Friday, September 30, 2016

Unusual Uses for Coca Cola

Soda, Can, Tin, Drink, Beverage, Pour  I know quite a few people who live on Coke.  They cannot go more than one hour without inhaling one.  Me?  I have maybe 2 to 3 a year because I really don't like all the sugar in Coke or any other soda.

So what else can you do with coke other than drink it?  Quite a lot actually.

1.  It can be used in your garden to kill pests such as slugs.  If you pour the drink into a small bowl and you place it near your vegetables or flowers, the smell will attract the creatures and the acidity kills them.

2.  To loosen a rusty bolt, unscrew the bolt half a turn, pour coke on it and let set a while.  Wipe off the bolt and it should be ready to go and easy to unscrew.

3.  Do you need to remove grease or blood stains from fabric or clothing? Its a good way to get rid of stains but you might think twice about using it on a light colored fabric because it is brown.  You just add a can of soda to your laundry and let it run.  When the cycle is finished, your clothing should be stain free.

4. If you have oil stains on cement, pour the coke on the stains till soaked and let it sit for a couple hours.  Rinse off with water and it should be good as new.

5. Coke is reputed to be great at cleaning your car engine. 

6.  Add it to your B-B-Q sauce to add a sweetness to it. If used with pot roast or steaks, it can help tenderize the meat.

7. Add it to your compost to speed it up because the sugar is great food for the microorganisms.  It is also recommended as a fertilizer for Azaleas and Gardenias.

8. If your child get gum stuck in their hair, you should soak the gum in a bowl of coke for a bit to soften it so you can get it out.

9. Coke poured on jellyfish stings, bug bites, or bee stings helps neutralize the pain so the area feels better faster.

10. Pour a can of coke in your toilet bowl and let it soak.  It will dissolve the lime build-up so the toilet looks good again.

11. Soak a cloth with coke and use it to clean your windows. 

12.  If you burn something in a pan, just pour some coke into the pan, simmer over low heat for a while and clean.  it loosens the burned material.

These are only a few of the uses I've found for Coca Cola.  If you are interested in other ways, just do a web seach. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fudge, Fudge, and More Fudge!

Walnut Fudge, Candy, Milk, Cold  My father loves fudge.  When his sweet tooth struck, he'd pull out the ingredients and make some chocolate fudge.  It was boiled but once in a while he'd make some with marshmallow creme.   He used a recipe from a book published in the 1930's that he inherited from his mom.

As he got older, he switched to making microwaved fudge.  He had to watch it carefully so it didn't burn.  It wasn't as good as the other way but it satisfied his sweet tooth. 

Most of us enjoy chocolate, chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter, chocolate walnut, or possibly some exotic flavor such as vanilla or rum.  After a bit of looking at recipes, I found some rather unique flavors of fudge, I've never heard of before.

Although many of the following have the word fudge in their titles, I'm not sure I would classify them as fudge because I'm used to fudge being a mixture of sugar, milk, and butter that is cooked to be a candy.  I wondering if these are faking a fudge like confectionery?

1.  Cardamon and Cashew fudge made with tofu, condensed milk, spices and cashews.  I've never heard of tofu being used in fudge so this is a first.

2.  What about Blueberry, Jalapeno, and Peanut Butter Fudge?  Its a combination of a Blueberry Jalapeno preserve mixed with coconut oil, honey, and peanut butter to create this unique version of Fudge.

3.  Fairy Cake Fudge made with boxed cake mix, sprinkles, condensed milk and a few other things.  I have trouble accepting something made with boxed cake mix as one of the ingredients.

4. Hmmmmm. Watermelon Fudge with a green "rind" and a pink "center" complete with seeds.  The basic recipe is white chocolate with canned ready to use frosting, cooked until done.  The mix is divided up into parts, each part colored and its layered to create the look.

5. Mountain Dew Fudge!  The name speaks for itself. 

6. Pistachio Fudge made with white chocolate, cream cheese, sugar, flavorings, and nuts.

7. Pumpkin Pie Fudge with sugar, milk, pumpkin, white chocolate, marshmallow creme, and nuts.  This one is one of the closest I've come to on fudge being made the way I'm used to.

8. Chocolate Bacon Fudge for the bacon lovers out there.  Its the standard chocolate, condensed milk, bacon, nuts, cream, and butter recipe.  Imagine having both your protein and chocolate in one bite.

9. Purple Yam Fudge,  Purple yams are great to cook with.  It is made with grated purple yams, condensed and evaporated milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla.  This takes about 3.5 hours to make because you have to cook it until its dark purple.

As I said earlier, some of these stretch the boundaries on traditional fudge.  Let me know what you think.  I plan to stay to my regular flavors.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ideas for Bread Pudding.

Bread Pudding, Food, Dessert, Bread  I think most of us grew up around bread pudding in some manner.  We might have it for Christmas or it might be a way to use up the older bread and ends just like my mother did.  About once every couple of weeks, my mother grabbed the older bread, crusts, ends and tore them into pieces.  She add a mix of eggs and milk after mixing in a bunch of grated cheese.  She made sure the mix was nicely wet and sloppy before throwing it into a pan and baking at 350 till nice and brown. 

My grandmother on the other hand always made a sweeter mixture with bread, raisins, brown sugar, eggs, and milk to use a a dessert.  She always used stale bread and we'd enjoy it.  I think it was the same recipe her mother used so its been around for a long time.

When I visited the Polynesian cultural center, several years back, I tried some of their bread pudding made from Taro bread (a nice light purple bread) with coconut.  It was so good, I ended up eating several pieces.

Did you know, they've traced the origins of bread pudding back to the 11th or 12th century when cooks used left over stale bread so it didn't go to waste?  In the 13th century it gained the name of "poor man's pudding" because it was eaten by the lower classes.  Since this time, its gained popularity and become a regular at some of the high class restaurants.  In addition, the food network has tons of recipes.

It seems that bread pudding is being made out of brioche, danish, coffee cake, hamburger and hot dog buns.  Basically, you can use any type of left over baked goods.  As for what you add to it, you can add just about anything you want from liqueur soaked raisins,  nuts such as almonds, walnuts, macadamia, chocolate chips, coconut,  dried fruit such as cranberries, blueberries, etc or even orange zest, orange juice or fresh fruits such as raspberries.

Make sure the bread is old and stale as it absorbs the liquids much better.  The base liquid is milk but you can add other liquids to it such as orange juice.  For a really rich bread pudding you might want to use half and half.  Just remember to mix the liquid with the eggs well, add in a bit of vanilla or other flavoring and perhaps some butter.

Enjoy experimenting and having fun creating your own unique bread pudding.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Sourdough, Bread, Loaf, Bakery, FoodIf you ever read about the Alaskan gold rush, you will notice the stories about people and their starters.  The guys would take better care of their sourdough than themselves sometimes because it provided sustenance. 

At various times, I've had a starter but I've never been able to keep it going for years due to moving around so much and not being in one place.

I've learned to make sourdough bread without using additional yeast as so many modern recipes call for.  I got my current starter from Cultures for Health.  It came dried and it was easy to reconstitute.  For those people who cannot eat gluten, they sell a form of sourdough starter for gluten free flours.  I have it but have not started using it.

I've been making either bread or pizza most weekends since August.  I just make a bit extra starter and let it perk over night.  Pour it off into a plastic bowl (do not use metal or it might start eating it) add water, flour, and salt until its like a very thick waffle mix and I let it rest again till its risen.  I add enough flour to make it into a dough and let it rise again. 

I roll it out onto a floured board, knead the dough and either roll it out to put in the pizza pan or put it in a bread pan.  Let it rise till its ready.  Put toppings on it if its a pizza or let double if bread and bake till done.  I'm sorry my instructions are not more specific but I go with the feel.

The other week, I read about a apple walnut cinnamon bread recipe that sounded good.  I followed the directions and used the sourdough instead and it turned out really well.  I loved it but I need to make a couple changes.  One is cutting back on the filling and the other is rolling the filling into the dough instead of cutting the dough into pieces.

When I'm not using the dough, I stick it in the refrigerator to slow down the process because I can't use it every day.  I downloaded the e-book on using sourdough from Cultures for Health so I'd have a ton of recipes including a peanut butter sourdough cookie one.  The e-book was free and I need to sit down and explore it so I can try a variety of recipes.

You don't have to buy a starter, you can rely on what ever is floating in the atmosphere by setting out an equal mix of flour and water for several days until it is nice and bubbly.  I'm off to work on my sourdough pizza for tonight.  Check it out or if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Make It Yourself

Pizza Oven, Oven, PizzaI am so excited, I just got my digital copy of Make magazine issue number 53.  Make magazine is a magazine for Do It Yourselves and usually looks at electronics etc but this one focuses on food.  Yes food!

There are two projects that are perfect for the person who likes to make things from scratch.  First is the one day wood fired pizza oven with all the necessary instructions to make one yourself.

The cool thing about this project is its design.  It is designed to be put together, used, and then taken apart so you do not have to dedicate part of your backyard to the pizza oven.  You don't have to worry about it being out all winter, especially if you live somewhere you get tons of snow.

You can build it on a workbench or on a raised platform.  The author gives you information on both.  Furthermore, if you want to make this a permanent fixture, the author even tells you how to do that.  I like the clear instructions, great pictures, and warnings about which bricks to use and not use.  He states you should not use standard red bricks as they may explode at the high temperatures needed to bake the pizza.

They even provide a link to the magazine website for further information should you want to explore the topic further.

The second topic explores the science of cheese making.  That is something I have on my list for the future because I do not have the time.  Instead of the standard information of heating milk, add this, do that, it explains the two types of cheese culture, primary and secondary, you can use to make your cheese.

According to the author, you can rub the rind from a high quality cheese to inoculate a recently made wheel of cheese because the rind carries the culture needed to finish the wheel. You have to rub it all over your cheese to make sure the whole wheel is inoculated.  I never knew you could do that. 

The other way is to create your own by transferring the culture to bread and using that to inoculate the cheese while its in liquid form.  It sounds quite simple and on par with using sourdough.

Again, you can check Make Magazine for this information if you are interested in pursuing it further.  Enjoy the reading.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Top Ten Cocktails in the World.

Mai Tai, Sky, Hawaii, Tropical, Blue  I am not much a drinker.  If I drink anything its like 1 or 2 teaspoons of rum in a large glass of coke or maybe bit of Bailey's Irish Creme in my hot cocoa.  I prefer to use alcohol to add a touch flavor.

Since I live in a dry village, I know folks who hit the bar on their way out here to have their last drink for several months and then hit it on the way in to quench their thirst.  I don't usually go to events that serve real cocktails so I wondered which ones are the most popular.

1.  The Apple Martini or Appletini which is a mix of vodka and apple schnapps, finished with a bit of lemon juice and a slice of apple.

2.  The Long Island Iced Tea, a drink made of rum, vodka, tequila, gin, and triple sec, frequently finished with lemon and coke. Although the name implies it, the drink has absolutely no tea in it.  Rumor has it, this drink was created in 1920 in Long Island, TN but the modern one came out as winner of a contest in Long Island, NY.

3.  The Californication which is the Californian take on the Long Island Iced Tea.  This one is a mix of rum, vodka, tequila, and gin finished off with orange liqueur and orange juice.  It is finished off with a twist of orange rind or a slice of orange.

4. Pina Colada is a mix of rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. This mix provides a very nice tropical feel.  It originated in Puerto Rico and is considered its national drink. It is so popular, there is even a day to celebrate the Pina Colada.  It is said to have been created by a bartender at the Hilton Beachcomber Hotel back in 1952.

5. The  Margarita is considered the most popular cocktail in the United States. It is composed of tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Its been around since the 1930's or 40's and is reputed to have come from Baja region of Mexico.

6.  The Caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil.  Due to the recent Olympics, the world has been introduced to this particular drink.  It is made of cachaca or white rum, brown sugar, and lime juice.  This drink originated back in 1918 as a remedy for the Spanish Flu.

7.  A Mint Julip, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.  I'm sure everyone is aware of this because I remember seeing something about it on a  M.A.S.H. episode celebrating the Kentucky Derby.  The drink is made of Bourbon, water, and sugar. There is evidence this particular drink has been around for a while but in the past its used gin, brandy, or whiskey being the main ingredient.  Bourbon has been the main ingredient since 1938 when Churchill Downs promoted it.  Currently over 120,000 drinks are made and consumed over a 2 day period.

8. The Mai Tai is a drink made of light and dark rum, orange curacao, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.  It evokes images of Polynesia.    It was extremely popular in the 1950's and 60's and even appeared in the movie "Blue Hawaii".  The story goes that it was created back in Oakland, California by the owner of a Trader Vics.  Its said the owner made it for some friends visiting from Tahiti in 1944.  Supposedly one of them exclaimed that's good in Tahitian and that became the name of the drink.

9. Mojito is a minty drink made of white rum, mint, sugar, lime juice, and soda.  To make the best Mojito it is recommended one crush the mint leaves rather than cut or tear them.  There is a story this evolved from a drink back in the 1500's that Francis Drakes men drank to ward off scurvy.  They got the drink from the natives.  Ernest Hemingway loved the drink.

10. At the top of the list is the Cosmopolitan, a refined drink that evokes images of James Bond's world.  It is composed of vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and triple sec.  No one is sure of its origins but females prefer the drink's sophisticated taste.

Out of the list, I've only ever had a Mai Tai and that was on the plane when I flew to Hawaii.  I just realized that even my parents are not cocktail drinkers.  I have had the Disney nonalcoholic version of the mint julep but its more like tea with mint and sugar.  Have a nice day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Top 10 Most Expensive Cars

Pickup Truck, Car Assessment, I Sell Car  I don't know about you but I cringed the last time I had to buy a new car.  Technically, I ended up purchasing a heavy duty long bed pickup truck and I bought it used.  It was a new model only owned by the previous owner about 4 months but still it was a whopping $35K.

Just after I bought it and took it to fill up with diesel, I discovered it was a guy magnet.  They'd walk over and ask all sorts of technical questions and I gave them my helpless look because honestly, I needed the truck's pulling capability and it did the job  I don't know all the technical details because it holds no interest for me.

Since I cringed paying $35K, I wondered what some of the most expensive cars are. We've all heard about Lamborghini's and other exotic models but are there some we've never heard of?  Ohhh there are and the prices for them make me pass out.  The cost of many of those cars will buy you a custom build car in the most expensive part of the city.

1.  The Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita starts us off at a whopping $4.8 million.  You are reading that correctly.  Aside from the fact it is a sleek, low to the grown vehicle, it is encrusted in diamonds.  It is not regular faceted diamonds but the Swedish manufacturer created a finish where they coat carbon fibers with a diamond dust impregnated resin.  Wow,  diamonds on a car and its even street legal!

2.  The Lamborghini Veneno or Poison comes in at $4.5 million.  This extremely fast, sleek almost race car looking vehicle was built to celebrate the car maker's 50th anniversary.  It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds.

3. The Lykan Hypersport is only $3.4 million. If you've ever seen Furious 7 where a car crashed through several skyscrapers in Dubai, you've seen this car.  Its design include jewel encrusted head lights, scissor doors and other elements that make it look like something from a futuristic movie.

4. Another $3.4 million car is the Limited Edition Bugatti Veyron.  In addition to being one of the most expensive cars in the world, it is also one of the fastest, capable of getting up to 254 mph.  Its low slung carbon fiber body makes it look as if it hugs the ground as it speeds across the landscape.

5.  The Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio comes in at $3 million with its open close to the ground appearance.  What makes it so expensive is that there were only 6 ever made so it is highly coveted.  This is not one you can just go out and purchase, you have to be approved by the automaker or you can't buy it.

6. The  Pagani Huayra, named after the Incan God of Winds, goes for a measly $2.6 million. This one is quite light as just over 2500 pounds with lots of power but only 20 were made.

7.  The Ferrari F60 American was built to celebrate Ferrari's 60 years in the North American market.  Only 10 of these were built but they have a patriotic spirit decked out in a stars and stripes color theme all for $2.5 million.

8.  There is the Bugatti Chiron for $2.5 million with the ability to go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds.  It's low to the ground aerodynamically slick look makes you want to watch it race. 

9. The Koenigsegg One:1 for $2 million looks as if it stepped from a redone Back To The Future.  It has a 1 kg to horsepower ratio which means it can go around 273 mph.  Its F-1 honeycomb core, carbon fiber manifold and ventilated ceramic brakes can produce a swift ride.

10.  At the bottom of the list is the Koenigsegg Regera for a paltry $2 million.  This vehicle is powered by both a twin turbo engine and a battery pack which causes it to go from 0 to 186 mph in just over 10 seconds.

Talk about luxury!  You'd have to have lots of money available to afford any of these vehicles.  They are cool to look at but I'd hate to see the actual cost of insurance on them.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Language of Flowers

Rose, Flower, Blossom, Bloom, Flowers Did you ever see the movie Kate and Leopold?  In it Leopold leaps forward into this century and while here, gives advice about which flowers to give because flowers convey meaning.

Have you ever wondered what each flower says to you as you gaze into its beauty.  In the past, a bouquet conveyed meaning but today, most people give flowers because they are pretty except for those dead flowers which convey the message of "I hate you!"

To start with floriography is the technical term for communicating using flowers.  Although this has existed through history, it became particularly popular in the 19th century to send coded messages without having to express certain feelings out loud.  There were plenty of books which could help the sender determine the right flowers for the right situation.

These small bouquets or nosegays also known as tussie-mussies were often carried or worn.  At one point, even the popular women's magazines of the time printed articles on this topic.

Examples of floral messages include:
Red rose for love.

Astor for patience.

Honeysuckle for devotion or sweetness.

Red Poppy meant imaginations, eternal sleep, and pleasure.

Yellow Primrose conveyed youth and young love.

Daffodils stood for unrequited love and chivalry.

Violets referred to modesty and faithfulness.

