Soup’s On!

Soups!  Enjoyed at any age and are as much fun to make as they are to eat.

With the flip of the calendar, it’s Fall – in all its glory.  Around here, that means brilliant outdoor colors, breaking out the sweaters, an extra blanket for chilly nights, and my favorite … soup! This means all kinds of soups!  It’s the time of year when we spend less time grilling and more time hovered over a steamy hot bowl of soup (crackers and cheese and lots of black pepper of course). Jackie has so many incredible recipes. With the help of the internet, I found this link at Ready, Set, Eat – and just listen to some of these names: slow cooker butternut squash & sausage, white bean and kale minestrone, wagon wheel turkey vegetable, southwestern creamy chicken, ramen noodle (brings back memories of younger days! and mushroom … oh yea – Now to be perfectly honest,  I will / would not be allowed to partake in some of the above soups…unless someone wants a temporary house guest!   Be sure to pick a few and give them a try – or better yet, if you have a family favorite, email it to me at skowalski@khtheat.com so I can enjoy as well.  Here’s a little soup trivia, some different soups from around the world and a yummy recipe.  Enjoy!!

  • Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC.  Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used. This method was also used to cook acorns and other plants.
  • The word soup comes from French soupe (“soup”, “broth”), which comes through Vulgar Latin suppa (“bread soaked in broth”) from a Germanic source, from which also comes the word “sop”, a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew.
  • The word restaurant (meaning “[something] restoring”) was first used in France in the 16th century, to refer to a highly concentrated, inexpensive soup, sold by street vendors, that was advertised as an antidote to physical exhaustion. In 1765, a Parisian entrepreneur opened a shop specializing in such soups. This prompted the use of the modern word restaurant for eating establishments.
  • In the US, the first colonial cookbook was published by William Parks in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, based on Eliza Smith’s The Complete Housewife; or Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, and it included several recipes for soups and bisques. A 1772 cookbook, The Frugal Housewife, contained an entire chapter on the topic.
  • English cooking dominated early colonial cooking; but as new immigrants arrived from other countries, other national soups gained popularity. In particular, German immigrants living in Pennsylvania were famous for their potato soups. In 1794, Jean Baptiste Gilbert Payplat dis Julien, a refugee from the French Revolution, opened an eating establishment in Boston called “The Restorator”, and became known as the “Prince of Soups”.
  • The first American cooking pamphlet dedicated to soup recipes was written in 1882 by Emma Ewing: Soups and Soup Making.
  • Portable soup was devised in the 18th century by boiling seasoned meat until a thick, resinous syrup was left that could be dried and stored for months at a time. Commercial soup became popular with the invention of canning in the 19th century, and today a great variety of canned and dried soups are on the market.
  • Doctor John T. Dorrance, a chemist with the Campbell Soup Company, invented condensed soup in 1897.  Canned soup can be condensed, in which case it is prepared by adding water (or sometimes milk), or it can be “ready-to-eat”, meaning that no additional liquid is needed before eating. Condensing soup allows soup to be packaged into a smaller can and sold at a lower price than other canned soups.
  • Today, Campbell’s Tomato (introduced in 1897), Cream of Mushroom, and Chicken Noodle (introduced in 1934) are three of the most popular soups in America. Americans consume approximately 2.5 billion bowls of these three soups alone each year.
  • In French cuisine, soup is often served before other dishes in a meal. In 1970, Richard Olney gave the place of the entrée in a French full menu: “A dinner that begins with a soup and runs through a fish course, an entrée, a sorbet, a roast, salad, cheese and dessert, and that may be accompanied by from three to six wines, presents a special problem of orchestration”.
  • “From soup to nuts” means “from beginning to end”, referring to the traditional position of soup as the first course in a multi-course meal. “In the soup” refers to being in a bad situation.  “Tag soup” is poorly coded HTML.

