Watercooler talk

Need some fun and interesting anecdotes, experiments, and other silly trivia to add to your repertoire of good conversation starters in case you find yourself at an awkward dinner party?

Here goes nuthin’ ~

Luxury of peanut butter
Did you know that peanut butter was invented by a doctor who wanted his toothless patients to have something easy to eat? It was popular in the USA as far back as the 1800s, but, interestingly enough, before the Great Depression it was considered more of a luxury product. Nowadays, with an increase of between 130 and 330 percent of items on restaurant menus that contain peanuts or peanut butter, I think it is safe to say we have moved well past the ubiquitous peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Start of the dinner and a movie concept?
When English colonist pilgrims sat down for their first Thanksgiving dinner in February of 1630, one of the offerings from an Indian Chief in attendance was popped corn. Now, I don’t know which is cooler - that popcorn was served at an important food occasion or that we could have had Thanksgiving in February. Note: Popcorn has been around for 6000 years. Speaking of popcorn history, on September 19, 1995, a great popcorn celebrity died – Mr. Orville Redenbacher. Please have a moment of silence before you set your microwave to pop this weekend.

Boring cocktail party?
Try this: A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continually on the bubbles. It does not revive flat champagne, though, so if someone tells you that, they are pranking you.

Chicken soup for the sexy?
I am sure you will have fun with this one: In the Middle Ages, chicken soup was considered an aphrodisiac. Is that what all the talk about Chicken Soup for the Soul really means? (wink wink) Does this mean they didn’t have much imagination when it came to setting a mood, or simply that their cup runneth over (or should I say bowl)?

Last but not least
Here is something that begs the question, who was paid to figure this out, and what were they trying to prove? If Jello is hooked up to an EEG (heart monitor), it registers movements virtually identical to the brain waves of a healthy adult.”

I hope these tidbits will give you some fun to share with a friend or family member. Think of them as no-calorie ways to use food as a stress reliever.

Speaking of no-calorie, this isn’t . . . but it is in keeping with the spirit of weird and wacky things. 

This recipe for Chocolate Wacky Cake is from my mum, and was one of my favourites, growing up. It was like magic, because you mixed it all in the baking pan, and it turned out tasting as good as layer cake. Legend has it the recipe comes from the 30’s, during the Great Depression, when many items like butter were rationed. The original apparently had no egg either.

Mum had a special technique for including it in bag lunches, too: Once you cut the square of cake from the pan, pull the bottom half of cake away and stick it back on the top, sandwiching the icing so it doesn’t stick to the plastic wrap or container.

Chocolate Wacky Cake

Preheat oven to 350F

In 9 inch square baking pan, mix ingredients:

1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp  salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cocoa

Make 3 wells and pour one ingredient below in each well:

1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vinegar

Mix together the following and pour over pan ingredients:

1 egg plus water to make 1 cup

Mix entire preparation until smooth then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until knife inserted in centre comes out clean.

Ice with chocolate frosting.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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