Busiest Post of the Year

I find it interesting that a large amount of traffic to this site is generated by people searching for the phrase “busiest bar night of the year.” If you Google that phrase, our very own Clipped and Diced comes out as the top link.

It’s surprising to me that more “real” articles haven’t been written on this, other that ones that mention the myth/commonly held notion in passing. When I went to my new favorite site, Google news archives, there wasn’t much available.

You would think the “busy bar night” story would be one of those recurring articles that are written every single year, although the information doesn’t change much. (Another interesting piece, uncovered in my search for cliched newspaper articles, can be found here)

Is it just too obvious to discuss?  If so, then why are so many people searching for it?

Back in 1960, the New York Times alleged that New Year’s Eve was the biggest bar night. Don’t you love that language — “the annual brouhaha associated with seeing in the New Year will be no more than a blurred memory in the convalescent reveler’s dulled brain.”

This 1996 article from the Hartford Courant seems to provide a more modern view. I also enjoyed this article, although I could only view a snippet of it without paying.

Finally, I appreciated Access Winnipeg’s May 2008 article claiming that Good Friday is the busiest bar night, “Good Friday being the only holiday that lands on a Friday every year.”

And there’s always good old Spartan Tailgate, keeping it real with the best bar night of the year for single guys.

What’s your experience as the busiest bar night of the year?

P.S. Speaking of bar nights, meet your fearless Clipped & Diced authors at The Elysian in Seattle’s Capitol Hill next Friday evening!

###

Cooking for Two, the second time around

I was checking out Google’s new, expanded newspaper archives this weekend, because Toby’s been feeling under the weather and I’ve renewed my pledge to attempt to cook more. First of all, let me say that I’ve believed this site will revolutionize Clipped & Diced since the moment I heard about it on Lifehacker.

First of all, as a big visual person, I was floored to see the timeline breakdown of when articles were published. Here’s what I saw when I searched for recipes.

One of the first pieces I found was an LA Times article discussing the increase in recipes designed for two diners. Toby and I receive subscriptions to several magazines targeted for two-person households, and we have a few cookbooks along those same lines. The interesting part of the article to me was the fact that it was printed in 1986. It could have very well been written today.

Look at the increase in articles that match the term “Cooking for Two” over time.

Twenty years after the L.A. Times article was written, the Pillsbury Bake-Off caught onto the trend and added a Cooking for Two category, as I discovered from The (Doylestown, PA) Intelligencer. However, it appears as though by 2008, the category was eliminated. Never fear, I contacted the folks at Pillsbury as to the history of this category, and perhaps they will get back in touch with me.

I needed more facts and figures. So I went to the US Census Web site and trolled through a few reports.

The image is tiny (I took a screen capture from the PDF I opened at school), but you can see two-person households increased from 25.2 million in 1980 to 34.4 million in 2000. That’s a lot more potential subscribers to Cooking for 2 magazine.

The previous image may have seemed dramatic, but this graph indicates that the average household size actually only decreased from 2.75 people to 2.59 people between 1980 and 2000. According to the Cansus Bureau, “The steepest decline in average household size occurred in the 1970s, a period coinciding with the baby-bust period, relatively low levels of immigration, and increasing proportions of people living alone.” Additionally, the relatively small chance between 1990 and 2000 may be because of “higher immigration levels and the tendency for immigrants to live in larger households.”

Have I mentioned the Census Bureau is a delightful source of random interesting information?

For our attempt at a two-person meal, Toby and I settled on a 2004 recipe from our very own Seattle Times.

Red Curry Chicken Saute with Coconut and Lime

– 1 baby bok choy
– 2 green onions
– ¾ teaspoon cornstarch
– ½ cup light coconut milk
– 1/3 cup reduced-sodium and fat chicken broth
– 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
– 2 boneless and skinless chicken breast halves
– 3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
– ½ to ¾ teaspoon red curry paste
– 1 tablespoon lime juice
– Hot, cooked rice

1. Separate the bok choy leaves, then cut both stems and leaves on the diagonal into ¼-inch-thick slices. Discard all but 2 inches of the onion greens. Slice thinly on the diagonal and set aside.

2. Put the cornstarch into a measuring cup and whisk in a couple tablespoons of coconut milk. When smooth, whisk in the remaining milk. Combine broth and fish sauce. Slice each chicken breast in half crosswise, then lengthwise into thin strips.

3. In a heavy skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. When hot, put the bok choy stems into the pan and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add the leaves and cook another minute. Remove from the pan.

4. Pour the remaining 2 teaspoons oil into the pan. When hot, add chicken and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from pan. Put the curry paste into the pan, mashing briefly with the back of a spoon. Add green onions, saving a few for garnish, and stir briefly. Remove pan from heat and slowly add coconut milk, stirring until well-blended with the curry. Put back on heat and stir in broth. Simmer a couple minutes, until thickened. Pour juices that have accumulated around chicken into the pan and simmer 30 seconds. Stir in lime juice, chicken and bok choy. Simmer a few minutes to blend, then spoon over rice. Sprinkle reserved green onions on top.

Notes

  • I was able to do this! Me! So it’s really not that difficult.
  • Toby thinks you should add more curry if you attempt this. Not a lot, but some.

The funny part about this was that we actually had a hard time finding just two chicken breasts, so we increased the recipe by half to add another breast in. Cooking for two fans claim that too many leftovers just won’t do, but I’m floored by the fact that both Toby and I will have lunch ready to go tomorrow!

This begs the question, if you live in a one- or two- person household, do you cook for two? Or do you reap the benefits of leftovers? And how much is too much when it comes to leftovers?

###

Published in: on October 26, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Food Reporting at its Finest

I am fascinated by the work of Michael Pollen, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Listen to his great interview with Terry Gross of Fresh Air, which aired tonight.

(Note: Look at the above link I sent you to for The Omnivore’s Dilemma — they came out with a mass market edition of the book! They never come out with mass market editions of nonfiction books, other than like, Silent Spring!)

Among all the interesting tidbits I learned, I was particularly excited about Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden. I longed to find a picture of her down in the dirt of her garden, but the Library of Congress archives failed to turn up any gems.

I regret that Toby and I have neglected this blog, which still takes up a significant portion of my creative brain space. Alas, I am teaching an after-school program, coaching track, co-chairing the Math Team, did I mention our classroom library is up to 1,304 books, and I’m working at Display and Costume until Halloween, so perhaps after that I will be cooking more frequently…