Let’s Celebrate the New Year

(top to bottom) A toast to welcome 2018;  That man in red wearing the wreath on his head was responsible for many things but the most enduring is the Julian calendar he put into effect in 45 B.C. that we use to this day. Hail Caesar! (Nice salad, too);  There are many cultures celebrating the new year at various times of the year with the Chinese New Year being the most famous;   In the U.S. January 1 brings the Rose Parade, the Rose Bowl (this year features the Oklahoma Sooners vs the Georgia Bulldogs), the Polar Bear Plunge (Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!) and of course plenty of great FOOD! Happy New Year everybody!!


Well, here we are at the close of another year.  WOW, things sure flew by.  Seems like just the other day I was checking my new year’s resolutions to see how I did (not bad in fact).  So, as we wrap up the week, head into the weekend and the New Year here is some fun trivia you can share.  As many of you already know, I absolutely love offering bits of what my lovely wife Jackie likes to call “useless knowledge”.  I on the other hand prefer the term “Eclectic Knowledge”.  So, as you get ready for your New Year’s Day feast of Pork Roast, Dumplings and hopefully Sauerkraut, enjoy the following and share!

Now there’s nothing new about New Year’s. Festivals marking the beginning of the calendar have existed for millennia, and a few are still actively observed by millions of people around the world. These early New Year’s celebrations often had important social, political and religious implications, but in some cultures the holiday traditions were not so different from the champagne, parties and fireworks of today.

Babylonian Akitu

Following the first new moon after the vernal equinox in late March, the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia would honor the rebirth of the natural world with a multi-day festival called Akitu. This early New Year’s celebration dates back to around 2000 B.C., and is believed to have been deeply intertwined with religion and mythology. During the Akitu, statues of the gods were paraded through the city streets, and rites were enacted to symbolize their victory over the forces of chaos. Through these rituals the Babylonians believed the world was symbolically cleansed and recreated by the gods in preparation for the new year and the return of spring.

One fascinating aspect of the Akitu involved a kind of ritual humiliation endured by the Babylonian king. This peculiar tradition saw the king brought before a statue of the god Marduk, stripped of his royal regalia and forced to swear that he had led the city with honor. A high priest would then slap the monarch and drag him by his ears in the hope of making him cry. If royal tears were shed, it was seen as a sign that Marduk was satisfied and had symbolically extended the king’s rule. Some historians have since argued that these political elements suggest the Akitu was used by the monarchy as a tool for reaffirming the king’s divine power over his people.

Ancient Roman Celebration of Janus

The Roman New Year also originally corresponded with the vernal equinox, but years of tampering with the solar calendar eventually saw the holiday established on its more familiar date of January 1. For the Romans, the month of January carried a special significance. Its name was derived from the two-faced deity Janus, the god of change and beginnings. Janus was seen as symbolically looking back at the old and ahead to the new, and this idea became tied to the concept of transition from one year to the next.  Romans would celebrate January 1 by giving offerings to Janus in the hope of gaining good fortune for the new year. This day was seen as setting the stage for the next twelve months, and it was common for friends and neighbors to make a positive start to the year by exchanging well wishes and gifts of figs and honey with one another. According to the poet Ovid, most Romans also chose to work for at least part of New Year’s Day, as idleness was seen as a bad omen for the rest of the year.

Ancient Egyptian Wepet Renpet

Ancient Egyptian culture was closely tied to the Nile River, and it appears their New Year corresponded with its annual flood. According the Roman writer Censorinus, the Egyptian New Year was predicted when Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky—first became visible after a 70-day absence. Better known as a heliacal rising, this phenomenon typically occurred in mid-July just before the annual inundation of the Nile River, which helped ensure that farmlands remained fertile for the coming year. Egyptians celebrated this new beginning with a festival known as Wepet Renpet, which means “opening of the year.” The New Year was seen as a time of rebirth and rejuvenation, and it was honored with feasts and special religious rites.  Not unlike many people today, the Egyptians may have also used this as an excuse for getting a bit tipsy. Recent discoveries at the Temple of Mut show that during the reign of Hatshepsut the first month of the year played host to a “Festival of Drunkenness.” This massive party was tied to the myth of Sekhmet, a war goddess who had planned to kill all of humanity until the sun god Ra tricked her into drinking herself unconscious. In honor of mankind’s salvation, the Egyptians would celebrate with music, lewd behavior, revelry and perhaps most important of all, copious amounts of beer.

Chinese New Year

One of the oldest traditions still celebrated today is Chinese New Year, which is believed to have originated over 3,000 years ago during the Shang Dynasty. The holiday began as a way of celebrating the new beginnings of the spring planting season, but it later became entangled with myth and legend. According to one popular tale, there was once a bloodthirsty creature called Nian—now the Chinese word for “year”—that preyed on villages every New Year. In order to frighten the hungry beast, the villagers took to decorating their homes with red trimmings, burning bamboo and making loud noises. The ruse worked, and the bright colors and lights associated with scaring off Nian eventually became integrated into the celebration.  Festivities traditionally last 15 days and tend to center on the home and the family. People clean their houses to rid them of bad luck, and some repay old debts as a way of settling the previous year’s affairs. In order to encourage an auspicious start to the year they also decorate their doors with paper scrolls and gather with relatives for a feast. Following the invention of gunpowder in the 10th century, the Chinese were also the first to ring in the New Year with fireworks. Since Chinese New Year is still based on a lunar calendar that dates back to the second millennium BC, the holiday typically falls in late January or early February on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Each year is associated with one of 12 zodiacal animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 2018 is the year of the year of the dog, and begins February 16th.


While it is still celebrated in Iran and other parts of the Middle East and Asia, the roots of Nowruz (or “New Day”) reach far back into antiquity. Often called the “Persian New Year,” this 13-day spring festival falls on or around the vernal equinox in March and is believed to have originated in modern day Iran as part of the Zoroastrian religion. Official records of Nowruz did not appear until the 2nd century, but most historians believe its celebration dates back at least as far as the 6th century B.C. and the rule of the Achaemenid Empire. Unlike many other ancient Persian festivals, Nowruz persisted as an important holiday even after Iran’s conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 BC and the rise of Islamic rule in the 7th century A.D.  Ancient observances of Nowruz focused on the rebirth that accompanied the return of spring. Monarchs would use the holiday to host lavish banquets, dispense gifts and hold audiences with their subjects. Other traditions included feasts, exchanging presents with family members and neighbors, lighting bonfires, dyeing eggs and sprinkling water to symbolize creation. One unique ritual that arose around the 10th century involved electing a “Nowruzian Ruler”: a commoner who would pretend to be king for several days before being “dethroned” near the end of the festival. Nowruz has evolved considerably over time, but many of its ancient traditions—particularly the use of bonfires and colored eggs—remain a part of the modern holiday, which is observed by an estimated 300 million people each year.

