• Top Tools for Turkey Day

    Each year, we add one new fancy kitchen tool to our cupboard around Thanksgiving time. It’s when we’re doing a lot of cooking where special hardware can come in handy. Plus, there are things that are really necessary for cooking a great Turkey Dinner that are nice to have around, even if we don’t use them in our every-day meal prep.
    I do have some criteria on what is a good fit for a good, new kitchen tool. There are a lot of frivolous gadgets out there that don’t really help much. And thanks to TV chef Alton Brown’s crusade against kitchen unitaskers, there’s a much better idea out there of just which tool is worth your hard earned money, and kitchen shelf space.
    Three of the first tools we collected are highlighted in this recent Life360 Thanksgiving blog post.

    • Roasting pan (with good rack): Those aluminum pans at your grocery store will do in a pinch. But a solid roasting pan is one of the key essentials to roasting a nicely browned Turkey in your oven. Many high-quality roasting pans come with a good, non-stick roasting rack. If it doesn’t, this is also a must-have.
    • Digital, remote meat thermometer: Assures a hassle-free, nicely cooked Turkey every time. But research them well and plan to spend money if you can. We went through three name-brand models before finding a digital remote thermometer that has lasted and worked properly.
    • Fat separator: We make gravy about once (maybe twice) a year. This tool is indispensable to making it well. Plus it has a cool food science look to it. It parts the turkey juice from the turkey fat when you pour off pan drippings from roasted Turkey (or other meat). There’s really no other way I know to get this task done efficiently without getting any of the stuff you don’t want into your gravy boat.

    Some tools that we have collected and consider essential are not mentioned. One of them is a mandoline slicer, an indispensible time-saver and the best way to evenly slice squash for the traditional Butternut Squash Gratin we serve. A food mill or potato ricer is also a must for making the creamiest mashed potatoes.
    There are many lists out there, some more basic than others. But most have the right idea. For example, if you don’t own a carving knife or large cutting board, and you’re going to be carving your first Turkey later this month, now’s the time to shop for that. Here are a few lists to check :

    Other lists feature tools I’d skip:

    But where kitchen aids are concerned, the value is in the eyes – and hands – of the beholder.  We’re on the fence this year about buying turkey lifters resembling small pitch forks. What kitchen tools are essential for your Thanksgiving Day success?

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  • At Newsstands Now: Turkey!

    Over the years, I’ve become a collector of holiday-themed food magazines. Only the newest issue of my favorite food pub du jour helps infuse fresh ideas into our menu as we start thinking about Thanksgiving each year. 
    From the current look of the newsstands, it’s time to pick an issue for this year as well as  pull out my favorite standbys from years past. In the checkout line yesterday, five brand new editions of food monthlies called out, each one decked out with a tempting image of a gorgeous Holiday Turkey.
    I’m not alone in my love of collecting holiday food pubs, as evidenced in reviews by number of bloggers. Here’s a roundup of some favorites.
    Like me, the Postmodern Hostess finds it hard to resist Thanksgiving magazines. Her picks for this year’s crop? Based on recipes she flagged, Tanja liked Food & Wine, Food Network Magazine, Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking and Martha Stewart Living. As she notes of Taste’s Healthy Cooking:

    “Another great magazine. I’ve never bought Healthy Cooking before, but I really enjoyed it. See all those flags up top? Lots of great recipes to be found here, including some good non-dairy ideas and recipes that would be tasty year-end. As with most of the magazines above, the Thanksgiving recipes themselves weren’t terribly voluminous, but it’s definitely quality over quantity with this one. And they’re all lower fat than traditional recipes, which just makes their stock rise even more with me.”

    The Bitten Word has a handy “recap and roundup” of food magazines. They’ve  cataloged and an astounding 172 recipes from 2009 issues with more from 2008 as well, if you want to access them online. Or, search your local second-hand book shop or eBay for print editions of these back issues.
    For even more vintage stock, the Washington Post offers a 2007 Thanksgiving Magazine extravaganza. The Post graded top publications from that year on criteria including theme, cover, recipe count and relevancy, how-to tips, among others. With an overall letter grade of B+, Martha Stewart Living rated the best of that crop, with Gourmet coming in second with a B.
    Like the PH, I, too, still lament the demise last year of Gourmet print edition. While the publication lives online now, last year’s holiday issue was the last published for print. But I still have my favorite Gourmet back issues. And judging from newsstands, there are plenty of other options to explore.

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  • NEWS RELEASE: New gThankYou Enclosure Cards will Tickle your Turkey Bone

    gThankYou (www.gthankyou.com) today made it even easier to boost your Thank You power with new, free enclosure cards just right for your Thanksgiving gift program. Choose cards that are funny, from the heart or that display a wonderful autumn image – including a new card that’s guaranteed to get a smile (see it below).
    “Many customers are surprised when they find out that by ordering our Gift Certificates for Turkey, Ham, Groceries or Pie, they also get our free Enclosure Cards,” according to gThankYou President Rick Kiley. “It’s part of the convenience that has made us one of Corporate America’s favorite employee gift suppliers.”
    This season, there are abundant ways to say Thank You. Choose from any of the following new designs by Artist Amy Pierquet of Waterfront Graphic Design:

    • Cornucopia (above)
    • “Eat Ham” (our hilarious new card)
    • Falling Leaves
    • Scarecrow
    • And many more favorites

    Our Enclosure Card service includes customizing at no charge.  We’ll print your cards with any message, company logo or names of gift recipients to make your employee gifts stand out – all free and with no obligation.
    gThankYou Gift Certificates come with your choice of new seasonal,  Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham, Grocery or Pie Gift Certificates online in a variety of denominations. They’re easy to order as well as simple and quick to distribute to employees who can then redeem them at nearly any grocery store for the Turkey, Ham, Ice Cream or Groceries of their choice. Find out more at www.gThankYou.com or by calling 888-484-1658.
    About gThankYou.com
    A popular choice for employee gifts and rewards anytime, gThankYou® Gift Certificates help companies celebrate success! gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Find out more about gThankYou on the company’s website. And read more about how Thanks can boost your company at the gThankYou.com blog (https://www.gthankyou.com/blog/). Contact: Rick Kiley, President, gThankYou, LLC, info@gthankyou.com, 888-484-1658.

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  • The Best Pumpkin Pie (or, Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!)

    If you’re Canadian, you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today. Living close enough to see the border of our northern neighbor like us, we hear plenty about how the Canadian celebration differs from its November counterpart celebrated in the U.S. My Canuck friends always distinguished their Thanksgiving as more of a harvest dinner, than a food fest.
     

    With pumpkin pie, fresh is best.


     
    But according to a recent article in the Toronto Star, the Canadian feast differs in one primary way:

    “It’s an annual feast held the second Monday of October, but the calendar isn’t the only thing that distinguishes our Thanksgiving from that celebrated south of the border.”

    What about pie? Pumpkin still dominates, but it’s a pie with more pronounced flavor notes. Again, Thanks to the Star:

    “Canadians enjoy a spicy pie infused with nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and ginger, while Americans typically complete their feast with one that’s custardy and sweet.”

    Regardless of your spice-to-sweet taste preference, pumpkin pie is a true seasonal joy to behold and an absolute must on any Thanksgiving table. According to several recent news articles, home-roasted pumpkin versus its store-bought canned season is the key to making a really fantastic pumpkin pie.
    According to a testimonial in a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog post, “…a blind taste test of pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin and with fresh pumpkin. Guess which won by a landslide? Fresh.”
    Roasting a pumpkin in your oven is as easy as pie, too. See a video demonstration on the JS Online blog.
    Claiming it makes a “truly exceptional pumpkin pie,” the Chillicothe Gazette provides those uninitiated with a “recipe” for home-made pumpkin puree
    Fresh pumpkin puree can be used in any pumpkin recipe, not just pie. But in my mind, there’s no better way to use pumpkin than in a pumpkin pie. Try roasting one in your oven this year if you prefer the home-made variety, then weigh in with your preference.

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  • Top Pie Picks

    gThankYou recently added Pie Gift Certificates to our lineup for one reason:  customer request. The fact that customers were asking us to include a Gift Card for pie underscores the popularity of this comforting pastry in our hearts.
     

    Fun at the Great American Pie Festival


     
    According to the experts at the American Pie Council, we serve up 186 million pies purchased at grocery stores annually. That’s about $700 million in pie sales at markets alone!
    More and more, gourmet pies are sold alongside traditional choices right in your supermarket. But what are the most popular pies today? I don’t want to start a debate or anything, but here’s what the Pie Council found in a 2008 survey by it conducted with Crisco.:

    1. Apple (19%)
    2. Pumpkin (13%)
    3. Pecan (12%)
    4. Banana Cream (10%)
    5. Cherry (9%)

    Another pie favorites list published in the Nation’s Restaurant News in 2005 named the top 10 pies served in restaurants across the U.S.:

    1. Apple
    2. Chocolate or French Silk
    3. Coconut or Coconut Cream
    4. Pecan
    5. Berry (all kinds)
    6. Key Lime
    7. Lemon
    8. Pumpkin
    9. Cherry
    10. Banana or Banana Cream

    We haven’t even touched on the kind of pie people most like to make (and eat) at home. Perhaps rhubarb – our pick — and other regional favorites would show up on that list. What’s your favorite to buy in a store, order out or make at home?

