Search it!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Making Grape Jam

Yesterday I stirred up something like a cooking project tornado.  I must have been energized by my glass of kombucha or something, but I decided I was going to experiment with fruit. 

I love experimenting with fruit!  

So - the first fruit batch I got my hands on was a bowl full of apples that I had foraged (I foraged!  Theoretically, I feel like that should be filed under Indiana Jones.  However, I was more like a dressed in pink girl wearing cowboy boots standing on a dirt road getting bitten by bugs while throwing apples from a wild apple tree into a bag.).  No, I did not steal them.  These were wild apples out in God's country and I finally got to see why on earth those orchard people love to spray their apples with pesticides - mine looked like they went through a war.  But they tasted fine.  And I'd rather have non-perfect looking apples than those that look perfect but contain poisons (apples top the pesticide list, now you know why!)...even ask Snow White how she feels on that one. 

I didn't know how much it would yield, so I just decided to go for applesauce instead of apple pie or something more complicated.  And plus, it is relatively difficult to mess up making applesauce.  

It was yum!  The offsprings were making passes through the kitchen to sneak bites.

It was easy, it was done.  So I thought, what's next?  What could I possibly get my apply hands on now?  I need a bit more of a challenge!
Violá!  Applesauce!

A spattering, staining, deep purple challenge I got!  The lightbulb went on...ah!  Yes!  The concord grapes!  I could make jelly or jam!

Why not?  After all, the offsprings decided it was too much effort to eat these grapes (that is seriously pathetic), what with all the bittery sour skin and then spitting out the seeds that were the size of half the grape in the first place.  That delicious goo was stacking up short compared to the challenge of eating them.

I looked online and found something I liked very much.  Here's why.  Almost all of your jelly/jam/preserves recipes are going to have two things that I HATE in them.  The first thing is 9,285 gallons of sugar and the second is artificial pectin.  It seems like a fruit massacre when you do stuff like that.  I can't be bothered to participate in such fruit murdering nonsense.

This recipe, however, had neither one of these disgraceful things!  Glory and hallelujah.

Here is the basic gist of it:

You need - concord grapes, sugar (but not 9,285 gallons), a stainless steel pot, a bowl, a strainer, a wooden spoon and a little bit of time.

What you do:

1.  Wash off your grapes.  Duh.
2.  Squeeze the grape inside out of its skin.  Put the skins in one bowl and put the grape insides into the stainless steel pot.  This can become rather fun if you get into a good fast pattern.
3.  Warm up the mushy gooey insides over medium heat.  Meanwhile, stare at the bowl of grape carcasses in amazement.
4.  Bring your mushy gooey grape insides to a boil and watch as they turn into a total pool of gush.  This takes about five minutes.
5.  This is the challenging part: when it becomes goo, now you get to figure out how to get the seeds out of the puddle.  This is done by mainly burning your hands on boiling goo when you realize your strainer is completely useless and the technique you are using with your wooden spoon is made for someone else who is a whiz-bang in this area.  This is when I poured the goo into a cheesecloth folded over doubly and then I began strangling it into the pot.  I hoped that I could make the seeds stay in the cheesecloth, and some of them did, but mostly they shot out like bullets.  Hot bullets.  And boiling hot goo.  I ended up fishing them out mostly with my fingers for the ones I could not manage with the cheesecloth.
6.  Stare at your new puddle of goo.  Think, "Oh crap, is this all it makes?!"
7.  Put it back on the heat anyway.  Add in the grape skin carcasses to the mix.  Squash everything up like one big happy family.  Boil it again for about two minutes and notice how everything looks a very stainingly dark color now.  Kinda like grape jelly.  Oh wait, it is  supposed to be something like that.  Good.
Would you get a load of that fabulousness?!
8.  Add sugar.  I used 1 cup.  I don't know how much fruit I started out with, though.  It filled up a large bowl.  The original recipe said 3 cups of sugar.  I never do that.  That would be over the top.  I like the taste of fruit more than I like the taste of sugar, anyway.
9.  Mix it up again and try to get it to 220 F.  This is pretty much impossible since it boils way before that and spatters all over everything in your kitchen within a twelve foot radius.  My kitchen isn't even twelve feet long, so you can imagine.  And remember the color of it?  Yeah, don't worry, you won't be forgetting it any time soon.
10.  Put that pot of preserves into your handy-dandy jar that you were just waiting to use for such an occasion.  I popped it right into the fridge to use asap, but I suppose if you're into complicated next steps like using the pressure cooker, go right ahead and can it properly for long-term storage.  Mine was for short-term eating. 

