Oh Granny

I love apple pie. So, I always get way more apples than needed for a pie. You know why? Because I also love to eat apples. Apples in the morning. Apples at lunch. Apples for an afternoon snack. An apple after my evening run. So, I ALWAYS get way more apples than needed for a pie.  :)))

It’s that time of year again.  I’m not sure if it’s the cool nights, early sunsets, changing cloud patterns or just my gastronomical clock changing, but there’s something about October and my need to eat lots of apple pie. It’s an odd thing, that lasts through the holidays too.  Maybe it’s the piles of apples at the market or the smell of pumpkin spice at the grocery store (can’t believe how many products offer a pumpkin spice version (saw pumpkin spice Spam – what a waste of some good SPAM!), but I have the craving.  My first subtle (no comments about me not being subtle!) effort to convince Jackie it’s time to bake is when I bring home a rather large array of different apples from the farmer’s market – green, golden, red, macs, Honeycrisp.  Then I try pulling the pie dish out and leaving it on the counter with the cinnamon.  Or maybe it’s the “backup” half-gallon of vanilla ice cream and bonus sized Cool Whip container.  Jackie, amazing as always, pulls out one of her favorite recipes for Dutch Apple Pie and goes to work.  I love it when the house fills with that amazing aroma of sweet apples and hot pastry dough – it settles the mind and gets me ready for the transition from summer to fall.  There is nothing quite like a slice of amazing pie ala mode! Below are some great recipes, and a little history on the delicacy and the all-important crust.  Enjoy, and thanks Smithsonian and the recipes from All Recipes, Inspired Taste, Taste of Home and Tasty.co.

