Friday, July 31, 2020

Blonde or Ruby?

When we talk about chocolate, we automatically think of dark, milk, or white in their various forms.  Just the other day,  I was watching one of these competition baking shows where they are given special ingredients or a theme to create cup cakes, cakes, and other such delights.  On one episode, they told the contestants, they had to create something with either blonde or ruby chocolate.  My eye brows went up because I've only ever heard of blonde brownies, not blonde chocolate, so I had to find out more about both.

Blonde chocolate is where they caramelize white chocolate to give it a color resembling caramel.  This process gives the chocolate a fuller, toastier flavor than the white chocolate and is the basis of several commercial chocolate bars.  The general process consists of taking chips of white chocolate made out of cocoa beans, sugar, and milk solids and roasting them between 200 and 275 degrees F until they turn to a nice milky coffee color between 30 and 60 minutes.   The chips have to be stirred constantly until done or they might burn.  Once it's been melted and tempered, it can be turned back into a solid.  Once it's in solid form, it can be used like any other chocolate. 

Blonde chocolate is the first type of chocolate added since 1930 when white chocolate made it's appearance.  Blonde chocolate was discovered in 2006 and rapidly became an industry secret but it didn't stay that way.  It made it's way out into the world in 2012 as a variety of chocolate sold in the candy aisles.    In addition, Starbucks has added this flavor to it's list of drinks.  Valrhona is the company who discovered blonde chocolate and they are the first to have marketed it to the general public.  

Blonde chocolate is a nice alternative to white chocolate.  Although white chocolate is not seen as a real chocolate, it has been classified as such since 2002.  Chefs like the blonde chocolate because it is less sweet than the white with more depth.  When the chocolate is held at low temperatures, the proteins and lactose brown and create new flavors that had not been there before.

On the other hand, Ruby chocolate is a new variety of chocolate that is a lovely pink and made from the Ruby Cocoa Bean.  It made it's appearance at the Shanghai trade show in 2017.  These are not newly discovered cocoa beans but refer to the beans that are combined to make the pink color and the product is patented.  Ruby Chocolate is being called the fourth chocolate after Milk, Dark, and White.  

It appears that Ruby chocolate is made up of beans from Ecuador,  Brazil, and the Ivory Coast.  They look for a certain mix of compounds, probably pigmented polyphenols, that when processed using a specific technique, it produces a pink chocolate.  The patent states that the process decreases fermentation to 3 days or less then treating it with an acid and then using a petroleum ether to take out fatty acids thus keeping the color.  According to one article I read, cocoa beans grow in a purple pod and when first picked they have a purple tint.  By shortening the fermentation period, the beans retain some of their color.

The Ruby chocolate is described as being quite sweet like a white chocolate with a raspberry or fruity flavor associated with it.  Some people have described the flavor as tangy.  There is a catch with Ruby chocolate in that the United States government does not recognize it as chocolate because it does not have the correct percentages of the correct ingredients.  The amount of unsweetened chocolate puts it between white chocolate and milk chocolate so it's neither.  

So now you know more about Blonde and Ruby chocolates.  I know when I watched the cooking show, I had heard of either.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear, have a great day.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

All My Bags Are Packed.

Airport, Transport, Woman, Girl, Tourist

I'm traveling today out to where I work.  I got permission to travel in so I'm set and then I'll undergo a 14 day quarantine and I'll be done before I have to report for the first day of inservice.  I'll be back to normal on Friday.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Where In The World Are These Crazy Ice Cream Flavors?

Ice Cream, Cone, Strawberry Ice Cream I know my local artisan ice cream place has had some unusual flavors such as asparagus - I wasn't willing to try that - but I've seen nothing quite as unusual as some I've seen in places like Japan.

Japan is noted for some of it's way out there flavors.  The Ice Cream City in Namco Namja Town in Tokyo. Namco Namja Town is part of an indoor amusement park and has quite a few odd flavors of ice cream.  It is noted for its 50 varieties of ice cream that include Raw Horse Flesh flavored ice cream.  It also has other flavors such as Eel, Wasabi, Cow Tongue, Octopus, Squid, Crab, and Yakisoba.  They even have a Pearl ice cream with pearls embedded in the mixture and people hope to find one every time they buy a cone.

If you head over to Maine, you can get a couple of scoops of Lobster ice cream.  Then there is a company in New York City that is noted for being creative with ice cream flavors including Fois Gras which is a goose liver pate.  On the other hand, a different place in New York offers a Fig and Brown Turkey flavor to tease taste buds.  Like something hot?  A shop in Delaware offers two different ice creams with hot peppers in them.  Once mixture uses Ghost peppers which are classified as the hottest pepper in the world or about 400 times hotter than tabasco.

On the other hand, if you head over to England, you can get yourself some mushy peas and fish which is actually one scoop of minty mushy peas and one scoop of fish flavored ice cream topped with fried cod and served with French fries.  You could try jelly fish ice cream which is made with jelly fish proteins and glows as you lick it but it goes for over $200 a scoop.  Head back to Japan for a Mamushi snake ice cream which is made out of one of the most poisonous snakes in Japan.  If you pop back to San Francisco, you can find an ice cream with mint and meringue of sea urchins mixed with espelette peppers.

There is an ice cream place in Venezuela who makes something like 900 different flavors such as sardines in brandy, beef, spaghetti and cheese, cheeseburger and a flavor based on a local dish with beef, rice, plantain, cheese, and black beans.  Talking about traditional dishes, Scotland has a place that offers a Haggis ice cream. In Sweden, you can find a black ice cream that is salty and licorice flavor.  If you are in the Philippines you can get a Crocodile egg ice cream made with crocodile eggs. The owner of the shops says these eggs have less cholesterol and is a healthier choice.

