Monday, February 28, 2011

Have some irony, it’s good for the soul

If you spent any time reading my blog you know that I am by NO means a vegan or even close to being a run of the mill vegetarian.  I am, without a doubt, omnivore with a decidedly carnivorous leaning. 

That being said, I can appreciate many aspects of raw food diets.  I’m of the opinion, for whatever that’s worth, that combining this type of regimen with a typical omnivorous meal plan is a healthy means of losing weight and staying healthy.

A raw food diet is based on consuming unprocessed and uncooked plant foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts.  It’s believed that cooking food destroys enzymes essential to proper digestion and nutrient absorption.   Some of the benefits of eating raw foods are increased energy, improved digestion, and weight loss.   Some drawbacks are that when consuming only raw foods your diet could be lacking in calcium, iron, B12, protein and calories.

While it’s true that enzymes are destroyed when food is heated, your body has it’s own enzymes that it produces for the purposes of digestion.  And, although before the caveman created fire our bodies were accustomed to eating only raw food . . . over the course of scads of years our bodies have adapted to eating cooked foods.

That is why, although I am no expert . . . not by any stretch of the imagination . . . I think that combining raw food diet elements into a diet of cooked foods . . . including meat . . . raaaawr! . . . is healthy combination for good nutrition, variety and balance.


Surprisingly Yummy Green Smoothie

16 Ounces Water (more or less depending on how thick you want the smoothie)
2 Small or 1 Large Granny Smith Apples
1 Cup Packed Spinach Leaves (use fresh not frozen) 
1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (flax seed can be substituted)
1 Tsp Cinnamon

Add the water, cinnamon and protein powder to the blender.

Peel and core the apples.


Add apples and spinach to the blender.  I used bagged spinach just because it saves time.  If you’re using bunch spinach, make sure you wash it thoroughly to remove any grit and sand. 

Blend it up and drink!  

I put mine into a plastic bottle to bring to work with me.  It’s surprisingly tasty and not too sweet.  The cinnamon brings out the sweetness of the apples without adding any extra calories.  It’s actually quite filling and makes a low calorie, vitamin packed, fiber filled breakfast or light lunch.  It’ll will leave you feeling light and energetic. 

You can use whatever fruits you like – bananas, pears, peaches, strawberries – whatever.  Spinach and Romain lettuce are the most innocuous and don’t overpower the fruit but you can use any greens you like, as well. 


If you’re wondering why I chose the ingredients I did for my green smoothie, I will try to explain to you my choices.

Cinnamon . . . besides adding flavor and enhancing the sweetness of natural sugars in foods, cinnamon is beneficial in many other ways.  It improves brain function and memory . . . goodness knows I can use that . . . just ask my husband!  It regulates insulin levels and helps to decrease blood sugar levels.  This helps you to avoid a growling tummy and food cravings.  And, boosts your body’s metabolic rate; it actually helps control how your body uses and stores fats.  Cinnamon also facilitates faster and more efficient burning of calories.   

Researchers from the United States Dept. of Agriculture have also said that consuming only 1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon can boost the body’s metabolism 20 times beyond its natural rate.

Cinnamon is high in calcium, iron, fiber, vitamins C, K and manganese.

Spinach . . . is a natural fat burning food!  The combination of a diverse array of vitamins and minerals helps to fight inflammation and increase metabolism.  It helps convert carbs, fats and proteins into energy and regulates blood sugars. 
Spinach has more iron than meat, without any fat and few calories.

Spinach is considered a 'superfood' by many nutrition and health experts as it is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that impart a host of health benefits.

Spinach is high in fiber, carotenoids, Vitamins C, K, iron, zinc, niacin, folic acid, calcium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

Apples . . . sweet and, satisfying.  Apples contain boron, which protects and strengthens bones.  They promote brains health, aid in digestion and regulate blood sugar levels.   As an added bonus, the keep the doctor away!

In a recent Cornell University study has found although apples has only a small amount of vitamin C, eating 100 grams of apple provides the same amount of antioxidant activity as taking 1,500 milligrams of the same vitamin.

