Sunday, September 28, 2008

Healthy Eating With Quinoa (keen-wah) and more solar oven experiments.

Started experimenting with quinoa this week after reading how the over-60 crowd doesn't tend to get enough protein in their diet. I've been buying quinoa in very small quantities for a while, but I never really made the attempt to add it to our diet in a big way prior to this week.

"Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and followed in third place by maize. In contemporary times this crop has come to be highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source.[5] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten free and considered easy to digest."
Wikipedia on Quinoa.

Made a variation of Quinoa and Black Beans for lunch one day this week as a test to see if Em liked it. I added cayenne, among a bunch of other things based on what I had on hand, and Em likes anything with a little kick to it. A few days later, I made a variation of Shrimp and Quinoa again adding cayenne and substituting cilantro for parsley. We liked the big flavors. This morning, I made myself a breakfast of quinoa, crushed almonds, homemade yogurt, and dried apple. VERY tasty, so I'm sure quinoa will now play a larger role in our diet.

The most I've used for a meal has been 1/2 cup dry seeds for a main course and even going back for seconds, we had a little leftover. For breakfast, I used 1/4 cup.

Friday was Em's first day back to work for this season, and I made a potroast in the sun oven for his before-work meal.


Friday was the first non-cloudy day of the weekSUPPOSED to be the first non-cloudy day of the week. I left the roast out for 3.5 hours because the sun kept going behind a huge rain-type-cloud. I'd scheduled a loaf of bread for Friday, as well, but had to use a different baking method because the roast was in the casserole dish that I use for bread baking.


I'd purchased some new gadgets this past week while ordering dough enhancer. Here's one of them:


I used it to slice the bread after it cooled and would have told everyone to save their money - It was THAT difficult to use, requiring holding the sides, the back, AND the loaf while simultaneously trying to cut the bread. Turns out I'd put it together incorrectly and Em could see where I went wrong, so I corrected my error and it's now extremely solid. :-)

Baked the bread for several hours, but it wasn't quite done with the sun hiding behind those clouds all afternoon. The bottom pie crust on that frozen pie I made last week wasn't quite done, either, for the same reason. Both problems were corrected with a short time in the house oven.

My flour is quite old, but I'm trying to use it all up (at least the whole wheat) before I start grinding my own wheat. Should only be a week or two of baking bread at least once/week before that happens.

Did you know you could take your own picture while baking?

Photobucket :-)

Here's another TV ad that's almost ready for prime-time:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Solar Cooking Experiments and some miscellaneous.

We're experiencing a bit of a summer redux this week, so it's too hot to bake indoors. Today's experiments include cornish game hens followed by a frozen Sara Lee Dutch Apple Pie.

Got the hens ready by 10am.

Stopped for lunch at noon (liversausage sandwich on home-made bread) with fruit. Em teased me again for taking a picture of my food.

Took the roast out at 1:30pm.

Put the pie in at 1:40pm.

It wasn't done until 5pm, having spent the good part of 2 hours just defrosting.

Everything looks really tasty and I can barely wait for our dinner hour. Shorter days are already noticeable, so I'll need to start earlier in the day to get the day's cooking done before sunset.

In the miscellaneous department, I've added a link to the sidebar for The American Chemistry Council. Not gonna keep the link permanently, but right now they're offering a quiz that we can all take where for every correct answer they'll donate water cleaning chemicals to some towns in Africa. It's like "Free Rice" in that regard, but unlike "Free Rice", they stop donating after spending something like $200,000 on this water cleanliness (and the link gets deleted).

Also in the misc dept, I'm growing particularly fond of extolling videos created by nobody in particular when I think they're well done AND agree with their message. Here's the latest:

True Leader from iocomposer on Vimeo.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The weather's been beautiful lately, but we still haven't been out to get the garden going. We took advantage of Em's last few weeks off before the fall racing season starts and drove to Louisiana for some gaming. Caught colds while there and have been nursing them for over a week. Just when it seems like they're gone, we start sneezing and start the cycle all over again.

The solar oven experiments have continued, however. I had a huge mess one evening from some country ribs I'd left to bake while we went to a movie. Every other rib turned out to be almost total fat and while I'd thought to raise the ribs above fat that would bake off, the pan I chose wasn't so deep as to not overflow. No more pig fat in the solar oven! That was so disgusting that I'd say something like, "No more pig fat AT ALL", except we like pork on occasion and I'd just be lying.

The oven cleaned up easily enough and the next day I baked wheat/oatmeal bread, moving on to try a new meatloaf recipe the following day.


No way the solar oven would get to 400 degrees, so (as usual), I just increased the time. Seems like most everything gets done in 2 hours in the solar oven. It's not for meals needed ASAP, but it's great for retired people, as the food won't burn if you forget about it. The worst that can happen is that it'll dry out.

My favorite thrift store sent an Email about another 50% off clothing sale, so Em and I drove over there yesterday. Now that school's back in session, with the demands placed on her by her internship program, No. 1 is too busy to shop. We wear the same size now, though, so have started clothes sharing. I tried on some jeans she would have absolutely loved, but they were a little too small. We're at that size now where the 8s are too small, but the 10s are too big. I did find a neat pair of jeans in size 9, but, overall, the thrift store tends to carry the even sizes over the odd.

Got a few long-sleeved shirts for winter, the above-mentioned jeans, a pair of slacks, a few pair of bigger shorts, a few short-sleeved shirts, and a replacement casino purse. I don't usually carry a purse, but appreciate a small over-the-shoulder number when we go gaming. No. 1 had leant me one of hers a few years back, but it broke up recently. The thrift-store was crazy busy; we couldn't even find a parking space in the lot.

After the thrift store, we stopped at Fiesta Mart. Fiesta has better prices on produce than our local stores, better prices on their own brands of some items, and carries some things (like andouille) that our local stores don't. Stocked up on some staples and bought lots of fresh fruit. Seems like the old $1.00 is now $1.29.

Like many others, we've been closely following this year's presidential election and even participating on occasion. Time's come to step up that participation, making more phone calls and knocking on doors. While the selection of Palin brought some much-needed life to the McCain campaign, the women energized seem to be from the Republican base. No. 1 works with some of these women in her internship program. "They think it's wonderful that the Vice Presidential candidate doesn't believe in birth control (I'm not so sure she doesn't) and think that a Downs Syndrome baby is SO MUCH MORE SPECIAL than a normal baby." No. 1 can Imagine the strain on the social system if this ideology trickles down to the poor and homeless.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Drill, Drill, Drill (by Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for 'The Vagina Monologues')

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.

But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.

I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.

Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, 'It was a task from God.'

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.

She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.

Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.

Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.

Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.

I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.

If the polar bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, 'Drill Drill Drill.' I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?

Eve Ensler September 5, 2008 Update: Thank you, Anonymous; I appreciate the fact-checking.

However, "From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library" is not to suggest that there was any truth to the list of books purportedly intended as targets that showed up on the internet one day. It's only to suggest that she approached the Wasilla librarian asking how to go about banning books and the librarian told her she wouldn't ban ANY books. Then, the librarian was fired for not supporting her, but the town complained and rallied to the defense of the librarian who was rehired.

I've not found anything about the particular gun she shoots, but the wolf kills don't look like urban legends to me.