Monday, October 31, 2011

Too Late for Halloween, These Recipes Are Perfect Through Thanksgiving; A Can of Pumpkin Puree Goes A Long Way

Today is Halloween, at least we think so here on the east coast. On Saturday, Mother Nature decided to dump 2 to 15 inches of the white stuff on our lawns, sidewalks and fall foliaged (is that a word?) trees. So as the trick or treaters make their way down the block later this afternoon, piles of now melting snow and downed tree limbs will make the going a bit difficult and we all hope for a safe (and yes, bountiful) holiday for all.

But though it's probably too late for Halloween, today's recipes are perfect through Thanksgiving. They're kind of a two-for-one: one 15 oz can of pumpkin will do for both recipes. Easy to make and easy on the wallet, the recipes are appealing to a wide range of cookie affectionados: those who enjoy a chewy biscuit and those who like a harder variety that 'dunks' well. As I detailed earlier this month, pumpkin is a fantastic, nutritious fruit with so many delicious ways to enjoy it's taste. Give these two a try and rest assured, more pumpkin recipes will follow as we slip and slide toward Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin-Walnut Biscotti
Makes 15-20 cookies

Ingredients2 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
Pinch of ginger
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup of pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, and spices into a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, and vanilla extract. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Roughly stir to mix the ingredients until the dough is crumbly.
  • Fold in chopped walnuts.
  • Flour your hands and lightly knead the dough. Grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Form the dough into a large log, roughly about 15-20 inches by 6-7 inches. The loaves should be relatively flat, only about 1/2 inch high. Bake for 22-30 minutes at 350 F, until the center is firm to the touch. 
  • Let biscotti cool for 15 minutes and then using a serrated knife cut into 1 inch wide pieces. Turn the oven to 300 F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cool completely.
  • To crisp the biscotti, let them sit uncovered overnight in a dry space.

Iced Pumpkin, Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Use rest of pumpkin puree from above recipe (about 1/2 cup)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cop oatmeal
1/2 cup chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, oatmeal and salt; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. 
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. 
  • Cool cookies, then ice with white chocolate. Add sprinkles before chocolate hardens.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Trivia That Tricks and Treats; Goblins and Ghosts and Witches, Oh My; 2011 Most Popular Costumes? Sheen and Snooki

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. Before we were married and after, but before we had kids, my husband and I lived in fear of being invited to a costume party. Both on the same page about dressing up (read that, strong dislike) we came up with stock costumes that we could live with. I was a scarecrow with a red plaid shirt (right out of my closet), jeans (also out of my closet) and a straw hat that was probably a prize from a fair we had attended. Two circles of red on my cheeks and I was done. My husband had a red cowboy-ish woven poncho (actually I think it was an old rug that belonged to his mother and we cut a slit for his head) and a large sombrero (not sure where this came from but somehow it was in our possession) and jeans. No makeup. That was it. Tah-dah.

You can see why it's just not a happy memory for us.

But I suppose I should be grateful that those days are behind us because Halloween of late has been supersized with professional costumes in specialty Halloween stores that dot the landscape, indoor and outdoor house decorations rivaling Christmas. I'm just happy that trick or treating has remained relatively the same.

So if you're a reluctant Halloweener like me, here is some trivia to help you look like you get in the spirit:

Halloween Color Schemes
Orange and black are Halloween colors. Orange is associated with the Fall harvest and pumpkins and black is associated with darkness and death.

Pumpkins r' Us

  • Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland where people placed candles in hollowed-out turnips to keep away spirits and ghosts on the Samhain holiday.
  • Illinois is the leading pumpkin-producing state with an estimated 427 million pounds according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
  • Pumpkins are not just orange, they also come in white, blue and green.

Costume Corner
This year the most popular Halloween costumes are Charlie Sheen. Other choices are Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Snooki from Jersey Shore and Kate Middleton. The most popular costumes of all time are witches, ghosts, cowboys or cowgirls, vampires.