Test your knowledge – here are some of my favorites and some that I will be trying in the future:

  1. Chè– a Vietnamese cold dessert soup containing sugar and coconut milk, with many different varieties of other ingredients including taro, cassava, adzuki bean, mung bean, jackfruit, and durian
  2. Ginataan– a Filipino soup made from coconut milk, milk, fruits and tapioca pearls, served hot or cold
  3. Shiruko– a Japanese azuki bean soup
  4. Sawine– a soup made with milk, spices, parched vermicelli, almonds and dried fruits, served during the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr in Trinidad and Tobago
  5. Salmorejo– a thick variant of gazpacho originating from Andalusia
  6. Asopao– a rice soup very popular in Puerto Rico. When prepared with chicken, it is referred to as asopao de pollo
  7. Bánh canh– a Vietnamese udon noodle soup, popular variants include bánh canh cua (crab udon soup), bánh canh chả cá (fish cake udon soup)
  8. Bouillabaisse– a fish soup from Marseille, is also made in other Mediterranean regions; in Catalonia it is called bullebesa
  9. Cazuela– a Chilean soup of medium thick flavored stock obtained from cooking several kinds of meats and vegetables mixed together
  10. Clam chowder– is found in two major types, New England clam chowder, made with potatoes and cream, and Manhattan clam chowder, made with a tomato base
  11. Egg drop– a savory Chinese soup, is made by adding already-beaten eggs into boiling water or broth
  12. Egusi– a traditional soup from Nigeria, is made with vegetables, meat, fish, and balls of ground melon seed. It is often eaten with fufu
  13. Gumbo– a traditional Creole soup from the Southern United States. It is thickened with okra pods, roux and sometimes filé powder
  14. Kuy teav(Vi: hủ tiếu) – a Cambodian/Southern Vietnamese pork rice noodle soup, often in combination with shrimp, squid and other seafood, topped with fresh herbs and bean sprouts
  15. Kyselo– a traditional Bohemian (Krkonoše region) sour soup made from sourdough, mushrooms, cumin, potatoes and scrambled eggs
  16. Lagman– a tradition in Uzbekistan, is made with pasta, vegetables, ground lamb and numerous spices
  17. Mulligatawny– is an Anglo-Indian curried soup
  18. Nässelsoppa(nettle soup) – is made with stinging nettles, and traditionally eaten with hard boiled egg halves, is considered a spring delicacy in Sweden
  19. Nkatenkwan – a heavily spiced soup from Ghana based on groundnut with meat, most often chicken and vegetables added
  20. “Peasants’ soup”– a catch-all term for soup made by combining a diverse—and often eclectic—assortment of ingredients. Variations on peasants’ soup are popular in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Central Africa
  21. Scotch broth– is made from mutton or lamb, barley and root vegetables
  22. Snert(erwtensoep) – a thick pea soup, is eaten in the Netherlands as a winter dish, and is traditionally served with sliced sausage. (“Jackie – more snert please”)
  23. Soupe aux Pois Jaunes– a traditional Canadian pea soup that is made with yellow peas and often incorporates ham
  24. Svartsoppa– is a traditional Swedish soup, whose main ingredient is goose and, sometimes, pig’s blood, and is made in Skåne, the southernmost region of Sweden. The other ingredients typically include vinegar, port wine or cognac and spices such as cloves, ginger and allspice. The soup is served warm with boiled pieces of apple and plums, goose liver sausage and the boiled innards of the goose. (“Jackie – I’m good…no more goose innards…”)
  25. Tarhana– is from Persian cuisine and is made with fermented grains and yogurt
  26. Mirepoix– consists of carrot, onion and celery and is often used for soup stocks and soups

Savory Black Bean Pumpkin (A MUST TRY!)

  • 3 15 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1-2 cups chopped onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 4 cups organic chicken broth
  • 1 15oz. can of pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • Fresh cilantro and plain Greek yogurt for garnish
  • Saltines or favorite soup crackers

Drain 2 cans of black beans and pour into food processor along with tomatoes. Puree. Set aside.
Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir onions until softened.  Stir in bean puree, remaining can of beans, chicken broth, pumpkin puree, allspice, chili powder and cumin.  Mix until well blended, then simmer for about 25 minutes.  Serve hot, sprinkle with cilantro garnish, dollop of yogurt and crackers.

 

 


 

The Seasons They Are A Changin’

Who doesn’t love fall? It’s such a pretty time of year and there are so many things to do as you’ll see in the list below. Take in the stunning Tow Path, go apple picking, make caramel apples, take a fall drive, visit a farm, walk through a huge sunflower field, find a pumpkin patch or just stay home and have a blast in those colorful piles of leaves. Love it!!

Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite seasons – fall.  (here in NE Ohio I actually have four favorite seasons).  It’s when the air shifts, the temperature begins to slide, and the landscape explodes with vibrant colors of red, yellow and orange.  Read more

Autumn Splendor

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Sure leaves are pretty from afar but take some time to get real close. Nature is incredible, isn’t it?
Oh, and by-the-way, I have this incredible itch to flatten that dried leaf on top. But that’s just me.

Every autumn I marvel in the beauty of the fall colors. Whether I’m out for a morning run, raking and blowing leaves in the yard, or driving on county roads visiting some of my favorite customers, I just love this time of year.  And I’m sure like you, just when the sun hits the trees at the right angle, we get a sense of nature’s grandeur, and know just how lucky we are to live and work in northeast Ohio.  I remember back in grade school I learned about chlorophyll, but I thought I’d double check my knowledge, share with you and also give you a list of some great hiking trails in the area.  Before the weather gets really chilly, and the leaves drop, do yourself a favor, get outside and enjoy. And send me your photos, and I’ll post them on a future blog for us all to see – top three will get a KHT prize in the mail. (special thanks to weather.com and US National Arboretum usna.usda.gov).

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  • The mixture and variety of purple, red, orange, yellow and light green is the result of chemical processes that take place in the trees as we change over from summer to fall to winter.
  • During the spring and summer the leaves have served as factories where most of the foods necessary for the tree’s growth are manufactured. This food-making process takes place in the leaf in numerous cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color. This extraordinary chemical absorbs from sunlight the energy that is used in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch.
  • Along with the green pigment are yellow to orange pigments, carotenes and xanthophyll pigments which, for example, give the orange color to a carrot. Most of the year these colors are masked by greater amounts of green coloring.
  • But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.
  • At the same time other chemical changes may occur, which form additional colors through the development of red anthocyanin pigments. Some mixtures give rise to the reddish and purplish fall colors of trees such as dogwoods and sumacs, while others give the sugar maple its brilliant orange.
  • The autumn foliage of some trees show only yellow colors. Others, like many oaks, display mostly browns. All these colors are due to the mixing of varying amounts of the chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf during the fall season.
  • As the fall colors appear, other changes are taking place. At the point where the stem of the leaf is attached to the tree, a special layer of cells develops and gradually severs the tissues that support the leaf. At the same time, the tree seals the cut, so that when the leaf is finally blown off by the wind or falls from its own weight, it leaves behind a leaf scar.
  • The process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is actually a growth process. In late summer or early autumn, the days begin to get shorter, and nights are longer. Like most plants, deciduous trees and shrubs are rather sensitive to length of the dark period each day. When nights reach a threshold value and are long enough, the cells near the juncture of the leaf and the stem divide rapidly, but they do not expand. This abscission layer is a corky layer of cells that slowly begins to block transport of materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch. It also blocks the flow of minerals from the roots into the leaves. Because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at about the same time each year in a given location, whether temperatures are cooler or warmer than normal.
  • In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the plant begins to be
    blocked off, the production of chlorophyll slows and then stops. In a relatively short time
    period, the chlorophyll disappears completely.
  • Most of the broad-leaved trees in our area shed their leaves in the fall. However, the dead brown leaves of the oaks and a few other species may stay on the tree until growth starts again in the spring. In the South, where the winters are mild, some of the broad-leaved trees are evergreen; that is, the leaves stay on the trees during winter and keep their green color.
  • Most of the conifers – pines, spruces, firs, hemlocks, cedars, etc. – are evergreen in both the North and South. The needle, or scale-like leaves remain green or greenish the year round, and individual leaves may stay on for two to four or more years.
  • Temperature, light, and water supply have an influence on the degree and the duration of fall color. Low temperatures above freezing will favor anthocyanin formation producing bright reds in maples. However, early frost will weaken the brilliant red color. Rainy and/or overcast days tend to increase the intensity of fall colors. The best time to enjoy the autumn color would be on a clear, dry, and cool (not freezing) day.

