Saturday, June 29, 2013


So, we went up to the Heber Valley Railroad to ride their new Dinosaur Train.  While the train ride itself is always fun for the kids, the event itself was underwhelming at best.  I did enjoy the "Dinosaur Hunting License" they gave the kids.

I already know a fair amount about dinosaurs because of my time as a volunteer junior docent at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price. 

For example, do you know how to differentiate an Allosaurus from a Tyrannosaurs Rex? Look at the claws.  "Al" has three, T-Rex only has two.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hot, hot, hot!

Record heat out here in the West this weekend. So, for your entertainment, and my own edification, I have looked up the record hottest temperature ever recorded.

According to Wikipedia, it was Furnace Creek Ranch (formerly Greenland Ranch), in Death Valley, California, United States July 10th, 1913, and the record temp was 134 degrees.

This is actually a change from the previous world record, which was deemed likely inaccurate (due to several factors) by a World Meteorological Organization Commission (according to in 2012.  That record was 136 degrees in what is now modern-day Libya. 

This weekend, it is predicted that the temperature will reach 128 on Saturday and 129 on Sunday.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dunkin Donuts

So a Dunkin' Donuts opened in Salt Lake this week and that inspired me to do a post about donuts.

What makes a doughnut a doughnut?

Essentially, a doughnut is sweet, deep fried dough. Some purists also insist that they be round, with a hole in the middle, but, in my opinion, that would exclude any kind of filled donut.  It can be topped, or filled with various things and most cultures around the world have some variety of pastry which could be called a donut. According to WiseGeek, "In the United States, a Captain Mason Gregory is credited with the invention of the classic round doughnut, which cooks quickly and evenly in a deep fryer." 

Dough for a doughnut is generally one of two type, yeast or cake.  Interestingly, although cake donuts are often referred to as old-fashioned, theories indicate it was probably the yeast donut that came first, using up left over dough scraps from other yeast containing pastries. 

Donuts or Doughnuts? 

The original spelling of the word is doughnuts and that is the prevalent spelling in most of the world. Like most things, however, the good old U.S. of A. has to go it's own way and spells it 'donuts'

For example, the Lihapiirakka is a dish found in Finland which is described as a 'meat donut' or meat pie. 

My Malaysian friend at work says they make a curry puff with pastry dough that's kind of donut like.

I also found this  recipe for a 'cronut' which is part croissant, part donut

Interestingly, these Cronuts are apparently a HUGE deal in New York City, as you can read here

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wish locks

A friend of mine posted about this cool tradition a few months ago, and my sister-in-law Joanna posted about the one she saw in New York recently.  They are called 'love locks' or 'wish locks' and are padlocks placed on bridges all over the world.

The original bridge, at least according to ABC, is described here

Essentially, the story is that a couple used to visit the bridge to pledge their love, but when the man was sent off to war, he met another woman and ended up marrying her, leaving the first woman bereft..  For some reason, that inspired people to buy padlocks, paint or engrave the name of their love on it and then throw the key to the lock into the river. 

One of the most famous is the Pont des Arts in Paris, which you can read about here and here

The tradition seems to have spread all over the globe, with some police department regularly cutting the locks and removing them from the bridge, citing public safety concerns related to the weight of the locks putting strain on the bridges.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Paving substances

Okay, it's kind of random.  The other day on Radio from Hell, Bill asked me if I knew what macadam was, and I didn't.  So, I had to rectify that, and this post is the result!

Essentially, macadam is crushed up stone which is then cemented together.  It's called macadam after the inventor, John Loudon McAdam. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia)   It was a common road surfacing technique in the early 1800's

The Chambers Dictionary of Eponyms relates the following story about McAdams:  "It is said that as a small boy McAdam laid out model roads in his back garden - but it was years later, after spending some time in America, that he returned to Scotland, to discover that the roads in the estate that he had bought in Ayrshire were, like most roads, in a poor condition. McAdam set to work to improve the state of the roads, experimenting in Ayrshire and later in Falmouth." McAdams later became the "surveyor general of all British metropolitan roads."

A form of macadamization appears to still be used as a road base, but modern roads are finished with a top layer of asphalt as shown in the image below :

Elements of a modern asphalt road.
© Merriam-Webster Inc.

