May is National Barbecue Month. Yes, Really

May is National Barbecue Month. Yes, Really

Just about every month is National something month, and May happens to be the month of barbecue. Yes, May is National Barbecue Month. The weather is getting hotter, so there’s no better time to whip out those barbecues (not grills, mind you) and take part in an American tradition that dates back hundreds of years.

The original method of barbecuing was developed by indigenous Caribbean tribes. When Christopher Columbus and his band of explorers encountered these tribes, they adopted their cooking method. They called it, “barbacoa”. The Spanish explorers brought the cooking technique with them as they traveled North, and eventually it made its way to the colonies. In 1540, explorer Hernando de Soto recorded that he, along with the Mississippi Chicksaw Tribe, cooked a feast of pork over the barbacoa. No one really knows where the term “barbecue” originated, but its widely believed to have originated from the original term “barbacoa”.

Eventually the tradition of barbecue was adopted wholeheartedly by early Americans and transformed into the cooking culture that we love. To this day, the most traditional barbecue joints only serve pork, as the original BBQ-ers of the South only had access to cheap cuts of the meat. They used pork instead of beef because pig farming at the time was incredibly low-maintenance and far cheaper than beef. Cows required massive amounts of feed and closed spaces, while pigs could roam around and fend for themselves. The cheap cuts of pork needed to be tenderized to be enjoyable, which is what led to the “low and slow” nature of barbecue cooking.

Today there are 4 distinct styles of American barbecue – most of the variations brought to America by immigrants. The original “whole hog” style barbecue is thought to have originated in the eastern colonies. There it was perfected when British colonists introduced the idea of basting the meat with sauce to preserve the juices inside. The Britons also preferred a tart sauce with their barbecue, and that tartness can still be found in North Carolina barbecue sauce. In South Carolina on the other hand, a mustard-based sauce was adopted, due to the large German and French immigrant population in the area.

May is National Barbecue Month

North Carolina BBQ

The barbecue fad moved west and settled in Texas, where locals began applying the Carolina cooking methods to beef instead of pork.

May is National Barbecue Month

Texas BBQ

The fad also landed in Memphis, Tennessee, where a sweeter, tomato-based barbecue sauce was born, due to the city’s easy access to molasses.

May is National Barbecue Month

Memphis BBQ

 Barbecue eventually found its way to Kansas City, brought there in the early 1900s by a man named Henry Perry. Perry’s method of barbecuing is said to have defined Kansas City barbecue. Kansas City barbecue combines Carolina and Texas barbecue, while adding its own zing. Barbecue in Kansas City includes both pork and beef, and a sweet sauce that you won’t find anywhere else. Barbecue experts call Kansas City barbecue the “ultimate amalgamation of East and West barbecue.”

May is National Barbecue Month

Kansas City BBQ

Despite all this, history does little to describe the actual flavor and smell of rich, down home barbecue. Barbecue lovers from around the world make pilgrimages to America’s “Barbecue Belt”, to try the four barbecue styles that are steeped in American tradition.

The California Poppy

The California Poppy

California, with its almost always sunny skies, magnificent oceans and comforting predictable weather– it’s no wonder most people want to live here, or at the very least visit this lush state.  The uniqueness and variety throughout this large state is also what lures people in from all over the world.

California truly offers something for everyone; whether one wishes to be on the coast with the sea and sand, or more inland with desert sands and cacti, or even to be in the presence of redwood trees in a grand forest, almost any terrain one could desire can be found here.

The official state flower in California is the eschscholzia Californica, or more commonly known as the California poppy. Gold is the theme throughout California symbols such as the state colors are blue and gold, the state nickname is the “golden state” and the state mineral is you guessed it, gold. So, this particular flower suits our state well due to its sunny yellow/golden hue and nickname “cup of gold.”

If anyone feels so inclined to celebrate our lovely state flower, April 6th is “California Poppy Day” and if you missed the chance this year, no worries because “Poppy Week” will be here from May 13th to the 18th.

