Trick or Treat

October 31, 2013 at 9:26 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Two children trick-or-treating on Halloween

Two children trick-or-treating on Halloween

Trick-or-treating or guising is a customary practice for children on Halloween in many countries. Children in costumes travel from house to house in order to ask for treats such as candy (or, in some cultures, money) with the question “Trick or treat?“. The “trick” is a (usually idle) threat to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given to them.
In North America, trick-or-treating has been a customary Halloween tradition since the late 1940s, starting in Anoka, Minnesota. It typically happens between 5:30pm and 9:30pm[1] on October 31, although some municipalities choose other dates. Homeowners wishing to participate in it sometimes decorate their private entrances with artificial spider webs, plastic skeletons and jack-o-lanterns. Some rather reluctant homeowners would simply leave the candy in bowls on the porch, others might be more participative and would even ask an effort from the children in order to provide them with candy. In the more recent years, however, the practice has spread to almost any house within a neighborhood being visited by children, including senior residences and condominiums.
The tradition of going from door to door receiving food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of “souling”, where children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes. Guising—children disguised in costumes going from door to door for food and coins—also predates trick or treat, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895, where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. While going from door to door in disguise has remained popular among Scots and Irish, the North American custom of saying “trick or treat” has recently become common. The activity is prevalent in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Puerto Rico, and northwestern and central Mexico. In the latter, this practice is called calaverita (Spanish for “little skull”), and instead of “trick or treat”, the children ask ¿me da mi calaverita? (“can you give me my little skull?”); where a calaverita is a small skull made of sugar or chocolate.

 

 
The practice of dressing up in costumes and begging door to door for treats on holidays dates back to the Middle Ages and includes Christmas wassailing. Trick-or-treating resembles the late medieval practice of souling, when poor folk would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls Day (November 2). It originated in Ireland and Britain, although similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. Shakespeare mentions the practice in his comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1593), when Speed accuses his master of “puling [whimpering or whining] like a beggar at Hallowmas.” The custom of wearing costumes and masks at Halloween goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them, in Scotland for instance where the dead were impersonated by young men with masked, veiled or blackened faces, dressed in white.
Guising at Halloween in Scotland is recorded in 1895, where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood.
American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of the holiday in the US; The Book of Hallowe’en (1919), and references souling in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America”;
The taste in Hallowe’en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn’s poem Hallowe’en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe’en is out of fashion now.
Kelley lived in Lynn, Massachusetts, a town with 4,500 Irish immigrants, 1,900 English immigrants, and 700 Scottish immigrants in 1920. In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; “Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Hallowe’en customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries”.
While the first reference to “guising” in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.
The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta:
Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the start of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but do not depict trick-or-treating. The editor of a collection of over 3,000 vintage Halloween postcards writes, “There are cards which mention the custom [of trick-or-treating] or show children in costumes at the doors, but as far as we can tell they were printed later than the 1920s and more than likely even the 1930s. Tricksters of various sorts are shown on the early postcards, but not the means of appeasing them”. Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

 

 
Almost all pre-1940 uses of the term “trick-or-treat” are from the western United States and Canada. Trick-or-treating spread from the western United States eastward, stalled by sugar rationing that began in April 1942 during World War II and did not end until June 1947.
Early national attention to trick-or-treating was given in October 1947 issues of the children’s magazines Jack and Jill and Children’s Activities, and by Halloween episodes of the network radio programs The Baby Snooks Show in 1946 and The Jack Benny Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1948. Trick-or-treating was depicted in the Peanuts comic strip in 1951. The custom had become firmly established in popular culture by 1952, when Walt Disney portrayed it in the cartoon Trick or Treat, and Ozzie and Harriet were besieged by trick-or-treaters on an episode of their television show. In 1953 UNICEF first conducted a national campaign for children to raise funds for the charity while trick-or-treating.
Although some popular histories of Halloween have characterized trick-or-treating as an adult invention to rechannel Halloween activities away from vandalism, there are very few records supporting it. Des Moines, Iowa is the only area known to have a record of trick-or-treating being used to deter crime. Elsewhere, adults, as reported in newspapers from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, typically saw it as a form of extortion, with reactions ranging from bemused indulgence to anger. Likewise, as portrayed on radio shows, children would have to explain what trick-or-treating was to puzzled adults, and not the other way around. Sometimes even the children protested: for Halloween 1948, members of the Madison Square Boys Club in New York City carried a parade banner that read “American Boys Don’t Beg.” The National Confectioners Association reported in 2005 that 80 percent of adults in the United States planned to give out confectionery to trick-or-treaters, and that 93 percent of children, teenagers, and young adults planned to go trick-or-treating or participating in other Halloween activities. In 2008, Halloween candy, costumes and other related products accounted for $5.77 billion in revenue.

 

 
Some organizations around the US sponsor a “Trunk-or-Treat” on Halloween night (or on occasion, a day immediately preceding Halloween), where trick-or-treating is done from parked car to parked car in a local parking lot, often at a church house. The trunk of one’s car is opened, displaying candy, and often sometimes games and decorations. Concerned parents see it as safer for their children,[citation needed] while other parents see it as an easier alternative to walking the neighborhood with their kids. Opponents frown upon the Trunk-or-Treat as violation of the tradition of walking door-to-door on Halloween, and as exclusion of children that do not belong to these groups and thus are not informed about them. Some have called for more city or community group-sponsored Trunk-or-Treats, so they can be more inclusive. Many neighborhoods see a large reduction in door-to-door trick-or-treating because of a competing Trunk-or-Treat. These have become increasingly popular over the years especially in conservative states like Utah, and are catching on around Midwest and Southern states.
Churches are expanding on the original idea of trunk or treat by adding food, music, games and rides. Their goal is to reach more of the community with an alternative to trick or treat. It not only has become a way to provide an alternative for children in the church but to the entire community. They have also found that it opens up opportunities to invite parents and children to other events or services going on at the church. A number of churches have started handing out Halloween Christian tracts or other information on the church.

 

 

Magazine advertisement in 1962

Magazine advertisement in 1962

In Portugal children go from house to house in All Saints day and All Souls Day, carrying pumpkin carved lanterns called coca, asking every one they see for Pão-por-Deus singing rimes where they remind people why they are begging, saying “[…]It is for me and for you, and to give to the deceased who are dead and buried[…]” or “[…]It is to share with your deceased […]” If a door is not open or the children don’t get anything, they end their singing saying “[…]In this house smells like lard, here must live someone deceased”. In the Azores the bread given to the children takes the shape of the top of a skull. The tradition of pão-por-Deus was already recorded in the 15th century. After this ritual begging, takes place the Magusto and big bonfires are lit with the “firewood of the souls”. The young people play around smothering their faces with the ashes. The ritual begging for the deceased used to take place all over the year as in several regions the dead, those who were dear, were expected to arrive and take part in the major celebrations like Christmas and a plate with food or a seat at the table was always left for them.
In some parts of Canada, children sometimes say “Halloween apples” instead of “trick or treat.” This probably originated when the toffee apple was a popular type of candy. Apple-giving in much of Canada, however, has been taboo since the 1960s when stories (of almost certainly questionable authenticity) appeared of razors hidden inside Halloween apples; parents began to check over their children’s “loot” for safety before allowing them to eat it. In Quebec, children also go door to door on Halloween. However, in French speaking neighbourhoods, instead of “Trick or treat?”, they will simply say “Halloween”, though in tradition it used to be La charité s’il-vous-plaît (“Charity, please”).
In some parts of Ohio, Iowa, Massachusetts and other states, the night designated for trick-or-treating is referred to as Beggars Night, and in some communities it is held on a night prior to Halloween itself.

In Sweden children dress up as witches and go trick-or-treating on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) while Danish children dress up in various attires and go trick-or-treating on Fastelavn (or the next day, Shrove Monday). In Norway “trick-or-treat” is called “knask eller knep”, which means almost the same thing, although with the word order reversed, and the practice is quite common among children, who come dressed up to people’s doors asking for, mainly, candy. Many Norwegians prepare for the event by consciously buying a small stock of sweets prior to it, to come in handy should any kids come knocking on the door, which is very probable in most areas. The Easter witch tradition is done on Palm Sunday in Finland. In parts of Flanders and some parts of the Netherlands and most areas of Germany, Switzerland and Austria, children go to houses with home made beet lanterns or with paper lanterns (which can hold a candle or electronic light), singing songs about St. Martin on St. Martin’s Day (the 11th of November), in return for treats. In Northern Germany and Southern Denmark children dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating on New Year’s Eve in a tradition called “Rummelpott”.
Children of the St. Louis, Missouri area are expected to perform a joke, usually a simple Halloween-themed pun or riddle, before receiving any candy; this “trick” earns the “treat”. Children in Des Moines, Iowa also tell jokes or otherwise perform before receiving their treat. Des Moines trick-or-treating is also unusual in that it is actually done the night before Halloween, known locally as “Beggars’ Night”.
In many areas of the United States it is frowned upon for teenagers to trick-or-treat. In fact, several US cities have banned trick-or-treaters older than 12 from participating in the event.

 

 

 

Fish of the Week – Pike (Esox)

July 2, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Posted in fish | 1 Comment
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Esox is a genus of freshwater fish, the only living genus in the family Esocidae—the esocids which were endemic to North America,

Northern pike (E. lucius)

Northern pike (E. lucius)

Europe and Eurasia during the Paleogene through present.
The type species is E. lucius, the northern pike. The species of this genus are known as pike and pickerel, and in heraldry they are usually called lucy.
The big pike species are native to the Palearctic and Nearctic ecozones, ranging across northern North America and from Western Europe to Siberia in Eurasia. They have been found in many urban lakes in Western Europe, reported to be in the Rostrum (Lucerne) and the Serpentine, (London).
Pike can grow to a maximum recorded length of 1.83 metres (6 ft 0 in), reaching a maximum recorded weight of 35 kilograms (77 lb). The UK record pike of 21 kilograms (46 lb) was caught on a Creek Chub Pikie lure by Roy Lewis at Llandegfedd Reservoir in Wales in 1992. Individuals have been reported to reach 30 years in age. All pike over 5 kilograms (11 lb) in body weight are females. They have the elongated, torpedo-like form of predatory fishes, with sharply-pointed heads and sharp teeth. Their coloration is typically grey-green with a mottled or spotted appearance with stripes along their back, perfectly camouflaged among weeds. Individual pike marking patterns are unique, like fingerprints.

 

 

The generic name Esox (pike fish) derives from the Greek ίσοξ (a kind of fish), itself a word of Celtic origin related to the Welsh eog and Irish Gaelic iasc (fish). Pliny uses the Latin form esox in reference to a large fish in the Rhine normally identified with lax (salmon). It is likely that Carolus Linnaeus‘s application of Esox to the pike is thus a misnomer. he English common name “pike” is an apparent shortening of “pike-fish”, in reference to its pointed head, Old English píc originally referring to a pickaxe. The plural of pike is pike.
A northern English and Lowland Scots name for the pike, ged, similarly derives from Old Norse gaddr (spike) (cf. the modern Swedish name for the pike, gädda, the Danish “gedde”, the Norwegian “gjedde” and Scottish Gaelic: geadais). The Dutch name for the pike (snoek) has been given to a wide variety of fish reminding sailors of the pike (see snoek, snook).
The English “pike” originally referred specifically to the adult fish, the diminutive form “pickerel” (now used to name some of the smaller pike, E. americanus and E. niger) referring to the young. The walleye (Sander vitreus) is sometimes called a pickerel by Gerard, but it is unrelated to the pike, being a member of the perch family (family Percidae). Pike are not to be confused with the unrelated pikeminnows (traditionally, and perhaps better, known as squawfish) of genus Ptychocheilus (family Cyprinidae) or pikeperch (Sander lucioperca) which is more akin to walleye than to pike. Pike are also called “Jackfish” in North America and informally “Slough Shark” in Western Canada.

 

 

Pike feed on a wide range of food sources, predominantly smaller shoal fish. Pike are also cannibalistic, sometimes preying upon smaller members of their own species.
They will also prey on insects and amphibians such as newts or frogs in times when their usual food is scarce, and occasionally on small mammals like moles or mice when caught water-borne. Small birds such as ducklings may become a target for hungry pike. Pike are also known to prey on swimming snakes.
They are, however, undeserving of their reputation for being overly vicious predators. There are few substantiated incidents of pike ‘attacks’ on people. Pike’s further reputation as a pest seems to lie predominately amongst anglers who seek more desirable species.

 

 

Effective methods for catching this hard-fighting fish include dead baits, live baits, and lure fishing. Pike can easily be damaged when handled since they are not as robust as their reputation would suggest. Colour of lure can be influenced by water clarity and weather conditions. Since pike have numerous sharp teeth it is wise to take extreme care when unhooking them. The use of a wet leather gauntlet and surgical forceps to remove hooks is highly recommended on safety grounds. If practising catch and release fishing, care for the pike should be the pike angler’s utmost concern. The formerly recommended practice of grasping a pike by its eye sockets (tragically interpreted as “its eyes”) resulted in countless released pike that quickly died from inability to see prey any longer.
The current recommended method of grasping pike is to close the hand firmly over the gill covers, and to make the period of handling as short as possible before release. Grabbing a pike by the gill covers is not feasible when a pike is very big, but it is easy to handle a pike by inserting the fingers at the bottom of the gill opening and grabbing the lower jaw. Big pike should also be supported at the belly. When a pike is held this way it is also easier to keep the mouth open to remove a hook. Many anglers now use special grips to grab the pike’s front lower jaw, which can add to the safety of an anglers because of the danger imposed by the hooks of the lure or tackle and the pike’s teeth. The Pike Anglers Club was formed in 1977 to campaign for the preservation of pike and the sport of pike fishing.
A practice known as gut hooking was previously widely used in catching pike. Upon taking the bait, the pike will hold it for a short time in its mouth as it moves off. The pike will then, usually, turn the bait in its mouth, so that it sits in alignment with its throat to ease swallowing. It is recommended that when pike fishing the process is not allowed to go this far and a strike is recommended as soon as a bite is indicated. For this it is necessary to attach hooks on the head side as well as the middle of the baitfish. Otherwise, what is known as gut hooking will result, which will normally kill or seriously injure the fish. Dutch research shows that cutting the line immediately when the fish is gut hooked will still give low mortality (14%). The hooks in the gut or stomach were either encapsulated or removed from the body.
Other methods of catching and handing pike that are now frowned upon are the gaff and the gag. The gaff is a metal hook on the end of a pole used to hook through the fish’s body in place of a more humane landing net. A gag is a device for holding open the pike’s mouth whilst unhooking. These are now illegal in Scotland, as they put a huge amount of pressure on a pike’s jaw, thus causing irreparable damage.
Catching a 10 kg pike, kymppihauki (Finnish for “ten pike”), is considered as “earning one’s spurs” as a fisherman in Finland.

 

 

Although generally known as a “sporting” quarry, some anglers release pike they have caught because the flesh is considered bony,

A caught pike

A caught pike

especially due to the substantial (epipleural) “Y-bones”. Larger fish are more easily filleted, and pike have a long and distinguished history in cuisine and are popular fare in Europe. Historical references to cooking pike go as far back as the Romans. The flesh is white and mild-tasting. Fishing for pike is said to be very exciting with their aggressive hits and aerial acrobatics. Pike are among the largest North American freshwater game fish.
Because of their prolific and predatory nature, laws have been enacted in some places to help stop the spread of northern pike outside of their native range. For instance, in the states of Maine and California, anglers are required, by law, to remove the head from a pike once it has been caught. In Alaska, pike are native north and west of the Alaska Range, but have been illegally introduced to the south central Alaska by game fishermen. In south central Alaska, there is no limit in most areas. Pike are seen as a threat to native wild stocks of salmon by some fishery managers.
Notably in Britain and Ireland, pike are greatly admired as a sporting fish and they are returned alive to the water in order to safeguard future sport and maintain the balance of a fishery.[clarification needed] The Pike Anglers Club has campaigned to preserve pike since 1977, arguing that the removal of pike from waters can lead to an explosion of smaller fish and to ensure pike removal stops, which is damaging to both the sport fishery and the environment.

 

Fish of the Week – Haddock

May 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Posted in fish | Leave a comment
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The haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is a marine fish distributed on both sides of the North Atlantic. Haddock is a popular food

Haddock at the New England Aquarium

Haddock at the New England Aquarium

fish and is widely fished commercially.
The haddock is easily recognized by a black lateral line running along its white side (not to be confused with pollock which has the reverse, i.e. white line on black side) and a distinctive dark blotch above the pectoral fin, often described as a “thumbprint” or even the “Devil’s thumbprint” or “St. Peter’s mark”.
Haddock is most commonly found at depths of 40 to 133 m (130 to 436 ft), but has a range as deep as 300 m (980 ft). It thrives in temperatures of 2 to 10°C (36 to 50°F). Juveniles prefer shallower waters and larger adults deeper water. Generally, adult haddock do not engage in long migratory behaviour as do the younger fish, but seasonal movements have been known to occur across all ages. Haddock feed primarily on small invertebrates, although larger members of the species may occasionally consume fish.

 

 

Growth rates of haddock have changed significantly over the past 30 to 40 years. Presently, growth is more rapid, with haddock reaching their adult size much earlier than previously noted. However, the degree to which these younger fish contribute to reproductive success of the population is unknown. Growth rates of haddock, however, had slowed in recent years. Some evidence indicates it may be the result of an exceptionally large year class in 2003. Spawning occurs between January and June, peaking during late March and early April. The most important spawning grounds are in the waters off middle Norway, near southwest Iceland, and Georges Bank. An average-sized female produces approximately 850,000 eggs, and larger females are capable of producing up to 3 million eggs each year.

 

 

Reaching sizes up to 1.1 m (3 ft 7 in), haddock is fished for year-round. Some of the methods used are Danish seine nets, trawlers, long lines and fishing nets. The commercial catch of haddock in North America had declined sharply in recent years, but is now recovering, with recruitment rates running around where they historically were from the 1930s to 1960s.
In 2010, Greenpeace International has added the haddock to its seafood red list. “The Greenpeace International seafood red list is a list of fish that are commonly sold in supermarkets around the world, and which have a very high risk of being sourced from unsustainable fisheries.”
Haddock populations on the offshore grounds of Georges Bank off New England and Nova Scotia have made a remarkable comeback with the adoption of catch shares management program, and are currently harvested at only a fraction of sustainable yields.

 

Haddock is a very popular food fish, sold fresh, smoked, frozen, dried, or to a small extent canned. Haddock, along with cod and plaice,

Smoked Haddock served with onions and red peppers

Smoked Haddock served with onions and red peppers

is one of the most popular fish used in British fish and chips.
Fresh haddock has a clean, white flesh and can be cooked in the same ways as cod. Freshness of a haddock fillet can be determined by how well it holds together, as a fresh one will be firm; also, fillets should be translucent, while older fillets turn chalky (nearly opaque). Young, fresh haddock and cod fillets are often sold as scrod in Boston, Massachusetts; this refers to the size of the fish which have a variety of sizes, i.e. scrod, markets, and cows. Haddock is the predominant fish of choice in Scotland in a fish supper. It is also the main ingredient of Norwegian fishballs (fiskeboller).
Unlike the related cod, haddock does not salt well and is often preserved by drying and smoking.
The smoking of haddock was highly refined in Grimsby. Traditional Grimsby smoked fish (mainly haddock, but sometimes cod) is produced in the traditional smokehouses in Grimsby, which are mostly family-run businesses that have developed their skills over many generations. Grimsby fish market sources its haddock from the North East Atlantic, principally Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands. These fishing grounds are sustainably managed and have not seen the large scale depreciation in fish stocks seen in EU waters.
One popular form of haddock is Finnan haddie which takes its name from the fishing village of Finnan or Findon in Scotland, where it was originally cold-smoked over peat. Finnan haddie is often served poached in milk for breakfast.
The town of Arbroath on the east coast of Scotland produces the Arbroath smokie. This is a hot-smoked haddock which requires no further cooking before eating.
Smoked haddock naturally has an off-white colour; it is very often dyed yellow, as are other smoked fish. Smoked haddock is the essential ingredient in the Anglo-Indian dish kedgeree.

 

 
Baked Haddock
INGREDIENTS:
3/4 cup 2% milk
2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 cup Progresso Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground dried thyme
4 haddock fillets
1/4 cup butter, melted (Blue Bonnet Light Stick Butter)

 
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
2. In a small bowl, combine the milk and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and thyme. Dip the haddock fillets in the milk, then press into the crumb mixture to coat. Place haddock fillets in a glass baking dish, and drizzle with melted butter.
3. Bake on the top rack of the preheated oven until the fish flakes easily, about 15 minutes.

 

 

Nutrition
Information
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Calories: 325
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 15.7g
Cholesterol: 103mg
Sodium: 1565mg
Amount Per Serving
Total Carbs: 17g
Dietary Fiber: 0.9g
Protein: 27.7g

One of America’s Favorites – Oatmeal

April 8, 2013 at 9:56 AM | Posted in cooking | Leave a comment
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Oatmeal, also known as white oats is ground oat groats (i.e. oat-meal, cf. cornmeal, peasemeal, etc.), or a porridge made from oats

Rolled oats, a type of oatmeal

Rolled oats, a type of oatmeal

(also called oatmeal cereal or stirabout, in Ireland). Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats.

The oat grains are de-husked by impact, then heated and cooled to stabilize the “Oat groats”, the seed inside the husk. The process of heating produces a nutty flavour in the oats. These oat groats may be milled to produce fine, medium or coarse oatmeal. Rolled oats are steamed and flattened whole oat groats. Steel cut oats may be small and broken groats from the de-husking process; these may be steamed and flattened to produce smaller rolled oats. Quick-cooking rolled oats (quick oats) are cut into small pieces before being steamed and rolled. Instant oatmeal is pre-cooked and dried, usually with sweetener and flavouring added. Both types of rolled oats may be eaten uncooked as in muesli or may be cooked to make porridge. It is also used as an ingredient in oatmeal cookies and oat cakes, or as an accent, as in the topping on many oat bran breads and the coating on Caboc cheese. Oatmeal is also sometimes porridge with the bran or fibrous husk as well as the oat kernel or groat. In some countries rolled oats are eaten raw with milk and sugar or raisins. Oatmeal is also used as a thickening agent in savoury Arabic/Egyptian thick meat plus vegetable soups.
An oatmeal bath, made by adding a cup of finely ground oatmeal to one’s bathwater, is also commonly used to ease the discomfort associated with such things as chickenpox, poison ivy, eczema, sunburn and dry skin.

There has been increasing interest in oatmeal in recent years because of its health benefits. Daily consumption of a bowl of oatmeal can lower blood cholesterol, because of its soluble fibre content. After it was reported that oats can help lower cholesterol, an “oat bran craze” swept the U.S. in the late 1980s, peaking in 1989. The food craze was short-lived and faded by the early 1990s. The popularity of oatmeal and other oat products increased again after the January 1997 decision by the Food and Drug Administration that food with a lot of oat bran or rolled oats can carry a label claiming it may reduce the risk of heart disease when combined with a low-fat diet. This is because of the beta-glucan in the oats. Rolled oats have long been a staple of many athletes’ diets, especially weight trainers, because of its high content of complex carbohydrates and water-soluble fibre that encourages slow digestion and stabilizes blood-glucose levels. Oatmeal porridge also contains more B vitamins and calories than other kinds of porridges.

Oatmeal has a long history in Scottish culinary tradition because oats are better suited than wheat to Scotland’s short, wet growing

Oatmeal is a prime ingredient of haggis, seen here at a Burns supper

Oatmeal is a prime ingredient of haggis, seen here at a Burns supper

season. Oats became the staple grain of that country. The Ancient universities of Scotland had a holiday called Meal Monday to permit students to return to their farms and collect more oats for food.
Samuel Johnson referred, disparagingly, to this in his dictionary definition for oats: “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” His biographer, James Boswell, noted that Lord Elibank was said by Sir Walter Scott to have retorted, “Yes, and where else will you see such horses and such men?”
A common method of cooking oatmeal in Scotland is to soak it overnight in salted water and cook on a low heat in the morning for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.
In Scotland, oatmeal is created by grinding oats into a coarse powder. Various grades are available depending on the thoroughness of the grinding, including Coarse, Pin(head) and Fine oatmeal. The main uses are:
* Traditional porridge
* Brose: a thick mixture made with uncooked oatmeal (or medium oatmeal that has been dry toasted by stirring it around in a dry pot over heat until it turns a slightly darker shade and emits a sweet, nutty fragrance) and then adding butter or cream. Brose is eaten like porridge but much more filling.
* Quick-cooking rolled oats(distinct from “instant” variations) are often used for this purpose nowadays, because they are quicker to prepare.
* Gruel, made by mixing oatmeal with cold water that is strained and heated for the benefit of infants and people recovering from illness.
* in the manufacture of bannocks or oatcakes
* as a stuffing for poultry
* as a coating for Caboc cheese
* as the main ingredient of the Scottish dish skirlie, or its chip-shop counterpart, the deep-fried thickly-battered mealy pudding
* mixed with sheep’s blood, salt, and pepper to make Highland black pudding (marag dubh).
* mixed with fat, water, onions and seasoning, and boiled in a sheep’s intestine to make “marag geal”‘ Outer Hebridean white pudding, served sliced with fried eggs at breakfast. A sweeter version with dried fruit is also known.
* as a major component of haggis.
* in sowans, not strictly made from the meal itself but a porridge-like dish made from the fermented inner husks of oats.

In the U.S. state of Vermont, oatmeal making has a long tradition originating with the Scottish settlement of the state. While there are variations, most begin with heavy steel cut oats. The oats are soaked overnight in cold water, salt, and maple syrup. Early the next morning, before beginning farm chores, the cook adds ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, and sometimes ground ginger. The pot is placed over heat and cooked for 90 minutes or more, and served after the chores with cream, milk, or butter. As most contemporary Vermonters no longer have farm chores, the recipe is simplified to a briefer 10 to 30 minute cooking at a higher heat. Vermont leads the U.S. in per capita consumption of cooked oatmeal cereal.

The havregrynsgröt – porridge made from rolled oats, water and/or milk and often added raisins – is a traditional breakfast staple in Sweden. Porridge made from rye (vattgröt) or barley (bjuggröt) was more common during the Middle Ages.

It’s Halloween

October 31, 2012 at 2:43 PM | Posted in cooking | Leave a comment
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Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ Evening”), also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows (or All Saints). According to many scholars, it was originally influenced by western European harvest festivals and festivals of the dead with possible pagan roots, particularly the Celtic Samhain. Others maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has Christian roots.
Typical festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (also known as “guising”), attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films.

 

The word Halloween was first used in the 16th century and represents a Scottish variant of the fuller All Hallows’ Even (‘evening’), that is, the night before All Hallows’ Day. Although the phrase All Hallows’ is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, mass-day of all saints), All Hallows’ Even is itself not seen until 1556.

North American almanacs of the late 18th and early 19th century give no indication that Halloween was celebrated there. The Puritans of New England, for example, maintained strong opposition to Halloween and it was not until the mass Irish and Scottish immigration during the 19th century that it was brought to North America in earnest. Confined to the immigrant communities during the mid-19th century, it was gradually assimilated into mainstream society and by the first decade of the 20th century it was being celebrated coast to coast by people of all social, racial and religious backgrounds.

 

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween, but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which is both much softer and much larger – making it easier to carve than a turnip. Subsequently, the mass marketing of various size pumpkins in autumn, in both the corporate and local markets, has made pumpkins universally available for this purpose. The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837 and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.

 

The modern imagery of Halloween comes from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula) and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy). One of the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne, who, in 1780, made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies” (ghosts), influencing Robert Burns’ Halloween 1785. Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.
Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, and mythical monsters. Black, orange, and sometimes puprle are Halloween’s traditional colors.

