Appetizers · Family · Family Favorites · Holidays

January 19 – National Popcorn Day

Who knew there was a National Holiday for Popcorn? I am a popcorn fan from way back. I generally take mine with real butter and salt along with a great movie. Although, I would never turn down a bag of kettle corn at the farmer’s market!  I’ve been known to make myself a popcorn birthday cake, too!

Whenever I travel back to Iowa, you can always find a bag or two of local popcorn in my luggage for the trip home.

Researching the history of popcorn, I found popcorn.org to be a great resource of the history and recipes:

Popcorn Dates Back Thousands of Years

Biblical accounts of “corn” stored in the pyramids of Egypt are misunderstood. The “corn” from the bible was probably barley. The mistake comes from a changed use of the word “corn,” which used to signify the most-used grain of a specific place. In England, “corn” was wheat, and in Scotland and Ireland the word referred to oats. Since maize was the common American “corn,” it took that name – and keeps it today.

It is believed that the first use of wild and early cultivated corn was popping. The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 4,000 years old.

Popcorn in the New World

Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies. Bernardino de Sahagun writes: “And also a number of young women danced, having so vowed, a popcorn dance. As thick as tassels of maize were their popcorn garlands. And these they placed upon (the girls’) heads.” In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was an important food for the Aztec Indians, who also used popcorn as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

An early Spanish account of a ceremony honoring the Aztec gods who watched over fishermen reads: “They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water.”

Writing of Peruvian Indians in 1650, the Spaniard Cobo says, “They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as a confection.”

In South America, kernels of popcorn found in burial grounds in the coastal deserts of North Chile were so well preserved they would still pop even though they were 1,000 years old.

Recent History

The use of the moldboard plow became commonplace in the mid-1800s and led to the widespread planting of maize in the United States.

Breakfast Food

Although popcorn is typically thought of as a snack food today, popcorn was once a popular breakfast food. Ahead of its time and very likely a role model for breakfast cereals to come, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, popcorn was eaten just as we eat cereal today.

Long before the advent of the corn flake, Ella Kellogg enjoyed her popcorn ground with milk or cream. Although she discouraged in-between meal snacking, she urged others to eat popcorn at meals as popcorn was “an excellent food.” Ella understood, as her husband did, that popcorn was a whole grain. John Harvey Kellogg praised popcorn as being “easily digestible and to the highest degree wholesome, presenting the grain in its entirety, and hence superior to many denatured breakfast foods which are found in the market.”

The Great Depression

Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions.

During the Depression, popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. An Oklahoma banker who went broke when his bank failed bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater. After a couple years, his popcorn business made enough money to buy back three of the farms he’d lost.

Popcorn and the Movies

Unlike other confections, popcorn sales increased throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theaters and its low cost for both patron and owner. One theater owner actually lowered the price of his theater tickets and added a popcorn machine. He soon saw huge profits.

The “talking picture” solidified the presence of movie theaters in the U.S. in the late 1920’s. Many theater owners refused to sell popcorn in their theaters because they felt it was too messy. Industrious vendors set up popcorn poppers or rented storefront space next to theaters and sold popcorn to patrons on their way into the theater. Eventually, theater owners began installing popcorn poppers inside their theaters; those who refused to sell popcorn quickly went out of business.

Popcorn sales increase throughout the Depression. A major reason for this increase was the introduction of popcorn into movie theatres.

World War II

During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, which meant there wasn’t much sugar left in the United States to make candy. Thanks to this unusual situation, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.

Slump and Bump

Popcorn went into a slump during the early 1950s, when television became popular. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurgence in popularity.

Today

Whether stovetop popped, fresh from the microwave or ready to eat, Americans love popcorn. In fact, Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. That averages to about 47 quarts per person.

Americans today consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year.

 

 

Beverages · Czech Heritage and Dishes · Holidays

Czech Hot Mulled Wine (Svařák)

Hot Mulled Wine reminds me of Christmas, Madrigal dinners, and travel. The aroma of the simmering wine is wonderful and sipping it is even better. While my paternal line is Czech, mulled wine was not a tradition in our home.

Wishing you a Veselé Vánoce (Merry Christmas) and Šťastný Nový Rok! (Happy New Year)

Ingredients:
  • 2 bottles of red wine (we use Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 5-6 cinnamon sticks
  • 6-8 whole cloves
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 4-6 star anise
  • zest of one tangerine (use fruit)
  • zest of one lemon (discard fruit)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • tangerine slices from zested tangerine
  • 2 apples, sliced (we used green apples)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1 cup apple cider (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. Czech Rum (I used Cointreau)

Combine all ingredients in a simmering pot. Simmer until hot. Serve.