Apples are an excellent source of Vitamins C, B6, E & A.  Plus Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Folic Acid

Protein Powder . . . besides the obvious addition of protein which helps with building muscle mass, it helps boost to immunity and promote healing.  It also helps you feel full longer so it staves off food cravings and hunger.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gather 'round, ye scurvy dogs

Along with blueberries and Concord grapes, cranberries are only one of three fruits that are native to North America. They were called mossberries, fenberries and bearberries before early German and Dutch settlers who started calling it the "crane berry" because the flower looked a lot like the head and bill of a crane; over time craneberry was shortened to cranberry. 

In the 1800’s, deep within the Pine Barrens of south New Jersey amongst the cranberry bogs resided a cranberry grower named John "Peg Leg" Webb.  It’s was Peg Leg who discovered that cranberries could bounce.  He stored his berries in the loft of his barn.  His wooden leg limited his mobility and it was difficult for him to carry his crop down the stairs leading from his storage area.  Necessity being the mother of invention, Peg Leg simply poured them down the steps.   Like little bouncing balls all the firm, healthy berries bounced all the way to the bottom the bad ones lay where the landed. 

Peg Leg was known for the quality of his cranberries.  He sold his berries on the Philadelphia waterfront docks. Because cranberries can prevent scurvy, a disease that regularly attacked crews during long voyages, his most common buyers were whaling ship captains. They incorporated cranberries into the meals for the ship's crew.

Scurvy was at one time common among sailors who were at sea longer than perishable fruits and vegetables could be stored.

Scurvy leads to the formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. The spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed, and is partially immobilized. In advanced scurvy there are open, suppurating wounds and loss of teeth.

Perhaps John "Peg Leg" Webb lost his leg in a pirate war or maybe he just didn’t eat the vitamin C rich fruit that he grew . . . whatever the case I’m sure he’d have beeb a great fan of my Cranberry Apple Soap.

I made this using the same safety precautions and procedures I used  in this post.

Cranberry Apple Tea Soap
  • 16 Ounces Lard
  • 1 Ounce Honey Added At Trace
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon Added At Trace
  • 2.3 Ounces Lye
  • 7 Ounces Ice Cold Or Part Frozen Brewed Cranberry Apple Zinger Tea

Remember that when you’re making your own soap that you should have a dedicated set of equipment set aside just for this process.  

This recipe is for a  I’m going to be making cold process soap.  The basic tools required are:

A Large Pot . . . Enamel or cast iron do very well for this.
A Large Wooden Or Plastic Spoon
A Hand Mixer (Optional)
A Large Baking Pan Or Shallow Cardboard Box

Put the ice cold tea into a 1 quart bowl. Using the stirring spoon (known to soap makers as the "crutch"), pour lye slowly into the tea, stirring until the lye is all dissolved. Remember that lye is very caustic and will burn your skin and eyes! Any splatters must be washed off immediately with lots of water!
Cranberry Apple Tea
After Lye is added

After Lye is dissolved
 Cover the solution to keep out air and allow to cool (or warm up) to about 85 degrees F.  No need to apply heat – heat will be chemically produced when the lye comes in contact with the liquid

 Melt the fat in the 4-6 quart bowl or pot. Don't use aluminum or galvanized bowls!  When the fat is melted, cool it down to 95 degrees F. Prepare the box with a plastic trash bag lining, so the fresh liquid soap can't leak out.

When all is ready, begin to stir the liquid fat in a clockwise direction while pouring the lye mixture into it in a thin steam (pencil size or thinner) until it is all added. Crutch (stir) the mix vigorously, using “S” pattern or use a hand blender alternating with a circular pattern until the mix begins to cool and thicken.  At this point do NOT stop or the mix may separate!
First the soap will be murky, then creamy, then like heavy cream and finally, like hot cooked pudding and will show traces when you dribble a stream from the crutch onto the surface. This process can take from 10 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature, weather and purity of your ingredients. Stir vigorously but patiently! With hand blender stir time is cut to 1/10 of the regular time.

I've found that using my old Kitchen-aid Classic is the perfect tool for stirring my batches of soap.  Although i am constantly monitoring the mixing process, the stand mixer lets me be a little more hands off and I can be doing other things around the kitchen while the soap is mixing and cooling.

When your "trace" does not sink back into the surface, the soap is ready to pour into the lined box. Wear rubber gloves and treat the raw soap like you treated the lye water. Wash off all splatters immediately. Have 10% vinegar and water and a sponge to neutralize splatters.

After 3-5 hours the soap may be cut into bars with a table knife, NOT a sharp knife. Allow the soap to cure in the box for about a week before breaking it up and handling it, and another month before using it.

In a week remove the soap and break apart.  Let them cure for at least a month before using. 

If you are interested in some perfectly wonderful hand crafted soap but don't want to go through the process of making it . . . Soaps by Judy is a fantastic source.  She's a personal friend of mine and a great lady and she makes the most amazing soaps!  Check out her website and look her up on Facebook.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Firewater Friday - Que es Madras?

A bit of a klutz.  Yep, it’s true.  If I’m not dropping one thing or tripping over another thing then I’m probably slicing my finger open cutting veggies.  Bruises, bumps and boo-boos are all a part of life . . . it makes me the colorful person I am!

At the early part of the 20th century there was another clumsy woman.  Her name was Mrs. Josephine Dickson.   No matter what the reason, it’s a fact that Josephine was accident prone. During the first week that she was married to Earle Dickson, she cut her self twice with the kitchen knife. After that, it just went from bad to worse. It seemed that Josephine was always cutting herself.  And, her groom had to minister to her wounds.

Fortuitously, Josephine had the good luck to have married a man who worked for a company that manufactured gauze and adhesive tape called Johnson & Johnson.  So they had plenty of the stuff on hand.  One day it occurred to Earle that he could make his lovely bride bandages that she could easly apply herself.  After all, he couldn’t be home all time and what if she bled to death while making a pot roast? 

He sat down with some tape and gauze and a pair of scissors. Then he cut the tape into strips. In the middle of each strip he stuck a little square of gauze. From then on, whenever Josephine had an accident, ready-made bandages were on hand for her to use quickly and without a lot of fuss.

At Johnson & Johnson, they heard about new bandages that could be easily applied with one hand.  They loved the idea.  The first year they made Band-aids they didn’t sell very well.  So, Johnson and Johnson came up with a gimmick to boost sales.  They distributed free Bandaids to Boys Scout Troops . . . in a couple years  Band-Aids were machine made, ten years later they were sold sterilized, and the 1960’s the vinyl Band-aid we know and love to day was the norm.


Early in his career, Barry Manilow was involved in what he would later call "the jingle jungle".  He made a living, writing and performing commercial jingles.  Some of the advertising tunes he wrote were for Bowlene Toilet Cleaner, State Farm Insurance, Stridex and  . . . you guessed it . . . Band-Aids.

I am stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause Band-Aid's stuck on me!
I am stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause germs don't stick on me!
'Cause they hold on tight no matter what on fingers, toes, and knees.
I am stuck on Band-Aid brand 'cause Band-Aid helps heal me!

Cher's Madras

-          1 Oz Gold Tequila
-          1 Oz Triple Sec
-          3 Oz Cranberry Juice
-          1 Oz Orange Juice      
-          Splash Lime Juice

Mix all ingredients and pour into a margarita glass filled with ice.  Garnish with splash of grenadine and a cherry.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet

You’d have to have been living under a rock for your whole life not to know who the Flintstones are.    When the cartoon was introduced in the 1950’s it was directed at an adult audience.  In fact, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble fronted a TV advertising campaign for Winston cigarettes . . . inconceivable in this day and age. 


Even more shocking . . . Fred and Wilma Flintstone were the first couple to be shown in bed together on prime-time television when the show first aired on ABC between 1960 and 1966.

The show was patterned after Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners similarly depicting two working class guys and the silly situations they found themselves in.  The personalities of the cartoon stars mimicked 
the characters in The Honeymooners. Jackie Gleason considered suing Hanna-Barbera, but did not want to go down in history as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air”. 

PETA would have a field day with the show if it was being produced now.   Since it was pre-historic times there was no electricity or indoor plumbing,  so all the everyday conveniences . . . like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, showers and record players  . . . were powered by enslaved animals.  Shocking!  I’m surprised that they didn’t have poor little Dino hooked up to the car to haul Fred’s fat butt around. 

It wasn’t until the late 1960’s that the Flintstones became more kid friendly.   So, instead of pimping cigarettes to adults they started a campaign for their own brand of vitamins.   Originally they were branded as Chocks sold by Bayer, which were the first chewable vitamins for kids.  Then in 1968 Chocks took on the shapes of the characters from The Flintstones TV series and became Flintstones vitamins.


When I was a kid, every morning after a healthy and nutritious breakfast my mom, without fail, would hand out a Flintstone’s Vitamin.  And every morning, without fail, my sister and I would cheek the pills and head off to get ready for the day.  On the way to our bedroom was a potted plan snugged into a corner.  Besides the leaves on the plant gathering dust, behind the plant something else was gathering . . . a pile of discarded vitamins.  As we passed by the plant we both would spit our vitamin into the corner behind the plant. 

This charade continued for many years.  During this time I continued to grow . . . without the benefit of all those lovingly dispensed nutrients I so blithely deposited behind the 70’s groovy rubber plant.  During these years I joined the school chorus.  Not because I liked to sing but because chorus members often got excused from classes to practice for concerts.  One of the performances we did was a medley of Hanna-Barbera cartoon theme songs that included the intro to the Flintstones . . .

Flintstones. Meet the Flintstones.
They're the modern stone age family.
From the town of Bedrock,
They're a page right out of history.

Let's ride with the family down the street.
Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet.

When you're with the Flintstones
you'll have a yabba dabba doo time.
A dabba doo time.
You'll have a gay old time.

When I was 15 we moved from the house I grew up in.   As my mom was boxing up the household items she got quite a surprise when she moved the plant; a pile of vitamins . . . hundreds, maybe thousands, of them  . . . tumbled from the void left by the planter. 

Man-oh-man was she ticked off!  I’m not sure what pissed her off more.  The fact that we weren’t taking our vitamins for all those years or that she’d wasted all that money.

True story.


Now here’s the really BIG question.  What in the heck does “yabba dabba doo” mean? 

This phrase was actually a Kickapoo Indian battle cry.  The braves roared “yabba dabba doo!” while shooting their arrows and waving their tomahawks in an effort the scare off the plague of pioneers and the never-ending waves of wagon trains. 

Not true . . .

What really happened was this . . . in the first episode of the Flintstone’s Fred was scripted to say “Yahoo!!”.  But they wanted something with a little more “pop” to it.  Fred's catchphrase "Yabba-Dabba-Doo!" was adapted from the Brylcreem advertising jingle motto "A Little Dab'll Do Ya!" . . . and the rest is history.


 Basic Twice Baked Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes, about a pound each
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 strips bacon
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon salt

Scrub the potatoes under running water. Put a couple of slices in the skins so the potatoes don't explode. Place directly on the middle or top rack of the oven and bake the potatoes in a preheated  400°F oven.  Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

If your short on time you can bake the potatoes in the microwave, 10 minutes on high heat for 2 potatoes. Then finish them in a conventional oven at 400°F for 20 minutes.

If you are including bacon as one of your mix-ins, while the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon strips in a frying pan on medium low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Let cool. Crumble.

Allow the potatoes to cool to touch. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides, forming a potato "canoe", leaving about 1/4 inch of potato on the skin.

Place the scooped out potato insides, sour cream, milk, cream, and butter into a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher. If you want a creamy texture, beat with an electric beater until desired consistency.

Mix in the extras with the potatoes. Reserve some of the extras to sprinkle on the tops of the potatoes. Spoon fillings into the potato shells. Sprinkle with extra toppings.

Heat oven to 350°F. Place potatoes on a roasting pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes until heated through.