Guest post of the week by Deangelo Spencer
The other night while cooking dinner I may have accidentally caught our oven on fire. When I say may have I mean I actually did. I could have sworn that I set the timer when I put our dinner in the over but evidently I did not and then I got all carried away watching a terrible reality show that shall remain nameless. The next thing I know the smoke alarm is going off and my phone is ringing and smoke is filling up the kitchen way faster than I would have imagined it would. I looked frantically around the kitchen for something to put out the tiny fire with but as it turns out we have no fire extinguisher. This is not something that I have ever once thought about buying when I am out at the store and it is clearly something that I never thought I would actually need. This day I needed it more than ever. Thankfully we have an alarm system from homesecuritysystems.com that alerted me quickly before it got out of control.
One dessert I have missed since I became a vegetarian is cheesecake. I’ve tried several vegetarian and vegan recipes, but they’ve never quite matched the creamy smoothness and delicious taste of the original.
Always hopeful of rekindling my “love” relationship with this delightful dessert, I took a look at Cheesecake.com and was pleasantly surprised to find they include recipes, as well as online order cakes, on their site. They had quite a number of recipes for me to try. Some use whipped topping in place of the eggs, which I thought was a novel idea. The one that I liked the looks of the best was the Banana Split Cheesecake. I liked the combination of flavors, but would probably substitute a powdered whole sugar and real cherries, for the confectioners sugar and maraschino cherries. I’ll have to bookmark the recipes, give them a try and let you all know which is the winner in my eyes, or should I say tastebuds.
I’m sure they’re not nearly as delicious as one I could order from Cheesecake.com, but maybe they’ll be a decent substitute. I must admit the turtle and the praline cheesecakes look mighty delicious. Actually, if I were going to order one it would have to be the sampler, because there’s not one there that doesn’t look absolutely amazingly decadent.
I hate to say this, but it is getting downright difficult to shop locally. Here’s a couple of examples: we need some auger type tie-downs for a couple of tarp covered storage areas, to keep them in place when we have severe weather; second, I need a small metal bowl for a certain application. It needs to hold between ½ and 1 qt.
I’ve looked everywhere locally for both these items, to no avail.
We tried some very small tie-downs, but in the 50+ mph winds that hit last night they just popped out of the ground like a cork. They cost $5 for 4 of them. The next closest we could find in price was a honkin’ big thing that looks like it could hold down our house, costing $7 each. These are temporary buildings, just to protect some stuff while we figure out what we’re going to do for a permanent structure. My husband and I can’t agree on what we want, or where to put them, but we needed the stuff out of the house, for sanity’s sake. Found some online, but the shipping was going to cost twice what the tie-down costs!
Small metal bowl, $1.19, shipping $13.88. No I’m not kidding. That’s what it came up as. I had looked at every hardware store, kitchen store, and even restaurant supply in my area, to no avail. I wasn’t, however, going to spend $15 on a small stainless steel mixing bowl!
So, what to do? I still need both items, but can’t get them here for a reasonable price. If I found them in a store they wouldn’t cost that much, because the shipping is spread over a truckload of merchandise. Seems like we’re being forced to be non-consumers, even when we need to be.
Thanks for listening I just needed to get that off my chest. USPS, FedEx, and UPS need to wake up and realize that there are still individual people out there that need reasonable shipping costs. With the economy still sluggish you’d think they’d be doing everything they can to help us get what we need for a reasonable price!
It’s still a total mystery to me whether sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is safe or not. I just looked through half a dozen web sites with such contradicting information that I’m baffled.
How can one agency do studies on SLS and find that all it does is cause a little skin irritation in those who are sensitive and another finds SLS penetrated into the eyes, as well as brain, heart, liver, and showed long-term retention in the tissues? Either somebody’s lying or one of the studies gave false results.
I found one page that looks like a scientific fact sheet. It didn’t have any information on where it came from, but it had the following information on SLS:
“Route Of Entry – Inhalation: YES Route Of Entry – Skin: YES Route Of Entry – Ingestion: YES Health Hazard Acute And Chronic: ACUTE: CAUSES MILD IRRITATION ON CONTACT W/SKIN, EYES OR MUCOUS MEMBRANES. SKIN CONTACT COULD CAUSE IRRITATION OR ALLERGIC REACTION. MODERATELY TOXIC BY INGESTION. CHRONIC: TESTS ON LAB ANIMALS INDICATE MATERIAL MAY CAUSE MUTAGENIC EFFECTS Signs/Symptoms Of Overexposure: SEE HEALTH HAZARDS. Medical Condition Aggravated By Exposure: DATA NOT AVAILABLE. Emergency/First Aid Procedure: EYES: FLUSH THOROUGHLY W/WATER FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES.”
It doesn’t look so bad, except for the section on chronic exposure. That has me a bit concerned. The fact that the word “may” is in there doesn’t make me feel any better. If a product “may” cause mutagenic effects, doesn’t it warrant further study before we start slathering our bodies in it, and even eating it? Also, it doesn’t have any information on medical conditions that might be aggravated by exposure to SLS.
When considering whether you’re going to use a certain personal or household cleaning product, would you want one that “may” cause mutagenic effects or one that been proven it doesn’t?
Today is Valentine’s Day, a day filled with cards, flowers, chocolate and usually a nice dinner out. Most of the time we think of a candlelight dinner, complete with romantic music, and a very expensive meal.
The most important thing about an intimate meal is that it is what both parties really want. For me the ultra expensive meals always made me uncomfortable. I could prepare much better tasting food at home for less than half of one plate. So, even though we were supposed to be out for a romantic evening all I could see were dollar signs. So much for romance.
When I asked my husband, whose birthday just happens to be on Valentine’s Day, what he wanted for his birthday dinner he immediately responded pizza. We make the most awesome from scratch pizzas and that is what he wanted, and actually I couldn’t have agreed more. It is something we love to eat. It has a lot of fun memories for us, as we used to eat pizza every Saturday night and watch the new Start Trek series. Now I know that doesn’t sound all that romantic, but we really enjoyed the program, loved the huge pizzas, and it was a very cozy intimate time for us.
Maybe you’d rather do Chinese at the place where you met each other, even though it’s a dive and still has the same five menu items it had 15 years ago when you were in college.
Maybe food isn’t really what you’d like to share this year, especially if you’re trying to lose a few pounds. Maybe exchange back rubs, or go to a spa together.
I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t just do something because it’s what you’ve always done, do something because you both enjoy it and it will build intimacy between the two of you, even if your friends would laugh at it!
Happy Valentines Day!
There’s a lot of hype these days about superfoods. So many companies are claiming that their product is helpful in healing numerous ailments. How do we know which are true and which aren’t?
The best thing to do is look at scientific evidence. If the company doesn’t have any, then I would say their product is very suspect, especially with all the products out there with scientific support.
Take for instance Betalains. They’ve been scientifically proven to help the body reduce inflammation, which is one of the major causes of pain. Nopalea, a drink made from the Nopal cactus (Opuntia Ficus Indica) is rich in Betalain. The company that produces Nopalea is 12 years old, and has sold millions of bottles of the product, so that is a plus.
Although I don’t understand most of the medical jargon listed in their scientific studies, they have a number of studies available for you to peruse. It does indeed look like the Betalain from the Nopal cactus helps the body to reduce inflammation.
If you have pain caused by muscle, joint, body, respiratory, arterial, digestive tract or widespread body cell inflammation, then Betalain may be worth checking out. Nopalea has a special offer going on right now where you can receive one free bottle (S/H is $9.95) by calling 1-800-203-7063.
As with any supplement, though, it pays to find the root cause and correct that. I have used supplements at various times, in order to help my body move through a healing crisis, but always try to find where the weakness is in my system and deal with that, so that I won’t have a recurrence of the problem. The best way to stay in optimal health is to live a healthy lifestyle all the time. That way you’ll deal with fewer and fewer health problems.
This past weekend I needed to cook two meals a day for eight people. I have to admit that I had a terrible time getting the proportions right. The first day I made way too many grains, the second not enough.
Also, because there was no kitchen where I had to serve I had to make all the food in crock pots. It was tasty, but the vegetables were more of a soup than a dish and the grains got overcooked and mushy.
Another problem I had was just how much salt, herbs, and spices I needed to put in. It is very frustrating to be an excellent cook and feel like you fed a group of people a very mediocre meal. They all raved about it, but still, I know that it could have been so much better.
The things that worked well were the bread and the salad. Other than that I felt like people were OK with what was served, but not really excited about it.
So, what is your best tip for cooking for crowds from 8 to 30? I know that I’m going to need to be preparing large scale meals again. Also, what do you serve for snacks? Remember it needs to be healthy. No white sugar or flour, something prepared fresh that will feed a small army of munchers. I had fruit and freshly made popcorn that went over fairly well, but I want to get away from chips and overly sweet treats. Please leave a comment below. I’d be interested and I’m sure others would to. We’ve all come up against this bugger at one time or another.
This guest post from Edgardo Rosa
My mom and I decided to become business partners once I got really sick of staying home with the kids. I had always dreamed of opening a bakery and I finally had enough capital to do it so mom said she would come in and help and be my right-hand man which was a real relief because I didn’t want to have to do it on my own. Mom helped with all the logistical things like setting up a website for us, getting me wireless internet packages for the office is talking to our creditors about what are interest rates would be. I focus on things like recipes and decorating the store as well as getting marketing organized for the first year of business and we’ve been open now for about two months. Things are actually going much better than I even expected it to go and mom and I have been working together really well. I can’t wait to see where the next few years takes us and our fledgling little business!
When I became a vegetarian there weren’t a lot of good vegetarian cookbooks, plus most of them were for ovo-lacto vegetarians and I don’t eat eggs. For years I pined away, wishing I could make good muffins, cakes, pancakes, and the like. I tried all the egg replacers and found them to really be lacking. I did manage some decent treat using things like applesauce and yogurt, but sometimes I didn’t want their distinct flavors in what I was preparing.
Finally I began to play around with it myself and found that it is incredibly easy to make everything from cookies to pancakes from one basic recipe. How you make it into each different treat is through how much water you add to the dough, as well as what extras you put in. For instance you will put a lot less water into a cookie dough, than a pancake batter. You’ll add more sugar to cookies, too. In muffins you might want to add dried fruit, nuts, etc. Cookies may have peanut butter or things like that added to it, which all affect the level of water needed.
One of the nice things I found is that, even when I messed up I turned out something edible. Oh, maybe the muffins were a little gooey on the inside or the cookies didn’t flatten out the way I wanted, but they were all edible.
So, here’s my very basic recipe:
Basic Flour Mix
1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
Enough water to make batter/dough the consistency you need.
That being said here are a few variations I do for different recipes.
- If I want my cookies to flatten out some I add about ¼ cup sunflower or safflower oil.
- If using peanut butter you’ll need a bit more water.
- When making a sweet treat I use Sucanat, a whole sugar. Not too sweet add ½ cup, really sweet add 1 cup.
- To know how much of a spice to put in, for cookies or muffins, just refer to a recipe in a book and use their recommendation. Just remember spices you use less of, herbs you can use more of. Don’t be tempted to add a bunch more of the spices as it can be very overpowering. If you really want it to be especially cinnamony, then add about ¼ to ½ tsp more.
For cake I have a wonderful recipe that you can mix up right in the 9×13 pan.
Now you can enjoy your treats and have them healthy, too.
In this day and age you can find information about just about anything on the Internet. Unfortunately you’re at the will of the site owner as to whether the information on the site is truthful or not. One thing I’ve found really helpful is when a site that sells products has customer reviews. Also, bloggers often have good reviews about products that they themselves use. However, if it is a blog you need to check and see if they have paid entries. Take a minute to read their disclosure. Most will have a statement that they will only review products that they know and have used, plus they will only make true statements about products. If they haven’t used it, they can talk about it, but they can’t say it’s a great product or things like that. Once you’ve read that then you can have at least some confidence that their review is real. So, over time you can build up a selection of site to use as a resource library.
In searching around the web I found interesting information on the Best dehydrators to buy. I was pleased to see that my Excalibur is still considered the best large dehydrator around. It was interesting reading the reviews by people. Everyone that I read found the Excalibur to be excellent at drying and very easy to use.
One thing I found interesting was that there were companies I had not heard of before. L’Equip food dehydrators and Nesco were two of the companies that I wasn’t familiar with. Nesco is an inexpensive dehydrator. The one nit that I had with it, was I didn’t see a way to control the temperature, so if you’re concerned about drying “live” foods, then you’ll need to put up a little more money to get one with a temperature dial. The L’Equip dehydrator looked really interesting, but didn’t get as positive reviews as the others. However, it can expand to 20 racks, which would be great if you’ve got a big garden that overproduces most years. I’ve not had that problem, yet.
I enjoyed reading through the food dehydrator recipes. I’ve enjoyed making my own banana chips in the past and the recipes reminded me of how much I enjoy them. I’ll need to check for overripe bananas the next time I shop. I’ve been working on coming up with snacks and foods I can take with me when I go into town to do my weekly shopping. I became aware that I was choosing to munch on a lot of unhealthy foods, because they were quick and portable. However, over the past few months my waistline is showing the effects, plus I never feel very good the day after shopping. Being one to always look at the cause of low energy or a draggy feeling I found that it was always after shopping. It was easy for me to figure out it was my choice of foods. However, there isn’t much out there that a vegetarian that doesn’t eat onions, garlic, green chilis or mushrooms can buy and munch on other than candy bars and potato chips (and only the salted ones, any that have flavorings have onions and garlic in them, even the ones labeled salt and pepper, as do almost all dressings, so salads are out). Anyway, it renewed my interest in looking at things I can dehydrate and eat straightaway. Dehydrated foods are easy to pack and can’t be damaged by cold or heat, either. I think my dehydrator is in store for another workout.