How to make a witch hat
You'll need:
Black construction paper
Craft knife
Scotch tape


  • Place the construction paper on the table and put something on each corner to keep it flat.
  • Draw a large circle on the construction paper, using a compass. This will be the width of the hat from one end of the brim to the other end of the brim. Cut out the circle.
  • Draw a second, smaller circle inside the first circle. The small circle should be large enough to fit the wearer's head.
  • Cut out the inner circle, using the craft knife. You now have a round piece of construction paper and a round piece with a hole in the middle for the brim.
  • Draw a line across the center of the round piece of construction paper, using the pencil and ruler. Cut the construction paper in half along the line.
  • Roll the half-circle into a cone shape, with one end wide and the other end coming to a point. Make sure the wide opening fits into the open circle of the brim.
  • Staple together the two ends of the bottom of the cone to hold it together.
  • Glue the cone-shaped construction paper together along the seam.
  • Wait for the glue to dry. When the glue is dry, glue or tape the wide open end of the cone to the brim.
  • Decorate your witch hat. Squirt some glue around the hat and sprinkle glitter on it.

Halloween History
  • 2000 years ago, the Celts who lived in the northeastern regions of Europe (Ireland, France and the UK) held pagan festivals on last day of October, the last day of the Celtic calendar. They called these festivals Samhain, which translates to "summer's end."It was originally a pagan holiday honoring the dead. Holloween's name  was changed to All Hallows Eve.
  • These ancient peoples believed that the spirits of the dead would rise and cause mischief. The Druids who were their spiritual leaders, would communicate with the dead and predict events of the New Year knowing that many of them would not survive the long winter. The bonfire was a major part of the festival. The Druids would light the fire, and then the celebrants would burn grains and portions of the harvest as tributes. They looked to their religious leaders for guidance. The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human. These costumes were most often made from animal hides. 
  • In about 43 AD, the Celts were conquered by the Romans. The Romans had their own rituals to honor and appease the dead which involved Romans visiting gravesites and leaving a number of tributes. The offerings were supposed to include a bit of bead, some salt, a few seeds of grain and a wreath. One of the Roman festivals was known as Feralia. 
  • In 601 AD, Pope Gregory, the 1st issued an edict directing missionaries to use native celebrations and practices to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. The fact that All Saints' Day is celebrated the day-after Halloween is no coincidence. It was a way of drawing attention away from the Celtic rituals held on the last day of October. The missionaries preached that spirits, which were a part of the Samhain rituals, were evil and that those who worshiped them were also evil or devil worshippers. Halloween became associated with evil spirits and the following day, which was the Christian holiday, was associated with the Saints. In another attempt to diminish the popularity of this celebration the Church introduced All Souls Day. This celebration took place on the 2nd of November. 
  • Halloween night in our country is a time of fun and festivities. Most children and some adults get dressed up and go trick or treating. It can also be a time for pranks and parties.
  • Some people think that Halloween is an evil night of devil worship. 
  • Halloween is the 2nd most commercially successful holiday, with Christmas being the first.
Catch Up on Candy
  • Candy corn history dates back to the 1880s when the Philadelphia-based Wunderlee Candy Company's George Renninger invented this popular candy. Wunderlee Candy Company was the first company to manufacture the candy. In 1900, the Goelitz Candy Company, which later became the Jelly Belly Candy Company, started making these candies and continues to make candy corn today.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • Halloween candy sales average about 2 billion dollars annually in the United States.
  • Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.
  • Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the Roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California leads the nation in the number of chocolate and cocoa manufacturing establishments, with 135, followed by Pennsylvania, with 111.
  • The National Retail Federation estimated consumers in 2010 spent $66.28 per person on Halloween costumes, cards, and candy.
  • Chocolate makes up about three-quarters of a trick-or-treater’s loot, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Scary Stuff
  • Black cats were once believed to be witch's familiars who protected their powers.
  • Signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hair palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.
  • Vampires are mythical beings who defy death by sucking the blood of humans.
  • In 1962, The Count Dracula Society was founded by Dr. Donald A. Reed and to this day, there are vampire clubs and societies with people claiming to be real vampires.
  • There really are so-called vampire bats that live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.
  • Many people still believe that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil spirits
  • If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved on watching over you.
  • Worldwide, bats are vital natural enemies of night-flying insects.
  • The common little brown bat of North America has the longest life span for a mammal it's size, with a life span averaging 32 years.

