Wednesday, September 29

Kitchen Endeavors

I tried something new today: homemade Chinese Plum Sauce. It turned out pretty well, and I think it will work beautifully in the recipes I have lined up to try that call for it. I think it would also work very well instead of a chutney on turkey sandwiches. I'm trying to broaden my horizons a little; does it show yet?

While the plum sauce was cooking down, I put a dent in the half bushel of apples I picked up this morning. The first batch of applesauce for the season is now simmering in the crock pot! If you haven't heard, this is a "vintage" year for apples - a smaller, earlier crop than usual but of very high quality. Bearing that in mind, I figured I'd better get started if I wanted to get enough applesauce and apple pie filling made to hold us over until next year!

Next up on the list is to make a mess of the kitchen... I mean make pasta! :0)

Who Knew?

Who knew they made skirts for running?

Eric and Arthas are patiently overcoming my natural aversion to running, but I still know very little about the vast sub-culture of running enthusiasts.

Turns out, they make both running skirts and athletic skirts, so you can keep your preferred skirt look while maintaining modesty on the track, on your bike, in yoga class, etc.

It's gotten too cold in New York to bother with a pair now, but maybe next spring a pretty new running skirt will serve as great motivation to get back out and get in shape. Although, really, there is no excuse not to when you have an enthusiastic furry companion willing to literally pull you around the track! Lol.

Free Dayspring Cards

Just wanted to pass along a code I received in a recent Dayspring catalog!

"Create your own Christmas cards, thank you cards, invitations, or announcements on Studio Dayspring and receive 10 FREE cards! Choose from a variety of designs with Scripture and inspirational messages. Use promo code 10FREE during checkout for 10 flat cards or 5 folded cards. Valid through Dec 31, 2010. Limit one per customer. Shipping not included. No additional purchase necessary."

Hope this benefits someone. Enjoy!

Monday, September 27

Mason Jar Cookbooks

Found these and thought they were worth passing along. Most people have seen the pretty displays of jarred soup or cookie mixes for sale at crafty, country-store style shops. If you're like me, you hate to pay for them because you know they can't be THAT hard to make.... if you had the time and patience to figure it out.

Well, now the hard part is done for you! These would great projects to do with kids (or great tools for teaching kids to cook), good fund-raiser items or holiday gifts. Best of all, I think, is that you can make them with entirely real ingredients, unlike the chemically processed mixes you buy at the grocery store. They're also nicely adaptable for the people in your life with food allergies or on sugar/sodium restricted diets.

Check them out and let me know what you think!

Castile Soap

This past week I was given several bottles of liquid Castile Soap, which I was very excited to receive! It was brought to my attention that many people avoid this wonderful product because they have no idea how to use it. I passed along some usage suggestions to the friend who provided me with the soap, and thought I would post them here as well in case they can benefit someone else.

(Note: Castile soap looks expensive but, because you use it in such tiny amounts and it can replace nearly all the other cleaners in your house, it is actually a good value for the money!)

Technically, you can use this stuff to clean almost anything - it's completely safe for pets and children, and an excellent disinfectant! Specific ideas and ratios follow, however:

Hand Soap: Take an empty foaming handwash bottle and put a couple squirts of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap with water. It foams up just like the stuff you buy at the store.

Soft Scrub: Mix with baking soda until it's like a runny frosting consistency. I use this mixture for cleaning sinks, showers, anything where a little abrasion is needed. It doesn't scratch and it rinses away easily.

Laundry: Use 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup for one regular load; adjust as needed depending on the hardness of your water. Adding a dash of baking soda makes it even better.

Fruit/Vegetable wash: 3 dashes in water rinse most sprays off fruit & vegetables

Pest Spray: Mix 1/4 oz of soap in 1 quart of water H2O. Apply to plants to keep away pests.

Floors: You can mop almost any type of floor with a solution of ¼ cup liquid Castile soap and 2 gallons warm water. If the floors are greasy, add ¼ cup distilled white vinegar to the bucket.

Leather upholstery: Add 2 drops liquid Castile soap to 1 quart warm water. Apply to the leather with a barely moist sponge.

Marble counter-tops: Stir 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap into 1 quart warm water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe surface. Rinse, then dry with a clean cloth.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you can use a few drops of Castile soap in place of toothpaste or make your own shampoo (1/4 cup of castile soap,1/4 cup distilled water, 1 tsp olive oil and (optional) 1 tsp glycerine).

Saturday, September 25

Cod Liver Oil Giveaway @ Healthy Home Economist

Hey - just a heads up that Sarah at The Healthy Home Economist is running a great giveaway this week (through Oct 2nd) for fermented cod liver oil capsules!

Yes, I know. I get excited over strange things. :0)

Seriously, though, this stuff is amazingly good for you and you now have a chance to win some to try for free! If you or someone you love tends to be prone to Seasonal Affect Disorder, please go check this out - Cod Liver Oil helps maintain high Vitamin D levels, boosting both your immune system and your mental state. Who couldn't use some of that as the days get shorter and colder?

Check it out here.

Friday, September 24

Reading the News

I should read the news more often. Really. I almost never do, because it usually frustrates me, but today's paper was tremendously entertaining... for all the wrong reasons.

For example, in an article I cannot find posted online anywhere, the Democrat and Chronicle proclaims "Formula maker, doctors assure parents there's little risk". It goes on to casually explain that millions of cans of Similac powdered baby formula have been recalled due to contamination by beetles. Despite doctors and the company reassuring consumers that this is really a limited contamination and probably won't hurt infants anyway, online message boards tell a very different story.

As much as I empathize with the distraught mothers, furious because their babies have been subjected to this contaminated product at such a fragile time in their lives, I cannot help but notice the bitter irony. I understand that not everyone can breastfeed, and that others will choose not to for their own reasons. That said, it should be abundantly clear to America by now that trusting the FDA is like letting a fox into the hen house and then being surprised and upset when only slaughter and suffering result. Why would you trust the health of your precious and helpless infant to them?! I would never, ever wish harm to babies, but I sincerely hope that this opens the eyes of many a mother who has conveniently been looking the other way when it comes to the disastrous state of the modern food supply.

Next up on the roster - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who, conveniently, just announced in a UN speech that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by the United States government or with their assistance and NOT by terrorists) declared his disgust with the recent execution by lethal injection of a Virginia woman for using sex and bribe money to purchase hit men to murder her husband and step-son for the insurance money. Does anyone else see the incredible irony of such a statement from the president of a country in which rape victims are routinely killed for adultery? How is it that we should be defamed for executing a legally tried and convicted woman in a humane manner while Iran's obscene practices of honor killings and the beating or stoning deaths of women for something as simple as being seen with a man who is not related to her go unnoticed and un-reviled?

Next up, one of my personal favorites - a brief article bashing Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn for stalling a "food safety bill" that would increase the FDA's power and ability to "keep food safe". It lists he reasoning - the bill has no provision for funding - as a paltry excuse, no mention is ever made of the many nasty provisions included in S. 510 that should outrage every American. I've ranted about it before but, if you missed it, you can read the important information here. Even if there was nothing inherently insidious in the bill, shouldn't we be commending the Senator for taking the time to notice that unfunded mandates are wreaking havoc across the country already and attempting to prevent further chaos? Just a thought...

Finally, in a joint press conference with the FDA, the EU Medicines Agency announced that it was banning the sale of diabetes medication Avandia because it seriously raises patients' risk of a heart attack... The FDA meanwhile, is simply restricting the sale of the drug. While I understand the logic of the argument that for most intents and purposes the restriction will remove the drug from the market, I find it perverse that the FDA will not just come out like it's counterpart and put people's health above drug company profits. In addition, the many deaths that prompted this move are a sad reminder of the willingness of both the FDA and drug companies to use the public as guinea pigs. In many cases (yes, this is documented, not just hearsay) proper testing is never done - drugs are assumed safe on untested scientific theory and limited, unrealistic trials and then put on the market to be mass tested by unsuspecting patients who will bear the cost of unexpected consequences.

Anyway, I think that's all the cheerful news for now. I read some articles/responses on being a SAHW (stay at home wife) that have me incensed, but that rant can wait for later... :0)

Monday, September 20

Another Reason to Buy Raw Milk

Although I have known for quite some time now that raw milk was vastly superior to its commercial cousin, I recently learned something new: raw milk does not go bad! It will sour (or "clabber" which I've read about it historical cooking books and never knew what it was), but it does not go rancid like pasteurized, homogenized hormone laden grocery store milk. After it clabbers, it can be kept up to six months and subbed into any recipe in place of buttermilk, yogurt or kefir. How awesome is that?

If it's at all possible for you to get your hands on raw milk, please do!

(Many thanks to Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist for sharing her wisdom!)

Sunday, September 19

Beware Corn Sugar!

As many people have started to catch on to the fact that corn syrup (high fructose and otherwise) is incredibly bad for human consumption and a direct contributor to modern obesity and bad-health epidemics of all kinds, the manufacturers of that abysmal product have decided to re-brand themselves.