It made about a cup and a half of preserves.  And the color was very delightful.  You could paint your kitchen with it.  You may need to after you get done with the spattering.

It was all worth it in the morning, though, when I had it on homemade toast with scrambled free-range eggs and cracked black pepper and pink salt while I sipped my new favorite tea (no thanks to you, Typhoo, you pesticide-laden naughty pants!), Higher Living organic English Breakfast.

Peace, love and if I find a good way to get the purple out of the cracks of my fingernails, I'll let you know,
Ms. Daisy

Sunday, September 29, 2013

German Shepherd dogs

You know you have a German Shepherd dog when...

they ring the doorbell to let you know they want to come in...

and then bark crazily when they hear it ding.

Peace, love and if I told you once, I've told you a thousand times: do NOT get a dog,
Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

These are a few of my favorite words...

Let the randomness begin!

So, tell me.  Do you have a favorite word?  Do you have multiple favorite words?  I love words.  (That sounds weird.  But I think being able to express yourself well is a good thing.)

Anyway.  I'm going to share some of my favorite words today.  These words are favorites because of how they sound when you say them, not actually because of their meanings.


1.  meniscus.  Meniscus has two definitions.  One definition refers to the convex or concave crescent that appears when a liquid is pulled up by a the attraction of charges on a glass (or other container).  The other definition is within the category of anatomy - a cartilage-based tissue within a joint.  The most common one we think of is usually in the knee, but there are others.  I  like the word meniscus because of how it sings up and down when you say it.  Meniscus.  It's kinda bumpy.  And weird.  So, I like it.
2.  vulgate.  This is just a word for the Latin translation of the Bible in the 4th century.  The vulgate.  But it sounds like you're saying vulgar.  And I say vulgar all the time.  "Stop being so vulgar!"  (Peasants!)

1.  cacahuete.  It means peanut in English.  I like the bumpiness of this word also.
2.  sacapuntas.  This is a pencil sharpener in English.  If you say it dramatically, it seems like you may possibly be angry or bewildered or possibly making wild declarations in every direction.
(Spanish random: Once when we were in Central America, my hubby told a girl, "Mucho gusto en cocinarte."  I couldn't stop laughing to tell him what was wrong with that.  He thought he was saying conocerte.  Kind. Of. Different.  Upon meeting someone, you say, "Mucho gusto en conocerte."  That's nice to meet you.  He said, "It's nice to cook you."  Yep.  Weird cannibalistic Americans.)

1.  mustikkapiirakka.  This is blueberry pie.  I don't love blueberry pie more than other pies, but I love the word mustikkapirakka.  It's like you're eating while you say it.
2.  isoisa (there should be two dots over that last a).  It means grandfather, but isa means father.  The repetitive nature is satisfying.
3.  keskkiviiko.  Wednesday.  Middle of the week.  I like hearing week sound like viiko.

1.  fiskaffaren.  It's a fish shop or fish trade place, whatever you call that.  (Also needs two dots over the last a.)
2.  Ah, precis.  This is what my bastis says when she agrees with something or understands something.  It means something like, oh, yeah, right.

1. sle-ha!  Apologies to everyone who speaks Hebrew.  I have no idea if that's how you spell it, or rather, transliterate it, to English.  It means "Excuse me!".  I like it because it sounds like the emotion behind it.  It is the perfect sound for excuse me that I could think of.

1.  uma.  It means kiss.  Your mouth makes a kiss when you say it!  Creative.

1. moya pani.  It means, I think, little missy or girl or like muchacha in Spanish.  It has a nice little flow to it.

1.  chan jin liu (one million apologies, I do not really know pin yin, I just make up my own).  It means giraffe.

1.  satis bene.  Things are good.  It is satisfying to say satis!  
2.  debitoribus.  It sounds like Debbie's bus, however it means debtors.  It is in the Lord's prayer, of course.
3.  caelum.  It means heaven, but that cae is a "chay" sound.  It sounds like "chay lum".  It made the top 3.

