Tag Archives: health

NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – BLACK TEA SHAMPOO

21 Aug Hair style

As I wrote about in last month’s New Food Friday Flash, I would be writing more about foods to put on your body and not just in your body for good health. This month’s post is for a recipe for a great shampoo that you can make yourself with simple ingredients. You can find these ingredients in a health food store or online at Amazon.com for example. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local Meijer supermarket and that is why I selected it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

Black Tea Shampoo Recipe

1 cup distilled water

6 bags black tea (regular tea)

½ cup liquid unscented, baby mild Castile soap

1 Tablespoon vegetable glycerin

10 drops Ylang essential oil

 

Directions

Boil water and steep tea bags 30 minutes.

6 Black Tea Bags

Boil 6 Tea Bags

Cool. Combine with remaining ingredients. Put in a clean, bottle (an old washed, shampoo bottle works well). Label the bottle. Shake bottle before each use. Shampoo, and let sit in hair for 2 minutes. Rinse. You will not get as much lather with this shampoo as with store-bought shampoos. Condition as usual.

 

I chose not to use Ylang essential oil and instead used Peppermint essential oil. The Peppermint oil has more uses. Many times these essential oils are interchangeable – but not always! Lavender essential oil could also be used in this shampoo as it is beneficial in fighting dandruff and stimulates hair growth.

 

NOTE: Black Tea shampoo is for brunettes. Blondes can substitute chamomile tea for the black tea as it has a natural blonding effect. However, I did not test the chamomile myself.

Chamomile flowers

Chamomile Flowers

 

I created a list of all the recipes I thought I could use from all the books I had read. I also selected ingredients that were most often used. I did not want to spend a fortune making my own shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents, body lotions, cleansers, bath soaks, makeup removers, lip balms, insect repellents, car washes, tub and tile cleaners, window washes, and a few others! This was research I wanted to do to find a way to avoid allergy-causing ingredients that manufacturers use in their products. Their ingredients also cost us more. In theory, making your own products should cost less in the long run.

 

One of the benefits of using this shampoo that was not mentioned in any of the books I read is that it makes your hair more manageable. When I use it, I don’t use a conditioner afterwards. My hair has never looked so good! I don’t curl it; I don’t blow dry it. If that doesn’t make it all worth it, then I don’t know what does. How’s that for an unsolicited testimonial?

 

As much as I like this particular shampoo recipe, I have found another that I like that contains the juice of a grapefruit. As soon as I finish this Black Tea Shampoo, I will be making the grapefruit shampoo. If it is as good, I will be reporting back here to you!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – BODY FOODS

17 Jul Hair style

You may have noticed that I recently posted a New Food Friday Flash a week earlier than usual. That’s because I had allergy brain, otherwise known as fog brain due to allergies. My allergies have really been acting up lately and I’m not just talking about my respiratory allergies. Let me tell you how I got Angelina Jolie lips due to an allergic reaction.

 

Angelina Jolie Lips

Sunscreen Lips!

I always wear lipstick outdoors to keep my lips moist and prevent cracking and bleeding. I’ve been wearing Chapstick with sunscreen to do the same when I’m doing yard work. Over a gradual period of time recently, my lips began to swell. Then they developed cuts or ulcers at the corners of my mouth. It hurt when I ate and they bled. I thought, “What the heck is going on here?” I finally figured out it was due to the sunscreen in my Chapstick. I stopped using the Chapstick and the next day, no more ulcers. My lips returned to normal although I rather enjoyed their puffiness!

 

The moisturizer I use on my face when I’m outdoors also contains sunscreen. When I stopped to think about it, I had seen a dermatologist six years ago for red blotches on my face and a scalp rash. He gave me all kinds of drugs which helped my scalp but didn’t do anything for my face. The blotches were still there. After the recent lip incident, it dawned on me that my moisturizer also contained sunscreen and that it was probably what caused the blotches on my face. I stopped using the sunscreen moisturizer on my face. No more blotches on my face. Now I use a non-sunscreen hydrating moisturizer.

 

I felt good about finding the causes of these allergic reactions until I developed yet another allergic reaction and rash on my arms and legs! This happened at the same time that a Measles outbreak occurred in Indianapolis which worried me even though my inoculations are up-to-date and I had Measles when I was young.

 

I suspected my laundry detergent because I had bought a new one – one I had never heard of before. I had also been adding more detergent to the wash than I usually do. So, I stopped using that brand altogether. I bought a mild, perfume and dye-free detergent. I’m sure you’ve heard of it: ALL. I also now use less detergent than the manufacturers recommend. I’ve had this rash about three weeks at the time of this writing and still have not rid myself of it although it is much improved. I cut back on the detergent due to the advice from one of the authors listed below.

 

Right around this time, I had been watching a program on the Livewell Network called Steven and Chris. I have to commend them on their wonderful, knowledgeable guests. Nutritionist Joy McCarthy caught my ear on one of their programs. I was lucky in that my local library had her book, “Joyous Health.” She was the spark that ignited my desire to find the underlying cause of my recent skin reactions.

 

Cancer-causing Ingredients

Her book lists ingredients to avoid in cosmetics, such as: BHA, BHT, DMDM, (a formaldehyde-releasing preservative; formaldehyde causes cancer) and PEG (may cause cancer), and many others. These ingredients are not only harmful to us, they are harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Fish and Wildlife

Save the Fish!

