Piecaken!

copperdots:

I just stumbled upon a new dessert called the piecaken, a freaking beast of a dessert in which whole pies are baked inside cake layers and then the cake is assembled and frosted. I’m surprised some county fair hasn’t jumped on this and charged a crazy amount per slice. Try it for Easter or Passover dessert.

V.

Originally posted on Foody Adventures:

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Piecaken... I only heard of this concept a few weeks ago but knew I had to try it.  Thankfully my wife’s birthday was coming up and I had an opportunity to give it a go.  I had a few near-failures along the way, but in the end it came together and I was pretty happy with it.

Step 1 - Bake pies – one berry, one apple

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Step 2 – Bake pies inside cakes – Berry inside chocolate cake, Apple inside vanilla cakeImageImage

Step 3 - Layer and reinforce (mostly to stop berry leaking out the side), laugh maniacally

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Step 4 – Decorate with blue icing and chocolate – Behold PIECAKEN!Image

Step 5 - Nom nom nom

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Origami Gone Biodegradable – How to make a newspaper pot for starting seeds

copperdots:

Time to prepare for gardening once again, though this winter has been absolutely brutal; fortunately, while I’m snowed in, I can make a few of these seed starting pots and save the cash I would have spent on plastic seed pots for buying fresh seeds and seed starting medium.

V.

Originally posted on Goosie Girl's:

For the last several years I’ve said that THIS will be the year I have pots and pots of sweet, little flowers on my porch. Then I stopped by my local nursery and reality hit.. the cost for my fantasy is no less than outrageous!

It’s okay, because this year I’ve devised a plan so that I can have the flowers of my dreams at a fraction of the cost.. and I can have My choice of flowers.. instead of those of my local garden center. How? I’m going to start from seed.

I attempted this before with only marginal success.. My problem was that everything I attempt to transplant my seedlings, I killed them. I guess I’m a brute on fragile little roots. So in order to rectify this problem, I’ve decided to go with biodegradable pots..no transplanting, just shove it in the ground and let it rot away…

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I’m back!

Well, I’m sort of back; it’s difficult to post to a weblog using a mobile phone, but I’m doing what I can until things improve. My computer died, which would partially explain why I haven’t posted in four years. I have unofficially ended my other weblog, Vicki’s Firesite, and sent my evil triplet alter-ego on an indefinite vacation at an ashram in an undisclosed location so she could work through her issues. My other triplet alter-ego, the eco one (from GreenSister Living), is doing research on various environmental issues involving the new green revolution. I hope to post again after I write a 50,000-word novel this month, or maybe sooner.
Namaste (I pray to God’s Love in you).

Vicki

High-Fructose Corn Syrup: the Sequel

Here they go again: the Corn Refiners Association has aired at least two more TV commercials touting the ‘merits’ of high-fructose corn syrup; actually, they’re repeating the same message as before. For those who haven’t had a chance to view the commercials, her are a few brief synopses of the ads:

  1. At a children’s birthday party, one homemaker doubts that a second homemaker cares about her children as the second homemaker pours a cup of bright red fruit drink. Upon the first homemaker mentioning that the red beverage is sweetened with HFCS, she draws a blank when asked about its demerits; the second homemaker rattles off that it’s made from corn and okay in moderation.
  2. Two teen boys/young men are at a breakfast table; one mentions to the other that the breakfast cereal on the table has HFCS, but (surprise! surprise! surprise!) draws a blank when asked about its demerits; the other young man echoes the sentiment of the second homemaker in the birthday party spot, that the (clearly artificial) sweetener is acceptable in moderation.

Are you kidding me? I’d expect young men not to be fully educated on basic nutrition (I have three stepsons, one of whom passed away in February; young men tend to eat anything that will fuel them, whereas young women are encouraged to eat more conservatively and more healthfully); the homemakers’ ad, I found disturbing, especially since the second homemaker seemed to scorn the first one for being concerned about what the children at the party consume. The first homemaker in that ad could easily have had diabetic or borderline diabetic children whose diets require that they avoid HFCS; how presumptuous of the second homemaker to assume that none of the children would be affected by the artificially-sweetened drink.