Best Halloween Movies
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • The Shining
  • The Silence of the Lambs (right)
  • Halloween
  • Poltergeist
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Alien
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Exorcist
  • Seven
For kids:

  • Casper
  • Ghostbusters
  • Clifford’s Big Halloween
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • Rugrats Halloween
  • Beetlejuice (left)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Witches
  • Samhainophobia is the fear of Halloween
  • 90 percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ trick-or-treat bags.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who Said That? 21 Quotes That Challenge; "Old's Not So Bad, But Fat and Old?"

Can you guess who said it?
Photos will give you a clue to five answers but you're on your own for the rest.... hint, the photos are not in any order. Good luck.

1. "A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesnt believe, and leaves before she is left."

2. “Give me Liberty, or give me Death!”

3. "I guess I don't so much mind being old, as I mind being fat and old."

4. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"

5. "We've all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it's more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors."

6. "Economic medicine that was previously meted out by the cupful has recently been dispensed by the barrel. These once unthinkable dosages will almost certainly bring on unwelcome after-effects. Their precise nature is anyone's guess, though one likely consequence is an onslaught of inflation."

7. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

8. "Determine never to be idle...It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing."
9. "There isn't a person anywhere who isn't capable of doing more than he thinks he can."

10. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

11. "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind. War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."

12. "Little League baseball is a very good thing because it keeps the parents off the streets."

13. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

14. "We must become the change we want to see."

15. "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

16. "I guess the real reason that my wife and I had children is the same reason that Napoleon had for invading Russia: it seemed like a good idea at the time."

17. "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will."

18. "I guess there is nothing that will get your mind off everything like golf. I have never been depressed enough to take up the game, but they say you get so sore at yourself you forget to hate your enemies." 

19. "Anthropology demands the open-mindedness with which one must look and listen, record in astonishment and wonder that which one would not have been able to guess."

20. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."

21. "All you need is love."

1. Marilyn Monroe 2. Patrick Henry 3. Benjamin Franklin 4. Rhett Butler 5. Norman Vincent Peale 6. Warren Buffett 7. Mother Teresa 8. Thomas Jefferson 9. Henry Ford 10. Martin Luther King Jr. 11.John F. Kennedy 12.Yogi Berra 13. Abraham Lincoln 14. Mahatma Gandhi 15. Lord Acton 16. Bill Cosby 17. Vince Lombardi 18. Will Rogers 19. Margaret Mead 20. Ralph Waldo Emerson 21. John Lennon

Monday, October 24, 2011

Forgotten No More: A Happy Day on Staten Island When Trader Joe's Opens It's Doors; Gifting the Guacamole

A Little Less 'Forgotten'
Staten Island is oftentimes referred to as 'the forgotten borough.' Citing lack of a direct subway link to New York City, high bridge tolls and less funding from the city coffers than Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan, Staten Islanders have been accused of being a bit whiny and actually a lot more. But the claim of being a 'forgotten borough' fades when you consider that many jokes about the Island borough abound. Sorry, there I go whining a bit.

One thing is for sure, though family-centered Staten Islanders love to cook and eat, it has largely been ignored by trendy food chains like Whole Foods, King's, Wegman's and until recently, Trader Joe's.  But after a spring and summer of construction, 'Trader's' finally opened it's doors on Richmond Avenue in the New Springville area of the Island.

Thank you.

