27 December 2007

Pepperoni Bread

New Year's Eve coming up and an appetizer is needed. Super Bowl party on the horizon? Something simple to bring or have on hand is pepperoni bread. If you are so inclined, you can make your own dough, but this is just as good using frozen bread dough. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and it will be ready for baking the next day.


The amount of dough I have listed is the size my store carried. It contained 5 loaves that equaled approximately 2 pounds in total. So I ended up with 5 loaves of pepperoni bread. If your store carries differing sizes, use your judgement on the amounts of pepperoni, garlic powder and cheese. You don't want so much that the filling oozes out while baking, but you want enough so that people get a bit of each in every slice. You can brush the top with egg wash, but it isn't needed. I don't. You can also use regular pepperoni and substitute whatever cheese(s) you wish. For that matter, you could use salami or any other pre-cooked meat you choose.



2 pounds frozen bread dough
10 ounces turkey pepperoni, slices
8 ounces italian cheese blend, shredded
2 teaspoons garlic powder


1. Roll out or flatten loaves of bread.

2. Sprinkle a little of the garlic powder across the flattened dough.

3. Sprinkle some of the cheese on the dough, leaving about a 1/2" on each end and side.

4. Place slices of pepperoni on top of the cheese.



5. Now roll the bread, lengthwise. You can either roll so you have a pinwheel or bring one side of the dough to the middle and then the other side, then seal.



6. Now seal the ends.




7. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray. Place dough, seam side down on sheet tray. Spray the top of the dough with non-stick spray. Place plastic wrap over and let sit for 30 minutes.


8. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.


9. Allow to cool before slicing.



Calories:
202 kcal

% Calories from Fat: 30
% Calories from Carbs: 46
% Calories from Protein: 24
Total Fat (g): 7
Saturated Fat (g): 2
Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0
Polyunsaturated Fat (g): trace
Cholesterol (mg): 27
Sodium (mg): 615
Potassium (mg): 3
Total Carbohydrates (g): 22
Dietary Fiber (g): 2
Protein (g): 12
Calcium (mg): 81
Iron (mg): trace
Zinc (mg): trace
Vitamin C (mg): trace
Vitamin A (IU): 128
Vitamin A (RE): 0
Vitamin B6 (mg): trace
Vitamin B12 (mcg): 0
Thiamin (mg): trace
Riboflavin (mg): trace
Folacin (mcg): trace
Niacin (mg): trace



Food Exchanges:
Starch/Bread: 0
Lean Meat: 0
Vegetable: 0
Fruit: 0
Non-Fat Milk: 0
Fat: 0
Other Carbs: 0

19 December 2007

Raspberry Coulis

The term 'coulis' is French for strained liquid. You can make a savory or sweet coulis. A coulis is typically made from either fruits or vegetables and is thick with a smooth and creamy texture. As with any type of sauce, it is used to enhance the flavor as well as to add color to the plate, giving a more sophisticated presentation. Drizzled or pooled next to a dessert or main dish, it will certainly add a 'pop' to your plate. Adding a tablespoon of corn syrup will give the coulis a beautiful shine. I do not use corn syrup as I am against high fructose corn syrup in any application, but that is a rant for another time.

If you don't wish a raspberry coulis, substitute whichever fruit you prefer.


16 ounces pureed raspberries, strained
2 1/2 ounces Granulated sugar
1/2 fluid ounce lemon juice


1. Combine the strained fruit purée with the sugar. Add as much lemon juice as needed to balance the flavor of the sauce. Heat to dissolve sugar.

2. Serve warm or cold.


Calories: 41 kcal
% Calories from Fat: 3
% Calories from Carbs: 94
% Calories from Protein: 3
Total Fat (g): trace
Saturated Fat (g): trace
Monounsaturated Fat (g): trace
Polyunsaturated Fat (g): trace
Cholesterol (mg): 0
Sodium (mg): 1
Potassium (mg): 77
Total Carbohydrates (g): 10
Dietary Fiber (g): 1
Protein (g): trace
Calcium (mg): 7
Iron (mg): trace
Zinc (mg): trace
Vitamin C (mg): 26
Vitamin A (IU): 13
Vitamin A (RE): 1.5
Vitamin B6 (mg): trace
Vitamin B12 (mcg): 0
Thiamin (mg): trace
Riboflavin (mg): trace
Folacin (mcg): 8
Niacin (mg): trace

Food Exchanges
Starch/Bread: 0
Lean Meat: 0
Vegetable: 0
Fruit: 0
Non-Fat Milk: 0
Fat: 0
Other Carbs: 0.5

Raspberry Sauce

Making a fresh fruit sauce is simple as can be, not to mention it is tastier and far healthier than anything you can buy. You can substitute and equal amount of whatever fruit and perform the same steps. Some fruits will take longer, some will go quicker. You may need to add more or less sugar depending upon your taste. If you prefer honey over sugar, use the same amount. I've not used any sugar substitutes so I am not sure how they will react. I just cannot get past the chemical taste of sugar substitutes.

Using a squeeze bottle makes for an easier time when decorating a plate. Squeeze a dot or several dots, drag a toothpick through to make designs, or just squeeze the sauce out into a design. Depending upon how long you simmer the sauce, it will not be super thick and will spread, so wait until just before service to decorate.

Fruit sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. You can also freeze the sauce.

2 pints fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar


1. Cook fruit over medium heat with the sugar until juices are released and the sugar is dissolved. This does take a little time, but once the fruit begins to release its juices, you can take a small wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula and begin to mash the fruits, which will shorten the cooking time a bit.

2. Allow to simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will have some reduction, which is good as this makes for a thicker sauce.

3. Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth. I do this by cutting off a large piece of cheesecloth and doubling it. Then I either get a sauce pot with handles. Tie the cheesecloth to the handles and then pour the sauce in, and allow to drip through, leaving the pulp and seeds behind.

*It is a good idea to rinse your cheesecloth first to get the residue off. This will give you a cleaner looking sauce.

The nutritional analysis is for 1 serving. This recipe will make 4 servings.

Calories: 86 kcal
% Calories from Fat: 6
% Calories from Carbs: 89
% Calories from Protein: 5
Total Fat (g): 1
Saturated Fat (g): 0
Monounsaturated Fat (g): trace
Polyunsaturated Fat (g): trace
Cholesterol (mg): 0
Sodium (mg): trace
Potassium (mg): 193
Total Carbohydrates (g): 21
Dietary Fiber (g): 9
Protein (g): 1
Calcium (mg): 28
Iron (mg): 1
Zinc (mg): 1
Vitamin C (mg): 32
Vitamin A (IU): 165
Vitamin A (RE): 16.5
Vitamin B6 (mg): 0.1
Vitamin B12 (mcg): 0
Thiamin (mg): 0
Riboflavin (mg): 0.1
Folacin (mcg): 33
Niacin (mg): 1

Food Exchanges
Starch/Bread: 0
Lean Meat: 0
Vegetable: 0
Fruit: 1
Non-Fat Milk: 0
Fat: 0
Other Carbs: 0.5

18 December 2007

Chocolate Sauce

Use a good quality chocolate like Vahlrona, Scharffen Berger, or Guittard (many others, but these are my favorites). There is a huge difference in these chocolates which you will notice. Allow a chocolate, any chocolate to just melt on your palate. Pay attention to the mouth feel. Vahlrona leaves you with a clean palate, the typical grocery store chocolate leaves a waxy film.

If you cannot find one of the premium chocolates, the others will do, as this is what most people are used to eating, but if you really want to wow them with flavor, sometimes you get what you pay for.



1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate or white chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine milk and sugar in heavy-bottom saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Add small pieces of chocolate, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes, until sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and add butter, stir until melted, add vanilla extract. Liqueur may be added if desired.

Per Serving (8 servings)
115 Calories
6g Fat (44.6% calories from fat)
1g Protein
16g Carbohydrate
0g Dietary Fiber
6mg Cholesterol
24mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Non-Fat Milk
1 Fat
1 Other Carbohydrates

Crème Anglaise or Vanilla Custard Sauce

I love Crème Anglaise. You can use it as a sauce of course, but the best part is you can make it into ice cream. Any of the sauce that is leftover, you can put in a container, stick in the fridge, and once frozen, voila, you have vanilla ice cream. Better than any vanilla ice cream I've bought in the store.


1 quart half and half
1 whole vanilla bean, split
12 whole egg yolk, whole
10 ounces Granulated sugar


1. Using a heavy nonreactive saucepan, bring the half-and-half and vanilla bean just to a boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Temper the egg mixture with approximately one-third of the hot half-and-half, and then return the entire mixture to the saucepan with the remaining half-and-half. (if you don't temper to bring the egg yolks to the same temperature as the hot mixture, you will have scrambled eggs, and that's just not attractive as a dessert)

3. Cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow the sauce to boil.

4. As soon as the sauce thickens, remove it from the heat and pour it through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Chill the sauce over an ice bath, then cover and keep refrigerated. The sauce should last 3 to 4 days.

Per Serving (20-2 ounce servings):
154 Calories
9g Fat (49.9% calories from fat)
3g Protein
16g Carbohydrate
0g Dietary Fiber
145mg Cholesterol
24mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Lean Meat
0 Non-Fat Milk
1 1/2 Fat
1 Other Carbohydrates

17 December 2007

Bitter Chocolate Tart

This could be served atop a simple creme anglaise, or a white chocolate sauce, but would go magnificently with a raspberry coulis or raspberry sauce. A simple piping of freshly whipped cream on top with a few fresh raspberries, maybe some white chocolate shavings and then topped with a brandy snap or tuile cookie and you'll have a most elegant dessert that was really quite simple to execute.