Time magazine questioned the validity of the ads, as do other sources; for more information, please visit http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1841910,00.html The article also mentions that the ad campaign is due to go on for 18 months. As if 28 years of HFCS being ubiquitous in common food and beverages were not scary enough, now they intend to actively promote it for another year and a half, given the known and scientifically-proven dangers of it? Other links to the doubts and dangers of HFCS are:

http://www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2008/08/politicsoftheplate_08_01_08

http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Fructose-again-linked-to-fat-build-up-study

http://whattoeatbook.com/tag/hfcs/

http://www.sweetsurprise.com (yes, I am being the devil’s advocate here and including the site that is linked to all those TV ads so that you can see their position on HFCS)

It should be noted that the Food Navigator site only talks about the link between fructose and fat build-up; if natural fructose in excess can do that, what of HFCS, which is always in excess? As for the ads, what’s so wrong with putting raw sugar or honey (two natural, minimally-processed sweeteners) on (preferably whole-grain) breakfast cereal or making lemonade or fruit punch from real fruit and real sugar or honey? And why does the Corn Refiners’ Association think people are so misinformed as to believe the obvious skewed ads, when a more intelligent conversation would present both sides clearly (let the ‘opponent’ talk of the doubts and dangers of HFCS instead of looking clueless in front of the proponent)?

V.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup: the Movie

I just saw a highly disturbing commercial on TV yesterday: a woman has unwrapped a popsicle and her male companion is trying to tell her that the frozen confection has high-fructose corn syrup in it, but he draws a blank when he tries to tell her the dangers of the (primarily artificial) sweetener. She tells him something to the nature of HFCS being just as safe as regular sugar and that occasional use is perfectly acceptable. He then asks her why she only brought one of the frozen treats. The URL for the site promoting HFCS is: http://www.hfcsfacts.com.

I went to the site and saw picture after picture of corn, as if HFCS were gathered by merely squeezing the juice from corn kernels and using the liquid as a sweetener. Obviously, the process of creating HFCS is a hell of a lot more complex than that. I then navigated to a page on the same site titled, “Top Published Myths About High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)”: listed are facts about HFCS versus their spin on HFCS that they deem fact. Feel free to read this at your leisure; this entry I found really disturbing:

“Myth”: HFCS is not natural. (quotes mine to emphasize their position versus simple logic)
“Reality”: HFCS, like table sugar and honey, is natural. HFCS is made from corn—a natural grain product. HFCS contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives and meets the Food and Drug Administration’s policy for use of the term “natural.”
(quotes mine to emphasize their position versus simple logic)

Bullshit. Nothing about high-fructose corn syrup is natural except its source! If the Food and Drug Administration has such lax rules as to what constitutes a natural foodstuff, it’s no wonder that children in particular are developing adult degenerative diseases and disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, asthma, bronchitis, and other disorders that their grandparents knew nothing of when they were the same ages. Yes, there are other factors that are readily controllable, such as the amount of activity children get and their individual metabolisms; still, food is the one substance from which we can never totally abstain for extended periods of time without detriment or death!

Oh, yeah, back to Ms. Popsicle: she mentioned that occasional use of HFCS is perfectly acceptable and poses no threat. This argument is highly flawed from the get-go because it’s in nearly every prepared food with any degree of moisture in it: how the hell can you have occasional use of HFCS when it’s in sodas, juice beverages, ice cream, cookies, fruit-, vanilla-, and chocolate-flavored yogurt; bread, crackers, pasta sauce, ‘granola’ bars, barbecue sauces, salad dressings, pancake syrup, breakfast cereal, coffee flavorings, cocktail flavorings, iced tea drinks, ketchup, peanut butter, applesauce, sports drinks, flavored water, baked beans, canned pasta dinners, pet food, – and, oh yeah, popsicles? Many homemakers turn to processed foods as a quick way to feed their families, not realizing that they’re disrupting the systems of their spouses, companions, children, and even pets.

Sugar is what fuels our bodies; about this there is no argument. Honey is processed by bees and has been processed by bees for approximately 100 million years, give or take a millennium. Ancient people and animals have eaten honey as a natural source of sweet energy for thousands of years; even King David, when he was just a member of King Saul’s court, ate honey when his troops were forbidden to do so by Saul. His behavior was much more cheerful after he ate the golden bee-processed food. The ancient Indians (from India, not the First Nations of the Americas) derived raw, brown sugar from sugar cane. Millions of years of updates and 2.0s and beta testing by the Creator of the universe and everything within it, and scientific evidence that bears this out, have concluded that sugar in natural forms, such as sugar cane, honey, and fruit, are healthful for the body provided they are not eaten in excess. It is nearly impossible to eat natural sugar in excess because the body will not let you overdose on natural sugar; your body can only process so much before it says to the brain, stop, I’ve had enough for now. Only when the body is malfunctioning will your body overdose on sugar.

