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My Experience Transitioning From Paying for Internet Service to Free Internet Service – Part II

10 Jun books-of-owl-1279612-m

This is the second post covering my experiences transitioning from paying to use my AT&T Internet service provider at home to using free library Internet service.

 

In the Part I post, I covered “Expected Snafus” such as: password issues, library hours, reserving computers, help, my computer background, and I touched upon using a Flash drive and a To Do list. I linked articles in Part I covering these topics in depth which are included below.

 

This Part II post covers problems you might run into at your library branch that make life interesting! I’ve included Updates below.

 

The Unexpected Snafus

Children should be seen, not heard. As with everything, this library adventure has had its negative situations. Take children for example. They haven’t been barred from the library. Perhaps they should be. There is a separate room for them with children’s books but they sometimes stray into the adult computer section – standing next to their family member who is on a computer.

 

Here’s how that went:

Child: bla, bla, bla, bla.

Family member: Shhhhhhh.

Child: bla, bla, bla, bla.

Family member: Shhhhhhh.

This went on for 20 minutes. I felt sorry for the guy sitting next to the chatty kid and I don’t mean the family member! I was on the other side of the computer banks and tuned them out.

 

The computer chairs.  They’re very light weight (you can push them with the tip of your pinky) and they’re comfortable for metal chairs. But, they’re on wheels and they offer no support for when you are trying to get up out of them! Case in point, on one of my visits, an elderly, obese man went crashing to the floor one chair away from me knocking over the chair next to me. He could have landed in my lap. As it was, the noise scared me because I was concentrating on my work. He stayed down on the floor and just about everybody on a computer went over to ask him if he was all right and offered to assist him. He didn’t want any help. Apparently, he was fine. The reference librarian who happened to be a young man, came over and asked the man if he was ok. This librarian was smart to wait – he might have gotten trampled in the mad rush to help the un-chaired man!

 

When Harry Met Sally. My library branch is open every day although the hours change. On Sundays, they open at noon. I went there at 11:30 am on Sunday, thinking it was Saturday. Since the doors were locked, I dropped off an audiobook in the drop slot. I went home and called the library asking why it wasn’t open. I was told they open at noon on Sunday. I said, “Today is Sunday?” Note to self: try to remember what day it is.

 

Finances This is a somewhat more complicated issue. AT&T bundled my landline phone and Internet service together June, 2013. I put it on my charge card. Then, on April 8, I asked that my internet service be canceled, as followers of my blog know. When I checked my statement, the amount for the Internet and phone weren’t there anymore. They disconnected my internet service as I asked and they didn’t disconnect my phone service (Hallelujah!) But what are they planning to do about billing me for my phone service? So, if I don’t get a bill in the mail or some notice soon, I will have to call them to find out what is going on. It would have been nice if the AT&T representative told me what to expect regarding my phone, but she was too busy trying to sell me more products. If all continues to go well transitioning to library computers, I plan to drop my landline phone service too, saving even more money.

 

There were other finance issues that had to be addressed. The question of whether I could or should do financial transactions on a library computer is a sticky issue that I need to investigate. For example, I have a PayPal account. Is it safe to do PayPal transactions on a library computer? How can you be sure someone isn’t standing behind you watching or if the person sitting next to you isn’t looking? This could make you paranoid!  Certainly there are people who use public computers not just at the library but in airports and at Internet Cafes who may feel safer using PayPal via a phone rather than the Internet which is the only way you can use PayPal now.

 

Update

My son told me he did his taxes on library computers and other patrons did too!

 

Benefits of Using My Home Computer Minus Internet Service

 

Since it has turned out that I’m splitting my work between my home computer (without Internet service) and the library computers (with Internet service), I can still enjoy the benefits of working on my home computer such as, getting up to grab a snack, taking a long break and then coming back to it later, listening to music while I work if I feel like it, and, my favorite, putting away the work and taking out one of my exercise DVDs to do a workout! Yesterday I did a 55-minute weight workout and I’m a little bit sore! These things I can’t do at the library!

 

So dear readers, these are my experiences after six visits using library computers. This library is in a good location and in a good neighborhood. It’s certainly not as peaceful and quiet as using the Internet on my home computer but it’s not raucous enough to prevent me from returning.

 

More Updates:

I have now had more than 20 visits using my library’s computers. I no longer feel stressed because I am super organized. I’ve created a To Do list and explain how I use it in both of my articles, “10 Easy Steps Transitioning to Free Internet Service at Your Library” and, “10 Short-cuts Saving Time (and Money) on Your Library Computers.”

 

I had written in this post that you couldn’t listen to music while using a library computer. That turned out to be not true! On more recent visits I noticed that you can use ear buds and a portable CD player. Just don’t play it so loudly that you annoy other patrons! Also, you can take a break on a library computer but you’ll want to make it a short one, like for a bathroom break. The computer screen shows you how to set the screen for “reserved but on a break” so nobody else can take it.

 

Both of the article links above contain valuable, time-saving and money-saving tips that would be worth your time to check out. Let me know what you think of them! Also, let me know if you foresee any obstacles for you if you are thinking of making the transition. Happy surfing on your library’s computers and enjoy the time and money you’ve saved!

Saving time and money is good for your health!

