cotton candy dates back to the 1400’s.  Dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton are credited for the invention of machine-spun cotton candy in 1897.

December 8th is National Brownie Day.  Brownies, a cross between a cake and a cookie, were introduced to the United States in late 19th century.  So how did the brownie become a brownie?  Well there are several thought or myths about this.    Three myths that have gained popularity over the years, regarding the creation of the brownie. Myth number one is a chef accidentally added melted chocolate to biscuit dough.  Myth number two is a cook forgot to add flour to the batter. And three, a housewife did not have baking powder and improvised with this new treat.  The story tells that she was baking for guests and decided she would serve them these flattened cakes.  (nationaldaycalendar.com)  Either way myth or mistake it’s a yummy one.

December 9th is National Pastry Day.  Pastries are doughs rolled thinly to make delicious pies, tarts and quiches.  Pastries can be traced back as far as the ancient Mediterranean.  We know this pastry dough as Phyllo dough.  French and Italian introduced cream puffs, and eclairs, Napoleon’s favorite.  There are many pastries to choose from.  They are; short crust pastry – simplest and most common.  The Sweet crust pastry – similar to the short crust but sweeter.  The Flaky pastry – simple pastry that expands when cooked.  The Puff pastry – has many layers that cause it to puff when baked.  The Choux pastry – very light pastry that is often filled with cream or other fillings.  And the Phyllo pastry – paper-thin pastry dough that is used in many layers.

December 14th is National Biscuit and Gravy day.  If a person can learn to make biscuits and gravy, a simple meal, he or she will not ever be hungry.  Biscuits and gravy is a popular breakfast dish in the South. It consists of a doughy biscuit covered in sausage or sawmill gravy, made for the drippings of cooked pork sausage and flavored with black pepper.  The meal was introduced during the American Revolutionary War when food rations were very low.  The doughy biscuit meals was also popular in the south.  Plantation workers prepared the meal frequently due to cost and its abundance.

December 16th is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day.  Anything is good covered with chocolate.

December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day.  Let’s make waffles and pancakes for breakfast, or dinner.

December 19th is National Hard Candy Day and National Oatmeal Muffin Day.  My favorite candy is cinnamon.  My favorite muffin is chocolate chip.  What’s yours?

December 20th is National Sangria Day, December 21st is National French Fried Shrimp Day, December 22nd is National Date Nut Bread Day, and December 23 is National Bake Day.

December 24th is National Egg Nog Day.  Egg Nog is “The armored infantry was Santa Claus, the battle was our Christmas. What else for the elves to do on Christmas Eve but to let their hair down and drink a little eggnog.” ―Hiroshi Sakurazaka. We all know that famous holiday drink, the one sold in stores only during the length of November through December. It’s eggnog!(daysofhteyear.com)

December 25th is National Pumpkin Pie Day, December 26th is National Candy Cane Day, December 27th is National National Fruitcake Day, December 28th is National Box of Chocolates Day, December 29th is National Get on the Scales Day, now who really wants to do that?  December 30th is National Bacon Day, and December 31 is National Vinegar Day.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!