 

Sulfites

She also writes that people with asthma or who suffer from allergies, are especially sensitive to sulfites, commonly found in:

 

wine

dried fruits

potato chips

frozen fries

fruit snacks

frozen dinners

Nitrates and nitrites (which cause cancer in animals)

 

I had written a post a while back about sulfites. They can also be listed as celery root extract in an ingredients label. The good news on dried fruits: she says you can soak the dried fruits in filtered water and then use them without suffering a reaction! 

 

After I read her book, I went back to the library and reserved books on natural products. I learned a lot and am still reading and learning!

 

A Growing Intolerance to Chemicals

According to author, Melinda Coss who wrote, “Natural Soap,” there has been a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from skin allergies due to our growing intolerance to chemicals in household products. So, this is not just a female problem. Men use household products and cosmetics too. Men wear sunscreen and men do laundry! Isn’t that right men?

Incredible Hulk

Strong Men!

 

Hair Care

Each of the books I borrowed and read had something to offer, including one that was focused more on African-American women, written by Lisa Akbari, “Every Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair at Any Age.” Although her tone was scolding, I figure I needed to be scolded! I am much gentler to my scalp and hair thanks to reading her book.

 

Other changes I am making due to my readings are to use natural products on my hair like coconut oil instead of store bought cream rinses and shampoos which contain harmful ingredients like sulfates, parabens and artificial fragrances that cause inflammatory skin reactions and are suspected to cause cancer.

 

Coconut oil is useful not just for sautéing foods, but also as a conditioner for your hair, a lip balm, and a shaving oil, just to name a few things. It conditions and soothes skin, so says DK publishers of the beautifully artistic book, “Natural Beauty.” You can find coconut oil in the same aisle as the olive oils. Buy the organic, oil-pressed jar.

 

A Light Bulb Moment

  • All these years I have been a fervent believer in caring about what I put into my body without enough thought as to what I put ON my body. What can I say? It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! Arf!

 

Food for Face

Bananas and avocados will not just be going in my mouth; they will be going on my face, in my hair, and on my hands. A mixture of avocado and honey makes a great hydration hand mask for dehydrated hands according to author Elizabeth Tenhouten, author of “Natural Beauty Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin and Hair.” Bananas contain pantothenic acid which strengthens the hair.

 

Hair Growth

Mix half a banana with one egg, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and one tablespoon of honey. Shampoo then apply the banana mixture to your scalp and hair; leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and condition. Author Annie Strole claims this mask is great if you want to grow your hair and prevent it from breaking. Promise me you won’t ring my doorbell when I’m doing this! 

 

Hair Buildup

Kelly Reno, author of Soaps, Shampoos & Other Suds says you can remove soap build-up from your hair by combining ½ cup water and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a bottle. Shake thoroughly and gently massage it in. Then rinse with warm water. There are many variations to this recipe. Some authors recommend apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.

 

More in Future Posts

More on this topic will be posted on my blog in the future. These books have really enlightened me. I have already made my own shampoo and lip gloss. Some of these ingredients were not readily available in supermarkets although they did have many of them. It has taken me about a month to get all the ingredients that I need without breaking the bank.

 

An Investment in Safe Products

I should be able to make my own laundry detergent, hand lotion, shampoos, rinses, conditioners, facial masks, hand masks, lip gloss, lip balm, and more. I am in the process of extracting the best recipes from each book using the most popular ingredients like avocado, lavender essential oil, castile liquid soap, and aloe vera gel just to name a few. I stayed away from the harder to find, more exotic ingredients like calendula oil or apricot kernel oil or the endless variety of oils that are either online or at health food stores (even though I did find a health food store nearby that stocks EVERYTHING!) I don’t know how involved I will get into this. If I see more promising results as I did from my homemade lip gloss, I may invest in more of these products.

 

An Investment in Time

I haven’t seen any noticeable results from my homemade shampoo except that my hair looks thicker and is easier to manage. I know, those are good results, but the shampoo is hard to work with when my hair is wet. I’ve tried two different shampoo recipes with one being better than the other. I have a third that I want to try before deciding that homemade shampoo can take the place of unsafe, store-bought shampoo. I’m also having trouble with homemade hair conditioners. They seem to be too oily. The third recipe for shampoo I want to try, contains some oil whereas the other shampoos didn’t. That might be the one! Third time’s the charm! Stay tuned!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

New Food Friday Flash – Irish Soda Bread

15 May Irish soda bread side view

I have been on the hunt for an easy to make, quick, delicious bread recipe since the year of the flood. I think I found it! This is not the usual recipe for Irish Soda Bread. Most recipes I’ve seen contain raisins. This one is raisin free. If I want bread with raisins then I’ll also want cinnamon in it. Then it wouldn’t be Irish Soda Bread, it would be Cinnamon Raisin Bread. I also have a recipe for Irish Soda bread using yeast. This is not that recipe. I started making this bread at 8:00 pm one night when I craved bread. It was on a cooling rack at 9:00 pm. That’s what I’m talking about and that is why this month’s New Food Friday Flash focuses on Irish Soda Bread.

 

The story: I was searching the book shelves at my library for baking books and came across a book by the famous chef, James Beard. When I tried to check it out using the computer checkout station, I couldn’t find the library number on the book. I asked the librarian about it and she said it was an old book so the number would be on the inside cover instead of on the outside of the book. Sure enough, it was inside. I hesitated for a moment when she said “old book” but I thought I’d check it out anyway. Boy, am I glad I did!

