Get Comfy

I love to eat. That’s an established fact. Set a plate of Comfort Food in front of me and you have a friend for life.  : )   But I’m amazed at how much food I can wear without even eating. Check out these wardrobe finds (left to right, top to bottom) They match the 20 yummy comfort food items listed below. 1)  Mac & Cheese  2)  Lazagna  3)  Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup  4)  Mashed potatoes  5)  Spaghetti & meatballs  6) Chef Boyardee  7)  Entenmann’s  8)  Pancakes 9)  Fried Chicken  10)  Chili and Saltines  11)  McDonald’s  12) Pie  13)  Ice cream  14)  Little powdered donuts  15)  Chinese food  16)  Sugar cookies  17)  Oreos  18)  All other cookies  19)  Chips and dip  20)  Couples PIZZA shirts!!

Like you, I never thought we’d be experiencing anything like the past few weeks.  God bless our President & VP, Health Experts, First Responders and ALL the brave health care workers for their amazing efforts.  With our personal “stay in place” requirements, (so far, we’re still open here at KHT and proudly processing your PIA (pain in the @%$) Jobs! During my time keeping an appropriate distance from my team, I thought of what I usually think of, and that’s FOOD!  Not just your run of the mill meals, (I’m lucky, as Jackie is an amazing cook, way better than me!) but rather that stuff that is not necessarily good for you “comfy food”.  You know, the stuff that just makes you feel good at every bite.  Now, the experts will tell us there’s nothing good in comfy food (too much of this, not enough of that) but my hat goes off to the scientists who have figured out how to trick our brains into eating the whole box/bag.  So, to be fair, along with your sensible diets, and routine exercise plans, and getting lots of sleep,  taking your vitamins AND WASHING YOUR HANDS … here’s a list of really FUN stuff to eat – so we can feel a little better about our situation.  I’m sure I missed a few favorites in my top 20, so be sure to call me or email with your additions to the list.  Thanks to buzzfeed and shape.com for the “sensible” recipes.

1. Macaroni and cheese from a box.  Hard to know why we love this so.  I can’t eat mine without a bit of Russian dressing.  How about you?  And, aside from the traditional curved noodle shape, what’s your second and third favorite – alphabet or cartoon shapes?

2. Frozen lasagna. Don’t even start with me. Stouffer’s gets that job done faster than I can even read a lasagna recipe from start to finish.  And I never can wait long enough for it to cool down.

3. Grilled cheese and Campbell’s tomato soup.  This one is a total “Mom memory” for me.  Steamy hot soup, gooey cheese, and multiple dunks. Although Jackie simply shakes her head,  I also add wonderful bread and butter pickles to the mix. Remember, grilled cheese should be cut with a knife and fork.  Oh, bring it on!

4. Mashed potatoes.  Doesn’t matter what the other sides are, just make a big well with the spoon, drop in butter or yummy gravy, and dig in. GIVE IT TO ME.

5. Spaghetti, red sauce and meatballs.  Two ways – all mixed together to get the yummy taste infused with the noodles or think sauce piled high on top (so I can taste some of the naked pasta) – a little cheese sprinkled on top, and fresh garlic toast (2 piece minimum) – STOP THE BUS!.

6. Chef Boyardee anything.  This one’s not at the top of my list – but for those who love ‘em, go for it.  The tiny meatballs are a hoot. – granted my favorite was always SpaghettiOs!

7. Entenmann’s Raspberry Danish twist.  Entenmann’s “anything” is usually good – hot cup of coffee, a little butter after 15 seconds in the microwave (like I need that too) and a knife – toughest part is when to stop.  When I’m tired of the sweet fruit fillings, I jump to coffee cake and crumb cake.

8. Pancakes. Any kind of pancakes. – Plain, blueberry, cinnamon are my top three (chocolate chip too) – and of course maple syrup – sticky, gooey, hot and sweet – side of eggs and bacon – leave me be!

9. Fried chicken. Plain, KFC, Popeye’s, freezer microwave, with gravy, as a snack, as a meal.  With biscuits and mashed taters.  Grilling is fine, but just nothin’ like fried chicken especially with KFC’s coleslaw!.

10. Chili with saltines.  This is a seasonal favorite, but on the list for sure.  I love ALL chili – hot, sweet, lots of beans, lots of meat, and of course LOT OF HEAT!  Little cheese and onions on top and I’m good to go.  Add a few Fritos and it’s to the moon and back!  Next time you have Chili, try adding a teaspoon of horseradish to your bowl, you will never be the same!

11. McDonald’s. (mostly the fries) We’re all alike – we see the arches, think “oh, not so good for me, then our taste buds kick in – “just some fries” will do, until we get to the window … Big Mac, two hamburgers, large fry, big Coke … “dessert with that” – ok, gone this far.  And how good is the ketchup with the fries – (you want some right now don’t you?)

12. Pie. Basically, all of the pies.  Apple rocks (warmed in microwave, then alongside vanilla ice cream) – but for me ANY pie is just fine.  And, of course I’ll have seconds – duh!

13.  Did I just say Ice Cream.  (this could be a blog post all its own) Vanilla – just the way God intended  with chocolate, bananas, nuts and don’t forget Maraschino cherries with a little juice does it – along with EVERY flavor invented by man – big scoops, small spoon, topping to pick from – heaven!

14. Those mini powdered doughnuts from the gas station.  Probably surprised you with this one. You know, the tiny white ones – can slam a sleeve in no time.  And if they are out, I can always grab one of those cinnamon circles – sticky and oh so good.

15. Chinese food from the mall or strip center.  Just the words “15 minute” over the phone gets me going – yes, of course I’m there 5 minutes early>>> not sure I’ve had a bad meal – hot, spicy, traditional – all good – and those deep-fried egg rolls should be outlawed!

16. Any frosted sugar cookie from the grocery store, seasonal or not seasonal.  You know the ones they put by the checkout in the clear plastic containers.  I think they actually talk when you approach – “please, take me home, I’m held hostage here at the store -save me”.

17. Oreos – Ok, I waited long enough – doesn’t’ matter the color, or thickness – bring ‘em on.  Dunked in milk of course, unless I’d rather twist and teeth scrape the white filling.  Question – is it ok to put the scrapped halves back together, and then milk dunk?

18. All other cookies on the planet.  Nuff said.  And where are those damn girl scouts with the thin mints – seems like an eternity since I placed my order.

19. Chips and dip.  This is almost illegal.  So many choices of chips to choose from – all good, even the weird spicy oddball flavors.  Cleveland’s own Lawson’s Chip Dip still number one – followed by all the other fat laden, over salted, saturated fat, likely toxic concoctions – can you say Frito SCOOPS!

20. PIZZA!  Saved it for last.  Not sure where it fits on the list – again, for me anything goes (except for those little fishy thingie’s – ew!)  Fat, thin, NY, Chicago, frozen, right from the oven or take out, I am very happy sliding down a few pieces – how about you?

I am now going for a long, long, long walk to get prepared!

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos. The next week there could be 15 logos. And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing. But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post. On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count. Just in the pictures area. Got it? Good.  :-))))  Have fun!!

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Ding Dong

It’s my favorite time of year! Girl Scout Cookie time. Time to stock-up. It’s for a good cause And they’re just plain GOOD!! You’ll see them at the grocery store, malls, and more. These kids seem to really have fun competing with other troops for prizes and funding for their projects, trips and patches for their vests and sashes. That third image from the bottom features some interesting patches, including the coveted Kowalski Heat Treating patch.  

It’s so seldom these days that the doorbell rings at the house.  When it does, I’m wondering if my latest on line purchase has arrived or if it’s someone canvasing the neighborhood for the latest social injustice signature or a young person selling a different cable provider.  I was quite surprised recently, and delighted, when I opened the door and found two adorable Girl Scouts, in uniform, politely asking me if I’d like to buy some cookies. (Let’s be honest, how can I possibly say no… given my love for food and love for cookies) Inside I had to laugh – “you’re asking “me” if I’d like some delicious food?  I of course said “sure”, followed by completing my name and address … but then the tough part – which ones to buy???  Do si dos. Peanut butter, Chocolate, Shortbread, Thin Mints (yep, I dance when I eat these – my favorites next to the peanut butter ones!)  I would love to tell you that I just said “give me one of each please”, but it doesn’t work that way for me.  After too many picks, I unloaded my wallet and thanked the girls for their efforts, as their bright eyes and smiles brought instant flashback to when my girls were in Brownies. My girls would go out and canvas the neighborhood and after coming home they would compare their results – from there they would then call their various aunts and uncles of which there are many! They soon learned that the uncles invariably bought more!  I sat back in my chair to reflect on such a wonderful tradition.  So, I jumped online and found some history on the Girl Scout cookies, recipes, and a few fun facts.  For more than 100 years, Girl Scouts and their enthusiastic supporters have helped ensure the success of the iconic annual cookie sale—filled with challenge and fun while developing valuable life skills and making their communities a better place every step of the way.  Enjoy!  And thanks to girlscouts.org for the info.

– Girl Scout Cookies had their earliest beginnings in 1910 in the kitchens and ovens of girl members, with moms volunteering as technical advisers, preserving fruits and vegetables in response to food shortages The sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities beginning as early as 1917, five years after Juliette Gordon Low started Girl Scouts in the United States, when the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma, baked cookies and sold them in its high school cafeteria as a service project.

– In July 1922, The American Girl magazine, published by Girl Scouts of the USA, featured an article by Florence E. Neil, a local director in Chicago, Illinois. Miss Neil provided a cookie recipe that had been given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen.  Throughout the decade, Girl Scouts in different parts of the country continued to bake their own simple sugar cookies with their mothers and with help from the community. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.  Check out the Original Girl Scout Cookie Recipe from 1922 HERE.

– In 1933, Girl Scouts of Greater Philadelphia Council baked cookies and sold them in the city’s gas and electric company windows. The price was just 23 cents per box of 44 cookies, or six boxes for $1.24! Girls developed their marketing and business skills and raised funds for their local Girl Scout council. A year later, Greater Philadelphia took cookie sales to the next level, becoming the first council to sell commercially baked cookies in a box.  In 1935, the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York raised money through the sale of commercially baked cookies. Buying its own die in the shape of a trefoil, the group used the words “Girl Scout Cookies” on the box. In 1936, the national Girl Scout organization began the process of licensing the first commercial bakers to produce cookies that would be sold nationwide by girls in Girl Scout councils.  By 1937, more than 125 Girl Scout councils reported holding cookie sales.

– In the 40’s, Girl Scout Cookies were sold by local councils around the country until World War II, when sugar, flour, and butter shortages led Girl Scouts to pivot, selling the first Girl Scout calendars in 1944 as an alternative to raise money for activities.  After the war, cookie sales increased, and by 1948, a total of 29 bakers were licensed to bake Girl Scout Cookies.

– In 1951, Girl Scout Cookies came in three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread, and Chocolate Mints. With the advent of the suburbs, girls at tables in shopping malls began selling Girl Scout Cookies.  Five years later, flavors had evolved. Girl Scouts sold four basic types of cookies: a vanilla-based filled cookie, a chocolate-based filled one, shortbread, and a chocolate mint.

– During the 1960s, when Baby Boomers expanded Girl Scout membership, cookie sales increased significantly. Fourteen licensed bakers were mixing batter for thousands upon thousands of Girl Scout Cookies annually. And those bakers began wrapping Girl Scout Cookie boxes in printed aluminum foil or cellophane to protect the cookies and preserve their freshness.  By 1966, a number of varieties were available. Among the best sellers were Chocolate Mint (now known as Thin Mints), Shortbread, and Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies.

– In 1978, the number of bakers was streamlined to four to ensure lower prices and uniform quality, packaging, and distribution. For the first time in history, all cookie boxes—regardless of the baker—featured the same designs and depicted scenes of Girl Scouts in action, including hiking and canoeing. And in 1979, the brand-new, Saul Bass–created Girl Scout logo appeared on cookie boxes, which became even more creative and began promoting the benefits of Girl Scouting.

– In 1982, four bakers still produced a maximum of seven varieties of cookies—three mandatory (Thin Mint®, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos®, and Shortbread/Trefoils®) and four optional. Cookie boxes continued to depict scenes of Girl Scouts in action.

– In the early 1990’s two licensed bakers supplied local Girl Scout councils with cookies for girls to sell, and by 1998, this number had grown again to three. Eight cookie varieties were available, including low-fat and sugar-free selections.

– Early in the twenty-first century, every Girl Scout Cookie had a mission. New cookie box designs, introduced in fall of 2000, were bold and bright, capturing the spirit of Girl Scouting. Two licensed bakers produced a maximum of eight varieties, including three that were mandatory (Thin Mints®, Peanut Butter Sandwich/Do-si-dos®, and Shortbread/Trefoils®). All cookies were kosher. And, much to the excitement of our youngest Girl Scouts, Daisies started selling cookies!

– With the announcement of National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend and the introduction of the very first gluten-free Girl Scout Cookie, the decade was off to a big start.

– Ever since Girl Scouts first published the recipe for s’mores in 1925, the tasty campfire treat has been an iconic part of camping in the outdoors. In 2017, s’mores became the inspiration for a highly popular new cookie variety.  Who can forget the amazing moment in 2016 when Girl Scouts took the stage at the Academy Awards to sell cookies to Hollywood’s A-list? It was a stellar beginning to the nationwide celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouts selling cookies.

– In 2020, the already iconic cookies reached a new level of awesome with incredible, brand-new packaging that puts goal-crushing Girl Scout Cookie entrepreneurs front and center and also showcases all of the amazing things girls learn and do through the Girl Scout Cookie Program and as Girl Scouts.

– It’s estimated annual cookie sales now reach over $750 million per year.  In 2011, thin mints account for $175 million of the profits. It could be the glorious mix between chocolate and mint, or maybe it’s because they have the most cookies per box. The next popular cookies, in order of profitability, are Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos and Savannahs and Trefoils.

Find your favorite recipe HERE.

And watch a little “Doorbell Comedy” HERE!!!

 

 

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DO YOU LIKE CONTESTS?
Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos. The next week there could be 15 logos. And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing. But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post. On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count. Just in the pictures area. Got it? Good.  :-))))  Have fun!!

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Run, Run, As Fast As You Can – You Can’t Catch Me, I’m the ____!

 

What to listen to while you’re reading this week’s post:

  1. The Gingerbread Man, A Song for Children
  2. Gingerbread Man by Melanie Martinez – (Official Audio)
  3. The Gingerbread Man Song (From a scratchy 78 rpm record.)

