November 2019

Fall festivities and fun food facts

By Scott Breeden


Modjeska Park was the site of a hootenanny Oct. 5, courtesy of Zachary Salazar and his band. The free concert, open to all, featured hits by Buck Owens, Hank Williams and Bob Dylan, with special guest Gabe Castorena (from way over in Silverado Canyon) joining in on mouth harp during Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”

“Goin’ nowhere” might have described the adults in lawn chairs, but numerous junior concertgoers found plenty of places to go while the singing was going on: to the climbing structure at the far end of the park, then over to the lawn to chase friends, then get chased by them back across the lawn (possibly losing a shoe in the process), then to the woods to collect pine cones, then up near the stage to swing your partner around square-dance style, then over to feed a sycamore leaf to the goat, and repeat as needed.

Games for kids followed the first musical set. The winner of the potato sack race received a sack of potatoes. No -- that was changed to a $10 In-N-Out gift certificate. The eat-a-doughnut-hanging-from-a-string-without-using-your-hands contest took longer, but eventually someone managed to do that and claim the prize -- being allowed to mow Zachary’s lawn.  No -- that became a Dunkin’ Donuts $10 gift certificate.

The following Saturday, the two-day 49th Silverado Country Fair kicked off with a morning Unparade culminating in a robbery at the Canyon Market. Surrounded by a throng of smartphone-camera-wielding bystanders, the desperate Old West outlaws presumably met justice in the ensuing shootout with similarly attired lawmen.

The fairgrounds (Silverado Park) then opened for visitors to enjoy music, eat goodies, and poke through art, crafts and other treasures for sale. One could watch yarn being created on a spinning wheel, or a pearl in choice of color shucked from an oyster. Fair proceeds support canyon charities like the Inter-Canyon League, Fire Safe Council and Silverado Children’s Center.

Some recent changes at the fair, like netting around food booths, were due to health regulations, which also generally prohibit selling food prepared at home. It needs to be prepared on-site, or in a certified facility. The Silverado Community Center kitchen is certified. But, last year, accommodating all the vendors who wanted to use it was difficult. So this year, the park district bought a portable three-sink wash station for vendors to share outside.

Type of food for sale matters. Foods considered potentially hazardous at room temperature include ice cream, which must be cold, and hot dogs, which are required to be kept hot after cooking.

Asian rice-based noodles at room temperature normally must be destroyed after four hours, but for anyone contemplating selling Asian rice-based noodles next year, Article 6 Section 114429.5 (d) (2) of the health code allows this exemption from the four-hour rule:

“If the Asian rice-based noodles maintain a pH of not more than 4.6, as measured at a temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit, a water activity of 0.85 or below, or have been determined by the department to be a nonpotentially hazardous food based on formulation and supporting laboratory documentation submitted to the department by the manufacturer, the restrictions provided in subdivisions (a) to (c), inclusive, shall not apply to the Asian rice-based noodles.”

You’re welcome
There is another exemption available to nonprofit organizations: they can sell home-prepared nonpotentially hazardous beverages and baked goods at community events, whereas for-profit organizations cannot. It’s remarkable how simply eliminating profit can make food safer. 

Selected shorts
Orange County Public Works scheduled a public meeting for Oct. 29 about replacing the Ladd/Silverado Bridge.

An after-Thanksgiving community potluck is anticipated for Silverado.

Orange County Planning is accepting comments, through Nov. 19, on its third draft of proposed zoning code changes, including a tree ordinance that appears to be unchanged from the previous draft:  ocpublicworks.com.

Farm and field notes
Though pumpkins are native to North America, pumpkin pie, as we know it, was not part of the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims had no wheat flour, and modern pies would have been nixed by the Wampanoag tribal health department anyway, due to potentially hazardous dairy content.

Unlike pumpkin, the mature baseball-sized gourds of its relative, the calabazilla (also known as buffalo gourd, Missouri gourd, stinking gourd and coyote melon) are inedible: bitter, and toxic in quantity.  This plant is native to most of the U.S., including Santiago Canyon Road between Loma Ridge and Silverado. Tendrils emerge from underground taproots in the spring. The gray-green leaves are triangular, flowers are large and yellow, and fruit turns from green to yellow to tan over the summer.

Calabazilla seeds are quite nutritious, and can be ordered online. But procuring live plants is problematic. If you contact Las Pilitas Nursery, you will probably find that they are out of their gourds.