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  • Look to the Professional Gift Pros

    Those in the business of Thanks rarely get a chance to see it in action first-hand.  But that’s what happened recently when gThankYou was among a select group of professional gift pros highlighted in a story in the October Business Beat Magazine. The feature in the publication of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce explores the wide array of opportunities for giving professional gifts, noting that many firms choose to recognize employee accomplishments and occasions.

    The heart of the message: “a gift lets you know you’re appreciated.”
    And that’s really at the heart of why we’re here, to help company leaders appreciate employees, customers and friends. But it’s how we help that means the most to both employees and employers. Explains gThankYou President Rick Kiley of our popular Turkey Gift Certificates, the gift that launched it all and continues to be popular during the holidays, particularly around that season of gratitude, Thanksgiving:

    “It’s so convenient for employees, and gives them flexibility and choice. They can redeem the certificate at their convenience and choose the turkey that suits them. It’s a very meaningful, highly visible gift that puts the employer front and center.”

    That convenience and meaning allows gThankYou certificates convey appreciation in a way that builds relationships and engages employees.
    It’s a rare treat for us to have such an “aw, shucks” moment. But having our work highlighted in this way gives us a glimpse of the appreciation that comes through recognition. Sort of a validation that what we’re doing really works. It certainly has given us a boost to work even harder to spread Thanks around.

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  • Good News: More Pie in Stores

    Mom (almost) never uttered an unkind word in front of young ears. Except when it came to making pie pastry. It was her culinary nemesis. Fast forward to 2010 and no one really needs to bother struggling to find the correct temperature water and precise fat-to-flour ratio to achieve the perfect pie.
    Thanks to innovation in the food industries, we have access to just about any type of pie imaginable right in our neighborhood grocery stores. And we’re eating it right up. The popularity of store-bought pies has increased in recent years, according to a baking industry report.
    Blame the now bygone recession for our increasing appetite for supermarket pie. As people continue to eat in, they’re choosing tasty pies from the supermarket to cap their meal at home. In the March 2010 report “Home sweet home,” Mark Grandanetti, president of Rocky Mountain Pies in Salt Lake City noted:

    “Consumers seem to be spending more time at home instead of dining out, and this trend seems to be driving the high-end product sales. It’s less expensive to dress up the dinner table with a nice dessert than it is to go out to dinner at a restaurant.”

    Apple and blueberry pies are still top choices. But bakers said that consumers want more unique, high-end pies that will “stop the shopping cart.” (Sour Cherry or Blackberry Peach Crunch anybody?) Increased demand has also prompted producers to make pies in a wider variety of sizes, too adding 8- and 6-inch pies to shelves alongside traditional sized pies.
    Good to keep in mind, even if you are of the DIY mindset in the kitchen. Why bother, when you have gourmet pie options like this right on store shelves?

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  • NEWS RELEASE – Pie Gift Certificates, New from gThankYou!

    Corporate America’s Top Employee Gift source gThankYou! has added new Pie Gift Certificates to its popular line of workplace gifts. Theses new gift certificates increase the array of delicious and thoughtful employee Gift Certificates and give employers more convenient and meaningful ways to recognize employee achievement and customer success.
    6-Slice Pie“Everyone loves pie,” says gThankYou President Rick Kiley. “Ours comes in every flavor imaginable without the inconvenience of lugging and storing, serving and slicing.”
    Employers choose the perfect gThankYou Pie Certificate dollar amount for their reward and recognition program to celebrate sweet success. Denominations range from $5 to $10. Recipients can redeem gThankYou Gift Certificates at virtually any supermarkets for the pie or similar dessert they choose.
    gThankYou Pie Gift Certificates can also be used to purchase cake, cheesecake or a similar treat.  Nearly all supermarkets and mass merchant grocers honor gThankYou Certificates.  Details are on the FAQ for Givers section of the gThankYou! website.
    Pie with SlicePersonalize each Gift Card free of charge for employees or customers with one of the new Pie Enclosure cards, seen here, or any of the Company’s Enclosure Card options. New Pie Enclosure Cards feature an assortment of wedges arranged artfully on a plate, and a slice embellished with a creamy dollop. As a extra service, gThankYou prints your choice of free Enclosure Card with your company name and the name of the recipient; company logos can also be included.
    Complete information regarding gThankYou! Pie Gift Certificates is on the gThankYou website.  Details include:

    Famous for its popular Turkey, Ham, Grocery and Ice Cream Certificates, gThankYou is the top choice gift for employees. gThankYou Gift Certificates are as convenient and easy for firms to give as they are meaningful, appreciated and simple for employees to redeem.
    About gThankYou, LLC. gThankYou helps companies celebrate with employees, customers and friends with Gift Certificates that are simple to purchase, easy to distribute and convenient to redeem. gThankYou Gift Certificates create an ideal opportunity for workplace leaders to recognize successes. gThankYou, LLC is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn More about gThankYou on the company’s website. And find out how rewards can boost your company’s bottom line at Celebrating Work, the blog of gThankYou.