  • Apple pie is a longstanding symbol of America, but the dessert didn’t actually come from America, and neither did the apples.  Apples are actually native to Asia and have been in America about as long as Europeans have.
  • The early colonists of Jamestown brought European apple tree cuttings and seeds with them. The only native apple in North America was the crab apple, and the colonists found its tiny fruit “a poor substitute for Malus domestica.” Settlers primarily used the apples to make cider (the hard and soft kinds), which was preferred to water as a drink and easier to produce than beer, which required labor-intensive land clearing.
  • During America’s colonial history, planting trees was a good way to preserve a land claim; colonists who didn’t “improve” their land in some colonies, like Virginia, could have it taken away from them.
  • Apple trees are easy to cross-pollinate, meaning that deliberately producing new apple varieties is relatively simple. By 1800, writes Tim Hensley for the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, American farmers were growing a mind-boggling 14,000 varieties of apple, many of which had been bred in the country. Around the same time, John Chapman, otherwise known as Johnny Appleseed, had brought the apple to American folklore fame. “Chapman’s beloved apples became ‘American’ by association.”
  • The first recorded recipe for apple pie was written in 1381 in England and called for figs, raisins, pears, and saffron in addition to apples (now why would you go and do that??).
  • There were other differences, too: early apple pie recipes generally didn’t include sugar, and their pastry crust was “coffin” pastry, which was intended as an inedible container, not a part of the pie. There are also recipes for Dutch apple pies as far back as 1514.
  • A 1924 advertisement appearing in the Gettysburg Times promotes “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie.” And by World War II, the America and pie association was cemented. American soldiers would tell journalists that they were fighting for “mom and apple pie,” giving rise to the expression “As American as mom and apple pie.”
  • The secret to great apple pie is also in the crust.  It’s not a topic to be thrown about – as making “the best crust” has merit and prestige in a family.  Surprising, the history of “crust” goes back many ages – here’s some highlights:
  • The first pies, called “coffins” or “coffyns” (the word actually meant a basket or box) were savory meat pies with the crusts or pastry being tall, straight-sided with sealed-on floors and lids.  Open-crust pastry (not tops or lids) were known as “traps.”  These pies held assorted meats and sauce components and were baked more like a modern casserole with no pan (the crust itself was the pan, its pastry tough and inedible).  These crusts were often made several inches thick to withstand many hours of baking.
  • A small pie was known as a tartlet and a tart was a large, shallow open pie (this is still the definition in England).
  • Historians have recorded that the roots of pie can loosely be traced back to the ancient Egyptians during the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age beginning around 6000 BC.    These early forms of pies are known as galettes, which are essentially rustic free-form pies.  Our ancestors made these pie-like treats with oat, wheat, rye, and barley, then filled them with honey and baked the dish over hot coals.
  • Between 1304 to 1237 B.C. the bakers to the pharaohs incorporated nuts, honey, and fruits in bread dough, a primitive form of pastry.  Drawings of this can be found etched on the tomb walls of Ramses II, located in the Valley of the Kings.
  • The tradition of galettes (pastry base) was carried on by the Greeks.  Historians believe that the Greeks actually originated pie pastry.  The pies during this period were made by a flour-water paste wrapped around meat; this served to cook the meat and seal in the juices.
  • A cookbook from the mid 16th century that also includes some account of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, called A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of  meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and  serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe dayes, has a recipe for a short paest for tarte:  “To Make Short Paest for Tarte – Take fyne floure and a cursey of fayre water and a dysche of swete butter and a lyttel saffron, and the yolckes of two egges and make it thynne and as tender as ye maye.” (where are the apples??)
  • Animated pies or pyes were the most popular banquet entertainment. The nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence . . . four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie,” refers to such a pie.  According to the rhyme, “When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.  Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King.”  In all likelihood, those birds not only sang, but flew briskly out at the assembled guests.  Rabbits, frogs, turtles, other small animals, and even small people (dwarfs) were also set into pies, either alone or with birds, to be released when the crust was cut.  The dwarf would emerge and walk down the length of the table, reciting poetry, sketching the guests, or doing tricks. (where are the apples??).
  • During Charles V (1364-1380), King of France, reign, the important event at banquets was not dishes of food but acts such as minstrels, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.
  • The chefs entered into the fun by producing elaborate “soteltie” or “subtilty.”  Sotelties were food disguised in an ornamental way (sculptures made from edible ingredients but not always intended to be eaten or even safe to eat). During this time period, the Duke of Burgundy’s chef made an immense pie which opened to the strains of 28 musicians playing from within the pie.  Out of the pie came a captive girl representing the “captive” Church in the Middle East.
  • The Pilgrims brought their favorite family pie recipes with them to America.  The colonists and their pies adapted simultaneously to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. At first, they baked pie with berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native Americans.  Colonial women used round pans literally to cut corners and stretch the ingredients (for the same reason they baked shallow pies).
  • Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a big fan of eating pies.  His life-long housekeeper and friend (she was with the family for 30 years), Katy Leary, often baked Huckleberry pie to lure her master into breaking his habit of going without lunch.  Samuel Clemens also had a recipe for English Pie: To make this excellent breakfast dish, proceed as follows: “Take a sufficiency of water and a sufficiency of flour and construct a bullet-proof dough.  Work this into the form of a disk, with the edges turned up some three-fourths of an inch.  Toughen and kiln-dry in a couple days in a mild but unvarying temperature.  Construct a cover for this redoubt in the same way and of the same material.  Fill with stewed dried apples; aggravate with cloves, lemon-peel, and slabs of citron; add two portions of New Orleans sugars, then solder on the lid and set in a safe place till it petrifies.  Serve cold at breakfast and invite your enemy.”

Here are some recipes to try – and yes, please stop by the office and share a slice or two.
By Grandma Ople
Favorite Apple Pie  
Taste of Home
Made from Scratch

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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.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!

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Smokin Good!!

Smoked meats are fantastic!!! And smokin ‘em is something we can do ourselves. You could build a smokehouse in your backyard for $27,500. Or get the awesome Meadow Creek TS250 Barbeque Smoker Trailer (second photo down) for only $7,195. See that baby HERE.  But most of us will opt for a less expensive option providing the same results. Check out all the smoker options, meat options, helpful tips, a couple of great recipes and some great smokin music in the story below. Haaaaaaaaaappy Smokin!!! 