McAdam was a well known enough figure to inspire the cartoon below

Mock-Adam-izing: the Colossus of Roads, a lampoon of John MacAdam, 1827

The subject came up on RFH because aacadam was listed as one of the 101 Inventions that Changed the World exhibit at The Leonardo in Salt Lake.

Popular Mechanics also had a similar story about 101 gadgets that changed the world.


Mock-Adam-izing: the Colossus of Roads, a lampoon of John MacAdam, 1827. (2008). In The Bridgeman Art Library Archive

macadam. (2012). In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.

macadam. (2004). In Chambers Dictionary of Eponyms.

road. (2012). In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 

Note: These sources were retrieved from the UNT Electronic Resources provided to students; they are not openly available on the internet, but your public library may have access to them through their online subscription databases.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I love pineapple, so todays post will include a recipe or two as well as some interesting info about the history and cultivation of pineapple.

The original domesticators of the pineapple are disputed, but most agree that it was first seen in South America; Columbus wrote that it resembled a pine cone and dubbed it the 'Pine of the Indies'

Interestingly, although they are widely associated with Hawaii, they were not introduced to the islands as a crop until the late 18th century. Many now consider it to be the state's most important food crop.

The pineapple plant is a perennial which grows low to the ground.  A new commercial pineapple plant generally takes a year (sometimes up to 20 months, which would be almost two years) before it is mature enough to bear fruit.  Once a fruit does form, it takes five to six months to become fully ripe for picking. Despite being increasingly available fresh due to transport technology innovations, much of the world's pineapple crop is still canned or turned into pineapple juice.

If you are ever on the island of Oahu, make sure to schedule a stop at the Dole Pineapple plantation, which has an excellent tour and a gift shop on site.  I'm told that it is one of only three locations where you can purchase Dole Whip (Disneyland and Disneyworld both offer the treat as well according to their websites.  I can only verify Disneyland, as I've never been to Disneyworld)Fortunately, there are several mimic recipes available on the web and are often shared on Facebook and Pinterest.

There are several varieties of pineapple.  As explained in the New Food Lover's Companion:

"The Cayenne pineapple, the longer and more cylindrical of the two, has a golden-yellow skin and long, swordlike leaves sprouting from a single tuft. The Red Spanish pineapple is squatter in shape, has a reddish golden-brown skin and leaves that radiate from several tufts. Mexico grows a third variety called the Sugar Loaf, a large, exquisitely flavored specimen whose skin is still green when ripe. Because it doesn’t ship well, the Sugar Loaf is rarely imported into the United States."

The Red Spanish is more commonly grown in South America, while the Cayenne is the variety most commonly grown in Hawaii.



PINEAPPLE. (2000). In Cambridge World History of Food
Pineapple. (2006). In McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
pineapple. (2012). In Britannica Concise Encyclopedia.
pineapple. (2007). In The New Food Lover's Companion, Barron's.

Pineapple Recipes!


Dole Whip



  1. 2 20 ounce cans Dole crushed pineapple with juice
  2. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 2 tablespoons lime juice
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped


  1. Drain pineapple; reserve 2 tablespoons juice. Set aside.
  2. Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved pineapple juice in blender or food processor container; cover and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into two 1-quart freezer zipped bags and store bags flat in freezer.
  4. Freeze 1-1/2 hours or until slushy.
  5. Stir pineapple slush gently into whipped cream until slightly blended, in large bowl.
  6. Return to freezer until completely frozen, about 1 hour.


Pineapple Chicken Tenders

recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: HJR
Photo By: aussiemum
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Servings: 10
"Skewered chicken tenders are brushed with a tropical mixture of pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce, and grilled."
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light soy sauce
2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins or
1.In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Remove from heat just before the mixture comes to a boil.
2.Place chicken tenders in a medium bowl. Cover with the pineapple marinade, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3.Preheat grill for medium heat. Thread chicken lengthwise onto wooden skewers.
4.Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill chicken tenders 5 minutes per side, or until juices run clear. They cook quickly, so watch them closely.

If you eat a lot of fresh pineapple, I highly recommend investing in a pineapple corer, there are lots of varieties available out there

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Antoinette Perry Awards

The Tony Awards have always been a big deal at my house, because I am a huge musical theatre nerd.  I've never been to New York; the Tony's are my way to vicariously experience the wonder of the Great White Way.   This year there was the extra interest because a woman I went to a year of college with was nominated for an award!  Keala Settle attended SUU for a year while I was there before going off to do some other things.