    Contact: Rick Kiley, President, gThankYou, LLC, info@gthankyou.com, 888-484-1658.

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  • NEWS RELEASE: New Free Enclosure Cards from gThankYou!

    gThankYou!, a workplace gifts leader, today released its new line of autumn Enclosure Cards to compliment its Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham Gift Certificates and Grocery Gift Certificates.
    gThankYou! customers can choose from an array of fresh fall designs to gThankYou Enclosure Card-Falling Leaveshelp say “Thank You!”, from Corporate America’s favorite employee gift certificate source.
    The new Enclosure Cards feature a wind-swept Maple ablaze in color, a happy pumpkin patch scarecrow and delightful harvest icons. These designs help employers put the personal touch on gThankYou’s popular Gift Certificate line.  Artist Amy Pierquet of Waterfront Graphic Design, created each of the designs to make your companies’ gifts stand out.
    gThankYou Enclosure Card-Scarecrow“As business picks up, industries are using our Employee Gift Certificates more to keep employees as well as customers happy and engaged,” gThankYou President Rick Kiley explained. “gThankYou is honored that it has become a favorite with companies who wish to pair a traditional ‘Thank You!’ with modern convenience.”
    Many employers choose to personalize Employee Gift Certificates from gThankYou with Enclosure Cards. It’s a free service that makes employee gifts extra special. Just as ordering gThankYou! Certificates is easy, adding Enclosure Cards is also simple.  Customers choose a design, select a message to imprint, decide whether to add a company logo and the names of Certificate recipients.
    Easily order Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham, Grocery or Ice Cream Gift gThankYou Enclosure Card-Fall4SquareCertificates online in a variety of denominations. They’re simple and quick to distribute to employees who can then redeem them at nearly any grocery store for the Turkey, Ham, Ice Cream or Groceries of their choice. Find out more at www.gThankYou.com or by calling 888-484-1658.


    Download Our FREE Thanksgiving Enclosure Card Catalog



    Download Our FREE Holiday Enclosure Card Catalog



    About gThankYou, LLC

    Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.
    gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.
    gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
    Follow the Company Blog – “Celebrating Work”.
    Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
    Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.
    “G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.
     

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  • News Release – gThankYou! Summer Enclosure Cards

    gThankYou!, America’s employee gift certificate leader, announces New Free Enclosure Card designs.
    What’s better than a triple scoop cone on a hot summer day? A free enclosure card from gThankYou that says “Thanks for a job well done!”.  Corporate America’s favorite employee gift source is pleased to offer four new free enclosure cards this summer to help make workplace gift giving more personal and simple.

    Triple Scoop Enclosure Card

    Triple Scoop Enclosure Card


    Designs include an Ice Cream Sundae (complete with chocolate sauce and acherry on top), a tempting Three-scoop Waffle Cone, a
    Sizzling BBQ Grill and an a collage of Favorite Summertime Activities. All gThankYou Enclosure Cards are displayed on the company’s website.  Each design was developed by artist Amy Pierquet of Waterfront Graphic Design.
    “There’s nothing more fun to eat than ice cream, and nothing that makes for a better celebration,” says gThankYou President Rick Kiley of the new card options sure to make anyone smile.  They’re the perfect compliment to our new Ice Cream Gift Certificates.
    These cards make giving gThankYou Gift Certificates