There is more than meets the eye concerning the California poppy. While it is quite beautiful it also has been used for many years for its numerous health benefits. The main active ingredient contained in the flower is its sedative alkaloids. These properties have been known to help those suffering from headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression and nervous disorders. It would seem that the benefits help heal both the young and old alike in that recent studies have shown it helps children with ADD and ADHD while also improving the mental capacity in the elderly by increasing their memory and concentration abilities.

This plant was used by Native Americans and is also used today by traditional medicine practitioners as an antimicrobial and nerve pain reducer.

The California poppy can be found all over the beautiful golden state but flourishes best in desert areas, such as the Mohave Desert. So if you would like to take in their magnificent view, or even take a few home with you to experience the many health benefits, go on out into nature, into the great unknown, the vast desert, and partake in what has been freely given to us.

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

California is the land of beautiful beaches, perfect weather, and delicious food. There are tons of things that you can only get right here in the Golden State. If you’re moving to California or just visiting for a while, here’s a few California exclusives that you should definitely check out while you’re here.

1. In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out is certainly the most obvious one, so we have to mention it right off the bat. Since 1948, In-N-Out has been serving up the same simple and delicious burgers. Their secret is fresh ingredients and a friendly, hard-working staff. Their burgers are so good, that the recipe hasn’t changed in nearly 70 years! In-N-Out doesn’t need any flashy advertisements or crazy promotions to stay successful because the food speaks for itself. Once you go into an In-N-Out and try your first bite, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. OK, so In-N-Out isn’t only in California anymore, but California is still the place where you can find one most easily. Don’t miss out on eating here during your stay in CA!

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

2. Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles

Roscoe’s is more than a California classic; Roscoe’s is an L.A. classic. The strange soul food fusion restaurant has been a Los Angeles tradition for more than 40 years! At Roscoe’s you’ll find plates piled high with waffles, and you guessed it, fried chicken. It’s a flavor combination that frightens some, and tantalizes others. Roscoe’s has been in several movies, and is commonly mentioned by celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, who says that the restaurant is his all-time favorite place to eat. If you go in to the Long Beach location, you may even see Snoop enjoying a plate for himself. Although the combination might sound strange, once you try it you’ll be wondering where Roscoe’s has been all your life.

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

3. Cheap Authentic Mexican Food

Next to Mexico, California is the place where you can find the most authentic Mexican food. The best part is that it’s always reasonably priced. Driving through the streets of Los Angeles, you’re bound to drive by at least a few taco trucks. If you’re lucky enough to find a truck on a Tuesday, you can even buy a taco for as little as 50 cents! If you can’t find a truck, stop by one of the millions of “Albert” style Mexican restaurants and pick up a California burrito for cheap. While California burritos aren’t necessarily authentic, they sure do taste great.

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

4.Cheap Avocados

Known as the “Avocado Capitol of the World”, Fallbrook California is the best place for seriously delicious avocados at a ridiculously low price. In many places around the country, avocados can cost up to $2.50, but in Fallbrook, you can snag a bag of 4 for $1.00! Why not buy a few bags and make guacamole for everyone you know?

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

5. Cactus Cooler

Cactus Cooler is beloved by all California residents and widely accepted among Californians as the best soda. The only thing, is you can pretty much only find it in Southern California. Knowing that the drink is hard to find makes the delicious pineapple-orange flavored beverage taste even sweeter. Your visit to California won’t be complete without a tall glass of Cactus Cooler.

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

6. The Original Disneyland

Even though there are several other Disney parks including the ones in Florida and Hong-Kong, there’s only one original “Happiest Place on Earth”, and that’s found in Anaheim California. If you’re a Disney fan you have to visit Disneyland in Anaheim. While you’re there, check out California Adventure, which is a park exclusively found in California. There you’ll learn about some California history, see remakes of some of California’s famous monuments like the Golden Gate Bridge, and of course ride some great rides. One of the most popular attractions is called Soarin’ Over California, that takes you through a number of famous California locations. When you travel over the California orange groves, you can even smell the oranges.