Now that the mercury is starting to climb, it’s time once again for me to revisit an interest I can’t quite stop thinking about when in the backyard – smoking meats.  Now, for sure I am no expert at all – just a lover of things that come off the grill (and all the other items that fill my plate).  There is no doubt, a good piece of smoked meat is a work of art — it takes time, talent, and know-how to get it right. Even if my fellow “smokers” disagree on the finer points, I’m confident we all agree on one thing: smoked meat is freaking awesome.  To get things started, I searched the internet for some good “basics” on meat and equipment, and then included some of my favorite recipes… (honestly, is there anything better than juicy smoked and barbequed ribs?? (ok, brisket is right up there).  Be sure to check out the links below for additional info – crank up your grills and have fun.  And if you happen to hit the jackpot on a favorite recipe, be sure to send it over for me to try (skowalski@khtheat.com ).  As I am writing this all I can think of is ribs with some of Jackie’s great potato salad! (which will be for a whole other post).  Thanks to Wikipedia, themanual.com, heygrillhey.com, thefoodnetwork.com, youtube.com.

  • Smoking has been used as a way of preserving and flavoring food for many thousands of years.  Our ancestors discovered, probably by serendipity, that foods exposed to smoke lasted longer before spoiling.
  • Smoking processes and methods have been passed down through generations and are still very much in use today around the world.  In some countries, these time-honored techniques form part of the essential yearly ritual of preserving fish and meat, especially in autumn to provide protein over the winter when hunting proves less bountiful.
  • In Medieval Europe, when an animal was slaughtered (often pigs) much of the meat was smoked for preservation.  Many smallholdings had dedicated smoke houses where the meat was smoked and stored.  The less affluent hung their meat high up on the edges oftheir hearth or fireplace at night.  Ashes were placed over the embers to extinguish any flames which produced an ideal Smoky environment in which to preserve their fish or game.
  •  Through years of culinary trial and error, humanity has determined the best smoking techniques and, in the process, elevated the age-old practice to a level of mastery on par with any other cooking endeavor.
  •  There are entire books written on the subject, but contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take years to learn how to smoke. Here’s some information you need to know to dive right in and start smoking meat like pro within a day. First things first, though; you’ll need a smoker.

Types of Smokers

  • Electric smokers use electricity to heat up a rod (or similar heating element), which then causes the wood to smoke. These are the easiest in terms of heat control since all you have to do is turn a dial to adjust the temperature. They also tend to be the most expensive, and they impart the least amount of smoked flavor compared to the other options.
  • Propane smokers work almost exactly like electric smokers, but use a gas-fueled flame instead of a heating element to make the wood pellets smolder. These are pretty simple and might be a better choice for people in areas where electricity is expensive or scarce.
  • Charcoal smokers are a favorite among barbecue masters, who believe that charcoal imbues more flavor compared to propane and electric. Charcoal smokers tend to be cheaper, but you also have to buy charcoal every time you want to smoke. Charcoal also requires you to start and maintain a fire without the help of modern technology.
  • Wood smokers are definitely the way to go for the purest flavor, but they require the most attention and care out of all the options because they’re harder to keep at a constant temperature. For this reason, I would recommend wood smokers after you’ve learned the basics.
  • Pellet smokers are similar to wood smokers, but the wood has been condensed into a convenient pellet form (hence the name). However, they are much easier to use. Instead of splitting firewood, stacking it, and babysitting the flame, you simply load the pellets into an oven-like compartment. The only downside? Like their electric brethren, pellet smokers tend to be expensive.
  • Combos – more serious cook/chefs like to buy combination gas grills and smokers – this can get expensive, but down the road may be the best option for you to truly enjoy the art of outdoor cooking.

Best Meats to Smok


When hunting for the right chunk of meat, try to pick something that will benefit from the slow-cooking process. Don’t shy away from cuts with lots of connective tissue and fat known as “marbling.” A generous marble will make the finished product more succulent and delicious.

  • Beef brisket is a go-to and great “starter” meat, and you can never go wrong with ribs.
  • Pork shoulder is another meat that lends itself to smoking.
  • If you want to smoke a steak, the bigger the cut, the better.
  • You might also turn to your butcher shop for some lesser-known cuts like tri-tip and chuck eye, just to see what happens. Who knows, you may fall in love with a new cut of meat.

Wood For Smoking Meat
This is the flavor engine, along with your rubs and sauces.  Experimenting is big part of the fun, so try different woods and wood combinations – nice excuse to keep cooking too!