 

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Here are some great spots to hike and photograph the colors:

  • Black River Reservation in Elyria has nearly 500,000 visitors each year. The paved Steel Mill Trail, about two miles long, crosses the Black River and French Creek. It also offers an array of stunning views of nature and the steel mill.
  • Chapin Forest Reservation in Kirtland has views of a historic quarry. The Lucky Stone Loop Trail is a difficult 1.5-mile hike, but at the highest point hikers can see all the way downtown.
  • Cleveland Metroparks’ Scenic Park Loop Trail is part of the Rocky River Reservation. The trail is 0.7 miles long and is mostly flat so even the most inexperienced hikers can enjoy the trail along the Rocky River.
  • Gorge Metro Park in Summit County is a 1.8-mile course ranging from easy to rigorous hiking. The trail has access to the Mary Campbell Cave and many rock formations. There is also access to two waterfalls and fishing docks.
  • Lake Erie Bluffs in Lake County. The Shoreline Trail goes along ¾ mile of protected shoreline, dotted with rocks, sand and driftwood and eagle sightings.
  • Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, owned by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, offers views of wetland plants and wildlife. The 1/3-mile Wake Robin Trail offers an up-close look from a boardwalk.
  • Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga County is more than 20-miles long and boasts hiking, biking, running and walking trails. Bikers have the opportunity to use the Bike Aboard Program. They can start at any point in the trail and bike one way and ride back on the train for $3, runners and hikers pay $9.
  • Princess Ledges Nature Preserve in Medina County is a good spot for seeing spring warblers, wildflowers, oak trees and tulip poplar trees. The moderate, mile-long Nature Trail leads to the half-mile Ledge Trail, which has views of the dramatic sandstone shoreline.
  • Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve is a 101-acre reservation in Geauga County. The Cattail Trail goes about 1 mile around the scenic Best Lake. Fishing platforms along the way allow hikers to take in waterfowl and other wildlife.
  • Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park (Portage County) – Three miles of hiking trails featuring unusual rock formations with names like Indian Pass and Old Maid’s Kitchen. Best for experienced hikers and adults.
  • Beaver Creek State Park (Columbiana County) – Sixteen miles of hiking trails and 23 miles of bridle trails that border on the gorge of Little Beaver Creek, a state wild and scenic river.
  • Findley State Park (Lorain County) – Ten miles of hiking and mountain biking trails (including part of the Buckeye Trail) that run through portions of a scenic old-growth forest.
  • Mohican State Park-Mohican Memorial State Forest (Ashland/Richland counties) – Thirty-seven miles of hiking trails, including some multiple-use trails, that slice rolling hills and the Clear Fork River Gorge, designated a National Natural Landmark.
  • Quail Hollow State Park (Stark County) – Twelve miles of hiking trails, including a one-mile paved path, are a good place for beginning hikers. This is one of the most picturesque urban parks in Ohio.
  • Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve (Richland County) – Three hiking trails meander through this 148-acre preserve, one of the oldest in the state. Some trees here are 100 to 200 years old.
  • Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve (Licking County) – Six trails of varying lengths including a 4 mile bike trail, cut this 970-acre preserve which lies on the Licking River Gorge.

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It’s “Chowda” Time

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On any fall day this month, if you are lucky enough, and in the right location (at the park, a church parking lot, or your own backyard), the air is filled with the aroma of the Atlantic Ocean – soft ‘n salty clams steaming in pots, alongside sweet potatoes, chicken, the last of the season’s corn and jugs filled with savory broth from the spigot, all waiting to be eaten and enjoyed. Around here, it’s Clambake time, and I love it.

Growing up, Dad loved to put on clam bakes for the family. My brothers and sisters would have contests on who could eat the most clams! I can only say I stopped counting once I hit the 6th dozen! The table would be piled high with the shells and there was nothing like the “chowda” that went along with it. As we have all grown up, a new tradition has been born, we try to get together annually for a clambake prior to Thanksgiving. This allows time for all of us siblings (and extended family) to reminisce and catch up at the same time. I can no longer hit the 6 dozen mark and that’s ok! The leftovers make wonderful chowder or sautéed in butter with a pinch of garlic! YUM

