Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Presidential trivia answer surprises

The Lake County Historical Society’s annual Presidents’ Gala not only brings out folks costumed as various presidents, but it challenges those who know their history pretty well. Those attired each year as one of the eight Ohio presidents are especially well versed in presidential trivia since they know they’ll be questioned by others during the evening.
This year’s Gala at Cappelli’s Party Center raised $8,000 for the historical society, mostly from things donated for the silent auction and the Chinese auction.

It also drew a fair number of politicians, many of whom will be seeking office this year and likely want to increase their face time with would-be constituents. Most are pretty sharp when it comes to American history, including presidential trivia.
Pictured here are Kathie Purmal, history center director, selling Chinese auction tickets. William Howard Taft and his wife Helen were portrayed by Don and Pat Lewis of Willoughby. History Center Education Director Carrie Plummer and her husband, Josh, portrayed Pat and Richard Nixon.
Today we’re including some of the questions so readers can see just how tough they were. I’d love to hear your answers at the end of this blog. I’ll reveal them soon.
One question, posed as a tie-breaker, got a surprising answer from one longtime office holder, who shall remain nameless.
That question was: Which U.S. president was not born in the United States?
“That was Barack Obama,” noted this politician. “He never could produce a birth certificate.”
That can’t be so, proclaimed others at the table. “Oh, but it is,” the politico said. “The liberal media has covered it up.”
Fact is, Obama was born in Hawaii, six months after his mom and dad married. They met at the University of Hawaii, where his father came from Kenya on a scholarship.
The correct answer: William Henry Harrison, ninth president, who was born in Virginia before it became a state.
Here are some of the other questions:
Who was the only person in Americans history to serve as both President and Chief Justice?
Who was the first president to campaign by telephone?
Who was the first U.S. president to be given a speeding ticket?
Who said: “Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”
Who said: “When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results?”

Monday, February 15, 2010

chinese new year meal

Suzanne Hanselman of Euclid reports today on the Chinese New Year feast she and her children made and ate yesterday. The photos are from her daughter, Rachel McDonald, 12.
"I went to Park to Shop Saturday afternoon. Of course, it was really busy because of the holiday, but a lot of fun. Because of our previous trip, I was a lot less intimidated, and was even questioned by another shopper if I knew the differences between the types of bok choy offered (thanks again Chef McCoy!). I thought I would have most of Sunday to cook, but, as is often the case, our schedule got crazy. I ended up with a 2-hour window to prepare and eat dinner. I streamlined the menu to Chinese dumplings, noodles and veggie stir fry, and a vegan take on orange beef and broccoli (made with seitan that I had made and frozen several weeks ago)." (Note:Seitan is a protein food made from wheat gluten that sometimes is called "wheat meat" because of its meatiness)

"We made the fortune cookies after dinner."

"The dumplings were really good and pretty easy. I bought wonton wrappers, made a a filling out of seitan, shredded cabbage, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and barbecue sauce (probably not authentic!). It tasted kind of like barbecued ground pork. My 10 year old son, David, did most of the actually filling and sealing of the dumplings with a little help from his 5 year old sister, Mary (they were that easy!)."

"I cleaned, cut and chopped vegetables - garlic, shallots, baby bok choy, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, red peppers and baby corn (the only canned vegetable - my kids insisted). I stir fried and added the noodles and vegetarian oyster sauce with some garlic, bean paste and a little red pepper flake. Both of these dishes were really good and easy.

"The vegan orange "beef" broccoli dish was okay (I used seitan for the "beef"), but I preferred the seitan in the dumplings. My husband and I had some, but the kids were not anxious to try it.

The fortune cookies were a little tricky and time consuming, but a fun activity. David wrote all the St. Valentine's "fortunes" using his box of conversation hearts as inspiration."

"Weekends are great because the kids can "help" me cook," she writes. "Most week nights I don't have the time or patience for helpers. But, they are getting pretty good in the kitchen. On Saturday, we made homemade spaghettiOs from a recipe Michael Symon has posted on his Facebook page! I love to cook, but do look forward to the day that I sit down to something that my kids have created. I have a feeling it won't be too long."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

adventures with chinese vegetables

Suzanne Hanselman is up and running in the Chinese vegetable department after visiting an Asian market with me and Chef Tim McCoy, who was shopping for a Chinese New Year class he was teaching. In this photo, she and Tim are examining some of the many varieties of bok choy, some of which both ended up purchasing.

The market we visited was Park to Shop in Cleveland's Asia Plaza and E. 30th and Payne. You may have read some of what we learned in The News-Herald's Wednesday Food section (which see).

Like a lot of us, Suzanne is trying to lower her cholesterol with a vegetable based diet. She says her four children, ranging from 5 to 15, are adventurous eaters and like to experiment in the kitchen. Suzanne says she cooks and works out as her stress relief. Her day job is as an attorney and a professor of law, so life is pretty busy.

One of the things she bought during our market visit was Thai curry paste. And she had a disaster in the kitchen while preparing it, but recovered nicely.

I'll let her tell it:

"I used vegetable broth, coconut milk, garlic and some Thai curry paste to make a curry sauce and threw in Thai eggplant, bok choy, and onions. I only used a tablespoon of the paste and it was really spicy. I thought it needed a little salt and when I went to shake it in, the lid came off and the entire canister of salt fell in.

"I had nothing as a backup to eat and the roads were getting really bad, so I threw everything into a colander and rinsed it off well. I threw in the other half of the can of coconut milk, some vegetable broth and about one teaspoon of curry paste, which was plenty for my 5-year-old. I added fresh spinach and Thai basil and it was surprisingly good. We had it brown rice and fried tofu."

On Sunday, Suzanne, who lives in Euclid, wants to make a Chinese New Year dinner with a Valentine twist. "Maybe I'll make fortune cookies with Valentine's Day messages," she said. She's promised to let us know how it goes.