American Traditions

New Year’s Day is a national holiday celebrated on January 1st, the first day of the New Year, following both the Gregorian and the Julian calendar. This New Years’ holiday is often marked by fireworks, parades, and reflection upon the last year while looking ahead to the future’s possibilities. Many people celebrate New Year’s in the company of loved ones, involving traditions meant to bring luck and success in the upcoming year. Many Cultures celebrate this happy day in their own unique way. Typically, the customs and traditions of happy New Years Day involve celebrating with champagne and a variety of different foods. New Years marks a date of newly found happiness and a clean slate. For many celebrating New Years, it is their opportunity to learn from the prior year and make positive changes in their life.  It wasn’t until Julius Caesar implemented the Julian calendar that January 1st became the common day for the celebration. While early celebrations were more paganistic in nature, celebrating Earth’s cycles, Christian tradition celebrates the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on New Year’s Day. Roman Catholics also often celebrate Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, a feast honoring Mary. However, in the twentieth century, the holiday grew into its own celebration and mostly separated from the common association with religion. It has become a holiday associated with nationality, relationships, and introspection rather than a religious celebration, although many people do still follow older traditions.

While celebration varies all over the world, common traditions include:

  • Making resolutions or goals to improve one’s life. Common resolutions concern diet, exercise, bad habits, and other issues concerning personal wellness. A common view is to use the first day of the year as a clean slate to improve one’s life.
  • A gathering of loved ones: Here you’ll typically find champagne, feasting, confetti, noise makers, and other methods of merriment fireworks, parades, concerts.
  • Famous parades include London’s New Year’s Day Parade and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.
  • Superstitions concerning food or visitors to bring luck.
  • Serving circle-shaped foods, which symbolize cycles.
  • A household’s first visitor of the year—tradition states that if a tall, dark-haired stranger is the first to walk through your door, called the First Footer or Lucky Bird, you’ll have good luck all year.
  • Don’t let anything leave the house on New Year’s, except for people. Tradition say’s don’t take out the trash and leave anything you want to take out of the house on New Year’s outside the night before. If you must remove something, make sure to replace it by bringing an item into the house. These policies of balance apply in other areas as well—avoiding paying bills, breaking anything, or shedding tears.
  • Toasts typically concern gratefulness for the past year’s blessings, hope and luck or the future, and thanking guests for their New Year’s company. In coastal regions, running into a body of water or splashing water on one another, symbolizing the cleansing, “rebirth” theme associated with the holiday.
  • American Citizens often celebrate with a party featuring toasting, drinking and fireworks late into the night before the New Year, where the gathering counts down the final seconds to January 1st. Some might even get a kiss at midnight. Many English-speaking countries play “Auld Lang Syne,” a song celebrating the year’s happy moments. Americans often make resolutions and watch the Time Square Ball drop in New York City. Although much of this celebration occurs the night before, the merrymaking typically continues to New Year’s Day.
  • Football is a common fixture on New Year’s Day in America, usually the day of the Rose Bowl. Some foods considered “lucky” to eat during the festivities include: Circular shaped foods, black-eyed peas, cabbage, pork and a big plate of chocolate/peanut butter buckeye’s of course(GO BUCS!!)


The French typically celebrate New Year’s with a feast and a champagne toast, marking the first moments of New Year’s Day with kisses under the mistletoe, which most other cultures associate with Christmas celebrations. The French also consider the day’s weather as a forecast for the upcoming year’s harvest, taking into account aspects like wind direction to predict the fruitfulness of crops and fishing.

In the Philippines, celebrations are very loud, believing that the noise will scare away evil beings. There is often a midnight feast featuring twelve different round fruits to symbolize good luck for the twelve months of the year. Other traditional foods include sticky rice and noodles, but not chicken or fish because these animals are food foragers, which can be seen as bad luck for the next year’s food supply. Greeks celebrate New Year’s Day with card games and feasting. At midnight, the lights are turned off, followed by the Basil’s Pie, which contains a coin. Whoever gets the piece of pie containing the coin wins luck for the next year.

The Soviet Union’s New Year’s Day celebrations have been greatly affected by the Union’s history. As religion was suppressed and Christmas celebrations were banned, New Year’s, or Novi God celebrations often include Christmas traditions such as decorated trees, which were reconsidered as New Year Fir Trees. As the suppression left, these traditions stayed part of the New Year’s Day celebration. The holiday is also celebrated with feasts, champagne, and wishes.

Spaniards celebrate New Year’s Day with the custom of eating twelve grapes, each eaten at a clock-stroke at midnight.

In colder countries close to water, such as Canada, parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, it is customary to organize cold-water plunges. These plunges and races, sometimes called a Polar Bear Plunge, often raise money for charity or awareness for a cause. In full disclosure, I will be enjoying time with my family in front of the fireplace!




“What’s in Your Stocking?”

Stockings through the ages… They not only hold Santa Claus intrigue and fun for kids, now they’re totally part of our holiday decorating schemes. Even our fur babies get their own stockings now.


In the Kowalski households, one of my favorite childhood (and parenthood) traditions is hanging the Christmas stockings on the mantel over the fireplace.  I remember as a kid, racing down the stairs on Christmas morning to find my stocking filled with gifts, candy and special treats from Old Saint Nick.  When we were kids, Mom and Dad used to hang our stockings over the fire place in the living room, of course it was a really long line of stockings!  When we had our own children, the tradition continued.  Jackie and I were very careful to be sure the exact amount of goodies were in each stocking (the girls counted of course).  We included candy, little toys, and misc. things that would delight the kids.  A friend of mine said his Mom used to put an orange/tangerine in each toe, along with candy and small gifts, and always included a pretzel rod/stick poking out the top (the first thing to eat).  As the kids got older, the contents shifted from candy to more useful items (DVD’s, make-up, nail polish, socks, candy, various hair products-many that still leave me slightly bewildered! Always keeping the “fun” in Christmas morning, Jackie and I love watching the girls (ladies) still go for the stockings first!!!)  Here’s a little stocking and holiday trivia, along with some fun 2018 “stocking stuffer” links to ideas.  And, if you have family stocking traditions, be sure to email me and share them.

