If you thought that Jan. 20 would just be a standard Wednesday, you're mistaken — in fact, today is the day to gather your cheesiest friends together and celebrate National Cheese Lovers Day, also known as the best post-Christmas holiday of all. National Cheese Lovers Day celebrations can often include going out with your friends to taste some cheddar samples, or it can simply be a time to honor Liz Lemon and eat a block of it on your couch during a TV marathon, preferably of 30 Rock.
Besides those unfortunate souls who are lactose intolerant, I can't name anyone who hates cheese, and Cheese Lovers Day is the perfect time to appreciate the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into making such a monumental product. According to a 2013 article from Today.com, Americans consume about 23 pounds of cheese per year, mostly due to the fact that we're known to add cheese to absolutely everything. (I mean, who doesn't love a stuffed crust every once in awhile?) While this news might not be fantastic for our health, let's forget about that for now, and focus on another very important fact: Cheese is delicious.
If you're hoping to put together a quick celebration that'll help you honor thy cheese, here are a few ideas to make this holiday a little more special for you.
1. Go to your grocery store, and discover a new cheese
One of my favorite things about Wegmans is the wall of cheeses, often located close to a wonderful man who'll offer you a free cheese sample. This has happened about three times in my life, so I'm not sure if every Wegmans has someone who'll be handing out one of life's most fabulous riches. I'm assuming they do.
Even if you think you know cheese, I'm sure there's at least one or two kinds that you've never used in your own cooking before. Now is the perfect time to introduce yourself to something new, all thanks to the grocery aisle. This is the type of gambling that'll always have a positive outcome.
2. Have a wine and cheese party with your closest friends.
All you need at a wine and cheese party is wine and cheese. And maybe some crackers and grapes, if you're feeling super fancy. Not only is this a great excuse to reconnect with your friends, but it'll be extremely beneficial to attendees who might think that pre-packaged singles count as legitimate cheese. I love those too, but they're in their own category.
3. Try to bake some cheese cupcakes
Cheese cupcakes, you say? Why have you never thought of that before?Food.com has a recipe that includes both cheddar and Velveeta, along with a few other ingredients that you probably have in your house. While I'm personally a big fan of dumping ingredients from a box into a mixer and calling it "baking," I'd be willing to spend the time and patience to craft something that combines two of my favorite foods. And speaking of time, they take a little less than an hour to prepare and cook.
4. Try a daring new pairing.
Can I admit something to you guys without coming off as the grossest person in the world? Ever since I was a kid, I really enjoyed the combination of cheese and peanut butter. Never on a sandwich, but on a cracker. My childlike mind figured that peanut butter was good on a cracker, and cheese was good on a cracker, so... why not both?
Many of my recent Google searches have been me trying to connect with others who might enjoy this pairing. While they do exist, those who admit to trying (and loving) the two together are somewhat few and far between.
So really, what I'm trying to tell you, is that you should try peanut butter and cheese on a cracker. Today is the day to be adventurous. And I have yet to die or get sick from this off-putting, protein-packed snack. Do it for me!
5. Watch the "The Waitress Is Getting Married" episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and channel your inner Charlie Kelly.
Whenever I think of cheese, I think of Charlie Kelly. Now that all of the seasons (besides the season that started up a few weeks ago) are streaming, it's easier than ever to marathon a few episodes. I chose this season five episode solely since Charlie's cheese problems are somewhat of a key focus, and it brought us the quote, "How much cheese is too much cheese?"
6. Expand your cheese knowledge online.
The best part about cheese is that there's always something new to learn. As you'd expect, cheese.com is an amazing resource to learn about billions of different cheese types. (OK, maybe not billions, but a whole bunch.) Did you know there's a cheese called Lemon Fetish cheese? It's a little bit like feta, and smells like lemon and sour cream. And how about the semi-firm Tavoliere? It's treated with tomato sauce after maturing, and goes really well with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Imagine a "The More You Know" star rainbow appearing behind you right now, since you already learned about two new cheeses.
7. Consider starting, or joining, a cheese meet-up.
Sure, you've probably heard of meet-up groups for new parents, yoga enthusiasts, and movie fanatics. But the cheese community is always looking for new members. Those in Santa Monica, California, can join one of the biggest cheese meet-up groups in the world — a group called Santa Monica Wine & Cheese Tasting, which currently has over 1,500 members. Even if you're not in California, you're likely to stumble upon a group of fellow cheese-lovers who are local to your area once you start searching.
8. Join the American Cheese Society.
There are three levels of membership — one for those involved directly with the cheese industry, one for students of the cheese industry, and one for enthusiasts who love cheese. Enthusiasts can get cheese discounts, a monthly e-newsletter called CheeseBytes, a window decal, and the chance to volunteer at the American Cheese Society committee. Sounds like a tasty opportunity.
9. Buy some cheesy merchandise.
Since cheese is popular, there are a lot of cheese-inspired accessories out there. My ultimate favorite is this cheese scarf, from SewCheesy on Etsy. It's funny, cute, and practical for all of the bad weather we'll be facing this winter. And it's also available in Swiss!
10. Make your own cream cheese.
It's easy to pick up some of your favorite spread at the grocery store, but how great would it be to make your own this holiday? A Cozy Kitchen has a recipe that includes heavy cream, buttermilk, whole milk, rennet, sea salt, and a little bit of time and patience. What's rennet, you may ask? It helps milk separate into curds, and is essential for any kind of cheese-making. It's also available on Amazon Prime.
Adrianna Adarme, who created the recipe, claims that it's much smoother and less dense than the store-bought stuff. No matter what, making your own cream cheese will help you appreciate it on a whole new level.
For more food ideas and inspiration, check out Bustle on YouTube.