As I peer out the window, the sun is shining, not a flake of snow is on the ground and the Secret Santa gifts at the station have all been exchanged.
Tis the season for holiday traditions, even if the weather is unseasonably warm, which usually means donning battle gear to find a parking space at the mall and navigate through the crowds, , decorating the house before major storms blow you off the ladder, and deciding how much of a workout your credit card can endure.
Sound like jingle-jangle fun?
While the holidays have inherent stresses built in, the season is often an ideal time to enjoy family, friends and special customs, many of which involve my favorite thing—food!
Being a first generation Italian-American, I remember fondly the pizzele cookies my father would make. As the aroma, redolent of anise and butter, wafted through the house, I knew the warmth of the holiday season was upon us. My mother's homemade raisin roll was another delicious guilty pleasure, and to this day, my willpower melts when Cucidatis (Italian fig cookies) are within arm's reach.
Same is true whenever I'm near a bar that serves Tom & Jerry's, the classic hot cocktail made with eggs, brandy, rum, sugar and spices. Good thing it's only available around the holidays or I'd be waddling around tipsy all the time.
Thought you might enjoy some Christmas food trivia to digest as you're relaxing after a big spread.
Food consumption at Christmas only ranks third, behind Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday.
Candy canes are a Christmas staple and on average 1.76 billion of the festive minty red and white sticks are made annually. That's enough candy canes to travel the distance between Santa Claus, Indiana, and North Pole, Arkansas, and back again 32 times.
While statistics about fruitcake consumption are not widely available, one poll found that 38% of people give away their fruitcakes instead of eating them.
Figgy pudding, made from figs, bread crumbs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and milk, baked and topped with a scrumptious brandied hard sauce, custard icing, powdered sugar, or whipped cream, was immortalized in the song We Wish You a Merry Christmas and was served by Mrs. Cratchit in the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.
Animal Crackers were introduced at Christmastime in 1902. The carrying string on the box was designed so it could be hung on a Christmas Tree.
Wishing you all the best for a happy holiday season, a healthy and prosperous new year and many good bites to come!
After a wild week of record-setting weather, this Thanksgiving offers a rare perspective on gratitude and sharing traditions—including platters of food—on this American holiday, first celebrated in the 1600s.
As you’re reflecting over a turkey sandwich and another helping of pie, you may want to stump your friends and family with some tasty Thanksgiving trivia and tidbits:
The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds, while the heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds.
A 15 pound turkey usually has about 70 percent white meat and 30 percent dark meat.
The National Turkey Federation has calculated that 88% of Americans have turkey on Thanksgiving.
The five most popular ways to serve leftover turkey is as a sandwich, in stew, chili or soup, casseroles and as a burger.
Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity.
Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise.
Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly. (Ask the folks at WKRP in Cincinnati!)
Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attacks.
20% of all cranberries consumed in the U.S. are eaten at Thanksgiving.
Turkey was the first meal enjoyed by Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin when they were on the moon.
The first Thanksgiving was the only Thanksgiving between the 52 Pilgrims and the 50 Native Americans, and it was a secular event. It wasn't until 1775 that the Continental Congress made the first national celebration of Thanksgiving.
Since President Harry Truman, the White House tradition has been to pardon two turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. (Make your own jokes here.)
A feast of freebies is on the menu for the men and women who have served our country or who are currently active.
A wide variety of businesses, including many fast-food, fast casual and sit-down eateries, are offering everything from a cup of coffee to full meals as the nation prepares to commemorate Veteran’s Day on the 12th.
Many of the promotions kick off Saturday and run through the holiday. The promotion benefits both military members and the food industry since Mondays and Tuesdays are typically the slow days of the week. Most offers are available to active, inactive and retired personnel who can show identification.
Here is a list of area eateries that are promoting patriotism and creating opportunities for their business:
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Free tall brewed coffee for veterans, active duty service members, and spouses.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Free Lunch (includes choice of Coca-Cola product, Iced Tea/Sweet Tea or coffee)
Choose from: 6 oz. Sirloin Steak with two sides, Country Fried Chicken with two sides, Country Fried Sirloin with two sides, Pulled Pork Dinner with two sides, Grilled Pork Chop (Single) with two sides, All-American Cheeseburger with fries, BBQ Chicken Sandwich with fries, Pulled Pork Sandwich with fries, Grilled Chicken Salad, or Chicken Critter Salad.
