Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Covertible 'Pinkalicious' Lemonade Stand

This summer I made a lemonade stand.

I teach an art class and learned from some of the girls about a children's book character called 'Pinkalicious'. Apparently Ms. Pinkalicious is a bit of a heroine to the the pre-school and pink-loving set so I sought out some of the books and discovered one about a lemonade stand (pink lemonade of course!) which I purchased to read to the class.

As the program was ending for the summer, I decided to make a lemonade stand where pink cookies, pink cupcakes and the aforementioned beverage would be served to the students as a closing party.

When it comes to construction of any sort in my house, I'm on my own or at least at the mercy of handymen or contractors. The latter are only used on the big jobs for which a simple lemonade stand certainly didn't qualify. Besides, I really wanted to make it myself.

Off I went to Michael's craft store where I purchased 4 wooden crates. My next stop was our local hardware store where I picked up my main tools: glossy white paint, Gorilla glue and staples for my staple gun. I also purchased 4 square staircase dowels that were already painted white. Last stop was Home Goods where I fount a bright pink flower patterned table runner which would serve nicely as an awning.

Back home, I began my 'construction' by gluing the 4 crates together to form a large rectangle. The bottoms of the crates would serve as the front of the stand and the open ends made great shelves to hold supplies. After the glue dried I took my structure outside and painted it glossy white inside and out.

When the paint dried, I glued the posts to the sides, the two front posts positioned lower than the two at the back. I used masking tape to hold the posts in place while the glue dried. When that was done, I was ready to attach the awning which I did by centering it, pulling it tight and staple-gunning it to the posts. I finished it off by painting a decorative lemonade sign that was attached to the front.

I had to admit it was quite lovely as I dressed it up with props, food and lemonade served in kid-friendly sippy cups. The kids loved it! We used it again for my grandaughter's first birthday party.

The best part about the stapled awning is that it's removable. Next week, my twin grandsons are celebrating their 4th birthday. Their party theme is 'Angry Birds' and I decided to refurbish the stand
with a new awning and signage calling it 'The Angry Bird Birthday Bodega'.

Another thought:  since lemonade is passe in the fall...this basic stand could easily be turned into an apple cider stand for a Halloween or Thanksgiving party where kids will be present.

The cost was minimal but the final product was priceless!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Our 'Uncle' is From Troy, New York

This was really meant to be a Fourth of July post but since that date has passed, I thought this might work just as well given the political convention and election season we're in right now.

This past June, my husband and I were driving to Manchester, Vermont for a business conference. On the way, we passed through the city of Troy, New York located on the east side of the Hudson River a few miles north of Albany.

At one time Troy was known as the Collar City due to its manufacturing shirts, collars, and other textile production. But it might best be known for The Rensselaer School, which later became Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824. Another institution of higher learning, Russell Sage College, opened in 1916. For me, as we entered the city, I was surprised to see a sign declaring Troy as the home of 'Uncle Sam.' Really? Of course I knew I would investigate.

So here is (allegedly) how that name came about: During the War of 1812, Samuel Wilson, a Troy meat packer, got a job packing his products into barrels and shipping it to the Army. Rations of fresh meat were rare in those days, and when the soldiers asked who supplied it, the answer was "Uncle Sam" because "U.S." was stamped on the meat barrels. "United States" and "Uncle Sam" became synonymous. Sam Wilson, the story goes, was called "Uncle Sam" around Troy because he employed a lot of its residents was friendly and well-liked.

Samuel Wilson, meat packer
The famous image of Uncle Sam was shown publicly on the cover of the magazine Leslie's Weekly, on July 6, 1916, with the caption "What Are You Doing for Preparedness?" The artist was James Montgomery Flagg.  The image shown above is from 1917.  Flagg's image also was used extensively during World War II.

Troy boasts a  memorial near Wilson's long-term residence in that city.  Samuel “Uncle Sam” Wilson, born in 1766,  is undoubtedly Troy’s most famous son. 

Additional Troy Trivia:
Interestingly, Kevin Smith, a contestant on the show 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' won the top prize of $1,000,000 by correctly answering the question, "The U.S. icon 'Uncle Sam' was based on Samuel Wilson who worked during the War of 1812 as a what?" The answer was A: Meat inspector.

On December 23, 1823, The Troy Sentinel was the first publisher of the world-famous Christmas poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (also known as "The Night Before Christmas" or "Twas the Night Before Christmas"). The poem was published anonymously. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Daily Suse is Back With a Super-Easy Summer Harvest Side Dish: A Recipe That Won't Corn-swoggle You

It's been almost 10 months since my last blog post. Lots of reasons, no excuses, but 'The Daily Suse' that I started back in July of 2010 after leaving a twenty-year career in the newspaper business, is back!

Astonishingly, in that short time, I have had almost 50,00 readers but in the world of successful blogs, that's a mere drop in the bucket. I'm still amazed at the diversity of readership ranging globally from the United States to India, Brazil, Thailand, Russia and lots more.

But now to explain the luscious-looking cold corn salad in the photo at the top of the page. This Labor Day weekend we had a houseful of company. As usual, I overreached on the menu and was left with 10 unused ears of corn on the cob. A few weekends ago, we were out in the Hamptons for a 'sister-daughter-niece weekend' that has become a bit of a tradition in our family.  Besides reconnecting with each other, we've turned it into an occasion to cook (and yes, drink!) together and try healthy new recipes.

This year, my sister visiting from Florida, discovered (reading a local Long Island magazine) that a former neighbor of my parents had a farm stand in Southhold just north of my sister's Westhampton home. Since we had to buy vegetables, off we went to KK's 'The Farm'   where vegetables are not only organically grown but grown using biodynamic practices. This simple-looking farm stand has recieved lots of acclaim for the quality of their produce, their fresh flowers and friendliness of the owners. If you're traveling to the North Fork this fall, perhaps to the many wineries, look for the stand on Route 25 and treat yourself to vegetables grown the way we should expect.

Lots of recipes will follow in coming weeks but today is all about corn since it is plentiful right now. This recipe is an adaptation from 'The Barefoot Contessa,' Ina Garten, (also from the Hamptons) and it is as easy to prepare as it is nutritious. We made it that weekend but today I recreated it using my surplus corn supply!

Corn is known to control diabetes, prevent heart ailments and lower hypertension. It is a rich source of vitamins A, B, E with lots of fibre that helps with the prevention of digestive disorders like constipation, hemorrhoids and colorectal cancer. The antioxidants present in corn also act as anti-cancer agents and prevent Alzheimer’s. A large ear of corn has approximately 123 calories....and.....corn-on-the-cob is always gluten free.

Cold Corn Salad

5 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup small onion, diced
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 roasted & marinated red peppers, diced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves sliced

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

2. Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.