I had never been to a Trader Joe's and wasn't sure what to expect. The chain started out as small convenience food stores in the 1950s and were originally called Pronto Market. It was changed to Trader Joe's in 1967 when they opened under that name in Pasadena, California. Lucky friends and family who already had one in their community intimated that it was a place to find organic produce and great prices on their in-house brands of foods and wines...and they were right (though the Staten Island store does not carry wine). What they didn't mention was the friendly service, the open floor layout which made the store easy to navigate and the array of cut flowers and freshly baked breads—two items always on my list. Outside the store, Hawaiian-shirted workers helped load my car....a service I thought was indigenous to Florida only!

But that's not all: Trader Joe's is community friendly. In 2010 the chain donated more than 102,000 gift baskets to community-sponsored events. Did you hear bells while shopping?  Keeping with it's island theme, the store devised this system of communication. Translation: one bell lets staffers know when to open another register. Two bells mean there are additional questions that need to be answered at the checkout. Three bells call over a manager-type person. A store that cares about it's customers? to my ears! Get more information at their website below. 

Not getting into the variety of merchandise, today I'm focusing on one item I purchased and tried out at my family Sunday dinner yesterday. While perusing the produce isle, I came across a small plastic container with ingredients for guacamole dip, a family favorite. I have my own recipe (actually, it belongs to my sister) that I've already written about but I saw other possibilities in the compact package and purchased it for today's blog post. 

The Gift of Guac
If you're lucky enough to be invited as a weekend guest, it's usually appropriate to bring a small house gift. Using the not-too-attractively packaged items, I reworked the idea using a interesting-shaped glass vase I had in the house (the better thing to do would be to purchase a dish to hold the items before and after the preparation. The dish would be gifted to the host or hostess). I wrapped the ingredients in cellophane then tied with a ribbon. I added a sprig of parsley from my garden to decorate the bow. It can be used as a garnish after the guacamole is prepared. If you have a computer, it might be fun to redo the recipe on colored card stock and tie it onto the bow. There are lots of websites out there with templates to help you along. One follows. Click on 'inspiration' for some ideas.

Preparing the Guacamole
The recipe was easy though in the end I might have added a third avocado to make it less juicy. But the ingredients packaged by Trader Joe's were very fresh and within minutes I had a healthy appetizer to put out before dinner. On a personal note: the jalapeno pepper was a no-go for my family but I tried the  Trader Joe round tortilla chips which were fresh and a great buy with lots of varieties to choose from.

Give the recipe a try, give Trader Joe's a try if you haven't already. If your community is a bit 'forgotten' like Staten Island, send the company a note, you never know!

Trader Joe's Guacamole
Yields 2 cups

2 avocados (I would add one more)
2 roma tomatoes
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 lime
1 jalapeño pepper (didn't use this ingredient)

  • Peel and dice the onion and garlic cloves.
  • Combine with diced jalapeño pepper (optional) and avocado. 
  • Mash to desired consistency.
  • Add juice from the whole lime and fold in dice d tomatoes. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get Ready For the Holidays: Inexpensive Ways to Have Great Thanksgiving Decor

I know. It's not even Halloween yet and I'm talking about Thanksgiving. But as my November magazines and catalogues began to arrive last week it was kind of hard not to get the creative juices flowing. Just for the record: I don't have the Thanksgiving holiday—Christmas is mine, all mine—but I do like to make the house look a little bit autumn-ish thus making the transition to Christmas a bit easier. Last year I put some of my saved glass vases to use holding acorns, pine cones and cranberries (The Daily Suse, October 21, 2010) that worked well for both holidays lasting through the winter months as part,  it only cost pennies.

This year as I perused magazines, the Internet and catalogues I came up with a few more. For sure there are lots of things out there depending on the amount of money you want to spend, but I like the cheap ideas and that's what you'll see here in my pictorial review. Full disclosure: these photos are not mine but they are sourced to HGTV, Martha Stewart (check out Martha Stewart Living, November 2011 available now. There are so many great ideas in the issue), Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel. I'll have some of my own as the holiday approaches but until then, hope you get some great ideas!

Candle Ideas
Wrap leftover corn husks around a votive holder and tie with coordinating ribbon.
Wrap clear or translucent cylinders with strips of fall-colored tissue paper for a romantic effect.
This turkey tea light holder is available from Crate and Barrel for less than four dollars.
Don't like candles but have lots of candle holders? 
Use tiny pumpkins or miniature gourds on top instead.

Purchase some of those tiny pumpkins, carve out a 1-inch deep circle and place a real or battery powered tea lights to set the mood for your Thanksgiving table, fireplace mantle or entryway.

Place cards and Napkin Holders
Lots of ideas here. If you eat a lot of whole chickens, save the wishbones, dry them out and spray paint to use as napkin holders. Or visit the website where you can purchase some gold ones three for a dollar! Scroll and click on the trinket section. 

Next, use whole walnuts and make small name cards for your guests.

Even cheaper, collect some of the balls (I call them itchy balls) that fall from trees around this time of the year (pine cones would work as well). Use them in their natural state or spray them gold, or orange. Add a name tag and tie with a coordinating bow at top.

Fruit works well too and tastes great especially after a big meal—pears, apples or gourds are suggested. Add a simple name tag tied with string.

For the Kids
Personalized Indian hats can be pre-made with construction paper or felt and feathers purchased at local craft stores. Great for family photos too!

Cake pops or cut-out cookies are fun desserts for undeveloped pumpkin pie palates. Check out my daughter's website for some great ideas. The pumpkin cookie cutters are from Crate and Barrel for $2.95.

Miscellaneous Ideas
Don't underestimate the power of gold spray paint. It makes the most ordinary or old decoration look like you broke the bank!

Tiered cake plate? Not a problem if you use some chunky tree trunk slices in various widths separated by silver cans. Glaze the wood and cover or disguise the cans with ribbons, flowers or just leave as is.

If you've scored an unusual looking pumpkin, just go with that as a centerpiece surrounded by mosses or grasses from a craft store.

For a seasonal entryway, take an old frame, spray it gold, cut a board to fit and paint it with blackboard paint available in most paint stores. Lean it against the wall surrounded by a combination of miscellaneous vases, pumpkins, gourds and branches. Write a welcoming message or post the menu on your homemade blackboard. 

Lastly, tie some shimmery fabric onto your chairs to give your dining room a custom look. Your guests will love it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Buckwheat 2 Ways: Young Actor on 'The Little Rascals' and a Healthy Pancake Alternative; Reminiscing While Eating—Priceless!

The Human Buckwheat
Back in the late 1950s-60s, we used to watch a TV show called 'The Little Rascals'. The shows were derived from a much earlier series of film shorts by producer Hal Roach and were one of the first movies to portray black and white children as equals. When TV came of age, a new distributor named King World Entertainment, now CBS Television Distribution, took the films and repackaged them for television and the success of 'The Little Rascals' allowed King World to become one of the biggest television syndicators in the world. There were four African-American child actors who held main-character roles in the series: Ernie 'Sunshine Sammy' Morrison, Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, Matthew 'Stymie' Beard and Billie 'Buckwheat' Thomas.

Of all the characters, 'Buckwheat' (Billie Thomas) was a particular favorite. While visiting friends in their country house this weekend in Lafayette, New York, we recounted some of the episodes and memorable lines from the shows (especially those said by Buckwheat) when our host and hostess presented us with a stack of fresh-cooked delicious buckwheat pancakes for breakfast. I wasn't sure if I'd ever had buckwheat pancakes before and after devouring more than I should have, wondered why!

Buckwheat on The Little Rascals
My wondering turned to the human 'Buckwheat', who he actually was and what had become of him. He was, after all, as delicious as the pancakes (see photo, left)! After the show ended, Thomas enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1954, and was decorated with a National Defense Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal. He became a successful film lab technician with the Technicolor corporation. Thomas died of a heart attack in his Los Angeles apartment on October 10, 1980, coincidentally, 46 years to the day his mother brought him to audition at the Hal Roach Studios.