 

James Beard’s “Beard on Bread” is a treasure trove of bread recipes. I’ve made two of his breads so far and both were very delicious. The Irish Soda Bread caught my eye because it had no yeast or raisins in the ingredients and when I scanned the recipe, it said to knead for 2-3 minutes. There is no waiting for the dough to rise. His ingredients list did not include any sugar but his directions said to add the sugar! Aaargh! I thought, too many obstacles! This recipe can’t be any good! There is no waiting for the dough to rise? There is no 10-minute kneading as I am used to? Should I add some sugar? Should I leave the sugar out? But I was desperate for a piece of bread! Desperate I tell you. I left the sugar out even though my other Irish Soda Bread recipes contained sugar in the ingredients list. It would only go to my waistline anyway.

 

Here is the recipe:

3 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 ½ to 2 cups buttermilk

 

Beard also included another version of this recipe using all white flour instead of whole wheat flour. I used half white bread flour and half white all-purpose flour. If you use all white, decrease the baking soda to ¾ teaspoon.

 

Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly then add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, similar to biscuit dough but firm enough to hold its shape. Knead 2-3 minutes on a floured board. Form into a round loaf and place in a well-buttered 8-inch cake pan or a well-buttered cookie sheet. Cut a cross sign on the top of the loaf with a very sharp, floured knife. As it was baking, it rose and kept rising! It was beautiful bread, decorative because of the necessity to cut a cross on the top with a sharp knife before putting it in my convection toaster oven. It browns nicely in 35 – 40 minutes at 375° in your oven.

Irish Soda Bread in one hour!

Does this bread look like Santa Clause or it is just me?

 

Beard says to cut the bread in paper thin slices. I like it thin, I like it fat, I like it any which way but loose. He likes it buttered. Its great buttered but it is also good with blackberry spreadable fruit. It is very good as garlic toast (slathered in butter, topped with Italian herbs and garlic salt). It would also be good as sandwich bread. You have to try this bread. It’s good for novice bakers, old-hand bakers, what the heck, a kid could make it.

 

It keeps well in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. One-hour bread. I think I died and went to heaven!

Irish Soda Bread T-stand

Yipee! I love this bread!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

An Episode of “Cops” Right Before My Eyes

10 Apr 662718

April 9, 2015 around 11:30 am, a Thursday. I decided to go to the library even though the weather predictions were for severe storms. My car needed a free rain wash so as far as I was concerned, it was a perfect day. That’s how it started out anyway.

 

As I was making the turn onto Rockville Road, I was barely able to make the turn because traffic was so backed up. I knew there must be an accident. Sure enough, after driving maybe 100 feet, there was a white van and a small black car that looked like it took the brunt of damage to the headlight area. Four young people were standing next to the vehicles, now in the center of four lanes of traffic, two lanes going east and two going west. Two of the accident victims were wearing red shirts. Meijer’s employees wear red shirts so I assumed since they were practically in front of Meijer, that that’s where they were headed until the collision.

 

Because of the accident, everybody was driving very slowly, including me. Little did I know what was to happen next.

 

Maybe 500 feet further on I saw a white car parked on a gravel area to my right in front of an abandoned building. There were two people in the car. I not sure why, but I kept looking at them. Something didn’t seem right to me. Then, I looked to my left and I saw a youngish guy, maybe 28 in a dirty, tattered undershirt, with dirt on his face, running in the turn lane area of the four lanes of traffic. It looked like he was running in slow motion. This wasn’t my imagination. The guy was stoned. He had a big grin on his face, laughing. Then I saw a cop car coming from the opposite direction of me with his siren going, and carefully cut across traffic right in front of me. I had plenty of time to stop, maybe I was already stopped, I don’t remember. He slowly pulled into the parking area behind the white car to my right, got out and yelled, “Get down f*cker!” Before I knew it, seconds, there were cop cars all over to my left. How they managed to get there so fast with all that traffic mess is beyond me! A big guy from somewhere behind me, ran to help the cops. At least that is what I presumed he was going to do and it turned out that he did. He may have been a plain clothes cop. Maybe he was an ex-Marine or a fireman. Who knows? I didn’t know what the heck was going on. He ran towards the stoned guy with energy that was palpable. A black guy in a pickup truck in front of me had also stopped and got out of his car and stood within feet of the action. I wasn’t sure if he was going to help the cops or cause trouble. I wondered at the time if he had a phone/camera. I was OK up until that point.

 

Then I thought I heard gun shots. This is when I got unnerved! A split second of panic! Should I get out and run for it? Should I duck under the dashboard? Fortunately I didn’t have to make any such decisions because apparently, the sound I heard was the stoned guy being tasered. He ended up getting tasered twice as far as I could tell, and believe me I had a front row seat. I heard him yell out, “Ow!” just once. At this point I grabbed my purse and dug out my mace. With all the crime that’s been going on in this city, as of a few weeks ago, I felt the need to carry mace with me. That’s a pretty sad statement of the crime situation Indianapolis has reached. I imagine a lot of the folks in the cars near me reached into their glove compartment for their gun. This isn’t Texas but they’re far from being gun-shy here. It’s not unusual to hear on the evening news that children have been shot. There are homicides almost nightly. Now that summer is coming, it will only get worse.