There are folks who ladle it into a cup, fruits and all, but we prefer to strain it and just serve the hot wine with a cinnamon stick in the cup as a garnish.

It is at it’s best when served immediately after mulling but this delicious drink will keep fairly hot even when taken off the heat for about 30 minutes. The leftover mulled wine (if you have any) can be reheated in a saucepan on the stovetop. If you wish to keep some for the next day, allow it to cool completely and then pour into glass bottle or mason jar, closing tightly and refrigerating.

Recipe from TresBohemes.com

Desserts · Family Favorites · Holidays · Italian Dishes · New Favorite · New Traditions

Pears in Red Wine Sauce

During the Pandemic lockdown, the girls and I joined our local winery, InVINtions, for their Zoom Italian Cooking classes with Chef Lucas.  We made many wonderful dishes with Chef Lucas, and Pears in Red Wine Sauce was a delicious surprise.  We didn’t have great expectations for this recipe, but trust me, it was one of many fantastic dishes!

When the holidays are upon us and we are tired of dishes that are too sweet or too rich, this is the perfect answer.  It is a beautiful dish to serve your guests or to enjoy all by yourself!

PEARS IN RED WINE SAUCE

6-8 Pears
1 Bottle Red Wine
8 Ounces (1 cup) of Sugar
3 Cinnamon Sticks
6 Cloves

  • In a pan, combine all the ingredients.
  • Cook over low heat for about 1 hour.
  • If you desire a thicker sauce, remove the pears after
    cooked and mix one teaspoon of corn starch with a 1/4
    cup water and mix with the wine.
  • Serve hot or cold. They are delicious warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! You can store in the fridge for about a month.

Recipe from Lucas Migliorelli

Cookies and Bars · Czech Heritage and Dishes · Holidays · New Favorite

Slovak Honey Cookies

Czech and Slovak heritage is of great interest to me, given my Father’s family roots.  Late 2020, I participated in ‘Czech & Slovak Christmas’ offered through Global Slovakia Academy.  It was a wonderful class, offering education of the Slovak advent and holidays, celebrations and food.

The Slovak Honey Cookies are traditional Christmas treats and I had to try them.  They are very similar to our traditional Gingerbread cookies, using honey instead of Molasses.  They are absolutely delicious and a new favorite for the holidays.

SLOVAK HONEY COOKIES

3 cups (400 g) plain flour
1 cup (140 g) icing sugar
4 tbsp (60 g) butter softened
3 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tsp of gingerbread spice mix
3 tbsp clear honey
  • Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Line a baking tray with paper.
  • Sift together the flour, icing sugar, soda bicarbonate and spices.
  • Add butter and honey to the dry ingredients along with the eggs, and mix well to form a soft dough.
  • Wrap in a cling film and leave overnight in the refrigerator to chill.
  • Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of half a centimeter.
  • Cut out with your desired cookie cutter and place well apart on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Decorate with icing if you wish.

ICING

1 egg white
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice.

  • Whisk the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.
  • Add more sugar if needed and have patience.
  • Spoon your icing into a sandwich bag, twist the bag tightly until the icing wedges into one corner, and then poke or cut a tiny hole into the corner. Make sure your cookies are completely cool before beginning to decorate.
GINGERBREAD SPICE MIX

10g ground cinnamon
4g whole cloves
3g fresh ground nutmeg
3g cardamom pods
3g star anise

  • Crush the cardamom pods, star anise and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Ground in a coffee grinder and add to the ground cinnamon.
Desserts · Family Favorites · Holidays · New Traditions

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter S’mores

S’mores conjure up childhood memories of campfires with friends and family, biting into that creamy marshmallow with melted chocolate. Yum! Sometimes you don’t have a campfire and you still want s’mores. This recipe does that and takes it up a notch with peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut spread.

Make these delicious s’mores in advance and store in the fridge. Decorate for the occasion or holiday, in this case, Labor Day. It is a real crowd pleaser!

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter S’mores

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 16 graham cracker square (8 whole rectangular pieces, halved)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 1 package white almond bark
  • 1 package chocolate chips or other melting chocolate
  • Decorating suggestions: chopped nuts, chopped pretzels, sprinkles
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Spread a generous dollop of peanut butter onto one side of 8 of the cracker squares, and then spread the chocolate hazelnut spread onto one side of the other 8 squares.
  2. Thread the marshmallows onto 2 metal skewers and carefully toast over a flame on the stove top or grill. Place 1 toasted marshmallow onto each of the peanut butter-covered graham crackers. Top with the chocolate-covered crackers and sandwich together gently.
  3. Melt the white almond bark and milk chocolate in separate glass bowls set over simmering water. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to keep the chocolate melted.
  4. When the toppings are at room temperature, one by one dip half of the sandwiches in the white chocolate, allowing any excess to drip off. Work quickly, and then add on whatever sprinkles or toppings you’d like to use. (NOTE: We chose to drizzle melted chocolate over the s’mores and then apply sprinkles.)
  5. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Then you can store the s’mores at room temperature or in the fridge until you’re ready to serve! (NOTE: I would recommend storing in the refrigerator so the chocolate doesn’t melt. They keep very well without getting soft).

Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network/Ree Drummond

Cookies and Bars · Greek · Holidays · New Favorite

Koulourakia Greek Easter Cookies

2020 was quite the year, and Easter was no exception.  During the lockdown, my daughters and I cooked different things and did a front porch, socially distanced food swap.  We each ate our Easter Dinner in our own homes, different than our normal family gatherings.

The following weekend, our neighbor invited everyone in our cul-de-sac to partake in a Greek Orthodox Easter dinner.  It was warm enough to gather outside, socially distanced, to celebrate this special day.  For the potluck gathering, I made Koulourakia, Greek Easter Cookies.  The cookies are a wonderful, orange-flavored butter twist cookie.

They were fun to make and similar in design to the Kringla I make at Christmas.  The cookies are especially good with a hot cup of coffee. This year, Greek Orthodox Easter will be May 2, 2021.  I may be inspired to make these yummy cookies once again!

KOULOURAKIA GREEK EASTER COOKIES

3½- 4 cups all purpose flour 420- 480 grams (3½ + ½ cup separated)
 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar 150 grams
zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup butter 115 grams, cubed, room temperature
2 large eggs room temperature
1 large egg yolk room temperature
 teaspoons vanilla extract pure
1/4 cup orange juice freshly squeezed
1/4 cup milk room temperature
1 teaspoon ouzo or Sambuca (optional)

Egg wash:

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sesame seeds sprinkled on egg wash

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Place rack in the center of oven. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sift together 3½ cups flour and baking powder and set aside. The other 1/2 cup of flour is reserved in case we need to add extra flour (see recipe note).
  • In a bowl of a stand mixture, with the paddle attachment, whisk together the orange zest and the sugar.
  • Add the cubed room temperature butter and cream together with the sugar until light and fluffy. This can take up to 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time beating well and scraping down the bowl between each addition.
  • Add the egg yolk and again, beat well and scrape down the bowl.
  • Add the vanilla extract, orange juice, milk and ouzo (if using). Beat together for 30 seconds.
  • On low speed, add the 3½ cups of flour and baking powder. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Add a few tablespoons of flour if the dough is still sticky. (Optional: cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes).
  • With a medium sized cookies scoop, portion and roll into a 7-inch log.
  • Shape into desired shapes (braids, pinwheels, twists, etc…) Refer to pictures in the post.
  • Place on parchment lined cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
  • Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Bake for 13 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.  (This was too long in my oven.  I baked for 11 minutes and probably could have done even less.)
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to completely cool down.
  • Can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for about 2 weeks. Cookies can also be frozen.

Recipe from shelovesbiscotti.com

Czech Heritage and Dishes · Holidays · My Roots · Soups and Stews

Slovak Sauerkraut Soup

Czech and Slovak heritage is of great interest to me, given my Father’s family roots.  Late 2020, I participated in ‘Czech & Slovak Christmas’ offered through Global Slovakia Academy.  It was a wonderful class, offering education of the Slovak advent and holidays, celebrations and food.

One of the recipes shared was this Slovak Christmas Sauerkraut Soup.  It is traditionally made for Christmas Eve. I was not willing to wait until next December to make the soup!  The ingredients are things our ancestors would have had on hand:  wild dried mushrooms, sauerkraut, smoked sausage, etc.

I love to tweek recipes and decided to add homemade egg noodles for the last hour of cooking and loved the addition.  The soup was thick enough, so I chose not to add the flour and additional water.  This is a hearty soup and great paired with a hearty roll or rye bread.

SLOVAK CHRISTMAS SAUERKRAUT SOUP

1 package (32 oz) sauerkraut
2 quarts chicken or beef broth
6 whole black peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 cups of dried wild mushrooms
1 klobásaor chorizo (Note: I used Kielbasa)
½ cup pitted prunes
1 large onion chopped
3 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Optional:  2 tbsp plain flour and 1 cup water
Salt and pepper
Optional:  I added homemade egg noodles to the soup about an hour before serving
  • If you are not keen on the sour flavor of the sauerkraut, you can wash it before proceeding with the recipe. However, we do recommend keeping it as it is – this is when it contains the most goodness and gives the iconic flavor and smell to the soup. Fry the onion in a large pot over medium heat. Traditionally, Christmas Eve dinner was strictly meat-free. Leave klobása out if you wish to stick with the tradition.
  • Place the sauerkraut, broth, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt and mushrooms into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the sausage, prunes, and paprika. Lower the heat to gentle simmer and allow to cook for at least 2 hours. Our grandmas used to set the soup on lowest heat and keep it simmering until dinner time. It fills the entire house with quintessentially Slovak Christmas smell. (Note:  I simmered the soup on low for 4 hours).
  • Remove the bay leaves from the soup and discard. Season to taste. Serve.
Family · Holidays

Christmas 2020

One year ago, we were all hustling and bustling without a virus care in the world.  Stress was high because we put so many expectations on ourselves for the perfect Christmas experience.

