Julmust, a Scandinavian Christmas Soda

During the Christmas season Julmust is a holiday beverage that can be served or given as a gift. Learn more about it.

Multi Cultural Cooking Network

Scandinavians are no stranger to a drink that finds its popularity during the Christmas season—julmust.  The words “jul” and “must” are Swedish for “yule” and “juice.”It’s a Scandivanian Christmas soda that is mainly consumed in Sweden. Want an indicator of its popularity in the region? Julmust outsells Coca Cola during the Christmas season and accounts for 50-percent of all soft drink volume during the month of December.

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The drink is also served during Easter. None of the ingredients are different, but it goes by a different name—påskmus.The word “påsk” translate to “Easter” in Swedish.

Must is an alternative to beer, and it was created by father and son team, Robert Roberts (father) and Harry Roberts (son). The drink is compared to root beer, but it has a much sweeter taste. It contains carbonated, sugar, water, and hop and malt extract, caramel colouring, citric acid…

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Countdown to Christmas with an Advent Calendar

According to Christianity.com writer and missionary, Kristi Walker, “An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count down to December 25: The celebration of the Birth of Jesus. The Advent calendar tradition evidently dates back to the 1850s and typically includes 24 doors or boxes to open, one for every day in December leading up to Christmas Day.”

That’s fantastic information for context. The Christmas season is so full of meaning so it’s good to savor each day with respect and awe. Some calendars share scriptures or inspirational thoughts for each of the 24 boxes or doors.

I was recently gifted with an Advent calendar, and I must admit I had never had one or used one before. I received the secular variety. It had a winter theme, but I was happy with it. It really is the thought that counts, and at this age, (Nope, not telling!) I know what the season means. It’s just a thoughtful and fun idea, especially if your calendar gives you a new piece of candy every day.

That’s the kind I received. Yum! Yum!

In the states, you can find Advent Calendars in stores like Trader Joes, Walmart and Hallmark, but this is not just an American tradition. It’s a tradition that Christians enjoy all over the world in anticipation of celebrating the birth of Jesus! The first printed Advent Calendar was made in Germany.

Now, don’t think you have to buy a calendar at all; you can make one on your own. There are many varieties so take inspiration. But if you really want to know some of the best chocolate Advent calendars you can buy this year, see Town and Country Magazine’s article: The Best Chocolate Advent Calendars.

A Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Story

We all have those things we want to do in life, but for some reason procrastination sets in and we don’t get them done. This story champions the little kid in us to get it done and create opportunities for your personal fulfillment even if it is just going to a parade.

Multi Cultural Cooking Network

I grew up in what I consider the greatest city in the world…New York City. There is nothing like celebrating the holidays in New York.  Before the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center or the extravagant holiday widow displays at retail stores, the Macy’s Day Parade kicks everything off.

I lived my entire life in New York and never went to the parade.  In asking my parents why they never took my sister and I my mother’s response was, “ I always wanted to take you and your sister, but by the time I turned around you all had grown up.”  As a child I was content in just sitting in front of the television, in my pajamas (in the warmth) watching the different floats go by; Woody Woodpecker, Snoopy, Smurfette (I just showed my age with that last one), and listening to the latest celebrity at the moment perform…

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Santos gave me this drink, but what is it? (Atole)

Santos is a guy in my neighborhood who parks his SUV, sets up his white foldable table and takes out three big orange Gatorade thermoses. Here’s the thing…the thermoses don’t have Gatorade.

I saw this truck set up and I was curious. Not Karen curious…just curious about what he was selling. On one of my work-from-home days, I had to drop off my car for repair, so on my walk home I popped over to the table and got some answers.

“What are you selling?” I asked.

He responded sort of timidly, like he knew I wasn’t going to know what in the world he was about to tell me.

He was right. He told me that he was selling Atole.

