If you thought of December was the month of partying, check out February. For being one of the shortest months of the year, February is jam-packed with ways to let your hair down and try out different foods.
There’s the obvious: Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year, President’s Day and Valentine’s Day. But there’s so much more — enough to have a themed meal, or at least one themed dish, every day of the month. To help you celebrate, we’ve included recipes tied to a few of these events, but with so many celebrations and so little space, we can’t cover them all. So you’re on your own for Groundhog Day (today) and National Pancake Week. For your planning pleasure, here are the events of note as chronicled by “Chase’s Calendar of Events”: Feb. 1-28 American Heart Month — The American Heart Association focuses on women with its “Go Red for Women” educational program to create awareness about cardiovascular disease. Feb. 4 is Wear Red Day, for all the women you know who have been affected by heart disease. Visit www. womensheartfoundation.org to find out where to get a Women’s Aware Kit, which includes a risk assessment tool, symptoms awareness brochure and health tracker card. - Suggestion: This is a good time to take a look at your diet to make sure it’s a heart-healthy one. Go easy on fats and add more fruits, veggies, fish and high-fiber foods to your diet. Feb. 1-28 Bake for Family Fun Month — The Home Baking Association encourages families to get back in the kitchen and have some baking fun. Visit www.homebaking. org to find loads of baking recipes and age-appropriate activities to do with children. Feb. 1-28 National Cherry Month — You guessed it: This is a way to publicize tart red cherries, courtesy of the Cherry Marketing Institute. - Suggestion: Bake a cherry pie. You can check off two celebrations — this and President’s Day — with one activity. Recipe, Page 2 Feb. 1-28 National Hot Breakfast Month — The Jimmy Dean food company wants to make sure everyone gets in on the act of eating hot foods for breakfast. Do you see sausage sandwiches in your future? Feb. 2 Yep, today is Groundhog Day. If the groundhog sees his shadow when he peeks out of his hole, we will have six more weeks of winter. - Suggestion: Pull out the stew pot and make a hearty dinner. Today-Feb. 8 Technically, Mardi Gras is a one-day event — Fat Tuesday, which is coming up on Tuesday this year. But the partying starts weeks before and continues right up until 11:59:59 on Fat Tuesday, so this weekend is a good time for a soiree. - Suggestion: Bake a King Cake, a pastry topped with green, gold and purple icing or colored sugar, with a tiny plastic baby hidden inside. The person who gets the doll in his piece of cake has to buy the next cake or throw the next party. See our recipe, Page 2, or get some help with the Big Easy Instant King Cake mix, which comes with that allimportant plastic baby. It’s $13.99 at www.mardigrasday.com. Or if you’re really in a hurry, order a King Cake from Like No Other, etc. bakery at 328-1290 or Woody’s Continental Pastries, 632-2592. Recipe at right Feb. 6-12 Get out your spatulas: It’s National Pancake Week, with the added attraction of International Pancake Day on Tuesday. The week is sponsored by Bisquick and is as good as any reason to serve up a short stack. Feb. 6 This is THE DAY for football fans. It’s Super Bowl XXXIX, and the food is almost as much a part of the occasion as the pigskin. - Suggestion: You don’t want a big meal — just a lot of munchies, like chips and guacamole, veggies and dip and a few dozen hot chicken wings. Recipe below Feb. 9 After the orgy that is Mardi Gras comes Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, 40 weekdays and six Sundays until Easter. This is a time to give up some foods you love and include a lot of fish in your diet — which is good for your heart-healthy diet, too. - Suggestion: How about searing a couple of salmon fillets? Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-heat. Season two 7- to 8-ounce salmon fillets with salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke, sear the fillets on one side for about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove the fish from the pan and place on a baking sheet with the seared side up. Finish cooking in the oven at 325 degrees for about 8 to 10 minutes, until just underdone in the center. Heat 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce; pour over fish and serve. Feb. 9 If Lent’s not your thing, you can spend today celebrating Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster. c Suggestion: Pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner, or at least some storebought egg rolls. Include some hot green tea to pump up that healthy-meal idea. Another clever way to add fun to the day is to buy Emily’s Chocolate Covered Fortune Cookies at King Soopers. Six cookies come in a vibrant red Chinese takeout box. Since the fortunes tend to have a love theme, they are great for Valentine’s Day, too. Feb. 11 On this date in 1963, WGBH-TV in Boston first aired Julia Child’s show, “The French Chef.” - Suggestion: In remembrance of the late, great Queen Julia, plan a special French dinner for your evening meal. Feb. 12 Time to put on your tutu: Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova was born on this day in 1881. - Suggestion: Celebrate her birthday — as well as Bake for Family Fun Month — by making a Pavlova, a crisp meringue base topped with whipped cream and fruit such as strawberries, passion fruit and kiwi. Recipe below right Feb. 13-19 Get quivery in honor of Jell-O Week. - Suggestion: Dig up that recipe for green Jell-O with marshmallows and pineapple. Or make the recipe below for Watergate Salad, which uses pistachio-flavored instant pudding and pie filling and pineapple. Recipe below Feb. 14 We probably don’t have to tell you that today is Valentine’s Day, but did you know it’s also National Have-A-Heart Day? It’s the brainchild of the Vegetarian Awareness Network, which wants us to eat vegetarian that day as a way to prevent heart disease. - Suggestion: Eat vegetarian today, if you must, but whatever you do, don’t skip the chocolate! Feb. 21 President’s Day observes the birthdays of George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). - Suggestion: If you haven’t made that cherry pie yet, why not do it in honor of Washington? The story goes that as a boy, he chopped down his father’s favorite cherry tree — and couldn’t lie about it. Or make a Lincoln Log Cake, since Lincoln grew up in a log cabin in Illinois. For a super speedy treat, make Lincoln Log Cookies, which require no cooking at all. Recipe below right Feb. 27 The Academy Awards ceremony airs tonight. - Suggestion: Make a meal based on a movie theme. Pick one of your favorite foodie movies — “Big Night,” “Babette’s Feast,” “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Tampopo” or “Soul Food” — and create a fun dinner. Or go with one of this year’s film favorites, “Sideways,” for a wine-pairing dinner, featuring wines from the Santa Barbara region. Feb. 28 “M*A*S*H: The Final Episode” aired on this day in 1983. To wrap up the month of party fun, invite friends to come dressed in scrubs and have a Korean kimchee taste-off. Visit Seoul Oriental Grocery Market, 2499-A S. Academy Blvd., for a selection of kimchees and other Korean treats. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0271 or email@example.com