If I had a favorite French word, it may be pomme de terre.  But French makes me so mad that I have purposely avoided learning anything to do with it for my entire life because they just totally WASTE endless needless letters.  What the heck!  You do not need fourteen letters that are not pronounced in every word.  It's too much.  It put me over the edge long ago and I've never returned.  (The only consolation is pronouncing the Impressionists names.  That is kind of fun.)

As for Japanese, I just know how to count to ten and say hello, goodbye, and teacher, and none of those stand out enough for me at this point.

These are a few of my randomest things!

Peace, love and please avoid hitting your meniscus on the vulgate, dear,
Ms. Daisy

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cuppa Pesticide Carcinogen Tea, Anyone?

It was a dark and stormy night...  No.  Actually, it just felt like a dark and stormy night.  It felt like the worst day ever.  How could they do this to me?  How could I not see it before?  

It was horribleness wrapped up in an innocent bow and the devastation of the truth of it made me question pieces of my very person.

What, pray tell, you ask?

Pesticide tea.  

Wha?  Yes.  Pesticide tea.  I have been drinking pesticide tea.  AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT.

Now for some of you, you're thinking, "Big deal!  Just get some new tea.  Solved."

Yes.  I know.  And I did.  BUT.  You do not understand my relationship with tea.  I love tea!  Tea and I hang out every morning.  We are homeboys.  I have a teeny kitchen and I have dedicated an entire cupboard to my teas.  I put less used kitchen items out of my kitchen into the basement while tea stood proudly by, showing its importance and priority and sticking out its tongue at the pie plate.  And I totally let it.

People come over to my house and when we sit down for some dessert or for a chat, I bring out The Tea List.  People say to other people, "Have you been over to Ms. Daisy's house for tea?  She has a tea list!"  I have organized my teas into category (black, green, white, herbal, rooibos, pu-erh, oolong, etc.) in descending order of caffeination groups.  The bottom of the sheet has an explanation of the process of how various tea types are made (dried, withered, pan fried, fermented, etc.) in a handy-dandy flow chart.

Then, of course, I obey the proper temperature rules for each type of tea to serve up the perfect cuppa.  

I do not collect ANYTHING...except for tea cups and tea pots.  I would probably throw out my plates before I would throw out a tea cup.  And I think the general idea of collecting is for ninnies who wish to one day graduate to a full-fledged hoarder, so it is with great love that these things get by in this house.

And so, Friday was rather disturbing to say the least.

I was reading on Food Babe's blog and laughing at her hilarious conversation with Lean Cuisine regarding their use of GMOs, while claiming that their product is "100% natural".  (I'm glad I'm not the only one who calls companies to ask them questions like this.)  Then, I ventured over to read about Trader Joe's and how even though they claim they are non-GMOers, that they don't disclose any information to prove it.  This is also disturbing, but the last one put me over the top.

The side bar tempted me with, "Do You Really Know What's In Your Tea?"

"Oh no."  I thought.  "No, not tea too!  Isn't anything sacred anymore!?  What could there possibly be with tea?  Do I even want to know?"

I thought I was pretty good.  I thought I had a mostly clean lifestyle.  I make my own laundry detergent, lotions, deodorant and pick only EWG safe makeup to avoid putting the chemmicals on my body.  I eat organic fruits and veggies, and when possible, choose local organics (even if they're not certified - I just ask the farmer what they're doing, and if it passes the standards, it's in.).  I drive crazy distances to get eggs from someone's free-ranging back yard, get grass fed beef from a farmer I know and milk from the same.  I only eat organic chicken (gotta avoid the heavy metals in the conventionally raised ones *cough*cadmium*cough*) and get out to the farmer's markets when I can to get local, free range chicken.  The last time I had a sip of pop was over a decade ago, and we go out to eat about 4 times a year (it would be zero, but there are other people in the house who like it on occasion).  The vitamins we eat are from organic food-based sources.  I make kombucha, for cyring out loud!  I got rid of the microwave, I never use plastic with food and I've cut the use of white sugar and flour almost 100% in our house.  I mill my own grains to bake bread with and can the veggies that grow in the garden.