Now for flavors that are not quite as weird but odd enough.  In New Orleans, you can find a Creamery that offers a Cajun Tomato flavor which actually sounds more like a salad dish than an ice cream.  In New York City, you can find a Cheetos flavor that is a bright orange, just like the original food.  Then there is the Burbon and Cornflake flavor from a place in San Francisco.  This is classified as a breakfast dish since it's got cornflakes in it.   On the other hand, check out the Whiskey and Prune ice cream that can be found in Australia.  The prunes have been soaked in whiskey before being added to the ice cream base.

You could enjoy a Chocolate Banana ice cream spiced with curry in Chicago or try a scoop of the Lemongrass with Salted Black Licorice and Olive ice cream.  All unique flavors, some are appealing while others are quite out there.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

The History of..........Ice Cream!

Ice Cream, Cone, Chocolate, Vanilla I love ice cream, especially on a nice hot day.  I tend to like anything with chocolate but I've got siblings who think I'm crazy to enjoy ice cream when it's cold out. I have it at home for dessert when its -40 outside.

I know the cone is a fairly recent development but I have no idea when ice cream was eaten.  The first record of anything similar to ice cream appears in 200 B.C but the

It turns out that the Chinese had something similar to ice cream as early as 650 A.D.  The emperor made the concoction out of Buffalo milk, flour, and camphor.  There are also records that show Alexander the Great loved snow mixed with honey and nectar while the Roman emperor Nero Claudius Caeser loved his snow mixed with various fruits and juices.

It took another thousand years till Marco Polo  returned from his long journey to bring back something similar to Sorbet. Over the next few decades, this wonderful creation spread across Europe and evolved until it became ice cream around the 16th century.  According to historians, England developed ice cream at about the same time or slightly before the Italians. The food "Cream Ice" was often eaten by King Charles I during the 17th century.

On the other hand, Catherine de Medici introduced France to this frozen dessert in 1553 when she married King Henry II of France.  Ice cream remained something only the wealthy could afford until 1660 when the public was allowed to enjoy it.  A Sicilian sold a mixture of milk, cream, butter, and eggs to the public at his cafe in Paris.

Ice cream made it's way across the Atlantic to America sometime in the late 17th or early 18th century because there is a reference to ice cream being served at a dinner in Maryland around 1744.  About thirty  years later, the first advertisement for ice cream appeared in the New York Gazette declaring it was available almost every day.

Our first president loved it.  One of the businesses in New York City shows that the presidency purchased around $200 worth of ice cream during the summer of 1790. In addition, once George Washington died, two brass ice cream pots were found at Mount Vernon.  Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson loved ice cream and particularly enjoyed a dessert that took 18 steps to make and resembled Baked Alaska.

Up until 1800, ice cream could only be enjoyed by the elite because it had to be made on the spot and eaten due to a lack of refrigeration. Around 1800, insulated ice cream houses made an appearance so ice cream could be made and last longer. Then in 1843, Nancy M. Johnson of Philadelphia managed to patten the modern crank machine.  Before then, most people made ice cream by placing the ingredients in a metal bowl that sat in another bowl filled with ice cream and salt.  The liquid was stirred until it turned into ice cream.  This new machine made the ice cream making process easier.  In 1851, a Baltimore milk dealer began manufacturing commercial ice cream using the extra cream he had and as new technologies appeared, the production of ice cream increased and once motorized vehicles were invented, ice cream could more easily be distributed around the country.

This also lead to new ice cream based dishes for the public to enjoy.  In 1874, the first soda fountain opened leading to the new profession of soda jerk who fixed the ice cream soda.  Then in 1890, after religious institutions complained about the sinfulness of eating ice cream sodas on Sunday, someone created an ice cream sundae that has no carbonated soda.  Originally, it was named the "Sunday" but the spelling was eventually changed to "sundae" to eliminate the religious connotations.  The first patent for ice cream cones was granted in 1903.

The next major improvement in technology came in 1926 with the invention of electrical freezers to provide continuous refrigeration.  This lead to manufacturers being able to produce ice cream in larger quantities and stores began selling ice cream regularly in the 1930's.

Then during World War II, ice cream was the morale booster for the troops and each branch tried to outdo the other.  By 1945, the "first floating ice cream parlor" was built to service the sailers in the Western Pacific.  When the war finally ended and the rations on dairy disappeared, Americans were able to celebrate victory.  In 1946, Americans consumed an average of 20 quarts of ice cream per person.

Since then, ice cream consumption has increased as grocery stores made it easier to get and then artisan makers appeared on the scene.  I love some of the artisan flavors at our local store.  I love the ginger showers flavor which is vanilla ice cream with chunks of candied ginger and chocolate sprinkles.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Eating Insects!

Spider, Tarantula, Creepy, Scary Insects are eaten in many countries around the world.  Many people in African countries such as The Democratic Republic of the Congo, The Congo,Cameroon, South Africa, and others regularly each catapillers, termites, grasshoppers, and more.

In Mexico, they eat a variety of bugs fried, dipped in chocolate, or in Mezcal and in certain Asian countries like Thailand, they also consume insects.  Insects are not a normal part of American cuisine.

Most Americans when faced with eating bugs are likely to turn green and refuse but there are people and cultures out there where insects provide protein in the diet.  I had a friend who stated chocolate covered grasshoppers are quite good.  No, I've never tried them as I'm a vegetarian.

1.  Let's start off with grasshoppers.  Grasshoppers are a common food in Mexico especially in the Oaxoca region. These creatures are eaten straight or used as topping.  Clean the grasshoppers before grilling them with lime and chili and then enjoy.

