It’s Saturday . . . and I actually slept in. Til nearly 9:00! That never happens . . . well, that rarely happens anyway. I must have needed the sleep. So here I sit, much later than I wanted to be, trying to get this done for everyone. Today’s offerings are simple though – and both of them are food related. And since we all LOVE food, it should not be too much of a hardship to write it, or to read it. (I hope) Because there are just two to do, I thought I’d go into a bit more detail than usual, so here we go!
National Mustard Day – Did you ever wonder how mustard got to the place it holds on our condiment shelf in the fridge? Every food has a humble beginning from somewhere, and someone thought it was a good idea to eat it. I’d like to start by reminding everyone that the humble mustard seed, the tiniest of all seeds, holds a very important place in the Bible. There are multiple verses about it, but Matthew 17:20 is the most famous one. The New King James Version: “20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief;[a] for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” The lesson in that is so profound when you truly consider how small a mustard seed truly is.
So what IS mustard? It is a member of the Brassica family of plants that bears tiny round edible seeds and tasty leaves. Its English name, mustard, comes from a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens, which means, burning must. This refers to the spicy heat of the crushed mustard seeds and the French practice of mixing the ground seeds with the must, which is the young, unfermented juice of wine grapes. At first, mustard was used as a medicinal plant, not a culinary one. In the sixth century B.C., Greek scientist Pythagoras used mustard as a remedy for scorpion stings. About one hundred years later, Hippocrates used mustard in a variety of medicines and poultices to “cure” toothaches and a number of other ailments.
Much like the prepared mustards we use today, prepared mustard dates back thousands of years to the early Romans. They used to grind mustard seeds and mix them with wine into a paste for a variety of uses. As I mentioned before, the mustard seed is a prominent reference for those of the Christian faith something small and insignificant, but when planted, grows in strength and power. Pope John XII was so fond of mustard that he actually created a new Vatican position – grand moutardier du pape (mustard-maker to the pope) – and promptly gave the position to his nephew. In 1866 the founder of Colman’s Mustard of England – Jeremiah Colman – was appointed as mustard-maker to Queen Victoria. He perfected the technique of grinding mustard seeds into a fine powder without creating the heat which brings out the oil. The oil must not be exposed or the flavor will evaporate with it.
Today though we mostly use mustard in cooking. It is a must have for hot dogs, sausages and many types of sandwiches. It is also an important ingredient in many recipes. It is among the most popular of all condiments and has been used to spice up meals for thousands of years. How’s that for longevity? Mustard has diversified over the years, it isn’t just plain yellow anymore – though that is definitely the most popular version. You can get a huge variety of commercially prepared mustards including honey mustard, bold and spicy, sharp and creamy and of course, Dijon. In my fridge I have all of those, plus cranberry mustard, jalapeno mustard and even horseradish mustard. As you can tell, it’s a condiment that I truly enjoy in a variety of enhanced and delicious flavors.
I think our celebration will have to be a turkey burger at lunch topped with a little mustard! Have a happy National Mustard Day.
Watermelon Day – Now HERE’S a fruit that deserves its own special day! Sweet and tasty, watermelons are one of summer’s favorite fruits. It is a must have at picnics and BBQ’s. Watermelon is over 90% water and it sure does taste wonderful! Stores carry watermelon all year long, but they are the very best when they are actually in season during the summer. They have a richer, sweeter flavor. Mark Twain even made this famous quote, “When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat.” Obviously he really loved watermelon!
Apart from their wonderful flavor and thirst-quenching abilities, watermelons are very nutritious. Almost every part of the watermelon is edible, from its inner flesh, to its seeds being roasted as snacks and its rind being pickled or stir fried in certain regions. Even the thick outer skin can be used, along with the flesh, while making juice. I’ve never heard of roasted watermelon seeds until today, but I have heard of pickled watermelon rind. I think my Grandma used to make that.
Rich in water low in calories, watermelon has considerable amounts of vitamins A and C. it is rich in carotenoids and is free of fats and cholesterol. It is thought that watermelons kept at room temperature are more nutritious than those kept in the refrigerator – but for the life of me I can’t figure out how cold watermelon would change much from room temp. This nutrition table is based on 100 grams of raw fruit:
Vitamin C – 8.1 mg
Calcium – 7 mg
Vitamin A – 569 IU
Potassium – 112 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – 0.045 mg
Magnesium – 10 mg
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) – 0.033 mg
Phosphorous – 11 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – 0.021mg
Iron – 0.24 mg
Folate – 3 mcg
Sodium – 1 mg
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) – 0.221 mg
Fluoride – 1.5 mcg
100 grams of this fruit amounts to 30 calories and contains 91.5 grams water, 0.15 gram fat, 7.55 grams carbohydrates, 0.4 gram dietary fiber, 6.2 grams sugar and 0.61 gram protein. Seeds of watermelon also contain certain nutrients in trace amounts. 50% of watermelon seeds consists of oil and the other half includes 35% protein and 5% dietary fiber.
While buying watermelons, select the ones with smooth skin, which is dark green. Go for the ones that are heavy and with a white or yellow patch as a sign of ripening. The seeds should be dark black and the flesh should be dark pink or red. You can hear a hollow sound, while thumping a ripe watermelon. Hubby has a knack for picking out the perfect watermelon every time. Me? It’s hit and miss.
Lloyd Bright of Arkansas holds the world record for growing the heaviest watermelon in 2005. His melon weighed almost 270 pounds! That’s a BIG watermelon and at the average .69 per pound, and expensive one! Here are some delicious ideas from www.food.com for enjoying your watermelon in a variety of ways. I can honestly say that the watermelon lemonade sounds really refreshing.
Well, there you have it! Our food celebrations for the day – both easy to enjoy, both very healthy, and finally, one I don’t have to feel guilty for indulging in, but actually GOOD about! God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow.