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How to Carve a Halloween Pumpkin

How to Carve a Pumpkin

Pumpkin carving has developed from a fun thing to do at Halloween to a competitive art.

Ideas

There are as many ideas as there are pumpkins.  “The limit is only your imagination”, as the creative types like to say.  The following are pictures to help inspire.

Southern Living Idea

From Southern Living – https://www.southernliving.com

Seasonal designs

Seasonal designs are unique

How to make a pumpkin cooler

Or try something more traditional

More Picture Ideas

Pantry 101 – General Goods & Condiments 7-10

Pantry 101 – General Goods & Condiments 7-10

General goods & Condiments

1. rice
2. dried pasta in different shapes
3. dried onion soup mix
4. tomato paste
5. tomato sauce
6. canned tomatoes
7. peanut butter
8. jelly
9. canned tuna
10. raisins

11. chocolate syrup
12. cereals
13. chicken or beef stock
14. canned soups
15. canned beans
16. olives
17. canned pears
18. canned peaches
19. applesauce
20. vegetable oil
21. olive oil
22. red wine vinegar
23. white wine vinegar
24. vegetable shortening
25. nonstick cooking spray
26. mayonnaise
27. ketchup
28. mustard
29. salad dressings
30. soy sauce
31. hot pepper sauce
32. Worcestershire sauce
33. barbecue sauce
34. salsa
35. honey
36. maple syrup
37. white wine for cooking
38. red wine for cooking
39. Mango Chutney

7) peanut butter
 is a food paste made primarily from ground roasted peanuts, with or without added oil. It is popular throughout the world and is also manufactured in some emerging markets. Its primary use is as a sandwich spread.  Similar peanut pastes are popular in various cultures. In South Indian cooking, chili peppers are added to make a spicy variant of peanut paste. In Andhra Pradesh, India, peanut chutney is popular. In this variation, peanuts are ground and mixed with chili peppers and other ingredients.  In some types of gourmet peanut butter, chocolate or other ingredients may be added. Various nut butters are also made from other nuts.

Health benefits
Peanut butter may protect against a high risk of cardiovascular disease due to high levels of monounsaturated fats and resveratrol; butter prepared with the skin of the peanuts has a greater level of resveratrol and other health-aiding agents. Peanut butter (and peanuts) provide protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, arginine, and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid.

Health concerns

For people with a peanut allergy, peanut butter can cause reactions including anaphylactic shock which has led to its banning in some schools.
The peanut plant is susceptible to the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin.[5] Since it is impossible to completely remove every instance of aflatoxins, contamination of peanuts and peanut butter is monitored in many countries to ensure safe levels of this carcinogen. Average American peanut butter contains about 13 parts per billion of aflatoxins, a thousand times below the maximum recommended safe level.
Some brands of peanut butter may contain a large amount of added hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are high in trans fatty acids, thought to be a cause of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke; these oils are added to make the butter easier to spread. Natural peanut butter, and peanuts, do not contain partially hydrogenated oils. A USDA survey of commercial peanut butters in the US did not show the presence of trans fat.
Also, at least one study has found that peanut oil caused relatively heavy clogging of arteries. Robert Wissler, of the University of Chicago, reported that diets high in peanut oil, when combined with cholesterol intake, clogged the arteries of Rhesus monkeys more than did butterfat.

So, to sum up; peanutbutter good, additives bad.  As always, read the labels, look for and avoid added anything.  The shorter the list, the better.  Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils.

8) jelly
Jelly is strictly defined in the US as: That semisolid food made from not less than 45 parts by weight of fruit juice ingredient to each 55 parts by weight of sugar.  This mixture is concentrated to not less than 65 percent soluble solids.  Pectin and acid may be added to overcome the deficiencies that occur in the fruit itself.  Flavoring and coloring agents may also be added.  The name of the fruit used in making the jelly must be stated with other ingredients, in order of declining by weights, on the label of such products offered for sale in the US.

Store bought jellies or Jams generally contain more additives than home made.  If you can get home made from a friend or relative that knows how to preserve, do it.  It will almost always be better.

Why Fruit Jellies are Stable – Jelly, jam, fruit butters, marmalades and preserves are products that are stable because they are high in solids (sugar) and high in acids.  A food substrate concentrated to 65 percent of more soluble solids (sugar) and which contains substantial acid may be preserved with relatively minor heat treatment provided that food product is protected from air.  The high fruit solids and the pectin bind or tie-up the moisture sufficiently to lower the water activity to a level where only molds can grow.  Hermetic sealing protects the product form moisture loss, mold growth and oxidation. – http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g1604/build/g1604.pdf

Long story short.  Use good canning practices, use good ripe fruit and after you open it put it in the refrig.  Also remember that there are a lot of sugars in jelly and that will spike your blood sugar.  Avoid sugar when ever possible.

Side bar-  Jelly is made from juice, Jams are made with the fruit pulp in it, Fruit Butter is the smooth, semisolid  paste with a ratio of five parts fruit to two parts sugar, and Marmalade is usually made from citrus fruit or may contain a citrus peel.

9) canned tuna
This can be a controversial subject, because of the fishing methods used to obtain the fish.  Very large nets are strung out for miles and pulled in catching everything that’s out there.  Sharks are caught in the nets and drown, because they need to keep moving at all times.  Sea turtles are also caught and die in the nets.  Mostly people are upset about the dolphins getting caught and dieing or being injured  in the nets.  With that said.  Tuna is a great source of nutrition.   Most of the next paragraphs come from Wikipedia.

Tuna are several species of ocean-dwelling fish in the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tunas are fast swimmers—they have been clocked at 70 km/h (45 mph)—and include several species that are warm-blooded. Unlike most fish species, which have white flesh, tuna have flesh that is pink to dark red. The red coloring comes from tuna muscle tissue’s greater quantities of myoglobin, an oxygen-binding molecule. Some of the larger tuna species, such as the bluefin tuna, can raise their blood temperature above that of the water through muscular activity. This ability enables them to live in cooler waters and to survive in a wide range of ocean environments
Tuna is an important commercial fish. Some varieties of tuna, such as the bluefin and bigeye tuna, Thunnus obesus, are threatened by overfishing, which dramatically affects tuna populations in the Atlantic and northwestern Pacific Oceans. Other areas seem to support fairly healthy populations of some of the over 48 different species of tuna —for example, the central and western Pacific skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis—but there is mounting evidence that overexploitation threatens tuna populations worldwide. The Australian government alleged in 2006 that Japan had illegally overfished southern bluefin by taking 12,000 to 20,000 tonnes per year instead of the their agreed 6,000 tonnes; the value of such overfishing would be as much as USD $2 billion. Such overfishing has resulted in severe damage to stocks. According to the WWF, “Japan’s huge appetite for tuna will take the most sought-after stocks to the brink of commercial extinction unless fisheries agree on more rigid quotas”.[2]

Increasing quantities of high-grade tuna are entering the market from operations that rear tuna in net pens and feed them a variety of bait fish. In Australia the southern bluefin tuna, Thunnus maccoyii, is one of two species of bluefin tunas that are kept in tuna farms by former fishermen.[3] Its close relative, the northern bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, is being used to develop tuna farming industries in the Mediterranean, North America and Japan.

Due to their high position in the food chain and the subsequent accumulation of heavy metals from their diet, mercury levels can be high in larger species such as bluefin and albacore. As a result, in March 2004 the United States FDA issued guidelines recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children limit their intake of tuna and other types of predatory fish.[4] However, most canned light tuna is skipjack tuna, which is lower in mercury. The Chicago Tribune reported that some canned light tuna such as yellowfin tuna[5] is significantly higher in mercury than skipjack tuna, and caused Consumers Union and other health groups to advise pregnant women to refrain from consuming canned tuna.[6] The Eastern little tuna (Euthynnus affinis) has been available for decades as a low-mercury, less expensive canned tuna. However, of the five major species of canned tuna imported by the United States it is the least commercially attractive, primarily due to its dark color and more pronounced ‘fishy’ flavor. Its use has traditionally been restricted exclusively to institutional (non-retail) commerce.

Canned tuna

Canned tuna was first produced in 1903, and quickly became popular. In the United States, only Albacore can legally be sold in canned form as “white meat tuna”; in other countries, Yellowfin is also acceptable as “white meat tuna.”
While in the early 1980s canned tuna in Australia was most likely to be Southern bluefin, as of 2003 it is usually yellowfin, skipjack, or tongol (labelled “northern bluefin”).
As tuna are often caught great distances from where they are processed, poor quality control may lead to spoilage. Tuna are typically eviscerated by hand, then pre-cooked for 45 minutes to three hours. The fish are then cleaned and filleted, packaged into cans, and sealed. The second cooking of the tuna meat (called retort cooking) is carried out in the cans, this time for 2 to 4 hours. This process kills any bacteria, but retains the histamine that can produce rancid flavors. The international standard sets the maximum histamine level at 200 milligrams per kilogram. An Australian study of 53 varieties of unflavored canned tuna found none to exceed the maximum histamine level, although some had “off” flavors.
Australian standards once required cans of tuna to contain at least 51% tuna, but these regulations were dropped in 2003. The remaining weight is usually oil or water. In the US, the FDA has regulations on canned tuna

Association with dolphins

Many tuna species associate with dolphins, swimming alongside them. These include yellowfin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean, but not albacore or skipjack. The reason for the association is believed to be the avoidance of dolphins by sharks, which are predators of tuna. Swimming near dolphins reduces the likelihood of the tuna being attacked by a shark.
Fishing vessels can exploit this association by searching for pods of dolphins. They encircle the pod with nets to catch the tuna beneath. The nets are prone to entangling dolphins, thus injuring or killing them. As a result of public outcry, methods have been made more “dolphin friendly”, now generally involving lines rather than nets. However, there are neither universal independent inspection programs nor verification of “dolphin safeness” to show that dolphins are not harmed during tuna fishing. According to Consumers Union, the resulting lack of accountability means claims that tuna that is “dolphin safe” should be given little credence.

Canned tuna is a prominent component in many weight trainers‘ diets, as it is very high in protein and is easily prepared.
Tuna is an Oily fish, and therefore contains a high amount of Vitamin D. A can of tuna in oil contains about the Adequate Intake (AI) of the US Dietary Reference Intake of vitamin D for infants, children, men, and women aged 19–50 – 200 UI.
Canned tuna can also be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, of which it sometimes contains over 300 mg per serving. A January 2008 report conducted by the New York Times has found potentially dangerous levels of mercury in certain varieties of sushi tuna, reporting levels “so high that the Food and Drug Administration could take legal action to remove the fish from the market.”

To summarize:  Canned tuna is a great source of protein.  Avoid tuna packed in oil.  If you don’t want to risk the off flavor associated with cans, look for pouch packaged tuna.  If you don’t want to hurt other fish, buy only line caught tuna, or tuna steaks.  If you don’t want to risk mercury poisoning or IF YOU ARE PREGNANT, avoid tuna all together.


10) raisins
Raisins are dried grapes. They are produced in many regions of the world, such as the United States, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, India, Iran, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Togo, and Jamaica, as well as South Africa and Southern and Eastern Europe. Raisins may be eaten raw or used in cooking and baking.
Raisin varieties depend on the type of grape used. Seedless varieties include the Sultana (also known as “Thompson Seedless” in the USA) and Flame. Raisins are typically sun-dried, but may also be “water-dipped,” or dehydrated. “Golden raisins” are made from Sultanas, treated with Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) , and flame dried to give them their characteristic color. A particular variety of seedless grape, the Black Corinth, is also sun dried to produce Zante currants, mini raisins that are much darker in color and have a tart, tangy flavour. Several varieties of raisins are produced in Asia and, in the West, are only available at ethnic specialty grocers. Green raisins are produced in Iran. Raisins have a variety of colors (green, black, blue, purple, yellow) and sizes.

Raisins are about 60% sugars by weight, most of which is fructose. Raisins are also high in certain antioxidants, and are comparable to prunes and apricots in this regard. As for all dried fruits, raisins have a very low vitamin C content.

The natural sugar in grapes crystallizes during the drying process.

Raisins are sweet due to their high concentration of sugars. If they are stored for a long period, the sugar inside the fruit crystallizes. This makes the dry raisins gritty, but does not affect their usability. The sugar grains dissolve when the raisins are swelled in (hot) water.

 

Grape and raisin toxicity in dogs

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The consumption of grapes and raisins presents a potential health threat to dogs. Their toxicity to dogs can cause the animal to develop acute renal failure (the sudden development of kidney failure) with anuria (a lack of urine production). The phenomenon was first identified by the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). A trend was seen as far back as 1999. Approximately 140 cases were seen by the APCC in the one year from April 2003 to April 2004, with 50 developing symptoms and seven dying.

Cause and pathology

The reason why some dogs develop renal failure following ingestion of grapes and raisins is not known. Types of grapes involved include both seedless and seeded, store bought and homegrown, and grape pressings from wineries.  A mycotoxin is suspected to be involved, but one has not been found in grapes or raisins ingested by affected dogs. The estimated toxic dose of grapes is 32 g/kg (grams of grapes per kilograms of mass of the dog), and for raisins it is 11–30 g/kg. The most common pathological finding is proximal renal tubular necrosis. In some cases, an accumulation of an unidentified golden-brown pigment was found within renal epithelial cells.

 Symptoms and diagnosis

Vomiting and diarrhea are often the first symptoms of grape or raisin toxicity. They often develop within a few hours of ingestion. Pieces of grapes or raisins may be present in the vomitus or stool. Further symptoms include weakness, not eating, increased drinking, and abdominal pain. Acute renal failure develops within 48 hours of ingestion    A blood test may reveal increases in blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, phosphorus, and calcium.

Treatment

Emesis (induction of vomiting) is the generally recommended treatment if a dog has eaten grapes or raisins within the past two hours. A veterinarian may use an emetic such as hydrogen peroxide or apomorphine to cause the dog to vomit. Further treatment may involve the use of activated charcoal to adsorb remaining toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and intravenous fluid therapy in the first 48 hours following ingestion to induce diuresis and help to prevent acute renal failure.Vomiting is treated with antiemetics and the stomach is protected from uremic (damage to the stomach from increased BUN) with H2 receptor antagonists. BUN, creatinine, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium levels are closely monitored. Dialysis of the blood (hemodialysis) and peritoneal dialysis can be used to support the kidneys if anuria develops. Oliguria (decreased urine production) can be treated with dopamine or furosemide to stimulate urine production.

The prognosis is guarded in any dog developing symptoms of toxicosis. A negative prognosis has been associated with oliguria or anuria, weakness, difficulty walking, and severe hypercalcemia (increased blood calcium levels).

 

You might have noticed that I added Mango Chutney to the bottom of the list.  This was a suggestion from Mittie.  We’ll talk more about it when we get there.  Thanks, Mittie, for the input.

later-
Jughandle

Pantry 101-General Goods & Condiments 11-19

General goods & Condiments

1. rice
2. dried pasta in different shapes
3. dried onion soup mix
4. tomato paste
5. tomato sauce
6. canned tomatoes
7. peanut butter
8. jelly
9. canned tuna
10. raisins
11. chocolate syrup
12. cereals
13. chicken or beef stock
14. canned soups
15. canned beans
16. olives
17. canned pears
18. canned peaches
19. applesauce
20. vegetable oil
21. olive oil
22. red wine vinegar
23. white wine vinegar
24. vegetable shortening
25. nonstick cooking spray
26. mayonnaise
27. ketchup
28. mustard
29. salad dressings
30. soy sauce
31. hot pepper sauce
32. Worcestershire sauce
33. barbecue sauce
34. salsa
35. honey
36. maple syrup
37. white wine for cooking
38. red wine for cooking
39. Mango Chutney

11) chocolate syrup
Let’s skip this one. I personally don’t see a need for another sugar packed pantry item. Anything you can do with chocolate syrup you can do with chocolate. Prove me wrong.

12) cereals
Have only one personal rule with cereals. They must be high in fiber per serving (5grams or more) low in sugar (5 grams or less) and low in calories. I have found a couple, but the one I like the best is Trader Joe’s High Fiber. It has 9 grams of fiber for a 80 calories 2/3c serving. Only 5 grams of sugar. It is a twig style cereal. Kashi makes several good ones too.

13) chicken or beef stock
These you need! You’ll use stock a lot. Don’t get the canned stuff. Buy the stock in the cardboard boxes with the spout. There are several different brands. Look for low sodium with little or no additives. Absolutely no MSG.

14) canned soups
These are an easy way to have a quick meal, snack, or just to add to a sauce or stew. Again, look for low sodium, no MSG, yada, yada. We’ve even found some good soups in those same cardboard boxes that are GREAT! Look around, read the labels, find something you like and buy 5 or six. They keep.

15) canned beans
The only canned beans we might do are canned re-fried beans or black beans. It is always better to buy dried beans and make your own. Plan the night before and soak your beans in a big pot. They will absorb a lot of water. Rinse and repeat. Then slow boil them in water, beer, stock, or what ever you come up with. Beans are a great source of everything good. EAT THEM OFTEN.

16) olives
I love all things olive. Oil, paste, whole, black, green, greek, etc, etc. They are very GOOD for you. Plus they are great to add to a dish either whole, chopped or in a puree. Olives are a strong flavor and mix well with a variety of dishes. We’ll do several olive recipes later.

17) Frozen pears
This was originally canned pears, and I can think of several uses of canned fruits, but all canned fruit has a bunch of added sugar. Frozen ones probably do too, but at least they aren’t already cooked to death.

18) canned peaches
See # 17

19) applesauce
This I kind of get. There are a lot of jarred applesauces that are naturally sweetened without additive that I would use. But I personally don’t use much applesauce, I like it, I just don’t use it. Let me know how you use it, if you do.

 

Until tomorrow –

Jughandle

25th Anniversary Party Cake
This is a cake we made for a 25th anniversary party. It is a yellow cake with white butter cream icing, covered in white and silver fondant with a royal icing bow on top and gum paste bows and ribbons on the bottom. Designed to serve 150 people. This actually was a very successful cake with few problems because yellow cake is naturally dense and it could easily hold the weight of the small cake on top. The only caution here is about the royal icing bow on top.
protect-the-bow

Gum paste bow with temporary supports

This type of bow is very fragile and should be supported with tissue when transporting. Make sure you have a bag of royal icing to re-attach any broken loops that occurred along the way. The dragees (small silver dots on the fondant) are great to cover any minor problems with the fondant.

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Finished Product

Finished Cake

Cake Recipes – when to make it yourself, when to buy it made, and when to use a box mix
Types of Cake – yellow, chocolate, white, red velvet, cheese cake, carrot cake
Structure – supports, framework, columns, wire, wood, plastic, steel
Types of frosting– fondant, butter-cream, royal, gum paste, cream cheese, glaze, poured fondant
Decorations– pre-made, gum paste, fondant, royal icing, piped butter-cream
Fondant– white, chocolate, marshmallow, poured
Butter-cream Recipes and Problems – cooked, with eggs, with out eggs, no cook
To Freeze or not to Freeze – fresh or frozen
When to refrigerate
When to deliver the cake
How to deliver the cake
How NOT to transport the cake
What to do on site at the event and what not to do
How to fix disasters – and you will have disasters
Why you can’t prevent disasters 
I know there will be more, but that is a good start.

Cake, fondant, weddings, special events

I am frustrated in my efforts to create the perfect cake.  Yes, I know, perfection is a lofty goal, but the finished product can be a hell of a lot better than most we amateurs – and even professionals, turn out.  I call myself an amateur, because that is exactly what I am.  My wife and I made (I use the past tense because we have retired from the stress of the cake making business) cakes for special events that our friends and family have, and we didn’t make money in the process.  We watched every “cake challenge”, “Ace of Cakes” and any other show that broadcasts cake making events and contests.  REAL secrets of how to bake, decorate and deliver a cake to an event are never full explained. I intend to revel those secrets, eventually, in this blog.
Your Cake – And Eat it Too!

Trials and tales of an amateur cake “Expert”.  Things you can’t learn about making cakes from watching TV or reading books

This will be a series of posts all relating to making CAKE

Scratch or Box?

 This post is bound to be controversial. Some purist will insist that your cake should be completely scratch made. Sure, that’s a nice thought but unless your cake is a small cake and you don’t have to spend a lot of time on the decoration you will have other priorities than impressing people with your ability to read a recipe. First you have to determine what purpose you are making the cake in the first place. Here is how we do it:
Wedding cake: We feel that a wedding cake should make a statement. The brides statement, what ever that may be. So you need to make a cake that will be nicely designed, impressive to look at and it must taste good too.
Show Cake: A show cake can be anything from a cake you make for a contest to a cake that you know no one will eat much of. Here the priority is what the cake looks like, not what it tastes like. DSC_6465  Brandons logThats it. There are no other choices, so let’s break that down. In order for a cake to be large enough to serve over 150 people it needs to have a structure. That structure can be anything from a wooden form to metal bracing. The simplest structure to hold a multi tiered cake is simple wooden or plastic dowels that are pushed through the cake to support the layer above it. Or you can watch one of the TV shows and see the elaborate frames they use to support their “show” cake. Ahh, now we are getting to the point I want to make. While you are watching those TV shows, notice that the cake they use is extremely dense. When I say dense, I mean that they can stand on the cake. Also notice that these very same cakes are made in a shallow sheet pan and then cut out with a cookie cutter type of device, to the shape needed. The reason the cake is thin is to make it firm and strong. You CAN NOT make a cake that tastes good that way. At least I haven’t figured out how.So ask yourself, how can they stack cake 3 feet tall without the sides sagging or even crumbling and have the cake not taste like cardboard? They CAN’T! Period. So you have to make the choice I posed above. If you would like your cake to look impressive and taste good then you must be very creative in your cake design. Plus, all conditions must be perfect, which they NEVER are. Remember that a good tasting cake is moist, soft and never dry.Our method: We design the cake to any shape and specs that the bride and groom want, but we try to find a way to achieve that look and still deliver a cake that will be completely eaten by their guests. We do it by making box cakes. Yes, box cakes. Go to the store and buy what ever flavor box cake your customer wants and then make it in your kitchen. We have tried lots of different scratch recipes, but none of them taste as good or are as moist as a box cake. We still put the wet ingredients in, so really all you are buying is the flour, baking powder, sugar and coloring. You still add the water or milk, oil or butter and the whole eggs or egg whites. You still mix it, you still pour it in the pan of your choice and you still cook the thing until it is done. Which, by the way, never is what the back of the box says.Tricks of the trade: There are tricks you can use to improve the work-ability of your cake with out hurting the taste. In fact, these tricks often improve the taste.1) Cook in 2″ thick cake pans, greased, floured and the bottom lined with parchment paper, filled 3/4 full of batter, allowing the cake to rise above the pan in order to be leveled. Cook the cake until the side of the cake separates from the pan about an 1/8th of an inch, no mater if you are cooking a 16″ square cake or a 4″ round. If you do that, your center will be done and will be firmer.

2) Always let your cake cool in the pan on a rack until you can easily handle it without gloves. The longer the cake sits out the firmer the crumbs will become. But if you wait too long the cake will stick to the pan and you will have to warm the bottom to get it to release.

3) after turning the cake out on to a elevated drying rack you can let it sit for up to 12 hours. In fact you should let it sit for at least 8 hours. The texture of the cake will improve and you will be able to handle the cake more easily. Chocolate cake is the easiest to work with because it has lots of fat and whole eggs to bind it together. White cake and Red Velvet are the hardest cakes to work with, because they are so soft. We call this stage the staling stage. The cake doesn’t really get stale, but it becomes more of a unit. After the staling stage, place the cake on at least a 1/4′ foam board and level the top with either a knife or a cake saw and then wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Freeze each layer over night or for at least 4 hours. Amazingly, freezing vastly improves the texture of the cake. We then remove the cake from the freezer and bring it to almost room temperature before using a cake saw to cut it in half. Ice with what ever you want between the layers and continue to build the cake.

Our cakes, soft and moist, are almost always eaten completely. The cake in the picture below is one of our wedding cakes. It is 4 – 4″ layers of white cake with white buttercream icing covered in white fondant. We used 48 cake mixes, 72 pounds of confectioners sugar, 2 gals of Crisco, a pint of vanilla and 12 dozen egg whites.  Problematic conditions were overcome. The bride was happy that the cake was almost completely eaten by the more than 300 guests.

Brandon-Sherinda-wedding-cake

Cross Shrimp Off Your Party List

I just read a disturbing report titled “5 Reasons To Never Eat Shrimp Again” From Prevention Mag’s blog.

Shrimping has changed

Mostly gone are the days of Bubba Gump’s shimp boats with nets.  Now, picture huge nets in the ocean supported by colorful plastic boxes, or even more commonly, dozens of rice paddy like ponds filled with shrimp.  Easy catch, easily processed by hundreds of underpaid, government subsidized workers.

shrimp-farm  Shrimp farm aerial original.jpg  shrimpfarms608

This process is known as shrimp farming.  Farming shrimp began in the 1970 and has grown rapidly mostly in Asian countries such as Thailand.  Here in lies the problem.  The majority of shrimp purchased in the US has been imported from these overseas farms.  Because the shrimp are “farmed” in foreign countries, the US has little or no control over the conditions the shrimp are raised in and ultimately the quality and safety of the shrimp.

Chemicals

In order to increase the profitability of the farms, shrimp are packed into shallow ponds while ingesting their own waste materials.  Complete “crops” of shrimp can be lost to disease or parasites.  To prevent these expensive loses farmers dose the ponds with high levels of antibiotics and pesticides.  These chemicals, many times, are ones currently banned for use in the United States.  If you are counting on the FDA to protect you, think again.  According to a 2011 report, only 1% of imported seafood is tested for these chemicals.

Feed Lots

Do these methods of growing protein sound familiar?  They do to me.  It is exactly like cattle fed lots and fowl houses.  Animals are packed into small areas where they graze, walk and even feed on their own waste.  When conditions cause disease, no problem, just dose them with antibiotics and when the feces attract flies, tics, fleas, lice, mites and other disease carrying pests, again, no problem, just spray them all with pesticides.

cattle-feedlot-002 cattle-feedlot-spray Chicken-farm-11-29-111 Chicken spraying

Global Warming

You may wonder, as I did, how shrimp farming can contribute to global warming.  It seems that since the 1970’s shrimp farming has proven so profitable that the major farming countries, Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, Mexico and Vietnam have been cutting down their mangrove forests to make room for more ponds.  Mangrove forests absorb more carbon dioxide than any other ecosystem in the world, including the rain forests.  Not only that, but mangroves are breeding grounds for all types of sea creatures and their extensive root system prevents erosion during storms.

The Wild-caught Alternative

So, I will just eat wild-caught shrimp, just as I only eat wild-caught salmon.  Not so fast.  Wild-caught shrimping is extremely wasteful.  For every pound of shrimp caught, there can be as much as 5 pounds of by-catch, which are other species caught in the nets.  Much is written about the endangered turtles being killed by these nets so I won’t go on.  Looks like I will be giving up shrimp all together.  Crayfish are almost the same thing and can be farmed in the US.  Crayfish are bottom feeders and live in fresh water.

We Need To Stop Eating Sea Food

My job is to point out to you the problems I find.  Your job is to prove me right or wrong or ask me enough questions to more deeply explore the problem.  I have pointed out that the problem is little or no regulation on imported sea food of all kinds to this country.  I’m telling you to stop eating all imported and wild caught sea food.  Your turn. – jughandle

Do your own research, prove me wrong, please prove me wrong, because I’m seeing this as a serious problem!

 

 

Healthy Drinks

As a rebuttal to yesterday’s post about how bad Soda is for us, I promised to post some good news.  Well, its good news, bad news.   Good news is there are good, healthy drinks to be had, but the bad news is they might be a little hard to find.

From another story by Rodale, the following are 8 healthy sodas recommended by Emily Main

What make them healthy?

In order for these 8 to make the list they had to be free of GMO (genetically modified ingredients), phosphates, preservatives and caramel coloring.  Can’t come in a can that might be coated in bisphenol-A and can’t have artificial sweeteners if they are sweetened at all.

Steaz Sparkling Green Tea

SGT_Zero_Bottle_Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reed’s Light Extra Ginger Brew

brews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virgil’s Root Beer

healthy-soda-virgils

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bionade

healthy-soda-bionade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oogave

healthy-soda-oogave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kombucha

healthy-soda-kombucha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Lips Soda

healthy-soda-hotlips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fizzy Lizzy

healthy-soda-fizzylizzy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Try new stuff, it’s fun.  If you can find any of these drinks, let me know.  Click the link to their home page where you can either find a location near you or order on line.  Be healthy.  FYI, you can always make your own from fresh ingredients.  – jughandle