Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reason #86 Why the 70s Were Scary

So anyway, food has been the big theme, what with the Thanksgiving holiday just passing by us last week. My last post was about food, and I have some more thoughts on the subject. As in....the food of the 1970s. Yikes! Have you taken a look recently at any cookbook created in the 1970s? The food was...different. I realize that tastes change and what we're eating now will probably seem quaint and slightly gross to people a few hundred years from now. If you don't believe me, take a look at some of the blogs out there on medieval food and cooking and you'll see what I mean.

That got me to thinking about some of the staple dishes we ate when I was little. And here I want to enter a disclaimer about my mom and her cooking. My mom is an awesome cook. Her cross to bear has been being stuck with people all her life that are boring and picky eaters. So nothing I say here today is a criticism of what she cooked, she was doing the best she could with 70s ingredients and food fashions and having annoying family like me. :-) (love you mom!)

But that's not to say that there weren't some utterly GROSS things I ate as a child. Or at least, I thought they were gross at the time. Let's start with:

1. Green Jello in a Mold with Pears

Okay, first of all, the green jello is lime flavored. Ugh! I was never and am still not a person who appreciates tartness. It's just not part of my palette. I never liked sour-patch kids or any of those tart candies, it just wasn't right when a dessert wasn't sweet! So that was the first strike against it. But what the ladies in my family used to do was somehow suspend chunks of pears in the green jello and to top it all off, put it in some sort of mold so it looked like a nuclear fallout version of a bundt cake. And of course, since you're a kid, they make you eat it! Augghh! I also have vague memories of somehow cream cheese being involved, which may be why I avoided cream cheese until I went away to college.

2. Manwich

Have you ever actually looked at a sloppy joe? I know some people out there absolutely love this stuff but I really really didn't. For one thing, it was a messy meal. :-D I know, I know, I was an unnatural child, but I was also a very clean unnatural child. I usually managed to really not be dirty, even after playing outside for hours. It's a gift. Anyway, that picture in the ad is so incredibly deceitful because you KNOW that stuff was not staying in the bun but would be squeezing out all over the place. I think there were vague tastes of the spices that are used for taco spicing in this stuff and I really didn't like it. I would always do my best to just eat the buns but my mother was never fooled. Fork and knife in hand, I would choke it down. I'm happy to say, I can't remember the last time I had this stuff but I swear I can still taste it!

3. Hamburger Helper

First of all, where were all the flavors that they have now??? I see this stuff in the grocery store and it practically takes up a whole aisle!!! We were much more limited back in the day. It could be that if I tried this stuff now it would be pretty good, but I'm scared. I also have it associated with another meal that my father loved loved loved but the rest of us thought was really strange (sorry Dad). If I remember correctly (and it could be I don't because I've blocked it out), he liked eating ground beef and macaroni. Yes, just ground beef and macaroni. No sauce. Poor Dad. There is a reason for his madness, he's one of the fabled super-tasters. It's true, they do exist and he was actually confirmed by a doctor - he has more taste buds than the average human. So spicy foods to him are REALLY REALLY SPICY, for instance. He can name the ingredients used in a dish to you because he actually tastes each one. We poo-poo'd him for years but now grudgingly admit he might actually not be making it up. So he doesn't need things all spiced up because he tastes more than the rest of us. I think I inherited some it, but it's only a pale shadow. So yes...I think that meal is all mixed up in my memory with Hamburger Helper. Sorry Hamburger Helper people, I'm sure you are delicious!

4. Stuffed Cabbage

Oh how I dreaded the nights my mom made this meal!!! :-) Look at this stuff!! Honestly, I don't think the taste was all that bad, but the smell! Ohhhh, the smell! Ohhhhhhhhhhh. geez. My poor mom was always bewildered by the antipathy this dish garnered. The one time I remember having to stay seated at the table because I wouldn't eat my dinner was for this meal. Plus I had to sit in another seat so I couldn't see the TV. Oh the torture, the humanity! I don't know why, but I hate smelling the meal in the house after the meal is over. Yes, I know I'm a strange person, but I have to admit it. Baking is a whole different thing, I'm talking about the smell of cooked meat or, say, cooked cabbage. And that smell sticks around, it stays in your nose somehow. Let's move on.

