Tag Archives: New York City

New Food Friday – Chestnuts

11 Jan Chestnut Burr
American Chestnut

American Chestnut                     flickr: hickmanwoods

You’ve all heard the song, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”  But have you tasted a chestnut? Better yet, have you tasted a roasted chestnut? It’s time to investigate chestnuts on New Food Friday.

Whereas most nuts are hard, chestnuts are relatively soft and moist.  They’re firm and they’re also a bit sweet! Does that sound like a nut to you? Well, it might interest you to know that the botanical definition of a nut is a dry fruit!

Roasted chestnuts are a common street food. You can find them in many countries. I remember them fondly on the streets of New York City many years ago. You could smell them roasting for blocks. They’re great to eat in the wintertime because they are hot and if you wear your mittens, you can hold a few in your hands, warming your cold fingers while you wait for the chestnuts to cool off.

Chestnuts Hot!

Chestnuts Hot!

Chestnuts are low in fat and calories compared to a walnut which has 3 times the amount of calories. I bought a container of chestnuts at Meijer and they were originally $4.49 reduced to $1.49.  The package stated “Italian Chestnuts” so I’m assuming they were imported from Italy. I’m lucky I found them reduced. They were the best chestnuts I’ve ever eaten! At least to my memory. 

Almost all fresh chestnuts sold in your local markets are imported. These imported chestnuts come from all over the world–Italy, Spain, Korea, China, and sometimes even Portugal, according to http://www.buychestnuts.com/

Chestnut Unshelled with Bowl

Chestnut Unshelled with Bowl

When you roast them, you want to be sure to puncture them with the point of a sharp knife. In fact, make an “x” because just one puncture might not do. I had one explode in my toaster oven when I only gave it one puncture. They are like baking potatoes in that sense. If you don’t puncture a potato well and bake it in the oven, it will explode! I have experience with both unfortunately! They are a mess to clean up. 

Speaking of messes, when I work with flour, which is often because I like to bake, I manage to get flour everywhere. Although I’ve never used Chestnut flour, I imagine it wouldn’t be any different. Chestnut flour is favored in many Tuscany recipes. Chestnuts are found in some recipes in America on Thanksgiving. Some folks like to make their turkey stuffing with chestnuts. I would love to try that. It sounds delicious!

I used to see many of these chestnut burrs 

Chestnut Burr

Chestnut Burr sxc.hu – mordoc-(France)

on the ground on my way home from school when I was growing up. Whether they were the true American Chestnuts, I don’t know but I’m inclined to think so. The trees on this one particular block were very old and not just Chestnut trees. I remember Oak leaves in the mix. Their roots caused a major upheaval on the sidewalks over the years, causing permanent “ocean waves” that were a challenge to navigate, especially when Fall came and colorful slippery leaves covered the ground. When I went back, six years ago, all the old trees were gone, cut down, and in place of the shady canopy, sunshine and new sidewalks. To me it looked bare and ugly. I preferred the undulating sidewalks!

Chestnut Avenue

                          Chestnut Avenue, reminds me of my walk home from school                                                    sxc.hu – stockcharl(Germany)

When I was in school, I learned the poem, “Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands.” Some of you might recognize that poem.

sxc.hu - all81-Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree

                                    Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree                                                                            sxc.hu – all81(Netherlands)

The story of the American Chestnut Tree is a sad one. You may have heard it from your parents or grandparents. It’s been said that the East Coast American Chestnut Tree was the equivalent of the West Coast Redwood Tree.  Imagine how devastating it would be if we lost our Redwoods.

“The story is that the chestnut supported from cradle to grave,” says Bill Alexander, landscape curator of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. “You were rocked to sleep as a baby in a chestnut cradle and you were buried in a chestnut casket.” (Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/1998-08-01/Chestnut-Revival.aspx#ixzz2HEhNgEbe)

Here are excerpts from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) website.

“The American chestnut tree reigned over 200 million acres of eastern woodlands from Maine to Florida, and from the Piedmont west to the Ohio Valley, until succumbing to a lethal fungus infestation, known as the chestnut blight, during the first half of the 20th century. An estimated 4 billion American chestnuts, 1/4 of the hardwood tree population, grew within this range.