As you’d probably expect, clams, along with other shellfish such as oysters and mussels, have a worldwide audience. But because of peak clam sales here in September and October, Northeast Ohio is considered the fall clambake capital of the country. Churches, restaurants, fire departments, neighborhoods, veteran’s groups, cheerleaders, and families big and small all get into the act. According to the professionals who buy and sell clams, our area is a hotbed this time of year, according to John C. Young of Euclid Fish Co., a third generation fishmonger whose grandfather unloaded rail cars bearing iced-down barrels of clams from the shore. And Chesapeake Bay waterman Chad Ballard, the largest clam producer on the East Coast, agrees with all of them. We’re the top market in the fall for his product – not Chicago, Boston or New York, which have their clambake peaks in late summer. Say Ballard, “From our perspective, the volume is incredible. The northeast part of the country buys all year round, but in fall, no one comes close to NE Ohio.

Some attribute it to our origins as a kind of second Connecticut, since the “Western Reserve” lands in the northeast corner of Ohio were given to those veterans of the Revolutionary War. Others think it’s our mighty pre-election clambake ritual, when politicians use clams to lure constituents. And others think it’s just what’s needed before the chilly weather sets in for good. Here are some interesting facts:

  • While our love for the double-shelled food has held steady, clams themselves have changed. A growing number of them – 80 percent by some estimates – are now farm-raised. In a world where farm-raised seafood has a checkered reputation, clams stand out as not just a good thing, but also a necessary one.
  • Our appetite for oysters, once rivaled our love for clams. In the early 1900s, tens of thousands of gallons of oysters were consumed annually in Cleveland alone, including by families who cooked them at home.
  • The 1914 food section of The Plain Dealer was filled with reader suggestions on how to prepare them: In fritters, baked, sauced, wrapped in bacon, stuffed in a loaf, deviled, panned, scalloped, in soup and chowder, a pie, a hot cocktail. (“Hot” then meaning temperature, not spice.) “Inexhaustible seem the disguises of the festive oyster, to judge by the great variety of modes in which Women’s Exchange contributors serve the bivalve up,” read a story about a recipe contest.
  • Cleveland had restaurants devoted exclusively to shellfish menus. At a Cleveland shop called “The Ocean,” one story said, “oysters may be purchased by the barrel or hundred; bucket and count oysters by the hundred, quart or gallon.”
  • In an 1899 shucking contest downtown, the winners opened more than 50 oysters in about five minutes.
  • In 1900, the Fifth District Republican Club had its first clambake at its headquarters on Woodland Avenue. Recounted The Plain Dealer: “The bake was very successful in every way and about 200, who evidently brought their appetites with them, sat down to devour the festive clam and all that is good that goes with it.”
  • In 1906, the golden-era mayor Tom Johnson showed up with 1,200 others to the Buckeye Club’s Clambake at “Giesen’s Gardens on Pearl Street,” which raised money for band uniforms for their Cedar Point appearances.
  • Back in the day, most clams were harvested by hand rakes. Now, because of so many environmental changes, many of them are grown from egg. One-inch seedlings are sprinkled in the water and covered with netting to protect them from predators.
  • When full size, clams are gathered by hydraulic rakes and sometimes stored to help clean out grit. Wet storage also keeps inventories high and prices regulated.
  • The largest clam ever recorded was found in Okinawa in 1956, it weighed 750 pounds.
  • Hard shell clams can live to over 40 years if they can avoid humans, fish, starfish, crabs, birds and other predators.
  • In October 2007 a team of British marine biologists working north of Iceland dredged up what may have been the world’s oldest living animal–an Ocean Quahog clam from 250 feet deep turned out to be over 405 years old. Unfortunately, they realized the clams extreme age only after they had cut through its shell to count its growth rings.
  • Early French immigrants to Canada made a hearty soup called chaudree from salt pork and fish. (Chaudree derives from the Latin calderia ‘caldron’.) When chaudree crossed the Canadian border and moved down the eastern seaboard of the United States, “chowder” American style came into being. Maine, ever practical and plain, fostered a simple chowder using pure water, clams, salt pork, and of course, potatoes.
  • The dairy-rich state of Massachusetts chose to make its brand of chowder with milk, while Manhattan and Connecticut versions added tomatoes. Thus started the famous food controversy, still, if ever-to-be settled, as to whether chowder should be made with tomatoes.
  • According to the Father Willy, a clam veteran, “It’s a Cleveland thing – They just don’t do this everywhere.”