2.  Check out deep fried tarantulas for dinner.  To prepare, freeze the spiders first before removing the abdomen sack and singe the hairs off using a butane torch.  Finally, make a tempura batter, dip the tarantulas in the batter and fry in hot oil till nicely done.  Quick and easy to fix.

3. Mealworm Arancini is another possibility.  Arancini is a fried ball made up of rice, covered in breadcrumbs and fried till done.  In this case, mealworms are added into the mixture to increase the protein level.

4.  You can also take the grasshoppers, saute them with chopped garlic, chili de arbol oil, salt and Spanish peanuts.  It's a traditional snack in Mexico and it is often served with mezcal.

5. Dragonflies are easy to prepare.  They are prepared in the same way as fried fish.  You dip the dragonfly in an egg wash, cover in a seasoned flour mixture and fry in hot oil till crisp, about 30 seconds on each side.  Serve with a sauce made out of butter, soy sauce, and Dijon mustard and a side of sautéed mushrooms.

6. Get your hands on Mescal worms also known as Gusanos de maguey.  Sautee them up white onion, butter, olive oil, till nice and crispy, then finish off with Serrano peppers and fresh parsley.  Wrap a scoop of the mixture in a corn tortilla and enjoy as a taco.

In Thailand, a favorite way of cooking is to season grasshoppers, crickets, and woodworms before frying them till crispy.  This is a favorite street food there.  On the other hand, many people in Ghana rely on termites to get enough protein in their diet. They even add the termites to bread to raise the level of protein.

If you are interested in adding insects to your cooking but are not up to the eating them whole or you have a member who is a bit squeamish, you can purchase something like cricket flour and use it in any recipe that calls for flour.  You only replace part of the flour, about 1/3rd with the insect flour and continue as normal.  You can get locust flour, silkworm flour, or other type of flour.  You can order cricket flour from Amazon.

If you don't feel comfortable trying to make things from scratch you can purchase ready to use mixes such as chocolate chip cookies or brownie mix with cricket flour and such from Amazon.  You just add eggs, vegetable oil, and water, mix and bake.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

When Did We First See Waffle Irons?

Waffle, Waffle Irons, Waffle Bake, BakeI don't know about you but I absolutely love waffles when I have a bit of time, like on the weekend.  I actually prefer the thicker Belgian ones but my parents had the regular thin ones like in the photo.

I figured the waffle maker has only been around a short time but it the original ones were seen in Ancient Greece where they made wafers that are similar to today's waffles.

By the Middle Ages, people in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands were making something similar to waffles using two iron plates connected with a wooden handle. Users held the implement over an open fire, hoping they neither burned themselves nor the waffle.  It is believed that blacksmiths in the 15th century custom made waffle irons for the rich.  They often put on the family's coat of arms or other decoration per the family's orders.

Originally, the irons had designed etched in them that transferred to the waffle but people began adding toppings, the waffle makers switched to having indentations so the topping stayed in the holes. Thomas Jefferson is responsible for bringing waffles and waffle irons to the United States just before the beginning of the 19th century after visiting France.    

Unfortunately, there was no way to keep from burning oneself, the wooden handle or check to see if the waffle was done so in 1869, Swartwout received the first patent for a cast iron waffle maker that easily sat on a wood burning stove. In addition, it had a handle that allows it to be easily opened or closed, turned, all without ending up burned.  Furthermore, most people attribute the invention of the modern waffle iron to him, he only claims to have improved the waffle iron.

This version was so successful, it spread across the country rapidly.  The electrical version didn't appear until early in the 20th century.  It appears the first electric waffle iron came out in 1906 and was made by Simplex Electrical Company in Boston but General Electric developed their first electrical prototype in 1911 however they did not put it into production for another seven years.  Then in 1926, Charles M. Cole created the first twin waffle iron designed to cook two waffles at once.  It worked by pouring the batter into the bottom chamber, a lid would be lowered and a second waffle was poured in and the top lid closed the whole contraption.  Both waffles were cooked till done.

Waffles became so popular for breakfast in the 1920's that companies often included waffle makers as part of breakfast sets.  Breakfast sets came with a coffee percolator, both a sugar and batter bowl, syrup and cream pitchers, and a ladle.  In addition, you could buy the pieces individual or as a set. This practice continued into the 1930's.   Somewhere in the 1920's or 1930's, temperature controls were added to waffle irons.

Perhaps Nike had the oddest use of a waffle iron.  In 1971, one of the owners of Nike got the idea from his wife to pour the urethane into their 1936 waffle maker and that became the bottom of their new shoe.  The dents created a pattern that didn't tear up the track and it was released as part of Nike's Waffle Trainer in 1974.  The waffle iron used to create the first sole is now on display at Nike.

Furthermore, waffle irons are not just used to cook waffles.  People have made brownies, pizza, falafel, biscuits, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, bibimbap, French toast, hash browns, grilled cheese, carrot cake, bacon, cornbread, grilled apples, frittata, cinnamon rolls, Mac and cheese, omelets, churros, and pretzels.

So know you know a bit more about the history waffle irons.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Who Was King Arthur?

King, Arthur, Men, People, Kingdom I just finished watching the new series "Cursed".  It seems to be a prequel to the normal story with Arthur, Lancelot, Percival, Gawain, Nimue, Merlin, and Morgana but it was a bit different.  Looking at this interpretation, made me realize that in addition to the usual stories, some authors have brought it to the modern times, while others have created their own telling.