Monday, November 17, 2014
Free buffet. Quaker Steak & Lube
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
All company restaurants will offer a 50% discount to active and retired military serviceman who visit the restaurant. This excludes tax, alcohol, gratuity and retail. Additional locations will offer various discounts. Red Lobster
Monday, November 10 through Thursday, November 13, 2014
Free appetizer. Choices include Crispy Shrimp Lettuce Wraps, Sweet Chili Shrimp, Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Shrimp, Lobster-Artichoke-and-Seafood Dip, Lobster-Crab-and-Seafood-Stuffed Mushrooms, Lobster Pizza, Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, Crispy Calamari and Vegetables, Mozzarella Cheesesticks, White-Wine-and-Roasted-Garlic-Mussels, and Shrimp Nachos. Red Robin
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Free Tavern Double burger with Bottomless Steak Fries.
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Complimentary Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake dessert Denny’s
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Free Build Your Own Grand Slam
5 am until noon Famous Dave’s
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Free One Meat Salute. Choose from one meat, a corn muffin, and a side. Outback On November 11th, Outback is honoring all active and retired military personnel with a free Bloomin’ Onion and a Beverage by showing a valid military ID at participating restaurants.
Halloween is many things—costumes, parties, candy, truly a big money maker for a variety of enterprises. Halloween is now this county’s second largest commercial holiday next to Christmas.
Thought you might enjoy some tasty tidbits on the origins and traditions of this ancient holiday, many of which will make your dentist happy!
·Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
·The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips.
Each year 2 billion dollars is spent on Halloween candy.
More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces -- enough to circle the moon nearly four times if laid end-to-end.
What's the most popular Halloween candy? Snickers--it tops the list for trick-or-treaters.
Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
Did you know that chocolate is better for your teeth than hard candy? Chocolate rinses more easily from the mouth by saliva, leaving it in contact with teeth for a shorter time. Chocolate also contains tannins, which inhibit the action of cavity-causing bacteria.
More than 10 percent of annual candy sales happen the days leading up to Halloween -- that is nearly $2 billion dollars in sales.
The top selling candy: Candy Corn. Americans purchase over 20 million pounds of it a year, though it is unlikely that every last one of those millions of candies was actually consumed.
After the beloved Candy Corn, the leading best sellers are as follows: Snickers, Reese's, Kit Kat and M&M'S.
Event though the economy is tightening everyone's budget, that does not stop them from splurging a bit on this one holiday. The average American household spends $44 a year on Halloween candy.
Did you know that pumpkin is the best source of vitamin A among all canned fruits and vegetables? With just a half a cup serving, you enjoy three times the recommended daily requirement.
The biggest pumpkin pie on record was baked by the New Breman Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio in 2005. After baking for five hours in a special oven, it weighed 2,020 pounds and measured 12 feet, 4 inches wide and 4 inches deep.
Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
Time to feed your curiosity, map out a plan, and break the chain! Chain restaurants, that is.
Seems like I’m still working off the Spring LRW, but it’s time for the Fall edition of the biannual celebration foodies fantasize about: Local Restaurant Week, running from October 20 – 26, 2014.
This all-consuming feeding fest occurs each spring and fall throughout Western New York, which promotes our regional food culture and supports more than 200 locally-owned eateries of all sizes, ethnicities and menu shapes.
Food features starting at $20.14 encourage diners to skip national chain restaurants in favor of supporting local independents. Profits from each dollar spent at our locally-owned, independent restaurants stay right here in WNY and make our community stronger. And it gives you a chance to try places that you’ve been curious to experience.
Like many foodies, I’m plotting out my plan for a week’s worth of food fun. I will always patronize independent, locally-owned restaurants because I like to support people who are putting food on their table by putting food on my table. Here are a few fun facts to further chew on:
LRW is one of the largest promotions in the country.
$8 million annual local economic impact.
Local food service is the area’s 2nd largest employer.
Encourages restauranteurs to support local vendors.
Plenty of good things to chew on in the next few days:
Although it feels more like mid-summer, it’s time for Oktoberfest in Williamsville. Running from September 26th through the 28th, the annual event includes a keg-rolling contest, Mercedes Benz exhibit and the Great German Dessert Bake-off at Sweet Jenny’s at the Williamsville Water Mill on Spring Street. Many village restaurants are adding German dishes such as potato pancakes and bratwurst to their menu selections.
One of the area’s Best Food Truck competitions takes place for the third year in a row in the Boulevard Mall parking lot on Maple Road in Amherst. On Saturday, September 27th from 11:30am-4:30pm, several food trucks will be on hand selling everything from gourmet hot dogs to tacos to decadent desserts and so much more. Guests can cast a vote for their favorite cuisine; some of the proceeds benefit the Buffalo City Mission. And that’s not all… the Boulevard Mall is giving away a gift card to a lucky guest. The Mall is also encouraging folks to bring non-perishable food items and clothing to benefit the Mission.
Whether you call it java, a Cup o’ Joe, or the elixir of life, it’s time to recognize National Coffee Day. Acting as my smooth, strong fuel gets me off on the right foot…every single day.