 

You know how so many people say when they are in a similar situation like mine, “I felt like I was watching a movie!” Well, I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie, but I wished I was watching a movie! It was more like I was IN this movie! And just yesterday, in a jocular mood, I was saying aloud to myself in my house, “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!” I’ll never say that again!

 

But I digress. When the lead cop of this scenario began talking with the black guy and the two of them seemed like they were joking, I decided all was in hand and put my mace back into my purse. Two cars behind me decided the show was over, pulled out of line not wanting to wait for the pickup to get going so we could all get going. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do anything rash but I would have thought that one of the cops would motion cars to now go on their merry way because in case you didn’t get the picture, traffic was at a standstill. After a few seconds, the black guy got back into his car, looked at me with a slight smile, and started up his truck. That’s when I began driving too and everyone followed.

 

What just happened exactly? I asked myself if I needed to pull over. Am I upset? Not to be funny, but am I going to have PTSD after this? I decided I wasn’t that upset. It was over quickly and efficiently. There were no hurt innocent bystanders. I don’t know what kind of shape the perpetrator was in because I didn’t see him put into a squad car. I think he was still on the ground under police bodies when I drove off. I wouldn’t think that such a skinny guy would need that much man-power to be over-taken. I’ve watched a few episodes of “Cops” and I do get the situation. I’ve seen how Tasers work on news footage so that wasn’t new to me although the sound of it was. And, I’ve even seen that lead cop before, where, I don’t remember; a gray-haired guy, probably with a lot of years of experience on the force. I appreciate him slowly driving in front of me and not veering wildly in front of me as I’ve had happen to me on another occasion by an impatient cop when there was no incident at hand whatsoever! In hindsight, this was all well-orchestrated. In hindsight, I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I actually do hear gunshots. That feeling of panic made me think of all the children in the Columbine massacre.

 

After these two incidents, the car collision and the dramatic arrest that played out in front of me, although I wasn’t speeding, I caught every green light on my way to the library. That had never happened before. Once in the library, I got on a computer, reached in my purse for my USB stick and it wasn’t there. I had left it at home. That meant that I didn’t have any of my passwords and therefore couldn’t do anything on the computer! That had never happened before either. What kind of a crazy day is this?!!!

 

So, you mean to tell me that I got up early, got dressed, touched up my roots with my new hair color stick, all to just witness a two-car accident and an arrest within feet of each other? What kind of an insane day is this? I could have stayed home and baked bread! As it was, there was hardly any rain, not enough to give my car a good wash, so that a bust too. (Just a little play on words for your amusement.)

 

Hours later as I was eating my dinner, thoughts of the arrest kept running through my mind. I pondered why the black guy in the pickup truck and the lead cop were so chummy with each other when everything was all over. I remembered thinking as he got into his truck that he looked as proud as though he were part of the collar. (The arrest.) And I was like, “huh?” about that at the time. I also wondered why they would let a motorist, and a black motorist at that, get out of his vehicle and stand near the action. Then it dawned on me. He was part of the “sting.” Maybe he was the lead detective on the case. I wouldn’t know half as much of this stuff if I wasn’t a fan of the Jack Reacher audiobooks!

 

Anyway, that was my day. How was yours?

 

 

My Writing Process Tour

3 Feb Process depicted with gears

The person who nominated me for the Writing Process Tour is Gerard Villanueva. His blog is called Bread and Tortillas. He writes much more than the topics of bread and Tortillas. He also includes dishes that go well with bread and tortillas like soups or salsa. His bread recipes are very different and may include such ingredients as pumpkin seeds, amaranth, figs, or mushrooms! Recently he became a vegan. His photographs are some of the best you’ll see on WordPress and they make his dishes very enticing! I’ve insisted that he is a professional chef on TV but he keeps denying it and I don’t know if I believe him. Gerard has the knack of getting to the heart of my posts which demonstrates itself by the comments he leaves on my posts. His comments are always thought-provoking and positive. Thank you Gerard!

The rules for the Writing Process Tour are the following:

  1. Acknowledge the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the tour’s 4 questions.
  3. Select three others to participate.

 

What am I working on?

Besides this? I continue to work on my body. I still don’t have a 6-pack yet but I’m getting there. I have exercise DVDs that I own and combine them with similar ones from the library which I renew over and over. I recently found one called Lord of the Abs Hard Core. It’s very good despite the corny name. I still do kickboxing and boxing & conditioning exercises. I found a good Pilates for Men DVD recently too. I have found that exercise DVDs for men, instructed by men, are more challenging than woman instructed DVDs. I put all of them in an order so as not to do two weight lifting or kickboxing DVDs back to back and then I workout four times a week. I do other strenuous things like shovel snow or replace my washer hoses which entailed pulling out my washer and dryer. That took five hours and was quite a workout! If you follow my blog, you know why I don’t go to gyms anymore.

I enjoy cooking and baking and am always ready to try a new recipe that I’ve never tried before or a new food. When I’ve come across something good or different, I post the experience on my blog. These posts are relegated to a monthly post called New Food Friday Flash. It used to be called New Food Friday when I had time to include more photos. The “Flash” variety signifies less photos which translates to spending less time on one post. Otherwise, those posts are the same. These are not the only food posts I write about though. By the way, if you are interested in something specific, you can always type in the Search field at the top of my blog!