King Arthur made his appearance in literature as a ruler who with his knights of the round table protected Britain from being taken over.  He was trained by Merlin after pulling the sword out of the stone, became ruler, and died.  According to myths, he ruled somewhere around the 6th century and is responsible for battling against the Saxon invaders but did he actually exist or was he a fictional creature?

Most historians believe he didn't exist because there are no written records mentioning him specifically from that time. There is a primary source talking about the victory of the Britons over the Saxons but the leader is not actually mentioned.  King Arthur made his first appearance in the writings of a Welsh historian who provided a list of the 12 battles, he is said to have won.  The list is a compilation of battles taken from Welsh literature and these battles took place in different locations at different times which makes it hard to believe one man lived that long and appeared in so many places.

As time past, writers based King Arthur stories on this author's writings but one story appeared in the 12th century that told of his life, his sword, his wife, Lancelot, and Merlin.  The story is supposedly based on a found manuscript that could only be interpreted by the author and which no one else has seen.  Then a French author gave a spiritual element to the story by having King Arthur go on a quest for the holy grail. These stories form the beginning of Arthurian legends that popped up.

One of the more famous versions is Le Morte D'Arthur" by Thomas Malory who took many versions, compiled, refined, and rewrote them into one set in 1469 while incarcerated. This one is the one most people are familiar with in today's society because it is the one in the musical Camalot, the Disney movie "Sword in the Stone", multiple television series, and books by T. H. White ( I read all of the volumes) to one by Mark Twain and other books where King Arthur lives now.

In general people believe there was a King Arthur type figure but no one is certain who he was. Some believe that King Arthur is either Ambrosius Aurelianus or his war-chief Arthur but again, no one knows for sure.  Scholars have different theories on who King Arthur is.  One felt it is an allegory of the trials and tribulations of people spiritual journey in life, while others believe it represents a smaller religions sect that was quite popular until it was wiped out.

I don't think it matters if there was a real King Arthur because the story resonates in so many people that it feels almost real.  It touches our hearts and tickles our fancy.  I believe in King Arthur, you you?  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 17, 2020


Chutney, Homemade, Jam, Sweet, India I grew up eating mango chutney and I even made it on occasion but I've noticed there are chutney recipes associated with Asian cooking that didn't resemble what I'm used to.  I found a tomato chutney that was thick, flavorful with a hint of spice that I enjoyed spreading on Naan bread, topped with a bit of cheese and heated till melting for a quick meal.  That tomato chutney was nothing like the mango chutney so I needed to figure out what a chutney is.

Basically, a chutney is a slow cooked condiment made from fruits or vegetables , vinegar, and spices.  The sauce originated in India but has spread out across the world.  Most cultures have their own version of a chutney.  For instance, chutneys from South American include Apricots while the one from Britain usually have apples.  Those from India can be made from a variety of ingredients.

Chutneys are designed to complement other dishes.  In some cultures, the meal is not considered complete without the chutney.  They can act as a dipping sauce, as a finish for curry, or a spread for toast, to add a burst of flavor.  Chutneys are different from jams in that they are savory rather than sweet and they are not made with pectin while jams have it.  Although chutneys and relishes are similar, chutneys are softer with fruit while relishes have only one type of vegetable and no fruit.  Some chutneys are cooked while others are eaten raw.

American and British style chutneys are thought to have originated in the 17th century Britain where they were made of fruits in a mixture similar to preserves. Since the British did not have access to mangos or pineapples, they used apples, onions, raisins, sultanas, or dates to recreate the recipes.

There are four types of chutney that most people are familiar with.

1.  Mango chutney which is extremely well known. It is made with mango, ginger, garlic, and vinegar.

2. Major Grey's Chutney is also made with mango but has raisins and and lime juice.  It is thought this was created by a British officer in the 19th century.

3. Mint Chutney is used as a dipping sauce for Indian Samosas, and has mint, cilantro, and green chilies mixed together.

4. Tomato Chutney is made up of tomatoes, chilis, and ginger and is perfect for naan bread.

So how do you use chutney if you don't eat a lot of Indian foods?  There are lots of ways.

1.  Mix the chutney with some softened creme cheese to make a spread or dip for a party.  A different way of making it at the party is to place a block of creme cheese on a plate and pour the chutney over it.

2. Instead of using straight mayonnaise on your sandwich, mix chutney with mayo in equal parts and spread it on your sandwich for a bit extra flavor.

3. For appetizers, place a thin layer on crackers, cover with a bit of grated cheese and broil until it melts.  The other choice is to place a thin layer of chutney in your grilled cheese sandwich to spice it up a bit.

4. For a dipping sauce mix 1 tbsp chutney with 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, 1 tbsp mirin and  1/4 cup stock.  Use it for tempura.

5.  Take the chutney and dilute it with water to create a glaze for meats, or poultry.

6.  Mix equal parts of salsa and chutney for a party dip.

7.  Cut one or two sweet potatoes or one winter squash into small chunks, toss with chutney and bake at 400 degrees until done.

So now you know a bit more about chutney and how to use it.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Rice vs Bread vs Tapioca Puddings

Bread Pudding, Food, Dessert, Bread Although we have rice, bread, and tapioca puddings, these do not fit into the usual categories and have a much different history than the others so I thought I'd look at them separately. I've found tapioca and rice puddings in cultures that were not American or European.

I grew up with tapioca pudding that my mother made occasionally.  Once I got old enough, I took over making it and discovered if you cooked it a bit longer till it started to thicken it made a better pudding.  A few years ago, I found a tapioca recipe that used coconut milk and no eggs. I actually preferred it to the way my mother taught me.