  1. While there are no written records of the origin of the Christmas stocking, there are popular legends that attempt to tell the history of this Christmas tradition. One such legend has several variations, but the following is a good example:

Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death. Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls and wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. After dark, he threw three bags of gold through an open window. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they found the bags of gold and were, of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after.

  1. Other versions of the story say that Saint Nicholas threw the three bags of gold directly into the stockings which were hung by the fireplace to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.
  2. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so, St. Nicholas is a gift-giver. In the US, oranges/tangerines were popular during the “war”, when fresh fruit was considered a luxury in households, and a sign of health/encouragement.
  3. A tradition that began in a European country originally, children simply used one of their everyday socks, but eventually special Christmas stockings were created for this purpose. The Christmas stocking custom is derived from the Germanic/Scandinavian figure Odin. According writings, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir’s food with gifts or candy. Today of course, the kids put out cookies for Santa, and carrots for his reindeer to eat.
  4. Nicholas had an earlier merging with the Grandmother cult in Bari, Italy where the grandmother would put gifts in stockings. This Italian St. Nicholas would later travel north and merge with the Odin cults.
  5. As far back as 1823, when Clement Clarke Moore wrote “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” the poem begins, “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” At the end of the poem, St. Nick “fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose / And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.”
  6. Each year, something peculiar happens on the eve of December 5 (St Nicholas Day Dec 6th) Children across Germany each leave a single boot outside their doorsteps, which is then magically filled overnight with chocolate and sweets. Other cultures in Europe and beyond have also taken to celebrating similar traditions either on the same date or stretched out throughout the holiday season.  Unlike so many Christian saints who are revered and remembered by the pious few, Nicholas is celebrated by religious and non-religious alike. His reach goes beyond the walls of the church and the pages of church history to the hearts of children and the imaginations of parents.
  7. Many families create their own Christmas stockings, with each family member’s name applied to the stocking so that Santa will know which stocking belongs to which family member. As the tradition in America grew, so did the retail and commercial representation of named stockings.  Many a household would embroider the names on to the tops of stockings.
  8. When it comes to the fabric options for Christmas stockings, the most common types are wool, velvet, felt, quilted soft cotton, cozy cable knit and burlap. Velvet stockings are the perfect addition to a classic Christmas theme, while burlap stockings are a trendy statement in a modern or rustic theme.
  9. According to the Guinness World Records, the long standing “largest” recorded Christmas stocking measured 168 ft. 5.65 in in length and 70 ft. 11.57 in. in width (heel to toe), produced by a volunteer emergency services organization in Carrara, Tuscany, Italy, in January 2011. To fulfill the Guinness guideline that the stocking contain presents, volunteers filled it with balloons containing sweets.
  10. The world’s “newest” largest Christmas stocking – a 1,600-pound, 7,700-square-foot behemoth that took more than a year to create, was unveiled at Fayetteville’s Arnette Park; the stocking, which is 139 feet tall and 74 feet wide, was created with yarn from Caron United, a Washington, N.C.-based company. Knitters from all 50 states, four Canadian provinces and Ireland helped create the record-setting stocking by donating 3-foot by 3-foot swatches of knitted yard that were later sewn together.  Caron donated part of the proceeds from yarn sales to provide more than $100,000 for scholarships for children of fallen U.S. troops.
  11. Normal Rockwell, a world-famous illustrator for The Saturday Evening Post, made hundreds of fantastic images of the holidays, including Santa Claus, families, and children, with stockings hung by the chimney in the background. At KHT, we’ve enjoy them so much, we continue to feature his work in our yearly client calendar.

Socks history YES — SOCKS !!!

(top) Me, checking to see which socks I wore today (I’m up at 4:00 AM every day and mostly get dressed in the dark); (row two) My monkey socks and my beloved Santa socks (I’ve been known to wear them in July); (row three) Abstracts (goes great with a dark suit) and Flying pigs (because I know that anything’s possible); (row four) Group sox (sorry, couldn’t resist); (row five left) Divided toe socks designed to be worn with sandals in Egypt, 300-499 AD. (Victoria and Albert Museum collection); (row six left) Can you name the owner of those famous socks? (Hint: she melted when a small girl accidentally threw water on her); (row seven left) Make your very own sock monkey. Instructions HERE; (bottom right) A Jockey sock ad from 1963. You can buy it on Etsy.com for $5.95. (I’m sure it’s still there)

Yep, it’s that time of year, when we start thinking about and heading out to get those pesky holiday gifts for our loved ones.  The merchants can’t help themselves either, with all the increased flyers, ads and messages to come and spend your money with us. Have you noticed, what used to be a on day event (Black Friday), has turned into two weeks of “Black Friday” deals. Amazon predicts this year it will process over 35% of the projected $100 billion dollars of online sales, up about 13% from last year.  So, as a follow-up to my fashion post, I wanted to share my personal Christmas morning favorite – socks.  I let Jackie and the girls know, if you get stuck on what to get me, you can skip the underwear, gloves, scarf and craft beer sampler, and just add to my collection.  For me, it’s just fun to open my drawer in the morning and ponder the socks I’m going to wear that day –serious or not for the banker meeting, moose, stars or art designs to the architect’s meeting, or just silly and fun for the staff meeting. I  now actually have special socks for various occasions.  It all started years ago when one of my daughters decided that “Dad” should be able to wear fun socks too!  Since that time socks have become my thing!  They certainly make a great conversation starter. Thanks Wikipedia for the history lesson.

The modern English word sock is derived from the Old English word socc, meaning “light slipper”. This comes from the Latin soccus, a term to describe a “light, low-heeled shoe” worn by Roman comic actors, and deriving from the Ancient Greek word sykchos.

Socks have evolved over the centuries from the earliest models, which were made from animal skins gathered up and tied around the ankles. According to the Greek poet Hesiod, in the 8th century BC, the Ancient Greeks wore socks called “piloi”, which were made from matted animal hair.  The Romans also wrapped their feet with leather or woven fabrics.

Around the 2nd century AD, the Romans started sewing the fabrics together making fitted socks called “udones”. By the 5th century AD, socks called “puttees” were worn by holy people in Europe to symbolize purity.