 

 


 

Spooky Insights from KHTHeat

 

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With Halloween this weekend, we thought we’d share some “tips and treats” we found online you can use to be the smartest goblin at the dinner table.

  • Halloween originated in Ireland over 2,000 years ago and is typically believed to be the birthplace of Halloween. Some historians believe it originated around 4000 B.C., which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years.
  • “Halloween” is short for “Hallows’ Eve” or “Hallows’ Evening.” In an effort to convert pagans, the Christian church decided that Hallowmas or All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2) should assimilate sacred pagan holidays that fell on or around October 31.
  • Halloween has been called All Hallows’ Eve, Witches Night, Lamswool, Snap-Apple Night, Nutcrack Night, Samhaim, and Summer’s End influenced by the ancient Roman festival Pomona, which celebrated the harvest goddess of the same name.  Many Halloween customs and games that feature apples (such as bobbing for apples) and nuts date from this time.
  • The first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips. The term jack-o’-lantern is in origin a term for the visual phenomenon ignis fatuus (lit., “foolish fire”) known as a will-o’-the-wisp in English folklore – uses “wisp” (a bundle of sticks or paper sometimes used as a torch) and the proper name “Will”: thus, “Will-of-the-torch.” The term jack-o’-lantern is of the same construction: “Jack of [the] lantern.”
  • According to Irish legend, Jack O’Lanterns are named after a stingy man named Jack who, because he tricked the devil several times, was forbidden entrance into both heaven and hell. He was condemned to wander the Earth, waving his lantern to lead people away from their paths.
  • The word “witch” comes from the Old English wicce, meaning “wise woman.” In fact, wiccan were highly respected people at one time. According to popular belief, witches held one of their two main meetings, or sabbats, on Halloween night.
  • A persistent fear of Halloween is called Samhnainophobia
  • The owl is a popular Halloween image. In Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches, and to hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.
  • The largest pumpkin ever measured was grown in 2014 by Beni Meier weighing 2323.7 pounds  recorded at the European Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Germany.
  • The Guinness world record “pumpkin chuckin” shot is held by a pneumatic cannon dubbed “Big 10 Inch” at 5,545.43 feet (1,690.25 m). Team American Chunker, captained by Brian Labrie of New Hampshire, launched his pumpkin 4,694.68 feet (1,430.94 m) on November 1, 2013, in Bridgeville, Delaware, the longest shot in US event history.
  • The fastest time to carve a pumpkin is 16.47 seconds achieved by Stephen Clarke (USA) on October 31, 2013. The jack-o’-lantern is required to have a complete face, including eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
  • Trick-or-treating evolved from the ancient Celtic tradition of putting out treats and food to placate spirits who roamed the streets at Samhain, a sacred festival that marked the end of the Celtic calendar year.
  • “Souling” is a medieval Christian precursor to modern-day trick-or-treating. On Hallowmas (November 1), the poor would go door-to-door offering prayers for the dead in exchange for soul cakes.  The first known mention of trick-or-treating in print in North America occurred in 1927 in Blackie, Alberta, Canada.
  • Black and orange are typically associated with Halloween. Orange is a symbol of strength and endurance and, along with brown and gold, stands for the harvest and autumn. Black is typically a symbol of death and darkness and acts as a reminder that Halloween once was a festival that marked the boundaries between life and death.
  • Cats and fires have a permanent place in Halloween folklore. During the ancient festival, bonfires were lit to ensure the sun would return after the long, hard winter. Often Druids were said to throw cats into a fire, often in wicker cages, as part of divination proceedings and also throw the bones of cattle into the flames and, hence, “bone fire” became “bonfire.
  • Scarecrows, a popular Halloween fixture, symbolize the ancient agricultural roots of the holiday.
  • Scottish girls believed they could see images of their future husband if they hung wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween. Other girls believed they would see their boyfriend’s faces if they looked into mirrors while walking downstairs at midnight on Halloween.
  • According to tradition, if a person wears his or her clothes inside out and then walks backwards on Halloween, he or she will see a witch at midnight.
  • Dressing up as ghouls and other spooks originated from the ancient Celtic tradition of townspeople disguising themselves as demons and spirits. The Celts believed that disguising themselves this way would allow them to escape the notice of the real spirits wandering the streets.
  • The average American will spend over $75 on Halloween totaling over $6 billion dollars.