Tapioca is made from the roots of the cassava plant.  The roots are mostly starch with little protein and no gluten and are made into sticks or pearls.  Tapioca came to America around 1894 when a sailor brought it with him from Brazil.  He stayed at the house of Boston resident Susan Stavers as a boarder and due to being sick, she created a sweet pudding from the cassava he'd brought with him. She tried different methods and finally settled on grinding the root up in a coffee grinder.  Others learned of it and a newspaper owner bought the rights to the process to found Minute Tapioca Company, the same company who markets it even today.  The homemade variety is so much better than the stuff you buy in the supermarket.

In India they boil up tapioca with sweetened milk to form a pudding while in Thailand they cook the tapioca up with syrup, coconut milk, black beans, or corn kernels into a dessert.  In Brazil they mix coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, regular full fat milk, with eggs and dried coconut while in parts of Asia they mix the tapioca with coconut milk, eggs, and vanilla with fruits such as mango or lime added.  Tapioca pudding can be made without eggs if you like.

Rice Pudding has been around for quite a while and I never had it at home.  I don't think my mother knew what it was.  In general rice pudding is made up of rice, milk, sugar, and spices and has been around for a long time.  Variations of rice pudding can be found in ancient India, ancient China, the Byzantine Empire.  Originally, rice pudding was for the rich and resembled a risotto.  The first real rice pudding showed up in Europe in the 1300's but it was not sweet.  The savory dish had rice, almond milk, broth, and saffron.  The sweet version of the dish, flavored with sugar and honey,  arrived in the 15th century and rice itself was considered only for the rich because rice had to be imported via caravans and cost a pretty penny.  Furthermore, most of the recipes in the 16th and 17th centuries included suet, spices, and the pudding was stuffed in sausage casings before being roasted or fried.

As the cost of rice decreased, it was used by everyone and by the 18th century, rice pudding could be found in more households as an everyday dish. Recipes for rice pudding appeared in cookbooks so everyone could make it.   Eventually, it gained the reputation as a cheap dish one could find in school cafeterias and hospitals. thus gaining the reputation of being a food for those with digestive issues.  In the late 50's and early 60's many people still cooked rice pudding using broth but most people now use milk. If you look around the world, you'll find a version of rice pudding in most countries.

It appears bread puddings have been around since the 11th an 12th centuries and began as a way to use stale leftover bread so it wouldn't go to waste.   By the 13th century, bread pudding was often referred to as poor man's pudding in England.  In the early days, they prepared bread pudding by soaking the dry bread, squeezing it out, and adding spices to the mix.  Now it's made with a custardy mix poured over the stale bread either plain or with other things added and it is served for dessert.  Furthermore, they may be savory or sweet and can be found all over the world in various cultures.

These puddings are a bit different that most of the other types.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Pudding or Custard?

Pudding, Vanilla Pudding, RaspberriesGrowing up, the only pudding we had in the house was the instant stuff.  You know, the kind you mixed with milk, poured it in bowls, and let it set in the fridge.  I'd never heard of the kind you cooked over the heat before pouring in bowls and chilling.  That was like wow to me.  Then I visited some relatives who served a plum pudding and it was almost like a cake.  To me that was not a pudding because it wasn't what I was used to.

The type of pudding we have in the United States is actually closer to a custard while the puddings started out as meat based things closer to sausages.  By the 17th century, puddings were either meat based savory ones or a sweet flour based product but both were cooked in a special pudding bag by being boiled.  If you remember the nursery rhyme "Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold...." refers to a boiled pudding made out of pease flour.  Pease flour is made out of ground yellow field peas.

By the second half of the 18th century, puddings no longer contained meat but were still boiled and in  the 19th century, puddings were more like the cake and evolve into the steamed puddings made today such as Christmas puddings or Spotted Dick.  Although the Romans recognized the binding properties of eggs, it wasn't until the Middle Ages that the sweet thick concoction that resembles the American version of pudding developed.  At this time, the custard could be eaten alone or used as a filling in pies, etc. In addition, custards such as flans could be found all around Europe and Asia in various forms.

It was in the 1840's that the differences between English and American puddings became fuzzier because the British chemist Alfred Bird created a custard powder based on cornstarch that could be used as an alternative to eggs because his wife was allergic to eggs. Soon the Americans used custard powders and other thickeners to make custard like desserts.  In addition, the custard powders became quite popular on the Oregon Trail and the westward movement because eggs were scarce.

The first custard pudding marketed by My-T-Fine in the United States hit the stores in 1918 but it still required cooking to thicken.  The first flavor to be marketed was chocolate followed soon by vanilla.  Jello released the first instant pudding in 1936 and it was also chocolate.  About nine prior, they'd tried a chocolate jello that didn't do well so it was discontinued but over time they refined and researched until they had it in the form of an instant pudding.

This new instant pudding became such a success, Jello soon released other flavors such as vanilla, rice pudding, tapioca, coconut, pistachio, butterscotch, egg custard, and flan. Unfortunately, Jello underwent a decrease of sales so in 1971, they introduced packaged prepared puddings in packs of small cups that made it easy to provide snacks for the kids.

So if you ask for pudding in the United States you are most likely to get a smooth, tasty concoction similar to a custard but in Britain, it might be steamed, boiled, or similar to a custard.  I'll address bread, rice, or tapioca puddings another time.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Who Is Francis Glessner Lee?

Shoe Print, Sole, Reprint, Trace Up until this morning, I'd never heard of this lady and I'm sure most of you had not either. In fact, I've never seen anything about her until I saw a book offered on Amazon that spoke about her contribution to law enforcement and forensics.

Francis Glessner Lee was born in  1878 to a fairly wealthy family where she was raised to assume a position as a society matron.  Her father made a fortune building and expanding the International Harvester company.  One skill she learned was to build miniature dioramas as it was done by many wealthy women of the time.

