Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus

Bear’s head tooth fungus look like something from a fantasy dream.

  • Bear’s head tooth fungus is a species of fungus with a shaggy appearance, native to eastern parts of the United States.
  • The scientific name of the bear’s head tooth fungus is Hericium americanum and it is from the family Hericiaceae, a family of fungi.
  • ‘Bear’s head tooth fungi’ are also known as ‘bear’s head mushrooms’ and ‘pom pom blanc’, and were first scientifically described by James Ginns of Canada, in 1984.
  • Bear’s head tooth fungus was once classified as Hericium coralloides, however this name was later applied to a different species in the genus, hence the change.
  • The tooth-like appendages of bear’s head tooth fungus grow on branches as the fungus grows, and it forms to create a mop-like appearance.
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A Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus
Image courtesy of Brian Gratwicke/Flickr
  • Bear’s head tooth fungi grow on both rotting and living woods, mostly hardwood types, and they are typically seen in the wild during the late summer and autumn months, though they are able to be cultivated.
  • The ‘teeth’ of bear’s head tooth fungi reach 0.5 to 4 centimetres (0.2 to 1.6 inches) in length, and a whole fungus can spread to a total width of 15 to 30 centimetres (6 to 12 inches).
  • Bear’s head tooth fungus is a white colour, although as it becomes older, the teeth tend to have a yellow or brown tinge.
  • Young bear’s head tooth fungus can be cooked and eaten, having a taste comparable to that of lobster, though once picked the fungi do not store well, and need to be consumed within a couple of days, otherwise they will become bitter.
  • High amounts of vitamin D are found in bear’s head tooth fungus, and it also contains significant quantities of protein and fibre, as well as other beneficial health properties that are still being understood.
Bibliography:
Bear’s Head Mushrooms, n.d, Specialty Produce, http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Bears_Head_Mushrooms_11322.php
Emberger G, Hericium americanum, 2008, Messiah College, http://www.messiah.edu/Oakes/fungi_on_wood/teeth%20and%20spine/species%20pages/Hericium%20americanum.htm
Kuo M, Hericium americanum, 2003, Mushroom Expert, http://www.mushroomexpert.com/hericium_americanum.html
Volk T & Westmoreland S, Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month for January 2003, 2003, University of Wisconsin, http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/jan2003.html

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Fortune Cookie

Fortune cookies are when Japanese meet Americans meet Chinese.

  • Fortune cookies are sweet biscuits that are a folded circular shape, and they have a paper slip inside, that typically contains a message, which is revealed once the cookie is broken in half.
  • In China, fortune cookies are relatively unknown yet they are extremely popular in America, ironically in Chinese restaurants, and due to their availibity in such restaurants, they are widely thought to be of Chinese origin.
  • Fortune cookies are made from a batter primarily consisting of flour and sugar, as well as egg, and they usually contain either butter and vanilla, or miso and sesame, and are baked in an oven.
  • Many stories exist regarding the invention of fortune cookies, however it is likely that they are simply a slight variation of ‘tsujiura senbei’ (‘fortune crackers’), that were being made and sold near temples in Japan in the 1800s.
  • Once fortune cookies have been cooked, a slip of paper with a message is placed on the circular biscuit, and while the biscuit is still hot, it is folded in half and the points are squeezed together to form the distinctive shape of the cookie, and this encloses the fortune.
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Fortune Cookies
Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos/Flickr
  • It is believed that Japanese immigrants living in California introduced fortune cookies to the United States in the early 1900s, possibly changing the ingredients slightly to suit Westerners.
  • The messages contained inside fortune cookies are commonly vague, though generally positive, and they may have a proverb, suggest a destiny, or give advice, or may list numbers that are said to bring good luck.
  • ‘Fortune cookies’ were initially known as ‘fortune tea cookies’ in the United States, until around the time of World War II.
  • The mass production of fortune cookies began sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, as specially purposed machinery was invented; and in 2008, approximately three billion of the cookies were produced across the globe, most of which were consumed in the United States.
  • Fortune cookies increased dramatically in popularity when Chinese immigrants took over the production of the food in the United States, after Japanese labourers were imprisoned during World War II.
Bibliography:
Fortune Cookie, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortune_cookie
Hiskey D, Fortune Cookies Were Invented in Japan, Not China, 2011, Today I Found Out, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/12/fortune-cookies-were-invented-in-japan-not-china/
If the Fortune Cookie Didn’t Originate in China or America, Where Did It Come From?, 2015, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/fortune-cookie-history_b_6430962
Lee J, Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie, 2008, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/16/dining/16fort.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all
Olver L, Chinese Food, 2015, The Food Timeline, http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodasian.html#fortunecookies

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White Baneberry

Do you have that feeling that you are being watched… perhaps by the white baneberry?