The Inanimate Buckwheat
I thought buckwheat was a grain, but it's actually the seed of a plant similar to rhubarb. But even though it doesn't get the grain moniker, it is used like one in cooking and has more protein than rice, wheat, millet, or corn beating them on almost every measure of healthfulness. Additionally, buckwheat ranks low on the glycemic scale. Its unique amino acid properties gives buckwheat the power to boost the protein value of beans and cereal grains eaten the same day. Because of this it is the unsurpassed cholesterol-lowering food studied to date. Its proteins also allow buckwheat to reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels following meals helping to prevent diabetes and obesity.  Buckwheat's proteins also help in the reduction of hypertension.

Additional Buckwheat Superpowers
  • Compared with true grains, buckwheat is high in the minerals zinc, copper, and manganese. 
  • Buckwheat’s low fat properties are similar to the type that makes olive oil so heart-healthful. 
  • Fiber in true grains is largely insoluble, while a considerable portion of buckwheat fiber is the soluble type that makes oats so heart-healthful, helps digestion by reducing blood cholesterol levels and the risk of colon cancer. Buckwheat has a resistant starch, which enhances colon health, and helps to reduce blood sugar levels. 
  • Reduces high blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and discourages obesity. 
  • Contains flavonoids for heart and circulatory health and is prized as a “blood-building” food preventing recurrent bleeding caused by weakened blood vessels, as in hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
  • Buckwheat has the ability to reduce high blood pressure.Energizing and nutritious, buckwheat is available throughout the year and can be served as an alternative to rice, porridge or pancakes.
  • diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as buckwheat, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women.
On the way home, after enjoying our buckwheat pancakes and the reminiscing they provoked, we stopped in 'The Catskill Mountain Country Store' in nearby Windham, New York (a small store and town recovering from the floods of Hurricane Irene) and purchased a bag of New Hope Buckwheat Pancake Mix. So easy, all you'll need to add is water! The website of the store follows and they would love to have your business via the Internet as they get their charming store back to its original state. They are also on Facebook. After reading all of the benefits of buckwheat, how could you resist?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Four Meanings of the The Four Horsemen: What Do Knut Rockne, The Bible, Ninja Turtles and a Quadriga Have in Common?

The Four Horsemen of Notre Dame
1. The Sporty Four Horsemen
Every now and then I look at the website 'Those Were The Days' (see link). Invariably, an interesting fact will show up and give me an idea for The Daily Suse if needed. Today was one of those days so I went to 'Those Days' and discovered that today, in an 1924 New York Herald Tribune article by columnist Grantland Rice, the term ‘The Four Horsemen’ was used. These 'modern' Four Horsemen were a winning group of American football players at the University of Notre Dame under coach Knute Rockne. They were the backfield of Notre Dame's 1924 football team and were actually named Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden. During the three-years that the Four Horsemen played, Notre Dame lost only two games and subsequently, all four players were elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Grantland Rice's inimitable, poetic style of writing caught readers imagination and 'The Horsemen' became the most fabled quartet in college football history.

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence, and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below. —Grantland Rice
Just for fun, here's what became of the fabled 'jockeys':
Harry Stuhldreher was the head football coach at Villanova University for 11 years. After that he became the athletic director and football coach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He died in 1965.

Jim Crowley started as an assistant coach at the University of Georgia but quickly moved to head coaching positions at Michigan State University and Fordham University where his famed line, the "Seven Blocks of Granite," included Vince Lombardi. Crowley also served as commissioner of the All-America Football Conference. He was the last surviving Horseman dying in 1986.

Don Miller coached for four years at Georgia Tech and then began practicing law in Cleveland. He was appointed U.S. District Attorney for Northern Ohio by President Roosevelt. He died in 1979.

Elmer Layden coached at Notre Dame for seven years with a 47–13–3 record. He was also athletic director at the university and later commissioner of the National Football League. He died in 1973.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Victor Vasnetsov.