But THIS!  This!  I overlooked it!  HOW could I overlook it?  I don't know.

But I did.  

Until last Friday.  Sad Friday.  Sad eyeball-opening truth Friday.  I thought I was safely out of the last frontier and then this one came about.  


I clicked on it, hoping it wasn't quite so bad.

I was totally el-wrong-o.

Let's start out with the fact that most tea isn't washed off  before it is bagged up and almost all tea is sprayed with pesticides.  91% of Celestial Seasonings teas were tested by a third-party and found to be over the allowable pesticide limit.  Their Sleepytime Kids Goodnight Grape Herbal contained a pesticide called propachlor (at 0.26 ppm), a known carcinogen under California's Prop 65.  Their Wellness teas contained propargite, another carcinogen and developmental toxin.  Wow.  What wellness you have there, Mr. Fox.

I went to the cupboard and pulled those out.  Bummer.  That was like 9 boxes.  But I did get it from the grocery store, so I figured my loose teas would be safe.  After all, I got them from Teavana.

Guess what tea brand Food Babe exposed next?  Yep.  Teavana.

I would think they would be a bit better than Celesital Seasonings, however.  


Let's try worse.  One hundred percent of all Teavana teas contained pesticides.  ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.  Every single one.  Every beautiful canister.  100%.  All.  As in, if you've got Teavana in your stash, you've got pesticides.  62% of their teas contained endosulfan, a pesticide that was banned in the U.S., China, the E.U. and 144 countries because of its danger to the unborn.  It has been linked to impaired fertility and harming unborn  babies.  Monkey Picked Oolong (the super expensivest one) tested positive for 23 different pesticides.

Glad we paid a bit more for poison.  Not.

They also throw in artificial flavors.  That's not very high-end of them.

Then you've got to watch out for GMOs in your tea.  Some teas (like Trader Joe's) contain soy lecithin.  Others contain corn starch.  Warning, warning, warning.  (That's the red lights going off in your head.)

Well, maybe you don't care too much about sticking pesticides into boiling water and drinking it, so let's talk about the other danger with tea - their bags.  You've either got the cheap papery-type or the fancy "silky sachets" (which sometimes are advertised as "biodegradable".  You'd think the silky sachets are uber high end and you're safe.  Hello, didn't we already learn that lesson with Teavana?

Silky sachet bags are either made from plastic (hi, BPA!) or (GMO likely) corn.  If they're made from food grade nylon,  then we have to deal with PET (polyethelyne terephthalate).  Stick that in your boiling water and leach it.  Plastic breaks down at those higher temperatures.  If it is there, it's getting in your tea.

Well, then, phew.  Paper bags must be a-okay.  WRONG.  Most of the paper tea bags are treated with something called epichlorohydrin.  This is an ingredient in epoxy resins and is a fantastic multitasker as a pesticide.  Bad news.  When it comes into contact with water (HELLO?), it changes to 3-MCPD, which is a carcinogen, causes suppressed immune function and kills male sperm cells.

So, what to do?

Buy organic.  Call tea companies you love and ask them what kind of crack they're on.  If you have an organic tea and it is in a toxic bag, cut open the bag and steep your tea in one of those little stainless steel mesh thingies.  

Buy teas that don't contain GMOs.  

Tell your friends and family and save their lives.  Serve them the good stuff.

For me, I sat on the kitchen floor like a sad puppy while I checked brands and pulled them all out of the cupboard.  I put the 40+ teas into a bag and gave them away (even though I warned people that I was giving them away because of pesticides...).  I went to the health food store and bought a small pile of organic teas and have been trying them out.  I am sad about missing my favorite tea, Typhoo, but perhaps one day they'll all come around.

Until then, I've got to work up a new collection and organize and formulate a new and improved tea list.

Peace, love and sippa cuppa clean tea,
Ms. Daisy

Friday, September 20, 2013

No Cool Whip!

Hello, lovely people!

We recently attended a family birthday party and the birthday girl asked for her favorite cake.  Her favorite cake dessert included Cool Whip.  The dessert provider also brought another dessert which we did eat (and fresh organic strawberries, YEAAAY MOM!), but alas, the Cool Whippy dessert we did not.
Look!  A plastic container filled with poison!