Yeah, I said it: overdose on sugar. Sugar doesn’t have the allure of the illegal street pharmaceutical, but it messes up the body the same way when the sweetener is unnatural, such as the highly-processed, chemically-derived high-fructose corn syrup. Feel free to go to the following URLs for more information on how HFCS disrupts everything about the human body:

http://www.menstuff.org/issues/byissue/highfructose.html#facts - a highly fertile source of links to many of the URLs mentioned here.

http://www.westonaprice.org/motherlinda/cornsyrup.html - tells you briefly how HFCS is made (small hint: it isn’t bees disco-dancing at an apiary [bee farm])

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee - While not related to HFCS except as a sweetener, it nonetheless is a contrast, showing how a natural sweetener is produced.

http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/highfructose.html – Shows proof that HFCS wreaks havoc on the body and tells how.

Check the menstuff.org one first, as it has many links. Meanwhile, let’s leave Ms. Popsicle alone with her unaware companion. Better yet, Ms. Popsicle should 86 the frozen ‘treat’ and she and her companion can go to a farmers’ market, natural foods store, or berry farm, buy a few quarts of fruit, and make their own frozen fruit bars.

V.

A Loaf for the Vegans

PeaNot “Meat” Loaf

Ingredients:

1/2 cup peanuts
2 TB olive oil
One onion, diced
One large garlic clove, minced
One cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup dry whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, as needed
1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
2 TB ketchup
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a loaf pan or 8×8 square baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside (an 8×8 pan makes a crisper loaf).

Grind the peanuts into a coarse meal using a food processor or spice/coffee grinder. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Sauté any vegetables you’ve chosen in the olive oil until soft. Add to the large mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Mix and mash together well, adding only as much liquid as needed to create a soft, moist loaf that holds together and is not runny (you may not need to add any liquid if the grains and protein are very moist). Add more binder/carbohydrate as needed if the loaf seems too wet.

Press mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or platter and slice. Serve with potatoes, vegetables, and vegetarian gravy, if desired.

Cold leftover slices of PeaNot “Meat” Loaf make a great sandwich filling.

I generated this recipe courtesy of http://www.veganlunchbox.com/loaf_studio.html. I apologize for neglecting the vegetarians and vegans out there in not having a dinner loaf recipe as a meatloaf alternative. Feel free to use ingredients your family likes or can eat.

V.

Summer Gladness

Now that the first half of summer is over and done with, I now get to enjoy the second half of summer. I am now out of a cast and into a soft brace, I went to my county fair (and enjoyed the best butter-bathed, fire-roasted corn and some red birch beer), I just turned 37, and I’m enjoying a glass of beer to cool off in the summer’s heat. My two peach trees have given up scores of peaches to be enjoyed fresh and in a peach cobbler (which my two living stepsons and their best friend devoured – what is it about young men’s appetites that compels them to eat massive amounts of food? A young woman of similar age is encouraged to eat as daintily as possible; no such luck for the young man), I’ve picked a load of string beans, and the corn is just starting to become taller than me (I’m 5’7″, or 1.7 meters).

No, I didn’t get to spend the summer riding my bike or roller skating or even working a summer job so i could at least try to go back to college for the fall, but at least if I can start a temp job soon I’ll most likely be able to go to school come spring semester. I am happy, though, that my youngest stepson is going to college this fall as a criminal justice major. Yes, I spent the first half of summer indoors, going out only for doctor’s appointments; now I get to see how my chickens have grown (two of the seven, unfortunately, have passed away) and I get to gather their eggs. I also get to see how my garden has grown, both my external garden and the garden that is creative writing, as I also spent much of my indoor time writing a novel. Bear in mind it’s nowhere near finished, but at least I’m learning much about novel writing that a class may or may not teach me.

Summer doesn’t have to be shot to pieces just because you didn’t get the summer you always wanted. Not every summer is the one you want, but every summer is the one you need. I needed to learn to depend on others, to see what people with obvious physical disabilities live with daily, and to laugh at myself, plus I managed to make over 400 additional friends on MySpace. Now, go outside and play.

V.