Bittersweet Chocolate Day – January 10th

June 10th is deemed as Bittersweet Chocolate Day.

We love our chocolates. We love it so much, that Americans consume over 3.1 billions pounds of chocolates per year. On average, each of us will consume over 10,000 chocolate bars in our lifetime!

You will be well served to know some interesting facts and trivia about chocolate, in order to “Wow” our family and friends with your chocolatey knowledge.

Chocolate Trivia:

  • Researchers have found no link between acne and chocolate.
  • While 75% of chocolate purchases are made by women all year long, during the days before Valentine’s Day and on Valentine’s Day 75% of the chocolate purchases are made by men.
  • Chocolate comes from the Cacao or cocoa bean, grown on a Cacao tree. That’s right, it is from a plant, therefore, it’s a vegetable.
  • The average person will consume 10,000 chocolate bars in a lifetime.
  • The Aztecs once used cacao beans for currency.
    Columbus brought Cacao beans back to Spain in 1520. It quickly spread across Europe.
  • The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield who ran the “Toll House Inn.”
  • Approximately 40% of almonds produced in the world are made for chocolate products.
  • Approximately 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa.
  • The Mars company invented M&M’s for soldiers during World War II.
  • Research suggests that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. This makes chocoholics very smart people, right?
  • In 1942, the first chocolate bar was made by English chocolate company Cadbury.
  • The Baby Ruth bar was created in 1920 by the Curtiss Candy Company. It was named after the famous baseball player, George “Babe” Herman Ruth.

    "Babe" Ruth

    The Baby Ruth candy bar was named after the baseball player and NOT the other way around.

  • Cacao originated in Central and South America more than 4,000 years ago.
  • The Cacao tree can live for over 200 years. But, it only produces for 25 years.
  • It takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.
  • 70% of the world’s production of cacao beans comes from West Africa.
  • In Hershey, Pennsylvania, the street lights on “Chocolate Avenue” are in the shape of Hershey Kisses. Hershey’s produces over 70 million chocolate Kisses every day.
  • A chocolate bar is actually low in cholesterol. A 1.65 oz. bar contains only 12 mg.
  • The Catholic Church once associated chocolate with heretical behavior, including blasphemy, extortion, witchcraft, and seduction.
  • Dark chocolate has been scientifically shown to be beneficial to human health. Milk chocolate, white chocolate, and other varieties are not.
  • Women tend to prefer white chocolate, while men generally prefer bittersweet or dark chocolate. Like ’em both? That’s perfectly fine.
  • One chocolate chip can give a person enough energy to walk 150 feet. Need the energy to walk a mile? Consume just 35 chips.
  • American and Russian space flights have always included chocolate.
  • A 1.5 oz. milk chocolate bar has only 220 calories, less that a 1.75 oz. serving of potato chips at 230 calories.
  • Americans consumed over 3.1 billion pounds of chocolate, almost half of the total world’s production.
  • Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural substance that is believed to stimulate the same reaction in the body as falling in love.
  • Hawaii is the only US state that grows cacao beans.
Hershey kisses streetlights

The street lights in Hershey, Penn. gives people a “kiss” of light.

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Christmas Sherbet Punch

Recipe by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman for The Food Network

 

Yield: 20 Servings

Christmas Sherbet Punch

Photo by the Food Network

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 gallon raspberry sherbet
  • 16 cups (1 gallon) cranberry juice (or cranberry mixed with pomegranate), well chilled
  • Two 2-liter bottles ginger ale, well chilled

 

Directions:

Make sure all the ingredients are very cold. Scoop the sherbet into a large punch bowl, then pour in the cranberry juice and ginger ale and stir gently.

 

12 Days of Christmas: An Underground Catechism Song?

Fact or Fiction?

The Real Meaning behind the 12 Days of Christmas

Partridge in a Pear Tree illustration  At one time, it was a crime to be Catholic.

During 1558 to 1829, Catholics in England were prohibited by law from any practice of their faith… private or public.  To be caught with anything in writing, indicating the adherence to the Catholic Faith, would find a person imprisoned, hanged…or hanged, drawn and quartered.

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith… a memory aid.

Rosary

Despite the absence of hard evidence that the 12 Days of Christmas is a song of catechism, it can still be used as a learning tool.