 

Now that Thanksgiving is over, (and you’ve eaten the last piece of leftover pie, turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce et.), and you survived Black Friday and Cyberweek, it’s time to turn our attention to more goodies – Christmas cookies.  Now I do have a few (actually many) favorites, but for me nothing says “the holidays are here” quite like gingerbread and gingerbread cookies – (ok, I’ll admit it – I love almost all the cookies!!).  There’s something special about the aroma filling the house of gingerbread cooking in the oven.  Occasionally Jackie tolerates my decorating expertise, but only for a little while, and then it goes back to the female masters in my life. I am normally able to decorate a single cookie!  Someday I will share my special cookie decorating talent.  I did some digging, and found this great PBS article, (special thanks to ToniAvey.com) along with some tidbits found on the internet.  Enjoy, and be sure to try the recipe below (and then box some up and send them to me at KHT HQ). My team is always willing to try new things!

 

  • No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread.
  •  In Medieval England, the term gingerbread simply meant preserved ginger and wasn’t applied to the desserts we are familiar with until the 15th century. The term is now broadly used to describe any type of sweet treat that combines ginger with honey, treacle or molasses.
  •  Ginger root was first cultivated in ancient China, where it was commonly used as a medical treatment. From there it spread to Europe via the Silk Road. During the Middle Ages it was favored as a spice for its ability to disguise the taste of preserved meats. Henry VIII is said to have used a ginger concoction in hopes of building a resistance to the plague. Even today we use ginger as an effective remedy for nausea and other stomach ailments. In Sanskrit the root was known as srigavera, which translates to “root shaped like a horn” a fitting name for ginger’s unusual appearance.
  •  According to Rhonda Massingham Hart’s Making Gingerbread Houses, the first known recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. Chinese recipes were developed during the 10th century and by the late Middle Ages, Europeans had their own version of gingerbread. The hard cookies, sometimes gilded with gold leaf and shaped like animals, kings and queens, were a staple at Medieval fairs in England, France, Holland and Germany.
  •  Queen Elizabeth I is credited with the idea of decorating the cookies in this fashion, after she had some made to resemble the dignitaries visiting her court. Over time some of these festivals came to be known as Gingerbread Fairs, and the gingerbread cookies served there were known as ‘fairings’.  The shapes of the gingerbread changed with the season, including flowers in the spring and birds in the fall.
  •  Elaborately decorated gingerbread became synonymous with all things fancy and elegant in England. The gold leaf that was often used to decorate gingerbread cookies led to the popular expression “to take the gilt off of gingerbread.”  The carved, white architectural details found on many colonial American seaside homes is sometimes referred to as gingerbread work.
  •  Gingerbread houses originated in Germany during the 16th century. The elaborate cookie-walled houses, decorated with foil in addition to gold leaf, became associated with Christmas tradition. Their popularity rose when the Brothers Grimm wrote the story of Hansel and Gretel, in which the main characters stumble upon a house made entirely of treats deep in the forest. It is unclear whether or not gingerbread houses were a result of the popular fairy tale, or vice versa.
  • Most gingerbread men share a roughly humanoid shape, with stubby feet and no fingers. Many gingerbread men have a face, though whether the features are indentations within the face itself or other candies stuck on with icing or chocolate varies from recipe to recipe. Other decorations are common; hair, shirt cuffs, and shoes are sometimes applied, but by far the most popular decoration is shirt buttons, which are traditionally represented by gum drops, icing, or raisins.
  • According to the Guinness Book of Records, the world’s largest gingerbread man was made by the staff of the IKEA Furuset store in Oslo, Norway, on 9 November 2009. The gingerbread man weighed 1,435.2 pounds. See it HERE.
  •  The newest “largest” winning gingerbread house, spanning nearly 40,000 cubic feet, was erected at Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas. The house required a building permit and was built much like a traditional house. 4,000 gingerbread bricks were used during its construction. To put that in perspective, a recipe for a house this size would include 1,800 pounds of butter and 1,080 ounces of ground ginger. Sounds more like a gingerbread resort! See it HERE.
  •  Gingerbread arrived in the New World with English colonists. The cookies were sometimes used to sway Virginia voters to favor one candidate over another. The first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, has recipes for three types of gingerbread including the soft variety baked in loaves.
  •  This softer version of gingerbread was more common in America. George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, served her recipe for gingerbread to the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited her Fredericksburg, Virginia home. Since then it was known as Gingerbread Lafayette. The confection was passed down through generations of Washington’s.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
You will need: medium saucepan, large mixing bowl, sifter, wax or parchment paper, rolling pin, cookie cutter(s) of your choice, baking sheet, nonstick cooking spray or silicone baking sheet.

  • ¾ cup unsulphured molasses
  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 ½ cups flour, plus more for rolling surface
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Royal icing (optional)
  • Sprinkles, cinnamon candies, or any other decorations of your choice (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat the molasses to the simmering point. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts. Stir in the brown sugar. Allow to cool.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ginger and cinnamon. Add the cooled molasses and the egg to the flour mixture and mix very well until a dough forms. You may need to use your hands to really incorporate the wet mixture into the dry mixture.  Wrap dough in wax or parchment paper and chill for 1-2 hours, or until firm enough to roll.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Transfer chilled dough to a lightly floured rolling surface and roll out the dough to one-quarter inch thickness. Roll out a quarter of the dough at a time.  Cut cookies with your choice of cookie cutter. I chose a traditional gingerbread man, but you can get creative with any kind of cookie cutter you’d like.  Transfer cut dough to a baking sheet that has been lightly greased with nonstick cooking spray or lined with a silicone baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will puff up but won’t spread much.  Cool completely on a rack before decorating with royal icing, decorative sprinkles and candies.

 

 


 

Pass the Ketchup Please

Why do I looooove fast food? Well, it’s fast…and it’s FOOD!

 

We have all been there. That little voice in our heads that says “I’ve been good” then says “yes, it’s ok” and then shouts “go now”. Experts call it a craving.  Some says it’s just being human.  Toss aside the logic, the calories, the balanced meal – and throw in the pleasure, the convenience, and THE TASTE – and you have it – fast food.  Surely an American creation.  Triggered by the age of the automobile and the explosion of nearby retail.  We’ve become a nation quite comfortable with these little indulgences. We know it’s not really that good for us – but we enjoy it just the same.  Favorites are local, and regional and national, often driven by the fries that accompany the burger/sandwich/dog/patty.  Experimentation is part of the industry – spicy cheese, wheat buns, fresh ingredients, tasty sauces, eggs all day, tacos, Chicken, late night drive thrus, “have it your way”, supersize me, toys in the bag, 1/3 and ½ pounders, chili, add a desert, nuggets, shakes, McRib (eew) … the list goes on (just how many times can you recreate a taco), meatless burgers and chicken, cheese fries, and who “has the meats” these days?  I came across this article recently in Food & Wine and just had to share – America’s favorites, by state. (Although their pick for Ohio is suspect. I’d have put Hanini Marathon & Burrito Crazy, 5300 Superior Ave on the list for Ohio.) Here are just some of my favorites – enjoy!  (be sure to read them all – wow!)  I’m heading out to get some fries…