“Come again?” Well, that’s what I was saying in my mind. He patiently told me that he was selling Atole de Pina and asked me if I wanted to try some. I told him I didn’t have any cash, but this sweet curator of all things Atole said, “Just pay me next time.”

I closed my eyes and fully took in the experience of the warm, sweet drink with an abundance of pineapple chunks. Honestly, I wonder how I could have lived so long without knowing anything about this. I savored every sip. He said, “Do you want some more?” I decided to take my blessing and then do some research about this comforting flavorsome beverage.

I found out that many Central American countries serve Atole, but it has Mayan roots, so it is generally considered native to Mexico. The Mayans drank it as a corn-based beverage. It’s called Atole de Elote—it’s the O.G. Atole. The traditional drink is usually made with fresh corn, sugar, and water or milk.

Atole has been around for a long time. In fact, 196Flavors.com says that Spanish conquistador, Hernan Cortes spoke about it in one of his letters calling it a “warm and energetic drink.” Timetabling that bit of information would, at least, put us in the 1500’s. However, that calculation is wrong since that’s just when Atole was recognized by Europeans. It’s really a prehistoric drink from Mayan civilization.

In a later visit with Santos, I bought a cup of the pineapple version (Atole de Pina), but he also gave me a taste of the Atole de Elote. Again, it just gave me the feels. It felt like a warm snuggle up in a cozy blanket

I likened it to corn chowder. Santos agreed. I also asked him if his versions were Salvadoran or Mexican. His was Salvadoran, but there are Guatemalan, Honduran and Caribbean iterations of Atole as well. It is typically eaten with tamales and tortillas.

I experienced a warm corn and pineapple versions, but Atole can be served cold. Atole is also made with fruit like guava, strawberry, and plum. Chileatoles are salty or spicy and are mostly served as a soup or main dish.

Try this Mexican recipe for Atole de Elotte from 196Flavors.com.

How Sweet it Is Pineapple Juice Cake

Hi there! It’s Monica here…your MCCN Editor. I’m just dropping by for a quick talk about this awesome recipe.

I’ve been wanting to add this pineapple juice cake recipe on the site for a while because I personally loved making it. I’ve made the cake four times and it’s been a hit each time. The recipe is relatively simple, and if you have kids or grandkids, what a fun way to spend some quality time together!

Now here’s my disclaimer…it’s super sweet. I mean, “How sweet it is!” but OMGoodness it’s going to be a sugar shock for some. I’d venture to say some may have to lay the fork down after two or three bites.

Now for the natural sweet tooth people like me…pace yourself.

The cake has a strong pineapple presence inside and out. The pineapple juice is baked right in, and when the cake is finished, you soak it, and I mean ladle it on thick, with the pineapple juice glaze.

You could gain 5-10 pounds nibbling on this cake. It can’t stay in my house. I’m not trying to dissuade you, I just want you to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Here’s the thing I’ve made it drenched, and I have also drenched it less. One way or the other, it’s supposed to be drenched. Just decide for yourself how far you want to go down that rabbit hole.

Decisions! Decisions!

I took this cake to my office, frankly because I wasn’t going to eat a whole cake. I sliced it, put it into a container, and left it in the break room for whoever wanted to eat it. 

Then something strange happened. I started hearing the commotion.

“This cake is so good.”

Office wolker

“Who made this cake?”

Another office worker

I must admit, it was a lot fun to hear more and more people talking about this really delicious and mysterious cake.

I came clean to one of the ladies at my job, and assured her that I wasn’t some super baker. I simply saw an image on Pinterest that made the ultimate greedy girl in me have to investigate. That’s when I found a video by Stacey from Southern Bite, and filed it in my mind as a must-try.

Enjoy!

Monica Johnson, Multi Cultural Cooking Network Editor

Cleveland’s Pizza 216 to the Rescue

I was in Cleveland, for a conference, recently, and you know what happens at a conference. You may have the continental breakfast offerings in the morning, and they might even cover your lunch. However, more than likely, you’re on your own for dinner. 