Recently, I made a loaf of white bread. I know! I never made a loaf of plain white bread before! It turned out great! I also made a pineapple date nut bread. Wow! That came out surprisingly great! I didn’t expect that. I also made onion rye rolls for a second time. These were also very good. So good that I ate them for breakfast with raspberry jam! I know! Sounds gross but it worked! My goal is to find a recipe for a delicious, nutritious, bread or roll that I can make at a moment’s notice. I have not yet found it. Nothing compares to the Italian bread I had growing up in New York. When my sister and I went grocery shopping with our mom, half the loaf was gone by the time we got home!

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My work differs from others in general in that I am a fanatic about not having mistakes on my blog. I double-check everything. I want my posts to read easily and I want it to be easy on the eyes with good white space. I like to back up my writing with some authority on the subject like the NY Times or WebMD, etc. and I will create a link to them so don’t skip over those links! They contain more valuable and/or interesting information. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I’m never completely happy with the results; it can always be better. But….there are only so many hours in the day and at some point I have to say enough already! My blog is different from others’ because I post about things that are good for your health. Everything I post must be advantageous to your health. This includes my audiobook section where I write reviews about great audiobooks. I believe that you need to include entertainment in your life for good health. All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy! Workaholics can burn out and that is not good for your health!

What constitutes a good health recipe? I wrote a post on how to make your own lemon curd. Another blogger asked how that could be good for your health when it is high in cholesterol? (It includes multiple egg yolks.) She didn’t read my post carefully enough because in it I compared my homemade recipe ingredients to the ingredients you would find on labels of store-bought lemon curd. So, yes they all are made with egg yolks, but my recipe didn’t have any artificial ingredients or unnecessary ingredients that you would find in a jar of lemon curd on a store shelf. Anyway, you could always use Eggbeaters in the recipe if you’re worried about cholesterol. One jar of lemon curd is not going to clog your arteries as long as you exercise and eat right! Also, I think I read recently that they don’t think eggs are the cause of high cholesterol as they used to believe. That’s the thing about the experts’ opinions – this week fill in the blank ________ will kill you, next week it will increase your lifespan. I say just eat a variety of foods and do so in moderation. Not to beat a dead horse over the lemon curd issue, (although I think it’s already too late for that), but the one jar I made was the only jar I ever made! That is very typical of my cooking and baking behavior. I crave the challenge of something new or different all the time!

Why do I write what I do?

I grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood and worked in multi-ethnic companies in NYC. I like diversity and it shows in my food choice. I will eat just about anything except bugs. You have to draw the line somewhere. I’ll cook Italian, Mexican, Greek, French, German, Moroccan, you name it, if it piques my interest, I’ll make it. Both my Italian grandmothers were good cooks. My mother cooked plainly: most meats were broiled. Nothing was fried. We ate lots of vegetables. So, these women influenced me. My dad had some special recipes too. His fritattas were legendary. I wrote about it and it was published in Organic Gardening and Farming. English grammar was very important to my mother, probably because her mother couldn’t write English. Apparently that importance was passed on to me.

I want to do what I can to awaken people to better health by making good food selections (I don’t like to use the word diet because it connotes restrictions) and choosing a good exercise program. It is alarming to me that so many are obese in America. Obesity in children is now epidemic in America. We adults have to set a good example for them. But it isn’t just about eating the right foods. Exercise is important too. I’ve been on the exercise band wagon for several decades now so it is firmly ingrained in my psyche. I don’t know if I can fully explain to you what I feel like when I skip a few days. It’s like I avoided a friend. That’s what exercise should be to you – your friend. Do we always love our friend? Hell no! Some days I say, “Not you again!” But once I get started, I’m all warm and fuzzy with my friend again.

How does your writing process work?

Words are my thing. For me it’s like falling off a log. Numbers and finances are another story. My brain turns to molasses when I’m dealing with numbers and finances. I can do it, but I’ll be groaning. Now that I’ve said that, there are some, very few in fact, words that I don’t like. One of them is the word “process.” I don’t know why but it makes me cringe. It must be a throwback from when I worked fulltime for a living. I remember this woman I worked with who was very difficult and would always use the word process. I would prefer to use the word “method” since it’s a word often used in psychology and psych was one of my majors in college….the “scientific method!” So, how does my writing method work?

Well, it’s hardly scientific. Or is it? If the method (steps) can be reproduced with the same results, that would be good scientific method. At least that’s what I vaguely remember from my classes. First, I have to get an idea. I get ideas from everywhere: cooking shows on television, cookbooks from the library, cookbooks at home, recipes online, recipes in magazines, newspapers, cooking segments on talk shows, books about food, foods at the grocery store, recipes in grocery store flyers, the list is endless. Then, I write down the idea.

I have a steno pad near my bed to jot down ideas.

Steno Pad for Night Table Notes

Steno Pad for Night Table Notes

I have post-it notes at the computer to jot down ideas.

Post-it Note Reminder on my Computer

Post-it Note Reminder on my Computer Screen

I have a TO DO list on my memory stick (USB) to jot down ideas.

USB Stick for Notes

USB Memory Stick for Notes

I have a college spiral notebook that I take with me to the library to jot down ideas.

Spiral Bound Notebook for Notes and Reminders

Spiral Bound Notebook for Notes

And then of course there is my brain which sometimes remembers things and sometimes…..

So far I haven’t run out of ideas but the thought does worry me a bit! Finally, I sit down at the computer and write. The stuff just flows out of me. I don’t believe in writer’s block. Sometimes I have word block and that drives me nuts. Sometimes I’ll want a specific word and it just won’t come to me. I can almost taste it! Thank God for Microsoft Word Dictionary Lookup! Those steps cover the food angle of my good health theme (not to be confused with a WordPress Theme).