    Summertime Favorites Enclosure Card


    more convenient and meaningful.  Add a custom message and  your company logo to personalize your gift, and make it more special.
    A popular choice for employee recognition and reward programs, and end-of-quarter employee gifts, gThankYou Gift Certificates give employers the ease of selecting new Ice Cream, Turkey, Ham or Grocery Gift Cards in a variety of denominations. Employees have the convenience of deciding the type of Ice Cream, Turkey or Ham they want by redeeming gThankYou! Gift Certificates at any grocery store.
    About gThankYou.com. gThankYou® Certificates of Gratitude™ are an ideal employee gift. Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham Gift Certificates, Ice Cream Certificates and Grocery Gift Certificates are favorites because they are fun, meaningful, affordable and appreciated by all.
    Convenience is the top reason companies choose gThankYou Gift Certificates.  gThankYou Certificates can be ordered quickly online or by telephone, are easy to distribute to employees, and can be redeemed at virtually any grocery stores for the ice cream, turkey, ham or groceries that employees choose.  gThankYou Gift Certificates create a perfect opportunity for workplace leaders to recognize success.
    gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com ) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Find out more about gThankYou on the company’s website. And read more about how Thanks can boost your company at the gThankYou Blog. Contact: Rick Kiley, President, gThankYou, LLC, info@gthankyou.com, 888-484-1658.
    Certificates of Gratitude™ is a trademark and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

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  • Best Ice Cream Sundaes

    We’re big fans of Ice Cream Sundaes, as well as lists. So it was great fun pouring over some lists of the top Ice Cream Sundaes. The Ice Cream Sundae remains among the most simple, yet elegant desserts. But one thing is certain: there’s no end to what you can create using ice cream, toppings and your imagination.

    Here’s a sample:

    Breyers Spaghetti and Meatball Sundae

    • Michel’s Frozen Custard in Madison, WI, once offered the Viva Las Vegas Sundae (available now only by request) featuring vanilla custard topped with creamy peanut butter (a la Elvis), hot fudge and banana slices.
    • Grown ups and kids with advanced palates will enjoy the Tiramasu Sundae posted in the Augusta Chronicle from “Sundaes & Splits: Delicious Recipes For Ice Cream Treats,” by Hannah Miles. It uses homemade mascarpone ice cream with from-scratch syrup.
    • Blue Bunny Ice Cream has a recipe for the Cinnamon Bun Hot Apple Sundae posted in the Chatanooga Times Free Press. Think of a gooey, halved cinnamon roll with vanilla ice cream, glazed walnuts, apple pie filling and butterscotch-caramel topping.
    • Breyers Ice Cream and chef Gale Gand have created a Spaghetti & Meatballs Sundae with rocky road “meatballs”, sauce made of mashed strawberries and vanille ice cream extruded through a potato ricer to become noodles.

    Think you make the Best Ice Cream Sundae? Now, you can prove it. Breyer’s is searching for the next best treat in its Sundae Scoop-Off Contest. Submit family-friendly entries containing 10 or fewer ingredients through September 13. The winner gets $10,000, a trip to Chicago and a private cooking lesson with Gale Gand.

    And don’t be shy about sharing your favorite, and best, Sundae picks here.

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  • Best Ice Cream Dessert

    We don’t want to start any arguments or anything, but an informal poll of ice cream lovers here has revealed that, hands down, the Best Ice Cream Dessert is (drum roll please…) Ice Cream Cake! It appears that 2010 has unofficially been declared the year of the Ice Cream Cake as more and more specialty ice cream shops and national chains offer their own versions.
    Nothing draws guests to a party than the mention of Ice Cream Cake on the invitation – a proven phenomenon. The great go-togethers pair very well combined in a frozen treat.
    But if you’re a DIY type, there are many technique tutorials and how-to’s available to help you create the perfect Ice Cream Cake for your get-together or party. Here are a batch of recipes and tip sheets to get you going:

    Several sources say the idea for ice cream cake came from the trifle, an elegant dessert  made by layering cream and cookies or cake in a big, glass serving bowl called (what else?) a trifle bowl. Seems anything goes with today’s Ice Cream Cakes.
    What’s your favorite Ice Cream Cake, or nomination for the Best Ice Cream Dessert ever?

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  • Celebrate National Ice Cream Day! Grilled Ice Cream & More

    Ice cream makes everyone smile! Delight employees by celebrating National Ice Cream Day in your workplace!


    We’re halfway through July and would be remiss if we didn’t mention that this month is National Ice Cream Month! In fact, this Sunday, July 18, is National Ice Cream Day. It’s apt to point out the many ways to celebrate everyone’s favorite frozen treat.
    As the story goes, former President Ronald Reagan in 1984 named July National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July National Ice Cream Day. In true populist fashion, he proclaimed the celebration pointing out that a full 90% of Americans love ice cream. Sounds about right.
    There are so many ways to celebrate with ice cream from an old-fashioned Ice Cream Social to trying new concoctions, like barbecue ice cream. (You read that right.)
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9QPqdClboQ&feature=player_embedded]
     
    The World Dairy Diary Blog recently featured the dessert by self-proclaimed Grillmaster Rick Browne. It’s a version of Baked Alaska you can make on the grill. (Is there anything you can’t prepare on the grill?) Check out the video and try making it yourself. Or, check locally to find ice cream festivities where you live this weekend.
    Here’s some ways people are celebrating Ice Cream this year:

    • Scope out freebies, like these at Buffalo’s Perry’s shops.
    • Go for some artisanal treats. Because we in the U.S. eat more ice cream per person than any other country, every town and city has its own special scoop shop, with specially made Ice Cream, like these in Minneapolis.
    • Play Ice Cream Trivia while enjoying your favorite dish or cone. This BuzzFeed post, “17 Things You Might Not Know About Ice Cream”  has good bit of history to get you started!