Photo by @davidsonluna

Fast forward to Christmas 2021 and our lives are vastly different.  It’s easy to focus on the negatives, but for a moment, I’ll focus on the positives of the COVID experience and a sheltered Christmas.

  • My family and I are COVID free.  Every day I take the time to reflect on this blessing and pray for good health for all.
  • My family and I have shelter and food.  We have the opportunity to help others in need.
  • We are blessed with doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel who are working tirelessly to provide services during this challenging time. They have my complete gratitude for going above and beyond on a daily basis.
  • Vaccinations are on the way giving us hope of control of Coronavirus for the future.
  • Family and friends are even more precious. I love and appreciate each and every one of you!
  • Handwashing and mask wearing are second nature.  When I watch a television show or movie where people are in close proximity, and not wearing masks, I get a little anxious.  Do you?  Wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing is the least I can do for the good of our country.
  • Home has never felt so good.  I’ve always enjoyed being home but I’ve found peace and comfort in my own space.
  • Christmas ornaments are full of memories.  Each year, I think of the moment or the year I acquired each ornament.  Decorating the tree in 2020 was a reflection on a blessed life.
  • Christmas magic abounds with young children. My four young grandchildren are filled with wonder and awe for the holidays .
  • My hair is gray.  If you haven’t seen me in a picture or on Zoom, you may not know that I have gone totally gray.  Gray hair symbolizes the accomplishments and stress that I have lived.  It has given me new found freedom.
  • I’m cooking more.  Cooking has always been a passion and with more time at home, I can experiment.  Curbside pickup of groceries is a new service offered that reduces my risk of exposure to COVID and makes quick work of shopping.
  • I’m posting again on Fork-Lore.  I’m cooking; therefore I’m posting.
  • Technology allows me to catch up with family and friends to stay connected and enjoy social interaction.  Our ancestors didn’t have this luxury during other lockdowns, such as the Spanish (ie., Kansas) flu.
  • Journaling this COVID experience for future reflection started in March and goes on to this day.  Truly, I thought I would only be journaling for 3 or 4 months…Silly me!
  • Podcasts, audio books and long walks are saving me. My favorite podcast list has more than doubled and the number of books read in 2021 is far beyond any previous year.
  • Humor sustains me.  There is nothing more humorous than reflecting on the silly things I do and see each and every day.

This Christmas let us find joy, peace, and good health.  Sending virtual love and hugs to all!

Cathy

Breads · Holidays

Cranberry Orange Bread with Orange Glaze

Cranberry and Orange are a culinary match made in heaven.  The combination in this wonderful quick bread is divine, especially with the addition of Orange Glaze.

The bread is great with a cup of coffee or tea or can be served as a dessert.  

CRANBERRY ORANGE BREAD WITH ORANGE GLAZE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose Gold Medal flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries

For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a small bowl, combine sugar and orange zest. Rub together with your fingers until fragrant. Whisk into the flour mixture. Set aside.
  • In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, orange juice, and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake for 70-75 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. If your loaf starts to get too brown drape a piece of foil over the top to finish baking. I did this during the last 10 minutes of the baking time.
  • Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife. Carefully remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
  • While the bread is cooling, make the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the bread. Cut and serve.
  • Note-The bread is best eaten within 2-3 days or freeze.

Recipe from twopeasandtheirpod.com 

Appetizers · Family Favorites · Holidays

Smoked Salmon Dip

Dips and appetizers are a staple for the holidays.  In 2020, we will not be having the large holiday parties and gatherings, but we can still enjoy our favorite foods and traditions in our homes.

Ina Garten’s Smoked Salmon Dip is an easy, delicious dip that last well in the refrigerator for a day or two.   Smoked Salmon is a favorite of mine, anytime of year, but dip time is holiday time!

SMOKED SALMON DIP

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish, drained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound (4 ounces) smoked salmon, minced

  • Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth.
  • Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, horseradish, salt and pepper, and mix.
  • Add the smoked salmon and mix well.
  • Chill and serve with crudites and/or crackers.

RECIPE FROM INA GARTEN