She married lawyer,  Blewett Lee at the age of 19 but divorced after having three children with him.  Afterwards, she developed a friendship with a pathologist sparked her interest in the early field of forensics.  In fact she donated money to Harvard to establish the department of legal medicine, pay for seminars,  and threw dinners where detectives and medical examiners but where she shone was in creating small doll house recreations of murder scenes.

At that time  the police conducted cursory investigations because they didn't understand how to look or take care of key evidence and often contaminated the scene but  Frances believed that they could use scientific method to solve crimes. In addition, they had no medical training and had no idea how to determine the cause of death. So in the 1930's and 40's she began creating a total of 19 dioramas called "Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Deaths" to be used to train investigators.  Each diorama recreated an actual crime scene down to the correct bullet hole angle, blood on the carpet, position of latches on a window, or position of the dinner plates using a one inch to one foot scale.

She used information she had acquired during the dinners she threw for detectives and medical examiners along with bits taken from police reports and court records to build the dioramas of situations using composite details.  She took care to use meticulous detail in each one and often had to stop herself from adding too much detail for fear of giving the answer. Furthermore, she wrote up answer sheets for each diorama so students could check their answers.

These dioramas could train investigators to analyze both visual and and material evidence gained through the use of a geometric pattern when looking around a room.  The detail of the  dioramas allowed investigators to see whether a corpse meant homicide, suicide, death by natural causes, or an accident because each has a different look.  For instance, in one, a strangled woman is found on the floor of her bathroom with no indication of forced entry.  It is only a few strands of the same rope found on the bathroom door that lead one to conclude the woman committed suicide.

This work of hers, gained her a reputation in the field of forensics which was a male dominated field. She was made an honorary New Hampshire state police captain in 1943 and earned the title "Mother  or Godmother of Forensic Science." In 1945, she worked with Harvard to throw the first week long seminar on forensic science called the "Frances Glessner-Lee Seminar in Homicide Investigation".  It continues to this day.

All 19 nutshells were donated to the department of legal medicine at Harvard in 1945 where they remained until 1966 when they were transferred to Maryland Medical Examiners office where they are still used to train investigators.  In addition, they have been loaned out to be displayed so people can see her extraordinary work.

Frances was able to carve a niche in a male dominated field.  She passed on in 1962 at the age of 83 but she left mark and is still remembered today.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Why Does Dyed Red Hair Fade So Fast? What To Do About It.

Bride, Marry, Wedding, Red Hair Red hair is one of those things that many women want but aren't born with so they often rely on hair dye to get the shade they want, including myself.  Actually over the years, I've moved to a Burgundy because it lasts so much longer than an auburn or other real red.

Unfortunately, red has the reputation of fading faster than either blond or brunette. I decided to find out if the reputation was earned or if it was just a perception.

I spoke with someone at my local Sally's who told me about the size of the color molecule so I had to check out what she said. Sure enough, the red dye actually fades faster than most any other color because the molecule weight is higher and it doesn't penetrate as deeply.

What actually happens is that the intermediate which are smaller molecules tend to penetrate the hair and combines to to form the color molecules. Technically, the red pigment in hair color ends up going deeper into the hair shaft but not all the way into the cortex as other colors. Due to it's  larger molecular weight it releases faster rather than just staying.  Furthermore, it really doesn't matter what brand of dye you choose, this is a standard problem.

In addition,  the red shades tend to be broken down by ultraviolet light and other environmental issues.  Once the shades begin to break down, and are easily removed from the hair by shampooing.  So how do you keep your red shade brighter for a longer period of time?  There are ways.

1. Try to wash your hair less frequently because every time you wash your hair, you loose some dye.  If you feel the need to wash it every day, use a dry shampoo to clean the dirt out of it some.

2.  Use a sulphate free shampoo and conditioner to help slow down the stripping of the color. Try to avoid clarifying and dandruff shampoos because they will strip the

3.   When you wash hair, try not to use hot water.  Use instead a warm water and cooler rinse to help the color last longer.

4.  Last step is to wear a hat in the sun to protect the hair from ultraviolet rays that break down the color.

5.  Keep heat styling to the hair to a minimum because this can cause the hair to fade.  If you have to use heat to style your hair, make sure you use a heat protection spray.

6. If you can find a color depositing shampoo and conditioner with a shade similar to the one you chose, use it to add a bit extra color and help it last longer.

7.  When you swim in a pool, wear a swim cap or rinse your hair with tap water and cover with conditioner to provide a barrier.

So if you want red hair, be aware of the fact it fades easily but there are some things you can do to keep it from fading as fast.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Who Besides Betty Crocker is Fake and Who is Real?

Pancakes, Breakfast, Food, Syrup This past Friday, I took time to introduce you to Betty Crocker who has secured a place in society but isn't real.  There are other things we eat with a person associated with them but some are real and some are fake.  Some of the faces are a reflection of the times in which they were conceived while others are based on a logo.

1. Sara Lee who is associated with baked goods and cheesecake.  You often find her goods in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  Sara Lee is a real person but she didn't start this particular line of food.  Back in the early 20th century, Charles Lubin owned a several bakeries in the Chicago area which featured a wonderful cheesecake he named after his daughter, Sara Lee.  Later on, he renamed the business, the kitchens of Sara Lee, after her.  Eventually he sold out to Consolidated Foods who changed their name to the Sara Lee corporation because the brand did so well and was a huge money maker. The odd thing is that Sara Lee did not take over the baking business, she pursued other interests.

