Monday, September 9, 2013

Holidays for September 9th 2013

Wonderful Weirdos Day

If non-traditional holidays are your cup of tea, today is your lucky day. September 9 is Wonderful Weirdos Day, an annual "holiday" created by Thomas and Ruth Roy at Wellcat. This yearly occasion celebrates those who refuse to go with the flow.

If you tend to think outside the box and prefer to march to the beat from another drummer, embrace it! Whether your fashion style, hair style or personality is totally different than everyone else’s, your uniqueness makes you stand out from the crowd and makes you who are you. Remember, many celebrities and famous people have unusual traits that make them stand out.

In honor of Wonderful Weirdos Day, check out these really, really weird lists.

International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day

International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Awareness Day, recognized every year on Sept. 9th, is an important reminder that prenatal alcohol exposure is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disorders in the United States. Almost 40 years have passed since we recognized that drinking during pregnancy can result in a wide range of disabilities for children, of which fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most severe. Yet up to 30 percent of women report drinking alcohol during pregnancy.

September 9th is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day, a reminder that all nine months of pregnancy should be alcohol-free for the health of your child.

The disabilities associated with FASD can persist throughout life and place heavy emotional and financial burdens on individuals, their families, and society. FASD often brings to mind the distinct pattern of facial features associated with FAS, such as wide-set and narrow eyes, a smooth ridge on the upper lip, and a thin upper lip border. We now understand, however, that the neurobehavioral effects associated with FASD, such as intellectual disabilities, speech and language delays, and poor social skills, can exist without the classic defining facial characteristics.

For many years, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has supported research to understand how alcohol exposure during pregnancy interferes with fetal development and how FASD can be identified and prevented. Scientists continue to make tremendous strides, providing important new insights into the nature of FASD and potential intervention and treatment strategies.

The message is simple, not just on Sept. 9, but every day. There is no known safe level of drinking while pregnant. Women who are, who may be, or who are trying to become pregnant, should not drink alcohol.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol problems. NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at

National Boss/Employee Exchange Day

Today is National Boss /Employee Exchange Day! So, what exactly does that mean? Today’s holiday gives employees and their managers a chance to freely share ideas with one another by swapping places for a day.

The idea behind trading places is to help employees and managers better understand and appreciate the challenges of the other individual. Although it would undoubtedly be a fun exercise to actually step into someone else’s shoes for a day, in most businesses, that isn’t realistic. Here are a few ways you can work to open the lines of communication – without actually swapping roles.

Schedule Time for Employee Questions
When an employee has a question, his or her first reaction is likely to seek advice from the boss. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always make sense for a manager to drop everything to accommodate the employee’s question. So instead of constantly fielding questions on-the-fly, make a schedule. Lay out the best times for employees to come and ask you questions throughout the day. If you have remote employees, or those that prefer asking questions by email, establish a “service expectation” so employees will know when they can expect an answer. Then set aside some time each day to field email questions. By scheduling out your Q&A time, you’ll enjoy better focus during the rest of your day, and you’ll be able to devote 100% of your attention to your employees during the allotted time.

Follow-up and Follow-through
Accountability is a key factor when it comes to communication. Be sure to close each meeting or communication with an agreement on deadlines and responsibilities for completing any follow-up actions. It’s important for your employees to complete any follow-up actions according to plan, but it’s even more important for you to hold up your end of the bargain, so employees know they can count on you.

Be Clear
When stating your expectations of an employee, make sure the employee has a clear understanding of what you expect from them. Employees often waste energy griping about unclear instructions to other co-workers, which wastes time and creates a negative atmosphere. If this is the case in your office, let the employee know that it is OK to ask questions and clear up any confusion regarding particular projects or duties.

National Boss/Employee Day is a great reminder to keep all lines of communication open between you and your employees. Would you give your employees the opportunity to physically swap places for the day? Let us know in our comments section!

National Teddy Bear Day

National Teddy Bear Day takes place in the US on September 9th. Initially a US specific holiday this is increasingly being celebrated by bear lovers across the world. There appears to be no record of the origin of this holiday or why this particular date was chosen - perhaps the bears themselves know?

Teddy bears are, of course, named after US President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt. The name came about after a 1902 hunting expedition. The hunt had found no game, so at the end of the day someone brought out a baby bear and suggested that Roosevelt might like to shoot it instead. Roosevelt understandably felt that this was not exactly sporting and refused. The incident was illustrated in a newspaper cartoon entitled "Drawing the Line" - which also referred to the political situation at the time. An enterprising New York toymaker saw an opportunity and brought out a cute stuffed bear named "Teddy's Bear". The rest, as they say, is history.

Today people buy teddy bears across the world, not just for young children but often for themselves as collectibles. Some early bears by well known names such as Steiff or Gund are rare and much sought after by enthusiasts.
So if anyone deserves an annual holiday it's certainly the Teddy Bear. How they celebrate their special day depends on their owner. Some people like to take their bear out on a trip, others like to organise a toy party and perhaps even buy their bear gifts. If all inspiration fails, there's always the traditional picnic - I've never known a bear turn one down!

Confusingly there's also a National Teddy Bear Day in November. That special day was created by the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in 2000 to celebrate the contribution the teddy has made to popular culture.