Apple blossoms meant good fortune, the promise of better things to come.

Daisies conveyed innocence, purity, or farwell.

Roses in general referred to love but the color determined the depth of the love.

Crocuses meant cheerfulness and the gladness of youth.

White lilies convey chastity and virtue.

Some of the meanings have remained the same but others have changed over time.  Next time you send a bouquet or you are giving flowers in general, remember you are sending a message.  I hope you enjoyed this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The 10 Most Expensive Pearls in The World.

Pearl, Moss, Treasure, Art  I don't know about you but my grandmother had a special set of pearls she wore for special occasions.  According to her, pearls finished the outfit and you were ready for anything. 

I have a pair of pearl earrings but I do not wear them very often.  I might have a pearl necklace but I moved so much in my early years that they could be in a box somewhere.  I don't think I've ever fully unpacked.  That is on my to list when I retire.

Pearls are actually formed inside both freshwater and saltwater oysters.  The pearl starts out as a foreign body that settled in between the mantle and the shell and irritated the mantle.  The oyster coats the irritation with nacre, the same material as used to make its shell.   Although white pearls are quite popular, pearls also come in several colors including  pink, green, blue, grey and black.

Black pearls are only found in the South Pacific.  Black pearls are often referred to as the Queen of Gems and have been in use as far back as the 5th century.  Due to being so rare, they were only used by royalty and the extremely rich and powerful.

There is a story that Cleopatra bet Mark Anthony she could host the most expensive dinner in history.  She set the table with bare plates and served wine.  In her wine, she took a pearl earring and dissolved it in her wine, then drank it.  She won the bet and it is thought the pearl she used would be worth 9 million dollars in today's society.

Now for the 10 most expensive pearls in the world.

1.  A Pierre Cartier pearl necklace sold for 1 million dollars back in the early 20th century when pearls sold for as much as famous paintings.  The two strand necklace consisted of 128 pearls total, 55 in the upper strand and 73 in the lower strand.

2. A three strand necklace of natural pearls with 180 pearls varying in size from 4.95 to 11.05 mm sold at auction for $1.4 million. 

3. A five strand necklace also of natural peals sold at Christie's in 2012 for $1.7 million. The 347 pearls range in size from 4.35 to 11.35 mm and is finished with a gold and black silk cord to tie rather than a diamond clasp.

4. The Cowdray pearls sold for $3.3 million when auctioned off in 2002.  This single strand necklace is comprised of 38 natural grey pearls varying in size from 6.8 to 11.4mm. 

5. The Pearl of Lao Tzu also known as the Pearl of Allah, valued at 3.5 million for this single pearl.  It was discovered in the waters off of the Philippines back in the 1930's.  It measures 24 cm across and 9.45 cm long and weighs 14 pounds.  Although it is not particularly attractive, it is still considered quite valuable.

6. A double strand pearl necklace composed of 120 pearls ranging in size from 6.5 to 12.25 mm and varies in color from white to a beautiful cream was last sold for $3.7 million in 2012.  The pearl's rosy and green overtones in addition to the diamond clasp are what makes it so valuable.

7. The Big Pink Pearl is a natural Abalone pearl in a beautiful iridescent pink.  The 470 carat pearl was discovered in 1990 by a diver and he still owns it.  It is valued at S4.7 million currently.

8. The Baroda Pearl necklace is worth a cool $7.1 million.  The two strand necklace is composed of 68 pearls selected from the original seven strand owned by the Maharajas of India.  The 68 perfectly matched pearls range in size from 10 to 16 mm with a diamond encrusted clasp finishing off its perfection.

9. La Peregrina Pearl which was once owned by Philip II of Spain.  The pearl is the centerpiece of the necklace worth $11.7 million.  The pearl itself is perfectly pear shaped and bright white color makes it more valuable.  The rest of the necklace is made of a floral pattern of pearls with a ruby in the center of each repeat.  Richard Burton purchased it in 1969 for $37,000 for his wife but it sold for $11.7 million in 2011.

10. The Beauty of The Ocean pearl worth $139 million.  It weighs 6 tons and is 5 feet tall but it is a man made pearl.  It is made out of fluorite that was ground into the pearl shape over a 3 year period.  It is said to glow in the dark and came from Mongolia.

I'm not sure why the last one made the list other than its shape and uniqueness.  Some of these are quite impressive.  Enjoy reading.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Four Types of Caviar.

Caviar, Red Caviar, Black Caviar, Food  Caviar is such an exotic dish, showing up at those dinners at rich people's houses in the movies.  Something that has a reputation for being available to the richest people on earth.

So what is caviar?  It is processed salted roe also known as fish eggs.  Although many types of roe are classified as caviar, true caviar comes from sturgeon and might be either Baluga, Osetera, or Sevruga. 

Unfortunately, sturgeon is on the endangered list but the largest remaining sturgeon deposit is found in the Caspian Sea where its fished by both Russia and Iran.  The Caspian Sea produces 85% of the worlds wild caviar.  Caviar from any other source must be labeled with the type of fish its from such as Salmon Caviar.

Caviar is rated according to its size, color, and method of processing.  The rating system used for its color is either 000 for light, 00 for medium, and 0 for dark.  The very light or golden caviar is labeled Imperial or Royal because it was originally only served to royalty. The most expensive caviar is based on the fact that it is rare.

Caviar may undergo one of four processes.
1. Malossol is lightly salted and preferred by connoisseurs due to having no more than 5% salt content.  Most modern caviar has only 3.5% and this type is described as high quality.

2. Salted Caviar is also known as semi-preserved because it can contain up to 8% salt.  Although the increased salt content extends the shelf life, it can compromise the taste of the caviar.

3. Pressed Caviar is made from too soft or damaged, broken or over ripe eggs.  It is highly salted and pressed so it resembles jam.  At one point it was the primary method for preserving caviar and had a very concentrated flavor.  It is popular among those who like a strong flavor.

4. Pasteurized Caviar  is made from fresh caviar that has been heat treated and vacuum packed in glass jars.  Both the quality and flavor may be effected.

Back to the three types of sturgeon who provide the world with caviar.  The second rarest is the Baluga sturgeon but is much more common than the extremely rare Sterlet.  Less than 100 Baluga sturgeon are captured each year.  Its roe is large, ranging in color from pale grey to black, with a nice buttery flavor.

Next is Osetra Caviar consisting of medium sized eggs ranging in color from dark brown to light grey to a golden brown and has a nutty, slightly fruity flavor.

Last is Sevruga Caviar is the smallest of these three varieties, ranging in color from black to light grey and is more available than the other two while being the least expensive.  Many people prefer the saltier, richer, buttery flavor over the other two.

Fun ending fact.  At one time, America produced over 90 percent of the world's caviar. At one point, it was so plentiful that it was served in saloons and eaten as if it were peanuts.  Imagine going from something that is so common to something with a reputation for being only for royalty.  Have a good day.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Top 13 Longest Running Scripted Television Shows

Television, Tv, Tv Show, ElectronicsThe other night I realized that NCIS is on its 14th season which for a network show is considered great.  Most shows do not seem to run more than 5 or 6 seasons.  So other than shows like Masterpiece Theatre and Walt Disney, what are the longest running scripted shows.  I use scripted because these shows were planned, dialogue prepared etc to tell a story with the same characters week after week.

1. Of course NCIS has produced over 300 episodes which is remarkable due to the fact that they've managed to keep the audience hooked and watching for  quite a few years.

2.ER, a show that ran from 1994 to 2009 and produced an impressive 331 episodes.  This show spawned George Clooney who later stared in Oceans 11 and its sequels.  This show captivated a generation of watchers who grew with the show.

3.  CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the original one located in Las Vegas.  It ran from 2000 to 2015 and produced 335 episodes.  Over the time it was on television, it birthed several offspring, the first of which took place in Florida, followed by NYC.

4. Knots Landing, one of the night time soap opera type shows. It started off as a spin-off to the ever popular Dallas and ran from 1979 to 1993 while producing 344 episodes.  The women always looked polished even after a fight.

5. Dallas, the ever popular show of oil barons and wealth.  It ran from 1978 to 1991 and produced 357 episodes.  Does anyone remember the year that they made a dream?  I never bought it. 

6. My Three Sons which ran from 1960 to 1972 starring Fred McMurray and had the crusty Uncle Charlie as the housekeeper/cook.  My Three Sons ran 380 episodes and at one point the oldest son got married and left the series so they adopted a boy who became the 3rd son.

7. Law and Order"SVU or Special Victims Unity, ran for 17 years beginning in 1999 and produced 383 episodes.  One member has been on the series the whole time.  I usually catch reruns when I travel because one station always seems to have marathons.

8.  Bonanza with Lorne Green and Michael Landon was on from 1959 to 1973 with 431 episodes.  It was a western taking place near Lake Tahoe. 

9. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet ran from 1952 to 1966 with a whopping 435  episodes.  It was sort of the first reality show in that it starred the Nelson family as themselves.  The show made the leap from radio to television.  One of the sons was none other than Ricky Nelson the singer.

10.  Law and Order, the original show ran from 1990 to 2010 and produced 456 episodes.  It showed the process from investigation to trial.  Sometimes they won, sometimes they lost but it was always resolved in one hour.

11. Lassie was on the air from 1954 to 1971 with 547 episodes not counting two years it was only in syndication.  I don't know how many different Timmy's or Lassies it had but I know it was hugely popular.

12.  The Simpsons, an animated series that has run for 27 seasons so far with over 580 episodes.  I've never watched this show because it has never interested me but I found some math things you can do with the series.

13. Gunsmoke which ran 20 years and produced 635 episodes.  Imagine so many episodes.  Someone in the family said they went to the same junior college in California that the actress who played Miss Kitty did.  I think that was in the 50's. 

I remember watching some of these or catching them as reruns on the channels that show old series.  I wonder if anyone else out there has fond memories of these shows.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tea - White, Green, Oolong, and Black

Tea, Teabags, Black Background, MacroQuite a few people I know think tea is Lipton's, Nestea, or possibly Red Rose.  If they serve tea, they heat water, pop a tea bag in and its done but some of us prefer a better cut of tea. 

Did you know that White, Green, Oolong, and Black tea all come form the same plant?  It comes from the Camellia sinensis plant and the final product depends on how it is processed.

White tea is the least processed version of tea.  Only a few baby leaves are picked at a time and the leaves are dried.  This is considered the healthiest type of tea because it still has most of the antioxidants.  The leaves are silvery white and the taste is very mild and almost sweet.  Silver Needles and White Peony are easily found varieties of white tea. 

Green tea is next on the list.  Green tea is actually made of withered tea leaves that are picked and then steamed or fired to halt the leaf enzyme that initiates oxidation.  This is why the leaves stay green.  Furthermore, green tea is reputed to be  high in antioxidants and healthy for you.  The flavor of green tea ranges from grassy to sweet or might be fruity or nutty depending on the variety and the way it was steamed or fired.  This tea is very hard to properly brew. 

Oolong tea is the usual variety served in Chinese restaurants.  Oolong is usually brownish in color and is semi-oxidized.  After leaves are picked they are bruised to release the enzyme for oxidation.  The outer part of the leaf is allowed to oxidize but the center part remains green which is why there is such a variation in flavors and colors of the finished product.  The amount of oxidation determines whether the finished product is closer to a green tea or a black tea.

Black tea is what Americans and the British are used to drinking.  The leaves have been fully oxidized and once the oxidation has reached a certain point, the leaves are fired to seal the leaf and allow it to fully dry.  The oxidation process is what creates the dark, malty taste we are used to.  I adore Black Dragon Pearl tea but its harder to find than its green cousin.

Right now, I'm drinking an Oolong whose final product is more greenish and whose flavor is light and sweet.  I do not put anything in my tea, unless I'm drinking Chai.  I don't even like sugar in my tea because it interferes with the unique flavor of each type of tea. 

Please note that each tea brews best at a different temperature.  Rule of thumb is you use the lower temps for the white and green teas, while you can use the higher temps for Oolong and boiling water for black.  I'm off to enjoy a fresh cup of hot tea.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When Is A Bear Not A Bear?

Bear, Brown Bear, Animal, Teddy Bear  When I speak of bears, most people think of Brown, Black, or Grizzly bears.  You'll see the brown bears if you ever visit Denali National Park and ride the buses. 

Years ago, I took a trip into the park, as far as I could go on the bus and on the way back the driver spotted a couple bears off to the side of the road.  He stopped and everyone whipped out their cameras to snap as many pictures as they could.  No one was allowed out of the bus for safety reasons.

Panda, Bear, Black, White, China, ChBut not everything called a bear is actually a bear!  I will reassure you that a Panda is a actually a bear according to its DNA however it seems to share characteristics with both the bear family and the racoon family!

It is similar to the Red Panda in the racoon family due to the fact it eats bamboo, grip the bamboo in the same way and have similar snouts, teeth, and claws.  Other the other hand it resembles the bears due to its similar size and shape.  It also has the same shaggy fur and walks and climbs in the same manner. 

Koala, Bear, Australian, Cute, MarsupialSo is it a bear or racoon?  Well the debate still abounds so I don't think the discussion will ever end on this one but on the other hand the Koala Bear is definitely not a bear.  They are actually a marsupial or pouched mammal.  They are actually related to wombats and kangaroos.

It acquired the name bear when settlers first saw the creatures and noted they looked similar to bears so the name stuck.  Yes the creature is cute but it lives in Eucalyptus trees and seldom leaves the trees.  They are even able to obtain most of the moisture they need from the same leaves.

So you see, not everything called a bear is actually a bear and even then one is sort of a bear but not quite.  I hope you enjoyed this.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

What Is Edible Gold?

Gold Bar, Bullion, Gold Bullion  The other day, I blogged on the most expensive food in the world.  Most of the foods had edible gold mixed in or on top.  Have you ever wondered how you can eat a metal?

I wondered that!  I also wondered why would anyone want to eat it as its really more valuable in your safe?  Edible gold leaf is popular in India and Asia because they love it on sweets.

Technically, its actually referred to as edible gold leaf because it comes in either sheets or flakes.  Gold itself is very soft so its easy to shape, flatten, etc.  The gold destined for food is rolled and hammered till its 1/8000 mm thick.  That is actually quite thin, thinner than a paper plate, perhaps similar to the thickness of plastic wrap.  Be aware, gold has not taste and is only good for providing sparkle to foods.

Flakes are best for sprinkling on top of desserts to provide a glimmer rather than a solid look.  The gold teases the eye and sparkles.  In addition, it is sometimes floated in cocktails, or added to bottled liquor.  The sheets come in two forms, loose leaf and transfer leaf.  Loose leaf edible gold is torn into small pieces to place on candy etc while transfer is better for covering larger surfaces such as cakes.

Gold itself is considered inert because your body cannot process it, so it passes through the body without being absorbed.  So it provides no nutrition at all.  When shopping for edible gold leaf, you need to make sure it is a pure as possible, in the 22 to 24 carat range.  You want it as pure as possible.  Any gold leaf that is less than 22 carats is going to have impurities which may not be good for you.

I found some listed on Amazon but it was only $40 for 23 carat gold leaf sheets (25) only 3 3/8 inches square for each sheet.  That really isn't very much but together it might be enough for a bunch of cupcakes.  Others went for more so gold leaf really isn't that cheap. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Making Your Own Latte!

Latte, Cappuccino, Flat White, Milk, Tea  Most people love their coffee.  I know every time I pop into a coffee shop to pick up a tea, I end up behind a ton of people who want their double latte flavored with a shot of whatever. 

I never learned to like coffee because it doesn't like me.  Over the past 20 years, coffee has gone from a simple drink which was flavored with milk and or sugar to something fancy enough to be a dessert.

Are you the one who has every piece of equipment needed so you can make yourself a Cafe Cubano or a Bonbon?  For those who do not, have you ever wondered what makes a latte a latte?  Its made with 2 ounces of espresso with 6 ounces of steamed milk?

In case you are wondering, a Cafe Cubano is made with one ounce of espresso brewed with brown sugar while the Bonbon takes one ounce of espresso and mixes it with one ounce of condensed milk.  You could always try a Mazagran made up of brown sugar, lemon juice, coffee, and ice.

I would never know how to make any of these if I hadn't stumbled across this wonderful infographic from Style magazine.  It has directions for making 38 different varieties of the perfect coffee.  The directions even go so far as to tell you if the coffee is espresso, french press, ground, or dripped.  It tells you if the milk is steamed, warmed, scalded, or foamed.  It tells you the amount of each ingredient and the order so if you want the sugar on the bottom it is in the bottom of the cup.

This would be perfect if you wanted to have a coffee bar instead of  a drinks bar where people could order one of these wonderful 38 coffee's.  Are there any you've never heard of?  Give them a try to see if you have a new favorite!  You have a world of coffee's to try that most people never ever see.  Perhaps you will have a great time exploring the world as you work your way through the list.

So if you want to branch out in your coffee making, this is a perfect way to go about trying new coffee's.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Flowers In My Salad!

Borage, Flower, Plant, Herb, Food, Macro  I love flowers.  I love growing the ones whose fragrance just makes you want to snuggle in and enjoy the day.  I love the ones I can cook with or use to make my laundry smell exquisite, or how about shortbread flavored with lavender flowers.

Most people are aware of flowers such a lavender but are not aware of the lesser known ones.  Have you thought of eating carnations?  Their petals are sweet as long as they are trimmed away from the base.

1. Bachelors Buttons is another one whose petals are edible but you need to avoid the calyx due to its bitterness.

2.  Many of you have heard of using Calendula for healing but did you know its petals are edible?  The blossoms have a spicy, peppery flavor that goes well in salads. 

3. Chrysanthemum blossoms have a taste that ranges from peppery to pungent and you should only eat the petals.

4. Citrus blossoms such as orange, lemon, or grapefruit flowers have a sweet taste and are highly scented to don't use too many as they may overpower the dish.

5. Fuchsia flowers  besides being beautiful are endowed with a tangy flavor.

6. Johnny Jump Ups provide a slightly minty flavor for salads, pastas and drinks.

7.  Roses are edible.  Their blossoms are great in drinks, desserts, or jams.  All rose flowers are edible but the darker ones have a more pronounced flavor.

8. Sunflower petals are edible but so is the stem which can be steamed much like an artichoke.

9. Nasturtium has one of the most recognizable edible flowers with their beautiful colors and peppery bite.

10.  Squash flowers are often fried after being dipped in a batter.  This is a well known dish in the Southwest.

There are lots of other herbal flowers used in everyday cooking but this list is of 10 lesser known blossoms which could easily be incorporated.  I have marigold in my greenhouse but I didn't know I could eat the flowers until I did some reading.  Brighten up your next salad with a few petals.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Truth about Nuts!

Almonds, Cores, Nuts, Fruit  Do you buy those little packets of nuts from the store? Either the mixed nuts or trail mix so you can pop them in your lunch box or carry them with you? 

Guess what?  Those nuts may not be true nuts at all!  A nut is defined as dry fruit with one or occasionally two seed inside a dry hard case.

Real nuts grow on trees and include pecans, sweet chestnut, beech, acorns, alders, and hazel but the ones we usually classify as nuts such a peanuts, almonds, horse chestnuts, pistachio, cashews and pine nuts are not. 

Most real nuts grow on trees but a peanut is actually a legume like  and it forms underground in pods. A cashew actually forms on the bottom of the cashew apple and is normally grey in color. Walnuts are actually seeds that form and harden inside of a green husk while the pistachio nut is actually the seed of the pistachio tree.  Almonds are also seeds but of the Almond tree.

Did you know the peanut used to be called a ground pea or ground nut but no one is sure how these names evolved into the word peanut.  The peanut is a member of the legume family.  The "nuts" grown underground in pods.

Cashews actually form on the bottom of the cashew apple.  This gray extension is referred to as a drupe and is the tree's true seed.  The cashew tree is related to mangoes,  pistachios, and poison ivy. The apple is quite fragile and often fed to animals but it is an ingredient in Indian curries.

What about almonds?  They are actually the edible seed of the almond tree.  Almond trees produce a fruit that looks like a peach but when the fruit ripens, it dries and opens exposing the seeds for us to pick and eat. 

Finally pistachios, those wonderful green "nuts" we love to scarf but are expensive.    Pistachios grow in bunches much like grapes but only female trees produce the fruit every other year.  To pick them, the tree is shaken so the product falls and is then used.  If it is fully ripe, the hard shell bursts open.  If the hard shell does not burst open, it indicates the fruit is not fully ripe.

So the next time you enjoy your mixed nuts, remember that over half the mix is made up of seeds and not nuts.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Time for Me!

Sand, Beach, Reprint, Hand, Handprint  I am willing to wager most of you out there do not take enough time for yourself.  I know I don't.  I can guarantee that me is at the bottom of my list or seldom on my list.  I'm not referring to the time you've put into your schedule to visit the gym so you stay in shape, although that is a part of it.

I am referring to the pampering yourself so you can totally relax and find yourself.  Most days my idea of pampering is finding an extra minute in the shower or spending a couple extra minutes in bed but that is about all.

I'm actually at work today so I can get a bunch of things out of the way and have the next two days for me.  I plan to sleep in till 9 AM, which is late for me.  I intend to walk out on the tundra and immerse myself in the quiet.  In other words, I want to recharge my self so I'm ready for work again on Wednesday.

The problem with having a nurturing soul, is you want to make sure everyone else is taken care of first.  If you don't get time for yourself oh, well.  There is always tomorrow but think about it.  Tomorrow never comes because you are always focused on everyone else.

They say to be healthy  we need to establish a balance between our minds, bodies, and souls.  Unfortunately, I seldom have time to address all three since I put myself last.  I'm not saying we should become selfish and always put ourselves first but we need to find time during the day to address all three parts of ourselves.

Most of us have our bodies covered through good eating and exercising.  I know I take steps to eat right.  Where I live, we don't always get a wide selection of fruits and vegetables so I order a box of organic fruits and vegetables every two weeks.  I have been enjoying cantaloupe, seedless black grapes, plums, peaches, apples, oranges and mangoes in addition to fresh salad and my usual vegetables.  I have my exercise penciled in from 6 to 7 PM 5 nights a week.

As for the other two, I love to use a sauna to sweat my worry and toxins out of my body so I feel almost new again.  I walk a lot but I do not consider it exercise.  I use it as a time to listen to the wind, enjoy the scenery and just spend time away from everyone so i can rejuvenate my soul.  I don't get to do it enough.

That leaves my mind, so I do play games that challenge my mind and give me a break from thinking about work.  I read books to carry me away to other worlds.  I sometimes even put on a show that allows me to think about things that I can't do right now but allow me to learn.  I put on gardening DVD's so I can enjoy it in the middle of winter and learn something for the future.

I need to take better care of myself but I am only human.  I hope you all find time for yourselves.  Enjoy the day and remember to take time for yourself.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The History Of Labor Day

Construction, Worker, Concrete Yesterday was Labor Day, a day most of us get off but not everyone.  I grew up thinking of it as another holiday from school in my early years and work in later years but I never once thought about its meaning.

Labor Day is always the first Monday in September.  Its never been renamed and/or moved and can be counted on no matter what.

It turns out, the holiday came about in the late 19th century as a way to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of the American Worker.  It was started by the labor movement in the 1800's but caught on to become a recognized federal holiday in 1894.

Just think about this!  Not even two decades after the Civil War ended, the idea of a workingman's holiday spread across the land.  Remember, most people including children worked long hours in poor conditions with little pay.  On September 2, 1882, 10,000 workers choose to take off of work without pay and marched from City Hall to Union Square.  This is recognized as the first Labor Day Parade.

