February 16th is National Almond Day, a day to celebrate one of the most versatile and nutritious nuts in the world. Almonds are a staple in many diets and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, from snacking on raw almonds to adding almond milk to your tea or coffee - and of course, as a liqueur for cocktails, but more on that later.
First of all, let's get one thing straight: almonds are not just for nut-nibbling creatures. These little guys have made their way into the hearts (and stomachs) of humans all over the world, and they're a particular favourite with the health food community due to their high protein, fibre, and healthy fat content. Plus, they're super tasty, which is always a bonus.
But almonds aren't just nutritious and delicious. They're also incredibly versatile. You can find them in all sorts of forms, from whole almonds to almond flour to almond butter. You can add them to your morning smoothie or your lunchtime salad. You can sprinkle them on top of your oatmeal (porridge to us Brits) or add them to your trail mix. You can even use them to make almond milk, which is a great dairy-free alternative to regular milk.
And let's not forget about almond oil, which is a popular ingredient in the beauty world. Almond oil is rich in vitamin E and other nutrients that are great for your skin and hair. So, if you're looking for a natural way to keep your locks luscious and your skin glowing, almond oil might be just what you need.
Of course, like any nut, almonds have their quirks. For example, they can be a bit tough to crack open, which is why some people prefer to buy them pre-shelled. And if you eat too many almonds in one sitting, you might end up with a bit of a stomach ache (IYKYK).
But despite their quirks, almonds are still one of the best nuts out there. So, on this National Almond Day, why not take a moment to appreciate these little powerhouses? We'll be toasting them (not literally) with an Almond Old Fashioned.
In front of an audience of dignitaries from around the world, on this day in 1923, the archaeologist Howard Carter opened the tomb of King Tutankhamun, revealing a blaze of gold, jewels and leopard print accessories that would make the average WAG positively liquid with envy, and launching any number of terrible horror movies.
A high-risk strategy, one would think. Travel wasn't the merry bagatelle in those days that it is now, and it took a while for folk to reach the tomb. Mercifully, after a previous unveiling of a different tomb went horribly wrong, when folk who had travelled weeks to witness the event learned that tomb robbers had got there first, Carter had checked that there would be something to see when they got there.
We are marking the occasion with a King's Jubilee. Curse? What curse?
Lithuania celebrates its independence today, commemorating the day in 1918 when the Duchy of Lithuania proclaimed its independence, from Poland most immediately.
Lithuania's route to statehood has not been smooth. Soon after its first run at independence, it was occupied in rapid succession by the Poles, the Germans and the Russians. Still, this Baltic state, along with Estonia and Latvia, regained its freedom in 1991 - and lucky Lithuanians get a second holiday for this second attempt at independence in three weeks' time.
Today Lithuania's three million or so citizens get the day off work or school, plus parades, speeches and free concerts. Us? We are enjoying a Baltic Spring Punch.
He was the son of a well-to-do sugar plantation owner and has literally thousands of streets named after him. Fidel Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba this day in 1959.
We were thinking of recommending a Cuban Liberal as today's drink...but then we remembered that after he became Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Cuban Armed Forces, a huge number of people were executed or thrown into prison for opposing Castro. So, we thought that instead of a Cuban Liberal, we'd go for a Rum Sour instead.
Although Castro becoming Prime Minister mightn't be a great reason to celebrate for a hell of a lot of people, it is worth noting that after Castro took charge, literacy rates soared, and Cuba now has the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America, and the country's excellent doctors are frequently sent out to provide assistance to poorer countries.
Ok, we accept, it's a controversial choice, but surely you understand that we wanted an excuse to drink a Rum Sour...and even as I write this, the aged rum is staring down at us from the bar shelf, asking us to unscrew its lid...!
On 3 April 2013, the Scottish author Iain (M.) Banks announced he was "Officially Very Poorly". Midway through writing his final novel, about a man with terminal cancer, he himself had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Banks chose not to fight the disease, instead marrying his long-term partner, spending time with friends and family, travelling and finishing off as much of his work as he could: he died, peacefully and with dignity, on 9 June 2013 aged 59.
A genius sci-fi and literary author, who Irvine Welsh described as "one of the finest writers and greatest imaginations ever", he invented the hedonistic, anarchic trans-Galactic Culture society and was as passionate about Scotch malt whisky as he was about politics and writing.
We're not sure whether Iain would have enjoyed the Royal Nail, or considered it blasphemy. One of my own creations, it blends malt whisky and Scottish liqueur with a hint of bitters for a suitably bitter-sweet toast.
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