Wienerschnitzel Day

I grew up eating from the hot pan and cooling rack of a Swiss housewife. So dishes centered around a tasty cutlet of meat feel like coming home.

Schnitzels feature prominently in Swiss cuisine (as they do around the world), but the Wiener schnitzel is something special. Vienna in German is “Wien”—hence the “Wiener” schnitzel originates in the Austrian capital. According to some web sources, the appellation is protected by Austrian law; restaurants are forbidden to sell Wiener schnitzels unless they are made from the traditional veal. If they are selling the ubiquitous (and cheaper) pork version, they’re required to call it “Schnitzel Wiener Art” (i.e. schnitzel in the Wiener style), or tack on “vom Schwein”, leaving no doubt as to the paucity of baby cow in the dish.

So special is the Wiener version of what the yanks call “chicken-fried beef”, that no lesser authority than the Oxford English Dictionary gives it the “esp.” nod in its general definition for schnitzel:
A veal cutlet, esp. in Wiener schnitzel, one coated with egg and breadcrumbs, fried and often garnished with lemon, capers, anchovies, etc., in the Viennese style.
Now, there are all kinds of recipes on the Interweb for Wiener schnitzel, but being a sometimes word nerd, I’ll jump at using the OED as a cookbook. I also happen to love the similar Holstein schnitzel served up at the Rathskeller, since it combines in one dish at least four different and extremely efficient vehicles for salt. So I’m going to assume that by “etc.”, the mouldy old dictionary academics on the River Thames meant “fried egg with paprika and black pepper.”

In my preparations for today, I also consulted my only Austrian friend, Rita, for her family recipe, which she was happy to divulge despite being a vegan! One thing she said surprised me a little and wasn’t reflected in all the North American recipes I saw online. She said I should fry in 1-2 cm of oil so the meat is floating. I guess the real deal is practically deep-fried. Hmm… my mouth just watered as I thought about meat and typed “deep-fried”. Rita: you’re such a good sport.

I made a half-hearted attempt to locate some veal outside of the agribusiness-dealing grocery chains, but discovered that even specialty butchers have to special order it. It seems the average Victoria shopper just ain’t that into mewling calf meat—must be those big brown eyes. With two kids starting Kindergarten and preschool this week, buying good veal took more foresight and planning than I could handle. So instead, I sourced three cuts of Berkshire pork from Sea Bluff farms in Metchosin by way of the Village Butcher in Oak Bay. Mr. Butcher was also kind enough to inflict his special tenderizing hammer-machine on the little strips of swine, prior to purchase.

After making sure the fire extinguisher was within arms’ reach, I set to flouring, egging, breadcrumbing and frying. Here’s how things progressed:
When I dropped the first cutlet, I was a little intimidated by the furious popping, crackling and awesome bubbling racket that ensued. But by the last one, I felt I’d got the hang of it. The recipe calls for a 1/4 inch cut, and now I can see why. I had to leave my thick cuts in a little too long to ensure they were cooked through, over crisping the breading a little. The bread I used was the densest loaf I could find at Cob’s, but my wimpy little food processor may not have ground it finely enough. The breading was less-than-even and very thick, resulting in one crunchy piece of meat. But the lovely squirts of lemon, the salty tangs of caper and anchovy, and the smooth mellow yellowness of the egg all served to temper the intensity of the fried pork.

A week ago, in preparation for today’s meat-frying adventure, I tried a schnitzel from the culinary sorceresses at Devour. A thyme-breaded and prosciutto-wrapped pork schnitzel with lentils du Puy and stewed fruit sauce, to be precise:
It was damn fine. But I think my Mom would prefer my bastardized OED schnitzel.

National Steak Au Poivre Day

This weekend we celebrate National Steak au poivre day. This delicious French dish consists of a steak, traditionally a Filet Mignon, coated with cracked black peppercorns and served with a pan sauce. My favorite version of this dish uses an old fashion coffee grinder. Your grandmother may have had one of these contraptions Where you crush the beans with a hand crank and the end product comes out of a wooden drawer similar to your bedroom dresser. Also, instead of a filet, I prefer a 14-16 ounce New York Strip.

To get started, crush enough whole black peppercorns in your grinder to evenly coat both sides of your steak. If you can’t find the grinder described above, an electric one will do. Set your oven to 350 degrees and place a heavy bottom sauté pan on your range over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons each butter and canola oil to the pan. Carefully place your peppercorn strip in the hot fat and sear on both sides for two to three minutes. Transfer to a sizzle platter or baking sheet and place in your preheated oven.

Drain off excess fat from your sauté pan, add two ounces Cognac or brandy and carefully ignite to burn off the alcohol. When the flames die down, scrape off the fond (juicy bits) from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add ½ tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon diced shallot or onion and quickly sauté (1 minute or so). Continue by adding one half teaspoon Dijon mustard and 3-4 ounces of heavy cream, stir and reduce until your desired consistency is reached (sauce should coat the back of the spoon), season with salt if necessary.

If making your sauce takes more than five minutes, check your steak for doneness and remove from oven if necessary. It’s ok to take your steak out early to rest before sauce is ready. To serve: Place a large scoop of your favorite mashed potatoes on the inside edge of a large round plate. Lean the large end of your strip atop the potatoes, and then cover with your pan sauce. This sauce really goes well with potatoes.