Alaska– The outdoor deck with its line of tables overlooking Campbell Creek is the perfect perch for a summer date with one of the best fast food menus in Anchorage, not to mention the entire state, offered since the 1960’s, back before Alaskans had access to many of the national chains they take for granted today. Keep it local with salmon and halibut burgers, served on paper plates, with a giant pile of thick-cut fries on the side. Come cooler weather, which will arrive soon enough, move the action inside, next to the fireplace, where it’s always milkshake weather. (Arctic Roadrunner)
Hawaii– Name the island favorite, and chances are you’ll find it on the menu at this pan-Hawaiian chain of restaurants that’s been a staple of local life for generations. Spam musubi snacks, loco moco for breakfast, plate lunches, all kinds of delicious things from the in-house Napoleon Bakery—saying that Zippy’s will spoil you is a stretch, but it’ll get you fed, happily so, day or night, and you’ll wish you could take one home with you. (Just put it in your nearest Denny’s. The townspeople will greet you as a liberator.) (Zippys)
Kansas– Wichita’s accomplishments are vast and varied, but one of the most interesting things the city has done over the years is give rise to—and then sustain—three very different, all quite successful burger chains. There’s Nu-Way, a historic chainlet where you feel as if you’ve slipped back in time, at least by forty, fifty years, and then there’s Freddy’s, now well-known across the country for smashburgers and frozen custard. Most people like Freddy’s, and it’s easy to understand why others are nostalgic for Nu-Way. But Spangles? Spangles is weird, man, in a good way, honestly, but when you roll up to one of its thirty-ish locations, some of them looking like gargantuan juke boxes gone missing from a garish, vaguely seamy ’50s diner, it can take a few minutes to sort out just exactly what is going on. There are pancakes for breakfast, go cups overfilled with eggs and sausage and hash browns and sausage gravy, there are people eating 1/3 pound burgers at eight o’clock in the morning. Don’t fight Spangles. Spangles is amazing. You’ll be back. (Spangles)
Louisiana – Sometimes, keeping things ridiculously simple is the key—for a good few years now, this Baton Rouge-based favorite has resisted to the urge to grow their menu, offering chicken tenders, crinkle-cut fries, crispy cold coleslaw with little bits of purple cabbage for color, hunks of garlic-buttered Texas toast and sides of freshly-made remoulade, #Louisiana, and little else. That’s easy—the food is really good, almost identical to what it was in the very beginning. Match that with a service culture that only appears to have improved with time, and you’ve got a winning formula. (Raising Cane’s)
Missouri– We’ll get to those classic roast beef sandwiches, some of the best you’ll find at a fast food joint, and to the little dispensers sitting on the counter labeled “Au Jus,” from which you may allow yourself just as much as you like, turning that sandwich into a French dip, for all you care. (Don’t forget the horseradish.) For starters, though, can we talk about the ice cream? Being St. Louis, where they know from these things, it’s more like frozen custard, thick and creamy, and it’s being sold for pennies. Seriously, a regular sized cone, which back in the old days would have been considered enough ice cream in one sitting, costs just fifty cents.(Lion’s Choice)
Nebraska– Doesn’t all the world need a casual counter joint where you can rock up for a cheap and delicious burger and fries, accompanied by a 99 cent margarita (all day, every day) or an also very affordable beer of your choice, after a sorely trying 9 to 5? With locations around the area vibing part vintage drive-in, part roadhouse, zero pretense, all fun, this curious, dated delight is perhaps most famous for its dedication to keeping one of Nebraska’s most essential culinary traditions alive—that is, of course, the deep-fried grilled cheese sandwich. Known around these parts as a cheese frenchee, perhaps in reference to its passing resemblance to the croque monsieur, the thing is batter coated and deep fried, and the results are exactly what you might expect them to be—perfection. (Don & Millie’s)
Pennsylvania– Try the best, which is not only a gas station and a convenience store, it’s also the most popular destination for a quick and affordable bite for generations of hard working people in the southeastern part of the state, and increasingly, beyond. The love for Wawa is centered around three, very key aspects of the experience—there are those hoagies, from a tasty Italian to a not-half-bad cheese steak, all for a few bucks. Then there’s the coffee—no convenience store comes close; their limited edition Wawa Reserve program brings in some surprising single-origin coffees from around the world.  And have we talked about the breakfast sandwiches, the soft pretzels, the iced teas, the ice cream, and the nearly limitless TastyKake reserves? We have now. (Wawa)
Wyoming– Growing from one small stand in Cheyenne in the late 1960’s to become a Mountain Time powerhouse in almost no time at all, there are still communities across Wyoming, Montana and The Dakotas where nobody has ever been to a Taco Bell, and why would they. The home of the Potato Olé (a spiced hash brown round, the foundation on which the Taco John’s menu is built) and the Crispy Taco (shells are fried in-house, every day) is imbued with a real sense of place—the old “West-Mex” slogan, which doesn’t seem to be quite so widely used today, remains seriously apt. (Taco John’s)

 

BONUS VIDEO: 
How I LOST weight by ONLY eating FAST FOOD (EASY!)

 

 

 


 

Red, White and Brew!

 

Next week we’ll all be celebrating our nation’s annual freedom day – July 4th.  A time for family, friends, fireworks and fun.  For me, its tough to realize we’re already at this early summer milestone – (I still have not put away the snow shovels…. Just never know in Clevelburg).  Of course, my FAVORITE part of the Fourth is the FOOD!  I have so many favorites, and I work really hard to get them all in – dogs, burgers, grilled chicken, homemade potato salad, pasta salad, watermelon, deviled eggs – I can go on.  So, with a bunch of days until the fourth, I decided to put together “Steve’s Fun Fourth of July Menu” you can choose from, and still hae time to run out and get the ingredients.  Now, to be honest, if I listed all my favorites, you’d be reading a LONG time – enjoy the recipes, and more importantly, enjoy the 4th. Tons of thanks to countryliving.com for these killer recipes – log on to get the recipe specific slides and ingredient details here:  https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g3380/4th-of-july-recipes/?slide=1 and some beer pairing tips from our friends at www.tasteessence.com.

 


Fresh Corn Cobettes With Basil Butter
With a zesty cayenne pepper seasoning, these little cobs of fresh corn pack a flavorful punch.  Try grilling them for awesome flavor.


Chive Potato Salad
You can never go wrong with potato salad at any cookout but expect this mayo-free version to run out faster than you can flip more hamburgers on the grill.


Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta Salad
Make this easy summer salad your go-to on the 4th of July, featuring a mouthwatering blend of sweet and savory.


Bourbon BBQ Glazed Pork Chops
The secret to this mouthwatering delight lies in the homemade bourbon-infused barbecue sauce. I like mine nice and crispy.


Grilled Hotdogs with Fixin’s
Take your cookout to the next level by topping the summer staple with one of these unexpected ideas. I love hot sauce, stadium mustard, and crisp dill pickle.


Charred Corn Salad
A sprinkling of red onion and a red chili give this smoky corn side some serious bite.  It goes good with just about anything, especially chilled iced tea.


Mini Stars Berry Pies
Top these tiny desserts—filled with raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries—with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I can eat a whole bunch of these rascals.


Bacon Sriracha Potato Salad 
Spice up your classic potato salad recipe with crowd favorites, like bacon and sriracha chili sauce. I should put “not fair” after this one – impossible to eat a little bit!


BBQ Chicken 
What makes this barbecue chicken so delicious is the Italian seasoning and basil that gives it an extra punch of flavor.  Load up on these drumsticks.


Sweet Heat Cheerwine Baby Back Ribs
Smothered on grilled baby back ribs, this Cheerwine glaze is finger-lickin’ good. Better stock up on the napkins – and crank up the HEAT to match your tastebuds.


Aloha Barbecue Sliders
Treat your guests to a sweet and salty treat with mini beef burgers made with pieces of pineapple, Swiss cheese and bacon.  As in – “slide a few of these on to my plate please”


Grilled Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers
Stuffed with cream cheese, sour cream, cilantro and lime, these are melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Hard for these to make it from the grill to the kitchen…somehow a few disappear!