 

 


 

Puttin’ the Squeeze On

Two blank facing pages from an old pamphlet. There is very old, yellowed tape on the binding which has been broken. The paper is water stained, torn and yellowing. The edges are rough and corners are dog-eared.

Without question, the best part about Fall is heading out into the country to enjoy all the changing colors and finding fresh apple cider. There’s something about cider (heated of course… and topped with mini marshmallows) that makes me smile. For fun, I thought I’d pass along some history of cider making in the U.S. I found on-line, thanks to Chris Lehault from Serious Eats.

According to Chris, America’s love affair with hard cider, and sweet cider, dates back to the first English settlers. Upon finding only inedible crabapples, the colonists requested apple seeds from England and began cultivating orchards and grafting wood to produce the proper apples for eating and cider. Since it was trickier to cultivate barley and other grains (for the production of beer), cider became the beverage of choice on the family dinner table – even the children drank Cinderkin, a weaker alcoholic beverage made from soaking apple pomace in water. By the turn of the eighteenth century, New England was producing over 300,000 gallons of cider a year.

As settlers moved west, they bought along their love for cider, with the help of John Chapman (better known as Johnny Appleseed). Chapman, actually a missionary, traveled west ahead of the settlers and grafted small, fenced in nurseries of cider apple trees in the Great Lakes Region and Ohio River Valley (many of the original trees are thought to still exist today). It was not uncommon then to find small cider orchards on homestead grounds. After spreading throughout the country, cider’s popularity waned at the turn of the century as eastern and German immigrants brought with them a preference for beer, and furthered diminished enjoyment by Prohibitionists who burned trees to the ground and the Volstead Act, which limited hard cider production.

Luckily today, cider can be found on the grocery store shelves, in farmers markets and at local roadside stands. The best is the pure kind – fresh squeezed apple juice cider, made by combining multiple apple types, and pressing out the juicy goodness.

Here’s my favorite recipe: Mix a whole bunch of apples, press out the juice, drink.

This weekend, get some cider, heat it up in the microwave, add in a little cinnamon, (and marshmallows) and enjoy the flavor of the season. And if you know of a good orchard where they still make cider the old fashioned way , shoot me an email at skowalski@khtheat.com and I’ll share with our readers.

 


 

Playoff Baseball & Mr. October.

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Reggie Jackson watches the flight of his third home run – on three pitches – against the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Photo: AP

 

As the days grow shorter, and the nights get cooler, I find myself turning to the post season and a keener interest in the MLB playoffs.  Now that my beloved Tribe has been eliminated, I as many others do,  think of exciting playoffs.   For me, a guy who would overcome so much, and at times had a “PIA Job” of his own – Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.  Although he is long retired now,  I have great memories growing up of crowds chanting “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie” as he stepped to the plate.  His uncanny ability to foul off pitches he didn’t like was amazing until he found one he could hit – and hit he did.  Here’s some history on Reggie’s early career (thanks, Wikipedia!) – few things I found amazing.

Hall of Famer – Reggie Jackson

  • played 21 seasons for five different teams (can you name them all?)
  • helped his teams win 11 divisional pennants, 7 league pennants and 4 World Series titles
  • remembered for hitting 3 consecutive at bat World Series home runs in ‘77
  • 563 home runs, 14 times an All-Star and multiple MVP awards
  • in High School, starred in football, baseball, basketball and track & field, breaking all sorts of records (.550 avg and several no-hitters)
  • also tore up his knee and broke 5 cervical vertebrae and told will not play sports ever again
  • a highly recruited football player, he decided on Arizona State College, as other schools did not regularly draft black athletes at the time
  • walking back to the dorms, while still in his football uniform, he stopped by the baseball field and asked the coach if he could try out – on the second pitch he saw, he hit a home run – and three more after that
  • first college player to hit a ball out of Phoenix Memorial Stadium
  • after being signed to a major league contract ($85,000) he played single A, double A and minor leagues before debuting in the majors in 1967.
  • For more information about “Mr. October”, visit his Wikipedia page and enjoy the playoffs as we get ready to another great World Series.