In 1979, a Canadian hymnologist, Hugh D. McKellar, published an article, “How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas”, claiming that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was criminalized in England (1558 until 1829). McKellar offered no evidence for his claim and subsequently admitted that the purported associations were his own invention.[29] The idea was further popularized by a Catholic priest, Fr. Hal Stockert, in an article he wrote in 1982 and posted online in 1995,[30][31] In 1987 and 1992, Fr. James Gilhooley, chaplain of Mount Saint Mary College of Newburgh, New York repeated these claims.[32][33] None of the enumerated items would distinguish Catholics from Protestants, and so would hardly need to be secretly encoded.[3]

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, author of the Crossroads Initiative,  writes “The “Twelve Days of Christmas” refer to the eight days of the Christmas Octave from December 25 to New Years Day, and the four additional days up to and including the eve of January 6, the traditional date of the Epiphany. In the USA and many other countries, Epiphany is now celebrated on the first Sunday after New Years, so the exact number 12 does not necessarily apply. But the point is, don’t throw out the tree on the 26th–the birth of the Savior can’t be celebrated adequately in one day. Let the celebration continue through at least through the Feast of the Epiphany–if not through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

According to the Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals by Ann Ball, the famous song about the 12 Days of Christmas was written in England as a catechism song for young Catholics in the days when it was illegal to practice or teach the Catholic Faith. It contains hidden meanings intended to help children remember lessons of faith. Instead of referring to an earthly suitor, the “true love” mentioned in the song really refers to God. The “me” who receives the presents is symbolic of every baptized person.

There appears to be no conclusive historical evidence to prove this origin of the song, Nevertheless, the traditional association between the gifts mentioned in the song and various spiritual gifts is a fun way to turn a seemingly secular Christmas carol into a valuable catechetical tool. So let’s have fun with it!”

12 Days of Christmas

The song’s gifts are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith.  The “true love” mentioned in the song refers to God, Himself.  The “me” who receives the presents refers to every baptized person.  The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (A mother partridge will feign injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings.)

the bird, partridge

A mother partridge will distract a predictor from her young in order to save them. The partridge in the song “12 Days of Christmas” represents Jesus.

The other symbols mean the following:

2 Turtle Doves = The Old and New Testaments

3 French Hens = the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Charity)

4 Calling Birds = The Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists

5 Golden Rings = The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch,” which gives the history of man’s fall from Grace.

6 Geese-a-Laying = The Six Days of Creation

7 Swans-a-Swimming = the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the 7 sacraments

8 Maids-a-Milking = the Eight Beatitudes

9 Ladies Dancing = the Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

10 Lords-a-Leaping = the Ten Commandments

11 Pipers Piping = the Eleven faithful Apostles

12 Drummers Drumming = the Twelve points of Doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

 

Candy Cane Punch

Recipe by Taste of Home©

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 jars (12 ounces each) strawberry jelly
  • 2 liters lemon-lime soda, divided
  • 2 quarts peppermint stick ice cream
  • Miniature candy canes, optional

 

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, melt jelly with 2 cups soda. Chill the jelly mixture and remaining soda.
  2. Just before serving, place 6 cups ice cream in a punch bowl. Gently stir in jelly mixture. Add remaining soda. Add remaining ice cream by scoopfuls.
  3. Garnish with candy canes if desired.

 

 

Nutrition Facts:

1 cup: 270 calories, 8g fat (5g saturated fat), 29mg cholesterol, 73mg sodium, 48g carbohydrate (43g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.
Originally published as Candy Cane Punch in Crafting Traditions November/December 1999

Ham Balls with Brown Sugar Glaze

Recipe by Taste of Home©

Ham-Balls-with-Brown-Sugar-Glaze_EXPS_THD16_6835_07B_27_6b-696x696

Photo by Taste of Home©

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fully cooked ham, cubed
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

GLAZE:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard

Directions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Pulse ham in batches in a food processor until finely ground. Combine with the next seven ingredients just until mixed. Shape into 1-in. balls; place in a single layer on greased 15×10-in. rimmed baking pans.
  2. For glaze, cook and stir all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Spoon over ham balls. Bake until ham balls are just beginning to brown, 30-35 minutes, rotating pans and carefully stirring halfway through. Gently toss in glaze. Serve warm.

 

 

Nutrition Facts

1 meatball: 52 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated fat), 11mg cholesterol, 113mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 0 fiber), 3g protein.

Originally published as Ham Balls in Country Pork