As far as other topics related to good health, I feel that I can massage just about any topic to focus on the good health angle! Car trouble? Get your car repaired so you don’t get into an accident and therefore can maintain good health. I recently wrote about roundabouts! Wild animals loose in your backyard? Call animal control so you don’t get bitten thereby avoiding rabies or possibly death which is certainly not good for your health! Honestly, I watched a news report recently that showed people in Indiana who keep exotic animals on their property. We have a lot of folks doing this and it seems that some new laws are going to be passed making it safer for the public. Looking at the topic of good health in this way allows me to write on a multitude of topics so I don’t get bored and can continue to follow that challenge of something new or different that I tend to gravitate to.

That’s all there is to my method. I don’t think I left anything out. Questions? Comments? You know what to do!

My nomination for the Writing Process Tour is:

Kelihasablog

Keli writes warmly and about family-oriented topics, poetry, and topics of interest to her. She is also a photographer. Keli is a beautiful woman and a cancer survivor. She has a great sense of humor and puts up with my questions like, “Did you name your blog Kelihasablog after Steven Tyler’s song ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’”? She didn’t, but I can’t get the tune out of my head every time I see her blog.

Thank you for your thoughtful posts and comments. They keep me inspired.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Apple Cake That Thinks it’s a Pie

18 Oct Slice of marcellarousseau apple cake.pie

Sometimes even the health conscious crave a sugary treat. The recipe below is not very sugary and it has a lot of healthful ingredients in it. It’s great for breakfast or dessert with a cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of milk. I would not say it is an easy recipe for a novice baker but if you take your time and read the directions carefully, you may find yourself rewarded with a very delectable cake. Frankly, I have trouble calling this a cake because you slice it like a pie if you bake it in a pie pan. However, the crust is not really like a pie crust. It is like a cake! Whether you call it cake or pie, it’s delicious!

 

The interesting thing about this recipe is that you can put the dough in a cake pan OR a pie pan! I opted for the pie pan. The dough is a “basic” dough that you could also use to make doughnuts or crullers. I won’t be recommending those because you have to fry the dough and that would not be good for your health!

 

What IS good for your health is the milk, eggs, cinnamon, and apples that go into the cake. Butter also goes into this recipe and I’m not one to say butter is bad for your health. You need some fat in your diet! As for the amount of sugar, most cakes call for at least one cup of sugar. There is only ½ cup of sugar in this recipe. You can even feel good about serving your kids a slice.

 

I know your kids will love it but this is a cake fit for company. This is an invite your in-laws for dinner cake. It’s an invite your boss for dinner cake. It’s fancy. If you want to impress someone, this is the cake to do it. It would pass inspection by Julia Child herself. Just so you know!

 

NOTE: The recipe makes enough dough for two cakes. So, only use half of the recipe for the cake, OK?  I missed that point when I made the dough so I ended up freezing the half of the dough that I didn’t use. I’ll be making the cake again with that dough and although my recipe doesn’t say anything about freezing this dough, I think it will be all right.

 

Ingredients for Dough:

 

1/2 cup scalded milk

1/4 cup soft butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten briefly

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 package dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

 

Additional ingredients are listed in the directions below.

 

In a bowl, mix the scalded milk, butter, sugar, and salt. When dissolved, add the beaten egg and vanilla. When ingredients are lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast. Then add the flour a little at a time and form a soft dough. Turn out dough onto counter and knead for several minutes with a little extra flour until it does not stick to hands . Place in a well greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Then, turn the dough out again and knead again one minute. Again, place in a greased bowl and brush top with melted butter and allow to rise until doubled.

Dough rising in my microwave

Basic dough rising

 

Decide if you want to use a 9-inch pie pan or square cake pan and then grease it well. Divide the dough in half, take one half and stretch it to fit the pan bringing it up the sides about 1 inch. Reserve the other half for another pie or save it for another day in the freezer.

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

 

Pare and core about 3 medium-sized apples. Slice them very thin. Arrange as shown in the photo or in a circular pattern. Take special pains to do this because the better you do it, the prettier your finished cake will be. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. See photo.

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

 

Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 slightly beaten egg yolk. Make sure the melted butter is not too hot. You don’t want to scramble the egg yolk! Pour over the apple slices. Let it cake stand about 15 minutes before placing in the oven.

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

 

Bake at 350 degrees 45 – 60 minutes or until crust is brown and apples are soft.

 

You can use apples, peaches, apricots, or plums for this recipe. I think you could also use nectarines or pears. I used Jonamac apples. Jonathan or Winesap would also be good. I used Quick Rise yeast. I bake everything now in my convection toaster oven so I have to adjust the temperature and the time. My cake was browned at 40 minutes but the center was still a little loose. I turned down the oven to 325 degrees. Then at 50 minutes I turned the oven off and left the door ajar. If you know your apples are going to be very juicy, you can sprinkle 3 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs on the stretched out dough before you lay in the apple slices. I didn’t because I like a juicy pie.

My baked apple cake/pie

My baked apple cake/pie

 

This cake tastes best warm. I stored it in the refrigerator covered. When I wanted a slice, I put the slice in the microwave for 20 seconds. It was like it just came out of the oven. You could serve it with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream but I wouldn’t. It would detract from the delicate flavor of the cake.