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New Food Friday – Russian Black Bread

17 Jan sxc.hu-uccrow Basil's Cathedral

I have a childhood friend who is originally from Estonia. A little bit of a history lesson is worth mentioning here. Estonia was part of the Russian empire until 1918 when it proclaimed its independence. 

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia

The Russian Basilica-Tallinn, Estonia (sxc.hu sx937)

It was  incorporated into the USSR in 1940 by force but regained its freedom in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last Russian troops left in 1994.

sxc.hu Tallinn Capital of Estonia

Tallinn, Capital of Estonia (sxc.hu  gundolf)

Today, the Estonian economy has one of the higher GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates in Europe.

So, back to my childhood friend. One day my friend gave me a loaf of black bread. I don’t remember if she said it was Estonian black bread or Russian black bread. Maybe they’re one in the same. Anyway, it was delicious! Now, many years later, I have found a recipe in one of my cookbooks for Russian Black Bread. I will share it with you for this New Food Friday.

This recipe makes two round loaves. The bread is delicious, reminiscent of the loaf my Estonian friend gave me and I will definitely make it again. It is made with chocolate, coffee, and molasses. It is a dark color (hence the name black bread) and looks chocolatey! You can almost taste the chocolate and almost taste the coffee. However, it is not a sweet bread. It has a slight sour taste similar to a sour dough bread because of the rye flour and maybe the vinegar but this taste seemed to dissipate after the first day and the chocolate flavor became more pronounced instead.

I’ve already finished off one loaf. I stored the other in the freezer and then let it defrost in the refrigerator when I wanted more. It is just as delicious as the first loaf. In fact, I believe I noticed that the bread tasted even better the day after I baked it and it kept well in the refrigerator. I usually sliced off 3 ounces for my meal, buttered it, and let it warm to room temperature.

This bread can vary somewhat in flavor depending on the type of chocolate you use or the type of coffee you use. The recipe also calls for bran cereal so depending on the type of cereal you use, that can also alter the taste. However, I doubt that the varieties you use would make that much difference. Just use the best ingredients that you can afford. There are a lot of ingredients!

4 cups unsifted rye flour

3 cups unsifted white flour

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups whole bran cereal

2 tablespoons caraway seed, crushed

2 teaspoons Instant Coffee

2 teaspoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

2 packages active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 square (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

Combine rye and white flours. Mix 2  1/3 cups of the combined flour mixture with the sugar, salt, cereal, caraway seed, coffee, onion powder, fennel seed, and undissolved yeast.

Combine 2 1/2 cups water, vinegar, molasses, chocolate, and margarine or butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120 – 130 degrees). Margarine and chocolate do not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of an electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1/2 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes.

Russian Black Bread Batter

Russian Black Bread Batter

Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board. Cover; let rest 15 minutes. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 to 15 minutes. Dough may be sticky. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board. Divide in half. shape each half into a ball about 5 inches in diameter. Place each ball in the center of a greased 8-inch round cake pan. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I like to let my bread rise in the microwave with a cup of very hot water. This is a draft-free environment and the cup of hot water makes the small area warm enough for the dough to rise. Important, don’t turn on the microwave!

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave

Russian Black Bread Rising in Microwave with Hot Water

Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 50 minutes until done. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch and cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil; continue to cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. As soon as bread is baked, brush cornstarch mixture over top of loaves. Return bread to oven and bake 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until glaze is set. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Russian Black Bread Cooling

Russian Black Bread Cooling

This recipe comes from my Fleischmann’s Bake-it-easy Yeast Book. I hope you bake this. It’s very good and has a lot of nutritional value! Das vadanya!

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New Food Friday – Chicory and Pomegranate

20 Dec Pomegranate

Right around this time of year, I make a special salad with chicory, pomegranate, grapefruit and orange slices. It’s very pretty, festive, and good for you! It’s called a Sicilian Salad and it’s perfect for this New Food Friday.

A Sicilian salad is very simple to make. Just tear up washed chicory leaves and put in a pretty bowl. Then, section one pink grapefruit and place the slices around the top of the chicory.

sxc.hu-Grapefruit-86484

Grapefruit (sxc.hu-Jason Merrill)

Do the same with an orange.

oranges (sxc.hu-Neil Gould)

Oranges (sxc.hu-Neil Gould)

The hardest part of making this salad is separating the pomegranate seeds from their nesting pockets! Either wear old clothing or an apron that covers you well. Pomegranate seeds squirt!

sxc.hu-Pomegranate-430625

Pomegranate Seeds (sxc.hu-Rick Hawkins)

The health benefits of Pomegranate

According to the Harvard Medical School Health publication, two recent studies suggest that pomegranate juice may help fight prostate cancer. Pomegranates may also have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease. Results from two small clinical studies show that carotid artery thickness decreased and cardiac blood flow improved in pomegranate juice drinkers. However, preliminary research also suggests that pomegranate juice may interact with certain medications, much like grapefruit juice does. For further information click here.

A word about chicory.

Chicory tastes just like escarole. It’s a somewhat mildly bitter green. The difference between the two is that chicory has very curly leaves.

Chicory

Curly Chicory leaves torn into bite-sized pieces

Escarole has wavy leaves.

Escarole

Wavy Escarole leaves before being torn into bite-sized pieces

The Citrus

When you section the citrus, you have the option of slicing the sections so that there is no membrane on them. I wanted to keep them in their “skin” so that the dish would have the most fiber. I also didn’t want to lose any of the juices. But it’s up to you. It may be prettier if you section off the slices.

Sicilian Salad before Pomegranate Seeds

Sicilian Salad before Pomegranate Seeds

This is the finished dish before pouring on the dressing. 

Sicilian Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Sicilian Salad with Pomegranate Seeds before salad dressing

You can add as much or as little pomegranate seeds as you like. I used about 1/3 of the pomegranate. You can prepare this the day before. It keeps very well as long as you don’t pour the dressing on.

The Salad Dressing

The dressing is made of freshly squeezed orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.Very simple! Use proportions that you like. I don’t measure, I just squeeze the juice on and then drizzle on the olive oil. I like it that way. In fact, that’s how I make all my salads. I like the separate taste of the oil on some bites and the separate taste of vinegar, or in this case, orange juice. It’s up to you.

Sicilian Salad is delicious! It’s good for you! It’s pretty! It’s Christmas-y! Try it on your guests this Christmas. And have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season!

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New Food Friday – Gnudi

16 Aug sxc.hu 536766 stylesr1

In order to make this dish, you have to remove all your clothes. Just kidding! The dish being discussed today is called gnudi. They are a form of dumpling and it’s pronounced just like a sunbather who basks in the nude: a nudi! (Or a nudist?) I watched with interest as Martha Stewart made these on her cooking show. See here. She says they are a naked ravioli; a filling without the pasta casing. I am a big fan of ravioli but these were new to me and when I saw her boiling then basting them in browned butter with sage leaves, I knew I had to post them for a New Food Friday.

sxc.hu Gnu Barbara Schneider

This is a Gnu (sxc.hu Barbara Schneider)

First, go to your butcher shop and ask for a fillet of Gnu. Just kidding! There is no meat in this recipe!

Assemble your ingredients as it shows in the Martha Stewart video. I like to use paper plates when I want to roll foods in flour.

Knudi rolled in flour

Knudi rolled in flour

Using paper plates makes cleanup a breeze. I just throw the paper plate in the trash when I’m done.

I filled another paper plate with semolina flour and let the gnudi rest until I finished making all of them.

Knudi sitting on semolina

Knudi sitting on semolina

Then they went into the fridge for 1 hour.

Variations:

I had some leftover crab meat so I included it in my recipe. In my second batch, I added some boiled russet potato.

These gnudi were fun to make and easy! Your children might like to get involved. Since these are boiled, it’s a lot like boiling pasta and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to making pasta.

Knudi ready to be boiled

Knudi ready to be boiled

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve never made pasta but I know one of these days I will because it’s on my mental to do list! Here are the sage leaves straight from my garden.

Sage drying on a paper towel

Sage drying on a paper towel

Here are the chiffonaded sage leaves in browned butter.

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

These were delicious! I will definitely be making them again. I hope you try them!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

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It’s A Grander!

11 Aug Heirloom Tomato - 14.5 oz

OK, a Grander is a big sailfish and I’m talking about my tomato so I exaggerated a little.

Just a quick post since it’s already past 8:00 pm. Where did the day go? I had visions of writing so many things in this post and/or writing multiple posts and now I’m pushing it to write just this one since I have 4 clean loads of laundry on my bed waiting to be sorted and put away.

Back to my Grander. This summer I decided to plant heirloom tomatoes. I bought just one heirloom plant from Meijer. These things took off like gangbusters! I have never seen a tomato plant be so energetic. I did fertilize it a lot but I fertilized all my other tomato plants too and they haven’t run rampant on me like this one although they look healthy and productive.

Enough talk, here’s a photo. This was the first tomato to fruit from this plant. You should see the main stem! I’m going to have a heck of a time pulling it out of the ground when the season is over.

See, I’m just a frustrated writer who wants to write. Shut up Marcy and show them the tomato already! OK!

Heirloom Tomato - 14.5 oz

Heirloom Tomato – 14.5 oz

This is the biggest tomato I have ever grown! I’m getting a good yield from this plant and it’s barely mid-August. I haven’t tasted it yet. I plucked it because I didn’t want to take the chance that it might fall off and be eaten by bugs. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

Tomorrow tuna and egg salad sandwich with escarole leaves and fat slices of this tomato on rye. I promise to eat a slice on the side, lightly salted so as not to take anything away from the taste. Please heirloom tomato, don’t disappoint!

One of the big differences with heirloom tomatoes is that they are not as disease resistant as other hybrid tomato plants. Hybrid tomatoes generally have an inbred resistance to tobacco mosaic disease, but heirlooms don’t. Heirlooms are plants with seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation, just like heirloom jewelry and furniture! Heirloom tomato plants are known to have a flavor that is complex and rich. My mouth is watering! If it’s as good as it’s cracked up to be, I will be planting it from now on – inbred disease resistance be damned! I favor flavor!

OK, I’m off to watch TV whilst I fold and put away all my laundry. No rest for the weary! Cheerio!

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Spring Blows Away New Food Friday

21 Mar sxc.hu Sindala Spring

Spring is now here, at least according to the calendar. Here in Indianapolis we are having a cold snap with freezing temperatures and cold winds!

I have been having a nice “rest” (???) this winter because we have had little snow so there was no shoveling of the pretty white stuff (or in my case, sweeping because I use a straw broom that I prefer over a shovel.)