5. Stuffed Green Peppers

Okay, I'm happy to say, I actually like this meal, except for the green pepper part. Yes, I realize that it's sort of an integral part of the meal, but I'd be perfectly happy to scoop the stuffed part out of the green pepper, pour that red sauce all over it and be perfectly happy. I didn't mind the flavor of the green pepper in the food, but I didn't (and don't) like cooked green pepper. Maybe it's the texture plus the taste, I don't know. But to this day, cooked green pepper is gross to me. The past couple of years I've worked on trying to learn to enjoy raw peppers - so like using a nice sweet red bell pepper for dip and stuff - that's great! I love the taste! I can even stand a few raw green bell peppers. But not cooked. However...I do like the sweet peppers they put on hoagies and I know they are cooked, but the flavor is totally different. Isn't taste a strange thing?

6. Hunky Steak

Last one for today. I couldn't find a picture of this gem, but I was actually stunned, STUNNED to find it on the internet at all, I thought my grandmother had made it up (probably learning it from her mom). It's basically a cheap cut of beef cubed up and ketchup and you cook it up in a pan. Nope, I'm not kidding. And I think it's....really good! My mom would always make it with egg noodles and I just loved that meal. When I did a search on the name, I actually found someone had posted a version of it and they referred to it as "Serbian Steak" and that it was basically a way to make a cheap cut of meat edible because you cook it slowly in the ketchup, which I guess since it has a lot of acid in it from the tomatoes helps soften up the meat. As the ketchup cooks it turns into a sweet/sour kind of taste.

And that my friends, is the end of today's stroll down memory lane. One thing I find interesting is that the examples of 70s foods I gave you today are all red and green. That could mean 1 of 2 things. Either I'm in the mood for Christmas, or food in the 70s was colored weird. It's probably both.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Corned Beef Hash

Today I ate corned beef hash.

I was buying canned goods to donate and I saw the cans of corned beef hash and couldn't remember what it tasted like. When I was little, sometimes my mom would take pity on my dad and make it because he liked it. I didn't really remember liking it or not. I do remember that I thought I put ketchup on it, which probably means my dad put ketchup on it.

So I bought an extra can for me. The instructions were really easy - something like, take the contents of the can and fry until crisp.

I admit to second thoughts after I opened the can. It did not look very appetizing. But, I fried it until crisp in the pan, and glopped some nice cold ketchup on it.

I like my condiments cold, I can't explain it. Even stuff like warmed maple syrup - no way. I like my maple syrup straight from the fridge. Duck sauce for egg rolls, ketchup for meatloaf, tartar sauce for fish sticks, heinz 57 for steak - I like it all cold. I guess it's something about the cold condiment with the warm food. I like it. I know, I've put too much thought into it, but when you have a fantastic cook for a mom, you end up noticing stuff like that. She'd do the nice things like warm up the maple syrup so your pancakes wouldn't get cold, or make a tangy sauce for the meatloaf that you cooked up and served on it warm. I was an un-appreciative child, happy with my cold pancakes and heinz-57-covered steak. Don't worry though, I've made up for it with her, I'll try just about anything these days, and love experimenting in nice restaurants.

But I'll tell you right now, if you're going to serve me meatloaf, I hope you have cold ketchup.

Anyway, back to the corned beef hash, from what I can tell, the way I served it made it pretty much just a vehicle for providing your body with sodium and ketchup. And since there's a ton of sodium in ketchup, it really all boils down to giving your body a big dose of sodium.

It was filling though, probably all that water I'm retaining now, but I think I'll be good to wait another several years before I try it again. I probably will try it again though, because there is something about it - since it's a food I ate in childhood, it's kind of comforting.

