Oct 5, 2012

Five Handy Kitchen Tips

Keep your onions in the refrigerator. A chilled onion is easier to chop, and causes fewer tears.

If you use seltzer instead of tap water or milk, you get fluffier pancakes, waffles, and scrambled eggs.

To freeze berries, spread them on a pan or plate and freeze, then take out and put into freezer bags. That way they stay separate and not in one big lump.

Keep milk fresher for longer by adding a dash of salt into the carton right after opening it for the first time.

Take your eggs out of the refrigerator and let sit out so that when you begin breakfast the eggs are at room temperature. They cook better and make especially fluffy omelets.  For other dishes, eggs separate better when cold but whip better when warmed.

Wordology, Grand Slam

The immediate origin was from the card game, Bridge. Grand slam means to take all 13 tricks in a hand.

It has since come to take on other meanings, such as in tennis to win all four major singles titles; the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in one year. A grand slam in golf is to win; Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, British Open, and  PGA Championship in one year. It is used in baseball to signify hitting a home run with all bases loaded.

Chess, Curling, Rugby, and other sports each have a grand slam definition of their own,

Denny's restaurant chain is famous for its Grand Slam breakfasts consisting of various combinations of meat, eggs, bread, and pancakes. We also cannot forget Grand Slam Pizza in Dripping Springs, Texas.

Happy Birthday Zippers

A hundred years ago in 1912, zippers were first used in clothes. The Titanic sunk in 1912, but there is no relation between that and zippers.

Soft Drinks and Sugar

A typical carbonated soft drink will have 200 calories in a 16-ounce serving. All of those calories come from sugar, and sugar contains 16 calories per teaspoon. Divide those two and you find a 16-ounce serving contains about 12.5 teaspoons of sugar.

I wanted to compare this to coffee, so I looked at a 12 ounce soda, which has about 140 calories or about 8.75 teaspoons of sugar. Standard coffee cups (not mugs) contain about 6 ounces of fluid. Take half the calories and sugar of a 12 ounce soda and it would take about 4.38 teaspoons of sugar to make coffee as sweet as soda.

Cheap Parts Storage

When storing unused cables, plugs, or other parts and pieces, use kitchen storage bags and put a note in the bag telling what the item is used for. Saves space and helps you remember.

Oct 2, 2012

Origin of the Simpsons

The inspiration for Homer Simpson came from a character in “The Day of the Locust” book, which featured a hopelessly clumsy and disaffected character named Homer Simpson, and Eddie Haskell in “Leave it to Beaver” TV Series.

Life in Hell started in 1977 as a self-published comic book written and produced by Matt Groening and was a story about life in Los Angeles and the things which Groening encountered at school, at work in a succession of seedy jobs, and in his personal love relationships.

The series reached the attention of James L. Brooks who commissioned Groening to create short skits for the Tracey Ullman Show. While waiting in Brooks’ office reception for the interview, Groening sketched out a number of basic designs which would go on to become the basis for The Simpsons. He walked in to the office, presented his 10 minute-old drawings and got the job.

He named the characters after members of his own family, his father Homer, mother Marge, and sister Lisa. He substituted Bart for himself. Bart Simpson was named as an anagram of “brat,” and Matt's older brother Mark produced much of the early inspiration for Bart’s attitude.

The entire Simpson family was designed so that they would be drawn very quickly, allowing the often tight budget to reach further, and be recognizable in silhouette. When designing Homer's hair he initially just sketched his initials, ‘M’ for the hairline and ‘G’ for Homer's ear. Matt Groening's initials still remain on the final character to this day. Marge’s hair was based on the iconic Elsa Lanchester hairdo as worn in The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and on a similar style worn by Margaret Groening during the 1960s. Lisa’s hair was initially a cluster of hand drawn hairlines, but this was changed to the simpler ‘hexagon hair’ design before the pilot episode.

So far the show is still on the air after 500+ episodes and is regarded as the longest running animation series of all time.

What's in a Name, Denny's

Richard Jezak and Harold Butler founded Denny's as Danny's Donuts in Lakewood, California in 1953. It expanded to twenty restaurants by 1959, when the chain was renamed Denny's to avoid confusion with another chain, Coffee Dan's.

KKR bought 47% of Denny's among others from owner TW corporation. Eventually, Denny's operations dominated the parent company so much that the Flagstar Companies changed its name to Denny's Corporation.

Russian Service

While most of our Western food flavors originate in French cuisine, the style of service we are all most used to – individual plates pre-filled and served – is called Russian service, and it originates from the table of the Czar.

In French cuisine it was traditional for all food to be prepared in advance and displayed in huge amounts on side tables. It was an extremely lavish affair, but the end result of this was that much food was wasted and wasn't always hot.

Russian service, prepared with the expertise of the chef in the kitchen, caught on very fast and was so convenient that it is now the primary way we dish our meals at home.

Grandfather Clocks

The name for the free standing tall clocks is actually newer than you might think. In 1875, an American songwriter named Henry Clay Work was visiting England. While there, he checked in to the George Hotel in North Yorkshire.

In the hotel’s lobby was a large pendulum clock. The clock had stopped many years prior and just sat in the lobby as decoration.

He was told a long made-up story how the clock stopped when the previous owner of the inn passed away. Work went home and penned a song about the clock. The song was called “My Grandfather’s Clock”, released in 1876.

You might remember the familiar lyrics of the children's song.

My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf, So it stood ninety years on the floor; It was taller by half than the old man himself, Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born, And was always his treasure and pride;  but it stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering (tick, tick, tick, tick),
His life seconds numbering (tick, tick, tick, tick),
It stopp’d short – never to go again – When the old man died.