I really and truly don't mind one bit not eating dessert at a party.  I have spent a lot of time enjoying fruit (No, really.  Seriously.  Like, I mean, I LIKE it.  It's all yay-happy-yummsicles around here when I have some.) and other things that now genuinely taste better to me than what may once have been a tempting sweet.  

But herein lies the disturbing part.  Sometimes people think that I feel like I am missing out on something when I do not partake of Cool-Whippy desserts and the like.  Or maybe they think I am a big old jerkface ninny head poopy weirdo.  It's a toss up.  (Leaning toward the Probably Both category.)  

Now when it goes out of my personal realm and goes into the realm of the offsprings, then you know that all the peeps up in the hiz-ouse are going to be thinking I have traded in my title of Mom of These Offsprings to something like Devil of Cruel Torture.  

(Never mind that they have stuffed their little faces with plethoras of cookies.)

Back to the Devil of Cruel Torture.  You can't really explain in a quick minute why you are not letting your offsprings eat Cool Whippy dessert.  Especially to someone who is eating the Cool Whippy dessert.

So, just for kicks, I thought I'd explain to all a ya'll why on God's green earth I would not ever partake of the quasi-food that is so eloquently named "Cool Whip".

Reason #1:  Cool Whip is NOT food.  (Dude.  Can't you tell by the name?!)

Wikipedia states: "Cool Whip Original is made of waterhydrogenated vegetable oil (including coconut and palm oils), high fructose corn syrupcorn syrupskim milklight cream, and less than 2% sodium caseinate (a milk derivative), natural and artificial flavorxanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60sorbitan monostearate, and beta carotene (as a coloring)."

Holy crapola, but that just SOUNDS SO YUMMY.

Just as I wouldn't allow my children to eat paint chips, plastic bottles, Drano, magazines, or to suck on USB drives or live monkeys (although that last one there is a bit more organic than others on the list), I am one of those strict and terrible mothers who demand that their children eat food.  The horror.  The shame.  

But it's on the shelf at the grocery store!  It must be food!  Homie, please.  When you start making your own polysorbate 60 and sorbitan monostearate in your kitchen, you just go ahead and give me a call and let me know which plant you harvested from your family farm in order to do so.

Reason #2:  Because I don't want the offsprings to die early, painful deaths

The first ingredient after water is hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Hopefully this vegetable oil is NOT corn oil or soybean oil, you know, the two most GMO'ed Frankenfoods ever?  Because then we'd have to talk about what on earth is wrong with pretending you've figured out more than God.  (Not to mention the rest of the long list of health risks and issues that arise from eating something that is genetically modified - bet you never thought that "you are what you eat" thing was true...)

So what is the big deal anyway, skipping entirely over the excessively gigantic category that is the deathly GMO products and going just for the risk of consuming the non-food of partially hydrogenated oils?  Here are some thoughts from researchers who have taken an in-depth look at this ingredient, GMO-ing aside.

Trans fats make the coronary arteries more rigid and contribute to the formation of blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Trans fats also reduce HDL ("good") cholesterol levels and increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol. According to a study by Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, approximately 30,000 premature heart disease deaths each year can be attributed to the consumption of trans fats.
Bottom Line's Health Breakthroughs 2007 by Bottom Line Health

The downside for consumers is the dangerous trans fats that are formed with hydrogenation. The ingestion of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and the trans fats that are formed with this process has been linked to increases in cancer, heart disease, and many other chronic degenerative disorders. What is wrong with trans fats? Trans fats, formed during hydrogenation, are actually toxic substances for our cell membranes. When our cells contain an overabundance of trans fats, the cells become leaky and distorted. This can promote vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
The Guide to Healthy Eating by M.D. David Brownstein

It is speculated that substituting foods rich in trans fats with polyunsaturated fats could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 40 percent (Salmeron et al. 2001). - Disease Prevention and Treatment by the Life Extension Foundation As this study shows, there exists evidence that trans fats also promote diabetes in adult human beings. If you didn't have enough reasons to avoid trans fats already (heart disease and cancer), this is a third one: diabetes.
Grocery Warning: How to recognize and avoid the groceries that cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other common diseases by Mike Adams

The next ingredient is high fructose corn syrup.  If you genuinely don't know how this is dangerous for you, you may possibly have been living inside of some weird reality TV show under a rock somewhere on the South Orkney Islands.  Or on Mars.  Here's the quick recap: Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and if you're one of the lucky 50%, you can hope for some type of neurodegeneration from the mercuric byproducts remaining from the formulation of this chemical nightmare.