When I looked for pictures for this posting, I discovered that many people put fried eggs on top of the there's an idea! Next time I'll try that. Plus there were people out there mentioning mustard and worcestershire sauce and other things. Really? Yikes.

Meanwhile, I think I need to go get a glass of water...I'm thirsty! :-)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fun with Statistics!

No really, I actually do have fun with statistics. I am not a math person, I've never been a math person, to me, math is some sort of magical stuff that is beyond comprehension. EXCEPT...for statistics. I can't explain why it's different to me, it just is. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the topic of this book:

So the other day it occurred to me to find out what percentage in my family files I had of births of twins. No reason other than curiosity.

My maternal family tree database has 7,417 people in it. So I did an export of people and their birth dates to a .csv file and merely eliminated all those people who didn't have the same birthdate. What I found was this:

No instances of triplets.

27 sets of twins, which of course is 54 people.

I then eliminated those that were not a direct relation of mine and that took it down to:

25 sets of twins, 50 people.

That means the incidence of twins in my maternal family datebase is: 0.006741.

Not very high! Somehow when I entered those sets of twins I felt like it had been higher....

I then divided it by century to see how many sets of twins had been born per century:

1600s: 7

1700s: 9

1800s: 7

1900s: 2

And I wonder what happened in the last century to make it suddenly drop off! I blame incomplete data.

Interestingly, the 2 sets of twins born in the 1900s were both born in 1913 (May and October), one being on my maternal grandfather's side and the other being on my maternal grandmother's side.

Looking at gender, it's pretty even, 24 female and 26 male.

The closest to me when it comes to relationships are the 2 sets born in the 1900s, both of which are my great-grand aunt's and uncle's. Of the 25 sets of twins, 18 sets are some sort of cousins to me, with the remaining 7 being some sort of aunt or uncle.

And that completes my funtime with statistics for the day!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

SNGF - Surname Distributions

Randy Seaver has posted another Saturday Night Genealogy Fun suggestion! This week it's:

1) Find out the geographical distribution of your surname - in the world, in your state or province, in your county or parish. I suggest that you use the Public Profiler site at, which seems to work quickly and easily. However, you cannot capture the image as a photo file - you have to capture the screen shot, save it and edit it.

2) Tell us about your surname distribution in a blog post of your own (with a screen shot if possible), in comments to this post, or in comments on a social networking site like Facebook and Twitter.

For "Kleylein", I was curious if anything at all would come up, because it is not a common surname at all. Sure enough though, I got some hits:

According to this website, we Kleylein's only exist in 5 countries and within those countries, we're a pretty small percentage (frequency per million):

Germany - 3.05%
Belgium - 0.29%
US - 0.14%
Spain - 0.10%
Argentina - 0.08%

As far as I know, "Kleylein" originated in Germany and in fact is pretty localized to the Bayern region. I visited Unterrodach years ago, which is where my line of Kleylein's came from. That's consistent with this website that says Marktrodach is the Top City for finding Kleylein's.

Once my father gave up and joined Facebook along with the rest of the world, he immediately began searching for all the other Kleylein's he could find and sending them friend requests. Thanks to him, I'm FB friends with one of the Kleylein's in Argentina, which is pretty cool, considering there's even fewer of them there than in the US.

My mom's surname is another unique one ("Domelle"), so naturally I did a search on that one as well:

And yep, even less Domelle's are out there. Interestingly, the website says there are Domelle's in West county, Ireland. I'm not sure I buy that, since I know for sure my great-grandfather immigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So, that is either a coincidence of spelling, or some person from the family moved to Ireland at some point. I also know for a fact there is a branch of the family in Canada, but Canada does not show any Domelle's for this website. Nobody's perfect I guess!

When I click on the map of the US for Domelle, it is pretty good in it's distribution by state, although I believe one state in the South is missing:

When the Domelle's immigrated, they mostly ended up in Indiana where they were farmers.

This is a fun little website, I did searches on pretty much every surname I have and then some. Thanks Randy!