Friday, March 28, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 28 2014

National Black Forest Cake Day

Chocolate, cherries and whipped cream, oh, my! - March 28 is National Black Forest Cake Day!

Calling this traditional German dessert a Black Forest cake, which is a cherry torte on steroids, is a lot easier than the original moniker: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

If you're still mystified and/or drooling over what this confection consists of, it's essentially layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries, with additional whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings liberally slathered on top. A tart cherry liqueur is also included in the mixture to amp up the sour cherry flavor.

You'd think it was named for the Black Forest mountain range in southwestern Germany, but the moniker is actually because of the liqueur extracted from tart cherries. The cherry pit flavor and alcohol give the cake a distinctive taste. Here in the U.S., we typically leave out the alcohol, but in Germany, the liqueur is a mandatory ingredient - otherwise the cake can't be sold under the Black Forest name.

Make a slightly more streamlined version of Black Forest cake for a supreme treat that will find its way to your dreams. One thing is for sure, this is one forest you'll want to get lost in.

National Something On A Stick Day

Something on a Stick Day is observed on March 28. The holiday celebrates things on a stick like popsicles, corndogs and marshmallows. The celebration of Something on a Stick Day is really easy: 1. get a stick; 2. push something on it; 3. have fun with your creation! 

Skewered foods are a popular example for things on a stick. A skewer is a thin metal or wood stick used to hold pieces of food together. They are used while grilling or roasting meats, and in other culinary applications. 

Small, often decorative, skewers of glass, metal, wood or bamboo known as "olive picks" are used for garnishes on cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Many types of snack food are sold and served "on a stick" or skewer, especially at outdoor markets, fairs, and sidewalk or roadside stands.

Weed Appreciation Day

March 28th is Weed Appreciation Day, a day reserved for honoring the lowly weed.

You're thinking: Why would I celebrate weeds?

Well, there are many qualities about weeds to appreciate. For instance, some weeds have medicinal value. Others are extremely nutritious food for humans, birds and insects. Weeds are pioneers in land restoration. Some weeds have even have given mankind some very great ideas for inventions. Yes, really.

This isn't a holiday like the Fourth of July, so a fireworks celebration is out of the question. There are some small ways to honor the weeds on Weed Appreciation Day.

Whether you love them or hate them, weeds are powerful botanical pioneers, capable of restoring devastated lands that have been ravaged by nature or war. On the other hand, they are capable of taking over and destroying ecosystems.

For centuries, mankind has stomped, slashed, burned, and poisoned weeds. One of humanity's longest wars is and has been with these plants who were living peacefully on the land. Weeds have been ripped from their homes so that mankind could reclaim land for their own purposes.

This enormous foe, the weed, is so powerful that it is one of the primary reasons for the development of a 15 billion dollar pesticide industry. Even if you hate weeds, you've got to appreciate that kind of power!

When soil has been devastated by war or a catastrophic event, weeds are the first species to colonize. As mentioned earlier, these plants are powerful. They are adapted to survive these inhospitable environments.

There were some interesting projects instituted under President Franklin Roosevelt during the USA Dust Bowl era in the 1930's. Among the projects, one entailed large trenches being dug so that pioneer weeds could begin the work of restoration.

Weeds add vegetable material to the soil, shading it thereby helping it to retain moisture, also offering wind protection. The weeds, even when they die, provide a way for nutritious debris and new seeds to collect. I've watched this in the far section of my yard. The debris allows more moisture to be retained making a new environment for more new plants. Often there are several weeds growing at the base of an old dead one.

The other great things that weeds do is tell you things about the soil condition. For example, when wild mustard thrives in the soil, then phosphorus must be present. On the other hand, if Lamb's quarters are thriving, soil phosphorus may be very low. Salinity in soil is reflected by ample growth of Foxtail Barley. Some plants are nitrogen fixers, like some Clovers, improving the soil quality with their presence. Other very deep rooted plants are able to bring up nutrients from deep in the earth.

You can see from these examples, weeds can alter the environment in beneficial ways, both on cultivated farms and in natural environments.