Since I have mentioned the creme anglais, white chocolate sauce, raspberry coulis, raspberry sauce, brandy snap, and tuile, I guess I know what I'll be posting tomorrow.

Pastry:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces, chilled
¼ cup sweet dessert wine

Filling:
1 ½ cups heavy cream
10 ½ ounces extra bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (if you cannot find the extra bittersweet or do not like the extra bittersweet, regular bittersweet will work)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed
1 tablespoon vanilla

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. To make the pastry, combine the flour, salt, powdered sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse two or three times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the machine running, pour in the wine and process until the dough comes together. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and gently press into a disk. Wrap tightly and refrigerate 30 minutes. (See notes at end).

2. Butter a 10" fluted tart pan. Roll the dough out between sheets of plastic wrap to a 12" circle about ¼" thick.

3. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line the tart pan with the dough. Refrigerate until chilled and then trim the excess. (See notes at end).

4. Prick the shell and bake the tart shell for 12 minutes or just until set. Set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° F. (See notes at end).

5. To make the filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir to melt. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool for 20 minutes.

6. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and egg yolk together. Whisk the cocoa and eggs into the chocolate mixture, then whisk in the crushed anise seeds and anisette. Pour the filling into the tart shell, bake for 15 minutes or just until the filling forms a shiny skin, and is slightly firm, but still loose at the center.

7. Cool the tart for 15 minutes on a rack, then remove the sides of the pan and cool completely.

8. To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, beat the powdered sugar with the milk and vanilla to a thin, pourable consistency; add a few more drops of milk if needed. Drizzle over the cooled tart with the glaze. Allow the glaze to harden before service.

*Notes*
The reason you wrap the pastry dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes is to get the butter chilled once again, but to also allow the glutens to relax. Flour contains gluten and the more it is worked, the bigger these strands get. This results in a tough product, whether bread dough, tart dough, or pie dough. Allowing the butter to chill helps you to achieve a flaky crust. As the liquid in the butter turns to steam and evaporates, the dough surrounding that particular piece of butter puffs a bit, giving you the desired flaky texture.

The reason you line your pan with the dough, allow to chill, and then trim is that as the glutens relax, they shrink. If you trim your crust to fit the pan and then chill or immediately bake, it will shrink, resulting in a crust that does not reach the rim of your pan or wherever you had initially wanted the crust to reach.

Pricking the shell is called docking. This allows the steam to escape from the tart shell while keeping the tart shell from puffing too much, as it should be flush with the pan.


Per Serving (8 servings):
669 Calories
52g Fat (66.0% calories from fat)
9g Protein
51g Carbohydrate
7g Dietary Fiber
170mg Cholesterol
175mg Sodium

Exchanges:
2 Grain(Starch)
1/2 Lean Meat
0 Non-Fat Milk
10 Fat
1 1/2 Other Carbohydrates

(Substituting the heavy cream for light whipping cream will save you about 20 calories and 2 grams of fat. Leaving off the glaze will save you approximately 100 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates. To save on calories, this is the way I would go. A rich dessert such as this, deserves the richness of the heavy cream)

15 December 2007

Sweet Potato Soup with Lobster & Orange Crème Fraîche

This is a most decadent soup and excellent for a first course. Despite how it may sound, it is deceptively simple to make and will certainly wow your guests.

Both the crème fraîche and soup can be made up to 2 days ahead. Just make sure to cover and refrigerate them each separately.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons orange peel, grated
10 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, cut 1/2" thick
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 large leeks, chopped, white and pale green parts only
1 1/3 cups celery, finely diced
10 cups low sodium chicken broth(may need more for thinning the soup to your preferred thickness)
1 1/3 cups orange juice
3 pounds lobster tails
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

To make crème fraîche:

Mix cream, sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger and orange peel in medium bowl to blend. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, about 3 hours. Cover and refrigerate.

Making the Soup:

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add sweet potatoes and sugar and toss to coat. Pour sweet potatoes out onto 2 baking sheets. Roast until very tender and beginning to brown, stir occasionally, about 30 minutes.

2. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium heat. Add leeks, celery and remaining ginger. Sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add roasted sweet potatoes and sauté 2 minutes. Add 10 cups broth and orange juice. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until leeks and celery are very tender, about 20 minutes.

3. Working in batches, puree soup in processor. Return soup to pot. Thin with more broth, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Remove lobster meat from shells. Slice into 1/3" thick medallions. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add lobster; sauté until heated through, about 1 minute.

5. Bring soup to simmer. Ladle into bowls. Spoon small dollops of crème fraîche atop soup. Draw a toothpick or skewer through crème fraîche to form design. Arrange lobster on top of the soup and Sprinkle with parsley.

This soup is just as good without the lobster. If you leave out the lobster, your calories drop to 342, lose 1g of fat, protein drops to 12g, lose 1g of carbs, cholesterol drops to 57mg and sodium drops to 570mg. In your exchanges, lean meat drops to 1, while all others stay the same.

Per Serving (12 servings):
444 Calories
20g Fat (44.6% calories from fat)
33g Protein
33g Carbohydrate
3g Dietary Fiber
165mg Cholesterol
905mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1 1/2 Grain(Starch)
4 Lean Meat
1/2 Vegetable
0 Fruit
0 Non-Fat Milk
4 Fat
0 Other Carbohydrates

Because of all the goodies in this soup, I'm adding a few other bits of nutritional data:
134mg Calcium (13% of your RDA)
39 mg Vitamin C (65% of your RDA)
63 mcg Folacin (16% of your RDA)
4 mg Zinc (28% of your RDA)

13 December 2007

Butterscotch bars

Love me some butterscotch bars (as does everyone else who has ever tried them). These are always a big hit at potluck type dinners with friends and family.

Very simple to make and they are so rich, you could probably cut 32 pieces instead of 16 and everyone would be just fine with that, unless of course you have someone with a super sweet tooth. These are seriously rich, even with the fat-free milk and 1/3 less fat cream cheese. I'll give the nutritional analysis for both types as well as for 32 and 16.

Yeah, yeah, I know they aren't organic and there is nothing remotely good for you about these things, but every now and again, we need a little something sweet.

10 ounces butterscotch chips
1/2 cup butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 ounces cream cheese - 1/3 less fat
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
14 ounces fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 cup pecan halves, crushed


1. Preheat oven to 325.

2. Put the butterscotch chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. When melted, add the graham crackers. Set aside 2/3 cup. Press the graham cracker/butterscotch mix into the bottom of a 13x9x2 baking pan coated with non-stick spray.

3. In seperate bowl, beat the cream cheese till smooth. Add the milk, egg, and vanilla. Beat until mixed well. Add pecans and mix some more.

4. Pour this on top of the crust mixture in the baking pan. After you have smoothed it out, take the reserve 2/3 cup of the crust mixture and sprinkle over the cream cheese mixture.

5. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.

6. Store in fridge.

Per Serving (16 servings):
320 Calories
15g Fat (42.6% calories from fat)
5g Protein
42g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
39mg Cholesterol
219mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1/2 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
0 Non-Fat Milk
2 1/2 Fat
2 Other Carbohydrates

Per Serving (16 servings-full fat version):
344 Calories
19g Fat (49.3% calories from fat)
5g Protein
40g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
53mg Cholesterol
207mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1/2 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
4 Fat
2 Other Carbohydrates

Per Serving (32 servings):
160 Calories
8g Fat (42.6% calories from fat)
2g Protein
21g Carbohydrate
trace Dietary Fiber
19mg Cholesterol
110mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1/2 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
0 Non-Fat Milk
1 Fat
1 Other Carbohydrates

Per Serving (32 servings-full fat version):
172 Calories
10g Fat (49.3% calories from fat)
2g Protein
20g Carbohydrate
trace Dietary Fiber
26mg Cholesterol
103mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1/2 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
2 Fat
1 Other Carbohydrates

12 December 2007

Arugula and Prosciutto Salad

Arugula is an aromatic, peppery salad green and is very popular in Italian cuisine. It grows wild in Asia and all over the entire Mediterranean. In Roman times arugula was grown for both its leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavoring oils. Arugula is more than just a salad green and can be sauteed or cooked in many other ways.

The making of prosciutto dates back 2000 years. True prosciutto, Prosciutto di Parma, has the DOP label. You will know it by the trademarked ducal crown. The ham is aged for at least 10-12 months and there is only one ingredient used in the treatment and curing and that is salt. This is why Prosciutto di Parma is an absolutely natural product that manages to be delicious, easily digestible and nutritional all at once.

Arugula and Prosciutto Salad

1 large bunch arugula (about 4 cups) - you can substitute with spinach
8 thin slices Prosciutto (about 4 ounces), cut in 1/2-inch wide strips
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

In a large bowl, combine arugula, Prosciutto, cheese and pine nuts. Toss gently with salad dressing to coat completely. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a cup whisk olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt until blended.

Per Serving (8 - 1/2 cup Servings):
85 Calories
6g Fat (60.9% calories from fat)
7g Protein
2g Carbohydrate
trace Dietary Fiber
14mg Cholesterol
537mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Grain(Starch)
1 Lean Meat
0 Vegetable
0 Fruit
1/2 Fat
0 Other Carbohydrates.

11 December 2007

Quick Angel Hair Pasta with tomatoes and basil

Looking for something quick, easy, and healthy? By simply changing the chicken stock to vegetable stock, you can have a tasty vegetarian meal, well, except for the cheese.

Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which I discuss here and here . Of course, there are many more places on the Internet where you can find information on lycopene.

Distender, godere di e mangiare nella buona salute

1 pound Angel Hair, uncooked
3 tablespoons olive oil, prefer extra-virgin
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 cups tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon basil
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes. Add hot pasta to skillet; toss well. Add chicken broth and stir. Toss with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.



Per Serving (6 servings):
397 Calories
10g Fat (22.0% calories from fat)
13g Protein
65g Carbohydrate
4g Dietary Fiber
3mg Cholesterol
365mg Sodium

Exchanges:
4 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
1 1/2 Vegetable
1 1/2 Fat

09 December 2007

Duckbreast Salad with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Yummm, yummm, duck breast. This is certainly not something someone on Weight Watchers would want to fix for lunch, but you Atkins people, you are gonna love this. Not really in a typeative mood, so I'll just jump right to the recipe.


2 12-ounce whole boneless duck breasts (350 g)

MARINADE:
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons green onions, minced
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

HAZELNUT VINAIGRETTE:
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 ounces hazelnut oil
3 ounces walnut or light olive oil
1 tablespoon chives, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 ounces mixed baby greens
2 ounces hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped coarse


Per Serving (4 servings):
923 Calories
95g Fat (91.8% calories from fat)
16g Protein
3g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
93mg Cholesterol
135mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Grain(Starch)
2 Lean Meat
1/2 Vegetable
0 Fruit
17 1/2 Fat
0 Other Carbohydrates

1. Trim the excess fat from the duck breasts and separate the breasts into halves.

2. Combine the marinade ingredients. Thoroughly coat the duck with the marinade and marinate for at least 2 hours.

3. Combine the hazelnut vinaigrette ingredients at least 2 hours before service so that the flavors will develop.

4. Wipe the marinade from the breasts and sauté them, skin side down first, in a dry sauté pan until medium rare, approximately 2 1/2 minutes per side. Do not overcook.

5. Arrange a mixture of baby greens on 4 plates. Slice the breasts on the diagonal and arrange on the plates with the greens. Drizzle the hazelnut vinaigrette over the greens, sprinkle with hazelnuts and serve.

07 December 2007

Blueberry Scones

Scones are a traditional Scottish quick bread. The UK scones are typically less sweet compared to the US adaption. I like them both.

I love scones. For breakfast, a snack, with some coffee, and if I liked hot tea, I'd have them with tea too.

If you prefer, omit the blueberries altogether or add raisins instead. Use your imagination. Cranberries, cherries, whatev. Play around with it. You want to add dried apple and cinnamon, great choice, but be careful about adding extra liquids or too much in the way of extra dry ingredients as this will throw off the formula. 2 or 3 teaspoons of cinnamon or nutmeg is fine though.


1 pound All-purpose flour
1 1/2 ounces Granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Baking soda
1 teaspoon Salt
4 ounces Unsalted butter, cold
2 Egg yolks
11 fluid ounces half and half
4 ounces blueberries

1. Sift the dry ingredients together, making sure they are blended thoroughly, then add blueberries.
2. Cut in the butter. The mixture should look mealy; do not overmix.
3. Add the milk and stir, combining only until the mixture holds together.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface; knead until it forms one mass, approximately five or six kneadings.
5. Roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 1/2 inch (1.2 centimeters). Cut as desired.
6. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for approximately 10 minutes.
7. Brush the tops with butter while hot.

Per Serving (1 scone):
136 Calories
6g Fat (40.2% calories from fat)
3g Protein
18g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
33mg Cholesterol
210mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
0 Fruit
0 Non-Fat Milk
1 Fat
0 Other Carbohydrates

Now, if you prefer, use Fat-Free Half and Half. Your calories will drop to 127 and fat drops to 4g. You will lose 1g of protein and the cholesterol will drop to 28g. Sodium rises to 218.

06 December 2007

Biscotti

I guess the apple truly doesn't fall far from the tree. My 9yo would like to do an edible book report for school. She does enjoy cooking, so far it's been sauteeing things or baking cookies. She loves biscotti though and has chosen to do this book report by herself. Biscotti originated in Italy. They are twice-baked cookies served with coffee, wine or other beverages. This twice-baked process ensures that the cookies will have a long-lasting firm, crisp texture.

It's easy enough, no yeast or proofing involved. Following this recipe is the variation for chocolate biscotti. This recipe makes 3 dozen. Sealed in some type of air-tight container, they will last quite awhile, but if you are a coffee drinker, probably not that long. If you do gift baskets for Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, or any that I know nothing of, biscotti would be great for coffee lovers, cause well, they go so well together.

Enough chatter from me, on with the show.


1 Tablespoon Cinnamon, ground
2 teaspoons Baking powder
10 ounces Hazelnut flour
3 ounces Almond flour
1 pound Pastry flour
5 Eggs
1 pound Granulated sugar
8 ounces Unsalted butter, melted
10 ounces Whole hazelnuts
Chocolate, melted and tempered, optional, as needed


1. Sift together the cinnamon and ammonium carbonate or baking powder. Stir in the hazelnut, almond and pastry flours. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage, approximately three minutes. Add the melted butter. Stir in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula then stir in the whole hazelnuts.

3. Divide the dough into three even pieces. Refrigerate until cold.

4. Roll each piece of dough into a 12-inch (30 centimeter) log. Place on a paper-lined sheet pan leaving at least 3-inches (7.5 centimeters) of space between each log.

5. Bake at 350°F (175°C) until golden in color, approximately 20 minutes. Cool the logs then slice them into 1-inch (3-centimeter) thick slices.

6. Place the sliced cookies upright on paper lined sheet pans.

7. Double tray the pans. Reduce heat to 325°F (162°C) and bake until the biscotti are thoroughly crisp, approximately 40 minutes.

8. Once cool, the biscotti may be dipped in tempered chocolate.


To make Chocolate Biscotti(which is what I am sure she will decide upon):

Replace 5 ounces (150 grams) of the pastry flour with cocoa powder. Add 1/3 ounce (9 milligrams) coffee extract and 1/3 ounce (9 grams) cinnamon to the flour mixture.


Per Serving (1 piece):
175 Calories
11g Fat (54.7% calories from fat)
3g Protein
18g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
40mg Cholesterol
36mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
1 1/2 Fat
1 Other Carbohydrates

04 December 2007

Panzanella aka Tuscan Bread Salad

Yeah, yeah, I know. Bread salad? Give it a chance. My camera still doesn't work and I'm not purchasing one between now and Christmas because I might screw up some individuals gift to me or something.

This is a great little side dish with some grilled chicken.

8 slices italian bread, toa and cubed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 cups cherry tomatoes, whole, halved
2/3 cup red onion slices, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cucumber slices, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup basil leaves, washed, drained, and shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, to taste

1. Coarsely crumble the bread into a large serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and basil. Toss. Add the olive oil and vinegar over the bread mixture.

2. Season with salt and pepper

3. Toss well to coat.

4. Garnish with whole basil leaves if desired

Per Serving:
282 Calories
15g Fat (47.9% calories from fat)
6g Protein
32g Carbohydrate
4g Dietary Fiber
0mg Cholesterol
720mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1 1/2 Grain(Starch)
2 Vegetable
3 Fat
0 Other Carbohydrates

03 December 2007

Pasta Salad with a Gazpacho twist

Another vegetarian dish. Love pasta salad but want to make it a bit healthier and still give your taste buds a treat. Once again, the nutritional analysis follows.

Pasta Vegetable Salad

8 ounces Rotini, Twists, or Spirals, uncooked
4 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Cayenne pepper, to taste


Prepare pasta according to package directions; drain. Combine pasta with remaining ingredients. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.


Per Serving:
152 Calories
4g Fat (23.7% calories from fat)
4g Protein
25g Carbohydrate
2g Dietary Fiber
0mg Cholesterol
275mg Sodium

Exchanges:
1 1/2 Grain(Starch)
1/2 Vegetable
1/2 Fat
0 Other Carbohydrates

Miso Soup

Looking for a vegetarian dish or just plain like Miso Soup, well here ya go, with nutritional information to follow.

Miso Soup (serves 6)

1 teaspoon soybean oil
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1/2 cup onions, sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, grated
1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup mushroom, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons miso
1 tablespoon dry sherry, to taste
4 cups water


Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onions, sauté until soft. Add fresh ginger root, carrots and mushrooms. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until vegetables are crisp tender.

Dissolve miso in 1/4 cup of the water and add it to the vegetables in the saucepan along with the remaining water and dry sherry. Reheat and serve.


Per Serving:
36 Calories
1g Fat (30.8% calories from fat)
1g Protein
5g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
0mg Cholesterol
219mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
1/2 Vegetable
0 Fat

01 December 2007

Spanakopitta

I love spanakopitta. If you don't like feta, use cream cheese or even a mixture of cream and goat cheeses.

4 ounces onion, small dice
6 ounces unsalted butter, melted
24 ounces fresh spinach, cooked and cooled, or frozen spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound phyllo dough

1. Sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of butter until tender. Remove and cool.

2. Combine the cooled onions, spinach, mint, feta and beaten eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3. Spread one sheet of phyllo dough on the work surface; brush with melted butter. Place another sheet of phyllo on top of the first; brush it with butter. Place a third sheet of phyllo on top of the second and brush it with butter as well.

4. Cut the dough into 2-inch (5-centimeter) wide strips.

5. Place 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of the spinach on the end of each strip of phyllo.

6. Starting with the end of the dough strip with the spinach, fold one corner of the dough over the spinach mixture to the opposite side of the strip to form a triangle. Continue folding the dough, keeping it in a triangular shape, like point-folding a flag.