Spring means opening the windows and letting in the fresh air while I pollute my indoors with cleaning products to do my spring cleaning!

sxc.hu julosstock Super Woman

Super Woman Marcella in Cleaning Gear  sxc.hu julosstock

It means getting my lawn mower fixed (finally). Or, shopping for a new one if it can’t be fixed. It means:

mowing

planting

transplanting

weeding

pruning

sawing (the more stubborn branches)

edging

digging

hauling (dead limbs, trees, etc.)

watering

mulching

fertilizing

shopping (for seeds, tools, fertilizers, etc.)

gluing (my bathroom wallpaper)

painting

sanding

sweeping (the garage, the leaves, etc.)

Whew! Did I miss anything? I’m sure I did. I’ll be busy as a bee.

sxc.hu YOdesigner Busy Bee

Busy Bee Marcella   sxc.hu YOdesigner

In other words, the sad truth is that New Food Friday is going on hiatus.  Instead of every week, New Food Friday will now be every month, unless I find a product or new food that I just can’t wait to tell you about. You can expect the next New Food Friday April 19th.

New Food Friday may be on hiatus but what about me?

The upside of all this spring cleaning is that it means more exercise for me. I know, for me it’s an upside, can you imagine that?

Whirling Dervish Dancer

Whirling Dervish Dancer (Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman)

With any luck, I also hope to have more time to write about articles concerning a variety of health issues.

I wonder if I could hire a Whirling Dervish to do my windows?

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New Food Friday – Blackstrap Molasses

15 Feb Windmill sxc.hu/http://www.thebend.be/dimitri_c

You don’t hear much about blackstrap molasses and that is why this post is about blackstrap molasses for this New Food Friday.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap Molasses

What is the blackstrap in blackstrap molasses? The name ‘blackstrap’ originates from the black ‘strap’ or mark that distinguished the casks of molasses from the casks of raw sugar that  shipped as part of the same cargo.

(see: http://www.processedfreeamerica.org/resources/health-news/287-the-many-benefits)

What about sulphured and unsulphured molasses?

This jar of blackstrap molasses is not sulphured.  Blackstrap molasses can be sulphured or unsulphured. Make sure you check the label when you buy it.

Sulphured molasses: Sulfur dioxide is added as a preservative to keep young, raw sugar cane fresh until it is processed and to preserve the molasses byproducts produced from it. 

Unsulphured molasses: is made from matured cane plants that have been allowed to ripen naturally in the field.

Molasses is made by boiling sugar three times. Each time it goes through a boiling process, it gets darker and the flavor becomes more intense and somewhat bitter. (Just like when you try to make caramel and burn the sugar!)

What is the Nutritional Value of Blackstrap Molasses?

Blackstrap Molasses Nutrition Facts

Blackstrap Molasses Nutrition Facts – Click to enlarge

Blackstrap molasses has a very strong taste. I’ve made the mistake of adding too much to a recipe once. I’ll never make that mistake again. It will take over the flavor of whatever you add it to so be careful not to use too much when you use it.

On the other hand, I don’t know anything that has more Iron than blackstrap molasses. One tablespoon contains 70% of your Daily Value (DV). This is beneficial to pregnant women, those who are anemic, and vegetarians who don’t eat meat.

I don’t remember what I paid for this jar of House of Herbs Blackstrap Molasses, but I do remember that it was the least expensive molasses on the shelf of my local Meijer. 

You can use blackstrap molasses to make baked beans, gingerbread, and gingersnap cookies. 

I made whole wheat bread and although my recipe didn’t call for blackstrap molasses, I have other bread recipes that do, so I added it to this recipe. I often combine recipes, sometimes due to lack of ingredients. For example, I didn’t have the oats needed for the recipe that required blackstrap molasses, so I added the molasses to a different recipe that didn’t require oats.

This is a very delicious whole wheat bread recipe. I highly recommend it for its nutritional value and nutty taste. (I ate three slices when it cooled!)

2 Loaves Whole Wheat Bread

2 Loaves Whole Wheat Bread

I ate two slices for breakfast toasted!

Whole Wheat Toast

Whole Wheat Toast

This bread would be great smeared with peanut butter and probably Nutella would work too. I tried spreading Apricot jam on it and that didn’t work for me but then I’m not that fond of Apricots.

Here is the recipe:

5 1/2 to 6 cups unsifted white flour

2 cups unsifted whole wheat flour 

3 tbsp sugar (I used brown sugar)

4 teas salt

1/4 cup molasses

2 pkgs active dry yeast

2 cups milk

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Combine flours. (I don’t combine the flours as the recipe suggests.)

Wheat sxc.hu/umayr http://www.communicate.pk

Wheat sxc.hu/umayr http://www.communicate.pk

In a large bowl thoroughly mix 2 1/2 cups flour mixture, sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast.

By the way, I like to use white whole wheat flour. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.

Mill sxc.hu/linder6580/Robert Linder

                                                                             Mill                                                                                                                                                      sxc.hu/linder6580/Robert Linder

Combine milk, water, butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquids are very warm (120F – 130F). Butter does not need to melt. Gradually add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour mixture. Beat at high speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour mixture to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, then a towel. Let rest 20 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Roll each half to a 14 x 9-inch rectangle. Shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Brush loaves with Peanut oil (I omitted this step or you could brush them with melted butter.) Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator. Uncover dough carefully. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Puncture any gas bubbles which may have formed with a greased toothpick. Bake at 400F about 40 minutes or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

You may have noticed that this recipe calls for kneading.