Corn syrup can now be called corn sugar.

Not surprisingly, the FDA has declined to intervene in the best interest of consumers. So, as you read labels, please be aware that "corn sugar" is the same despicable toxin as "corn syrup". Please consider passing this along to your friends as well. We are not as ignorant as food manufacturers would like us to be; it would be nice if we proved it to them.

Reference article here.

Saturday, September 18

National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, which means we all need to ask ourselves one very important question: "What's my zombie plan?"

Okay, maybe not. :0)

But it is wise to take a couple minutes this month and assess how prepared you are to deal with the standard kinds of disasters specific to where you live. Are you prepared to be snowed in for a week? Prepared for a hurricane, tornado, ice storm, earthquake - whatever your area is most vulnerable to? Even a little forethought can go a long way! If you want to get serious about your prepping, there's lots of fantastic resources, both online and in print. If not, just take one or two simple steps, just in case - every little bit counts!

(And while you're at it, get a zombie plan!) ;0)

Your Marriage as Testimony

Raising Homemakers had a brief, beautiful and thought-provoking post this morning on what it looks like to have a Godly, world-impacting household in our age. My favorite quote was this:

“Our marriages are so much bigger than the church is teaching…for they are the very picture of Christ and His bride. How do we say to the world (with all our fancy evangelical approaches) ‘Come! Embrace what we have!’ When marriages within the church are falling apart left and right? What DO we have if our lives say that Christ is not faithful to His bride?”

Maybe it's just being an AF wife, but I am especially sensitive to people not investing in their marriages. I've seen the damage done on all fronts, time and again, so this really stands out to me.

If you haven't already been introduced to Mark Gungor's Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage materials, please look them up! Much of his material is freely posted on youtube or his website.

Also, consider adding Raising Homemakers, Proverbs 31 and/or (In)Courage to your blog-list for some regular reminders, pointers in the right direction and encouragement!

Weapons of Mass Destruction... Against Fruit Flies

Just a quick, helpful note I was reminded of yesterday and thought might be worth sharing for those of you who have never professionally battled fruit flies and might not know it. Take a little bowl and throw a dash of liquid dish soap in it. Then, grab your bottle of cider vinegar and fill your dish about halfway. Set it out on your counter overnight. In the morning, you'll find most (if not all) of your resident fruit flies drowned in the bottom of the bowl. If necessary, you can do this a couple days in a row to catch all of them. It absolutely works, is cheap and as "green" as it gets! :0)

Thursday, September 16


Driving home from dropping Eric off at the airport this morning, I couldn't help but be amused by the irony of the day: I am perfectly comfortable cheerfully sending my husband off to fly an 80 year old aircraft that I know he's going to repeatedly and purposely stall in midair. But ask me to put him on a giant commercial plane with the latest in electronics for a routine flight and I'm concerned.

(Note: I do realize that the first sentence makes me sound like I'm nuts to begin with. Who lets their husband fly around stalling planes for heaven's sake?! Lol.)

This is why I shouldn't watch shows like Air Crash Investigations! (Love that show.) What you don't know, you don't worry about.

Travel safely, my Prince!

Sunday, September 12


Even though I'm fairly sure no one else cares, I absolutely have to post this here - you can make homemade (cold) breakfast cereal!!

You may not realize it, but this is madly exciting. I won't tell you how toxic standard breakfast cereal is because I'm sure you don't really want to know. However, I have been looking for quite some time for information on how recreate breakfast cereal at home; let's just summarize that expedition by saying it's incredibly rare!

Therefore, I am delighted to have found (and to share) not only the recipe but a video tutorial by the very impressive Sarah: The Healthy Home Economist.

Note: you can make this Gluten Free as well! (If you know anyone on a GF diet, pass this along to them - they will love you forever. GF cereal is even more expensive than regular and organic cereals!)

Should you, by random chance, want to know why standard cereal is not good for you, the Weston A. Price Foundation (the ultimate standard in genuine nutritional education) has kindly posted an explanation here.

Or, if you really don't want to know, pretend you never read this and just share in my happiness that I found much-desired information in an extra user-friendly form! :0)

EDIT: Although my first batch was not nearly as uniform and beautiful as commercial cereal, it tastes great! I threw in a handful of raisins and it was very tasty and filling. Try it!