2.  Captain Morgan as in Captain Morgan's rum is a real person.  His real name was Sir Henry Morgan and he sailed the seas in the 17th century, working as a privateer.  The Welshman protected British interested as he sailed through the Caribbean while plundering Spanish ships.  He ended up in prison because he continued harassing Spanish ships after the two countries signed a peace treaty. Eventually, he became the Lieutenant - Governor of Jamaica.  So yes he was a real person but he didn't start the brand.

3. Chef Boyardee with it's spaghetti o's is quite famous but is the chef a real person?  Yes and he actually started this particular product line.  Ettore Bioardi, an Italian immigrant worked as a chef in several hotels across West Virginia and New York but eventually he quit and decided to start his own restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. He made extra money by selling bottles of his spaghetti sauce.  He ended starting a factory in Pennsylvania to produce a line of his products he named Chef Boy-ar-dee so people would know how to pronounce his name.

4. Dr. Pepper is said to be fictional.  The drink was developed by a pharmacist in Waco, Texas in 1885 while working for a corner drug store.  His boss is said to have named the drink after an earlier digestive drink called "D's Peppers Pepsin Bitters".  It is also said that the boss named it after a Dr. Pepper he knew but there is not proof either way so it is assumed that Dr. Pepper is a fictional character.

5. Famous Amos with his chocolate chip cookies is a real person.  Amos began as a talent agent who worked for the William Morris Talent Agency.  To get clients, he'd send them some freshly baked cookies and in the 1970's his friends suggested he start his own business selling cookies.  He opened his first store in 1975 and expanded by selling to grocery stores.

6.  Mrs Fields is another cookie business named for it's creator.  She and her husband opened their first store in 1977 and began franchising in 1990.  Eventually she sold the company but remained the spokes person for the chain.

7. Jimmy Dean who is known for his breakfast sausages and other foods was a real person.  He was a country singer, actor, and personality before he got together with his brother to start the business in 1969.  Eventually they sold the company but Jimmy remained on as the company spokesman until they phased him out.

8. Marie Callender is a real person who began a home based baking back in the 1940's in Orange County, California.  She and her husband baked pies her son sold to area restaurants but in 1964, her son, Don, convinced her to open a shop to sell coffee and pies and named it after her.  As time passed, the chain began selling other foods while expanding to at least 146 shops.  In 1986, the chain was sold and the company opened up a line of foods found in the frozen food department.

9.  Oscar Mayer, the purveyor of hot dogs and luncheon meats and who has the traveling hot dog is based on a real person.  Oscar is one of three brothers who came from Bavaria in around 1870 and set up a shop in 1883.  On their first day in business, they did $59 worth of business but in those days when pork sold for 8 to 12 cents a pound, that wasn't too bad.  The company was one of the first to join the USDA's meat inspection program in 1902.  Just after World War I, they purchased a small meat packing plant in Madison, Wisconsin and about 10 years later, they created the yellow label to indicate high quality.  They are considered one of the first meat companies to come up with a brand.  In 1936, they introduced the weinermobile we all think of and that "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner" jingle hit the airwaves in 1963.  They are still around today.

10. Uncle Ben's instant rice may be named after a real person who grew rice for the company.  During World War II, Converted Rice supplied their instant rice to the military as part of their meal supplies but as the war ended, they needed to change to selling to civilians so they decided to call it Uncle Ben's after one of their growers.  It's said that  Uncle Ben was an African American rice grower who supplied high quality rice to Converted Rice but he passed away sometime before the 1940's.  The image on the boxes is not of Ben but of a maitre d' who worked at a restaurant the owner and others ate at.

11.  Aunt Jemima is not based on a real person but named after a minstrel song composted by an African American from the 1880's called "Old Aunt Jemima" .  The man who created a pancake mix in 1889 chose to name his product after the song and later sold it to another company who shared it at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  They hired Nancy Green, a former slave, to sell pancake mix to people as Aunt Jemima.  When she was killed in 1923, they hired another woman for the position.  Just recently, Quaker Oats who owns the brand, announced they will retire Aunt Jemima.

So now you know more about some of the brands who carry the face of someone.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Tomorrow is July 4th

Constitution, 4Th Of July, July 4Th Tomorrow is when this country celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence by representatives of the Continental Congress.

Originally, people were not planning to separate completely but events caused several representatives to come up with reasons to separate and another created the resolution to declare independence and Thomas Jefferson wrote most of the Declaration of Independence.

The document was presented to the rest of the delegates and voted on over July 2, 1776.  However, the Continental Congress did not actually accept  the document until July 4.  John Hancock was the only one to sign it on that day, it took till August 2 to get all 56 delegates to sign it but many people including Thomas Jefferson felt Independence should be celebrated on July 2, consequently, he refused any invitation that had July 4th on it.

Prior to this document, colonists celebrated the king's birthday with bell ringing, speeches, bon fires, and processions but after the Declaration of Independence was passed, people began holding mock funerals for the king to show the end of his rule and celebrate Liberty.  By 1777, colonists were celebrating Independence via concerts, parades, bon fires, firing cannons, and the reading of the Declaration of Independence while fighting a war against Great Britain.  In fact, Philadelphia is said to be the first colony in 1777 to officially celebrate Independence Day by arranging to have a 13 gun salute done from a ship, the 13 representing the colonies.  Furthermore, the Sons of Liberty set off fire works at the Boston Commons.

In 1781, just a few months before America won the Battle at Yorktown, the colony of Massachusetts became the first to declare July 4th as an official holiday.  Colonists continued celebrating the date but it gained even more popularity after America faced off against Great Britain during the War of 1812 which we won.  Interesting thing is that both Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826 on the 50th celebration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It did not actually become a federal holiday until 1870 when congress passed the appropriate law but it was not a paid holiday until 1941.