Kneading

Kneading on a counter  sxc.hu/arinas74 Ariel da Silva Parreira

I do all my kneading in a very large bowl with a somewhat flat bottom. This way I don’t have to flour my counter and get it all sticky with dough. I also don’t roll out my dough with a rolling pin.

Rolling Pin sxc.hu/topfer www.pixelmaster.no

Rolling Pin sxc.hu/topfer http://www.pixelmaster.no

I just stretch the dough out with my hands in the air, like a pizza dough except I make the shape rectangular. I pull it gently so as not to tear it. I even roll it up this way (like rolling up a large map or a scroll or your diploma if that helps you to visualize it.) I couldn’t photograph it because my hands were full of sticky dough. Sticky dough and cameras are not a good mix! You don’t have to do what I do but you can see from the finished results that my method doesn’t hurt the results and saves me some cleanup time.

I’ve made this recipe several times and the results were always good. Try it, or your favorite whole wheat recipe with blackstrap molasses. I think you will like it and it will be so good for you!

P.S. If you want to read an unbelievable, incredible, mind-blowing TRUE story about molasses, click here if you dare

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If Your House Is On Fire, Get Out Immediately!

2 Feb sxc.hu Firefighter fighting blaze

A few months ago I came across a post on WordPress that asked readers what they would save if their house was on fire. I was flabbergasted to learn that anyone would encourage people to risk their lives dallying when their house is on fire as they think about and select cherished items to save. 

I commented on this blogger’s post that she was being irresponsible and that it was just plain stupid to write such a post. She never removed her post. She never responded to me. Nobody else commented on the post or “liked” her post the last time I checked.

Recently, a similar post was sent out on the Daily Post by one of the staff at WordPress:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/daily-prompt-fire/

The question was, and I’m rephrasing, What five things from your burning house would you grab? The immediate response that came to my mind was, my *SS and to haul it the hell out of here! The heck with the other four things!

Why would anyone try to put it in someone else’s mind that they should try to salvage things when their house is on fire? Without a doubt, someone will read it and believe that that’s what you should do!

After browsing the Internet, it seems that getting your possessions while your house is burning down is the thought of the day! It isn’t just WordPress bloggers who are misinformed.

Here are the FACTS about what you should do if your house is on fire. I’ve taken these FACTS from the Red Cross website

http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/home-fire

where they list much more information than I have provided here and you should visit there to learn much more.

Their first recommendation is this: 

If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL for help. (Caps theirs, not mine.)

Fires can ignite very quickly and without warning, leaving you and your loved ones with little or no time to escape.

**This one bears repeating: “little or NO TIME TO ESCAPE”. Is there any part of that that anyone doesn’t understand? Because I would be happy to explain it further.

By creating and practicing an escape plan, family members can save valuable time in the event of a fire by knowing exactly how to act.

The Red Cross response to home fires has increased by 10% since 2000. (I’m not going to do all the work for you. You should find out why that is.)

Home fires are the single most common disaster across the nation.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. And, two out of three cooking fires start with the range or stove.

Every 2  1/2 hours someone is killed in a home fire. In a typical year, 20,000 people are injured in home fires.

Only 26 percent of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

Each year over 200 people die from carbon monoxide produced by fuel burning appliances in the home including furnaces, ranges, water heaters and room heaters.

Home fires can affect any home at any time. However, children under five and adults over 65 face the highest risk of dying in a home fire.

74 percent of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

**To emphasize further the lack of time you have in a house fire, I am quoting here from another quote (http://fox6now.com/2012/02/21/what-would-you-do-if-your-house-caught-on-fire/) taken from firefighter Chris Gauthier: ‘Smoke is the number one thing that kills people in fires. The first thing you should worry about is getting out of your house.”‘

Again, this bears repeating. He said:

SMOKE IS THE NUMBER ONE THING THAT KILLS PEOPLE IN FIRES.

THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD WORRY ABOUT……IS GETTING OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.  Notice, he didn’t say get papers, mementos, books, gifts, etc. 

And my own two cents: If you don’t care about your own safety and the pain your family would feel if they lost you, and you are willing to jeopardize your safety by gathering your treasured junk, then think about the firefighter

Firefighter

Firefighter – sxc.hu/tony26 Tony Hathcock

who has to come into your burning house to try to save you and risk his own life. More than likely he has a family that he cares about and wants to go home to and they care about him. 

Here is a video that shows how fast a house fire can spread. It took 1.55 seconds, nearly two minutes, for the smoke to reach the smoke detectors. Seconds after that, the room was engulfed in flames. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piofZLySsN

While you are there on youtube, watch some of the other fire safety films. Nobody can predict how fast a fire will spread. Use your head and get out. And for God’s sake, don’t encourage anyone to grab their belongings.

Very Special Note: Michael Cossey, http://www.arkansasfire.net is a firefighter and the photographer who took the photo shown in the Featured Post widget of the female firefighter with the firehose.