TRIVIA: Reggie had his number retired on two MLB teams – call me if you can name the teams and know the numbers.
BONUS: What was the food he’s famous for? (I always love these!)

 


 

The Super-Harvest-Blood Moon of 2015

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This montage of images taken by skywatcher Kieth Burns shows the Dec. 20, 2010 total lunar eclipse. The photos won a NASA contest to become an official NASA/JPL wallpaper for the public. Credit: NASA/JPL-via Kieth Burns

 

This weekend we’re all in for a treat. The fall Harvest Moon, appearing on Sunday night, will also be a Super Moon and a Blood Moon. Here is some info and trivia tips to help you be the astronomer at the office and at home.

What is a Harvest Moon? In traditional sky lore, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the 2015 autumnal equinox comes on September 23, so the September 28 full moon counts as the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon. This year’s Harvest Moon will present the closest and largest full moon of the year and stage a total eclipse of the moon on the night of September 27-28. No matter where you are on Earth, a brilliant full-looking moon ascends over your eastern horizon around the time of sunset on September 27. It climbs highest in the sky around the middle of the night, when the sun is below your feet. That’s because the moon lies opposite the sun in our sky at the vicinity of full moon showing us its fully lighted hemisphere, or “day” side. That’s what makes the moon look full.

What makes this moon a Supermoon? This year’s Harvest Moon qualifies as a supermoon because the moon turns full about one hour after reaching lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth for the month. If you live on a coastline, watch for this full moon to bring along wide-ranging spring tides along ocean coastlines for several days following full moon – high tides will climb extra high and the low tides will fall exceptionally low.

What makes this moon a Blood Moon eclipse? This September full moon is also called a Blood Moon, because it presents the fourth and final eclipse of a lunar tetrad: four straight total eclipses of the moon, spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart. The total lunar eclipse is visible from the most of North America and all of South America after sunset September 27. Here is the schedule using Eastern Daylight Time.

  • Partial umbral eclipse begins: 9:07 p.m. EDT on Sept. 27
  • Total eclipse begins: 10:11 p.m. EDT
  • Greatest eclipse: 10:47 p.m. EDT
  • Total eclipse ends: 11:23 p.m. EDT
  • Partial eclipse ends: 12:27 a.m. EDT on September 28

What does this “trifecta” moon event mean for us? Although there is great folklore about the effects of a full moon, you have little to worry about. Scientists have studied human behavior and found little correlation between a full moon and people acting crazy. Here at KHT, we have all kinds of experience with crazy, so we plan on enjoying it with our families and friends!

 


 

Floating Into Fall

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Seems like just yesterday I was hauling out the lawnmower and lawn furniture getting ready for summer.  And now the nights are cooler and the days are shorter.  As Fall arrives, I find myself yearning for some seasonal favorites.  Here’s my “bucket list” of ideas to share.

Catch A Late Season Tribe Game
Yet again the Tribe is scratching for a playoff position.  It’s a great time to go down to the ballpark and enjoy a game.  It helps me hang on to summer while I shout and pray for the home team – only five games out …. GO TRIBE!

Get Pumpkins In The Country
Growing up, I have great memories of riding out to the country after Sunday church.  Dad would load us all up, and off we’d go.  We each got to pick our own, and that was a great sight to see all of those pumpkins! Then I couldn’t wait until Halloween and carving time.

Go to a High School Football Game
Friday nights under the lights, sweaters and cool nights make for great times. My girls were active on the school dance team and the drum line – Even though they are no longer on the field, I still go, and shout for the home team.

Take a Hike in Woods
I’m a sucker for long walks in the woods – the harder the better.  Just getting off the pavement does something to the soul, and helps me reflect on all the blessings I’ve received.

Bring Home Some Farm Fresh Apple Cider
There’s nothing like fresh, cold cider for me.  I love the color, the taste and the goodies I have along with it.  Just makes me appreciate this part of the country we live in and the hard work of local farmers.

What’s on your Fall “to do” list??
Send me an email or give me a call – I’d love to hear your favorites.