During the Middle Ages, the length of trousers was extended and the sock became a tight, brightly-colored cloth covering the lower part of the leg. Since socks didn’t have an elastic band, garters were placed over the top of the stockings to prevent them from falling down. When breeches became shorter, socks began to get longer and more expensive.

By 1000 AD, socks became a symbol of wealth among the nobility. From the 16th century onwards, an ornamental design on the ankle or side of a sock has been called a clock.

Footwraps, pieces of cloth that are worn wrapped around the feet, were worn with boots before socks became widely available. They remained in use by armies in Eastern Europe up until the beginning of the 21st century.

The invention of a knitting machine in 1589 meant that socks could be knitted six times faster than by hand. Nonetheless, knitting machines and hand knitters worked side by side until 1800.

The next revolution in sock production was the introduction of nylon in 1938. Until then socks were commonly made from silk, cotton and wool. Nylon was the start of blending two or more yarns in the production of socks, a process that continues today.

Socks can be created from a wide variety of materials, such as cotton, wool, nylon, acrylic, polyester, olefins, (such as polypropylene), or spandex.  To get an increased level of softness other materials that might be used during the process can be silk, bamboo, linen, cashmere, or mohair.  During the winter, there’s nothing quite like pulling on a pair of thick “fuzzy” socks.

The color variety of sock choices can be any color that the designers intend to make the sock upon its creation. Sock ‘coloring’ can come in a wide range of colors. Sometimes art is also put onto socks to increase their appearance. Colored socks may be a key part of the uniforms for sports, allowing players teams to be distinguished when only their legs are clearly visible.

The township-level district of Datang in the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China, has become known as Sock City. The town currently produce 8 billion pairs of socks each year, a third of the world’s sock production, effectively creating two pairs of socks for every person on the planet in 2011.

Today socks are manufactured in a variety of lengths. Bare or ankle socks extend to the ankle or lower and are often worn casually or for athletic use. Bare socks are designed to create the look of “bare feet” when worn with shoes. Knee-high socks are sometimes associated with formal dress or as being part of a uniform, such as in sports (like football and baseball) or as part of a school’s dress code or youth group’s uniform. Over-the-knee socks or socks that extend higher (thigh-high socks) are today considered female garments. They were widely worn by children, both boys and girls, during the late-19th and early-20th centuries., although the popularity varied widely from country to country

A toe sock encases each toe individually the same way a finger is encased in a glove, while other socks have one compartment for the big toe and one for the rest, like a mitten; most notably Japanese tabi. Both of these allow one to wear flip-flops with the socks.  Leg warmers, which are not typically socks, may be replaced with socks in cold climates.

A business sock (boring!!) is a term for a colored sock for conservative appearance and casual footwear. The term is often used loosely to indicate a term for a conservative office setting. For instance, business socks, business shirts and business shoes are used for office and job. These socks usually have patterns and are known to be a cause for bleach stains in laundry machines due to their colored manufacturing process and dyed attributes.

Most sports will require some sort of sock, usually a tube sock to protect one’s legs from being scraped while participating in sport activities. In basketball, tube socks are worn, and in lacrosse, mid-calf socks are required. In football, knee socks are used, mostly to stop grass burns.  In soccer, socks are used to hold shin guards and to help the referee identify teams during in-close ball tackles/challenges.

Among Muslims, socks have initiated a discussion about the intricacies of wudhu, the formal washing carried out before prayer. Some Muslim clerics, mindful of possible hardship among Muslims in inhospitable circumstances, have issued Muslim edicts permitting practicing Muslims to wipe water over their sock or sprinkle their sock.  This would allow prayer where there are no seating facilities, or if there is a queue.

A sock is also used as a holiday item during Christmas. Children hang a large ceremonial sock called a Christmas stocking by a nail or hook on Christmas Eve, and then their parents fill it with small presents while the recipients are asleep. According to tradition, Santa Claus brings these presents.  (I hope your “sock” is filled to the top this year!)

So, now you know what to get me for Christmas!  🙂


We have a winner!


(top row  l to r) Heat Treat 2017 Kicked off in fine style. (row 2  l to r) The baby poster in the KHT booth;  Peggy supervising the booth set-up;  We do like things hot, especially chicken wings!  (row 3) Steve Kowalski (far right) at the dais, Heat Treating Society General Membership Meeting. (row 4) Steve Kowalski and the KHT team revved-up & manning the booth!  (bottom) The winning name for our new 10 Bar High Pressure Quench Vacuum Furnace was submitted by the very talented Susan Kerber of Material Interface!! Thanks so much for playing, Susan! 

Our thanks to everyone who stopped by the Kowalski Heat Treating booth at Heat Treat 2017 in Columbus.  We had a blast chatting with customers, meeting new friends and rubbing elbows with fellow heat treaters, suppliers, gear cutters and industry fans.  Our “Name Our New Baby Contest” drew over 150 entries, with the winning name HESTIA (Greek goddess of the hearth and fire), submitted by Susan Kerber of Material Interface.  The judges felt it was the perfect name for our beautiful fire baby born into the KHT family hearth, and we couldn’t agree more.  For those of you who are in need of some new capacity to handle your PIA jobs, making plans for 2018, or just in the mood to help us feed our new 10 Bar High Pressure Quench Vacuum Furnace, give Peggy a call at 216-631-4411 or 888-KHT-HEAT. We’re looking forward to bringing her home and growing the capacity of our exciting PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs! services.



“Honey, can you get the boxes from the attic”


Decorating the house inside and out is so much fun. Sharing in this season gives me a warm feeling, too. (and I do like warm) So whether you go all out or keep it manageable, be sure to enjoy your family, friends and maybe make a donation to folks & organizations who need our help.


Around my neighborhood, it starts slowly, sometimes before Thanksgiving.  We see decorations and lights pop up at different houses. Of course, the stores have been at it for months, and the need to decorate the house arrives.  With us, we always start after December 2nd no exceptions!  This is one of my daughter’s birthday – Our tradition is no decorations until after her B’Day.. Before the nasty weather really hits, I like to take my cue from Jackie, who sets aside some time, usually on the weekend, and asks ( innocently of course!) if I am going to get down the boxes and plan our decorating. (Subtle!)  Like you, I struggle untangling the lights in the garage, spreading them all over the floor, trying to see which strings of lights made it through to the next season.  In years gone by I would climb onto the garage roof, hang off the side and run the lights.   For whatever reason, I am no longer allowed to do that! Once safely done on the outside we move indoors and decorate.  Jackie is always amazing with her vision for the house – me not so much.  When we decorate the trees I have to now follow the rules,  although my ornaments still tend to be found in “special “ spots!  Once all of the decorating is complete there is nothing quite like sitting back enjoying a beautiful fire with a hot cup of my favorite beverage and plate of fresh baked Christmas cookies.