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New Food Friday – Radis Dejeuner Francais

18 Jan Radish Featured Image

In my past posts, I’ve covered some Italian vegetables and some foods used by Brazilians and Lebanese, and also  some used by the Japanese. Today, the French make my post for New Food Friday with their French Breakfast Radish or Radis Dejeuner Francais.

I thought all red radishes were alike but when I saw the French label, I was intrigued!

Radish Label

Radish Label – Click me to read French

When I got the radishes home, they seemed a bit wilted, so I let them soak in some cold water. That revived them quite a bit!

Radish & Greens Soaking

Radish & Greens Soaking

The Radis Dejeuner Francais are white tipped. Here is a another photo so you can see how much of the radishes are white.

Radish & Greens Closeup

Radish & Greens Closeup

I found a recipe for potato salad that called for radishes and decided to use my French radishes. I ate a couple of the radishes raw and found them to be very mild.

Radishes contain Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, folate, and potassium. The bright red coloring indicates the presence of anthocyadinins, which are antioxidants. Radishes stimulate digestion.

In my potato salad, they were so mild as to be

Radish Salad & Watermelon Container & Spaghetti Holder

Radish Potato Salad 

indistinguishable in the salad! It was not the result I was hoping for. I thought these radishes would give the salad some “bite” but all they did was give the salad a pinkish color which was pretty, but I was interested more in flavor, not color.

The recipes I found online called for French Breakfast Radishes in salads and sandwiches.  The most highly recommended use was raw, with butter and salt which is the classic way the French eat them. That doesn’t sound appealing to me at all but I wish I had tried it before I made my salad!

Radish Night is December 23 in Oaxaca, Mexico ...

Radish Night-December 23 Oaxaca, Mexico – flickr

On the other hand, while the poor radish with the breakfast name doesn’t get eaten for breakfast by the French, it instead gets celebrated by the Mexicans on December 23, in Oaxaca, Mexico on Radish Night. Does that mean that Mexicans eat radishes on the evening of December 23? 

I don’t know and I’m not inclined to guess since I was wrong about the breakfast radishes! Look closely at the calendar photo. Everything is made of radishes!

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New Food Friday – Chayote

4 Jan Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Although they’re spelled and pronounced similarly, Chayote and Coyote are two different animals. In fact, Chayote is a fruit! You already know what a Coyote looks like

and that is why I’m posting Chayote as the new food for New Food Friday.

Chayote, pronounced Cha-i-O-tee, is a fruit that is used like a vegetable.  It is originally native to Mexico or Central America.ChayoteIt is a very pretty pale green and the easiest produce I have ever peeled, fruit or vegetable! My paring knife just glides and therefore it is a pleasure to prepare.

As far as texture, it is like a cucumber or pickle: juicy and crunchy. But it doesn’t taste like a cucumber or pickle. It’s one of those fruits that has a taste that is hard to describe. It’s a pleasant taste, and mild flavored. I thought I detected a slightly peppery aftertaste on my first bite which was raw. It can be eaten raw in salads but I chose to roast it along with a medley of other vegetables. 

Chayote with Mixed Veggies

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

When I roast vegetables, I usually roast them with chicken. I didn’t have any chicken on hand this time but that’s OK.  Roasted vegetables are very good on their own. If you can call all the spices I put on them “on their own”!

Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Chayote on the Vine – wikipedia – Thuydaonguyen

I drizzled olive oil on cut brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and piled the Chayote pieces on top. Everything got a spattering of salt and pepper. One side of the pan got dill, the other side got some other spice. The sweet potatoes got dashes of cinnamon, and since I had fresh mint on hand, I tore up some mint leaves and sprinkled them over top too. I also had fresh tarragon and sprinkled those leaves over top too. I shook some cayenne pepper over everything.

This is how I usually prepare roasted veggies with chicken: I line the pan with parchment paper, add a mixture of spices, whatever strikes my fancy, and roast them at 425F for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are charred and the chicken skin is crispy and to my liking. This is a very healthful way to eat vegetables.

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Spices & Herbs

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices Roasted

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, & Spices Roasted

I did this batch with my new convection toaster oven which cooks 25% quicker. I’m still getting used to it. The results were delicious! So, what tasted the best? Here are the results in order of preference:

1. The brussels sprouts (mmm, very good!)

2. The Chayote

3. The sweet potatoes

4. The russet potatoes

5. The carrots

Usually, I also add an onion quartered but as you can see from the photos, I had no room! Sometimes I add an apple, other times a quartered tomato.

I paid $.99/lb for my Chayote at Meijer or $.52 since it was a small one.

Chayote has a small soft seed which is edible but I removed it.

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Nutritional Facts (from USDA)

Serving Size: 3.5 oz

Calories: 19

Sodium: 2mg

Carbs:  5g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 1g

Vitamin C: 1%

Calcium: 2%

Iron: 2%

Vitamin B6: 4%

Folate: 23%

Manganese: 9%

To see a further breakdown of nutrients, go to this USDA webpage. 

Chayote has a pleasing texture and a mild taste. It is low in calories and very versatile because it can be added raw to a salad, made into a soup, or stuffed and baked. Chayote is worth trying.