    Remember, you have the whole of the month to celebrate. How will you mark this cool occasion?

    National Ice Cream Day!

    Share your “thanks” with ice cream! We provide free customizable Enclosure Cards with any purchase of gThankYou! Ice Cream Gift Certificates. Celebrate your employees on National Ice Cream Day!


     

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  • Ice Cream or Custard?

    Last week, Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Wisconsin Democratic Senator Russ Feingold in Southeastern Wisconsin when he made what he may not have realized is a political gaffe here. Stopping to scoop cones at Kopps Frozen Custard in Glendale, Biden asked, “Where’s the ice cream?”
    An employee reportedly informed the vice president that the shop served custard, not ice cream.
    Biden’s mistake illustrates a really good point. Most people don’t know the difference. That strikes me as somewhat odd, because I sense most do grasp the difference between ice cream and other frozen treats like, for example, sherbet or granita.
    In the interest of clearing up the confusion, here’s a primer:
    Let’s start with the misunderstood frozen custard. It’s not soft serve ice cream. But it is unmistakable from any other type of ice cream once in your mouth and belly. It’s much richer than ice cream, made with egg yolks in addition to cream and sugar and contains more milk fat. Its extra creaminess also comes from a different churning process.
    From the folks at WiseGeek:

    “Frozen custard gets its creaminess from a higher percentage of butterfat compared to standard grade ice creams. In order to be considered a true custard, the mix must contain at least 10% butterfat, but it’s not unusual to see butterfat percentages as high as 18% or more. The beaters inside the chamber of a frozen custard machine turn much more slowly than those in a soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt machine. This slow churning prevents excessive air from being mixed into the custard as it freezes.”

    Various regions stake claim to serving the first custard — Chicago and New York among them. But I’ve never seen a concentration of custard stands and devotees as in Southern Wisconsin. There are three local stands within a bike ride or walk from my house alone. (It’s a true mystery why our city keeps appearing on lists of the healthiest places to live.)
    And now, for comparison, let’s discuss Ice Cream. Epicurious’ food dictionary describes Ice Cream as such:

    “…ice creams with solid additions must contain a minimum of 8% milk fat, while plain ice creams must have at least 10% milk fat. French ice cream has a cooked egg-custard base. Ice milk is made in much the same way as ice cream, except for the fact that it contains less milk fat and milk solids.”

    So, there you have it. Custard is denser and richer than ice cream or other frozen treats. Perhaps the White House staff can bone up on regional culinary specialties next time Biden travels, lest they want to endure another classic Biden blunder.

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  • The Weirdest Ice Cream Toppings

    Weirdest Ice Cream Topping? How about popcorn?
    What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten on top of your ice cream? How about buttered popcorn? Check out this list of unusual if not weird ice cream toppings from InStyle Magazine.
    The best thing about ice cream is the countless ways there are to serve it. It’s the ultimate customizable treat with toppings, mix-ins and variations to please everyone.
    What's your favorite ice cream topping?But what’s the top ice cream topping? According to WiseGeek, hot fudge, caramel and butterscotch sauces are the most popular, with strawberry sauce and maple syrup following. My favorite, particularly with a bowl of quality vanilla, is homemade rhubarb sauce.
    There’s so much more than sauce, categorized like this:  fruits, candies, nuts and other fun other stuff — think sprinkles and whipped cream.
    Some of the more unusual toppings listed by Quazen include warmed peanut butter, chocolate-covered coffee beans, green tea and canned pumpkin. I still say the most odd has got to be buttered popcorn. (I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried this – doesn’t the topping get mushy?) Says Quazen:

    “Ooooo, gross! Nope. Give it a try. Microwave some buttered popcorn, then sprinkle a handful on top of a bowl of vanilla ice cream (or any choice of your own). It’s fantastic, with a nice mix of sweet and salty.”

    If you need new topping ideas find them at Good Housekeeping! And if you like from-scratch, try this recipe for toffee sauce from ice-cream-recipes.com. Add texture with this Graham Cracker Crunch topping recipe from All Recipes.
    Ready for an ice cream party? Why not share some of these crazy concoctions with colleagues and have fun scoring favorite winners (and loosers). Not a bad way to take a break and get to know your co-workers better!
     

