National Almond Buttercrunch Day
It's crunch time! June 29 is National Almond Buttercrunch Day.
This nutty confection became increasingly popular in the 1940s, during World War II. The candy company Brown & Haley had developed their own recipe for almond buttercrunch a few years earlier, and J.C. Haley, the company's co-founder, had the nutty idea of storing it in tins. He figured that if tins kept his coffee fresh, they’d do the same for his beloved candy.
The buttercrunch was shipped to soldiers fighting overseas and soon became an international hit. Brown & Haley called it Almond Roca because most of the almonds during that time were exported from Spain, and "roca," the Spanish word for rock, is indicative of the candy's crunchy texture.
Almond buttercrunch requires only a few ingredients: butter, sugar, salt and almonds. The butter and sugar are melted together to form a toffee, which is then poured over crushed almonds.
Some recipes have chocolate chips in them, and some are dipped in chocolate. If the confection lasts long enough (i.e. you don't eat it all in one sitting), store your buttercrunch in an airtight container - perhaps even a tin.
National Camera Day
National Camera Day is celebrated on June 29th of each year.
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the word camera obscura (Latin for “dark chamber”), an early mechanism for projecting images. The modern camera evolved from the camera obscura.
Cameras may work with the light of the visible spectrum or with other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. A camera generally consists of an enclosed hollow with an opening (aperture) at one end for light to enter, and a recording or viewing surface for capturing the light at the other end. A majority of cameras have a lens positioned in front of the camera’s opening to gather the incoming light and focus all or part of the image on the recording surface. The diameter of the aperture is often controlled by a diaphragm mechanism, but some cameras have a fixed-size aperture. Most cameras use an electronic image sensor to store photographs on Flash memory. Other cameras including the majority from the 20th century use photographic film.
The still camera takes one photo each time the user presses the shutter button. A typical movie camera continuously takes 24 film frames per second as long as the user holds down the shutter button, or until the shutter button is pressed a second time.
The forerunner to the photographic camera was the camera obscura. In the fifth century B.C., the Chinese philosopher Mo Ti noted that a pinhole can form an inverted and focused image, when light passes through the hole and into a dark area. Mo Ti is the first recorded person to have exploited this phenomenon to trace the inverted image to create a picture. Writing in the fourth century B.C., Aristotle also mentioned this principle. He described observing a partial solar eclipse in 330 B.C. by seeing the image of the Sun projected through the small spaces between the leaves of a tree. In the tenth century, the Arabic scholar Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) also wrote about observing a solar eclipse through a pinhole, and he described how a sharper image could be produced by making the opening of the pinhole smaller. English philosopher Roger Bacon wrote about these optical principles in his 1267 treatise Perspectiva. By the fifteenth century, artists and scientists were using this phenomenon to make observations. Originally, an observer had to enter an actual room, in a which a pinhole was made on one wall. On the opposite wall, the observer would view the inverted image of the outside. The name camera obscura, Latin for “dark room”, derives from this early implementation of the optical phenomenon.
The actual name of camera obscura was applied by mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler in his Ad Vitellionem paralipomena of 1604. He later added a lens and made the apparatus transportable, in the form of a tent. British scientist Robert Boyle and his assistant Robert Hooke developed a portable camera obscura in the 1660s.
The first camera obscura that was small enough for practical use as a portable drawing aid was built by Johann Zahn in 1685. At that time there was no way to preserve the images produced by such cameras except by manually tracing them. However, it had long been known that various substances were bleached or darkened or otherwise changed by exposure to light. Seeing the magical miniature pictures that light temporarily “painted” on the screen of a small camera obscura inspired several experimenters to search for some way of automatically making highly detailed permanent copies of them by means of some such substance.
Early photographic cameras were usually in the form of a pair of nested boxes, the end of one carrying the lens and the end of the other carrying a removable ground glass focusing screen. By sliding them closer together or farther apart, objects at various distances could be brought to the sharpest focus as desired. After a satisfactory image had been focused on the screen, the lens was covered and the screen was replaced with the light-sensitive material. The lens was then uncovered and the exposure continued for the required time, which for early experimental materials could be several hours or even days. The first permanent photograph of a camera image was made in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce using a sliding wooden box camera made by Charles and Vincent Chevalier in Paris.
Similar cameras were used for exposing the silver-surfaced copper Daguerreotype plates, commercially introduced in 1839, which were the first practical photographic medium. The collodion wet plate process that gradually replaced the Daguerreotype during the 1850s required photographers to coat and sensitize thin glass or iron plates shortly before use and expose them in the camera while still wet. Early wet plate cameras were very simple and little different from Daguerreotype cameras, but more sophisticated designs eventually appeared. The Dubroni of 1864 allowed the sensitizing and developing of the plates to be carried out inside the camera itself rather than in a separate darkroom. Other cameras were fitted with multiple lenses for photographing several small portraits on a single larger plate, useful when making cartes de visite. It was during the wet plate era that the use of bellows for focusing became widespread, making the bulkier and less easily adjusted nested box design obsolete.
For many years, exposure times were long enough that the photographer simply removed the lens cap, counted off the number of seconds (or minutes) estimated to be required by the lighting conditions, then replaced the cap. As more sensitive photographic materials became available, cameras began to incorporate mechanical shutter mechanisms that allowed very short and accurately timed exposures to be made.
The electronic video camera tube was invented in the 1920s, starting a line of development that eventually resulted in digital cameras, which largely supplanted film cameras after the turn of the 21st century.
Waffle Iron Day
Ahhh the Waffle Iron, creator of some of the most delicious breakfast delicacies the world round. There’s so many different types of them as well, you have your regular waffle iron, your deluxe multi-waffle irons that make more than one at a time, round ones, Belgian waffle-makers with their deep squares and thick waffles begging to be topped with strawberries and cream. Waffle Iron Day is the perfect time to celebrate this delicious breakfast staple!
Waffle Irons were first found in that area of Northwestern Europe known as the Low Countries, which includes Belgium and the Netherlands as well as other places. Originally they were made to be used over an open flame, and were thus constructed on the end of two long, typically wooden, handles with a clamshell system at one end, which would be held over a fire to bake.
The origin of the waffle iron can be traced back to the middle ages, where they were developed from a device known as the ‘wafer iron’. These were commonly used in the creation of the communion wafer, but larger varieties existed, consisting of nothing more than two flat irons often engraved with elaborate scenes. For the communion wafer, it was depictions of the crucifixion of Christ. While the larger secular designs varied widely, often engraved with artistic floral designs, illumination, or just about any other form of design you could imagine.
Later, during the 17th and 18th centuries, they were developed further by the Dutch. Sugar was particularly precious at that time, sometimes catching as much as a half an ounce of silver for a kilogram of sugar. During this time the mestiers were particularly popular among the rich, being made of only the finest ingredients, and sweetened with the precious sugar.
Waffle Irons are used to more than just the simple breakfast food that they’re well known for. Gouda in the Netherlands is the home of a delicious cookie type treat known as a ‘stroopwafel’. Developed by Gerard Kamphuisen, this sweet syrup filled confection was quite popular, leading to a boom where up to 100 stroopwafel makers were to be found in the city. The stroopwafel has since become quite popular around the world.
One of the most popular uses of waffles came about seemingly by accident, allegedly created by George Bang in 1904. He had run out of bowls to give out with his Banner Creamery Ice Cream, and started giving out rolled up waffles to use instead. It’s alleged because there are other origin stories as well, including a Belgium gent from Ghent, who moved to Norfolk, Virginia, and decided that a rolled up Waffle was the perfect place to put a scoop of ice-cream!
Waffle Iron Day is a great opportunity to head out and get yourself a new waffle iron. There are a ton of options available these days, even novelty ones shaped as everything from Mickey Mouse to the state of Texas. You can get particularly creative and make an entire menu from waffles, spanning from breakfast to dinner, and everything in between. Waffle-cone ice-cream, breakfast waffles loaded with whipped cream and berries, the always popular chicken and waffles for dinner, and snacks the day through served on specially seasoned savory waffles!
If nothing else, spend Waffle Iron Day looking into the history of this delightful and always creative food. There’s something inspiring about how so simple a concept spread to embrace the world and shape some of our favorite treats. Happy Waffle Iron Day!