Yes, today is Cinco de Mayo, a day actually celebrated more widely across the United States than it is in Mexico.
But more significantly, and to a much larger number of people, today is also Easter. As many as 300 million members of the Eastern Orthodox churches worldwide celebrate Jesus' resurrection today — in the Greater Toledo area, that includes members of the Greek, Antiochian, Ukranian, Bulgarian, Coptic, and Serbian Orthodox churches.
The Eastern Orthodox churches determine the date of Easter based on the Julian calendar, while the Western churches use the Gregorian calendar. Some years, the dates coincide exactly, as they did two years ago, but they can also be as far apart as five weeks, as is the case this year.
The occasion of Easter is even more joyous because today marks the end of six weeks of Lent, or more. For the adherents of many of these churches, that means a long period of giving up not only meat but also all food products made from animals, including milk, butter, cheese, and eggs.
If you are Lebanese, then, what better way to end Lent than with the milk and butter found in kaak bi haleeb, the traditional Easter milk-syrup-glazed cookies?
Judy Kanag, who belongs to St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania, makes dozens of these sweet, cake-like cookies at a time. Dozens and dozens, many of which find their way to extended family and friends. She was kind enough to share her recipe with us. Even though we cut the recipe in half, there are still dozens of large cookies to be found here. Dozens and dozens.
Kaak Bi Haleed
2½ pounds flour
2 tablespoons anise seed
½ tablespoon ground marjoram
½ tablespoon nutmeg
½ pound (1 cup) clarified butter
2 cups milk, lukewarm
1¼ teaspoons yeast, dissolved in warm water
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, anise seed, marjoram, and nutmeg. Add the butter, and mix together thoroughly. Mix in the dissolved yeast and enough of the warm milk to make a soft dough (you might need more milk). Cover and let the dough rise until double in bulk, about two hours. Meanwhile, make milk syrup recipe, below. Preheat oven to 350°.
Form into balls larger than an egg, and cover with a sheet or towel; allow dough to rest 25 minutes or more. Flatten balls into flat cookie shapes, and use a cut-glass dish to make a design in the top. Place in ungreased pan and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Make sure they are well baked, or they will taste doughy.
While the cookies are still warm, dunk them in the milk syrup for at least 10 seconds. Cool on wire racks.
Yield: Around 30 cookies, depending on size
Source: Judy Kanag
¾ cup half and half
¾ cup sugar
6 ounces (½ large can) evaporated milk
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) clarified butter
Boil half and half, sugar, and evaporated milk together until thick. Add butter and cook 3 minutes more. Cool before using.
Yield: About 1¾ cups
Source: Judy Kanag
Another month, another bunch of wine tastings.
The Walt Churchill's Market at 3320 Briarfield Blvd. in Monclova Township has added a new day to their weekly (now twice-weekly) wine tastings. Wednesday evening tastings will generally tend to focus on what the store is calling value-priced wines — that is, wines under $25 a bottle. The Saturday tastings will generally be of more premium wines; the per-glass fee you'll pay to sample them will be adjusted accordingly.
The May schedule includes:
• Wednesday (4-7 p.m.), new discoveries.
• Saturday (noon-5 p.m.), wines from the northern Rhone Valley of France.
• May 16 (4-7 p.m.), stuff wine consultant Joe Mosier wants to try.
• May 18 (noon-5 p.m.), wines from the southern Rhone Valley of France.
• May 22 (4-7 p.m.), Memorial Day wines to pair with grilled food.
• May 25 (noon-5 p.m.), Wine guy Austin Beeman's favorite American wines.
• May 29 (4-7 p.m.), those wines you see every time you come to the store.
For more information, call 419-794-4000.
Do you look at dandelions and suddenly feel hungry?
Maybe you should. Dandelion greens are in fact edible (though they are bitter — try pairing them with goat cheese or bacon, or perhaps potatoes). They are also full of healthful minerals. And if you pick them before the weed has a chance to flower, they are at least less bitter than they become afterward.
Spring is a great time for foraging, an idea that will be explored Thursday with a program called Meet Me at the Cabin: Dandelions & Other Spring Edibles. The cabin in the title is White Star Cabin, which is in White Star Park in Gibsonburg. Gibsonburg is about eight miles west of Fremont in Sandusky County.
The free program will begin at 1 p.m., and it is put on by the good people in the Sandusky County Park District. It will look at dandelions and what the park folks are calling "other spring edibles."
Registration is required. Call 419-334-4495 or toll-free at 1-888-200-5577.
Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks in advance to email@example.com.