Scary or Scared Chestnut Trees? sxc.hu algiamil

                                     Scary or Scared Chestnut Trees?                                                                                    sxc.hu algiamil(Italy)

The American chestnut tree was an essential component of the entire eastern US ecosystem. A late-flowering, reliable, and productive tree, unaffected by seasonal frosts, it was the single most important food source for a wide variety of wildlife from bears to birds. Rural communities depended upon the annual nut harvest as a cash crop to feed livestock. The chestnut lumber industry was a major sector of rural economies. Chestnut wood is straight-grained and easily worked, lightweight and highly rot-resistant, making it ideal for fence posts, railroad ties, barn beams and home construction, as well as for fine furniture and musical instruments.

The blight, imported to the US on Asian chestnut trees, is a fungus dispersed via spores in the air, raindrops or animals. It eventually kills the tree.

In 1989 TACF established the Wagner Research Farm, a breeding station in Meadowview, Virginia, to execute the backcross breeding program developed by Philip Rutter, Dr. David French and the late Dr. Charles Burnham, three of TACF’s founding scientists. Two independent reviews of TACF’s scientific mission, methods, and results, were conducted in 1999 and in 2006 by prominent scientists from around the world. They concluded that the vision of The American Chestnut Foundation to restore the American chestnut to its native habitat in the United States is being accomplished through the breeding program & other TACF activities, and that regional adaptability is key to a successful reintroduction of the American chestnut tree.

Today, TACF’s Meadowview Research Farms have over 30,000 trees at various stages of breeding, planted on more than 160 acres of land.”

Chestnut blight. Experimental trials of resist...

Experimental trials of resistant Castanea dentata by the American Chestnut Foundation at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, Massachusetts, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The comeback of the American Chestnut tree sounds promising.

For more information, to learn how you can participate,  and to hear Dolly Parton’s new song about the American Chestnut, click here.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for the American Chestnut to make its comeback, try the European chestnut sold in your supermarket. Although it is the end of the season for chestnuts, you might get lucky and still be able to find some at your supermarket. They were out of them at Meijer when I went back for more, but they were still selling them at my local K-Mart. Otherwise, you may find chestnuts sold in Michigan and a few other states where chestnut hybrids are planted.                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero

27 Sep By Succu (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)], Wikimedia Commons

I was watching TV in bed a few weeks ago and was about to turn in when PBS announced a Nova special: Engineering Ground Zero. The program was so interesting that I stayed up to watch it.

 

This program isn’t so much about what happened 9/11, 2001, it is about the rebuilding of this 16-acre site.

THAT WAS THEN…

The film is inspiring, hopeful, with leaders who are full of innovative ideas that will amaze you!

 

Yes, when they first began talking about rebuilding a skyscraper, I admit, I thought they had lost their minds! But after seeing this film, I feel very reassured and that is why I wanted to write this post, to share with you what I learned from this program.

 

There were many bitter disagreements, starts and stops in this rebuilding process, but when momentum took hold, Michael Arad was chosen as the architect and designer of the 9/11 Memorial. It was a design that was chosen out of 5,000 entries.

 

In no particular order, the film mainly covers:

The 9/11 Memorial (the cascading pools)

The MemorialPlaza (includes the 400 trees)

One WorldTradeCenter (the skyscraper)

The underground massive museum

The steel

The concrete

The glass panels

The bronze panels

 

The 9/11 Memorial

The Memorial is a phenomenal structure of two flowing water pools where the twin towers had been. I get goose bumps when I think about it because water has so much significance when you think about it. To me it signifies cleansing, purity, sustenance, life, and healing properties. Each of these pools is 30,000 square feet, almost an acre of void. The design calls for 52,000 gallons of water to cascade over the walls every minute, drop 30 feet, and disappear into a second, inner pool. What Arad created was brilliant, genius!

 

The Bronze Panels

Names of the 2,982 individuals whose lives were lost are not listed alphabetically, but by the locations where individuals died: the South Tower, the North Tower, Flights 11, 93, 77, 175 and the Pentagon. First responders and those who died in the 1993 attacks are also grouped together. One-hundred-fifty-two bronze panels will surround the pools with these names.

For fifty percent of the people that are on the Memorial, no remains were found, so this is going to be, for many families and many loved ones, the place that they will go on those special days: the birthdays, anniversaries. Unfortunately, this is the final resting place of the deceased.

They wanted the memorial part of the site to be completed on the 10-year anniversary of the attack, September 11, 2011. They accomplished that goal and you get to see this beautiful memorial from start to finish in the film. When fully completed, the entire site will include a train station to rival Grand Central, six new towers, and, at its heart, the 9/11 Memorial.

 

The Skyscraper

One World Trade Center skyscraper begins with world-renowned architect David Childs who is striving for a balance of security with beauty. The first 20 stories are like a bunker, built to withstand the force of a truck bomb. As it rises, the tower transforms into eight interlocking triangles, covered in huge panels of clear glass. More than a hundred stories up, a broadcast antenna brings the total height to a symbolic 1776 feet. The cost? More than three billion dollars, Childs’ design will be one of the most expensive skyscrapers ever built and one of the most innovative.


The Concrete

The core of One World Trade Center contains critical safety systems like extra-wide stairwells. It’s made of a material that’s strong like steel, but more fire-resistant: concrete.

 

The cores in the Twin Towers were compromised on 9/11, because they were made of steel wrapped in thin sheetrock. Childs’ design calls for super-strong concrete. So strong that it had to be developed in the lab. In testing this new concrete, they formed a four-inch-diameter cylinder of the concrete. It can accommodate a thousand Americans standing on this one cylinder. Challenges are getting the concrete to the site before it hardens, not to mention pumping it up 40 stories high.

 

When finished, One World Trade Center will contain almost 500,000 tons of this material, much of it in its core, which has walls up to six feet thick. Inside, the core protects a total of 70 elevators, as well as the extra-wide stairwells that are pressurized to keep smoke out. Smoke is the real killer.

Childs has a vision of using prismatic glass at the podium to add to the beauty of the structure. Cutting grooves into glass this thick and this large has never been done before. The only way to do it is to build a new machine from scratch.

The Glass Panels

Each glass panel consists of laminated safety glass on the inside, an insulating air space, and another thick pane of glass on the outside, lined with an energy-saving coating. The coating lets sunshine in while reducing heat, resulting in cost savings in office lighting and air-conditioning.

Installing these panels is a painstaking task: they can weigh up to 5,000 pounds. There are around 13,000 panels. When this wall of glass is complete, it will wrap around the entire building from the 20th floor to the top. I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind!

The Podium

The podium of One World Trade Center is a square about the size of the original towers. But as it rises above its base, at the 20th floor, the corners taper in. A square becomes an octagon. Four sides become eight interlocking triangles. Finally, at the top, it resolves in a square once again. Above the podium, One World Trade Center is going up a floor a week.

 

The “Green” Building

One World Trade Center is designed to be a certified green building. Steel contributes to that, because much of it comes from recycled materials like old refrigerators, cars, even toasters, all melted down into liquid.

 

Some of the largest steel pieces are called nodes. They can be as large as 60 tons and stand three stories high. Nodes are giant joints that hold multiple pieces of steel together. They come in all shapes and sizes and make it possible for the building to shift form, from four sides into eight. And they also help re-distribute the weight as the building rises.

THIS IS NOW…

 

Working with steel this big takes experience. Peter Jacobs is a member of the Mohawk Nation, famed for their work on skyscrapers and bridges for over a century. For more information about the Mohawk Nation, click here.

 

The Museum

A massive underground museum is being built beneath the Memorial plaza. People are going to be looking up at the underside of the plaza above, which is 60-70 feet above. There will be a very large volume of space. People will understand the enormity, and the scale of what was lost.

 

The Trees

Four hundred trees are being prepared to be taken to their new home: Ground Zero. They originally come from the three places where people died: New York, Pennsylvania and the Washington, D.C. area. These trees have their own computer chip in them. They have their own monitoring system for aeration and irrigation. Some weigh 18,000 pounds each.

 

The Conclusion?

The rebuilding of Ground Zero won’t be finished for years. David Childs’ original concept to cover the concrete podium with prismatic glass has been scrapped. Its replacement is yet undecided in this film. Many of this skyscraper’s safety features are likely to make it one of the most influential buildings in America.

 

By the way, you can watch the program online for free at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/engineering-ground-zero.html Just click on the green bar on the upper right. A DVD is also available for purchase.

Some films help us to move on from an uncomfortable place. This is one of those films.

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