  • Alder has a light and naturally sweet flavor, which makes it great for pairing with fish, poultry, and any white meat.
  • Applewood has a fruity and sweet smoke that pairs wonderfully with pork, fish, and poultry.
  • Hickory has a strong and distinct flavor that’s ideal for red meat, especially ribs.
  • Pecan gives your meat somewhat of a fruity flavor and burns cooler than most other barbecue woods. It’s similar to hickory and is best used on large cuts like brisket and pork roast, but can also be used to complement chops, fish, and poultry.
  • Maple has a sweet and delicate taste and tends to darken whatever meat you’re smoking. It goes well with alder, oak, or applewood, and is typically used for poultry and ham.
  • Mesquite is undoubtedly the most pungent wood you can smoke, which means it can easily overpower your meat if used improperly. Avoid using mesquite with larger cuts that require longer cooking times. You can also use it with a mix of other woods.
  • Oak on the other hand, is great for big cuts of meat that take a long time to cook. It has a subtle flavor that will emerge the longer the meat is in the smoker.
  • Cherrywood is best suited for red meat and pork; it also pairs well with alder, hickory, and oak.

The Importance of Brining
Brining your meat keeps it from drying out during the smoking process. It’s all about science — the salt in the brine makes the proteins in the meat more water-absorbent. When sodium and chloride ions get into the meat tissue, their electrical charges mess with the proteins (especially myosin), so they can hold onto moisture more effectively and lose less of it during the cooking process. For optimal moisture retention, soak your meat in a brine for 10-12 hours before smoking.

In its most basic form, brine is nothing more than salty water, however, it benefits from the addition of herbs and spices. To make a good base, add three tablespoons of salt to one quart of water, then throw in whatever else you prefer. Brining is a bit of a double-edged sword: It helps meat retain moisture but also makes it saltier. Some chefs use sugar and molasses to combat the salty flavor.

Keep it Low and Slow:
Low and slow is the key to good meat. Keep your temperature between 212 degrees Fahrenheit and 230 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results. These lower temperatures generally won’t cause the meat’s cell walls to burst, which helps make the meat more succulent and allows it to retain nutrients.

Yummy Recipes: 
Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket: CLICK
“Oh Baby” Baby Backed Ribs: CLICK

Songs to Smoke Meat To:
You Tube Favorites: CLICK

 

 

 


 

What Floats Yours?

Ahhh…the dog days of summer. When cold refreshing drinks are calling your name. Made from fruits, ice creams and sodas. Fancy and plain. Adult versions for, well, adults. It’s all a great part of summer. Read on for some really tasty recipes.

 

Summer.  August. Hot days. Beautiful nights.  Time for sitting on the back porch and sipping on a tasty float. Yep – big glasses, lots of ice cream, goodies, and bubbly beverages.  Open the windows, and let the breeze blow in, while enjoying yours.  As you know, I pretty much eat, and like, everything. (I am blessed this way!)  Ice cream floats – oh yea, bring ‘em on especially with freshly made popcorn or pretzels or crackers – see my dilemma!  My favorite is (Good ole vanilla ice cream and coke!) Jackie and the girls on the other hand love trying all sorts of different concoctions. They are not ice cream purists like myself – I love ice cream the way it was intended – Vanilla! Here’s some fun trivia, great variations, and a link to wonderful recipes. Thanks to tasteofhome.com, Wikipedia and the inventor of ice cream, King Tang – according to Google, an ice-cream-like food was first eaten in China in 618-97AD. King Tang of Shang, had 94 ice men who helped to make a dish of buffalo milk, flour and camphor – way easier now just going to the grocery store … or was it a kind of ice-cream said to be invented in China about 200 BC when a milk and rice mixture was frozen by packing it into snow… so where did the cherries and strawberries come from??

