Friday

Theme of the Month-- August is National Peach Month

"... I prefer a really intense fruit taste. You know, when a peach is absolutely perfect... it's sublime. I'd like to capture that and then use it in a dessert." ~ Kathy Mattea

August is National Peach Month and I'm celebrating with some fascinating peach facts and yummy peach recipes. Lets start with some peachy info:


Peach Blossoms, aren't they pretty?
You don't eat this part.

  • The peach hails from China, which produces the most peaches in the world
  • There are yellow flesh and white flesh varieties
  • They credit the Silk Road for the import of peaches to the West
  • Europeans like the white-flesh peach over the yellow
  • The white-flesh variety is the sweeter of the two
  • Europeans once believed that the peach came from Persia, thus its scientific name prunus persica
  • Growers harvest the peach anywhere from May to late July, depending on the variety
  • Georgia is famous for its yummy peaches ("Georgia peach")
  • There are two main categories of peach cultivar: freestone and clingstone because with some varieties the flesh sticks to the pit, and with others it doesn't.
  • I like saying the word "cultivar." :D

My favorite peach recipe is my own Easy Peach Cobbler, which is really a dump cake. I found a link on the internet for my exact recipe, which I've posted below with other recipe links. Basically, all you do is take a large can of peaches in heavy syrup, pour them into a 9 x 13 pan, dump a box of yellow cake mix on top, dot with butter, and bake. So easy and so YUM.


photo credit: madlyinlovewithlife via photopin cc



The Peach has it's own Wikipedia Page; Here are some books about peaches on Amazon.



Wednesday

Fascinating Character--Doctor Peter Piot, Ebola Co-Discoverer and AIDS Pioneer

“There were many people who were not available or were too scared to go, but I was 27, therefore being scared was not in my dictionary. I was so excited that I was not afraid of anything. It was the excitement of discovery.” ~Peter Piot, co-discoverer of Ebola

You know, the archetypal movie plot where the people sin and the monster comes to get vengeance. There is no escape. People die because the town is dumping waste, or the mayor cares more about the tourist trade than he does lives...you've seen this movie.



The monster, Ebola, broke out in 1976 in Sudan and Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Some theorized that the virus hid in the jungle for centuries, and, because of deforestation, it emerged on a vulnerable public. Many blamed the greedy for the deforestation, and thus the Ebola outbreak.

Then the hero entered. The medical doctor and microbiologist, Dr. Peter Piot, who rode off to the unknown wild to pioneer and discover what was causing Death. Soon, he found out...it was Ebola.

Later, he dubbed it, "A spectacular virus."

But this hero did not stop there. In 1983, again in Zaire, he pinpointed the AIDS virus as a global enemy, and by 1995, he was the Founding Executive Director of UNAIDS, the UN's organization that focuses on preventing and battling AIDS globally.

He described the discovery of Ebola and the pandemic nature of HIV/AIDS as "two of the most extraordinary adventures of our time." Well, they were, at least, for him. :D

Our hero, Dr. Piot, champions the fight against
this monster--Ebola

If this were a movie, the good guys win, or at least, mostly. We now have a control for AIDS. It's not a cure, but it prevents death. And, as Piot states in the video interview below, Ebola isn't hard to contain. It takes just basic medical protocols to keep it from spreading. Unfortunately, there is no cure yet, but there's hope that one is coming. Doctors are using an experimental treatment right now on the two infected American health care workers.

Here are more fascinating facts about Dr. Piot--


  • He was born in a small Belgian town, Leuven, in 1949
  • He could not wait to grow up and leave that town!
  • He has a title -- Baron
  • He left UNAIDS in 2008 to lead the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London.
  • Currently he is director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

The video below is an interview led by the ever-so-fascinating Christiane Amanpour in July 2014, not long after the most current African outbreak of Ebola threatened to become pandemic.



Christiane Amanpour interviews Dr. Peter Piot CNN
July 2, 2014

Thursday

Fascinating YouTube Character--The Phffffffttt Guy

"You can't get away from your heart because life is a paradox. It's a mirror of confusion. So LOVE NOW!" ~ The Phffffffttt Guy

My friend shared on Facebook that she was trying to find an overall purpose for her life. It was frustrating and she was asking her FB friends for insight. Coincidentally, I ran into the Phffffffttt Guy and realized he might have answers for her.

All right, he isn't the most coherent man on the planet, and he is either crazy or high, BUT, oddly, you can strew together the meaning of life from him. Sort of. ;)

And you'll laugh!

Phffffffttt!




Don't you feel all wise and happy after that? :D

Tuesday

Theme of the Month--July is National Blueberry Month

“Have blueberries whenever you are low – destiny will change and you will be high.” Adam Voichester

Happy National Blueberry Month! July is it, baby! It's all about that little blue fruit that finishes sweet and stains the tongue.

PattsBlueberries.jpg
The blue ones are ripe.

The two main types of blueberries are--wild (small) and commercial (larger). I prefer to buy the frozen wild ones. They make a great pie (see below).

Wild berries are called "low-bush berries," because the wild bush lays closer to the ground than commercial berries ("high-bush berries").  There is also a hybrid "high-low" bush, but no one talks about it. It's hush hush. ;)

It is appropriate that blueberries are celebrated in July. That is their harvest time--late July through mid-August.