Chickpea Baked Beans with Barbecue Bacon Hummus 
Chickpeas and black beans are tasty on their own. Pair them with barbecue bacon hummus, and you’ve got a dish you’ll crave all year long.  Love this twist on baked bean favorite.


Apple Cranberry and Almond Coleslaw
This summer slaw offers the perfect crunch to top off all of your barbecue favorites.  Sweet, tasty, and great with just about anything.


BONUS!  Here is a nice beer pairing recipe guide https://tastessence.com/beers-that-go-well-with-bbq-grilled-foodyou can use as well.  If you find something that work (be sure to experiment but don’t over do it), shoot me an email at skowalski@khtheat.com.

 

 

Cravings

Mmmmmm, comfort foods….

 

OK, so we’re done talking about the cold weather, right? (last time I checked, it’s what happens about this time of year in these parts of the country). With that being said, -35F with wind chill is still flipping cold! To help us all deal with it a little better, I decided to write about some of my “feel better/warmer” cravings – those yummy foods I eat to feel better on cold days – and some to eat just because. -What some like to call comfort foods.  As a foodie, my list is long, and very flexible – tomato soup (with crackers of course), mashed potatoes with hot gravy, steamy macaroni and cheese, or just out of the oven creamy chocolate chip cookies (pass the milk please). Getting hungry?  Researchers tell us we’re mentally attracted to foods that not only warm us up, but also ones we associate with a positive social memory. For example, many of my favorite indulgences are often the very same meals Mom used to whip up when we were kids, like a 20 quart pot of hot chocolate (with those little floatie marshmellows) after being outside all day. Dad would make us ground meat on toast after church on Sunday mornings knowing we all loved the leftovers also! For fun, here’s info about our cravings, and some “feel better” recipes – special thanks to realsimple.com and shape magazine for the info.

SWEETS
When you’re jonesing for chocolate, experts say to stop and evaluate how your sleep has been lately. “When tired, many people crave carbohydrates for a quick energy boost, since carbs are our main source of fuel,” says explains Elizabeth DeRobertis, R.D., who practices in Westchester, New York. Simple carbs, such as sugar and white bread, are digested quicker than complex ones such as whole grains and beans, so the energy kicks in sooner.  Unfortunately, that sugar “high” doesn’t last that long, and you’ll be back in the kitchen searching the pantry for more goodies.

CRUNCHY
A handful of nuts a day can be a healthy snack, but it can also hint to an inner frustration and irritation. “The act of chewing and cracking the food in your mouth can momentarily release that angst, but the problem is the second that the crunching stops, the frustration returns”—and too often we go back to eating more and more – (ever polish off an entire bag of chips? – only if there’s Dairyman’s French Onion dip with it, right?).  A better way to release that tension is to punch a punching bag, do any kind of exercise, or put in your earbuds – several studies have shown that relaxing music really does relieve stress.

CREAMY
Dishes such as ice cream, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese (must have pepper on top) are called “comfort foods” for a reason: “Craving them possibly points to worrisome thoughts, and what you really need is to be soothed.”  These are also high-carb, high-fat foods. “Carbs boost the ‘feel-good’ hormone serotonin, and when you eat something high in both carbs and fat, it can trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure and reward.” While a bowl of butter pecan may make you feel better in the moment, “usually the worries return when we realize how many calories we just consumed, and then guilt sets back in.” Instead of reaching for these fattening fixes, experts suggest trying a warm bath, a foot massage, or just enveloping yourself in soft, cozy clothing for instant calming.

CAFFEINE
Anytime the coffee shop or a soda machine calls your name, you’re likely more than just thirsty. “You may feel discouraged or dissatisfied with your job and reach for these ‘quick fixes’ to perk you up and get you through the day.”  It could also mean you’re dehydrated. “Not drinking enough water leads to a lack of energy,” says DeRobertis. So instead of a latte, you may just need some H2O. “Picture a wilted plant that needs water,” DeRobertis says. “Shortly after you water it, it will perk back up. With people, it’s the same thing!”

CARBS
While cravings for pasta, bread, and other carbohydrates can come from a number of physiological reasons, including a high insulin level or low blood sugar, DeRobertis says it’s more likely that you’re depriving yourself. “Typically, when someone is on a strict eating plan or has declared certain foods ‘off-limits,’ they will want them that much more.”  All foods can fit into a healthy eating plan. Having a good time or rewarding yourself doesn’t have to come in the form of food: “Clear your schedule and go on a weekend trip by yourself or with friends. Don’t bring a watch and don’t be on a schedule; just get into the day and enjoy it.”
After learning about all of the reasons above, I also conducted my own really-really scientific poll of myself and my family.   We have come to the conclusion that we love food- all kinds and are basically pretty happy folks!

25 Fun Comfort Foods to pick from this weekend.———> CLICK!!

 


 

Oh Grannie

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m, pies!!!
Makin’ em & bakin’ em is a family affair. But I won’t lie, I’m especially 
partial to eaten‘ em!!!

While most of you are feeling the “stretch” of yesterday’s meals (I never just eat once) and are now digging into the fridge for those amazing leftovers, I on the other hand, am reaching for the thanksgiving unsung hero – extra pie.  Of course, I’ve already had my leftover turkey, and stuffing, and cranberry sauce – jellied not that lumpy stuff! and potatoes, and vegi’s, So it’s just right that I finish my re-tasting with a nice couple slices of pie.  A little Grannie apple, followed by a smidge of pumpkin, topped with whipped cream and ice cream and a cool glass of soy milk (you’re welcome Jackie!).  Not sure what it’s like at your house, but I just love it when Jackie and the girls crack open the recipe books, whip up the family favorite’s,  especially, Chocolate Pecan pie and treats us to good cookin’. Although I love to cook,  for some reason I tend to cause a ruckus in the kitchen during baking so I have been banished.  So, for my foodies out there, here’s a little “pie” trivia (thanks American Pie Council and Wikipedia).  Enjoy. And look for the links throughout for fun leftover meals.