2. The Biblical Four Horsemen
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, called the Book of Revelation. Here is described the book/scroll in God's right hand which is sealed with seven seals.  Jesus opens the first four of the seven seals, and four beings ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses. The four riders are thought to symbolize symbolizing Conquest (white horseman), War (red horseman), Famine (black horseman) and Death (pale green or greenish-yellow). The Christian vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment but there are many other religious interpretations of these horsemen, what the colors mean and whom they represent. 

3. The 'Literary' Four Horsemen

  • The Four Horsemen appear in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics. 
  • War appears as a play-able character in the Tournament Fighters video game.
  • In Blart: The Boy Who Didn't Want To Save The World, Blart and the gang, when facing Zoltab, have to fight the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
  • In Women of the Apocalypse (an anthology of four novellas), there are four modern heroines who face down the Four Horsemen.
  • In The Talismans of Shannara, the Four Horsemen are dispatched to kill Walker Boh.
  • In Army of Darkness comics, Ash is faced with the Four Horsemen.
  • In Scud: The Disposable Assassin, Scud fights and kills the four horsemen of the apocalypse
The Basilica of St. Mark's, Venice.

4. The Riderless Four Horses 
The Triumphal Quadriga (a four-horse carriage used for chariot racing) or Horses of St Mark's is a set of four bronze horses, originally part of a monument which have been set into the facade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice since the 13th century. These riderless horses have an interesting history.

The sculptures are attributed to the 4th century BC Greek sculptor Lysippos, though there is some dispute about this because their method of manufacture suggests a Roman style of technology. The horses are called bronze but close analysis suggests that as they are at least 96.7% copper.

The horses, along with the chariot carriage were displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople for a very long time. In 1204, they were looted by Venetian forces during the rout of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Shortly after, the Doge of Venice sent the horses to Venice where they were installed on the terrace of the facade of St. Mark's Basilica in 1254. 

There they remained until Napoleon had them forcibly removed from the basilica in 1797 and sent them to Paris to be used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. In 1815 the horses were returned. They remained in place over the basilica until the early 1980s when growing air pollution forced the originals inside and were replaced outside with exact replicas. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Orecchiette With Sausage and Broccoli Rabe; The Women of Southern Italy Lend An 'Ear' (and a Thumb) To Make A Great Pasta

I've experimented with and posted a couple of pastas on 'The Daily Suse'—all of them delicious. Really, who doesn't love a great pasta? This weekend, we had the opportunity to try something new: orecchiette. Orecchiette is a kind of pasta typical of the Southern Italy regions of Puglia or Apulia. The name comes from the Italian word for ear (orecchio), and the suffix (etto) which means small.

An orecchietta looks like a small disc with its center thinner than its edge. The surface is a bit rough. This pasta is made with durum wheat, water and salt, but eggs are rarely used its the preparation. In the spring, Southern Italian women of every age, sit outdoors shaping the dough into small cylinders that are cut into small cubes. Their right thumb is used to press down on the cubes, dragging it to give it a small curl. Then the thumb is pressed on the reverse side giving the pasta its slight bulge.

Orecchiette is usually combined with vegetables and this recipe from the cookbook of chef Lidia Bastianich does just that with some sausage thrown in for fun. The pasta was a hearty fare perfect for a chilly night in the country and with some brick oven baked bread, caesar salad and red wine, the evening with a group of friends was cozy and memorable

Orecchiette With Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
From "Lidia's Italian Table: Italian American Favorites"
1 cup chicken stock (or canned broth)
1 lb orecchiette (pictured left)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed (large)
1 1/2 lbs broccoli rabe, florets and tender stems only
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, cooked & crumbled
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese, freshly grated

  • Bring the chicken stock to a boil. 
  • Cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then drain well. 
  • Heat the oil In a large, deep skillet. Add the garlic and cook over moderately high heat until golden. Add the broccoli rabe, crushed red pepper and salt; cover and steam for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the hot chicken stock, sausage and butter and cook over high heat until the sauce reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. 
  • Add the orecchiette to the skillet and toss gently. Sprinkle half the Parmigiano on top and toss again. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheese.