Monthly Archives: September 2010

Why Pie is the best dessert

For one, thing, they’ve been around since the time of the Egyptians in like 9500 B.C. They didn’t eat the crust, it was originally made as a dish that the stew or fruit or sauces.  Some cook didn’t have a pot to cook in, so he (or maybe she, hard to say) made a crust out of flour and water and cooked in it. Apparently the crust, which was to hard to eat,  was broken up after the nobles had eaten and handed out to the serfs.  I guess they managed to eat it. Hunger is a great motivator.

The Greeks picked up this little recipe and made their own version of pie. They also invented pi (π), but that’s a different thing. The standard pie moved to England and spread all over Europe. Someone dreamed up the idea of incorporating fat into the crust, and the modern-day pie was born.

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the first use of the word “pie” as it relates to food to 1303, noting the word was well-known and popular by 1362.

“Pie…a word whose meaning has evolved in the course of many centuries and which varies to some extent according to the country or even to region….The derivation of the word may be from magpie, shortened to pie. The explanation offered in favour or this is that the magpie collects a variety of things, and that it was an essential feature of early pies that they contained a variety of ingredients….Early pies were large; but one can now apply the name to something small, as the small pork pies or mutton pies…Early pies had pastry tops, but modern pies may have a topping of something else…or even be topless. If the basic concept of a pie is taken to mean a mixture of ingredients encased and cooked in pastry, then proto-pies were made in the classical world and pies certainly figured in early Arab cookery.”
The Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] (p. 602-3)

So, worldwide baking was taking place!

When the pilgrims came to America, they brought the pie with them. They discovered a multitude of fruits and berries that could go into a pie, and the apple pie was born.  With this long history, bakers have been able to refine and perfect recipes, which is why is the best dessert anywhere!

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Halloween Party Ideas

Some of the best parties are thrown on Halloween, whether they are for kids, or adult costume parties. Here are some unique ideas for decorations, costumes and food!


It’s always more fun to make your own. Here are a few easy things to do:

1. Colored light bulbs. Make the lighting eerie with red and blue bulbs.

2. Make a few headless men (or women), using used clothes stuffed with rags. A little fake blood (recipe below) and you have a scary creation to hang on the back of the bathroom door or in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen.

3. Good with a  saw? Cut outlines of coffins out of light plywood, and paint black with a white skull and crossbones, and stand them in corners. Or cut out tombstones and write R.I.P on them.

4.  Use some of the ideas here: to carve cool and interesting pumpkins.

5.  Make some scarecrows and put them around the yard.

6.  Cut black plastic trash bags into strips and hang them in a stairwell. Add fake spider webs and fake plastic spiders for a great effect. You can make spider webs out of cotton batting, or buy them cheaply around Halloween at your local dollar store.

Fake Blood recipes:

Costume Ideas

For adults:

1. One of my favorite all-time costumes was one I wore when I was younger (and slimmer). I took a plastic trash barrel and painted it to look like a barrel, with straps for the shoulders. Inside I attached a plastic water dispenser, with a tap that was outside the barrel. I filled it with wine, and became a person dressed in a barrel that dispensed wine. Of course, for modesty I wore a leotard underneath.

2. What could be easier than a witch costume? Wear your most flattering black clothes, grab a pointy hat from the dollar store, and have fun with makeup. Bring along a broom for effect.

3.  How about the old standby, a hippie? Tie die clothing, long wig , sandals, headband, anything with a fringe on it (vests, purse…) light colored sun glasses.

4. Hunchback of Notre Dame: Build the hunch out of foam or cardboard.  Find an old coat several sizes too big.  Add some old, ratty clothes and wear a scraggly wig.

For Kids:

1. Spider- wear black tights, (tops and bottoms) and add black pantyhose filled with anything dark and lightweight for the legs. Sew the 8 legs to the tights, add a little makeup, voila!

2. Grab a friend and take 2 cardboard boxes, paint them white.  Cut out several black circles (From construction paper) and glue them in the appropriate places to make you and your friend a pair of dice!

3. Wear any pants you want and an over-sized white shirt or smock, splattered with paint. You can also smudge some paint on your face, hands, etc.

Using a piece of cardboard, cut out a paint palette shape. Use paint to make 4 or 5 circles of paint on the palette. Glue an old paintbrush to the palette. Let dry.

For a finishing touch, use eyeliner to draw a small mustache and goatee, and don’t forget a beret!

Many more ideas here:


It depends on whether you want to get all Halloween on the food, and potentially gross your guests out, Or have an easy meal that will keep them happy.

Go the gross route here:

Or make it easy on yourself and order a couple of Family-sized Chicken Pot pies, a few orders of BabyBack ribs and beef brisket, and some pierogies and some delicious desserts from!


The First Diet

The idea of dieting to lose weight is really a fairly modern concept. For centuries, people worked and hunted to get enough food, often working sun up till sundown to achieve this aim!  There is a reason so many old recipes call for pork fat and bacon and lots of it! People working that hard needed as many calories as they could get!

Nutrition is also a modern concept. People in the early centuries thought one food was as good as another, and didn’t differentiate. But this meant that some people did gain weight, because the foods they were able to obtain, or the foods they preferred to eat, caused weight gain. People who had sedentary jobs, or who were gluttons, would and could gain weight.

Along came an obese man named William Banting in England in about 1850. He was having trouble getting around, and decided that losing weight would alleviate the pain in his ankles. He went to his doctor, who told him there was no cure for obesity, that some people just had it.

A fascinating article here details what Mr. Banting went through in an attempt to shed pounds:

“Banting went into hospital twenty times in as many years for weight reduction. He tried swimming, walking, riding and taking the sea air. He drank “gallons of physic and liquor potassae”, took the spa waters at Leamington, Cheltenham and Harrogate, and tried low-calorie, starvation diets; he took Turkish baths at a rate of up to three a week for a year but lost only 6 pounds in all that time, and had less and less energy.”

Finally a chance encounter with Dr. William Harvey, an ear, nose and throat specialist, started Banting on the right track.  Harvey’s advice to him was to give up bread, butter, milk, sugar, beer and potatoes. These, he told Banting, contained starch and sugar tending to create fat and were to be avoided altogether.

The first low-carb diet was begun! Banting lost 50 pounds in 50 weeks, and was thrilled! He wrote a pamphlet called, “Letter On Corpulence Addressed to the Public”. This was the first diet book, and was not well received by the medical community. But the public loved it.

The booklet later went into four editions, and achieved worldwide circulation after being translated into French and German. 68,000 copies of the booklet were sold over the next six years.