The ice cream float was invented by Robert McCay Green in Philadelphia, PA in 1874during the Franklin Institute‘s semicentennial celebration. The traditional story is that, on a particularly hot day, Mr. Green ran out of ice for the flavored drinks he was selling and used vanilla ice cream from a neighboring vendor, thus inventing a new drink.
His own account, published in Soda Fountain magazine in 1910, states that while operating a soda fountain at the celebration, he wanted to create a new treat to attract customers away from another vendor who had a fancier, bigger soda fountain. After some experimenting, he decided to combine ice cream and soda water. During the celebration, he sold vanilla ice cream with soda water and a choice of 16 flavored syrups. The new treat was a sensation and soon other soda fountains began selling ice cream floats.
Green’s lastwill and testament instructed that “Originator of the Ice Cream Soda” was to be engraved on his tombstone.
There are at least three other claimants for the invention of ice cream float: Fred Sanders, Philip Mohr, and George Guy, one of Robert Green’s own employees. Guy is said to have absent-mindedly mixed ice cream and soda in 1872, much to his customer’s delight.
In Australia and New Zealand, an ice cream float is known as a “spider”, because once the carbonation hits the ice cream, it forms a spider web-like creation.  In Mexico, it is known as “Helado flotante” (floating ice cream) and in Puerto Rico it’s referred to as a “black out”.
Root beer and Coke are typical carbonating beverages, but many variations exist (see recipes below).  Here are some fun variations – Although Root Beer and Coke are my favorites!

  1. Chocolate ice cream soda – this ice cream soda starts with approximately 1 oz of chocolate syrup, then several scoops of chocolate ice cream in a tall glass. Unflavored carbonated water is added until the glass is filled and the resulting foam rises above the top of the glass. The final touch is a topping of whipped cream and usually, a maraschino cherry. This variation of ice cream soda was available at local soda fountains and nationally, at Dairy Queen stores for many years.  A similar soda made with chocolate syrup but vanilla ice cream is sometimes called a “black and white” ice cream soda.
  2. Root beer float – Also known as a “black cow” or “brown cow”,the root beer float is traditionally made with vanilla ice cream and root beer, but it can also be made with other ice cream flavors. The similarly flavored soft drink birch beer may also be used instead of root beer.
  3. Coke float – A coke float can be made with any cola, such as Coca-Cola or Pepsi, and vanilla ice-cream.
  4. Boston cooler – A Boston cooler is typically composed of Vernors ginger ale and vanilla ice cream.
  5. Snow White – Snow White is made with 7 Up or Sprite and vanilla ice cream. The origin of this variation is unknown, but it is found in some Asian eateries.
  6. Purple cow – In the context of ice cream soda, a purple cow is vanilla ice cream in purple grape soda. In a more general context, a purple cow may refer to a non-carbonated grape juice and vanilla ice cream combination.
  7. Sherbet cooler – The American Friendly’s chain also had a variation known as a “sherbet cooler,” which was a combination of orange or watermelon sherbet, vanilla syrup and seltzer water. (At present, it is billed as a “slammer”.)
  8. Vaca-preta – At least in Brazil and Portugal, a non-alcoholic ice cream soda made by combining vanilla ice cream and coca-cola is known as vaca-preta (“black cow”).
  9. Helado flotante – In Mexico the most popular version is made with cola and lemon sherbet.
  10. Orange float – An orange float or orange whip consists of vanilla ice cream and orange soft drinks.
  11. Beer float – adult version is Guinness stout, Chocolate ice cream, and espresso. Although the Shakin’ Jesse versionis blended into more of a milkshake consistency, most restaurant bars can make the beer float version. When making at home, the beer and espresso should be very cold so as to not melt the ice cream.
  12. Nectar soda  A flavor popular in New Orleans and parts of Ohio, made with a syrup consisting of equal parts almond and vanilla syrups mixed with sweetened condensed milk and a touch of red food coloring to produce a pink, opalescent syrup base for the soda.
  13. Melon cream soda – Cream soda with melon flavor is a common drink in Japan. Melon soda is served with ice and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

 

THREE VERY COOL VIDEOS:

Homemade Ice Cream in 5 Minutes – no ice cream maker is needed.17,376,100 views

Fred the bartender details his Top 5 Alcoholic Ice Cream Drinks: Barnamint Baileys, Mudslide, Creamsicle, Chocolate Monkey, Razzbaretto. 90,488 views

TYDUS – ICE CREAM (Official Music Video) 6,886,079 views

 


 

Got the craving?