 

The down side of making this cake is that you have to let it rise 2 times. I’ve made other apple pies that were a lot quicker to make but not as delectable as this cake and not as good for you. Good things come to those who wait!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Quinoa Makes a Good Cookie: Biscotti – New Food Friday Flash

17 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/biscotti-garden-tomatoes-nectarines.jpg

When everyone began talking about quinoa, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour. My mistake. Everyone was talking about the grain and I bought the flour. Undaunted, I found a recipe using the flour. It was terrible. I had to throw it out.

 

Month’s later, while riffling through cookbooks at my local library, I came across a recipe using quinoa flour that sounded good. It was for quinoa biscotti. I had never made biscotti before and it was on my bucket list to do. With those thoughts in mind, quinoa is the new food for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

The original recipe came from the book, Eating in Color. The one alert for this recipe is that it called for 1 3/4 cups quinoa flour. That was not enough flour. Either the author forgot to add another flour to the ingredient list or she got the measurements wrong. I knew right away because the directions said to shape the dough into a loaf and there was no way you could shape this blob of a batter into a loaf. I added some white flour and then some whole wheat flour to the tune of approximately 3/4 – 1 cup additional flour. I had to keep adding flour until I could shape the dough into a long loaf. The whole wheat made the recipe more nutritious. I wouldn’t add more quinoa flour because it has a strong flavor and needs another flour to mellow the flavor a bit in my opinion.

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups quinoa flour

3/4 – 1 cup white and whole wheat flours combined

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil)

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raw almonds toasted, chopped

1/2 cup dried currents (I used golden raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used frozen sweet cherries and dried them myself, it’s cheaper!)

1/4 cup dried cranberries – optional (I had them in the cupboard and thought, why not?)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. (I used my convection-toaster oven.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet so the biscotti cookies don’t stick and for easier cleanup. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Stir in almonds, cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Flour your hands and separate the dough into two halves to form each into an 8″ long loaf on the baking sheet. This is a little messy. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a cutting board. Slice cookies 1/2″ wide on an angle. Using a spatula, carefully transfer biscotti back onto baking sheet, cut side down and bake again 14 minutes or until tops are dry to touch and hard nearly all the way through. They will further harden when cooling.

 

These cookies are hard and that’s the way biscotti are supposed to be. Biscotti cookies are for dunking in a beverage to soften them up. The usual dunking beverages are either coffee or wine. I tried dunking them in coffee but preferred them dunked in wine. I had a rather sweet wine that was a blend of red sweet wines by Barefoot. I like wines that are on the sweet side but this wine was even too sweet for me to drink with a meal. However, it was perfect for dunking the biscotti. So, I recommend a sweeter wine for dunking your biscotti. You could try dunking them in tea, milk, hot chocolate, etc. Experiment!

 

We’ve had a lot of rainy weather and the humidity has been high so after 2 days, my biscotti were not hard anymore and were edible without any dunking. This was when I enjoyed them even more.  I froze them after a few days and they keep well frozen. I have four left. They are a delicious cookie, nutritious and good for you! I hope you try them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Exercise, the Mood Altering Drug

14 Oct Sports Car

Of all the mood-altering drugs available on and off the market, the one I use is free: exercise. The original reason I began exercising was to lift my mood.  Divorce, living in a new town with no family or friends, raising a son on my own, it’s something I faced years ago as many women still do today. I read an article that exercise was good for depression. The author was right. I’ve exercised to keep depression at bay and I’ve never regretted it. Of course, there are other benefits to exercise.

Exercise Promotes Weight Loss and Stamina

When you’re overweight it’s difficult to feel energetic. Carrying around all that excess weight baggage is tiring. Exercise helps people lose weight and keep it off. I lost over 20 pounds exercising and my original goal as I mentioned above wasn’t weight loss! I don’t want to put that weight back on and that motivates me to continue exercising. Not only that, but I have tremendous energy, even after I work out. I find that the more I do, the more I CAN do!

And speaking of can do, as a homeowner, I can find plenty of things to do. I mow my lawn, wash and wax my car, do housework, shovel snow off my driveway, paint, putty, plant trees, and so on. I like being independent and doing these things myself. Exercising keeps me limber and helps me get these jobs done. When I’ve completed a painting job that includes puttying and or Spackling, my body doesn’t ache all over because my muscles are accustomed to being used – and I’m no spring chicken!

When you compare the benefits of exercising, even on days when you don’t feel up to it, to sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching TV, can you really ignore all the benefits you’d derive from exercising? It doesn’t mean that I never buy a bag of chips to eat when I watch TV. But when I do, I buy tortilla chips that aren’t fried or are made in a healthful way and I don’t buy the biggest bag out there! On the other hand, I enjoy a nice cold, crunchy, juicy, apple with peanut butter just as much and it’s much better for me without the guilt!

Exercise Reduces the Need for Medications and Doctor Visits

They’re saying that the older generation is hell-bent on exercising and following a healthful diet because they want to live “forever.” I don’t want to live forever but I want to live healthfully until I die, even if I die tomorrow. I am motivated to exercise so I can stay off medications, set up only wellness visits to my doctors, and enjoy an active lifestyle until the day I die.

Exercise and Mediterranean Diet Dodge Cancer

Several years ago when my sister went for a checkup, she happened to mention me to her doctor. The doctor said, “If she’s 65 and hasn’t had any cancer, she’s doing very well!” I exercise and follow the Mediterranean diet to avoid getting cancer  and it’s been working for me so far.