  1. pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients.
  2. Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry but left open. A top-crust pie has the filling in the bottom of the dish and is covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two-crust pie has the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell.  Shortcrust pastry is a typical kind of pastry used for pie crusts, but many things can be used, including baking powder biscuitsmashed potatoes, and crumbs.
  3. Ancient Greeks are believed to have originated pie pastry. In the plays of Aristophanes (5th century BC), there are mentions of sweetmeats including small pastries filled with fruit. Nothing is known of the actual pastry used, but the Greeks certainly recognized the trade of pastry-cook as distinct from that of baker. A rich pastry, intended to be eaten, was used to make small pasties containing eggs or little birds which were among the minor items served at banquets.
  4. During the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age period, the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, the domestication of plants and animals, the establishment of permanent villages, and the practice of crafts such as pottery and weaving became common. Early pies were in the form of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes called galettes consisting of a crust of ground oats, wheat, rye, or barley containing honey inside.
  5. Early pies made by the Roman most likely came from the Greeks.  These pies were sometimes made in “reeds” which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling.  The Romans must have spread the word about pies around Europe as the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was a popular word in the 14th century. The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie.
  6. The 1st-century Roman cookbook Apicius makes various mentions of recipes which involve a pie case.  By 160 BC, Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato (234–149 BC), who wrote De Agri Cultura, notes the recipe for the most popular pie/cake called placenta. Also called libum by the Romans, it was more like a modern-day cheesecake on a pastry base, often used as an offering to the gods. With the development of the Roman Empire and its efficient road transport, pie cooking spread throughout Europe.
  7. Pies made centuries ago were predominately meat pies, and originally appeared in England as early as the twelfth century. The crust of the pie was referred to as “coffyn”. There was actually more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
  8. Song birds at the time were a delicacy and protected by Royal Law. At the coronation of eight-year-old English King Henry VI (1422–1461) in 1429, “Partrich” and “Pecok enhakill” were served, alleged by some modern writers to consist of cooked peacock mounted in its skin on a peacock-filled pie. Cooked birds were frequently placed by European royal cooks on top of a large pie to identify its contents, leading to its later adaptation in pre-Victorian times as a porcelain ornament to release of steam and identify a good pie.
  9. Meat pies with fillings such as steak, cheese, steak and kidney, minced beef, or chicken and mushroom are popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand as take-away snacks. They are also served with chips as an alternative to fish and chips at British chip shops.
  10. Pie came to America with the first English settlers. The early colonists cooked their pies in long narrow pans calling them “coffins” like the crust in England. As in the Roman times, the early American pie crusts often were not eaten, but simply designed to hold the filling during baking. It was during the American Revolution that the term crust was used instead of coffin.
  11. The Pilgrim fathers and early settlers brought their pie recipes with them to America, adapting to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. Their first pies were based on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans.  Pies allowed colonial cooks to stretch ingredients and also used round shallow pans to literally “cut corners” and to create a regional variation of shallow pie.
  12. Pies remained as a staple of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations based on both the locally grown and available meats, as well as the locally farmed cereal crop. The Cornish pasty is an adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.
  13. Pot pies with a flaky crust and bottom are also a popular American dish, typically with a filling of meat (particularly beef, chicken, or turkey), gravy, and mixed vegetables (potatoes, carrots, and peas). Frozen pot pies are often sold in individual serving size – (on a good day I can eat two or three).
  14. Fruit pies may be served with a scoop of ice cream, a style known in North America as pie à la mode. Many sweet pies are served this way. Apple pie is a traditional choice, though any pie with sweet fillings may be served à la mode. This combination, and possibly the name as well, is thought to have been popularized in the mid-1890s in the United States.  Apple pie can be made with a variety of apples: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Rome Beauty, Macintosh, Red Delicious and more.
  15. “Chess pie” was popular in the South—a silky pie with a rich filling of sugar, cream or buttermilk, egg, and sometimes bourbon. The Pennsylvania Dutch made molasses “shoofly” pies, as well as stew-like savory meat pies known as “bott boi,” or pot pie. Settlers in Florida, utilizing the plentiful local citrus, turned native limes into key lime pie. The state of New Hampshire became known for its fried hand pies, quaintly called “crab lanterns.” The Midwest, famous for its dairy farms, favored cheese and cream pies. French immigrants to New Orleans created the pecan pie after the Native Americans introduced them to pecans. Massachusetts invented the beloved Boston Cream Pie, a hybrid pie-cake.
  16. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked weighed 2,020 pounds and measured just over 12 feet long. It was made with 900 pounds of pumpkin, 62 gallons of evaporated milk, 155 dozen eggs, 300 pounds of sugar, 3.5 pounds of salt, 7 pounds of cinnamon and 2 pounds of pumpkin spice.
  17. Over the years, pie has evolved to become what it is today “the most traditional American dessert”. Pie has become so much a part of American culture throughout the years, that we now commonly use the term “as American as apple pie.”

 


 

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.

 

 


 

A Foraging We Will Go

Fungi. Beautiful fungi. Search them out in the woods or in the grocery store and make some incredible dishes. A few starter recipes below.

 

The other day I was out for one of my morning runs and was taken by the soft breath of Fall – quiet, dew covered grounds, leaves slowly changing, animals foraging for food and the colors of summer hanging on.  As I passed a favorite turn, a deer ran by and then stopped in the woods.  I stopped as well, and we had a stare off (remember those in grade school – I did my best, but the deer won!).  All around the deer I noticed a huge patch of brightly colored mushrooms glistening on the forest floor.  Of course, when I got back to the office, I just had to google fall mushrooms, and wow, a great article came up from Mother Earth News.  Here are segments I thought you’d enjoy.  My suggestion – lace up your boots and take a hike this weekend and take pictures of any of these amazing mushrooms you may find. I also included some fun recipes – can’t wait to try them.  Thx Mother Earth News for the info.

Autumn is a time of change in the woodlands when the vivid green hues of summer fade into the auburn shades of fall as plant life in the great outdoors prepares for a long winter’s sleep.

During this period of transition, many who enjoy harvesting Mother Nature’s abundant vintages miss one of nature’s finest bounties — the fall mushrooms.  Understanding the dos and don’ts of fall mushroom foraging is key to enjoying the rewards of harvesting the mushrooms.

The first and foremost rule when mushroom foraging is to get to know just a few species — and get to know them well. To achieve this, purchase a field guide to North American mushrooms. Most bookstores stock one or can quickly order it. Though local libraries typically stock several, buying your own copy is a wise investment. Pocket-size editions with color photos are easily carried and help assure positive identification. A quality guide should contain the following species subheadings: description, edibility, season, habitat, range and look-alikes.

Fall mushrooms have many different flavors and textures. The majority of edible varieties have nicknames that mimic their characteristics, much like the spring morel, which is dubbed the “sponge” mushroom. Its colors can blend with the drab shades of dead bark or stand out like the colors of Christmas. Harvesting mushrooms for the dinner table while hiking the woodlands enhances the appreciation of forest ecology. See how many you can find:

Pear-Shaped and Giant Puffball (Puffball Family)
Puffball mushrooms are among the most recognizable of fall fungi. They are round in appearance and range in size from the pear-shaped puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme), of approximately one inch, to the giant puffball (Calvatia gigantea), which may reach diameters larger than a basketball. Most are rated “choice” for eating. The few that are not won’t affect your health and can easily be distinguished by their rank odor. The fruiting body of a puffball grows directly from its root system. If you find one with a stalk or stem, discard it; it’s not a puffball and may very well be an unsuitable look-alike, again characterized by a rank odor.
Members of the puffball family grow from July through November in most North American softwood and hardwood forests. Their outer coloration is typically white to olive brown, and should always be white inside for use at the dinner table. As puffballs age, their centers turn yellowish-brown and eventually dry, producing spores (microscopic seeds). A single giant puffball produces up to 7 trillion spores. To understand how the puffball got its name, step on the dried shell after a puffball is spent, and watch it “puff” smoke — in the form of millions of dried spores.  Pear-shaped puffballs grow in scattered-to-dense clusters on decaying logs and debris. The giants grow in open timber, pastured ground and even some urban areas. During prime conditions, giant puffballs decorate the forest like a woodland volleyball court.

RECIPE: To prepare a giant puffball, cut or peel the outer shell. For a pear-shaped puffball, just wash the outer core. Do not wash or soak the meat unless insects have laid first claim. The sweet smell and savory flavor of the puffball makes an excellent addition to a saute of onions, bell peppers and other favorite garden vegetables. The most popular method of preparation, however, is frying. Fry the pear-shaped puffball whole, but slice its big brother thin like a fish fillet. Coat with a chicken or fish batter before frying. Use your fresh puffballs promptly, though, as they can’t be feasibly canned, frozen or dried for long-term storage.

Hen of the Woods (Polypore Family)
Catch a glimpse of this fungi in the fall and you may easily mistake it for a hen pheasant or prairie chicken pruning its plumage.  The hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa) has a grayish brown cap growing from a white stalk, which branches from a compound base.  This handsome mushroom appears in wet Septembers through mild, moist Novembers. It can be found from Canada to Louisiana, throughout the Midwest and in coastal woodlands. Hunt for the hen near deciduous trees and stumps. They’re also known to grow around some coniferous trees. Hens often appear in the same location year after year. They blend well with fallen leaves, but their size gives them away. A single mushroom of this variety can reach 20 inches in diameter and weigh 100 pounds. Hunt them with a big bag, or take along a friend with a strong back.

RECIPE: The firm texture of the hen lends itself to a variety of cooking techniques. Slice it thin and roast it, cut into steaks or coat in a batter and fry. You can’t ruin it. Diced bits used in stir-fry recipes give chicken and bean sprouts a taste that captures the attention of even picky eaters. Unlike puffballs, minimal flavor is lost by canning or freezing.

Chicken Mushroom (Polypore Family)
In autumn, chicken mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) decorate the stumps, trunks and logs of deciduous and coniferous trees in blazing orange-red or orange-yellow colors. Pay careful attention here, as the chicken mushroom bears a close resemblance to many nonedible types.
Be careful not to succumb to the addictive smell. It’s tempting to eat them raw — but don’t. Uncooked, this variety causes indigestion. Among veteran hunters, the chicken is one of the most prized mushrooms. The reasons are simple: It’s anything but plentiful, and when fried, a tasty chicken dinner is the finder’s reward. Mushroom hunters can search for these great-eating members of the polypore family from May through November. Although scarce, their range extends from Canada to Florida and into some coastal regions. If the humidity is right and daytime temperatures are moderate, the chicken may be nestled somewhere in your favorite fall haunt.

Fried-Chicken Mushroom (Tricholoma Family) 
While similar in name to the chicken mushroom, the fried-chicken mushroom (Lyophyllum decastes) is very different. Its cap is gray- to yellow-brown with white gills and a stalk. Growths are typically found in dense clusters on the ground near decaying deciduous trees or in grassy areas throughout most of North America. Their numbers dominate June through October — and even later if the weather is mild. Edibility is rated “good, with caution.” The “with caution” part is meant to give respect to the poisonous sulfur tuft, a close look-alike. Novice hunters can’t tell these two apart until they smell the tuft’s flat odor or partake of its bitter tang. Digesting the tuft invokes mild to severe gastric distress, and in rare cases has caused death. The odds of death from mushroom poisoning are about as likely as being hit by lightning — but odds mean little if you’re the unlucky soul.

RECIPE: Quite a few people are quick to disagree with the fried chicken’s “good” rating. This author concurs that its flavor might better be described as “delicious.” After a thorough washing, tear these mushrooms along the gill lines into bite-size strips. Fry them like chicken or saute them for a spaghetti dish. They are also wonderful in casseroles.

Oyster Mushroom (Tricholoma Family) 
Don’t head for the woods just yet, seafood mavens. “Oyster” (Pleurotus ostreatus) refers to the mushroom’s shape, not taste. The cap of the Oyster can be white, gray or brown. The gills are whitish or yellow-tinged and are usually attached to the wood of deciduous trees. Occasionally the oyster grows from a stublike stalk. It is widely dispersed throughout North America. Dry river and creek bottoms with willow or other softwood trees are prime places to search for the oyster fungi.  This mushroom is prolific in the fall, but under favorable conditions can appear year-round. The hearty oysters that grow in mild winter weather and freeze before aging can even be chopped free from dead wood and thawed.

RECIPE: The oyster’s pleasant smell distinguishes it from nonedible look-alikes that either lack odor or smell like tree bark. Check aging oysters for white grubs; then wash and tear into smaller strips. Roll the damp pieces in a dry mixture of pancake batter and seasoning salt and fry in peanut oil.

Honey Mushroom (Tricholoma Family) 
The honey mushroom (Armillariella mellea), also nicknamed “button mushroom,” has a one- to four-inch yellow-brown cap and stalk with a whitish ring directly under the cap. It’s similar in shape and taste to many commercially raised mushrooms.  Like the spring morel, it’s hunted by many who believe dangerous look-alikes don’t exist. Unfortunately, the honey mushroom has more fearsome twins than Minnesota has — the Omphalotus olearius, Gymnopilus spectabilis and Galerina autmnalis are just a few. All have either a rank odor, nonwhite gill colors or other recognizable features pinpointed in field guides.  Honey mushrooms appear in hardwood forests August through November: Logged-out timbers are the best places to find these delectable fungi by the bushel basket.

RECIPE: Honey mushrooms are exceptional when prepared using morel recipes. Their distinctive taste comes through best when deep-fried in egg-and-cracker batter or sauteed in butter.

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Safety First
Follow this list of precautions and your mushrooming days will be memorable events:

  • If on-the-spot identification of a harvested mushroom is not possible, separate it from the rest of your find. After the hunt, enlist the services of a resident expert or field guide to verify the edibility of the suspect fungi.
  • Do not consume wild mushrooms raw. They are indigestible when uncooked.
  • Soak and rinse your mushrooms thoroughly to remove any residue that may have drifted from agricultural spraying.
  • It’s always best to have a veteran mushroomer inspect the find of a novice hunter before allowing preparation.
  • If health problems follow the consumption of mushrooms, contact a doctor immediately. Don’t wait until complications set in.
  • When hunting alone, tell someone when you’re going out and when you plan to return.
  • Those susceptible to poison ivy, oak, or sumac should pay special attention to its presence and, if applicable, use preventive medication. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat to prevent scratched legs and discourage ticks.
  • Don’t push your luck by walking through heavily wooded terrain after dark.

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Preserving Your Bounty

Fortunate hunters who find more mushrooms than can be eaten fresh or given away have three options for preserving the excess. Each has pros and cons. You be the judge.

  • To freeze mushrooms, cut them into bite-size chunks and soak in water for a minimum of one hour. This will remove any insects from the meat. Rinse thoroughly and place the mushrooms in a Ziplock freezer bag, seal tightly and freeze. Though this is the most common practice for long-term storage, it causes appreciable loss of flavor and texture.
  •  Drying mushrooms (which is not possible with all varieties) first entails cutting them into large chunks and thoroughly rinsing them. Then sew the pieces together with string and allow to dry in an attic or other warm, dry area. Soaking the dried pieces in water will bring them back to a state of use. The texture is not as rigid as when fresh, but most of the flavor is restored.
  • The least used is canning mushrooms, The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests this method in their Home and Gardening Bulletin. To can mushrooms: Trim stems and the discolored parts of the mushrooms. Soak mushrooms in cold water for 10 minutes to remove adhering soil. Wash in clean water. Leave small mushrooms whole; cut larger ones in halves or quarters. Steam four minutes or beat gently for 15 minutes in a covered saucepan without added liquid.  Pack hot mushrooms in glass jars, to within a half inch of the top. Add ¼ teaspoon salt to half-pints; ½ teaspoon to pints. For better color, add crystalline ascorbic acid: 1/16 teaspoon to half-pints; 1/8 teaspoon to pints. Add boiling-hot cooking liquid or boiling water to cover mushrooms, leaving a ½-inch space at the top of the jar. Adjust jar lids. Process in pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F) for 30 minutes.  Before use, check the seals to ensure a vacuum — and protection from bacterial growth. Canning makes a midwinter meal of mushrooms worth the added effort.

 

 


 

Remember

Chips ‘n dip, hot dogs and ice cream, oh my! Remember what was so great to eat when you were a kid?

