Wednesday, December 31

Help For Your New Years Resolutions

I have two awesome TED Talks to share today that might prove worth pondering for anyone formulating New Year's Resolutions. 

The other resource I can't neglect to mention - for people really committed to being successful - is the book The Power of Habit. The author does a great job of explaining why it's far more powerful to invest our energy in the slow, steady process of building good habits to change our lives than to expect to be able to make something happen solely through sheer will power. Hint: Your brain likes to automate things - and once they're automated, you stop needing will power and just do them

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!!

Monday, December 29

The Chemistry of Cookies

I thought this might be fun and appropriate to post today, as so many people find themselves between their Christmas feasting and New Year's revelries... The Chemistry of Cookies.

Very short, very well done, and fascinating. Enjoy!

On a related note, I also really love this graphic from themetapicture showing the differences in how cookies look depending on the your ingredient ratios/choices - this should be in every cookbook!

From (link above)

Thursday, December 25

Merry Christmas!!

May your Christmas Day be wonderful... 
no matter how you choose to spend it!! 

(For those who don't know the reference, it is the Dr. Who 2007 Christmas Special - "Voyage of the Damned.")

Tuesday, December 23

Shiny Things

I interrupt whatever Christmas preparations you're making to bring you something shiny.  :)

I found a fancy looking wall mounted dog bowl on Pinterest forever ago, and coveted it... until I checked the price and discovered it was astronomical! So, I crossed that off my mental wish list and just kept sweeping and mopping around the water dish, trying not to let the damp or the splashing damage our beautiful hickory hardwood.

This week, my very talented husband found some unexpected free time (a rare thing) and decided to spend it making me something shiny. Voila! A wall mounted shelf made of mold-resistant cedar and wrought iron (love wrought iron!) to get the babies' water bowl off the floor and simplify my cleaning routine.  (Please ignore the fact that I didn't sweep before taking the picture...)

It looks deceptively simple in the picture, but every time I look at it I see the attention to detail and feel spoiled to have a husband who makes me wonderful things. Horray for getting a head start on 2015 projects with something as practical and appreciated as this!

(Okay, you can go back to you Christmas busy-ness now! I just couldn't help but share.)

Monday, December 22

Fun With Fats: Rendering Lard

Seemingly ages ago now (sorry for the lack of posts - busy!!), I stopped at the Farm where we get our milk and eggs. As I was piling things on the counter, my eyes lit up. There was something wonderful in the freezer case that had never been there before - leaf lard!!

(For those of you who are not crazy foodies, lard is rendered pig fat. Leaf lard is considered the highest grade, and is excellent for frying and for making decadent, flaky baked goods like biscuits or pie crust. It doesn't have any "pork" taste to it - just a beautiful, neutral flavor and creaminess.)

The lady at the Farm was super nice about my excitement, and said that although she'd never used it personally, people had been asking so she started putting it out. Yay!! 

Photo from Caveman Keto site
Obviously, I snagged myself a package to play with. Since the only stuff previously available to me was the hydrogenated crap at the grocery store, I'd never had a chance to actually cook with lard, but I've been reading lots about it and couldn't wait to try. The Caveman Keto site was nice enough to have a very simple, well laid out tutorial on how to render lard. It smelled very yummy while melting down (a someone-has-a-roast-in-the-oven kind of smell), and was beautifully clear and rich when done. 

I stuck it in the fridge, and have been happily using it to cook potatoes (and a few other things) ever since. I have been amazed at how far it goes! A little goes a very long way, and cost-wise it comes in at less than coconut oil! It coats beautifully, is fully safe to cook at high temperatures with, and provides your body with a different range of nutrients than coconut oil, butter, or olive oil. I am very happy to have made this part of my cooking, and am keeping my fingers crossed that it continues to be available!

*Important Notes*
Please keep in mind that you should only use lard from pastured, organically raised (with or without official certification) pork. Toxins and other nasty things concentrate in fat - in both people and animals!! Fat from standard, commercially raised pigs will be chock full of nastiness you don't want to eat! 

Also, remember to check the label on any lard you see in the grocery store - if it has been hydrogenated (even partially hydrogenated) it is inedible! Horrifically bad for you - put it back down and walk away!

Friday, December 19

They Finally Did Something Right!!

I would like to send my most sincere congratulations to New York Environmental Commissioner Joseph Martens for demonstrating two things so routinely lacking amongst NYS government officials - common sense and a backbone!!

I nearly fell out of my chair yesterday when I opened the news page and found the following
headline:  New York Bans Fracking After Health Report.

We live on a mountain made of shale, so it probably is no surprise that the debate over fracking has been a huge, messy deal around here. It's not uncommon for neighbors to stop speaking to each other over it, and for people to line the edges of their yards and their bumpers with signs and stickers proclaiming their opinions one way or the other.

Given that NYS is more likely to make decisions based on the money involved than common sense or health - both of which should tell you its a TERRIBLE idea to pump carcinogenic chemicals into the water table (particularly one as high as ours), I'd not held out much hope for a good decision.

So this news comes as an early Christmas present!! Thank you, Mr. Martens, for protecting the beautiful mountains in which we make our home! For choosing our healthy and safety, the safety of our neighbors, pets, food and water over the greed of corporations who would rather see us all die of horrible diseases and complications than see our nation pursue smarter, cleaner, and more efficient energy solutions that might actually force them to adapt!!

May you stick to your guns and hold your head up in pride for this choice. Merry Christmas!