The trends hit us hard the last 12 months. With additional social media engagement and everyone more or less having nowhere to go we will gladly hook onto some of the trends to keep life interesting. Remember dalgona: the whipped coffee? Sourdough bread starters? Artistic focaccia? Pancake cereal?
Taking a step back to look at why these food trends were so popular it's easy for me to guess that we all needed something to celebrate and to feel connected to our world outside of the four walls around us. Participating in a trend that could be shared and completing a small project unrelated to the remote work cycle can help keep us stable and feeling accomplished. Since nothing is normal (still) and we are unsure about the future I wanted to introduce a concept that we want to test the waters with:
THE MICRO PARTY
I love to throw a party and usually for a specific reason: birthdays, cuisine celebration, holiday centered, etc. Well the micro party can be arranged for any small reason and can be a singular event or something you plan to do weekly or monthly. Some cultures make events out of the mid-week - Little Saturdays in Scandanvian culture are little get-togethers on Wednesday that mark the halfway point through the work week in a positive way. A little get together with some snacks and a beverage can give a sense of reward for being halfway through the week and strengthen your social connections by seeing some friendly faces. We can all find a reason to celebrate a small event. I get the ball rolling by suggesting having a micro party because...
... the baby slept through the night (a couple times in a row!)
... the car was paid off this month!
... the first flower appeared on your lawn - WELCOME SPRING!
... you perfected your signature Indian Samosa recipe!
... the limited release of your favorite beer is going on now!
... you ran 3X this week when you told yourself you needed to start getting active again!
There are a bunch of other reasons that you can find to celebrate the little things and I am introducing a small micro party series for DiRosco Arrosticini where we will celebrate some of the goofy "National Days". These national days can be things like National Majong Day or National Lighthouse Day; the next few weekends we have some pretty cool national days and we want to have a reason to power through the winter and come out on the other side to spring.
First up is National Strawberry Day, which falls on February 27 2021. Strawberries are a perennial plant that come from the rose family. If you have access to farms nearby, now is a good time to start scouting out the Strawberry Picking fields in your area as the season can begin as early as April in some parts of the USA. The best time to pick strawberries is on cloudy days and wait to wash them until right before consuming because it will make them spoil faster.
This week, in honor of celebrating for celebrations sake - we are making a stuffed french toast filled with strawberries. This handheld breakfast treat will be made with shokupan (Japanese Milk Bread) and stuffed with strawberry jam, cream and fresh strawberries. If you are in the area this Saturday come on by for the micro party at 140 W 4th St in Downtown Williamsport
If you go out and pick your own strawberries this year and end up with too many to eat right away take a chance to try another 2020 trend and can your own jam! (if you can find the ball jars). Below is a recipe for making Strawberry Jam from the kitchen maven Ina Gartener:
1 Lemon, zested adn juiced
1 1/2 Pint Strawberries, hulled and halved
1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate. (I keep one in the freezer.) Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated. Use immediately, or follow proper canning guidelines below.
1. Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic, or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum seal when processed.
2. To sterilize jars, before filling with jams, pickles, or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Leave in a preheated 175 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Or, boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.
3. Use tongs when handling the hot sterilized jars, to move them from either boiling water or the oven. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.
4. As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.
5. After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.
Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for one year. Making sure hands, equipment and surfaces in your canning area are clean is the first step in canning. Tips: Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with glass, plastic or metal lids that have a rubberlike seal. Two-piece metal lids are most common. To prepare jars before filling: Wash jars with hot, soapy water, rinse them well and arrange them open-side up, without touching, on a tray. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Jars have to be sterilized only if the food to be preserved will be processed for less than 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath or pressure canner. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and preparing lids and bands. Use tongs or jar lifters to remove hot sterilized jars from the boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too: Dip the tong ends in boiling water for a few minutes before using them. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, preserves and pickles must be clean, including any towels and especially your hands. After the jars are prepared, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products. Find Information information on canning can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: http://nchfp.uga.edu/.