Here’s a little Christmas history and some fun facts to share with family and friends – thanks to Wikipedia and thehistoryofchristmas.com.

A Christmas decoration is any of several types of ornamentation used at Christmas time. The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Blue and white are often used to represent winter, or sometimes Hanukkah, which occurs around the same time. Gold and silver are also very common – this year metallic green and light blue, with silver is popular.

In many countries, such as Sweden, people start to set up their Advent and Christmas decorations on the first day of Advent. Liturgically, this is done in some parishes through a Hanging of the Greens ceremony.  In the Western Christian world, the two traditional days when Christmas decorations are removed are Twelfth Night and if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations.

The English-language phrase “Christmas tree” is first recorded in 1835 and represents an importation from the German language. The modern Christmas tree tradition, though, is believed to have begun in Germany in the 18th century though many argue that Martin Luther began the tradition in the 16th century. From Germany the custom was introduced to England, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the early reign of Queen Victoria. The influential 1840s image of the Queen’s decorated evergreen was republished in the U.S, and as the first widely circulated picture of a decorated Christmas tree in America, the custom there spread.

Popular Christmas plants include holly, mistletoe, ivy, poinsettias and Christmas trees. The interior of a home may be decorated with these plants, along with garlands and evergreen foliage. These often come with small ornaments tied to the delicate branches, and sometimes with a small light set.  Wreaths are made from real or artificial conifer branches, or sometimes other broadleaf evergreens or holly. Several types of evergreen or even deciduous branches may be used in the same wreath, along with pinecones and sprays of berries, and Christmas ornaments including jingle bells. A bow is usually used at the top or bottom, and an electric or unlit candle may be placed in the middle.

Christmas lights are often used, and they may be hung from door or windows, and sometimes walls, lampposts and light fixtures, or even statuary. In North and South America, Australia, and Europe, it is traditional to decorate the outside of houses with lights and sometimes with illuminated sleighs, snowmen, and other Christmas figures. Municipalities often sponsor decorations as well. Christmas banners may be hung from street lights and Christmas trees placed in the town square.

In the Western world, rolls of brightly colored paper with secular or religious motifs are manufactured for the purpose of giftwrapping presents. The display of Christmas villages has also become a tradition in many homes during this season. Other traditional decorations include bells, candles, candy canes, garland, stockings, wreaths, snow globes, and angels. Snow sheets are made specifically for simulating snow under a tree or village.

One of the most popular items of Christmas decorations are stockings. According to legend, Saint Nicolas would creep in through the chimney and slip gold into stockings hanging by the fireplace. Various forms of stockings are available; from simple velvet ones, to sock-shaped bags to animated ones.

In some places, Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down on Twelfth Night, the evening of January 5 or January 6. In Hispanic and other cultures, this is more like Christmas Eve, as the Three Wise Men bring gifts that night, and therefore decorations are left up longer. The same is true in Eastern Churches which often observe Christmas according to the Julian Calendar, thus making it fall 13 days later.

In England, it was customary to burn the decorations in the hearth, however this tradition has fallen out of favor as reusable and imperishable decorations made of plastics, wood, glass and metal became more popular. If a Yule Log has been kept alight since Christmas Day, it is put out and the ashes kept to include in the fire on the following Christmas Day.

A superstition exists which suggests that if decorations are kept up after Twelfth Night, they must be kept up until the following Twelfth Night, but also that if the decorations for the current Christmas are taken down before the New Year begins, bad luck shall befall the house for a whole year.

In the United States, most stores immediately remove decorations the day after Christmas, as if the holiday season were over once the gifts are bought. Nearly all Americans leave their home decorations up and lit until at least New Year’s Day, and inside decorations can often be seen in windows for several days afterward.

So, How Did We Get to Today … American Christmas History:

In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated.  in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings. By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia.

The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil. During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. In 1828, the New York city council instituted the city’s first police force in response to a Christmas riot. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.

Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended—in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

Before the Civil War, The North and South were divided on the issue of Christmas, as well as on the question of slavery. Many Northerners saw sin in the celebration of Christmas; to these people the celebration of Thanksgiving was more appropriate. But in the South, Christmas was an important part of the social season. Not surprisingly, the first three states to make Christmas a legal holiday were in the South: Alabama in 1836, Louisiana and Arkansas in 1838.

In the years after the Civil War, Christmas traditions spread across the country. Children’s books played an important role in spreading the customs of celebrating Christmas, especially the tradition of trimmed trees and gifts delivered by Santa Claus. Sunday school classes encouraged the celebration of Christmas.

Women’s magazines were also very important in suggesting ways to decorate for the holidays, as well as how to make these decorations.

By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, America eagerly decorated trees, caroled, baked, and shopped for the Christmas season.

Some interesting milestones include:

  • 1600’s: The Puritans made it illegal to mention St. Nicolas’ name. People were not allowed to exchange gifts, light a candle, or sing Christmas carols.
Dutch immigrants brought with them the legend of Sinter Klaas.
  • 1773: Santa first appeared in the media as St. A Claus.
  • 1804: The New York Historical Society was founded with St. Nicolas as its patron saint. Its members engaged in the Dutch practice of gift-giving at Christmas.
  • 1809: Washington Irving, writing under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, included Saint Nicolas in his book “A History of New York.” Nicolas is described as riding into town on a horse. Later, Irving, revised his book to include Nicolas riding over the trees in a wagon.
  • 1821: William Gilley printed a poem about “Santeclaus” who was dressed in fur and drove a sleigh drawn by a single reindeer.
  • 1822: Dentist Clement Clarke Moore is believed by many to have written a poem “An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicolas,” which became better known as “The Night before Christmas.” Santa is portrayed as an elf with a miniature sleigh equipped with eight reindeer which are named in the poem as Blitzem, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donder, Prancer, and Vixen. Others attribute the poem to a contemporary, Henry Livingston, Jr. Two have since been renamed Donner and Blitzen.
  • 1841: J.W. Parkinson, a Philadelphia merchant, hired a man to dress up in a “Criscringle” outfit and climb the chimney of his store.
  • 1863: Illustrator Thomas Nast created images of Santa for the Christmas editions of Harper’s Magazine. These continued through the 1890’s.
  • 1860s: President Abraham Lincoln asked Nast to create a drawing of Santa with some Union soldiers. This image of Santa supporting the enemy had a demoralizing influence on the Confederate army — an early example of psychological warfare.
  • 1897: Francis P Church, Editor of the New York Sun, wrote an editorial in response to a letter from an eight year-old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon. She had written the paper asking whether there really was a Santa Claus. It has become known as the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter.
  • 1920’s: The image of Santa had been standardized to portray a bearded, over-weight, jolly man dressed in a red suit with white trim.
  • 1931: Haddon Sundblom, illustrator for The Coca-Cola™ company drew a series of Santa images in their Christmas advertisements until 1964. The company holds the trademark for the Coca-Cola Santa design. Christmas ads including Santa continue today.
  • 1939 Copywriter Robert L. May of the Montgomery Ward Company created a poem about Rudolph, the ninth reindeer. May had been “often taunted as a child for being shy, small and slight.” He created an ostracized reindeer with a shiny red nose who became a hero one foggy Christmas eve. Santa was part-way through deliveries when the visibility started to degenerate. Santa added Rudolph to his team of reindeer to help illuminate the path and a copy of the poem was given free to Montgomery Ward customers.
  • 1949: Johnny Marks wrote the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Rudolph was relocated to the North Pole where he was initially rejected by the other reindeer who wouldn’t let him play in their reindeer games because of his strange looking nose. The song was recorded by Gene Autry and became his all-time best seller. Next to “White Christmas” it is the most popular song of all time.

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion. Popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.  Whatever your traditions include, let your decorating express yours and share the spirit of the season.




Catwalk Kowalski

(row by row starting at top left) Trends out of Paris starting with ELEVEN PARIS Men’s Black Padded Jacket. I like that dude’s t-shirt more; New business dress out of Paris; They’re predicting a splash of red; Not into red? Try orange; European football scarves in time for the 2018 World Cup in Russia; Hey, look! The 1970’s is sending us their track suits; Moss green comfy sweater. Hmm, I could wear that; Now this is my style! Button down shirt & jeans. Yea, even that buckle.  So, I have a question: Why is it that models look so mad? I mean, really. Don’t these people own a mirror? If you look that good, you don’t have any reason to be mad at anything. Ever.


We have just finished Thanksgiving and Black Friday is upon us. For those of you who “really” know me, you’ve probably figured out what a fashion animal I am. Just the other day, I was in the closet pushing my KHT “summer collection” aside, to reach for my KHT fall/winter wear.  Yep, you guessed it – long sleeve button down KHT shirt (check), khakis (check), blue (or red) sweater (check), blue (or “monkey” – this will be another blog  as I love fun socks!) socks (check), shoes Dad would wear (check), KHT windbreaker (check). Needless to say, when I got downstairs feeling all “hipster”, Jackie didn’t even notice any of my extravagance – (I went all urban with part of my shirt tail showing from under my sweater – I just forgot to tuck my shirt in).  So, to kick it up a notch, I decided to see what the latest fashion trends are for “us guys” this Fall/Winter.  I hit the internet, and realized seeing what is in this Fall, I “may” be a bit out of Vogue.  But surprisingly, some of what’s in the back of my closet may be coming back into style again. Below are just a few of my favorites – Enjoy!! (and thanks Vogue Paris for the insights).   Although I do want to thank Vogue Paris – I am really a button down and Jeans guy.  Look for me to discuss shoes in an upcoming post.  I have 5 wonderful women in my life and I actually have a decent working knowledge of shoes.  🙂

  1. Padded Jackets – (think bubble wrap) – If you only buy one piece, make it the new padded jacket, combining fashion craftsmanship with high-tech fabrics and flirting with new approaches to padding to create hybrid forms.
  2. Business Class – An undercurrent to this season’s shows, business dress is back, with a slightly sinister edge. Think Wall Street in 1985 and the glory days of Wall Street, with extra-large shirts and patterned satin neckties, worn a little long.
  3. Go Red – It’s never been as present on the runway, the color scarlet sketched the outline of an ardent new modernity that nevertheless respected the rule of elegance. It provided a burst of color that electrified the menswear wardrobe this season – (did someone say Buckeyes??).
  4. Orange Ya Glad? – If scarlet is not “you” try a blast of orange – the psychedelic comeback as clothes in a cocktail of colors were given a dose of vitamin C orange for sunny, street-ready style.
  5. GOOAALL! – Hands-down the accessory of the season has been the football scarf to style central since the collective’s early collections, with a logo fan scarf just in time for 2018’s Soccer World Cup in Russia
  6. Did you have one in the 70’s? – If anyone was wondering if fashion is becoming more street, the tracksuit’s return to the runway will be their answer. And as the MTV generation takes the reins at the biggest fashion houses, it won’t be long before we see their labels on the hip-hop scene.
  7. Green Moss – go ahead and get that new sweater – dark, lush green, thick and comfy is the answer – throw in some comfy pants and your all set for the weekend stroll.


And for the ladies – look for full length furs and retro hats, glitterati boots, western wear, 70’s plaid, leisure suits, big shoulders and fishnets – just to name a few trends.





There’s only one … Mom’s of course.

Thanksgiving Day = Turkey but this blog is all about Stuffing. (Oh, and a nod to jellied cranberries) Smells sooo great right out of the oven. Tastes sooo great, too. I’ve tried different recipes and I haven’t met a stuffing I haven’t loved. Stuffing left-overs are great on a sandwich, too. So, say your Thanksgiving grace and serve plenty of stuffing.


Thanksgiving is coming, and with it, one of my favorites – stuffing. Hot or cold, with gravy or without, snack or meal, it’s heaven. Remember stuffing is a wonderful breakfast food also. And I’m guessing, like you, there’s nothing quite like Mom’s. I was always responsible for the “stuffing” part!  Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Jackie’s recipe, filled with goodness and smothered with her fantastic gravy!  As far as I am concerned, Turkey – Stuffing and gravy along Jellied cranberries and I am a happy man!   I can still remember my first Thanksgiving with Jackie, as a new couple just starting out and the smell of her savory dressing filling the kitchen. Since I come from a relatively large family my perspective on how much stuffing and cranberry sauce needed was slightly different from Jackie’s.  Who doesn’t buy the cans of cranberries when they were 10 for $10?  You have to buy 10 correct?