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Winter Scenes Can Make You Relax

24 Dec Fireplace

There is nothing more beautiful than snowy, winter scenes. Oh yes, the ice and slick streets can be treacherous when you have to drive on them, but let me take you instead on a relaxing tour of gorgeous scenes of snow and ice.  Winter Scene

All you have to do is scroll; driving is not necessary. Grab a sweater because the scenes may make you chilly.Winter Scene

It is cold enough and therefore safe to go ice skating,  Have you ever been ice skating outdoors?Snow on the Lake

The sun has warmed up this lake. Can you feel the winter sun’s warmth? There is something about snow scenes on a lake that is so peaceful.

At a time when the holidays bring stress to so many, it’s good to take time out and appreciate mother nature’s beauty.Winter Willow Trees

Click this photo  with the Weeping Willow trees to see all the birds on the lake. They liked the scenery so much that they forgot to fly south for the winter. Winter in Hamburg

Nighttime brings out a different feeling in winter scenes.

Winter NightThe snow has muffled all sounds except for our breathing. I can almost see my breath in the air! Can you smell the pine trees?

Hot DrinkWe have arrived at our destination. Time to warm up with a hot drink.

Fireplace & TreeAnd maybe a nap in front of the fireplace.

Stay safe and warm this holiday season.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

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New Food Friday – Escarole

21 Dec Escarole Head

Escarole is a vegetable that many Italians are familiar with but because I am so fond of it, I wanted to feature it on this New Food Friday for the folks who haven’t tried it. I’m always having to explain what it is to the supermarket cashiers when I buy it! 

Escarole Head

Beautiful Escarole Head

In fact, the cashiers think it’s lettuce. I tell them it’s escarole and they can never find it in their computer.  I go through the same conversation with them every time! But I don’t care as long as they keep stocking escarole.

One of the first things I’d like to mention about this vegetable is that it’s beautiful to look at! I’m not kidding. A head of escarole is a thing of beauty like a bouquet of flowers. Some say to stop and smell the roses. I say, stop and admire the escarole.

It is beautiful enough to be thrown by a bride at a wedding except that you can eat the escarole bouquet!

Bouquet

                             Bride throwing inedible bouquet                                    sxc.hu kathalpha

The second thing I like about escarole is that you can eat it uncooked in a salad, or if you prefer, you can cook it and serve it hot. How many vegetables can you say that about? Ok, carrots.  Sure, celery. Yes, bell peppers. OK, never mind. Forget I asked. Here I’ve torn it into pieces.

Escarole

Escarole torn pieces in skillet

 

I like to put it raw in a sandwich and use it just like lettuce.

I never see anyone else buying escarole. I think they must order it just for me. Sometimes they get heads that are so big I can hardly fit them in the plastic bag! (The escarole, not the supermarket people.) These are grown locally and boy, they must have a good strain of them because they are delicious besides being beautiful. Escarole is also reasonably priced: $1.99 a pound. Wow! I just realized it’s gone up in price. But then, what hasn’t!

The only down side is that sometimes it is sandy. I usually leave it in the plastic bag that I stuffed it in at the store and run the kitchen cold tap water in it a few times and rinse the worst of it out.  Then I put it in my Tupperware-like large green plastic bowl (see photo below) and fill that with water a few times and drain it. That usually takes care of all the sand and dirt.

Escarole

Escarole soaking in water

Escarole is a slightly bitter green but when you cook it or braise it, it loses it’s bitterness and develops a sweetness. Lately, I’ve been steaming it in a large frying pan with a few tablespoons of water. (Of course I chop up a garlic clove, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and a few flakes of red pepper to the pan.) This cooks covered for about 20 minutes or until the leaves are tender. Then I remove the cover, continue cooking it, and let most of the water evaporate.

Escarole

Escarole braised with garlic

If some of the leaves get slightly browned, that A-OK to me! Don’t forget to add salt to taste. I serve it with chicken, or a pasta dish. It goes well with most meat dishes.

Italian Wedding soup

                  Italian Wedding Soup                     flickr: devlyn 

However, I love escarole so much that I have been known to stuff it inside a piece of Italian or French bread and enjoy a nice cooked “green” sandwich for lunch! A seeded roll will work equally as well. In a pinch I will also put it on rye bread.

Another thing about escarole is that many people chop it and add it to soups, like the well-known Italian Wedding Soup.

Escarole is closely related to chicory, radicchio and Belgian endive.  It is very low in Cholesterol and a good source of Vitamin E, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a great source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

I can’t promise that someone will propose to you and you will get married if you eat escarole, but who knows?

Beautiful Bride

Beautiful Bride sxc.hu papaleguas http://www.fernandoweberich.com

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Top 7 Posts From My Blog

7 Oct 7x7link-award

 

This post is prompted by my nomination for the 7 x 7 Link Award. The rules state that I must list my 7 Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Beautiful Piece, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, and Most Pride Worthy posts from my blog. Here goes:

1. Most Helpful -What Motivates People to Exercise?

2. Most Popular – As far as I can figure, the most popular post is my About post.

3. Most Beautiful Piece – Belated Father’s DayWishes to All Fathers

4. Most Controversial – apparently I haven’t written a post in that category yet!

5. Most Surprisingly Successful -Good Health and Good Gardening Go Together

6. Most Underrated – The Rebuilding of Ground Zero

and Making Blender Compost for the Garden

7. Most Pride Worthy – Exercise: The Doorway to Injuries?

My nominees will be posted shortly. So what do you think? Did I nail them or do you disagree with my pickings?