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  • News Release – Ice Cream Gift Certificates, New from gThankYou

    NEWS RELEASE:Ice-Cream-Gift-Certificates
    Celebrate Success with New Ice Cream Certificates from gThankYou. Employee gift expert gThankYou has introduced Ice Cream Gift Certificates, a new and fun way for companies to engage employees and say “Thank You” for a job well done. Ice Cream Gift Certificates are the perfect, and tasty, addition of your company’s recognition and reward program.
    I Scream, You Scream…
    “There’s nothing more fun to eat than ice cream, and the season is upon us,” says Rick Kiley, president of gThankYou, Corporate America’s favorite employee gift source. “There’s nothing that makes for a better celebration with friends and the entire family.”
    Fun Varieties
    Choose gThankYou Ice Cream Certificates for a variety of celebrations:

    • The Sundae –  good for one container of ice cream up to a $5 value
    • The Double Scoop – redeemable for two containers of ice cream up to a $10 value
    • The Triple Scoop — purchases three containers up to a $15 total value.
    • The Ice Cream Social – up to a $20 value good for four containers of ice cream.
    • The Extravaganza – up to a $25 value toward five containers of ice cream.
    • The Ultimate Scoop – an ice cream lovers dream good for six containers at up to $30 value.

    Plus, add $5 or $10 to your certificate for mix-ins and toppings like nuts, candies, whipped cream and sauce.
    Each certificate is redeemable at any grocery store for any brand of ice cream, frozen novelty or similar frozen dessert in the appropriate denomination and container count. Employees can also choose the brand and type of toppings of their choice, if included in the certificate.
    More Information
    There’s a lot more information about gThankYou® Ice Cream Gift Certificates at the Company’s website, including:

    About gThankYou, LLC gThankYou helps companies celebrate with employees, offering Gift Certificates that are simple to purchase, easy to distribute and convenient to redeem for employees, customers and friends. gThankYou Gift Certificates create an ideal opportunity for workplace leaders to recognize successes. gThankYou, LLC is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn More about gThankYou on the company’s website. And find out how rewards can boost your company’s bottom line at Celebrating Work, the blog of gThankYou.
    Already known for its popular Turkey Gift Certificates, Ham Gift Certificates and Grocery Gift Certificates, gThankYou is the top choice gift for employees; as convenient and easy for firms to give as it’s meaningful and appreciated and simple for employees to redeem.
    Contact: Rick Kiley, President, gThankYou, LLC, info@gthankyou.com, 888-484-1658.

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  • Frozen Dairyland (or Ice Cream Flavors we Love)

    It’s hard to imagine just how many flavors of ice cream exist. But creative ice cream makers keep coming up with new tastes all the time.
    Take, for example, one boutique ice cream maker here that concocts custom ice cream flavors for big events and special occasions. During a recent charity event, The Chocolate Shoppe came up with a “festive yellow/red cookie dough” ice cream that had the distinct appearance of – you guessed it – sausage laden with yellow mustard. (Yum!) When the city this year wooed Google to bring its fiber optic service here, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Babcock Dairy launched Madfiber ice cream featuring M&Ms in Google’s company colors with sweet granola in vanilla ice cream.
    Although it appears that I live in a magical Frozen Dairyland, plenty of other ice cream artisans across the country come up with unusual flavor combinations , too.  Exotic is the niche at In the Mood Coffee and Ice Cream in Woodbury and Magic Fountain in Mattituck. Not to be outdone, the tiny Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco keeps customers current with its 100 flavors including prosciutto, milk chocolate tarragon and foie via Twitter.
    Regardless of the number of flavors out there, one flavor stands alone as the consummate favorite: vanilla. There are good reasons why. Vanilla is anything but plain or boring. Vanilla’s flavor profile is complex as the Washington Post notes.

    “Such complexity and multidimensionality have made vanilla one of the most sought-after and copied spices. But its use is still fairly limited. We add it to sweet dishes to emphasize their sweetness. And that’s about it. Although homemade vanilla ice cream is one of the most wonderful things I know, I don’t think we should stop there.”