For my history buffs, here’s some great info on stuffing.  And for my fellow foodies, some great recipes from around the country.  Cornbread or white bread?  Just the crust?  Store bought cubes, or sour dough?  Have fun and ENJOY!


Stuffing, filling, or dressing is an edible substance or mixture, often a starch, used to fill a cavity in another food item while cooking. Many foods may be stuffed, including eggs, poultry, seafood, mammals, fruits and vegetables.

Traditionally, turkey stuffing often consists of cornbread or dried bread, in the form of croutons, cubes or breadcrumbs, mixed with onion, celery, salt, pepper, and other spices and herbs such as summer savory, sage, or a mixture like poultry seasoning. Many families add sausage, raisins, cranberries, bacon, mushrooms, kale, apples and more.  Experimenting is fun and easy to get a great complimentary flavor profile.  Popular additions in the UK include giblets, dried fruits and nuts (notably apricots and flaked almonds) and chestnuts.

Many types of vegetables are also suitable for stuffing, after their seeds or flesh has been removed. Tomatoes, capsicums (sweet or hot peppers), vegetable marrows (e.g., zucchini) may be prepared in this way. Cabbages and similar vegetables can also be stuffed or wrapped around a filling. They are usually blanched first, to make their leaves more pliable. Then, the interior may be replaced by stuffing, or small amounts of stuffing may be inserted between the individual leaves.

Almost anything can serve as a stuffing or filler. Many popular Anglo-American stuffings contain bread or cereals, usually together with vegetables, herbs and spices, and eggs. Middle Eastern vegetable stuffings may be based on seasoned rice, on minced meat, or a combination thereof. Other stuffings may contain only vegetables and herbs. Some types of stuffing contain sausage meat, or forcemeat, while vegetarian stuffings sometimes contain tofu.

It is not known when stuffings were first used. The earliest documentary evidence is the Roman cookbook, Apicius De Re Coquinaria, which contains recipes for stuffed chicken, dormouse, hare, and pig. Most of the stuffings described consist of vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, and spelt (an old cereal), and frequently contain chopped liver, brains, and other animal parts.

Ancient Romans, as well as medieval chefs, cooked stuffed animals with other animals. An anonymous Andalusian cookbook from the 13th century includes a recipe for a ram stuffed with small birds. A similar recipe for a camel stuffed with sheep stuffed with bustards stuffed with carp stuffed with eggs is mentioned in T.C. Boyle’s book Water Music.  Today families enjoy “turducken” (turkey stuffed with a boned duck stuffed with a boned chicken)

Names for stuffing include “farce” (~1390), “stuffing” (1538), “forcemeat” (1688), and relatively more recently in the United States; “dressing” (1850).

Oysters are used in one traditional stuffing for Thanksgiving. These may also be combined with mashed potatoes, for a heavy stuffing. Fruits and dried fruits can be added to stuffing including apples, apricots, dried prunes, and raisins. (Although I have said I eat anything.. NOT THIS ONE!)

In addition to stuffing the body cavity of animals, including birds, fish, and mammals, various cuts of meat may be stuffed after they have been deboned or a pouch has been cut into them. Popular recipes include stuffed chicken legs or breasts, stuffed pork chops, stuffed breast of veal, fish, as well as the traditional holiday stuffed turkey or goose.

British celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has championed the ten-bird roast, calling it “one of the most spectacular and delicious roasts you can lay before your loved ones at Yuletide”. A large turkey is stuffed with a goose, duck, mallard, guinea fowl, chicken, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, and woodcock. The roast feeds approximately 30 people and, as well as the ten birds, includes stuffing made from two pounds of sausage meat and half a pound of streaky bacon, along with sage, and port and red wine.

American couples often have to reconcile competing stuffings as part of the ritual of bonding for the holidays. One Minneapolis woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid family discord, said she and her husband were so attached to their mothers’ stuffing recipes that they had to alternate years at each table. ”I hate my mother-in-law’s stuffing — she uses chestnuts — and when I have to go to her house, I always stop off at my Mother’s on the way home,” she said. ”She leaves a container of stuffing in the refrigerator for me, and I eat it in the car.”

The stuffing mixture may be cooked separately and served as a side dish. For turkeys, for instance, the USDA recommends cooking stuffing/dressing separately from the bird and not buying pre-stuffed birds. (Stuffing is never recommended for turkeys to be fried, grilled, microwaved, or smoked).

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that cooking animals with a body cavity filled with stuffing can present potential food safety issues. These can occur because when the meat reaches a safe temperature, the stuffing inside can still harbor bacteria (and if the meat is cooked until the stuffing reaches a safe temperature, the meat may be overcooked).


Ok, gather your ingredients 
and let’s make stuffing!



Time:  About an hour

½ c. margarine
5 large celery stalks
1 large onion
1 tsp. dried thyme
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. dried sage
1 can chicken broth
2 loaf sliced firm white bread
½ c. loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
(then have fun – raisins, cranberries, sausage, almonds, apples or chestnuts)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In 12-inch skillet, melt margarine or butter over medium heat. Add celery and onion, and cook 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in thyme, salt, pepper, sage, chicken broth, and 1/2 cup water; remove skillet from heat.
  3. Place bread cubes in very large bowl. Add celery mixture and parsley; toss to mix well.
  4. Spoon stuffing into 13-inch by 9-inch glass baking dish; cover with foil and bake 40 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Blend in dry or wet “fun” ingredients about half way through cooking (good to pre-cook sausage).


Time: About an hour 

6 1/2 ounces butter (13 tablespoons)
6 cups crumbled corn bread
6 cups torn crusty white bread, such as a baguette
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried sage (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper
6 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups turkey or chicken broth
2 dozen shucked small oysters, with their liquid (optional).

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Melt remaining butter. In a large bowl, combine corn bread, white bread, onion, celery, sage, salt and pepper to taste. Toss until well mixed. Add melted butter, eggs, cream and 1 1/2 cups broth. Toss in oysters, if using. Mix lightly but well; mixture should be very moist.
  2. Turn mixture into prepared dish. If mixture seems dry around edges, drizzle on remaining broth. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until firm and browned on top.
    Yield: 12 servings.