  • White baneberries are a species of perennial wildflower, found in forests in the east of North America.
  • The white baneberry plant is also known as ‘doll’s eyes’, due to the plant’s berries having a similar appearance to antique doll’s eyes.
  • The scientific name of the white baneberry is Actaea pachypoda, and it is from the family Ranunculaceae, the family of buttercups.
  • White baneberry plants typically grow to be 46 to 76 centimetres (1.5 to 2.5 feet) in height, and they have a diameter of 60 to 90 centimetres (2 to 3 feet).
  • White coloured flowers are produced by white baneberries, and they feature from four to ten petals and many stamens.
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White Baneberry
Image courtesy of Benet/Flickr
  • White baneberry plants are known for their fruit that grow on maroon coloured branches, and the berries are coloured white with a centrally located black to purple spot, giving the appearance of an eye.
  • The blooms of white baneberries flower during the later months of spring and early summer, after which the berries are produced in summer.
  • White baneberry plants grow best in partly shady conditions or in full shade, in moist soil that drains well and contains a significant quantity of organic matter.
  • All parts of the white baneberry plant can be fatally toxic to most mammals, potentially causing cardiac arrest on consumption, although birds are able to consume the fruit.
  • The seeds of white baneberry fruits are dispersed through bird droppings, or by simply dropping from the plant.
Bibliography:
Actaea pachypoda, n.d, Encyclopedia of Life, http://eol.org/pages/595010/details
Actaea pachypoda, n.d, Missouri Botanical Garden, http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=h520
Actaea pachypoda, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actaea_pachypoda
Hilty J, Doll’s Eyes, 2015, Illinois Wildflowers, http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/doll_eyes.htm

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Kazoo

Kazoos are not just for the casual amateurs!

  • A kazoo is a small apparatus that can produce music by a person humming, singing or speaking into the mouthpiece.
  • The shape of a kazoo is often compared to that of a submarine, and it features holes at both ends, with another in what is generally a raised cylinder on the top.
  • To produce a good sound, a user should hum into the kazoo or make the sounds ‘rrr’, ‘doo’, ‘who’ or ‘brrr’ and avoid blowing, and in doing so, a buzz-like sound is added to those made by the user.
  • Kazoos distort the sound entered by the user, due to the vibration of the membrane that is located at the bottom of the hole in the top of the instrument, and this is caused by the changing air pressure made by the sound.
  • It is thought that the earliest form of kazoo was used by traditional African tribes to manipulate one’s voice, made of a cows’ horn and spider egg casings.
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Kazoo
Image courtesy of Phil Parker/Flickr
  • There is a museum dedicated to the kazoo, located in South Carolina’s Beaufort in the United States, which opened in 2010.
  • By the late 1870s, patents for buzzing musical instruments with similar functionality to the modern kazoo surfaced, however it was not until 1902 that the modern style shape was patented, by George D Smith from New York, in the United States.
  • The name ‘kazoo’ is believed to have been given to the instrument in 1883 by inventor Warren Frost, and the word is possibly an onomatopoeia (a word that imitates a sound) of the noise that the instrument makes.
  • Quality kazoos are commonly made of metal, while other variants typically produced are made of plastic or wood; and not only have they been used as musical instruments, but also as toys.
  • Kazoos were first used in a professional music recording in 1921 by the Original Dixieland Jass (or Jazz) Band, in the song ‘Crazy Blues’.
Bibliography:
History of the Kazoo Through Patents, 2013, Association of American Kazoologists, http://kazoologist.org/history.html
Kazoo, 2016, Historical Folk Toys, http://www.historicalfolktoys.com/catcont/5001.html
Kazoo, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazoo
The Kazoo – It’s “Physics”, History, and Importance for Modern Music, 2016, Kazoobie Kazoos, https://kazoos.com/pages/the-kazoo-its-physics-history-and-importance-for-modern-music

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Tamarillo

Meet the long lost cousin of the tomato – the tamarillo!

