Cooking Safety Tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Just in time for the holidays, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued a series of helpful cooking safety videos. Whether you’re preparing meals for family traveling in or creating foods for your journey heading out, following these tips will help ensure your experience is a good one.

Worst Vegan Food Options at Airports in the United States

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently released a study evaluating the healthy food options at 18 major airports around the country. These food options include vegan and vegetarian alternatives, which can be helpful for travelers who don’t want to eat meat or dairy when there are no other choices around. Topping the list for the best airport food options is Newark International, a surprising winner since previous years’ evaluations ranked the airport only as high as third place. The top airports to avoid are:

#1 — Hatsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta, Georgia)

#2 — Reagan National Airport (Washington, DC)

#3 (tie) — Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International Airport (Baltimore, Maryland)

#3 (tie) — Los Angeles International Airport (Los Angeles, California)

#5 (tie) — Denver International Airport (Denver, Colorado)

#5 (tie) — San Francisco International Airport (San Francisco, California)

As progressive as the cities are that these major airports are located in, times still seem not to have caught up to providing healthy food options across the board when you travel. Quick tips to safeguard against unhealthy eating at the airport are to pack your own food and bring it with you on your flight, bring extra food for unanticipated delays, and eat before you reach the airport so that having food options available will be non-issue.

Farming Vegetables with the Help of Animals

When pick up a green leafy vegetable, do you ever think about the animals who helped make it grow? It’s the nutrients from other plants, and sometimes animals, that make up the foods we eat. When an animal interacts with the soil, that soil becomes food for your vegetables just as your vegetables become food for you.

The producers of Gourmet magazine recently started a new video series called “Diary of a Foodie.” In one episode, they show how fish grown in a plant make it possible for one farmer to grow leafy lettuce greens. You can view the episode here:

Moon Pie New Year’s Eve: Ring in the New Year in Mobile, Alabama

Each year, thousands of people flock to New York City for the annual ball drop in Times Square. It’s a tradition that began in the early 1900s and has come to symbolize the penultimate New Year’s Eve experience. For many, it’s the only way to ring in the New Year, whether by standing in the cold December weather or being snuggled up close with friends and family at home or at a party.

Yet, on New Year’s Eve, the ball in Times Square isn’t the only thing dropping from the sky. In Mobile, Alabama, thousands also flock south for the annual Moon Pie Over Mobile moon pie drop.

According to the City of Mobile, it has been host to Mardi Gras celebrations since 1703. From 1952 forward, moon pies have been among the items thrown from floats into the seas of onlookers during Mardi Gras parades. In 2008, the city created the moon pie drop event both to embrace its history and welcome in the New Year with a uniquely Alabaman festivity.

What’s a Moon Pie

Moon pies are a gooey sandwich of marshmallow middle between cookie slices, which is then topped with a melted chocolate covering. It also comes in a banana flavor. The ingredients suggest that a moon pie might taste somewhat like a s’mores, the campfire treat most people are familiar with. Their taste is actually more subtle. It does not mirror the feeling you get from eating smooth melted chocolate over a sugary elastic marshmallow. It’s much more subtle.

For starters, the moon pie is eaten cool. The melted chocolate has firmed around the marshmallow cookie sandwich, meaning its consistency and taste is more like the chocolate on hand-dipped strawberries. The cookie is also softer than the crisp graham cracker. It is almost cake-like.

Traditional moon pies also contain gelatin. Fortunately, recipes for making your own vegan moon pie abound. Author Isa Chandra Moskowitz offers one version in her cookbook Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treats.

Mobile and the Moon Pie

Beyond its taste, moon pies have another distinctive quality that separates them from other sweet treats. It’s their distinctive shape. The cookies that form the tops and bottoms of a moon pie are round, but there is also a ripple to the edge. It looks a lot like a wheel, or perhaps the ridges of a bottle cap from the early days of carbonated beverages.

In fact, the history of moon pies intertwines heavily with the famous RC Cola. Decades ago, you could purchase a moon pie weighing in at half a pound and a bottle of RC Cola for just a dime. The combination was ubiquitous throughout the South.

Today, moon pies and RC Cola can still be found in some places throughout the United States, though not always together. Moon pies remain a staple of Mobile, Alabama.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mobile

To celebrate New Year’s Eve in Mobile, you have to be prepared to party like a local. That means celebrating Mardi Gras style. Each year, the city holds a parade in the downtown area on New Year’s Eve that infuses many of the traditions of its Mardi Gras history. Live music celebrations, an annual ball, and more family friendly events have increasingly become part of the festivities. Each year, the party gets bigger, with more visitors to Mobile every New Year’s Eve.

Some television stations in the Central time zone area will air events live. Check your local listings to see if you can catch the moon drop in your area.

If you can take a trip to Mobile instead, planning and booking early for the best hotel and airfare rates is always ideal. For last-minute travelers, the City of Mobile also promotes hotel specials, so that everyone who wants to visit can.