National Day of Encouragement

When I left Panera this past spring, I couldn't even begin to foresee what life would look like now. One of the most surprising blessings has been the ability to make myself available to encourage and support the people in my life when they need it. I have scheduled a time for myself each week to sit down briefly and write out cards or ecards to send to friends and family I know are having a rough week or celebrating a special event. I love this!

I am blessed that Dayspring has a huge line of free ecards for me to use. Happily, Dayspring is also connected to (In)Courage, one of my favorite sites! (If you haven't already, I highly suggest checking out (In)Courage and/or passing it along to all the ladies in your life who could use some daily uplifting and encouragement.)

As a special deal in celebration of today - the National Day of Encouragement - Dayspring gave away free card packs (pictured above)! I just got mine, so I wasn't able to get any in the mail yet, but they're amazing - I am so excited to have them to share!

Many of these cards are available in an online version as well, so if you get a minute, hop over to Dayspring and share some encouraging words with the people you love today!

Saturday, September 11


It seems both appropriate and heartbreaking on the anniversary of 9/11 to reference current news stories and ask ourselves why Americans remain so ignorant of the reality that should have been made crystal clear nine years ago this morning.

Though I could write a completely separate essay on the comment from this report that there's nothing wrong or "to do differently" with drinking until you pass out, what's of note here is a quote from the judge's ruling that the rapist (a muslim man) was "an arrogant young man who was heartless, shameless and had no consideration for the victim". Why does this stand out? Because anyone who actually knows anything about Islam realizes that this is not an aberration - it is precisely what the Quran teaches! Non-muslims are inferior; they have no rights and are worthy of no respect. Muslims are taught from childhood that they may - in fact actively need to - freely lie to and abuse non-muslims at all turns until they either convert or accept their subjugated status and pay a protective tax (which isn't actually all that protective and brings with it by design great shame and abasement).

At a rally supporting the construction of NYC mosque, shown here, Americans lined up to demonstrate their cultural diversity - and their ignorance. Watch the video. Look especially at the women, with their hair uncovered and their suave city-girl independence. If they had actually read anything by Brigitte Gabriel or Ayaan Hirsi Ali - independent, strong women who grew up in devastated nations where Islam was allowed to run rampant they would not be so foolishly opening their mouths on that street. Is there a word deep enough to describe the tragic and bitter irony of these women protesting for the rights of those who will treat them like chattel to be raped, silenced and beaten simply because they are women? Even Mohammed's favorite wife (whom he bedded when she was nine, incidentally) is quoted as admitting that no other women suffered the way believing muslim women do.

Although I'm sure most people have heard about the plan of Pastor Terry Jones to burn Korans (see here if not), there has been no outcry over the most appalling aspect of the whole ordeal - muslims across the world are screaming in protest and threatening death to Americans and Christians wherever they are found. These are mainstream Islamic leaders! There is no high-jacking of the faith here. Does no one see the ludicrousness of the logic and outrageousness of the arrogance that any Christian or any American, anywhere in the world, would be considered rightfully murdered over the burning of a book by one person with whom they have no affiliation? Why do these quotes show up as if they were completely reasonable and expected in every national and international media piece? Have we truly become so accustomed to our bonds of fear and so comfortable in our self-hatred that we will not stand up to defend ourselves and our brothers and sisters across the world against this unjust and brutal slaughter?

We have watched as Europe crumbled under the weight of its ignorant good intentions, flooded by muslim immigrants who see them as nothing more than gullible filth to be bullied, used and manipulated. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read While Europe Slept for a thoroughly documented eye-opening.) We have been sent prophets (see the note about Hirsi- Ali and Gabriel above) who have lived through the coming wave of destruction, and they have been calling from the rooftops, begging us to wake from our stupor before its too late. We have watched and said nothing as our President bowed before foreign kings, welcoming on our behalf dhimmi status. We have had more than ample warning of the fate intended for us.

So as we observe the solemn anniversary of one of the most horrific attacks on our nation in its history, I ask you to do more than hang a flag outside your door or attend a candlelight vigil.

Look in the mirror. Ask yourself if you're willing to be veiled, raped, beaten and stoned. If you're ready to see the same happen to your wife, your mother, your daughters and sisters. Can you stand by and watch your husband grovel before other men, or be murdered before your eyes because they were insulted by his failure to grovel?

This week, get a book that will tell you the real truth about Islam. Scrape all the politically correct smut out of your brain and open your eyes. Honor those who died on 9/11 by refusing to offer up the nation they loved and the families they left behind to be butchered by the same cruel thieves that stripped away their lives in smoldering piles of rubble nearly a decade ago.

PS - Have you seen the movie Theo Van Gogh was murdered for filming, and others have been threatened with death for making available? It's called Submission, and you can find it here.

Have you seen the cartoons that led to worldwide rioting and murder? You can find them here.

Friday, September 10

Meigs Field

Every once in a blue moon, the news media accidentally reports something positive that sparks in me the flicker of belief that there's still hope for mankind.

It happened again today with this article from AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Assoc.), announcing that the mayor of Chicago has opted not to run for reelection - opening up the possibility that Meigs Field - the General Aviation airstrip he bulldozed under cover of night seven years ago to make a park named for his wife - may be restored. (Note the attractive XX's he had gouged into the runway.)

That would be a huge event for the general aviation world, which has taken a pummeling since 9/11.

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend watching One Six Right on hulu; its a fascinating and moving documentary about general aviation in America. If you just want to see the part on Meigs Field, you can find it on youtube.

If you're not interested in either, that's okay. Just go back to the first paragraph and share my joy that there's still hope for the world! :0)

PS - Today is Love Letter Day. Have you told someone you love them yet?

Soup & Crackers

In a continuation of my experiments into testing recipes for food you didn't know could be made at home (my pseudo-Ritz turned out fantastically last time), I decided to try making graham crackers.

I may live to regret that choice.

Nothing this easy and addicting can be good for my diet!

This isn't a great picture, but I made bite sized crackers with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top. So good!

Since the temperature dropped this week, I also baked off some barley corn bread (love that stuff) and tried a new soup - Butternut Apple.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't know beforehand that Eric doesn't like butternut squash! He opted not to tell me and let me try the soup anyway, and we're both very glad he did - it was so good! Thick and creamy like a bisque, but quick and easy. You can find the recipe here; I subbed canned (organic) butternut squash and you can use whatever kind of apples you have on hand. Equally good with or without the cream, by the way.

Also, for the coffee lovers out there, check out this link for the recipe and demo video for make-your-own Pumpkin Spice Lattes! (Seriously, Panera and Starbucks people, try it! You will save yourself untold amounts of money and calories!)

Is anyone else excited about fall food? :0)

Take No Prisoners

When living in an apartment complex, there are a few things that are truly essential. One of them is a good vacuum. All apartments are afflicted with wall to wall carpeting; throw in a girl with long hair and a dog and if you don't vacuum well and regularly you'll soon be suffocated under a mountain of dust, dirt and hair.

Fortunately for me, Eric invested in an excellent vacuum cleaner... six years ago. By the time it got to this apartment it was being held together by drywall screws and safety wire. It wasn't really a surprise, then, when my attempt to vacuum last week was met with the smell of burning rubber and a muted snarling sound and little more. Our poor Savvy had officially bitten the dust.

Eric handled the death especially gracefully considering I'd also managed to kill the third power cord for my laptop that same morning. He did some research and ordered a new vacuum cleaner for us - a Hoover Platinum Cyclonic. It arrived today - bringing with it a six year warranty I'm sure we'll put to the fullest test!

Isn't it shiny!?

Here it is next to our poor dead Savvy. (Not out of the box yet... I try not to touch power tools until properly instructed in their use...) :0P

Eric put it together and we put it to the test. One sweep through the apartment was ten full canisters full of dirt! And it's only been a week! I'm pretty sure we were vacuuming our downstairs neighbor's apartment up through the ceiling. As a bonus, Cyclonic is much quieter than its predecessor.

Considering that it shares my take-no-prisoners approach to keeping a clean house, I expect we're going to get along smashingly!

Sunday, September 5

CAP & China

Quick notes worthy of passing along:

If you know anyone remotely interested in flying (or teachers looking for interesting things to do with their classes), please encourage them to look up their local chapter of the Civil Air Patrol. I'd never heard of them before I saw their planes on the airstrip, but it turns out they have some awesome opportunities, especially for young people. Orientation flights, flight training, international exchange program, scholarships, aerial reconnaissance experience for homeland security and emergency services - great experience for a range of interests! I wish I'd known about it when I was in high school.

One of the most impressive books I've read in a long time. Waking Dragon by Peter Navarro. About the current condition of China and how it is impacted the world on fronts from the international drug trade and manufacturing to the country's pending HIV epidemic and the coming China Wars. Somehow the author manages to condense an incredible amount of information into a quick paced, fascinating series of lectures. Check it out!

Why Won't You Just Die?!

A frequent complaint of villians against heros like James Bond, "Why won't you just die?!" is also an appropriate question for one of the most despicable bills Congress has been trying to push through, S.510.

They went quiet about it last year after massive outcry, but it's back again - and this year they're trying to push it through without debate or media coverage! You can get all the details at Food Freedom - they have a great, brief video that will explain it.

The basics, however, go like this:

1. Our government has declared that we, the people, DO NOT have the right to choose what we eat or what goes into it.

"There is No Right to Consume or Feed Children Any Particular Food; There is No
Generalized Right to Bodily and Physical Health; There is No Fundamental Right
to Freedom of Contract." ~ US Dept of Health & Human Services and US Food
& Drug Administration, 2010

2. The US food supply is already horrifically contaminated, daily poisoning the population and leading to serious health consequences like cancer, behavioral and neurological disorders and sterilization. (Yes, I can provide documentation of all of the above.) If this bill passes, Americans who have been choosing to limit their exposure to this contaminated supply by producing their own food and purchasing from local and/or organic suppliers will be criminalized.

3. Private citizens will not be allowed to grow their own gardens. Seriously.

4. Monsanto and its ilk will continue their uninterrupted destruction of modern seed stock and genetic biodiversity among crops.
Please, please, please - take two minutes to:
*watch this video
*pass the information along to everyone you know
*and write, call, email, stalk or otherwise impress upon your legislators how completely unacceptable this ambomination is!
Thank you :0)

Kitchen Notes

This has been a good week for recipes - so far all the new ones I've tried have turned out well and worth passing along!

Enchilada Sauce (this was SO easy and restaurant quality!)

Cheesy Enchilada Stack (I used frozen diced jalapenos instead of the canned chilies)

Sourdough Starter (very good for diabetics and it'll save yourself tons of $$ on yeast)

Chicken & Peppers with Balsamic Glaze (I diced my chicken stir-fry style and served over rice instead of whole - it cooks faster and goes farther! Also, I recommend doubling the sauce.)

Chili Powder - save yourself some money and cabinet clutter and make your own!
1 1/2 oz ground dried chilies
1/2 oz cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cloves

Watermelon Granita - super easy summer dessert. (Can make with Splenda if desired.)
4 lbs watermelon
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup superfine sugar
4 tbsp tequila (optional)
1 vanilla bean (or splash of vanilla extract)

Dice watermelon and whirl in blender until smooth. Bring water, sugar and vanilla to simmer. Let infuse 20 min. Combine all ingredients and pour into 8" square baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the freezer. When it starts to freeze, mash gently with a fork. Repeat after another 2 or 3 hours as necessary. You should get a slushy/snow cone consistency. Spoon into fancy glasses and serve with spoons!

Two other quick food notes to pass along that have come up this week:

Honey - did you know that you should buy local honey if at all possible? Bees make honey using pollen from plants indigenous to their location, thereby imbuing every batch with unique characteristics. If you eat honey from your local area, you are exposed in small doses to local flora which helps your body assimilate them and reduces the likelihood and severity of allergies to your environment. (This, incidentally, is the same reason they tell you to give honey to children under age 2.) Although buying generic commercial honey is unlikely to hurt you, it won't give you the anti-allergen benefit either. You can find honey at local farm stands or your farmers' market. If you don't usually frequent those places, most will sell you gallon size jars of honey, which should minimize the number of trips you need to make! :-)

Garlic - although garlic is an incredible super food for humans, it is very bad for our furry friends! Both onions and garlic are toxic for dogs. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of homemade and upscale bakery doggie treats many well intentioned people who don't know this are including garlic in treats. Please check what you're giving your furry companion and make sure to choose safe options like ginger instead!

Wednesday, September 1

Dishes & Great Service

In a time when both great products and great service seem rare, it's worth noting when we find them. I am (slowly) collecting a complete stoneware dish set from Bennington Potters in Vermont. During our last move, one of the handles on my favorite casserole dish broke. (I have the marbled green pattern in the picture at left, which I borrowed from their website because it's a lot prettier than anything I could take!)

Eric called to see if maybe they could repair it since they make everything right there. Although they could not, they kindly offered us 50% off a replacement. So we hopped across the state line and dropped by the shop. The staff was friendly and cheerful as always; we had no hassle at all. It's so nice to find somewhere with both a quality product and good people! While we were there, we picked up the next piece on my wish list - a banneton! The uses for this piece are endless, and I'm excited to have it going into fall.

So if you're looking for excellent bakeware, beautiful gifts to give the people in your life this fall, or just need to experience great service once in a while, I highly recommend checking out Bennington Potters! :0)