  • Tamarillos are a variety of fruit, comparable to the tomato, and they are native to South America.
  • New Zealanders gave the name ‘tamarillo’ to the ‘tree tomato’ fruit, a name it is also known by, in 1967 for commercial purposes, and the fruit is also called ‘tamamoro’, ‘tomate dulce’, ‘tomate granadilla’ and ‘tomate de árbol’ among other names.
  • The tamarillo grows on the plant with the scientific name Solanum betaceum, and it is from the family Solanaceae, the family of nightshades.
  • Tamarillos are somewhat ovoid in shape, and typically reach a length of 4 to 10 centimetres (1.6 to 4 inches) and have a diameter of 3.8 to 5 centimetres (1.5 to 2 inches).
  • The skin of tamarillos can be yellow, red, orange, or purple, while the flesh is often a similar colour to the skin but it sometimes differs.
Tamarillo, Fruit, Vegetable, Red, Fruit, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Food, Culinary, Cut
  • Tamarallos grow on a tree with a height generally between 3 to 5.5 metres (10 to 18 feet); and a single tree can produce 20 to 30 kilograms (44 to 66 pounds) of fruit each year.
  • A tamarillo’s flavour varies with the colour, with red variants generally having a tart flavour, while the yellow varieties are typically sweet, having a flavour combination of kiwi or passion fruit and tomato.
  • While tamarillos can be eaten raw, often with a utensil that is used to spoon out the flesh, the tough bitter skin is usually left uneaten unless cooked; and the fruit is also popularly made into spreads, stews, curries and other sauces.
  • Tamarillos are very high in vitamin C and are good sources of vitamins A and E, as well as iron and pyridoxine.
  • Tamarillos have been cultivated in parts of Asia and Africa, and they have also been commercially grown in New Zealand since the 1920s, after which demand increased during World War II, due to the fruit’s vitamin C content.
Bibliography:
History, NZ Tamarillo Growers Association, 2008, http://www.tamarillo.com/history/
Tamarillo, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamarillo
https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/tree_tomato.html

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Chocolate Chip Cookie

How can you resist a warm chocolate chip cookie?

  • Chocolate chip cookies are a variant of cookie, identifiable by its inclusion of chocolate pieces.
  • ‘Chocolate chip cookies’ are also known as ‘choc chip cookies’, ‘chocolate chip biscuits, ‘Toll House chocolate crunch cookies’, ‘Toll House cookies’, and ‘Toll House biscuits’.
  • Sugar, flour, eggs, butter, baking powder and chocolate bits are the typical ingredients used for baking chocolate chip cookies.
  • The chocolate pieces of chocolate chip cookies can be replaced with white chocolate or M&Ms, while a popular combination is white chocolate with the addition of macadamia nuts; or the dough can be flavoured with chocolate or peanuts, for an interesting variant.
  • Chocolate chip cookies were invented in the 1930s by Ruth Wakefield of the United States, then owner and chef of Massachusetts’ Toll House Inn restaurant, and despite various stories of the invention being an accident, it is said to have been a deliberate alteration of a butterscotch cookie recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookie, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Food, Baked, Homemade, Biscuit, Golden

  • The first recipe for chocolate chip cookies was published in the 1938 edition of Ruth Wakefield’s cookbook “Toll House Tried and True Recipes”.
  • Around 1939, as chocolate chip cookies grew popular, Ruth Wakefield exchanged the rights for her cookie recipe with the Nestlé company, for a lifetime supply of their semi-sweet chocolate, and they printed her cookie recipe on their packaging.
  • Shortly after obtaining rights to the chocolate chip cookie recipe, Nestlé reconfigured their semi-sweet chocolate from a bar, to small chocolate pieces purposed for cooking in the cookies, naming them ‘Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels’.
  • As of 2015, the largest biscuit ever made in the world, happens to be a chocolate chip cookie, which was baked in 2003 by the United State’s Immaculate Baking Company as a museum fundraiser, and it was approximately 31 metres (102 feet) in diameter.
  • The chocolate chip cookie is the official state cookie of Massachusetts of the United States, while it was proposed that it also be the state cookie of United States’ Pennsylvania.
Bibliography:
The Accidental Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie, 2013, Today I Found Out, http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/03/the-accidental-invention-of-the-chocolate-chip-cookie
Chocolate Chip Cookie, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_chip_cookie
The History of the Chocolate Chip Cookie, 2012, The Nibble, http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/cookies/cookies2/chocolate-chip-cookie-history.asp
The World’s Biggest Cookie, 2016, Immaculate Baking Company, https://www.immaculatebaking.com/goodies/the-worlds-biggest-cookie/
Wyman C, The Woman Who Invented the Chocolate Chip Cookie, 2014, The Slate, http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2014/03/who_invented_the_chocolate_chip_cookie_ruth_wakefield_and_no_it_wasn_t_an.html
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