Over the weekend I was chatting with one of my brothers (I have 17 siblings in my family…), and we got reminiscing about old friends, kids from the neighborhood, crazy games we played, and of course some of the memorable foods we grew up on.  Being a “foodie”, I naturally had a whole list of favorites that came crashing to mind, like Lawson’s French Onion Dip, and Dairyman’s lemon and red drink in the big gallon jugs, along with staples like chocolate milk and ice cream in the small cardboard cups and wooden spoon they served at school. For fun, I thought I’d list a bunch here, and add in a little KHT trivia so you know more of the backstory. If a favorite of yours comes to mind, please shoot me an email – love to share the stories and memories (fireballs, fish sticks, fried liver (with ketchup of course!)  Enjoy!

Remember Lawson’s stores? Their chip dip can still be found, but you’ll have to go to Japan to visit a store.

Lawson’s Chip Dip:  many thanks to Lawson’s for helping me get through the long nights, homework, breakups, sports watching and hours waiting for dinner to be served – your contribution to our creamy onion-y snacking it tops on our list.  Tip:  Although the Lawson’s stores we were familiar with are gone, thankfully the company is owned by Circle K and they kept Lawson’s products on the shelves. (Whew.)

These were sooooooooo GREAT!!

Dixie Cup Ice Cream:the exact origins of the paper cup seem to be unknown, therefore the inventor of the handy disposable beverage and ice cream holder may never be known, although there is evidence that they were used as far back as Imperial China. Around the beginning of the 1900’s, paper cups gained popularity when people began to realize that sharing the same tin or ladle, to drink from water barrels, also meant sharing germs.  In 1907, a Boston lawyer named Lawrence Luellen, developed the “Health Kup” (which later became known as the Dixie Cup in 1919) to help improve public health and hygiene.  During the great American flu epidemic of 1918 paper cups rapidly grew in popularity as a way of avoiding infection. In the century since, the paper cup has evolved from a simple health solution to an everyday convenience object. Chocolate or vanilla?

Ok, I’m getting hungry.

Hot Dog Day at School:  what a simple idea.  Boil hot dogs, slap them in buns, and watch the kids lap them up.  Made famous in the US at the 1893 Chicago World’s Colombian Exposition, Germany served hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of “sausages”. People liked this food that was easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive -perfect for mass production school cafeterias. The Hot Dog Council estimates Americans consume 20 billion hot dogs a year – that works out to about 70 hot dogs per person each year. Hot dogs are served in 95 percent of homes in the United States. Are you mustard or ketchup, or both?  Pickle or relish?

Remember the Charles Chips trucks?

Charles Chips:  In 1942:Effie Musser was making a batch of her delicious potato chips in her small rural Pennsylvania kitchen and had a great idea. Si, her husband and farmer by trade, was having difficulties raising enough money to keep them afloat, so she thought of a way to create some additional income, by taking her chips to the famous Central Market located in Penn Square in historic Lancaster, Pennsylvania and maybe sell a few bags. After great success, a snack distributor from Baltimore, MD contracted Effie for her to deliver her chips in bulk to him.  He repacked the bulk chips into his branded tin can and renamed them Charles Chips (after Charles St in downtown Baltimore).  Production grew, and by the late 50’s, Si and Effie expanded the brand to include Charles Pretzels, Cookies and a Christmas Holiday Gift program.  Home delivery was the key in the 70’s, distribution reached California and by 1990’s the company wholesale revenue reached $45M.  In 1991, Effie and Si sold Charles Chips to some Philadelphia investors; however, within 18 months the new company went bankrupt.  (Don’t fret, you can still buy them from another manufacturer).

On the left is the sign that poured milk. And milkmen dropped your weekly supply at your door step.

Dairyman’s:  Anyone remember the Diarymans bottle sign? It was an electric sign of a milk bottle tipped filling up a giant glass. Not sure how many light bulbs this thing had. But the bottle would be lighted up and the bulbs would go off to show the bottle being emptied as the glass was filled. We would look for it both going to and coming from the car, even looking out the back window for a prolonged look as we came home.  Diarymans chocolate milk … heaven!  And those big gallon jugs of red and lemon drink, made hot days of summer melt away.

MMMmmmMMMmmmm, Steak-umms!!

Steak-umm’s:According to inventor Gene Gagliardi, Steak-umm was created after putting beef through a grinder multiple times, mixing and molding it, freezing it, softening it, then ultimately slicing it paper thin.  In a 2012 lawsuit, Judge Lawrence Stengel described the product as “chopped and formed emulsified meat product that is comprised of beef trimmings left over after an animal is slaughtered and all of the primary cuts, such as tenderloin, filet, and rib eye, are removed.  The emulsified meat is pressed into a loaf and sliced, frozen and packaged.  So that’s why I liked them … I could go through a box in no time, white bread with a little butter to hold back the grease.

These were so much fun. Still are!

Candy Dots:(Candy Buttons or Pox):  “dots” are small rounded pegs of candy that are attached to a strip of paper. This classic sugar candy was originally introduced by the Cumberland Valley company and J Sudak and Son of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Each strip of the candy includes three flavors: cherry (pink), lime (blue), and lemon (yellow). Candy Buttons came in two strip sizes: long and short. In 1977, Sudak, changed the name to Uncle Nibbles Candy Factory, and sold to a re-packager in Manhattan named CeeDee Candy, they then sold to Necco, who makes 750 million candy buttons in the course of a year. PIA Award -engineer and inventor George Theofiel Dib, credited with the invention of the candy button machine.

The first convenience popcorn. Always fun to make it blow-up.

Jiffy Pop:  What was a “babysitter night” without Jiffy Pop (and the mystery of heat treating!). Frederick C. Mennen of LaPorte, Indiana, a chemist, inventor and industrialist, is credited with developing the product in 1958. Purchased by American Home Products in ‘59, within one year the product had reached the national U.S. market, spurred by stage magician Harry Blackstone Jr. endorsing what the television-commercial jingle called “the magic treat — as much fun to make as it is to eat.” Original Jiffy Pop packages used a plain, bright aluminum pan, eventually replaced by an aluminum pan with a black treatment on the outside to improve heat transfer (I love heat transfer!!). Jiffy Pop is still around today, offered in only one stovetop version, Butter Flavor Popcorn.

Remember Wonder Bread “Builds Strong Bodies 12 Ways”? Not sure what ways those were but it was fun packaging. And makes for a really fun Halloween costume.

Wonder Bread:  Wonder Bread was originally produced by the Taggart Baking Company of Indianapolis, Indiana, and debuted on May 21, 1921, after a promotion with ads that only stated a “Wonder” was coming. Named by VP Elmer Cline, who was inspired by the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, featuring hundreds of balloons creating a kaleidoscope of color resulting in the iconic red, yellow and blue balloons on the Wonder Bread wrapper.  Continental Baking began shipping Wonder Bread in sliced form, one of the first companies to do so; a significant milestone for the industry and for American consumers, who, at first, needed reassurance that “wonder-cut” bread would not dry out.  Unsliced bread returned for a while during World War II due to a steel shortage that led to an industry-wide slicing suspension in 1943. Bread slicers returned two years later when Continental Baking began adding vitamins and minerals to Wonder Bread as part of a government-sponsored program of enriching white bread. The company sponsored Howdy Doody with host Buffalo Bob Smith telling the audience, “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 8 ways. Look for the red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the wrapper.” By the 1960s, Wonder Bread was advertised with the slogan “Helps build strong bodies 12 ways,” referring to the number of added nutrients.  To this day, peanut butter and jelly on Wonder bread is still amazing!