I am in the majority when it comes to daily addiction: A March 2014 National Coffee Association study found that more than 6 out of 10 adults knocked back some sort of bean brew every day.
National Coffee Day on Monday, September 29, celebrates that fact.
Some places are brewing up special offers to commemorate the caffeinated day:
Tim Hortons is offering a medium dark roast (their new flavor) coffee for a dollar. McDonald’s is serving free coffee during breakfast hours leading up to the 29th. Dunkin’ Donuts is celebrating with specially priced K-Cup packs and packaged coffee along with a free medium Hot Dark Roast on Monday.
Bottoms up…let’s get buzzed!
More Bites on the airwaves:
Join me at the table every Sunday on ESPN 1520 when we talk all things food on “Brenda’s Bites” from 10:30 – 11am. Bon apetit!
Here’s a trivia question for you to chew on: What does Bill Murray have to do with the National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival? The festival was inspired 13 years ago by a movie Murray starred in, “Osmosis Jones.”
Murray’s character was a big junk food and chicken wing eater whose goal was to attend the Festival, which didn’t exist at the time. Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde wrote a piece saying that he was shocked that such a festival didn’t exist in the birthplace of the spicy appendage. Local businessman Drew Cerza, now better known as the Wing King, took the chicken by the horns and created the Festival.
Would you believe it’s this Labor Day weekend: Saturday, August 30, from noon - 9:00 and Sunday, August 31 from noon until 7:00 at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo? You may have seen 30 tons of wings being delivered at the ballpark Wednesday for the 13th annual festival.
Here’s a rundown of this year’s schedule:
Saturday, August 30, 2014
ALL DAY Kid Zone – Play all Day 1:00PM Amateur Creative Sauce-Off 1:30PM Amateur Traditional Sauce-Off 2:00PM Heavenly Chillbillies Blues Band 2:30PM Dennis George – QuizMaster 3:00PM The Healthy Zone Recipe Challenge 3:30PM Bobbing for Wings 4:00PM Amateur Wing Eating Championship 4:45PM Dennis George – QuizMaster 5:15PM Restaurant Awards Ceremony 6:00PM Buffalo Buffet Bowl Eating Contest 7:00PM Heavenly Chillbillies Blues Band 9:00PM Closing Ceremonies
Sunday, August 31, 2014
ALL DAY Kid Zone – Play all Day 12:30PM Baby Wing Competition 1:00PM Dennis George – Quizmaster 1:30PM Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant 2:00PM Bobbing for Wings 2:30PM College Wing Eating Competition 3:00PM Hot Buffalo Wing Eating Contest 4:00PM Dennis George – Quiz Master 5:00PM United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship 6:00PM Heavenly Chilbillies 7:00PM Closing Ceremonies
Even the sports networks are getting in on the action. ESPN 3 will be broadcasting the Wing Eating contest Sunday at 3. And USA Today recently featured the fowl fest in things to do this holiday weekend. Over four million wings (237 tons) have been sold since the festival began in 2002. The festival has drawn more than 795,000 people and served over 4.2 million wings during the last decade. Local charities have received in excess of $270,000 since the festival began. I’m looking forward to judging the Healthy Zone Recipe Challenge. It’s not a wing, but different recipes inspired by Buffalo’s famous food. Can’t wait to see what flavor combos the contestants create!
Please join me Sunday morning on “Brenda’s Bites,” 10:30 – 11am on ESPN AM 1520. My guests this week are Joanne Gogos from The Plaka Restaurant in Kenmore, Julie Blackman, Farers & Artisans in Snyder and Stacey & Aaron Siegel, along with Susan Swiatkowski discussing a gala dinner to benefit the Olmsted Parks.
Who doesn’t love an Independence Day that falls on a Friday? I know I do and a big part of the USA’s birthday celebration this long weekend centers on food for my family, friends and me. Thought you might enjoy chewing on some food facts as you fire up the grill and proudly fly the red, white and blue:
Our fellow Americans consume 20 billion hot dogs a year. More are eaten in July than any other month of the year, which is why it’s no surprise that July is National Hot Dog Month. On the 4th, the biggest hot dog day of the year, 155 million hot dogs will be eaten, enough to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times!
Iowa leads the pack when it comes to the state that consumes the most dogs and pork sausage on July 4th; it’s no surprise that the billions of pounds of cattle and calves raised in Texas means most of our beef hot dogs, streaks and burgers come from the Lone Star State.
Nearly half of the baked beans we eat come from North Dakota, big producer of dry and edible legumes annually.
My family and I crave corn on the cob slathered in BBQ sauce and thrown on the grill. Florida, California, Georgia and New York in total produced most of the sweet corn. Nice to know the Empire State gets in the mix.