7. Place the phyllo triangles on a sheet pan and brush with melted butter. Bake at 375ºF (190ºC) until brown and crispy, approximately 20 minutes.


Per Serving (1 piece) :
46 Calories
3g Fat (75.5% calories from fat)
2g Protein
1g Carbohydrate
trace Dietary Fiber
15mg Cholesterol
89mg Sodium

Exchanges:
0 Grain(Starch)
0 Lean Meat
0 Vegetable
1/2 Fat

26 November 2007

Biologists Debate Relocating Imperiled Species

As global warming changes the face of habitats around the world, scientists are asking if humans can help save species from extinction by moving them to cooler climes. But before polar bear resettlement and tiger transports begin, is it time to take a look at easier alternatives?

Biologists Debate Relocating Imperiled Species

What's right? What's wrong? Who fucking knows

21 November 2007

Pineapple Pie

So, you are looking for something a touch different. Pineapple pie is like lemon meringue, only you use pineapple juice instead of lemon juice. If you like pineapple, you'll love this. You can use the pie crust recipe that is posted early with the sweet potato pie.

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 tbls. flour
3/4 cup water
1 cup pineapple juice
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tbls. butter
1 9" pie crust

Bake crust for 10 min. at 350. Let cool completely.In a double boiler, mix all dry ingredients. Gradually stir in water, juice and eggs. Cook over low heat till thick.Pour into cooled crust. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole

There's nothing better than the smoothness of the sweet potatos and the contrasting crunch of the topping. I suppose you can make it heart healthy, I've not tried.

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 stick of butter
1 cup pet milk (evaporated milk)
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix well, pour into a 8x8 or 9x9 pan and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Make a topping of:
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Mix this well and place on top of sweet potato mixture. Bake 15 minutes more.

20 November 2007

Banana Pudding

Ok, so, what's Thanksgiving (in the Southern states anyway) without some homemade banana pudding.

1/2 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 c milk
2 egg yolks(reserve whites)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 box Nilla wafers
4-6 bananas - sliced

In a double boiler, mix sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in egg yolks. Stir in milk gradually so no lumps. Add vanilla.

Stir continually over heat until pudding is thick enough to hold its shape.

Layer in pan. Cookies, bananas, pudding.

Make a meringue with the whites, sugar, vanilla and a pinch of Cream of Tartar. Spread the meringue on top of the layered pudding.

Bake at 320F until browned.

18 November 2007

Future of our Food

This is one scary little video when you think about it. It's only 10 minutes long. Give it a look see.



This website discusses the entire film. It may be purchased or rented.

The Future of Food


Seriously, give the 10 minute version a look see.

Yay Italy

Thanks for just saying no to GMO's. This is a bandwagon EVERYONE should be jumping on.

Three million people "vote" to make Italy GM-free

More than 3 million Italians have signed a petition calling for Italy to ban all genetically modified foods, an alliance of food producers, consumers and environmental groups said on Tuesday.

Campaigners collected signatures at marketplaces and food fairs across the country over the last few months and hope the government will respond by banning all imports and cultivation of what they consider "Frankenstein foods."

"We gathered 3,086,524 votes, of which 3,068,958 (99.43%) were in favor of banning GMOs and 17,566 (0.57%) said no," said a spokesman for the campaign group "Italy Europe - Free from Genetic Modification."

Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is just a few days away. So, here is my Chicken and Dressing recipe. I don't stuff the turkey and since it has chicken in it, it can be it's own main dish. This was my grandmother's recipe. She got it from her mom who probably got it from her mom and so on. The only difference is my grandmother switched to the ready made can of poultry seasoning whereas her mother used the actual herbs. There's nothing fancy about it, but I do believe that Alton Brown would call it Good Eats, so on with the show:

1 Large Baking Hen
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 large onion, rough chop
2 big horse carrots, rough chop
2 or 3 stalks of celery, rough chop
simmer until the meat falls off the bone, reserve stock, throw away bones and vegetables.


3 cups crumbled corn bread
2 1/2 cups crumbled toasted white bread
1-2 onions, chopped(I use 2 medium)
4-6 stalks celery, chopped
2 eggs
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
black pepper
poultry seasoning

Get a large roasting pan, add the corn bread, white bread, onions, and celery, mix it up. Add the chicken stock, a little at a time, till it resembles soup. Mix in the eggs and salt. After it is all mixed, take a can of black pepper and sprinkle evenly across the top of mixture. We like pepper and use it liberally. After this is added, stir it around. Take the can of poultry seasoning and do the same as with the black pepper. Mix in the chicken. Bake at 325F till dried to the consistency you want. If done right, there is no need for gravy as this is ohso moist.

15 November 2007

Christmas Cookies

I got this recipe from a YaYa. Don't know which one.

Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies!! (Yumm Yumm)
1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila

Sample the Cuervo to check quality.

Take a large bowl, check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink.

Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.

At this point, it is best to make sure the Cuervo is still OK, try another cup, just in case.

Turn off the mixerer thingy.

Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit; Pick the frigging fruit off the floor!

Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.

Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.

Next, sift two cups of salt, or something. Who giveshz a sheet.

Check the Jose Cuervo. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.

Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink. Whatever you can find.

Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.

Do not forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window, finish the Cose Juervo and make sure to put the stove in the dishwasher.

Cherry Mistmas!

Political Correctness run amok

Santas warned 'ho ho ho' offensive to women

Santas in Australia's largest city have been told not to use Father Christmas's traditional "ho ho ho" greeting because it may be offensive to women, it was reported Thursday.

Sydney's Santa Clauses have instead been instructed to say "ha ha ha" instead, the Daily Telegraph reported.

I do believe that this is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Politically correct bullshit does have its place, but come the phuk on. This is absolutely freaking ridiculous. Every damned word on this planet is offensive to someone. Shall we all go back to pictograms?

14 November 2007

Kolaches

Kolaches are everywhere in my part of the country. You may know them as kolace, kolacky, or kolach. They are a traditional Czechoslovakian pastry and quite a treat. When it contains meat, it is called a klobasnek. Unfortunately my camera is still on the fritz and will not hold a charge for anything, so I'm still not posting pictures.

Kolache Dough

2 packages dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, preferably Crisco
1/4 cup plus 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
melted butter, for topping
1 recipe creamy peach, prune, or poppy seed filling (follows)

In a small bowl combine the yeast with the lukewarm water; add a pinch of sugar as this helps the yeast grow. Set the bowl aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter, shortening, and 1/4 cup sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolks, milk, and salt, combining well. Stir in the dissolved yeast and the flour and mix until the ingredients are thoroughly blended into a soft dough. Cover the dough with a towel and set the dough aside to rise to about double in size, approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While the dough rises, choose and prepare one of the three fillings.

Grease a baking sheet. Pinch off pieces of dough about one-and-a-half times the size of a golf ball, flatten the balls slightly, and transfer them to the baking sheet. Place the balls at least 1 inch apart and brush them liberally with the melted butter. Set them aside to double in size again, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

With your thumb, gently indent the top of the dough to the depth of about 1/2 inch. Make the holes deeper for the poppy seed or creamy peach filling. Spoon in a couple of teaspoons of filling, and, with the poppy seed or creamy peach versions; coax the dough over the filling. Let the kolaches rest again for 15 to 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 º. Bake the kolaches for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven, immediately brush the kolaches with more butter, and sprinkle them with the remaining sugar. Transfer them to a rack and let them cool.

The kolaches should be tender, somewhat like a light buttery Danish. They are best eaten the day they are made. Makes 3 dozen.

Creamy Peach Filling
2 cups small-curd cottage cheese, drained in a sieve or cheesecloth for 30 to 45 minutes
1/2 cup peach butter (you may use any type butter if you prefer)
1 egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Squeeze any accumulated liquid from the cheese. Mix the cheese with the remaining ingredients.

Prune Filling
1 pound dried prunes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Put the prunes in a saucepan and cover them with water. Add the vanilla and simmer until the prunes have softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and pit the prunes and chop them in a food processor with the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Or chop the prunes by hand and then add the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Poppy seed Filling
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups poppy seeds
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

Stir together the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside.
Grind the poppy seeds in a blender with about half the milk. Place the poppy seed mixture and the remaining milk in a large, heavy saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir in the reserved sugar-and-cornstarch mixture and the almond extract. Simmer, stirring often, until very thick, a matter of a few minutes.

You can make kolaches with sausage or almost any type of cooked fruit filling. Don't use jelly, it's too runny and make sure that your fruit is cooked to fruit-butter consistency (think apple butter).

When using meat, these tend to do best when fully encased in the dough, think pig in the blanket or corn dog. I've also made them with sausage and cream gravy inside. Quite yummy. Ham and cheese, bacon and cheese, sausage and cheese are all great.

Take care when making the center depression to ensure that the bread does not go flat.
Cover your cheese-based fillings totally with dough.

Do not skimp on the amount of butter brushed on the dough.

10 November 2007

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known. The Bible references cinnamon and it was used in ancient Egypt as a beverage flavoring, medicine, and as an embalming agent. So treasured was cinnamon that it was more precious than gold. Cinnamon was also being used in China, being mentioned in one of the earliest books on Chinese botanical medicine, somewhere around 2,700 B.C. The popularity of this spice has continued throughout history. Cinnamon became one of the first commodities traded regularly between the Near East and Europe.

Cinnamon has unique healing abilities from essential oils found in its bark. These oils contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol, plus a wide range of other volatile substances.