(top bunch of photos) Mmmm. From a pumpkin spice latte to pumpkin spice muffins, pies, pancakes, dough nuts, bread and creamy soups, these wonderful smells and tastes tell you it’s fall. (row two left) Raw pumpkin spice–see the recipe below. (row three) Just a sampling of the many, many products that add pumpkin spice flavoring this time of year. Most are a lot of fun but pumpkin spice Doritos, even for me, is over the top. (row four) Speaking of over the top, really? These products need pumpkin spice flavoring & smells?? Really??? Hahaha… Turns out these are all fake. The creations of people with a working knowledge of Photoshop and a bunch of time on their hands making a statement on the pumpkin spice craze. BTW, the pumpkin spice Dorito’s are fake, too. Whew!

 

Each fall, as the leaves turn golden, footballs start flying and the crisp autumn air carries the scent of pine, I anxiously wait for Jackie to bring home one of my favorites – the fixens to make pumpkin pie, of course it must also include the “a la mode!”  Everything is always better with a la mode!  You know me, and my love of food.  To be honest, I think this pumpkin spice craze is kind of funny – but then find myself stopping to “sample” a latte, eating an entire box of pumpkin-spiced Cheerios or the whole package of orange and black fall flavored Oreos.  Scientists and nutritionists call the current trendiness of pumpkin spice “a fantastic example of the psychology of consumer behavior and fads.” Here’s some fun facts, science and links to some great recipes – enjoy those lattes!

 

  1. History shows that pumpkin spice-like combinations have been used for millennia in various cultures,” says Kantha Shelke, an adjunct professor of regulatory science and food safety at Johns Hopkins University. “Similar mixtures of spices are used in Indian masala chai and Middle Eastern baklava. These mixtures are often used in celebratory occasions, most often to ease the digestive impacts of overindulgence.”
  2. The sweet smell and tantalizing taste of pumpkin spice triggers a nostalgic emotional response in our brains. Spice blend has been used in popular baked goods for quite some time, but mostly in home-baked goods.  Since these are popular spice combinations, it’s very likely we have encountered some or all of them combined in a favorite baked good in a comforting situation, like a family gathering, early in life. (ever walk into a home that’s smells like cinnamon or hot apple cider?)
  3. Pumpkin spice seems to have emerged as a common seasonal scent and taste in the home and food market a couple of decades ago, when spiced pumpkin candles grew in popularity. Back then, a few high-profile companies, like Starbucks, ran some super successful experiments, and then you add in the fantastic marketing strategies, and you’ve got a fad that turns into a trend.
  4. Most pumpkin spice mixtures don’t involve an actual pumpkin. Typically, it contains ground cinnamon, nutmeg, dry ginger and clove or allspice mixed together.
  5. When many food companies use a pumpkin spice flavor, they often develop a synthetic version with various compounds and aromas designed to trick your brain into thinking you consumed a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices. Included in many of these synthetic pumpkin spice flavors are top notes that mimic the aroma of butter browning with sugar, which creates an olfactory illusion of a freshly baked pumpkin pie.
  6. Starbucks first developed its pumpkin spice latte, known as the PSL, in early 2003. In a news release, Peter Dukes, the product manager who led the development of PSL, said, “Nobody knew back then that it would grow to be so big – It’s taken on a life of its own.” The seasonal beverage, which has its own verified Twitter and Instagram accounts, returned to stores nationwide last week for the fall.
  7. The marketing behind many pumpkin spice-flavored items, like the latte, condition our brains to expect that pumpkin spice is the flavor of fall and to anticipate the flavor’s arrival each season as something comforting.
  8. According to scientists, we don’t have innate odor responses. We learn odors through associations, but the associations we make with pumpkin spice are generally all very positive. Though, even without the seasonal marketing, the brain has a special response to pumpkin spice when the flavor is mixed with sugar. It’s kind of addictive.
  9. When an odor or flavor — and 80% of flavor is actually smell — is combined with sucrose or sugar consumption in a hungry person, the person learns at a subconscious, physiological level to associate that flavor with all the wonderful parts of food digestion. By combining the recognizable pumpkin spice flavor with sugar, we train your brain and body to remember how delicious the combination is – and as soon as you smell or even imagine pumpkin spice, our body has an anticipatory response and craves it.
  10. On the other hand, natural pumpkin spice mixtures without added sugars, fat or salt offers some potential health benefits if used in a pumpkin soup or to flavor vegetables. Pumpkin is a source of vitamin A, fiber and other nutrients. Spices are powerhouses of phytochemicals — chemicals that the plant makes to protect itself — that can afford us health and protection from many health issues. Like with any food, the amount consumed determines the experience and the benefits.
  11. All spices come from plants. There are no spices from the animal kingdom, so spices are perfect for vegetarians, vegans and those who follow Halal and Kosher diets.
  12. As with all good marketing, sometimes the manufacturers go a little too far with the pumpkin-spice trend – Just consider – Pumpkin Spiced (PS) Twistix Dental Chews for Pets, PS buttery blend margarine, PS Pringles, PS Bar soap, PS body powder, PS bagels, PS peanut butter and Milano cookies.