Treat Your Body Like a New Car

Think of it this way if it helps, treat yourself like a new car. Would you put inferior gas in your new car? You wouldn’t abuse your car that way. Yet you would abuse your body with junk food! Why would you treat your car, a hunk of metal, plastic, paint, glass, and textiles, better than your body? Would you allow the tires to go flat, skip oil changes, and ignore other maintenance necessary to keep your car running smoothly? Your car can’t take you where you want to go if you ignore the necessary upkeep. The same is true of your body.

Death Becomes Her

When we were kids growing up in the neighborhood, we thought it was cool to say, “Live fast, die young, and have a good-looking corpse.” Well, my living fast days are over; it’s too late for me to die young, but I think I still have a shot at having a good-looking corpse. Not that I’m in any hurry.

If this and all pep talks don’t motivate you to exercise and watch your diet, see your doctor to find out why.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

How Do They Know When You Are Actually Dead?

13 Oct Biotech

The debate over when life begins hampers research in embryonic stem cell research, but can harvesting cells from a dead body solve this debate or will it start a new one?

 

Scientists in France discovered that some stem cells can lay dormant for more than two weeks in a dead person and then be revived to divide into new, functioning cells. Furthermore, skeletal muscle stem cells can survive for 17 days. It may be ghoulish to think about, but when is dead really dead? If these cells continue to live after a person is pronounced dead, it makes me wonder what else continues to live when one is six feet under.

 

Olga Shustova, a morbid anatomist says there is a hypothesis that cerebellum cells, known as the Purkinje cells, can remain active within four days after a person’s death.

 

When Life Begins vs. When Life Ends

If scientists and researchers are still discovering cells that live on after a body is dead, what might they discover in the future? We’re all familiar with the hot debate over when life begins, but perhaps we need to look more carefully at when life ends.

 

What Else Lives On in a Dead Body?

Tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, HIV and diarrheal diseases can last up to two days in a dead body (except for HIV, which may survive up to six days). I don’t know how long or if Ebola can live on in a dead body but that is certainly an important question considering the current world events.

 

Embryonic Stem Cells

Most of the current methods used to harvest embryonic stem cells destroy the embryo and this poses the moral dilemma for some: do you sacrifice a life to save a life? Harvesting usable cells from a dead body suggests that such cells can help extend the life of patients with, for example, cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.

 

The Dead’s Stem Cells

If there is less of a moral dilemma or none at all while using a dead person’s stem cells, it could have enormous potential for repairing damaged organs, or testing new drugs. But how will that be accomplished when there is already a shortage of bodies donated to medical science? Students in medical schools share cadavers among four or more other students because of this shortage.

 

Using stem cells from dead bodies may resolve the issue of using embryonic stem cells but there are still hurdles to overcome. Scientists must tread lightly on the dead assuming they are actually dead when their stem cells are harvested.

 

*This post was originally published on Yahoo but I’ve added some updates.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Projects to Get You Off the Grid – REVIEW

12 Oct Flying books

As a homeowner and vegetable gardener, I have an interest in greenhouses and cold frames. I wanted to know more about them, so I picked up a copy of Projects to Get You Off the Grid edited by Noah Weinstein, copyrighted in 2013, which had a photo of a do-it-yourself greenhouse on the cover along with photos of do-it-yourself chicken coops, solar panels, and more. These projects are all from Instructables.com, the most project-sharing community on the Internet. Instructables has over 80,000 projects covering all subjects.

 

I was blown away by the ingenuity of the authors of these projects. Each project is written and photographed by the builder of the project. Here is a list of the projects in the book, some of which are authored by women:

 

  • Backyard chicken Coop
  • Clipping chicken wings
  • Chicken tractor for the city dweller
  • Chicken barrow
  • Wine barrel rain water collector
  • Roughneck (plastic trash can) rain barrel
  • Green solar-powered water barrel
  • Rainwater collection and distribution system
  • 1000 watt wind turbine
  • Wind turbine
  • Chispito wind generator
  • Thermoelectric lamp
  • 60 watt solar panel
  • Solar power system
  • PV solar panels
  • Solar lawn mower
  • Solar-powered fountain/herb garden
  • Solar PV tracker
  • Greenhouse from old windows
  • Bioreactor from recycled water bottles

 

Most projects have several entries. So, for example, there are four different rain barrel projects in this book, each one more elaborate than the next. Unfortunately for me, there was only one greenhouse project. Still, these do-it-yourself experts’ stories can give you great ideas! The editor suggests you visit the Instructables’ online page where you will find more images, links, multimedia attachments, and downloadable material to help you. Other available volumes are: Extraordinary Projects for Ordinary People and How to Do Absolutely Everything.

 

Projects to Get You Off the Grid is nothing if not fascinating! The do-it-yourselfers write about their mistakes too so that you don’t make the same ones. They list the tools and materials you need for each project. Some also show them in a photo or diagram. Some of these projects took the authors several years to build because they scavenged for discarded and scrapped materials! This was the case for the greenhouse.

 

I just love people who use their ingenuity to create something useful or to solve a problem. Anyone who has success with projects like these has a feeling of satisfaction and pride. Each completed project is a good self-esteem booster. And anything that boosts your self esteem is good for your health.

 

***** 5 stars

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 441 other followers

%d bloggers like this: