Tuesday, April 24, 2007

April 25 is National Pretzel Day, Shuffleboard Day, and Hug an Australian Day!

The History of the Pretzel

As we are with a lot of foods the exact origin of the pretzel is unknown.

As early as 610AD at a monastery somewhere in Southern France or Northern Italy, where monks used scraps of dough and formed them into strips to represent a child's arms folded in prayer. The three empty holes represented the Christian Trinity.

The monks offered the warm, doughy bribe to children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers. The monks called it a Pretiola, Latin for little reward. From there, the pretzel transformed into the Italian word, Brachiola, which means little arms.

The Pretiola journeyed beyond the French and Italian wine regions, hiked the Alps, wandered through Austria, and crossed into Germany, where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel.

In medieval times merchants traveling to the Frankfurt Fair risked being robbed by bandits. In order to guard the tradesmen, the towns' people would ride out, greet the vendors and offer them pewter pitchers of wine and loads of crisp dough on their spears, called Geleit-pretzels.

The Whimsical Pretzel shape worked its way into the culture not only as a reward but as a symbol of Good Luck and prosperity. I suppose it had the same effect as a logo did appearing in festivals and celebrations, as well as a quick snack available from street corner vendors.

Probably two of the most fascinating things about the pretzel is it was served on Easter with 2 hard boiled eggs and hidden around the farms, for the kids to find. This very likely was the forerunner of the Easter egg hunt. Weddings in Europe for a time used the tradition of the bride and groom tugging at a pretzel like a wishbone, the larger piece assured the spouses fulfillment of their wishes.

There are pictures of pretzels in paintings that help us to find how old their existence really is. Here is a one of the more famous pictures in which we find pretzels, called "The f ight between carnival and lent" by Pieter Bruegel in 1559. You can see the pretzels in the lower right hand corner.

From this came the saying we still use, "Tying the knot".

So how did the hard pretzel spring into existence? Skip ahead to late seventeenth century Pennsylvania. A baker's helper fell asleep tending pretzels baking in the hearth. When he awoke, the flames had died, he believed the pretzels hadn't cooked long enough and started the fire up again. When the Master Baker came in, he was furious that an entire batch of pretzels wasn't fit to eat. In the process of throwing them out, he tasted one and realized he was on to something big! Not only did he like the taste of these delicious crunchy morsels but realized due to the moisture being baked entirely out, that freshness was preserved and they would keep longer to sell.

It was the immigrants from these countries who brought the "bretzel" to our shores during the 1800's, later becoming known as the "pretzel". Some believe that the pretzel recipe was brought over on the mayflower and they were made and sold to the Indians who loved them.

The first commercial pretzel bakery was established in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by Julius Sturgis in 1861. The modern age of pretzel making began in 1935 when the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company first introduced the automatic pretzel twisting machine. Prior to that, most commercial pretzels were actually shaped by a cracker-cutting machine, then placed on baking pans and put into the baking ovens by hand. This innovation made pretzels available to people in all parts of the country, and helped the fledgling industry grow...

Some more modern bizarre pretzel facts include these noteworthy items: Largest pretzel ever baked:40 lbs, 5-feet across, by Joe Nacchio of Federal Baking, Philadelphia, PA; Pretzels in the movies: 20 lb., 4’ pretzel in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World”—same baker; Pretzel capitol of the world: Reading, PA., where one plant can package over 10 million pretzels per day!

Annual pretzel sales top $180 million and are the second most popular snack, right behind potato chips and just in front of popcorn.

Source: Snack Food Association


Today in History...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Laurens Hammond at the Model A It was on this date in Chicago, IL that Laurens Hammond announced news that would be favored by many churches across the United States. The news was the development of the pipeless organ -- and a granting of a U.S. patent for same. The year was 1934.

Hammond, a decades-old name in keyboard organs in churches, theaters, auditoriums and homes, is the same Hammond who fostered many of the developments that would make electronic keyboards so popular in modern music. The Hammond B-3 and B-5 organs, for example, became mainstays for many recording artists, while inventions in Hammond organ loud speaker development (the Hammond Leslie Tremelo speaker) produced still other important milestones that allowed small organs to emulate the big concert theater console organs.

Later, solid-state circuitry and computers allowed keyboards the flexibility to sound like other instruments, permitting the organist to play many instruments from the organ’s multiple keyboards.

And you thought there was an entire orchestra hiding in the closet ...

Today is National Zucchini Bread Day!

Barb's Best Zucchini Bread

Recipe #32880
28 ratings
This is an awesome recipe from my sister. I don't know where she got it, but it is absolutely scrumptious and a must-have for all of you gardeners out there

time to make 1½ hours 10 min prep
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Not the one? See other Barb's Best Zucchini Bread Recipes

  1. Preheat oven to 325* and grease bottom only of two 9 x 5 bread pans.
  2. Beat eggs until foamy.
  3. Stir in sugar, zucchini, oil and vanilla.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and spices and gradually add to wet ingredients.
  5. Fold in nuts and raisins.
  6. Pour into prepared pans.
  7. Bake for 60 to 80 minutes or until center tests done.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes on rack and then remove from pans.
  9. Cool completely on rack before slicing.