 

So, go ahead and enjoy your pumpkin spice and everything nice.  And here’s a simple recipe to make your very own pumpkin spice at home (fresh is better!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • Splash of sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk together cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and sugar until well combined. Store in a small jar or container.

 

 


 

The Big Game = Big Food

Have the essentials on hand:
Remote? Check.
Plenty of napkins? Check.
Add food from these starter recipes and your favorite beverage. Now sit, watch, eat, cheer!! 

 

This weekend, we get to watch “the big game” – a tradition in our house.  And with it, of course, is what I like to call “big food” – and lots of it.  It’s a chance for me to go off my regiment a bit, and enjoy pretty much everything Jackie, the girls and I put out in the kitchen – old favorites, new flavors and new dishes.  Aside from the traditional chips, dips, snacks, chili, vegies, desserts, and of course, my favorite (any meatball variation on the end of a toothpick or in a bowl!) I like to go looking for some recipes we may have not seen or tried before.  Touchdown!! – I found a great website called delish.com with a link titled “108 Amazing Super Bowl Party Foods That Are Guaranteed to Score” (HERE) and a perfect teaser line: If your eats aren’t touchdown-worthy, your team might lose. It was tough, but here are a couple of my favorites – with over 100 ideas, I’m sure you’ll find some to try – (the Reese’s peanut butter ball just made me laugh out loud).  Enjoy!


TATER TOT SKEWERS
(come on, just not fair – bacon, cheese and tater tots … should be outlawed!)
INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. frozen tater tots, defrosted
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chives
  • Ranch dressing, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 425º. Place a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Place a metal rack inside a large baking pan. On a skewer, pierce one end of a strip of bacon. Pierce and place a tater top on top of the bacon, then pierce the same strip bacon again (to top the tater tot) to form a weave. Repeat with two to three more tater tots, depending on the size of your skewers. Repeat to finish the rest of the bacon and tater tots. Place on wire rack and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until bacon is cooked through.
  • Sprinkle cheese over the cooked skewers and bake until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes more. Garnish with chives and serve with ranch dressing, for dipping.

JALAPEÑO CORN FRITTERS
(these are made with corn … so I figured they must be healthy, right?

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cup fresh corn
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime, divided
  • Sour cream, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  • In a medium bowl, combine corn, cornmeal, cheddar, cream cheese, scallions, bacon, eggs, the juice of half a lime, and jalapeño. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Using your hands, form the mixture into small patties.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the patties until they’re golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Garnish each with sour cream and a squeeze of lime, if desired.

WAFFLE FRY SLIDERS
(OMG – fries and burgers and waffles – just shoot me!! – pickles too!!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag frozen waffle fries
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of cheddar, quartered into small squares
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Bread and butter pickles, for serving
  • Lettuce, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  • Bake waffle fries according to package instructions. Pick out 16 large, round waffles to act as the buns.
  • Meanwhile, make the sliders. In a medium bowl, mix the ground beef, yellow mustard, garlic powder and onion together with a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir gently to combine. Form the mixture into small patties. You should end up with about 8 patties.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef patties and cook for about 3 minutes, until the bottoms develop a nice seared crust. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then add the cheese slices to the tops of the patties. Cover the pan with a large lid and cook until cheese melts.
  • Assemble the patties. Place 8 waffle fries (or however many patties you have cooked) on a serving platter. Top with cooked sliders. Then garnish with tomato slices, pickles and lettuce. Top with waffle fries and serve immediately.

If you have a family favorite, I’ll share it with the gang – just email me at skowalski@khtheat.com.