The cinnaldehyde in cinnamon helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets. Cinnamon is also an anti-inflammatory. The essential oils also contribute to cinnamon being classified as an anti-microbial, helping to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi. Because of these anti-microbial qualities, it can also be used in preservation, heck; Egypt had that figured out long ago.

Cinnamon is also helpful in regards to blood sugar; slowing the rate the stomach empties itself, which helps to reduce the rise of blood sugar. Studies are ongoing, but there is no doubt that the addition of cinnamon to your daily diet helps. The US Agricultural Research Service and others have ongoing testing and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported in June 2007 on findings as well. There are many other ongoing tests so you know that researchers will be bombarding us with some wonderful news before long.

In addition to its essential oils, cinnamon is also an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese and a good source of dietary fiber, iron, and calcium. A 2 teaspoon serving (4.52 grams) has 12 calories, 38% of your daily manganese, 10% of your daily fiber, 9 ½ % of your daily iron and 5 ½ % of your daily calcium. So add some cinnamon to your diet, it's healthy and it tastes good too.

06 November 2007

Yummy berries

This sounds really good today. Perhaps it's the spring like weather.

MIXED BERRY TIRAMISU

1 1/2 boxes Ladyfingers
1 cup crème de cassis
2 pints strawberries
2 pints raspberries
2 pints blackberries
2 pints blueberries
2 cups sugar
2 quarts heavy cream
1 1/2 lbs. Mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar

Place all the berries in a large mixing bowl and stir in 2 cups of sugar. Allow the berries to marinate while you prepare the remainder of the dish. In another mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream and remaining sugar to stiff peaks form. Fold in the softened Mascarpone cheese. Set aside. Layer half of the Ladyfingers in a baking pan and drizzle with 4 ounces of crème de cassis. Layer half of the berries and juices over the moistened Ladyfingers. Spread half of the Mascarpone/whipped cream mixture over the berries and even out using a spatula. Repeat the process with Ladyfingers, cassis, berries, and whipped cream. Smooth out the top, cover, and refrigerate.

Now, if you want to get adventurous and make your own ladyfingers(this recipe makes about 80), here ya go:


3 ounces Cornstarch
4 ounces Bread flour
6 Egg yolks
6 ounces Granulated sugar
6 Egg whites
1/2 teaspoon Lemon juice


1. Sift the cornstarch and flour together.

2. Whip the egg yolks with 2 ounces (60 grams) of the sugar until thick and creamy.

3. Whip the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add 2 ounces (60 grams) of the sugar and the lemon juice. Continue whipping to soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar gradually and whip to stiff peaks.

4. Fold approximately one-quarter of the egg whites into the whipped yolks to lighten them, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Fold in the flour mixture.

5. Place the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Pipe 4-inch- (10-centimeter) long cookies onto paper-lined sheet pans.

6. Bake immediately at 425°F (220°C) until lightly browned, approximately 8 minutes.

05 November 2007

Glorious sweet potatoes

So, I know yesterday's recipe is far from healthy, but you can certainly substitute healthier alternatives. I don't do that when it comes to dessert. So, how's about a little nutritional information on that glorious tuber the sweet potato.

First off, let us correct a pet peeve of mine. They are sweet potatoes, not yams. There is often much confusion between sweet potatoes and yams; the moist-fleshed, orange-colored root vegetable that is often called a yam is actually a sweet potato. The sweet potato is part of the Morning Glory family, while the Yam is in the Yam family. The Sweet Potato is smooth and has thin skin while the Yam is rough and scaly. The Sweet Potato is moist and sweet while the Yam is dry and starchy. The Sweet Potato has a high beta-carotene content, which gives it the orange color. The Yam has a low beta-carotene content that gives it a much whiter color.

Sweet Potatoes have recently been classified as an "antidiabetic" food. This label has been given because of some recent studies in which sweet potatos helped stabilize blood sugar levels and lowered insulin resistance. Some of its blood sugar regulatory properties may come from the fact that sweet potatoes are concentrated in carotenoids.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (beta-carotene) and a very good source of vitamin C; sweet potatoes have healing properties as an antioxidant food. Both beta-carotene and vitamin C are very powerful antioxidants that work in the body to eliminate free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals that damage cells and cell membranes and are associated with the development of conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetic heart disease, and colon cancer.

These nutrients are also anti-inflammatory and can be helpful in reducing the severity of conditions where inflammation plays a role, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to convert homocysteine, an interim product created during an important chemical process in cells called methylation, into other benign molecules. High homocysteine levels are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, so having a little extra vitamin B6 on hand is a good idea.

If you or someone you love is a smoker, or if you are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes, part of your healthy way of eating, may save your life, suggests research conducted at Kansas State University.

While studying the relationship between vitamin A, lung inflammation, and emphysema, Richard Baybutt, associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State, made a surprising discovery: a common carcinogen in cigarette smoke, benzo(a)pyrene, induces vitamin A deficiency.

Earlier research had shown that laboratory animals fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema. His latest animal studies indicate that not only does the benzo(a)pyrene in cigarette smoke cause vitamin A deficiency, but that a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, thus greatly reducing emphysema.

Baybutt believes vitamin A's protective effects may help explain why some smokers do not develop emphysema. "There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers," he said. How you might ask, well most likely this is because of their diet. If you or someone you love smokes, or if your work necessitates exposure to second hand smoke, you can give yourself some added protection by making sure your diet is rich in Vitamin A.

So, maybe that sweet potato pie recipe from yesterday is healthier than you think.

Nutritional Breakdown
1 sweet potato-baked with the skin has 96 calories.

Vitamin A 13107.70 IU 262% of your RDA
Vitamin C 17.06 mg 27% of your RDA
Manganese .52 mg 26% of your RDA
Copper .26 mg 13% of your RDA
Dietary Fiber 3.14 g 13% of your RDA
Vitamin B6 .25 mg 13% of your RDA
Potassium 306.05 mg 11% of your RDA
Iron 1.46 mg 10% of your RDA

04 November 2007

Sweet Potato Pie

Pie Crust

1/4 pound all-purpose flour
2 3/8 fluid ounces shortening, hydrogenated
1/8 cup ice water (1 to 1 1/4 cups)
1/8 ounce salt (1 1/2 tbsp)


1. Mix flour and shortening on low speed for 1 minute, using pastry knife or flat beater. Scrape sides of bowl and continue mixing until shortening is evenly distributed, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Dissolve salt in smaller amount of water (use reserved amount of water if needed). Add to flour mixture. Mix on low speed only until a dough is formed, about 40 seconds.

3. Portion into 9-oz balls for 9-inch pies.


TO MAKE A ONE-CRUST PIE:
1. Roll dough into a circle 2 inches larger than pie.

2. Fit pastry loosely into pan so that there are no air spaces between the crust and pan.

3. Trim, allowing 1/2 inch extra to build up edge.

4. For custard-type pie, crimp edge, add filling, and bake according to the recipe.

Sweet Potato Filling

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 cups) --Note, when using fresh sweet potatoes, pick the long skinny ones, not as stringy as the fatter ones.

2 tablespoons softened butter

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 ounces evaporated milk

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

1-9" pie crust

If using fresh potatoes, bake at 375F until tender. When cooled enough to pick up, peel skin off. Bake pie crust at 350 for 15-20 minutes or till set. Mash potates. Add all ingredients, mixed thoroughly. Pour into shell. Bake 45-60 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean at 350.

31 October 2007

Pineapple Salsa

Yummmm

20 ounces pineapple chunks in juice
2 teaspoons oil
1 tablespoon cilantro
juice from 1/2 a lime
1/4 of a jalapeno, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon sugar


Combine all the ingredients, except the salt and Splenda, in a blender or food processor. Pulse twice or until the salsa is chunky. Season to taste with salt and with sugar if the pineapple needs additional sweetness. Serve with chips.

24 October 2007

Food for Thought

Colourful condiments for nutrition

A new study has shown that we also eat with our eyes, by revealing that choosing colourful condiments actually enhance the nutritional value of routine food.


Some know, some don't know. Incorporating all the colors of the food groups ensure that we are getting what we need in the way of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, fiber, etc.

Taste the rainbow:

Natural plant pigments called lycopene or anthocyanins color red fruits and vegetables.

Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene in foods containing cooked tomatoes, such as spaghetti sauce, and a small amount of fat are absorbed better than lycopene from raw tomatoes.

Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too.

Examples of the red group:

• Red apples
• Beets
• Red cabbage
• Cherries
• Cranberries
• Pink grapefruit
• Red grapes
• Red peppers
• Pomegranates
• Red potatoes
• Radishes
• Raspberries
• Rhubarb
• Strawberries
• Tomatoes
• Watermelon

Natural plant pigments called carotenoids usually color orange/yellow fruits and vegetables.

Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Scientists have also reported that carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and can improve immune system function.

One study found that people who ate a diet high in carotenoid-rich vegetables were 43 percent less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, an eye disorder common among the elderly, which can lead to blindness.

Carotenoids also may be good for your heart. One study found that men with high cholesterol who ate plenty of vegetables high in carotenoids had a 36 percent lower chance of heart attack and death than their counterparts who shunned vegetables.
Citrus fruits like oranges are not a good source of vitamin A. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects and helps keep our hearts healthy.

Examples of the orange/yellow group include:

• Yellow apples
• Apricots
• Butternut squash
• Cantaloupe
• Carrots
• Grapefruit
• Lemons
• Mangoes
• Nectarines
• Oranges
• Papayas
• Peaches
• Pears
• Yellow peppers
• Persimmons
• Pineapple
• Pumpkin
• Rutabagas
• Yellow summer or winter squash
• Sweet corn
• Sweet potatoes
• Tangerines
• Yellow tomatoes
• Yellow watermelon

Green fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigment called chlorophyll.