Time: About an hour

2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt
4 medium-size russet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 pound breakfast pork sausage meat, crumbled
2 cups cubes made from crusty white bread, such as a baguette, toasted
1 cup low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
Pepper to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons dried summer savory.

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Boil potatoes in salted water until just cooked through but still firm in center. When cool, cut into 1-inch dice. Set aside.
  3. Melt remaining butter and oil together in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery, and cook, stirring, until softened. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent browning.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high, add sausage and cook, stirring, using a wooden spoon to break up clumps. When sausage has browned slightly add potatoes, and continue cooking until they are incorporated and slightly browned. Add bread cubes, and mix.
  5. Add about half the broth, and mix. If needed, add more to soften bread cubes and to bind the stuffing together. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon summer savory. Taste, and add more savory if desired.
  6. Turn into buttered dish. If mixture seems dry, drizzle on remaining stock. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until firm and crusty. (The stuffing is even better if mixed in advance, kept refrigerated and baked just before serving.)
    Yield: 10 to 12 servings.







Please take a minute this weekend,

in your own way,

to pray for the men and women,

living and deceased,

who have served our wonderful country with valor,

honor and a relentless belief in the inherent freedoms

our country stands for.





“Steve, stop bothering your sister and finish your lima beans”

(top black & white photos) Thanks to the genius of Clarence Birdseye (my new hero) we can have fresh vegetables all year round.  (the rest of the images) Lima Beans: putting the suck in succotash since, well, I’d say the beginning of time.


Lima beans.  A tough vegetable. Growing up, I had my share of questionable veggies that I’d eat. But, in my family of 17 brothers and sisters, I have come to realize that we were foodies before it became fashionable. Dad and Mom were always “creating” eclectic dishes. So I ate, and learned to pretty much eat everything.  For all of you who know me, I love food with a few exceptions. Lima beans (they should be used as filler in bean bags only), maple frosting and sweet potatoes. Now other than that I am pretty much good to go with all kinds of food.  Now you see why my posts reference running!  This past weekend I was doing some shopping, I love shopping on Saturday mornings for the samples and wandered into the frozen food aisle.  I was amazed at all the things that are frozen – breakfast sandwiches, chicken, desserts, and Mexican foods.  And there it was – Birdseye brand. I grabbed my frozen corn, and headed home. My curious brain had me on the internet when I got home, and sure enough, I got reading about Clarence Frank Birdseye II, born Dec 1886, considered the founder of the frozen food industry.  Being a man crazed with temperatures, thermal processing, and PIA Jobs, I met a new hero (minus the lima beans).  Here’s some fun facts from Wikipedia – enjoy.

  1. Clarence Frank Birdseye II(December 9, 1886 – October 7, 1956) was an American inventor, entrepreneur, and naturalist, and is considered to be the founder of the modern frozen food
  2. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, the sixth of nine children of Clarence Frank Birdseye I and Ada Jane Underwood – (nine kids – he gets it – eat or go hungry).
  3. Birdseye attended Montclair High Schoolin New Jersey, and due to financial difficulties completed only two years at Amherst College, where his father and elder brother had earned degrees.  He subsequently moved west working for the United States Agriculture Department.
  4. Birdseye began his career as a taxidermist. He also worked in New Mexico and Arizona as an “assistant naturalist”, a job that involved killing off coyotes.  While in Montana, he captured several hundred small mammals, removing several thousand ticks for research, and isolated them as the cause of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  5. Birdseye’s next field assignment, was in Labradorin the Dominion of Newfoundland (now part of Canada), where he became further interested in food preservation.  He was taught by the Inuithow to ice fish under very thick ice. In -40 °C weather, he discovered that the fish he caught froze almost instantly, and, when thawed, tasted fresh. He recognized immediately that the frozen seafood sold in New York was of lower quality than the frozen fish of Labrador, and saw that applying this knowledge would be lucrative. (His journals from this period, which record these observations, are held in the Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College).
  6. Conventional freezing methods of the time were commonly done at higher temperatures, and thus the freezing occurred much more slowly, giving ice crystals more time to grow. It is now known that fast freezing produces smaller ice crystals, which cause less damage to the tissue structure. When ‘slow’ frozen foods thaw, cellular fluids leak from the ice crystal-damaged tissue, giving the resulting food a mushy or dry consistency upon preparation. Birdseye solved this problem.
  7. In 1922, Birdseye conducted fish-freezing experiments at the Clothel Refrigerating Company, and then established his own company, Birdseye Seafoods Inc., to freeze fish fillets with chilled air at -43 °C (-45 °F). In 1924, his company went bankrupt for lack of consumer interest in the product. That same year he developed an entirely new process for commercially viable quick-freezing: packing fish in cartons, then freezing the contents between two refrigerated surfaces under pressure. Birdseye created a new company, General Seafood Corporation, to promote this method.
  8. In 1925, his General Seafood Corporation moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where it employed Birdseye’s newest invention, the double belt freezer, in which cold brine chilled a pair of stainless steel belts carrying packaged fish, freezing the fish quickly. His invention was subsequently issued as US Patent #1,773,079, marking the beginning of today’s frozen foods industry. Birdseye took out patents on other machinery, which cooled even more quickly, so that only small ice crystals could form and cell membranes were not damaged. In 1927, he began to extend the process beyond fish to quick-freezing of meat, poultry, fruit, and vegetables.
  9. In 1929, Birdseye sold his company and patentsfor $22 million to Goldman Sachs and the Postum Company, which eventually became General Foods Corporation, and which founded the Birds Eye Frozen Food Company. Birdseye continued to work with the company, further developing frozen food technology.
  10. In 1930, the company began sales experiments in 18 retail stores around Springfield, Massachusetts, to test consumer acceptance of quick-frozen foods. The initial product line featured 26 items, including 18 cuts of frozen meat, spinach and peas, a variety of fruits and berries, blue point oysters, and fish fillets. Consumers liked the new products and today this is considered the birth of retail frozen foods. The “Birds Eye” name remains a leading frozen-food brand.
  11. On Nov 3, 1952, Birdseye officially sells its first official bag of frozen peas (likely much to the delight of my young mother – too bad they learned how to freeze lima beans.)
  12. In 2005, Birdseye was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
  13. Today, Birds Eyeis an American international brand of frozen foods owned by Pinnacle Foods in North America and by Nomad Foods in Europe.  Moms across America continue to give their kids lima beans – thanks Clarence!