Buy the 2015 Old Farmer's Almanac!

Question of the Day

Can I freeze sour cream?

We wouldn't recommend freezing sour cream. Its texture will suffer, becoming grainy, and it will most likely separate and not reblend well.

Last 7 Days

    When and why did the word southpaw originate?

    The word was coined in the late 19th century by Finley Peter Dunne, a Chicago sportswriter. At that time, home plate in Chicago faced west, which meant that a left-handed pitcher released the ball on the south side of his body. The "paw" referred to his hand.

    Why is it called hamburger when it is made from beef?

    Hamburger was named for the city of Hamburg, Germany, where it was common for residents to pound their beef in the 19th century. By 1912, people in the United States were shaping this pulverized beef into patties.

    Who was the first lady when Thomas Jefferson was president?

    Dolly Madison would sometimes assist the widowed President Jefferson in entertaining guests at the White House. Jefferson's daughter, Martha, also appeared as the lady of the President's House in the winter of 1802-1803, when she spent seven weeks there.

    Where did the phrase "rain check" originate?

    This phrase originally referred to a voucher given to spectators at a baseball game that was rained out. The "rain check" allowed them to watch another game for free. Our sources indicate that the term came into being around 1884 and gradually came to refer to vouchers for other sports and eventually to vouchers you get at, say, the drugstore, when it runs out of sale-priced toothpaste.

    Can you explain the electoral college?

    The U.S. Constitution decrees that a "body of electors" will choose the president and vice president of the country. These electors are appointed by each state, through varying methods depending upon the state, as decided by each state's legislature. The number of electoral votes allotted to each state depends on the number of Senators and Representatives to which each state is entitled; Congress has 100 Senators and 435 Representatives. Each state is allotted 1 electoral vote for each Senator (for a total of 2) and 1 electoral vote for each Representative. The number of Representatives each state has is based on its population. The District of Columbia is allotted 3 electoral votes. This yields a total of 538 electoral votes. Electors vote in their respective states in December. Most vote according to popular vote or to their pledge to their party (although in some states, they are not required to do so). In 48 states, the presidential candidate who receives a majority of the vote takes all of the state’s electoral votes. However, in Nebraska and Maine, the setup is different, and electoral votes can be split between candidates. Congress counts the electoral votes, now merely a formality, on January 6. The presidential candidate who receives a majority (270) of the 538 Electoral College votes wins the election.

    I'm invited on a cruise this winter, but I worry about motion sickness. Are there home remedies for prevention?

    There are several home remedies for motion sickness--ginger ale, ginger cookies, candied ginger, ginger tea, and ginger capsules. Ginger seems particularly suited to settling stomachs and may prevent motion sickness. Also, avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and fatty foods while traveling. Nibble saltines if nausea seems to be coming on. Stay in the fresh air, remaining amidships (centered between the bow and stern) as much as possible, and avoid looking at the rolling waves or passing scenery in favor of focusing on a far distant horizon or other point that seems to remain constant. Stores now sell wristbands which use the principles of accupressure. These can be effective preventatives. Check with a pharmacy about the best over-the-counter medications to take, if you're so inclined, as some will cause extreme drowsiness.

    What can I take for a toothache?

    Oil of cloves has been used for generations for temporary relief from toothaches. It is available at drug and health food stores. To make your own, mix together equal amounts of whole cloves and vegetable oil and let it sit for several weeks. Soak a cotton swab in the oil of cloves and apply to the affected tooth. Do not swallow clove oil and do not give it to children. Even small amounts can be toxic. Vanilla, a clove of garlic, or hot pepper extract applied directly to the tooth might also provide a measure of relief. You might try rubbing apple cider vinegar on the tooth and surrounding gums. These are temporary fixes. If pain persists, see a dentist.

Shop Wind Bells in the Almanac General Store

Syndicate content