 

Trick-or-treating is a customary celebration for children on Halloween. Children go in costume from house to house, asking for treats such as candy (sweets) or sometimes money, with the question, “Trick or treat?” The word “trick” refers to a (mostly idle) “threat” to perform mischief on the homeowners or their property if no treat is given.
In Scotland and Ireland, guising – children disguised in costume going from door to door for food or coins – is a traditional Halloween custom, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895 where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money. The practice of Guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going “guising” around the neighborhood.
American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of Halloween in the US; The Book of Hallowe’en (1919), and references souling in the chapter “Hallowe’en in America”:
The taste in Hallowe’en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn’s poem Hallowe’en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe’en is out of fashion now.
In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; “Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Halloween customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries”. While the first reference to “guising” in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.
The earliest known use in print of the term “trick or treat” appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta, Canada:
Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.

 

The thousands of Halloween postcards produced between the turn of the 20th century and the 1920s commonly show children but not trick-or-treating. The editor of a collection of over 3,000 vintage Halloween postcards writes, “There are cards which mention the custom [of trick-or-treating] or show children in costumes at the doors, but as far as we can tell they were printed later than the 1920s and more than likely even the 1930s. Tricksters of various sorts are shown on the early postcards, but not the means of appeasing them”. Trick-or-treating does not seem to have become a widespread practice until the 1930s, with the first U.S. appearances of the term in 1934, and the first use in a national publication occurring in 1939.

 

Halloween costumes are traditionally modeled after supernatural figures such as monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Over time, the costume selection extended to include popular characters from fiction, celebrities, and generic archetypes such as ninjas and princesses.
Dressing up in costumes and going “guising” was prevalent in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween by the late 19th century. Costuming became popular for Halloween parties in the US in the early 20th century, as often for adults as for children. The first mass-produced Halloween costumes appeared in stores in the 1930s when trick-or-treating was becoming popular in the United States.
Halloween costume parties generally fall on or around October 31, often on the Friday or Saturday before Halloween.

 

Haunted attractions are entertainment venues designed to thrill and scare patrons. Most attractions are seasonal Halloween businesses. Origins of these paid scare venues are difficult to pinpoint, but it is generally accepted that they were first commonly used by the Junior Chamber International (Jaycees) for fundraising. They include haunted houses, corn mazes, and hayrides, and the level of sophistication of the effects has risen as the industry has grown. Haunted attractions in the United States bring in an estimate $300–500 million each year, and draw some 400,000 customers, although press sources writing in 2005 speculated that the industry had reached its peak at that time. This maturing and growth within the industry has led to technically more advanced special effects and costuming, comparable with that of Hollywood films.

 

Because Halloween comes in the wake of the yearly apple harvest, candy apples (known as toffee apples outside North America), caramel or taffy apples are common Halloween treats made by rolling whole apples in a sticky sugar syrup, sometimes followed by rolling them in nuts.
At one time, candy apples were commonly given to children, but the practice rapidly waned in the wake of widespread rumors that some individuals were embedding items like pins and razor blades in the apples in the United States. While there is evidence of such incidents, they are quite rare and have never resulted in serious injury. Nonetheless, many parents assumed that such heinous practices were rampant because of the mass media. At the peak of the hysteria, some hospitals offered free X-rays of children’s Halloween hauls in order to find evidence of tampering. Virtually all of the few known candy poisoning incidents involved parents who poisoned their own children’s candy.
One custom that persists in modern-day Ireland is the baking (or more often nowadays, the purchase) of a barmbrack (Irish: báirín breac), which is a light fruitcake, into which a plain ring, a coin and other charms are placed before baking. It is said that those who get a ring will find their true love in the ensuing year. This is similar to the tradition of king cake at the festival of Epiphany.
List of foods associated with Halloween:
*Barmbrack (Ireland)
*Bonfire toffee (Great Britain)
*Candy apples/toffee apples (Great Britain & Ireland)
*Candy corn, candy pumpkins (North America)
*Caramel apples
*Caramel corn
*Colcannon (Ireland)
*Novelty candy shaped like skulls, pumpkins, bats, worms, etc.
*Pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread
*Roasted pumpkin seeds
*Roasted sweet corn
*Soul cakes

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