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Garden Art

23 Aug Yellow Bird Garden Art

I have four pieces of garden art in my vegetable garden. The first one is a red butterfly and it’s the biggest one. The center of the butterfly is a red ball which looks like it represents the earth. It rotates. I can’t tell you how many times I mistook it for a tomato.

Butterfly Garden Art

The second piece is what I call a Darning Needle or some people call a Dragon Fly. I never saw a white one. Maybe this is an albino. The wings move.

Darning Needle Garden Art

The third piece is some kind of freaked out yellow bird or perhaps a chicken. I took nine photos of it and all of them look unfocused so I give up.  UPDATE: I took another shot at it today from above. This one is the best. You can see its goofy feet. Maybe its face was painted on unfocused. The wings and the legs move. I selected it as the Featured Post. Click on the Home menu to take a gander.

The fourth one is the oldest and my favorite. It’s a toucan bird. Its wings are propellers. Sometimes, depending on the wind direction, one will go one way and the other will go the other way. They make a noise that I can hear inside the house so I know when it’s windy outside.

Toucan Bird Garden Art

Garden art may not scare away the cats or the birds like they’re supposed to but they add gaiety to my garden. They amuse me and anything that is amusing is good for your health.

Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

26 Jul My Cherry Tomatoes

This is my “mystery” tomato plant. I now know why the tomato seedlings were on sale at the beginning of the season. All the other seedlings were cherry tomatoes. This one is a Bush tomato plant. How do I know? I know because I planted Bush tomatoes a few summers ago. They are beautiful to look at, juicy, and totally tasteless. You can see my cherry tomatoes in the background.

On the right are my onion chives (or scallions). See the round bulb at the top? It’s ready to flower and go to seed. I’ve got onion chives growing all over my garden. I allow it because they are a pest deterrent and it keeps me “rich” in onions.

I must say, knock on wood, everything in the garden is healthy. So far, I don’t see any pests. They probably all died of thirst or heat stroke. I did find a snake in my garden once. It was a green garden snake and it was dead. That wasn’t in my present garden though, it was when I lived in Lexington, KY.  However, if you want to read a story I wrote about a rattlesnake, click here.

After I watered the garden today, a butterfly flew up to me as if to say “thank you.” ; – )

This is the final installment (IV) of My Vegetable Garden, unless something pops up that I think you might enjoy. I want to try growing artichokes in the future because I am a big fan of them. I need to order them in the mail I think since it’s probably too late to find seeds in the supermarket. Hope you all enjoyed my garden as much as I do.

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Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

21 Jul sxc.hu/ lockstockb

On the right is my parsley plant. It is three years old.  It comes back every year even though they say it isn’t supposed to (It’s a biennial). I find that when I leave things alone and let them go to seed, they reward me by continuing to appear every year.

My rosemary, below, sits next to my sage plant. You can see some of the leaves of the sage plant on the lower left of the photo. I do tend to cram everything together. Fresh rosemary is the bomb. As long as I have fresh, I will never use the dried stuff again.  

If you want to learn more about my herbs, click here.  Continued…….

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Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

19 Jul sxc.hu/ pat61nl Patrizia Schiozzi http://fotografie.patriziaschiozzi.nl

This is a very robust sage plant above. I pick the leaves and it comes back threefold. It not only makes food taste good, but it’s a beautiful, full plant and a lovely greenish-blue color that matches my Colorado Blue Spruce and my “White” pine.

I’ve neglected watering my thyme on the right, because it was taking over my vegetable garden.  It is also very hardy and very fragrant. You can see how brown my grass is in the lower part of the photo  due to the drought we are having in Indianapolis and surrounding areas. Yesterday we actually had some rain! Phew! What a relief! I never thought I’d be worried about rainfall!   Continued……

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Photos of My Garden – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

19 Jul My Harvest - Marcella Rousseau

Above is my potted cherry tomato plant. There are no tomatoes on it because I picked them all. It’s so convenient to pick and to water. I just slide open the patio doors and dump a glass of water on it!
                            ~
On the right are my garlic chives.  Would you have guessed that garlic chives could have such pretty flowers? 
                             ~
Continued…….
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Teaching Kids to Like Vegetables

12 Jul sxc.hu Lousam httpwww.naturallyhealthylifestyles.co ..sugar snap peas

MIKE EATING “CANDY” FOR BREAKFAST

It does your heart good when your child wakes up in the morning wanting to eat Sugar Snap Peas for breakfast. It just makes all the work in the garden worthwhile, you know?

He wolfed down those sugar snaps. I didn’t think I would have any left over to serve with a meal!

Not that I’m complaining. He still loves vegetables to this day and in fact loves to cook Thai dishes. If you’ve got little ones at home, you don’t have to force them to eat vegetables. There is a much easier way. Read on….

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Making Blender Compost for the Garden

11 Jul WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY GARDEN KITTY?  I SEE YOU!!!

ARE YOU CONTEMPLATING DIGGING UP MY PLANT KITTY?

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. I guess I was in an inventive mood when I created a way to make composting that didn’t involve a bin or the effort of turning over the compost at intervals. 

I didn’t have to build anything and I didn’t have to buy anything. So, how did I do it?

After you’ve enjoyed looking at these kitties, click here to learn how I did it.

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