Happy Halloween! Popcorn balls became popular in the 1950s when people handed out homemade goodies to kids for trick-or-treat. Below are pictures of the cooking steps. Here is the recipe my family uses(it is tripled in the pictures below):
8 cups popped corn
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup white Karo syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
food coloring is optional
Put sugar, syrup, and salt in a pan.
Add food coloring.
Cook on stovetop, stirring frequently until all the sugar is melted and the mixture boils.
Add the vanilla, stir, and then pour over the popcorn.
Stir the popcorn until the kernels are all coated with the sticky syrup.
While it is still warm, form the popcorn into balls like you’re making a snowball. Works best if you put some butter or other food oil on the hands so the popcorn doesn’t stick to you.
I saw several of the same type of terrestrial snails on a trail in a wooded area. I had a difficult time identifying the snail because many species of look very similar. A malacologist (a person who studies snails) uses several different criteria besides shell coloring. I narrowed the type of this snail down to the family of Polygyridae, but am not certain about the genus and species.
I wanted to talk about taxonomy which is how scientists name/classify living things. I still use a mnemonic from my high school biology teacher, Mr. Casini, to remember the taxonomy categories. The mnemonic is King Phillip Came Over From Germany Soon. It makes no sense but it helps me remember the letters KPCOFGS. I will use this snail’s taxonomy as an example.
K is for Kingdom: Animalia (unlike plants, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic organisms)
P is for Phyllum: Mollusca (a type of invertebrate, also includes octopus and scallops)
C is for Class: Gastropoda (which also includes conchs, abalone, periwinkles, and limpets)
O is for Order: Stylommatophora (land snails and slugs as opposed to aquatic snails)
F is for Family: Polygyridae (there are several different families of land snails but my snail appears to fall into this)
G is for Genus and S is for species: I wasn’t certain about the Genus and Species of this snail but thought it was likely Mesodon thyroidus (white-lip globe snail) or Webbhelix multineata (striped white-lip snail)
Another mushroom discovered on my dog walk. The scientific name of this one is Coprinus comatus (coprinus means “of dung” and comatus means “hairy”). This mushroom is also known as the “shaggy inky cap.” It is edible in the “shaggy” white phase, but within 24 hours it digests itself and becomes the inedible “inky” stage. There is a good post from the University of Illinois “Mushroom Monday” blog: https://www.press.uillinois.edu/wordpress/mushroom-monday-coprinus-comatus/
When I was a kid I watched a movie at the theater called “The Legend of Boggy Creek” which scared me half to death. Years later, I showed it to my kids on Halloween, but it didn’t frighten them. The movie is about the “Fouke Monster” which is a Big Foot or Sasquatch that has been sighted multiple times since the 1950s around Fouke, Arkansas. My husband and I drove to Fouke to see “The Monster Museum” which is located in a convenience store called The Monster Mart. Below are some highlights. I bought a coffee cup with a silhouette of a Sasquatch, a Big Foot air freshener to hang from the rearview mirror in my car, and 2 books with stories from Fouke about monster sightings. I plan to re-watch the movie on Amazon. I hope it scares me.
I found three very colorful mushrooms. The violet ones are Reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucicum) and are also known as Lingzhi, Divine Mushroom, and “Mushroom of Immortality.” Reishi mushrooms are used in medicinal teas. I could not correctly indentify the green mushrooms or the odd bright yellow mushroom. The yellow mushroom was growing out of a woodpile and may have a stalk.
At the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney, Nebraska stands a reproduction of an old sign from The Hammer Motel in Kearney, Nebraska. This weekend I went to the Des Moines Art Festival In Iowa and was delighted by Ed Pribyl’s colorful visions of vintage hotel signs.