Some members of the green group, including spinach and other dark leafy greens, green peppers, peas, cucumber and celery, contain lutein. Lutein works with another chemical, zeaxanthin, found in corn, red peppers, oranges, grapes, and egg yolks to help keep eyes healthy. Together, these chemicals may help reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness if untreated.

The indoles in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some types of cancer. Leafy greens like spinach and broccoli are also excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects and helps keep our hearts healthy.

Examples of the green group include:

• Green apples
• Artichokes
• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Green beans
• Broccoli
• Brussels sprouts
• Green cabbage
• Cucumbers
• Green grapes
• Honeydew melon
• Kiwi
• Lettuce
• Limes
• Green onions
• Peas
• Green pepper
• Spinach
• Zucchini

Natural plant pigments called anthocyanins color blue/purple fruits and vegetables. Anthocyanins in blueberries, grapes, and raisins act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. They may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. Other studies have shown that eating more blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging.

Examples of the blue/purple group:

• Blackberries
• Blueberries
• Eggplant
• Figs
• Plums
• Prunes
• Purple grapes
• Raisins

Pigments called anthoxanthins color white fruits and vegetables. They may contain health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Some members of the white group, like bananas and potatoes, are good sources of the mineral potassium, too.

Examples of the white group include:

• Bananas
• Cauliflower
• Garlic
• Ginger
• Jicama
• Mushrooms
• Onions
• Parsnips
• Potatoes
• Turnips

What the hell is wrong with people

Flamingos Decapitated in Frankfurt Zoo

A grisly murder case has shocked staff at Frankfurt Zoo. Keepers found the bodies of four murdered flamingos in their pen on Tuesday morning. Three of the birds were decapitated while a fourth was strangled to death, police said Tuesday. The four birds were all over 30 years old.

What in the hell is getting into people. What could these birds have possibly done to anyone. How sick an individual must you be to commit such an absolutely senseless act of violence such as this. Whomever did this is in some serious need of psychiatric intervention. Humans can be such disgusting, vile creatures at times.

07 October 2007

Simple Paella

3 ounces(85 grams) Olive Oil
1 Chicken cut into 8 pieces
12 ounces(340 grams) Pork cut into 1" (2.54cm) cubes
Flour as needed
8 ounces(227 grams) Shrimp peeled and deveined
6 ounces(170 grams) Onion diced
2 cloves Garlic chopped
2 cups(454 grams) Arborio Rice
5 cups(1134 grams) Chicken Stock prepared
1 pinch Saffron
4 ounces(113 grams) Red Bell Pepper 1" (2.54 cm) diced
4 ounces(113 grams) Green Peas

1. Heat a large sauté pan on a moderate flame; add the olive oil and heat.

2. Season the chicken pieces, dip in flour, shake off the excess and sauté until golden brown forapproximately 10 minutes, remove and set aside.

3. Season the pork cubes, dip in flour, shake off the excess and sauté until golden brown forapproximately 5 minutes, remove and set aside.

4. Sauté the shrimps quickly and set aside.

5. Still in the same pan and fat (if you did not burn it), add the onion, garlic and sweat them.

6. Add the rice and stir to coat the rice with fat, then add the chicken stock, saffron and season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. Bring to a simmer and stir well, then add the chicken, pork, shrimp, red peppers and green peasrandomly over the rice.

8. Place uncovered into a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for about 5 minutes.

9. Serve immediately when done.

06 October 2007

Looky, looky, two in one day


Taking Life Easy in Urban Italy

This area is so beautiful and historical, it's no wonder that they wish to live this way. Central Italy, anywhere in Umbria to get closer, and to be exact, more like Perugia, Assisi, Spoletto, Deruta, or Bettona would be heaven to reside in.


With breathtaking views like this:


Bettona


Deruta


Umbria (no specific city though)


and Assisi


I could not imagine polluting such beauty with cars, chain restaurants, or grocery stores. Locally owned, locally produced, locally harvested - the only way to go.
I will live there some day.

Finally?

I don't know. I keep thinking that I'm gonna be able to get back here at least every other day and then some crazy ass thing happens.

School started back up this past Monday. This week is complete which means it is 9 weeks and counting till graduation.

I really detest online classes. I'm going to a private uni, so you can imagine the cost. I'm taking an online accounting class. I didn't want to mind you, but in the past 18 months, the class has not been offered on ground. If I wanna graduate, I had to take the online version. So, I'm paying a fairly large sum of money to teach myself. I could have gone out and bought a damned Intro to Accounting book and taught myself this shit for a lot less money. Now, it is called Intro to Accounting, but should be called Intro to Financial Math. I've already had a financial math class and this class is more intro than that class was. WTF. I so wish these people would pull their heads out of their respective asses and get this program together. Independent study classes, online classes. The student is teaching themselves. Should that not warrant a reduced price? But noooooooooo, instead, these types of classes cost $100 more each. Another WTF.

It matters not now. I'm too close. I'm tired of school. I'm tired of homework. It's been nice pretending to be 18-22 again, but I think I'm ready to be the 40 something I am. KWIM?

Sure, it's kept me feeling younger. I mean, how can you NOT feel younger when surrounded by youth, but at the same time, it's had me scratching my head. I know, not all 20 somethings are complete morons or airheads. I'm friends with many 20 somethings that have a whole lot on the ball and going for them, but for that handful of 'like-yaknow-OMG', well, it just makes my skin crawl and my nerves shot. Especially that first day back from a break (now, our breaks are only a week long since we do quarters, not semesters) and a couple of immature girls see each other for the first time in a whole week and you get the squeals of excitement and the shrill 'OMG I've missed you, I haven't seen you in so long, catch me up' Good grief. Everytime I see your dumb ass you have a cell phone plastered to the side of your head. Can you not call one another during that long drawn out week off so that the rest of the world does not have to listen to the squeals. Nails-chalkboard?

Ok, so who knew I was going to end up ranting. I didn't till I started typing. Guess I was more typeative than I thought

29 September 2007

Today was

National Coffee Day.

I'm a bad girl. I didn't have a special anything. I'm even out of my very favorite beans.

28 September 2007

It probably isn't grammatically correct, but oh well

È stato difficile di in ritardo da trovare lo schermo fra 8am e 11am. Le mie finestre del negozio affrontano l'est. Il sole viene brillando nelle finestre per tre ore non così gloriose. Anche occhiali da sole da portare è quasi impossible da vedere.

So, non è molto, ma sto lavorando a superare un caso importante di esaurimento.

Sto lavorando a memorizzare le frasi di in ritardo. Con tanti italiani natali che denominano il negozio, alcuni che non parlino inglese, lo rende abbastanza difficile comunicare. Ho sempre ho voluto imparare l'italiano e l'che imparo lentamente. Penso che diverta gli italiani tuttavia. La mia pronuncia non è sempre adeguata, ma credo che amino che sto provando.

In ogni modo, quello è tutto per ora e no, non sto traducendo dentro all'inglese. Abbastanza franco, sono oggi piuttosto pigro.

20 September 2007

Ahhh shit

I know, once again, it's been awhile. School, work and kids - what can I say. Hopefully, now that my next to last quarter is over and all my classes are online classes, I'll actually have time to get online, cause, well, I'm going to have to make time to go to class.

Anyway, I saw this and HAD to link to it and yap a bit.

Peruvian archaeologists find 1,200-year-old mummies


Lima, Sep 20 (Xinhua) Archaeologists in Peru have found 40 mummies dating from the 1,200-year-old Chachapoyas culture in the Amazon fortress of Kuelap, project leader Alfredo Narvaez said.

He told reporters Wednesday that the mummies were discovered alongside Inca pottery, and that they showed signs of being affected by a fire in the archaeological complex, some 1,409 km northeast of the nation's capital.

02 September 2007

Yes, I know

I have been really, really bad. There is nothing worse than a non-updated blog, I just truly have had nothing to say.

I still don't have a lot to say.

I've been busy with work, school work, planning this function that we are doing for our final grade, wine tasting, and studying my Italian.

I know, it isn't much, but that's about all I've got.

05 August 2007

Bittersweet

I knew the day would come eventually. They have to leave the nest at some point. The day has finally arrived for my oldest to spread those wings. As we were packing stuff up this morning, clearing her room out, it was surreal. I mean, that's been her room for 20 years. It will be weird to walk down the hall and she isn't there. Instead it will be the youngest that is there. She can't take her dog with her, so he is staying here. We wanted him to be maybe a little less freaked out, so the 9 year old will move into the 20 year olds room, so the dog can keep it as 'his' room.

I know she'll be fine. She's only 5 minutes away. She's a smart girl and one I don't feel I need to worry about in regards to doing stupid stuff that many 20 year olds do to put themselves in harms way.

30 July 2007

just a rant

Some people care. Some people don't. Those that don't give a damn about you or your life should really just stay where they are and not intrude. If I don't care about you, you won't see me in your life. You'll know I care because I do participate in your life.

Ya know though, if I don't give a damn, I just stay away. I don't hang out. I don't put up false fronts; smiling at your face and then shoving a dagger in your back when you turn around, enjoying your misery, pain, heartache, or sadness.

I hope there comes a day when I no longer know such people.

29 July 2007

It's a meme for September 15

I wasn't tagged, but I got this from Kitty and Dixie .

I'm supposed to look up my birthdate on Wikipedia and list three events, two births and a holiday that fall on that date. I'm not always so good at following the rules and cause so much stuff has happened on the day I was born throughout history that I decided to leave it all in. I'm too much of a history buff type person to delete it. Who knows, maybe some kid or teacher will see this and think, wow and it will help spark a child's interest in history. So, here goes...

Events
• 608 - Saint Boniface IV becomes Pope.
• 668 - Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II is assassinated in his bath at Syracuse, Italy.
• 921 - Saint Ludmila is murdered at the command of her daughter-in-law at Tetin.
• 1514 - Thomas Wolsey is appointed Archbishop of York.
• 1556 - Vlissingen ex-emperor Charles V returns to Spain.
• 1584 - San Lorenzo del Escorial Palace in Madrid is finished.
• 1590 - Giambattista Catagna is elected as Pope Urban VII.
• 1616 - The first non-aristocratic, free public school in Europe is opened in Frascati, Italy.
• 1644 - Giambattista Pamphilj becomes Pope Innocent X, succeeding Pope Urban VIII.
• 1656 - England and France sign a peace treaty.
• 1683 - Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is founded by 13 immigrant families.
• 1762 - Battle of Signal Hill
• 1776 - American Revolutionary War: British land at Kip's Bay during the New York Campaign.
• 1789 - The United States Department of State is established (formerly known as Department of Foreign Affairs).
• 1812 - The French army under Napoleon reaches the Kremlin in Moscow.
• 1821 - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua jointly declare independence from Spain.
• 1830 - The Liverpool to Manchester railway line opens (see also deaths, below).
• 1831 - The locomotive John Bull operates for the first time in New Jersey on the Camden and Amboy Railroad.
• 1835 - The HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, reaches the Galápagos Islands.
• 1851 - Saint Joseph's University is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
• 1862 - American Civil War: Confederate forces capture Harpers Ferry, Virginia.
• 1873 - Franco-Prussian War: The last German troops leave France upon completion of payment of indemnity.
• 1883 - The Bombay Natural History Society is founded in Bombay (now Mumbai), India.
• 1894 - First Sino-Japanese War: Japan defeats China in the Battle of Pyongyang.
• 1914 - World War I: The Battle of Aisne begins between Germany and France.
• 1916 - World War I: Tanks are used for the first time in battle, at the Battle of the Somme.
• 1917 - First issue of Forbes magazine published.
• 1928 - Sir Alexander Fleming notices a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.
• 1928 - Tich Freeman becomes the only bowler to take 300 wickets in an English cricket season.
• 1931 - In Scotland, the two-day Invergordon Mutiny against Royal Navy pay cuts begins.
• 1935 - Nuremberg Laws deprive German Jews of citizenship.
• 1935 - Nazi Germany adopts a new national flag with the swastika.
• 1940 - World War II: The climax of the Battle of Britain, when the Royal Air Force shoot down large numbers of Luftwaffe.
• 1941 - The U.S. Attorney General rules that the Neutrality Act is not violated when U.S. ships carry war materiel to British territories, opening the door for the Lend-Lease Act.
• 1942 - World War II: The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Wasp is torpedoed at Guadalcanal.
• 1944 - Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill meet in Quebec as part of the Octagon Conference to discuss strategy.
• 1945 - A hurricane in southern Florida and the Bahamas destroys 366 planes and 25 blimps at NAS Richmond.
• 1946 - The Brooklyn Dodgers are beating the Chicago Cubs, 2-0, in the 5th inning when a swarm of gnats causes the game to be postponed.
• 1947 - The U.S. Air Force is separated from the US Army to become a separate branch.
• 1947 - RCA releases the 12AX7 vacuum tube.
• 1948 - The F-86 Sabre sets the world aircraft speed record at 1080 km/h.
• 1949 - The television series The Lone Ranger premieres on ABC.
• 1950 - Korean War: United States forces land at Incheon, Korea.
• 1951 - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes closes on Broadway in New York City after 740 performances.
• 1952 - United Nations gives Eritrea to Ethiopia.
• 1954 - The U.S. Postal Service issues its 2¢ Thomas Jefferson Liberty Series stamp.
• 1955 - Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita is published in Paris by Olympia Press.
• 1957 - West Germany holds its third parliamentary election. Konrad Adenauer remains chancellor.
• 1958 - A Central Railroad of New Jersey commuter train runs through an open drawbridge at the Newark Bay, killing 58.
• 1959 - Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.
• 1959 - Paul Orgeron detonated a bomb at Edgar Allan Poe Elementary School that killed 5 people and himself.
• 1961 - Hurricane Carla strikes Texas with winds of 175 miles per hour.
• 1962 - The Soviet ship Poltava heads toward Cuba, one of the events that sets into motion the Cuban Missile Crisis.
• 1963 - The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing kills four children at an African-American church in Birmingham, Alabama, United States.
• 1964 - The Sun newspaper launches, replacing the Daily Herald.
• 1966 - U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, writes a letter to the United States Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.
• 1968 - The Soviet Zond 5 spaceship is launched, becoming the first spacecraft to fly around the Moon and re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.
• 1969 - Major League Baseball: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Steve Carlton sets a record by striking out 19 New York Mets in a single game.
• 1972 - A magnitude 4.5 earthquake shakes Northern Illinois.
• 1972 - An SAS domestic flight from Gothenburg to Stockholm was hijacked and flown to Malmö-Bulltofta Airport.
• 1974 - Air Vietnam flight 727 is hijacked, then crashes while attempting to land with 75 on board.
• 1975 - The French department of Corse (the entire island of Corsica) is divided into two: Haute-Corse and Corse-du-Sud.
• 1975 - Progressive Rock artists Pink Floyd release Wish You Were Here.
• 1978 - Muhammad Ali beats Leon Spinks for the world heavyweight boxing title.
• 1981 - The United States Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approves Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court.
• 1981 - The John Bull becomes the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operates it under its own power outside Washington, DC.
• 1981 - Vanuatu becomes a member of the United Nations.
• 1982 - The first issue of USA Today is published by Gannett.
• 1983 - Israeli premier Menachem Begin resigns.
• 1987 - U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign a treaty to establish centers to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
• 1989 - The U.S. Congress recognizes Terry Anderson's continued captivity in Beirut.
• 1990 - France announces it will send 4,000 troops to the Persian Gulf
• 1993 - Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II disbands parliament.
• 1997 - Hastings Wise murders four at a lawn mower parts factory in Aiken, South Carolina.
• 1998 - WorldCom and MCI Communications finish their landmark merger, forming MCI WorldCom which would later be renamed WorldCom and become the largest bankruptcy in United States history.
• 2000 - Sydney 2000 Olympic Summer Games open in a lavish Opening Ceremony.
• 2001 - Alex Zanardi, driving in a CART race is injured in Germany, resulting in both legs being amputated below the knee.
• 2004 - NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a lockout of the players union and cessation of operations by the NHL head office.
• 2006 - UPN ceased operations after eleven and a half years. The CW Television Network launched 3 days later.

Births
• 973 - Al-Biruni, mathematician (d. 1048)
• 1254 - Marco Polo, Italian explorer (d. 1324)
• 1580 - Charles Annibal Fabrot, French lawyer (d. 1659)
• 1613 - François de La Rochefoucauld, French writer (d. 1680)
• 1649 - Titus Oates, English minister and plotter (d. 1705)
• 1715 - Jean Baptiste Vaquette de Gribeauval, French artillery specialist (d. 1789)
• 1789 - James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist (d. 1851)
• 1828 - Aleksandr Mikhailovich Butlerov, Russian chemist (d. 1886)
• 1830 - Porfirio Díaz, President of Mexico (d. 1915)
• 1852 - Edward Bouchet, American physicist (d. 1918)
• 1857 - William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States (d. 1930)
• 1858 - Jenő Hubay, Hungarian violinist (d. 1937)
• 1860 - Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya, Indian engineer (d. 1962)
• 1867 - Vladimir May-Mayevsky, Russian counter-revolutionary (d. 1920)
• 1876 - Bruno Walter, German conductor (d. 1962)
• 1876 - Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Indian novelist (d. 1938)
• 1877 - Jakob Ehrlich, Austrian politician and zionist (d. 1938)
• 1879 - Joseph Lyons, 10th Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1939)
• 1881 - Ettore Bugatti, Italian automobile engineer and designer (d. 1947)
• 1883 - Esteban Terradas i Illa, Catalan mathematician and engineer (d. 1950)
• 1887 - Carlos Dávila, former President of Chile (d. 1955)
• 1888 - Antonio Ascari, Italian racing driver (d. 1925)
• 1889 - Robert Benchley, American author (d. 1945)
• 1890 - Agatha Christie, English writer (d. 1976)
• 1890 - Frank Martin, Swiss composer (d. 1974)
• 1892 - Silpa Bhirasri, Italian sculptor (d. 1962)
• 1894 - Jean Renoir, French film director (d. 1979)
• 1894 - Oskar Klein, Swedish physicist (d. 1977)
• 1895 - Magda Lupescu, consort of King Carol II of Romania (d. 1977)
• 1898 - J. Slauerhoff, Dutch poet and novelist (d. 1936)
• 1901 - Sir Donald Bailey, British engineer (d. 1985)
• 1903 - Roy Acuff, American musician (d. 1992)
• 1904 - King Umberto II of Italy (d. 1983)
• 1906 - Jacques Becker, French screenwriter and director (d. 1960)
• 1907 - Fay Wray, Canadian-born American actress (d. 2004)
• 1908 - Penny Singleton, American actress (d. 2003)
• 1909 - C.N.Annadurai, Former Chief Minnister of Tamilnadu
• 1911 - Karsten Solheim, Norwegian-born American golf entrepreneur (d. 2000)
• 1913 - John N. Mitchell, United States Attorney General and Watergate figure (d. 1988)
• 1914 - Creighton Abrams, American Army general (d. 1974)
• 1914 - Adolfo Bioy Casares, Argentine writer (d. 1999)
• 1915 - Albert Whitlock, English motion picture matte artist (d. 1999)
• 1916 - Margaret Lockwood, British actress (d. 1990)
• 1918 - Nipsey Russell, American comedian (d. 2005)
• 1919 - Nelson Gidding, American screenwriter (d. 2004)
• 1921 - Norma MacMillan, Canadian actress (d. 2001)
• 1922 - Jackie Cooper, American actor and director
• 1922 - Bob Anderson (fencer), English sword-master
• 1923 - Anton Heiller, Austrian organist (d. 1979)
• 1924 - Bobby Short, American musician (d. 2005)
• 1926 - Jean-Pierre Serre, French mathematician
• 1926 - Shohei Imamura, Japanese film director (d. 2006)
• 1928 - Cannonball Adderley, American saxophonist and bandleader (d. 1975)
• 1929 - Eva Burrows, the 13th General of The Salvation Army
• 1929 - Murray Gell-Mann, American physicist, Nobel Prize laureate
• 1933 - Henry Darrow, American actor
• 1933 - Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Spanish conductor
• 1934 - Fred Nile, Australian politician
• 1937 - Robert Lucas, Jr., American economist, Nobel Prize laureate
• 1937 - Fernando de la Rúa, 51st President of Argentina
• 1938 - Gaylord Perry, baseball player
• 1940 - Merlin Olsen, American football player and actor
• 1941 - Flórián Albert, Hungarian footballer
• 1941 - Signe Toly Anderson, American singer
• 1941 - Mirosław Hermaszewski, First Polish Cosmonaut in Space
• 1941 - Yuri Norstein, award-winning Russian animator
• 1945 - Jessye Norman, American opera singer
• 1945 - Ron Shelton, American film director
• 1946 - Tommy Lee Jones, American actor
• 1946 - Oliver Stone, American film director
• 1948 - Suzyn Waldman, American Sportscaster
• 1949 - Joe Barton, American politician
• 1951 - Johan Neeskens, Dutch football player
• 1951 - Pete Carroll, American football coach
• 1954 - Hrant Dink, Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor (d. 2007)
• 1955 - Theodore Long, American professional wrestling executive
• 1955 - Željka Antunović, Croatian politician
• 1956 - Maggie Reilly, Scottish folk singer
• 1958 - Joel Quenneville, National Hockey League player
• 1958 - Wendie Jo Sperber, American actress (d. 2005)
• 1961 - Dan Marino, American football player
• 1961 - Terry Lamb, Australian rugby league player
• 1968 - Danny Nucci, American actor
• 1969 - Jim Curtiss, American writer
• 1971 - Nathan Astle, New Zealand cricket player
• 1972 - Princess Letizia of Spain
• 1972 - Jimmy Carr, British comedian
• 1972 - Kit Chan, Singaporean singer
• 1973 - Julie Cox, English actress
• 1975 - Jamie Stevens, German singer
• 1976 - Paul Thomson, Scottish drummer (Franz Ferdinand)
• 1977 - Sophie Dahl, British model
• 1977 - Jason Terry, American basketball player
• 1978 - Eiður Guðjohnsen, Icelandic footballer
• 1979 - Amy Davidson, American actress
• 1979 - Patrick Marleau, Canadian Hockey Player
• 1980 - Jolin Tsai, Taiwanese pop singer
• 1980 - David Diehl, American football player
• 1980 - Mike Dunleavy, Jr., American basketball player
• 1984 - Prince Henry of Wales
• 1987 - Vova Galchenko, Russian juggler

Holidays and observances
• Persia - New Year's Day.
• In Slovakia - Holy day of the Seven sorrows of Virgin Mary.
• In ancient Greece, the second day of the Eleusinian Mysteries, when the priests of Demeter declared the public start of the rites.
• Independence Day from Spain (1821) for Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, celebrated everywhere with marches from schoolchildren.
• Catholic Calendar of Saints - Feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows.
• The United Kingdom - the British commemorate the Battle of Britain on the day of the last massive Luftwaffe attack in 1940.
• Bulgaria - The first day of each school year.
• Thailand - Silpa Bhirasri Day.
• In India Engineer's Day celebrated on birthday of Mokshagundam Visvesvarayya.
• Slovenia - Restoration of Primorska to the Motherland Day

28 July 2007

Porcelain from Deruta or How cool are my boss and his wife

La mia sporgenza e la sua moglie hanno dovuto andare a casa in Umbria occuparsi del visto e del roba del passaporto. Mentre erano casa, la sua moglie lo ha selezionato sul resto del cucchiaio della porcellana più bello da Deruta. Le batterie per la mia macchina fotografica digitale sono guasti in modo da sto caricandole o avrei un'immagine da inviare ormai. È splendida.

So che deve avere un nome con frutta in esso poichè ci è uva, fichi e un'altra frutta, ma non posso realmente dire che cosa l'altra frutta è. Vendiamo la porcellana da Deruta, ma non trasportiamo questo stile specifico. Googled fino a che non fossi blu nel fronte e non potessi trovare il picchiettio esatto e non potesse ricordare il nome del modello.

Se non vediate mai la ceramica dipinta a mano da Deruta, mancate fuori poichè sono allineare alcune di cose più belle nel mondo.

Now the English version:

My boss and his wife had to go home to Umbria to deal with visa and passport stuff. While they were home, his wife picked me up the most beautiful porcelain spoon rest from Deruta. The batteries for my digital camera are dead so I'm charging them or I would have a picture to post by now. It is gorgeous.

I know it must have a name with fruit in it as there are grapes, figs, and another fruit, but I can't really tell what the other fruit is. We sell porcelain from Deruta, but we do not carry this specific style. I have googled until I am blue in the face and cannot find the exact patter and she cannot remember the pattern name.

If you have never seen hand painted ceramics from Deruta, you are missing out as they are truly some of the most beautiful things in the world.

25 July 2007

Linguists seek a time when we spoke as one

Linguists seek a time when we spoke as one

A controversial research project is trying to trace all human language to a common root.

Around 50,000 years ago, something happened to our ancestors in Africa. Anatomically modern humans, who had existed for at least 150,000 years prior, suddenly began behaving differently. Until then, their conduct scarcely differed from that of their hominid cousins, the Neanderthals. Both buried their dead; both used stone tools; and as social apes, both had some form of communication, which some think was gestural.

But then, "almost overnight, everything changes very rapidly," says Merritt Ruhlen, a lecturer in the Anthropological Sciences Department at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. Humans began making much better stone tools. They started burying their dead with accouterments that suggested religion. And perhaps most telling, Homo sapiens, the "wise" apes, began creating art.

"People started having imagination at this time much more than they had earlier," says Dr. Ruhlen.

Mysteries of 3,000-year old kingdom of Jinsha

Mysteries of 3,000-year old kingdom of Jinsha

A construction site in the western suburbs of Chengdu in China's Sichuan province looked much like any other. It all started when a bulldozer driver heard a scraping sound as his machine hit deep into the ground. He struck a collection of golden, jade and bronze objects.

Workers and passers by snapped up the treasures and scurried off. Those too late to get anything, disgruntled, report the find to the police. And that's how, in February 2001, the world learned about the relics of a mysterious 3,000-year-old Jinsha kingdom in the mountains of southwest China.

'Jinsha culture is unique, quite different from cultures in other parts of China, but is scarcely mentioned by Chinese historians,' said Zhu Zhangyi, a veteran archaeologist in Sichuan and deputy-curator of the Jinsha Museum. 'The harsh geography made it difficult for outsiders to enter the kingdom and so it was able to preserve its endemic culture.'

Maybe US companies will take notice

Luring Customers with Local Call Centers

Finding that the cost savings of offshoring are offset by losses in client retention and satisfaction, British companies are moving support operations back home.

23 July 2007

Bush shares trait with Romans

Bush shares trait with Romans


As a military strategist, President George W. Bush is in the same class as the Roman generals Varus, Aemilius Paullus and Terrentius Varro.

These Romans were all miserable failures who lost their armies because of stupidity, stubbornness and incompetence. Bush as a commander-in-chief is in the same category.

20 July 2007

He should be strung up by his short and curlies

Gruesome details in NFL star's indictment cause public outcry that swamps Humane Society


The cold brutality described in the indictment hardly props up any fashionably roguish images. The 52 pit bulls found on Vick's estate were mostly emaciated, authorities said, kept ravenously hungry so that they would eagerly assail the flesh of the dogs they met in the ring. The losing animals, the indictment said, were sometimes executed if they didn't die in the fight. One dog, the grand jury reported, was hosed down after a loss and then electrocuted.

If this proves to be true (and I really have no doubts that it will be), then I hope Michael Vick sees MY version of hell. Him and people like him do not deserve kindness, but death is far too good. A lifetime of pain for the pain and suffering that has been perpetuated upon these animals.

Michael Vick, I hope you rot in hell.

19 July 2007

Archaeologists dig up Roman bath complex

Archaeologists dig up Roman bath complex

Archaeologists said Thursday they have partly dug up a second-century bath complex believed to be part of the vast, luxurious residence of a wealthy Roman.

The two-story complex, which extends for at least 5 acres, includes exceptionally well-preserved decorated hot rooms, vaults, changing rooms, marble latrines and an underground room where slaves lit the fire to warm the baths.