The idea spread across the nation and the world.  Over the next 12 years, various state created their own Labor Day until the federal government followed suite and declared it a federal holiday in 1894.  To be precise, the first bill to recognize it as a holiday was proposed to the New York state legislature but it was recognized first by the Oregon legislature on February 21, 1887.  By 1894, 23 states passed bills and on June 28th Congress passed their bill.  Remember 23 is about half of the recognized states.  Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska were not yet states at the point in time.

Most other countries in the world recognize May first as the International Workers Day but this date was chosen after a very bloody and violent clash between workers and police/soldiers in Chicago resulting in multiple deaths.  Workers were protesting long hours, requesting 8 hour work days but the peaceful demonstration erupted into a violent encounter when a bomb was thrown at the police.

After the event, the Union leaders and members of the Socialist party declared May 1st as International Workers Day, the day most other countries celebrate.  In 1894, when the president and others were preparing to make Labor Day an officially recognized holiday, they wanted a different date due to the violent associates with the International Workers Day so they chose the first Monday of September.

I hope you had a great Labor Day and enjoyed your three day weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The 10 most expensive types of salt.

Mono Lake, California, Salt, Landscape  Can you imagine cooking with a salt that costs around $35.00 per ounce?  You realize that is $560 per pound!  To me that is mind boggling.  I assume there must be something really special about these products.

I finally splurged on the Hawaiian ones, Gros Gris and a Himalayan one.  I got a little of each but it lasts a long time because I use just a pinch to finish my cooking.

This list is from most expensive down to not as expensive.

1. Amethyst Bamboo Salt at $38.50 per 1.2 ounce bottle.  This particular salt has been roasted nine times in an aged bamboo vessel capped with clay.  The salt is roasted with a pine wood fed fire at a temperature almost as high the melting point of salt.

2. Korean Oyster Bamboo salt at at $28.50 per 1.2 ounce bottle.  This is another bamboo salt that has been pulverized into a fine powder.  It is only roasted one time and is referred to as a lesser salt because its only been roasted once.

3. Hana Flake salt for $17.25 per 1.2 ounce container. This Japanese flake salt glimmers in the sunlight due to its semi-transparency.  It is a bright white in color.  It is formed from evaporated brine.

4. Kamebishi Soy salt at $17.25 per 1.2 ounce bottle. It comes form Japan and is a robust salt flavored with soy sauce.  The salt is made when the company evaporates their fermented aged shoyu sauce which has 14.5% salt.  The resulting product is sold.  I looked on Amazon and They charge almost $30 for a just over 2.8 ounce container.

5. Black Truffle Salt for $16.50 per 1.2 ounce bottle. This particular salt is a finishing salt which is salt laced with bits of truffles. It is categorized as having meaty flavor.

6. Iburi Jio Cherry Smoked Salt for $16.50 per 1.2 ounce container.  This is a particular sea salt that is smoked using the Iburi smoking technique often used to preserve daikon radish for the winter.  Salt is smoked by being hung above dried cherry wood being burned.

7. Saffron Salt at $16.50 per 1.2 ounce bottle.  Saffron salt is simply a good quality saffron mixed with salt.  The cost is due to the cost of Saffron.

8. Kiluaea Onyx Black salt is only $12.00 for a 1.2 ounce bottle. This salt is produced in one place on the island of Molokai in Hawaii.  The salt is evaporated with black lava rock and combined with charcoal. 

9. Oshima Island Blue salt for $13.25 per 1.2 ounce jar.  Although the name implies the salt might be blue, it is actually sparkling white.  It is produced on the Oshima Island in Japan.  It is sun dried and filled with minerals.

10. Takesumi Blue salt at $13.00 per 1.2 ounce jar. This last one is a bamboo salt in which the Japanese deep sea salt is placed inside bamboo and totally burned. 

I never realized there were so many interesting types of salt out there.  I'm thinking of blowing the money for the soy salt because I love the flavor of a good Shoyu.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The 10 Most Expensive Foods in The World!

Caviar, Red Caviar, Black Caviar, Food  Did you ever wonder about the most expensive foods in the world?  I do occasionally when I hear comments about caviar and how expensive it is?  I don't know anything about it since I'm not exactly in a place where we find it on the store shelves.  So I read something today that just made this question come to the forefront.

1.  The $666 Douche Burger for $666.  It is made of a Kobe beef patty stuffed with foie gras and gold leaf while topped with caviar, lobster and truffles with melted cheese on top.

2. The most expensive dessert for a whopping $25,000 is an ice cream sundae with a blend of 28 cocoas (14 of which are the most expensive in the world), decorated with edible gold leaf and served in a cup lined with edible gold leaf, and at the bottom under everything is one 18 carat gold bracelet with a one carat diamond.

3. The most expensive curry running $3200 can be found in London.  The curry is made up of Devon Crab, white truffle, gold leaf, a lobster coated in gold, Beluga caviar, four abalones, and four quail eggs.  Wow, that is quite a mix.

4. How about paying $1780 for a slice of a meat pie filled with a rare beef, two different rare mushrooms, winter black truffles, mixed in a gravy containing an expensive vintage wine topped with an edible gold leaf encrusted crust.

5.  Of course you could spend $1000 for a lobster frittata containing sevruga caviar which retails for $65 per ounce, eggs, cream, and chives.

6. For breakfast you could spend another $1000 for a simple bagel topped with a white truffle creme cheese and a goji berry infused wine jelly finished off with pieces of edible gold leaf.

7.  What about $2400 for a pizza with white truffles and edible gold leaf?  This one is a special order that needs ordering one week in advance.

8.  Would you pay $145 for a hot dog with mustard, mayo, baby greens, applewood smoked bacon, an imported Swedish cheese, tomato, dried cranberries, and a fancy balsamic vinaigrette all on an herbed Focaccia toasted in a white truffle butter.

9. Did you realize the most expensive sushi  runs almost $2000 for five pieces because each piece is wrapped in edible gold leaf, topped with caviar and served with a diamond.

10. Finally, would you pay $180 for ham made from pigs raised only on acorns and roots?  This particular ham is also cured for 3 years before being packaged in a handmade box with a handmade apron and a certificate of DNA proving its authenticity!

I fear that a simple meal from a few of these items would cost me more than my house payment for several months!  Enjoy your day!