I admit…I had all these grand ambitions about what I was going to eat, but there’s something about listening to people talk for nearly eight hours that can take the wind out of you. I just wanted to grab my din-din and go. Sometimes simplicity is golden.

I walked down a few blocks from my hotel on Euclid Avenue and saw a few people dining outside. Figuring that I had walked long enough, I wandered into Pizza 216.

So now I’m about to see how Cleveland gets down with their pizza.

Pizza 216 is a brick oven pizza joint, and the hostess let me know it is on a list for “Best Pizza in Cleveland.” Now, I’m feeling pretty good about my choice.

The place has a pretty chill vibe, surprisingly, since there’s a lot of neon red with black going on. I’m not bothered, black and red works for me. I even see one of the people from the conference as I get ready to order my carryout. He’s is waiting for his order, and excited because I’m wearing a t-shirt that says, “Podcaster.” It was his company’s shirt. How about that ROI?

Glad to make your day Sir!

So what’s on the menu? Pizza, of course…but what kind? The menu boasts of pies like Pierogi pie, which is topped with whipped mashed potatoes, ricotta, cheddar, caramelized onions, green onions, and sour cream. The menu also includes The Bianca with olive oil, classic blend, ricotta, garlic, and fresh mozzarella and provolone cheese.

They also have more pies on the menu like The Margherita, The Spicy pie, and The Carnivore. 

Whoa! Back up…that’s it! We’re going full carnivore tonight.

So I ordered a small brick oven Carnivore Pizza, and let me tell you, “No lies detected folks.” It was loaded. It was hearty! And it was packed and stacked with sausage, pepperoni, bacon, ham, and meatballs. The fresh homemade pie crust was awesome as well. 

In retrospect, what was also impressive was the story of the owner Johnny Lis, who attended pizza school in New York City. As a native New Yorker, I understand the full flex of that statement. So after pizza school, he headed to downtown Cleveland where he opened up a shop in 2015. That small New York-style pizza joint, serving handmade pies, Buffalo wings, and drinks, has become a place where tourists and homers come to enjoy a slice of comfort food and maybe a Cleveland Guardians, Browns or Cavs game.

The Pizza 216 menu also offers the 216 Smash Mouth— a handheld short rib and brisket blend with lettuce, tomato, onion, American cheese, and burger sauce. There’s also garlic knots, Buffalo Chicken Nachos, Toasted Ravioli, and a variety of wings (Buffalo, Garlic Parmesan, Honey Mustard, BBQ, and Sweet chili).

Never let it be said that I can’t get back to the point!

If you’re visiting downtown Cleveland for business, pleasure, or even a conference, I have a quick rescue plan for what to eat in Cleveland. Pizza 216 is a solid choice for something simply sumptuous and satisfying.

Fall Favorites: Candy Apples Were Born in the USA

When it comes to the fall, our minds turn to some of our favorite comfort foods, but let’s include some confection in this category as well. Candy apples are just right for the season. With the temperatures cooling, you can enjoy this festive American treat throughout fall, and right into the Christmas season.

The history of the candy apple originates in Newark, New Jersey in 1908. According to sources, candy-maker William W. Kolb was testing out a new confection for Christmas and decided to grab the attention of people passing by his candy shop by coating apples in his new red cinnamon candy.

Now, if you have ever seen a glossy-red candy apple, you know that it will not only catch your attention, but there’s a certain mouth-watering aspect to the glossy color treat.

So It seems the candy maker had a genuine surprise on his hands. After showcasing those apples, which were simply meant to bring attention to the candy, people were more interested in the entire display rather than just the candy. People came into the shop to purchase the apple, which he sold for five cents.

Soon he did what many a great entrepreneur does, he expanded his audience and candy apples became popular at the beach on the Jersey Shore as well as festivals and circuses.

I don’t celebrate Halloween anymore, but I do remember it being a staple of the holiday in the early eighties…before the ruiners started putting razor blades in the apples. (There’s always going to be those people who take the fun out of everything.) Nonetheless, the candy apple has evolved to include other variations like caramel and toffee. The creations are as varied and creative as one can dream.

Options for candy various candy apples.(Photos from Pixabay and Wikipedia)

Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples are just two of the apples will work for candied apples, but for a list of other acceptable apples, check out the list by Stemilt World Famous Fruit.

See the video below for The Sugar Geek’s recipe for the Best Candy Apple Recipe.

The Quick and Dirty on Kombucha Tea

Kombucha tea is a fermented drink made with tea (green, black or white), sugar, bacteria and yeast. The drink’s origins may date back to 221 B.C. in China, and it is made by adding a colony of bacteria and yeast to tea and sugar. According to the Mayo Clinic, once the mix is fermented, “the resulting liquid contains vinegar, B vitamins and a number of other chemical compounds.”

You can buy bottled or canned kombucha, but if you are more of a DIY-type, check out this recipe on EatingWell.com.

Advocates claim that kombucha tea has a slew of health benefits, which include improving bone strength, managing blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. But let’s not jump to too many conclusions. According to the Mayo Clinic, “These claims are not backed by science. Limited evidence suggests kombucha tea may offer benefits similar to probiotic supplements, including promoting a healthy immune system and preventing constipation.” So do your research to decide whether kombucha is right for you.


Check out TheCoolCultureCook, our fun foodie apparel on Etsy.com.

The Coffee Hunt

I love when I get an inkling to walk on the wild side! This wild inclination was… (DRUMS PLEASE!!!) to search out a new coffee place.

Okay, I know that may not be super exciting but it was a fun little activity to shake up my Saturday pot of coffee, or even the usual suspect coffee places that we all know and love.

So, in taking this little trip— just under 5 miles from my home—I got more than I expected. Before I even made it to John Brown Coffee Shop in Hunt Valley, MD, there was a charcuterie and a really unique little gift shop with amazingly eclectic presents. By the way the coffee menu is extensive, delicious, and provided lots of pastry choices as well.

I recorded this TikTok video earlier in the year so don’t mind my winter jacket. I only mention it since it is the first day of JULY!

I hope it inspires you to check out something new in your neighborhood.

Garcia Donuts Makes a Mean Cinnamon Roll

Cinnamon roll with cream cheese at Garcia’s Donuts in Laurel, Mississippi

Sometimes you experience something so good that you just want to tell the world…so here goes…

(Clears her throat) Eh…uuhmm.

“GARCIA DONUTS…

(echoing voice)

NUTS! NUTS! NUTS!

(Pregnant pause)

MAKES A MEAN CINNAMON ROLL!

(echoing voice)

ROLL! ROLL! ROLL!

Okay, I’m being a tad bit dramatic, but when I say that I had the best cinnamon roll ever, I really mean it. On my recent trip to Laurel, Mississippi, I was on a mission to get Garcia Donuts. Why?

Well, because the last time I was in the area, I saw that hokey yet endearing doughnut-shaped sign, and I just knew it was going to be a gold-star experience.

I wasn’t mistaken.

MCCN Editor Monica Johnson in front of Garcia’s Donuts sign.

Garcia’s does have a whole menu of doughnuts as well as breakfast and lunch offerings. I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome. Prayerfully, I can save that for my next trip.

When I got to the counter, the lady who was serving told me there was only one cream cheese frosted cinnamon roll left. And my thoughts were, “Come to Mama!” It was so fresh and just the right texture—soft and flakey. And since, I am kind of a sweets fanatic, I loved that the frosting was loaded with such liberality. It was divine.

I know you might think, “All this fuss over a cinnamon roll?!!!” But listen…a really good cinnamon roll isn’t as prevalent as you’d think. If you’re used to your usual convenience store or chain doughnut shop version, Garcia Donuts helps you raise your expectations. I love it when that happens.