do you have a memorial day tradition?

memorial day

For some it’s the promise of summer. For others, it’s the extra day off with family and friends. And still for others, it’s the food, or the moment  spent in national reflection. It seems there are innumerable reasons to love Memorial Day, and all of these fall high on my list, but as I get older I’m realizing that much of the appeal is that for me, Memorial Day is always the same. Every year I go home to my parents house. We have  a casual garden buffet across the street with the neighborhood, and all walk down to the corner to watch the annual parade. It’s small town America at its best and while the faces change as children grow up and move away, the tradition of it has stuck, and the simple ritual makes it one of my favorite holidays. And this year, my Grammy’s in town! How about you readers? How will you be spending the weekend? — Sarah C.

Photo by Flickr user ginnerobot

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mail order delight: beecher’s handmade cheese

Beechers

While attending this year’s Seattle Cheese Festival, I got to sample pungent roquefort, fruity tomme de savoie and silky chevre that would make any fromage-o-phile drool. But all the time I was tasting, my mind kept wandering back to Seattle’s own Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, whose storefront and cheese making facility are right there at Pike Place Market. Not only do they make America’s best cheddar, the sharp and crumbly Flagship Reserve, but they offer many other curds that have won awards and accolades. One of my favorites has to be the No Woman, a creamy, tangy cheese studded with Jamaican jerk seasoning, brown sugar and cloves. Serve that on a turkey melt with an ice cold beer, and heaven, my friend, can be found on Earth. If you’re not near the Emerald City, don’t fear — Beecher’s ships nationwide. And New Yorkers will be delighted to know that an outpost will be coming to Manhattan in the fall! — Megan B.

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real life test kitchen: bacon candy

BaconCandy

Chicago has many alter egos: the Second City, the City of Big Shoulders, and (of course) the Windy City. To me, Chicago will always be the City Where I Gained Twenty Pounds When I Moved Here Since They Put Bacon on Everything. Seriously, fellow foodies: if you have a crush on bacon, it’s worth the plane fare to spend a just weekend restaurant-hopping in Chicago. We even have an annual Baconfest that sells out faster than the Cubs home opener. Last weekend, I went hog wild (sorry, couldn’t resist!) and whipped up a batch of bacon candy for my fellow Chicagoans to devour. We were in hog heaven. — Katie D. Click for bacon candy! (more…)

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commemorative baking with star wars & pac-man

bakerellaflickr

pacmancake

Is it me, or is 1980 having the best week ever? With Star Wars Episode V and Pac-Man both marking 30th anniversaries (last Friday and Saturday, respectively) we’ve had a ton of ’80s entertainment to celebrate. After spending a bit too much time with Google’s Pac-Man Doodle, I’ll be taking a much-needed moment away from the computer with some commemorative baking. Like-minded Star Wars fans will love these cookie cutters, $19.95 for four at Williams-Sonoma. Partial to Pac-Man? Head over to Instructables for a tutorial on DIY cookie cutters or drool over SFoodie’s list of the 10 Coolest Pac-Man Cakes here. — Sarah C.

Photos by Flickr members Bakerella and Maigh

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the sharpest knives in the drawer

knfesharp

My knives are by far my most used and loved kitchen tools. They weren’t cheap by any means, but when you are a serious cook, you need serious equipment…serious equipment that I had neglected completely for two years. The blades were nicked, chipped, and impossibly dull. Cutting onions was sheer torture. So I finally gave in and took my knives to be professionally hand sharpened — and to be shamed by the proprietor:

“What kind of honing rod are you using on this?”

“Um…nothing. Sorry about all the nicks.”

When I got them back I was delighted with the results: knives sharper then when I brought them home from the store — we’re talking straight razor sharp — that diced up an onion as if it were nothing at all, and with nary a tear in sight! The knife sharpener advised me to get a ceramic honing rod (which is thankfully much cheaper than metal rods) for knife upkeep in between professional sharpening. I’ll never let them go dull again! This all leads to the question: How sharp do you keep your knives? — Megan B.

Photo by Flickr member Coultl

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