Some of those things led her to Broadway.  She did the tour of Hairspray(as Tracy Turnblad) and was in the ensemble of Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert, before being cast as Norma Valverde in Hands on a Hardbody. (Edited to add: Unfortunately, Keala did not win, but she looked gorgeous!!)

I happened to be at my parents house celebrating my daughter's birthday, so my mom and I watched the Tony's together.  My dad was watching with us for a few minutes, and he commented that no one seems to know who all these big awards are named after.  For example, who on earth is Oscar?  Is there a person named Grammy? (that one I doubt!)  and why are they the "Tony's?"   

The Tony's are so named for Antoinette Perry, an actress who worked in the early part of the 20th century and who was one of the founding members of the American Theatre Wing, which is the group which awards the Tony's.  While she worked fairly consistently in her day, she is not particularly well known, even in theatre circles, except for the award which bears her name, which was first granted to theatrical professional on Easter Sunday (April 6th that year) in 1947.  The physical award which most of us recognize today was designed as part of a contest sponsored by the United Scenic Artists and was first handed out in 1949 as a medallion.  It was mounted on a black base in 1967 so that today, it looks like this:

Want to learn more about Antoinette Perry? Read some of her life story here

Want to learn more about The American Theatre Wing? Read their history here

Monday, June 3, 2013


It's my mom's birthday today (Happy Birthday Mom!) and my daughter's a week from today, so I was wondering about the tradition of celebrating the day one was born. 

I wasn't able to find a whole lot of 'official' information about birthdays, but I did find this website

Part of the reason birthdays are a big deal is because sociologically, almost all cultures celebrate 'rites of passage', and the day of birth is the first 'rite'.  While Jehovah's witnesses are famous for NOT celebrating birthdays (as well as other holidays like Christmas, the 4th of July etc.,), most other religious groups and cultures consider them to be an important day.

From what I can find, most research agrees that birthdays were not celebrated until society began to use calendars to mark time, as before that time, it would have been difficult to pinpoint a 'day' of birth.  That seems only logical, but it's interesting to think that there was a time when cultures did not pay attention to specific days, and had no concept of days of the week or months and instead simply passed through life from season to season.

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday but never remembers her age
— Robert Frost.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I saw this picture on Facebook the other day
(Not sure where it originated: sorry I can't give credit!)

In true nerdy girl fashion, I found myself wondering about the 'official' definition of salad, as I thought I remembered that it didn't necessarily have to include lettuce. (I know, I know, that sort of destroys the joke here, but just go with me ok?)  

In all things dictionary, I prefer to use the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) as I read the two books written about it by Simon Winchester (The Meaning of Everything and The Professor and the Madman), and, having learned about it's history, find the OED has a good pedigree and authority.

The main OED definition is this:

"A cold dish of herbs or vegetables (e.g. lettuce, endive), usually uncooked and chopped up or sliced, to which is often added sliced hard-boiled egg, cold meat, fish, etc., the whole being seasoned with salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar"

One of the perks of the OED, by the way, is that it includes a rather extensive list of the original uses of the term which is being defined from written literature.  In this case, the earliest use located was in approximately 1481. ("1481–90   Howard Househ. Bks. (1905) 398   Item, for erbes for a selad j. d.)

So, while this definition uses lettuce as an example of the vegetable included in a salad, it does necessarily preclude salads which do NOT include lettuce.  However, it does says herbs or vegetables, of which bacon is neither, unfortunately.

This explains to me how Sunomono can be considered salad, when it consists of only cucumber. (Although when I looked up the term to make sure I spelled it right, it appears that the vinegar/cucumber version I have had is not the only way it can be prepared.  Another blog for another day I guess!)  I suppose it also explains pasta salad being able to contain the word salad in the name although most of them don't have a large amount of lettuce in them either!

Saturday, June 1, 2013


I'm reading Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.  It covers the back story of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.   Tomorrow's project is to learn about all the various permutations of the Peter Pan story (if there are any others).

I'm at the end of the book, and one of the things it introduces is how fish became mermaids.  Interestingly, reading an article on SLATE today, I saw this headline "Why Animal Planet’s Fake Documentaries About Mermaids Are Dangerous"