Now for some facts about the Declaration of Independence and July 4th.

1.  The Declaration of Independence is considered a sacred document but it wasn't always treated well.  It barely survived when the British burned Washington D.C. in 1814 and in 1941, the document was moved to Fort Knox, Kentucky under the protection of the United States Secret Service.  Then in 1952, it was placed in a bullet proof container so it can be looked at by people during the day and at night it is lowered into a special concrete and steel reinforced bunker for it's protection.

2.  The original Declaration of Independence inspired other counties to write their own such as Venezuela in 1811 which echos many of Jefferson's thoughts.  The phrase "All men are created equal"  appeared in a document written by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in 1833 and Women used other parts of the Declaration in the document they wrote in 1848 in Seneca Falls.

3. Both the British including philosopher Jeremy Bentham and American Frederick Douglas felt that the declaration was filled with hypocrisy and illogic and were unafraid to say so.

4. Citizens who lived in the Bowling Green section of Manhattan tore down a statue of the king and melted it to make ammunition.

5.  When congress passed the law in 1870, it was only for Washington D.C. and it took several years for it to cover all Federal employees.

6. Bristol, Rhode Island is recognized as having the longest running 4th of July celebration.  They held the first one in 1785, just two years after the end of the revolutionary war and this year they will celebrate the 235th one.

7.  There are over 15,000 fireworks celebrations held across the country.  Small celebrations can cost between $8,000 and $15,000 while large celebration can cost millions of dollars to put on.

8.  American eat around 150 million hot dogs on July 4th alone.  It is a popular food served at backyard barbecues.  In addition, they spend about $73 per person or over $6.7 billion dollars on food  etc but it does not include alcohol.  Americans spend about one billion dollars on beer and another $560 million on wine for the day.

Today, it is normally celebrated with parades, fire works displays, barbecues, neighborhood gatherings but this year it is going to be quite different.  I know the all the towns in the area have cancelled all parades to prevent the additional spread of COVID-19 but we normally do not have fireworks because it does not get dark enough in this part of Alaska.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Who Was Betty Crocker?

Cookbook, Recipes, Food, Cook, Book Betty Crocker is what we would call in today's world a brand due to having a line of baking and dinner kits, flours, and books.

The idea of Betty Crocker came out of a promotion offered by Washburn Crosby Milling company, one of the predecessors of General Mills.

  If the reader put together the puzzle showing a milling scene, they'd receive a pin cushion.  In addition to receiving entries to win the pin cushions, they also received questions on baking.  In response to the response, the advertising department head decided that a woman needed to answer all those questions so the company created Betty Crocker.

The name Crocker came from the last name of the mill's retiring president while Betty was chosen because it sounded quite friendly.  The female employees were invited to submit signatures to be used on all letters,  the winning one was submitted by a secretary and is still used today.  Washburn took advantage of the situation to respond to questions, created cooking schools across the country, and employed women at home to test and check out recipes of their flour.  As these classes grew, Washburn/General Mills developed a Home Economics department which eventually morphed into the Betty Crocker test kitchens.

In 1924, Washburn Milling purchased a local failing radio station, changed it's call letters to WCCO to stand for Washburn Crosby Company and began broadcasting a weekly show "Betty Crocker Cooking Show of the Air".  The show was an immediate success and expanded to 13 regional stations.  If listeners completed a certain number of reports and sent them in, they could "graduate".  In it's first year, 238 women ranging in age from 21 to 82, graduated.  Every station had it's own "Betty Crocker" who read the script provided by the company and in 1927, the show was picked up by NBC.  The show went nation wide and had at least one million people who participated over the 24 years the show ran.

In 1928, Washburn and three other mills joined together to form General Mills and the company continued to grow and promote it's gold medal flour.  By the 1940's, a survey discovered that 9 out of 10 people knew who she was and according to a 1945 issue of Fortune, she was known as the First Lady of Cooking and the second best known woman in the world, just behind Elenor Roosevelt.  Furthermore, Betty Crocker provided instruction via the radio on how best to use rationed foods and created a booklet on the same topic that about seven million people requested.

Furthermore, in the early 1950's television offered some opportunities which Betty Crocker took advantage of.  She appeared on Burns and Allen to teach them to bake a cake and on other shows.  This lead to the Betty Crocker Search for the All American Homemaker of Tomorrow" premiering in 1954 and running till 1977.  The competition allowed high school seniors to compete in cooking, baking, and household management and possibly win the chance to compete nationally and win a scholarship for college.

Around the same time, the first Betty Crocker cookbook hit the stores and has undergone 11 revisions up to now. In addition, Betty Crocker has also published various specialized cookbooks and a magazine.  The red spoon logo with Betty Crocker written on it began appearing on products in 1954 but the first picture of her did not appear until 15 years after her conception.  In 1936, a New York artist created the first picture by blending pictures of several female employees of the company and it remained for 20 years until the picture was softened.  Then in the 1960's the portrait was updated twice so she looked more up-to-date and hip.

In the 1970's, Betty Crocker switched from the homemaker look to a business women to match the movement of women into the workforce.  In the early 1980's they softened her image so she looked more relatable to all women and in 1986, her image was readjusted to look more professional and approachable.   In 1996 to celebrate Betty Crocker's 75th anniversary, the company conducted a nationwide search for women who embodied the spirt of Betty Crocker and combined the features into one painting.

When most people think of Betty Crocker, they think of either a cake or Hamburger Helper but the first product they marketed was actually a soup mix that hit the stores in the early 1940's. For someone who came out as the answer to a demand, she is quite well known.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.