6 Things You Can Only Get in California

California is a state that’s rich with experiences for both residents and visitors. When you come to visit the Golden State, be sure to try the local food and drink, and visit the destinations that make the state what it is.

Famous Californian Dishes

Famous Californian Dishes

So we all know that California is known for its beautiful beaches, perfect weather, and the Hollywood elite but how many individuals realize that a plethora of our favorite dishes come from California as well? The upper north east boasts in their famous hot dogs and gigantic pizzas, the south shows hospitality and prides themselves on their collard greens and corn bread, and the mid-west has their staples of home cooked BBQ and refreshing sweet tea.  The west however is oftentimes just thought of as being a melting pot of foods from around the world and that is simply not the whole truth, as you’ll read below.

The very popular Cobb Salad was created right here in Southern California way back in 1937 by Bob Cobb, the owner of a very popular restaurant called The Brown Derby.  This salad typically consists of romaine lettuce and mixed greens, grilled chicken, tomato, bacon bits, hard-boiled egg, avocado, black olives, chives, cheese and your dressing of choice.  Rumor has it he was hungry after a long day of work and was hanging out at his restaurant in Hollywood with Sid Grauman (the creator of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) when he threw together this salad from scratch.  Sid loved it so much, he came back and ordered a “Cobb Salad” and it became a hit with all of the customers.  Since Mr. Cobb made that first salad, thousands upon thousands have been made at varying restaurants all across the United States and is a favorite salad among most people.

Another delicious dish that was made here in sunny SoCal is the glorious Cheeseburger. In 1926 a humble, young fry cook named Lionel Sternberger was working in his father’s restaurant, “The Rite Spot” in Pasadena, California.  He had accidentally overcooked one side of a hamburger patty and to cover up the mishap he slabbed on a piece of American cheese.  The creation was tasty and became popular immediately, and so they began selling the “Cheese Hamburger” at their restaurant and many establishments quickly followed suit.  What a jackpot.

This next dish coincidentally, was also the result of an accident in the kitchen, it is the French Dip Sandwich, which is ironically not French at all, but the inventor, Philippe Mathieu is a Frenchman.  In 1918 at his restaurant, “Philippe the Original” in Los Angeles, he was making a sandwich for a frequent customer, an LAPD officer and he carelessly dropped the roll into the juice in the roasting pan.  The police officer loved it so much that he came back the next day and he and his friends began specifically asking that their sandwich be dipped in the meat juices.  This sandwich drew in so many customers that Philippe the Original is still open, and is one of Los Angeles’ oldest restaurants.  If in the LA area, why not stop in and try their specialty of the house, the French Dipped Sandwich?  It consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey, or ham and is served on a freshly baked French roll that has been dipped in natural gravy. Cheese can also be added to this decadent dish.

The burrito one might assume to have originated in Mexico or some part of Central America, but yet again, the origin will come as a surprise.  It was created in San Francisco on September 26, 1961 at the “El Faro” restaurant in the Latin Mission District.  Now just to clarify, the habit of wrapping various items into homemade corn tortillas had been around in Mexico and other parts of Central America long before this time, but the invention of a large flour tortilla filled with meats and cheese and various vegetables as well as rice and beans and served as a meal on its own, that was created in famous San Fran.  Talk to any locals in the area and they’ll swear that it will become your all-time favorite burrito, and possibly favorite meal after giving one of their Mission-Style Burritos a chance, and don’t worry, even though burrito technically means “little donkey” in Spanish, no donkeys are injured during the making of these fabulous treats.

Lastly, and this dish won’t come as such a surprise due to its name giveaway, is the ever popular and trendy California Roll, served all over California and liked by a variety of individuals.  The original California Roll consists of sushi rice, dried seaweed, diced avocado, a chunk of crab and oftentimes a garnish of cucumber or radish.  Japanese sushi chef, Ichiro Mashita was working in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles and he came up with the idea to substitute avocado for tuna back in the 1960’s when fatty tuna was hard to come by.  He realized that the locals enjoyed the avocado even more than the fatty tuna and thereby created a new dish called the “California roll.”  He observed that a lot of locals were also removing the dried seaweed and began leaving that out of the recipe as well.

 Many amazing dishes seem to have been made by an accident occurring, or by an individual looking to improvise or use what was available in their kitchen.  If feeling creative, maybe pay attention to what you throw together in your own home the next time you’re making a dinner last minute, you never know, it could be the next famous California dish.

3 Companies That Made Silicon Valley

3 Companies That Made Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is one of the most influential areas in our modern world. It continues to be a powerful sector in the tech industry, constantly creating new technology that we quickly adopt into our everyday lives. Companies like HP, Adobe Systems, AMD, and Apple have their roots in Silicon Valley. Although places like New York, Japan, and even Los Angeles are becoming new tech centers, Silicon Valley remains at the top of the tech food chain. Since the dawn of the Information Age, Silicon Valley has risen as a mega magnate of tech. But why Silicon Valley? How did this area become so influential in the international tech world? Let’s cover a few of the companies that have made, and are making Silicon Valley what it is today.

Hewlitt-Packard

3 of the Companies That Made Silicon Valley What it Is

It’s commonly accepted that the birthplace of Silicon Valley is a little garage in Palo Alto that is still standing today. Engineers Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett rented the tiny space and started their own electronics business – a company that would soon become the tech giant, Hewlett-Packard. HP’s first commercial product however, wasn’t a computer – it was a sound oscillator. Disney was one of their first clients, purchasing 8 of oscillators for use in the production of Fantasia (1940). Although HP’s oscillator design would later inspire the analog synthesizer, music isn’t exactly what HP is known for.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that HP started developing semiconductor devices, which would eventually make HP the tech giant that it is. In 1968, HP released the world’s very first “personal computer”, something that solidified their place as the official founders of Silicon Valley. Today Hewlett-Packard is estimated to be worth more than $100 billion, and it all started in a small Silicon Valley garage.

Google

3 of the Companies That Made Silicon Valley What it Is

Similarly to HP, Google also started business in a Silicon Valley garage in 1998. Google was originally conceived as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were both Stanford PhD students at the time. They devised a way to make a better search engine than any other one available at the time, and it didn’t take long before they had tons of investors. In 1998 they received around $200,000 dollars in investments from people such as Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon), and Andy Bechtolsheim (co-founder of Sun Microsystems). However, just one year later they got nearly $25 million in funding from major investors such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. This outrageous amount of funding put Google in the perfect spot to become one of the most powerful corporations in the world seemingly overnight. Now Google exists as a sort of oracle. It knows everything there is to know, and all you have to do is ask it to get your answer. Most of the time Google will give you specific search results based on how you browse the internet and what sites you visit. In fact, they make more than $40 billion per year by pushing ads and products to users based on their interests.

Facebook

3 of the Companies That Made Silicon Valley What it Is

Now headquartered in Silicon Valley, Facebook originally started in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room. However, Facebook wasn’t the first social media endeavor that Zuckerberg created. His first social site was called Facemash – a site that displayed two students’ pictures side-by-side, and allowed people to choose who was hotter. To get access to the students’ pictures, Zuckerberg had to hack into the Harvard “facebook” which contained catalogues of student pictures. Just a few days later, the site was taken down by Harvard (despite its viral popularity), and Zuckerberg was eventually expelled from the University.

Despite the controversy surrounding it, Facemash is what inspired Zuckerberg to create Facebook, which is now the most widely used social network in the world. Facebook started the massive global shift into the world of social media, and has a net worth of nearly $200 billion!

The Age of Information is in full force, and its the mega corporations such as these, and the thousands of little startup companies in Silicon Valley that are keeping it on the cutting edge.

 

5 Californian Actors

5 Californian Actors

When people think of California, Hollywood is one of the major places that comes to mind. With so many movies produced in Hollywood, it comes as no surprise that a large majority of actors live here in the Golden State. Today let’s look at a few California actors whose work, both on screen and off has inspired millions.

  1. Tom Hanks
5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks seems like one of the most likeable people on the planet. After the dramatic success of the 1988 movie Big, and the even wider success of the 1994 classic Forrest Gump, Hanks established himself as an A-list Hollywood name. Even though Tom Hanks is arguably one of the most famous people in the world, he’s still one of the most down-to-earth.

In 2012, Hanks was given a 1934 Smith Corona typewriter by a fan who wanted to have him on her podcast. He promptly responded with this humorously typewritten letter.

5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

The Note Tom Hanks Sent to a Fan From His Typewriter

In fact, Hanks loved the typewriter gift so much that just a few years later he sent a brand-new typewriter to a different fan, after she sent him a notebook filled with sketches of his movies.

5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

The Typewriter Tom Hanks Sent to a Fan

 

Tom Hanks also is heavily involved in a lot of children’s charities such as the Elevate Hope Foundation, the Hole in the Wall Foundation and others.

  1. Dwayne Johnson
5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Once a professional wrestler, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is now the highest paid actor in Hollywood. Not only does The Rock star in vastly successful movies such as The Fast and the Furious films, Moana, and shows like Baywatch, but he also is a generous philanthropist. Whenever he has time, Dwayne Johnson can be found visiting children’s hospitals and chatting with everyone he meets. He’s also the founder of the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation – an organization that strives to create hope in the lives of children hospitalized for various medical conditions. The organization also helps to fight childhood obesity and educates children along the way.

5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

  1. Ben Affleck
5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck is another shining example of a California local who is using his fame and fortune for philanthropy. In 2010, the actor/director founded the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) after visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo several times and seeing the rampant conflict there. The organization focuses on investing in and working with the people of Eastern Congo in order to create a sustainable society. In 2008, Affleck used his directing skills to create a short film titled Gimme Shelter, which highlighted the humanitarian crisis in the DRC.

Affleck’s humanitarian work doesn’t stop there. On three separate occasions, Affleck has appeared before the United States Congress to advocate for international engagement in Congo. He’s involved with several other charities as well, all while continuing to make great movies!

  1. Jennifer Aniston
5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

Jennifer Aniston

Most famously known for her iconic role and hairdo on the hit sitcom Friends, Jennifer Aniston is also an advocate for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Since 2008, she has appeared on several St. Jude’s commercials promoting different campaigns. In addition to her work with the children’s hospital, Jennifer Aniston also donated $500,000 to Haiti relief funds through reputable organizations such as Doctors Without Borders. Just a few years later, she purchased an art piece at a Hatian humanitarian event for $450,000!

5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

“Stranger #44″ – The Piece Jennifer Aniston Purchased for $450K

Her work in Haiti has been an invaluable contribution to the people of Haiti, and she continues to show her support for the country.

  1. James Franco
5 Influential Actors You Didn’t Know Are From California

James Franco

James Franco is a jack of all trades, and a master of many of them. When he’s not acting, he’s directing, teaching university classes, pursuing graduate degrees, and doing philanthropical work. Most recently, James Franco has partnered with the Art of Elysium charity to create Elysium Bandini Studios – an organization that will help students create the art they dream of, while connecting actors with people in need. Art of Elysium co-founder and CEO Jennifer Howell said, “We thought we could create a nonprofit film studio where we gave talented young filmmakers a platform to do their thing and fulfill their artistic vision, plus give back to the community through Art of Elysium.” Franco’s work with Art of Elysium continues to provide students with the opportunity to make their voices heard.