WELCOME TO JULY!
We are now halfway through 2015.
In the Northern Hemisphere, July is usually the hottest month
Do you like to eat good things? If you do, July is sure good for it!
It’s Blueberry Month, and it’s Ice Cream Month. Have you ever had blueberries on ice cream? Through the month are special days for other things you can put on ice cream. Strawberries and chocolate are two of them.
It is also Hot Dog Month. Through July are FOUR special days for hot dogs.
Nicely, July is Grill Month. That’s a great way to cook your hot dog! You can also grill so many other things. Have you ever had grilled shrimp? How about grilled pineapple? Many people grill chicken, and July has FOUR days for eating chicken. (It’s not Chicken Month, though. That comes in September.)
Since we’re talking about dogs – we were talking about dogs, weren’t we? – Dog Days go all the way through July and into August. You see … this is when you look up into the sky for a flying saucer that looks like a giant hot dog that visits our planet each year at this time, and ….
NAW!!! Who ever heard of an unidentified flying hot dog?
Dog Days aren’t about dogs, let alone flying hot dogs. You can read all about it in just a moment.
Still about dogs, July is Doghouse Repairs Month. For a hot dog, the usual “doghouse” is a bun. You fix it by eating it. For a real dog, maybe its house has a leak. Maybe it needs a new coat of paint. If it has a blanket or pad, July is a good month to give your dog a treat by replacing this.
One of Danny’s favorite things about July is that it is Parks and Recreation Month. Do you have a park near your home where you can play? It might have slides, swings, monkey bars … all sorts of fun things. It might even have grills so you can bring your hot dogs. “Parks” can also be VERY large. Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous in the world. That’s where the geyser Old Faithful can be found (among many other things). There are also state parks, city parks and neighborhood parks.
Recreation is pretty much anything you do for fun or to relax. It doesn’t have to be at a park. It can be right in your own backyard. Swimming, biking, gardening, cooking, sewing, drawing … the list goes on and on and on.
A SHORT HISTORY OF HOT DOGS
The history of hot dogs isn’t short. It’s VERY long! Nobody knows just where it starts. Lots of people and places claim to be the first. It’s impossible to say. What IS a hot dog? That depends on where you are. It’s some kind of sausage in some kind of casing. That can mean just about anything.
It is thought that the first were ground pork – cuts not used for other things. Later beef was added. Today there are kosher hot dogs with no pork at all. There are also hot dogs made from chicken or turkey, and some with no meat at all (vegetarian).
According to one story, they were served at fairs and carnivals, with gloves handed out. Those gloves were expensive, so the idea came up to use a bun or roll instead. That was somewhere around 1880.
For a long time, the casing was thick and hard. Over time, ways were found to grind the meat finer, almost into a paste. The casing could be very thin. They were called “skinless” and are now the most common.
DOG DAYS – JULY 3 to AUGUST 4
Long ago people had some strange ideas. (Well, to be fair, people still have some strange ideas.) Look up into the sky on a clear night. Sometimes the stars have patterns. They make pictures. At least they do if you know where to look – and how to look.
One of these looks like an hourglass. That’s Orion, the hunter. Following close behind is one of the brightest stars in the sky. That’s Sirius (like “serious”). As Orion hunts, his faithful dog (Sirius) follows. So, it is called “the dog star.”
An odd thing happens in July. Sirius comes up above the horizon right about the same time as the sun. Everybody knows that when the sun comes up, things get warmer. Everybody knows that summer is warmer than winter. Some noticed that on those cold days of winter, Sirius was nowhere to be seen. Ahh, but in July, there it was coming up with the sun. And, July is the hottest month.
It stands to reason that Sirius MUST be heating up the planet!
This happens from early July into early August. It’s hotter, and more humid, than any other time of the year. Because of Sirius, the dog star, which is causing all that heat, these are called “the dog days.”
JULY 1 – International Joke
Just about everyone likes a good joke. Here are just a few of many places to find jokes.
JULY 2 – UFO Day & Rosewell UFO Weekend (July 2-5)
Some say we are being watched. Some say we are being invaded. Some say that one these alien spacecraft crashed just outside Roswell, New Mexico on this day in 1947. Some say it never happened. There really are things called UFOs! That’s because it means UNIDENTIFIED flying object. If you see an object flying, and you don’t know what it is … it’s a UFO. That doesn’t mean it is from outer space. It only means that the person seeing something flying along and doesn’t know what it is … it’s an UNIDENTIFIED flying object. A UFO. Someone with more knowledge might know what it is. Many, though, are still UFOs. And quite a few are very strange.
JULY 3 –Chicken Wing Day
(also look at July 6, 10-12 and 29)
July is busy with days for chickens – which is strange because Chicken MONTH is in September. However, July is Grill Month – which is strange because chicken wings are usually fried. Fried chicken wings are often called buffalo wings – which is strange because buffalos don’t usually have wings. (It is said that the name comes because they were first made in Buffalo, New York.)
JULY 4 –Independence Day
Most countries have some sort of independence day. This day is often celebrated with parades and parties and fireworks and all sorts of things. In America, it’s the Fourth of July. The full story is very long and interesting. Life anywhere was tough at that time. Those who ruled wanted an easier life for themselves. That meant everyone else had to give up more and work harder. They began to leave Europe and come to the New World to find freedom. Those who ruled thought that they should still be in control. Many of the colonists thought that they shouldn’t. That brought the Declaration of Independence, and the Revolutionary War.
JULY 6 – Fried Chicken
(also look at July 3, 10-12 and 29)
You didn’t get enough fried chicken a few days ago? Here’s another chance. This time, you can have any part of the chicken you want. Breast, thigh, drumstick, wing – your choice. Which is your favorite? The two basic ways to fry chicken is to put the chicken in a pot of very hot oil (deep frying, because the chicken is deep in the oil), or cook with a limited amount of oil in a pan. Almost always, the chicken is very covered with flour first. Mixed in are salt, pepper and often some spices. There are many ways to do it. Many recipes. An adult should be in charge. The oil has to be very hot. It also spatters and pops.
JULY 7 – Chocolate & Strawberry Sundae
As with so many inventions, no one is completely sure just when the first sundae came about. Often, the story changes even within the story. For example, one claim is that the very first sundae came about in Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881. Within that story, though, some believe it was 1899. It’s said that at first it was sold only on Sunday. Then a salesman suggested a change to the spelling – and sell them every day. Not far away is Evanston, Illinois. In 1890, a law was passed making it illegal to sell ice cream sodas on Sunday. So, they sold the ice cream with syrup over the top – no soda, just syrup. Then, according to this story, some Mormons objected to it being named after the Sabbath, so the spelling was changed. Still another story tells of a Unitarian minister who served ice cream with cherry syrup and the day was called Cherry Sunday. Within a month, a local soda fountain was selling it with your choice of toppings, including strawberries or chocolate. Still another has a man named Sonntag – German for “Sunday” – making a syrup-topped ice cream treat that he named after himself. Danny says, “I don’t care who first made it, as long as I get to eat it!”
JULY 10 – Teddy Bear Picnic
In 1907, John Walter Bratton wrote the melody for this song. In 1932, Jimmy Kennedy wrote the lyrics for it. It is said that he was inspired by a wooded area near the local church. Today, it is sometimes used as a good excuse to take your dolls and stuffed animals out for a real picnic.
JULY 10-12 – Wayne Chicken Show
(also look at July 3, 6 and 29)
People barbecue just about anything and everything. One of the most popular is chicken. It may be grilled whole, or grilled after being cut into pieces. Some marinate it before or during the barbecue. Others barbecue the chicken and afterwards cover it with barbecue sauce. (“My Mom makes the best barbecue sauce!” Danny says.)
The people of Wayne, Nebraska, took it a step farther. Their annual Chicken Show does much more than just cook chicken. Everything is chicken. They have chicken costumes (there is even a Henoween), chicken art, chicken shirts, chicken cups … chicken everything!
JULY 11 – Slurpee Day
Originally, these were called Tote-M Stores, because people who buy their stuff and tote it away. Out front was an Alaskan-style totem pole. In 1946, the stores offered longer hours. They were open from 7 in the morning to 11 at night, and every day of the week. So, the name was changed to 7-Eleven. Since most of them are now open around the clock, the name no longer fits … but it stuck. In the 1950s, along came slushed drinks, with syrup mixed with finely crushed ice (like a Sno-Cone in a cup). 7-Eleven calls theirs a Slurpee. On this day, 7-Eleven celebrates both the birthday of the store and of the Slurpee.
JULY 13 – French Fries
In England they are called “chips,” although they are not chips. (If you ask for potato chips in London, you’ll get French fries.) Usually, the potato is cut into long, squarish strips then deep fried. Becoming more common are fries that aren’t fried, they are baked. Also becoming more popular are fries in other shapes, such as the curly-cue. Most often they are served with ketchup, but sometimes they are coated with vinegar, and other times with a chili-cheese mix poured over the top. In America, it is common to get fries with burgers. In England, it’s more common to get them with fish (fish ‘n’ chips).
JULY 14 – Bastille Day
This French National Day marks the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. In a way, it’s a little like the American Fourth of July (and similar independence days in many parts of the world). The ruling class looked down on the people. They thought themselves as special, and the people as a nuisance. As always happens, sooner or later, the people get tired of it. The Bastille was a prison where the royalty would send people who so much as said something the royalty didn’t like. It was attacked on this day in 1789 to free those prisoners. As it turned out, there were only seven prisoners.
JULY 15 – Cow Appreciation
Cows and their relatives have been important for thousands of years. They give us milk, which also gives us butter and cheese. Both cows (females) and bulls (males) give us meat. In the past, sometimes the family cow was put into a harness to pull a plow.
JULY 15-21 – Rabbit Week
There are many kinds of rabbits. Most are wild. A few become family pets. Because they breed quickly, some places are considered infested. Much of the time, the wild rabbit will dig a burrow. A group of burrows is called a warren. The adult male rabbit is often called a buck, the adult female being a doe. Young rabbits are kits or kittens. During this Rabbit Week, you may (or may not) want to try rabbit for dinner. At least, have some fun and learn more about these creatures.
Gordie hasn’t yet had a race with a rabbit or hare. He met with a skunk once (http://www.nickerstories.com/story-hour-archives/skunk/), but we don’t think a rabbit has tried to go into his cavern. For now, you can listen to Tortoise and the Hare from Reading Rainbow.
JULY 16 – Fresh Spinach
Nicker’s father, Simon, loves spinach. So does Danny. You can get it in cans or frozen, but this day is for fresh spinach. Many people like it just like that – raw (although washed, of course). On a sandwich or in a salad, it can be used much like lettuce. It can also be boiled, steamed or added to lots of recipes. In the Popeye cartoons, Popeye gobbles spinach and becomes very strong. That’s just a cartoon but has a bit of truth to it. Spinach is rich in iron. Iron helps make healthy blood, and that helps to make a healthy body.
JULY 16 – Hot Dog Night
(also look at July 18, 23 and 30)
This is one of Danny’s favorites! It has the grill. It has the hot dogs. It has the night. It’s like a campout – in a way. Sure, you can boil them or broil them inside. You can cook them on the grill. If you want, and can, put the hot dog on a stick and roast it over an open campfire.
JULY 18 – Hot Dog Day
(also look at July 16, 23 and 30)
You already know that the hot dog we know today began as a sausage. When first sold at carnivals and fairs, they came with gloves to keep your hands clean. That was too expensive so a roll was used. Things continued to change. The roll became the hot dog bun we know. Most hot dogs today are “skinless,” and the inside is more like a finely ground paste. Almost always, they are fully pre-cooked.
JULY 19 – Ice Cream
(also look at July 7)
“I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.” Do you have a favorite flavor? How about a favorite topping? In any case, it’s nothing new. It’s well known that in 200 BC China, a nutritious treat was to mix rice with milk and freeze it. (Does that make it “rice cream?”) Before that, the Persians were known to mix pasta with flavored ices. Of course, flavored snow isn’t ice cream because it has no cream. By the 1700s, recipes for ice cream began to appear in cookbooks. It’s known that George Washington loved it. After the invention of refrigeration, people didn’t have to wait for the ice and snow of winter. Then came the cone. You can make small amounts of ice cream with plastic baggies. Home ice cream makers come in many styles and sizes.
JULY 20 – Lollipop
These days you can go to the store and get all the sugar you want. As the “New World” was being discovered and explored, those people were looking for gold, sure. Even more, they were looking for … SUGAR! In a few places, it was illegal for an average person to have sugar. It was reserved for royalty. With the new discoveries, sugar was easier to get. That led to the making of candy. One form was candy on a stick – the lollipop.
JULY 22 – Hammock
It’s not known for sure but is possible that the first real use of hammocks was on sailing ships. As a woven net, they were light in weight, and could easily be folded out of the way. As the ship swayed in the waves, so did the hammock. The sailors could sleep without being tossed around. On land, this portable bed can almost fit into your pocket. Just find a couple of trees and you can sleep off the ground, away from snakes, bugs and other things. They’re also a great place to relax on a quiet afternoon – or any time of day.
JULY 23 – Hot Dog
(also look at July 16, 18 and 30)
Can you believe it? Here is yet another Hot Dog Day. As an interesting … uh … twist … an adult can use a knife to easily make an extra special fancy frank.
You can also celebrate by making Octopus Soup. Or you might like a Chuco Dog. Both are in Lunch With Nicker.
JULY 24-26 – Gilroy Garlic Days
There are garlic festivals at various times, in various places. This is the biggest. For three days, it’s all about garlic. You can even get garlic ice cream. An unofficial National Garlic Day is April 19th. These three days center on Gilroy, California. Garlic is related to the onion. It has been used for flavoring in foods, and also as a medicine. Garlic in many varieties is grown all over the world. The largest producer is China. Even so, Gilroy declares itself as “the garlic capital of the world.”
JULY 27 – Take Your Pants for a Walk –
and – Take Your Houseplant for a Walk
You can celebrate two holidays, get some exercise and have fun all at the same time. Taking a walk is good for your health. Depending on the houseplant, they often like some real sunlight now and then. But, have you ever thought that your pants might get lonely? There they are, stuck in a drawer or closet, mostly ignored. You put them on, you take them off. Big deal! Well, today it is a big deal. Get out your pants. “Welcome to the world!” Show your pants that you appreciate them. Take them out for a walk, maybe even out for a picnic. And bring along a houseplant.
JULY 28 – Milk Chocolate
Chocolate has been around for at least 3000 years. It comes from the cacao bean. The beans get fermented to bring out the flavor. They are then dried and roasted. To make milk chocolate, cocoa butter is melted then mixed with cocoa powder, milk (usually powdered) and sugar.
JULY 29 – LASAGNA
Lasagna is thought to have come originally from Naples, Italy. It’s made with wide, flat noodles with various kinds of fillings to make layers. Most often, ground meat (usually beef), tomato sauce (or marinara sauce) and cheese are used. Many consider ricotta cheese as the traditional and proper cheese, but some use cottage cheese and slices of Swiss cheese. Especially for a vegetarian lasagna, things like spinach, zucchini and mushrooms might be used. The marinara sauce might already have garlic and oregano, or this can be added. What it really comes down to is … what do you like? What are you used to? There is no one right way, no wrong way, to make lasagna. There are hundreds and hundreds of recipes online.
JULY 29 – Chicken Wing
(also look at July 3, 6 and 10-12)
Bruck, bruck-bruck-bruck. The chickens are back, and crossing the road. (Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to your barbecue or deep fryer, of course.) If you missed it before, they are sometimes called Buffalo Wings – not because buffalo have wings but because chicken wings are said to have become popular in Buffalo, New York. In the past, many people would cut them off a whole chicken and throw them away. Over time, you could order a platter or basket full of the tasty treats. They could be regular, spicy, hot, super hot or melt-your-eyeballs.
JULY 30 – Chili Dog
(also look at July 16, 18 and 23)
This time we celebrate the hot dog with oodles of chili and cheese over the top to be sure that it is as messy as can be. For the gourmet, the hot dog has to be a gourmet hot dog, with gourmet chili. Exactly how it is done depends on where you are. A chili dog in Chicago isn’t like a chili dog in Phoenix, which isn’t like a chili dog in Los Angeles. At home, make it any way you like.
JULY 31 – Mutt’s Day
The mutt, or mongrel, is a dog of some mixed breed or another. Some have taken on names, like the schnoodle – a cross-breed of a schnauzer and a poodle. Most just have whatever name you’ve given to them. Well, this is their special day. They may not take first place at a dog show, but they sure can take first place in our hearts.