Oregon is known for having the best blueberries--both wild and commercial. I knew a couple who bought Oregon property and spent much time and effort to clear the land of solid, wild blueberry bushes.

Oh man! All. Those. Blueberries. Wasted! So sad. :(

As a suburban girl, I've never seen a blueberry bush. According to Wikipedia, the bushes flower.


You have to be careful with blueberries when they are turned into blueberry candy in a magical candy factory. A disaster happened to a friend of mine, Violet Beauregard, when she was a child. She ate some blueberry candy from said factory and POW--she grew into a fat, human blueberry! I'll never forget the callous statement of Willy Wonka, the factory owner, when he said,

"It happens every time. They all become blueberries." (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971).

Before I introduce you to my blueberry pie recipe, I must tell you about Adam Voichester. If you Google him, he is only known for one thing, the quote at the top of this article! That's it. It's his claim to fame. He may not even exist! Go ahead, Google Image him. He comes up various blueberry dishes, like this:

Adam Voichester
You see what I mean?

Okay...time for blueberry pie!

Denise's Easy Blueberry Pie
I use refrigerated pie crusts. The frozen ones are horrid. Stay away from them. But the refrigerated ones (like Pillsbury) are very good.

Blueberry Pie Filling:
4 c. fresh blueberries or other berries (this is 4 of the 6-8oz. containers they come in) OR 1 10-12 oz pkg. of frozen berries (the frozen wild blueberries are nice).

1 c. sugar                                      
1/4 cup cornstarch (this is 4 T)
¼ t. ground cinnamon (optional)
¼ t. ground nutmeg (optional)

1 T. lime juice (water if in a pinch)
2 T. butter (optional, I often don’t include it)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F  
  2. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, then mix with blueberries.
  3. Line pie dish (I use a 10-inch deep dish, but a 9-inch will do) with one pie crust. Pour berry mixture into the crust and dot with butter. 
  4. Add the other pie crust on top. Crimp and flute edges, then cut four slits in the dough with a knife.
  5. Place on cookie sheet and place in oven.
Bake pie on lower shelf of oven for about 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.


The best thing to do with a July harvest of blueberries!

MORE recipes for blueberries! Sally's Baking Addiction: Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake; Joy of Baking: Blueberry Trifle; Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches with Blueberry Swirl; Fine Cooking: Blueberry Vanilla Cream Cheese Pies; Crazy for Crust: Blueberry Slab Pie; Pretty Fit Life: Blissful Blueberry-Baked Oatmeal; Hungry Rabbit: Everlasting Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake; She Wears Many Hats: Blueberry Pie Ice CreamEat at Home: Blueberry Butter; Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds: Your New Summer Cocktail: Blueberry Vodka Lemonade.

Blueberry has a Wiki Page. You may also enjoy reading these articles: Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries!; The History of Blueberries (Commercial, with more recipes!); The History of Blueberries (Wild).

Source Articles: Wikipedia; The Farmer's Almanac: Blueberries; IMDb Willy Wonka Quotes; iFood.tv Quotes.

Thursday

Fascinating Character--Al Capone

“Don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.” ~ Al Capone

Alphonse Capone was an organized-crime gangster from the early 1920s to 1931. He is and was famous for smuggling alcoholic beverages into Chicago during the Prohibition era, bribing government officials, and running both prostitution and gambling rings.

Naughty boy!

He is, oddly, also famous for what is now known as "Al Capone's vaults," which were underneath the Lexington Hotel in Chicago (a.k.a. "Capone's Castle"). It was rumored that Al stored great riches there, and, some said, bodies.

Oh my cow!


I have a personal connection to Al's vaults because I saw the their unveiling LIVE on the television broadcast The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults--a greatly-hyped special. It was 1986, and Geraldo Rivera stood with cameras rolling outside the main vault, dragging out the suspense until I thought it would kill me.

I felt that anticipation mostly because I expected them to find my lost socks in there, but I digress.

They opened the vaults and they contained ... nothing! Ha ha ha. Poor Geraldo was humiliated! The only things found were some debris, a stop sign, two gin bottles, and a few socks that looked familiar to me. :/

Here are some other things Al is famous for:

  • Planning the Valentine's Day Massacre
  • Sporting the nickname "Scarface"
  • Going to prison for tax evasion, not his violent crimes
  • Being investigated and prosecuted by the famous Eliot Ness and the Untouchables team
  • And suffering from a flaming and incurable case of syphilis. (He got around. :D )

Ness and his Untouchables could not prove that Capone was behind so much of the Chicago crime of that era, so they schemed to get him on tax evasion. It worked! Al spent the years 1931-1939 in prison. He was released in 1939 to go home to die. His syphilis caused both mental and physical deterioration, and they didn't expect him to live long.

He fooled them and lived all the way to January 25, 1947, when he died of a heart attack and stroke. Apparently, he took the contents of his vaults with him. *sigh*

Geraldo Rivera smashes into 
Al Capone's vaults on live television!

Go look at Al's Wiki Page. It's a keeper. You may also be interested in the movie The Untouchables with Kevin Costner playing Eliot Ness and Robert De Niro playing Al Capone!

Source Articles and Sites: Wikipedia; Alphonse Capone (1899-1947); Good Reads, Al Capone Quotes; YouTube, Al Capone's Vaults; and The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults, Wikipedia.