It was sweet, good and fun for everyone. The Philadelphia Honey Festival, held last weekend, proved to bee the queen bee of festivals — one sweet treat. If you missed this year’s festival, mark your calendar for next September, and bee ready to buzz over there. Besides honey tastings from local beekeepers with jars of honey and honeycomb for sale, there were hive demonstrations, honey extractions, plant sales and children’s activities, along with music and a cooking contest. Additionally, two authors were on hand and discussed their new books – one a bee thriller about colony collapse disorder, sprinkled with suspense and romance, and the other about urban beekeeping. Libations made with honey for sampling included mead and Colonial porter — both “unbee-lievaby” tasty.
It began as Decoration Day when women in the South decorated the graves of their American Civil War dead with flowers and flags. Observance of the day was first proclaimed by the nation’s largest veterans organization, and first observed on May 30, 1868. Flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery, and the day was renamed Memorial Day. Laurel Hill Cemetery was the site in 1868 of the first Memorial Day observance in Philadelphia. Regardless of the name, this holiday honors all members of our armed services who died at war.
If you happened to be listening to Red Barber’s radio commentary one night back in 1943, you’d know that the term “rhubarb” is baseball slang for a heated argument on the ball field. It seems that Barber, the announcer for what were then the Brooklyn Dodgers, learned of the term from two sports reporters who had been speaking with a Brooklyn bartender. The bartender had described a barroom argument over baseball where a Brooklyn fan shot a Giants fan as a “rhubarb.” From the baseball field to the farmer’s field, rhubarb is one of Mother Nature’s first gifts of the growing season. You can also grow rhubarb in your garden, but it takes a few years to become established before you can pick it.
Babka is a Polish Easter bread, slightly sweet, and made with yeast and raisins. It may have sweet cheese incorporated into the dough. This is a special Easter bread, not to be confused with the word Babcia, (pronounced bop-cha), which is the Polish word for grandmother.
Saints and begorrah, it’s St. Patrick’s Day! It’s time for leprechauns, fairies and rainbows, and a pot of gold. Mix shamrocks and shenanigans along with some green beer (oh no!), a little blarney, and you’ve got to have some fun, or craic (pronounced crack), as they say in Ireland. That’s the truth, or my name isn’t Donna O’Zitter McBordelon.
Good deeds: New Foundations Charter School recently celebrated a Service Day where students participated in various types of community service. Students helped make a Red Cross house blanket, rain bottles, visited a local fire station and made zucchini bread. PHOTOS COURTESY OF SHIRA WOOLF-COHEN
“I think I was born with a rolling pin in my hand,” I declared as I wielded the instrument of flat destruction across the pizza dough, flattening the lump into one, very thin cover for a Stromboli extraordinaire. We were making a Stromboli — my sister-in-law, Denise, and me. It would be our family’s last visit to Atlanta to see Nanny, my husband’s mother, who was in at-home hospice at Denise’s house. Denise wanted to learn how to make Stromboli. But who can do that without a rolling pin? A previous phone conversation had disclosed that we would be without that necessary tool, so I brought mine along on our trip from Philadelphia.
“I had my first kiss on your street,” said the salesman who just sold my younger son, Ted, his first new car. “We were under a big, old tree, and I can’t even remember the girl’s name.” Turns out that our salesman grew up in our neighborhood and had gone to the same grade school as my sons. Our sales guy chuckled as he punched the calculator to give us the drive-out price. I chuckled as I wondered whether it was that kiss or the commission that was bringing this man such obvious joy.
I was planning dinner and thinking about how I could transform some leftover, grilled chicken sausages and bell peppers into another meal. Then it hit me: Pizza! Dinner dilemma solved. I decided to slice the sausages, chop up the peppers, combine them with some mild salsa and cheeses, and use it as a topping for homemade, deep-dish pizza.