Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Apple juice or apple cider?

Around here, there are a lot of folks who ring in the new year with this stuff

It's celebratory, it has bubbles, but it doesn't have alcohol, which makes it very popular.    They have some tasty variations (grape, cranberry etc.,) and it even comes in cute little mini bottles (which, incidentally, the alcoholic versions do not, in Utah at least.)

So my husband looked at me today and said, what's the difference between apple cider and apple juice anyway?  I didn't know and thus this blog post was born.

Turns out the difference is pretty simple.  It depends on where you are.    In the USA there are not strict rules defining juice and cider, but the general consensus seems to be that apple juice is filtered and the pulp removed (not sure why the filtering doesn't apply to orange juice, since you can buy it with pulp, which would, if this definition were applied, make it cider....I think)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

George Bernard Shaw and the Shavian Alphabet

You know those funny little slideshows MSN puts together to hook people into reading more on their site?  They ALWAYS get me.  Today's headline "Weirdest stuff stars left their heirs"  I got about four people in and found this interesting tidbit : George Bernard Shaw left money in his will to fund the creation of a new alphabet.  After perusing said alphabet, I can see why it didn't catch on.    You can read more about it here.

This image is also from that site.  I can't imagine writing with these symbols but maybe it would be the same as the standard alphabet if it were how I were taught.  It looks like hieroglyphics  to me!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Renting Chickens?

MSN often has funny little nuggets like this (haha, nuggets....I'm mildly entertained by that un-intentional pun) is a company in Pennsylvania which MSN wrote a story about here

A link at the bottom of the story lead me to this story which I also found mildly entertaining.

Renting chickens seems like a good idea to me.  You can see if perhaps you enjoy keeping them, benefitting from their eggs etc., and if you find you don't enjoy it, you can simply return the chickens. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Telling Room

The reference librarian with whom I am interning at the Springville Public Library also orders adult non-fiction for the collection.  I got to help her work on an order today, and one of the books on the New York Times Bestseller hard cover nonfiction list this week is called The Telling Room (That link is to the NYT review) which is a book about the world's most expensive cheese.  The fact that there is a not only a BOOK about this subject, but that is on the best seller list, is one of the reason's I'm studying to be a librarian.  I LOVE that people write and read about so many interesting things!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The world's most expensive spice

Sometimes I think I should have a whole section on this blog called "Who decided this was edible?".  Although, that needs to be made more catchy somehow.....

Today at work, someone asked me about saffron threads.  I had heard of saffron, but never saffron threads.  Apparently, they are the individually hand harvest stamens of the crocus flower and is the most expensive spice in the world. 

The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion says this:

"It's no wonder that saffron—the yellow-orange stigmas from a small purple crocus (Crocus sativus)—is the world's most expensive spice. Each flower provides only three stigmas, which must be carefully hand-picked and then dried—an extremely labor-intensive process. It takes over 14,000 of these tiny stigmas for each ounce of saffron ... " (emphasis mine)

Interestingly, the Cambridge World History of Food posits the number of flowers as this:

"It has been estimated that, at three stigmas per plant, upwards of 250,000 of these crocus flowers are required to yield a pound of saffron. "

So I wonder, who figured out that the inside of a flower is so tasty?  Considering how long it takes to dry and how MANY flowers they have to harvest to make it usable, it just seems odd than anyone figured that out.   The Cambridge World History of Food has a whole section titled "Determining what our ancestors ate" which addresses how we know what people ate thousands of years ago; I think you could write an interesting book, or at least an essay about the stories of food 'discovery'. 

The history of Saffron:

Again, the Cambridge World History of Food:

"Native to the eastern Mediterranean, saffron was used in cooking for thousands of years before the Romans built their empire. Indeed, some credit Phoenician traders with introducing it in Spain - the country that today is the leading producer for the commercial market.

The word saffron comes from the Arabic word for “yellow,” and its distinctive color and taste grace Spanish, Cuban, French, and Indian cuisines, especially their rice dishes. It is a vital ingredient in an authentic bouillabaisse or paella as well as the saffron bread of a traditional Swedish feast. Saffron also goes well with poultry, in tomato-based sauces and stews, and in liqueurs such as Chartreuse. The spice is marketed as dried threads and in ground form. Unfortunately, much adulteration of ground saffron occurs, including its near-total replacement with turmeric - a crime that in fifteenth-century Germany drew a penalty of execution by burning or burying alive." (Cambridge World History of Food)

That last bit is one of my favorite items of interest.  Saffron was so special that you could be killed for replacing it with something else.

And a bit more info, from the Deluxe Food Lovers Companion:

"Thousands of years ago saffron was used not only to flavor food and beverages but to make medicines and to dye cloth and body oils a deep yellow. Today this pungent, aromatic spice is primarily used to flavor and tint food. Fortunately (because it's so pricey), a little saffron goes a long way. It's integral to hundreds of dishes like bouillabaisse, risotto Milanese and paella, and flavors many European baked goods."

Incidentally, from what I have found in other sources, the flavor of saffron is nearly impossible to replicate although some say safflower has some, minimal similarity.  The color of saffron can be replicated by several other additives including turmeric, safflower, annato seeds and marigold flowers


SAFFRON. (2000). In Cambridge World History of Food.  Accessed through University of North Texas Online Resources.Password required.

This resource is also available in hard copy and some preview elements are available on the official website.

SAFFRON :SPICE GLOSSARY. (2009). In The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion.   Accessed through University of North Texas Online Resources. Password required.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Dame of Dictionaries

So many interesting people in the world!  This article/profile was shared on the LM-Net listserv.  A woman in New York City collects dictionaries of all sorts.  This collection would be so fascinating to peruse as I love words and etymology.  Her name is Madeline Kripke, and you can read about her here.

The website is interesting as well; a site called It summarizes itself  in the 'footer' at the bottom of each page with this "Narratively is a community of talented storytellers who are devoted to uncovering and sharing in-depth local stories with a universal appeal."  Read their about page here.

The theme the website was focusing on this week was miniature museums (other featured collections included a woman's troll collection and a collection of things found left in books that had presumably been used as bookmarks.

Friday, August 16, 2013

"My 2 favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles.  They both move people forward, without wasting anything.  The perfect day: riding a bike to the library"  Peter Golkin.

As seen on