Nearly all of the ketchup was made in California, but I much prefer hot sauce, mustard and relish on my grilled goodies.
The Sunshine State leads in watermelon production. Nice to know the home state of the Miami Dolphins is good for something!
Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and National Hot Dog & Sausage Council.
If you’re not a carnivore and prefer a grilled carrot nestled in a roll (don’t knock it till you try it), here are some other meatless alternatives that you can toss on the grill:
Pineapple rings, topped with cinnamon and sugar
Portobello mushrooms, with their meaty flavor and texture, these ‘shrooms make a nice stand-in for a burger
Eggplant, similar to Portobello mushrooms in satisfaction
Sweet potatoes or yams, terrific with butter, honey and cinnamon drizzled over them
Coming up on “Brenda’s Bites” this Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on WWKB Radio AM 1520 (ESPN):
-Lee Federiconi, owner of Lebro’s Restaurant on Campbell Blvd in downtown Getzville
-Ann Hackett, 2014 Taste of Buffalo chairperson and Chuck Incorvia, a Taste vendor and owner of Sweet Melody’s
Feel free to contact me with guest and topic ideas—716-843-0651.
Thirty-one years and going strong, the annual city food festival that has become a signature summer event is on deck.
The nation’s largest two-day Taste of Buffalo returns to Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square on July 12 (11am – 9pm) and July 13 (11am – 7pm); for the first time, the new lawn-fete style beer tent in Niagara Square will be open until 11pm on Saturday. Nearly a half-million hungry patrons are expected to converge on the downtown streets whether it’s rain or shine. “Fun by the Forkful” will feature 60 eateries, including 17 new restaurants, Coco-Cola, Labatt and Flying Bison beverages. The pricing is consistent from year-to-year: all items are priced between a buck and $4.
A trio of popular food vehicles: Lloyd’s Taco Truck, RNR BBQ and Frank’s Gourmet Hot Dogs. If you want to wet your whistle with some vino, seven wineries will be pouring some of their best from regional vineyards.
“You won’t leave hungry with more than 220 culinary specialties, ranging from Asian to barbecue to Italian to vegetarian to desserts,” said Ann Hackett, 2014 chairman.
Live local music acts will be on hand for the two day feeding frenzy. By the way, it’s possible to attend the festival and still eat a healthy diet. Did you know the Taste of Buffalo is the only food fest in the U.S. that requires all participating restaurants to offer a healthy menu item? Those samples are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium. What else is new this year? The Family Freebie: buy $50 in pre-sale food ticket at vouchers at tops and receive 4 free nonalcoholic beverages when redeemed for tickets at a Taste tent. My Taste advice: Wear elastic pants and map out your plan of attack by downloading the guide and map at www.tasteofbuffalo.com.
Coming up on Brenda’s Bites this Sunday, 10:30-11am, on WWKB AM 1520: Leslie Zemsky talking about all the great food available in Larkinville and Illya Lasting scoops us with news on his two ice cream places: Route 16 and Route 20 Ice cream.
Here’s another reason to love Friday. June 6th is National Doughnut Day, celebrated annually on the first Friday in June.
Many area shops are offering sweet deals on this auspicious occasion:
If you say “Happy National Donut Day” when you order, Tim Hortons will serve up one free doughnut with any purchase.
Same deal at Dunkin’ Donuts if you purchase any beverage.
Check Paula’s Donuts website for a free doughnut coupon with the purchase of a cup o’ Joe. The company plans to donate 50 cents to the Salvation Army for every dozen doughnuts sold on the 6th.
Tops has a BOGO special: get a free six-pack of doughnuts for every six-pack purchased through Saturday.
As you munch away, here are a few crumbs of dougnut to trivia to chew on:
The Salvation Army established the first National Doughnut Day in 1938 as a fundraising effort during the Great Depression.
During WWI, Salvation Army volunteers, “Sallies,” offered pies to the soldiers but realized they weren’t practical to make on the road. Donuts could be made on a camp stove.
The original doughnuts didn’t have holes, but were the size and shape of walnuts. That’s how the name was created.
Wonder how “Munchkins” were named at Dunkin’ Donuts? “Munchkins” after the Wizard of Oz characters, figuring the kids would opt for the holes while adults would choose the whole treat.
Just a reminder: The “Brenda’s Bites” radio show is heard every Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on ESPN 1520 on the AM dial.
This Sunday, our guests are Lou Billittier and John DiSciullo from Chef’s Restaurant talking about their new “Garage Pizza” and Jerod Thurber from Leonard Oakes Winery. If you have guest or topic suggestions, drop me a line at email@example.com or call me at 716-843-0651.