    Plus, vanilla pairs well with just about everything. Check these top flavors from a Food Network survey. The top five of 15:

    1. Vanilla
    2. Chocolate
    3. Butter pecan
    4. Strawberry
    5. Neapolitan

    For contrast, here are the top ice cream flavors based on sales listed by the NPD Group:

    1. Vanilla
    2. Chocolate
    3. Butter Pecan
    4. Strawberry
    5. Chocolate Chip Mint

    I see a trend. What’s your favorite scoop?

    www.npd.com
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  • Ice Cream Season

    It hit 90 this week, a rare occasion for Wisconsin in May. We officially moved full-force into summer living. The kitchen is closed. The grill is open. We’re outside working and playing, and hungry for our favorite summer treat: Ice Cream.
    Ice cream is a favorite of everyone, period. In fact, I’ve never met anyone who does not like it.
    Since it’s such a favorite, innovative eaters have come up with many ways to enjoy ice cream, and all of its many forms. Food Network recently posted its top dessert trends for 2010. About half of them include ice cream, and it topped the list in 2009.
    Food Network’s trends this year  include:
    Ice Cream Mixer: The root beer float gets company as ice cream gets mixed into all sorts of beverages to make new forms of shakes, floats, malts and coolers. The trend follows research showing an uptick in a return to the past.  Says Food Network:

    “Nostalgia is certainly part of this trend. Sweets connect us to pleasant childhood memories, and those of us old enough to remember fondly the old drugstore soda fountains will enjoy the new twists on those old favorites.”

    Newfangled sandwiches:  I’ve noticed this trend taking shape in scoop shops and restaurants across the Dairy State in recent years as ice cream sandwiches have gotten an upgrade. New flavors of premium ice cream between artisan cookies, brownies or mini brioche have emerged.
    Try making some of these fancy ice cream concoctions at home (with gThanks to Food Network and Rachel Ray Magazine):

    Enjoy these and other ice cream treats, during Memorial Day weekend, and throughout Ice Cream Season.

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  • Growing Engagement: Just add dirt

    What’s an instant recipe for growing  morale? Just add dirt.
    Some companies have  found a fun and innovative way to engage employees by providing an unlikely benefit: a vegetable garden. This growing trend was recognized as one of the best ideas in Human Resources recently.
    Minneapolis PR and branding company Haberman & Associates  spent about $10,000 last year to start a garden for its employees.  “It’s creating that water-cooler effect,” the article quotes company co-founder and chief executive Fred Haberman “People have a greater excitement [about] working at Haberman.”

    Haberman’s off-site garden, called the “Dude Ranch,” was recognized by Human Resource Executive magazine editors as one of the  “Best HR Ideas for 2010.” You can follow the company’s growing season, or get tips on how to start an employer-sponsored garden yourself, at the project blog.
    The National Gardening Association says vegetable gardening is up about 20 percent, although it’s not clear how much of that is done by companies. But a growing number of firms have taken up the hoe including Google, Yahoo, Kohl’s, PepsiCo and Twisted Limb Paperworks, which began a 1,500-square-foot garden outside its offices to boost engagement, as this Washington Post story relates.
    University of Maryland business professor Paul Tesluk says a garden can encourage camaraderie, help in recruiting and differentiate a business from competitors. Perhaps it’s time to plant a row for employee morale and engagement and, of course, to just say Thanks!

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  • Homage to Ham & Bean Soups

    Here at gThankYou, we’re big fans of soup, ham and bean soups in particular. Pity we’re heading out of what I consider prime soup season. Before grilling season takes hold, however, I offer this humble homage to simple, versatile and satisfying ham and bean soups in this installment of Recipe of the Week.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMJeaZtgwng]
    Soup is the reason I prefer bone-in hams. There’s a good reason why so much meat clings to those bones. It just begs to be made into soup! In its recipe for Ham Stock Epicurious says a shank will yield a meatier broth base. But I’ve had good results with all types. And if you need a pot of ham and bean soup and have no bone, you can always throw in a ham hock and get a great flavor, too.
    Growing up, my mom always made Split Pea with Ham soup after our big holiday meal. In my mind, it remains the best  ham and bean soup. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of cooking plenty of other varieties, too. Here’s a sampling of what’s out there, plus some good, basic references:

    Perhaps my favorite reason for cooking ham and bean soups is that it’s actually better to make it ahead. The soup freezes well and actually develops more flavor if you serve it the next day (or day after) it is made. Enjoy a pot today, or tomorrow.

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How gThankYou Certificates Work

Step 1

Order Certificates

Choose the gThankYou Certificates you want and order them online or by telephone.

Step 2

Ship directly to your business

Your order is delivered by UPS. Nearly all orders ship the day received. Overnight shipping is available.

Step 3

Distribute to your employees

Personalize your gThankYou Certificates with Recipient and Giver names (optional) and give them to employees.

Step 4

Redeem at any grocery store

Recipients redeem Certificates at major U.S. grocery stores and select the items they want.