Skim milk and light cream (oxymoron much?).  Oh muh goodness.  Skim milk.  I'm sure this is organic, grass-fed sourced milk for one thing.  Secondly, let's hope the cows were not eating GMO corn and thus giving you GMO milk.  And let's skip quickly through the fact that it is completely adulterated, forced through a metal sieve, and totally and udderly (ha!) unnatural.  If you want to read more on the dangers, check this out: Is skim milk making you fat and sick?

Next up, sodium caseinate.  Search this phrase with the word "toxic" and you can spend a few hours of fun reading up on such fun things.  Here's an article that deals specifically with sodium caseinate:  Something wrong with your protein supplement?

I'm going to skip down to polysorbate 60.  The polysorbates are a class of crapola that has been hanging out with the I Create Infertility hoodrats, a group of peeps you seriously don't even want to see coming down your block, let alone let them come on in and live in your kitchen and chillax on your table.  You really think the mass infertility is totally random?  C'mon, my lovies, you're smarter than that.  It's not rocket science.  It's coming from our newfangled ideas of what we ought to put into our bodies.

Do you know that traditional cultures believed in (generally) a six month period of eating special foods - for the male and female - before they were to reproduce?  This was to insure that their children would be of optimal health and strength.  Ever heard of that around here?  Nope, didn't think so.  Now we've got peeps cramming McDonald's fries down their throats while their itty bitty tries to grow on the inside.  I think we may have missed that memo.

I really can't even bear going through the rest of it, suffice to say that it is just all straight up junky crapola.  

Here's another article of why you shouldn't eat the crazysauce.  And another on a Cool Whippy twelve day experiment.  And here is the most ridiculously hilarious thing that you could find on one of those Ask Questions to the General Public type of websites, where a person suggests that COCONUT OIL or palm oil is the cause of their bad reaction to Cool Whip - you can guess how far my mouth dropped open and how many times I slapped my forehead in response to such intelligence.

And you know, if you find yourself in such a situation and you, too, do not feel it exactly appropriate to extrapolate abundances of information regarding the aforementioned food toxins, you can always resort to, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!"

I'm pretty sure that's more socially acceptable, anyway.

Peace, love and food by any other name would smell as sweet (just never mind the toxins, please),
Ms. Daisy

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ni hao ma?

You may have noticed that I have pendulum-esque interests.  One week, I'm obsesso on Henry VIII.  The next week, I can't stop reading about the dangers of soy (and then telling you about it). Another week I may be so far into a kombucha-making frenzy that I dream of scobies.

I'm glad to inform you that I'm on to the next one: China.  And bok choy.  But mostly China.

Well, I don't know.  Bok choy is pretty stinkin' amazing.  Can I just tell you a great recipe?  I modified it from what my friend from China said and I can eat it like it is a snack.

Recipe for Amazingness: Bok Choy and Mushrooms
Serves:  Me, or probably four normal people

You need: a NON-nonstick pan (those are poisonous), preferably stainless steel; a few baby bok choy (chopped up), a cup of mushrooms (also sliced), a tablespoon or seven of Kerrygold butter (because when would you ever cook without it?), cracked pepper and cracked salt.

Put the butter in the pan and slightly melt.  SautĂ© the mushrooms for a couple minutes (they take longer to cook than bok choy).  Add in the delicious bok choy until it is an amazing verdant bright green color.  Slide around in the pan for a couple minutes until you feel like you're on Martha Stewart's cooking show.  Crack some salt and pepper over the top.  Eat the entire pan of it before you get a chance to serve it to the rest of your family.

See?  Told you it was easy.

Now.  Where was I?  Oh yes, China.  Well, I wasn't really IN China, I was just talking about it.  

And I wish I were speaking it!  But never fear, Yangyang is here!

I totally love Yangyang.  Besides being totally beautiful and cute at the same time, she is a great teacher and helps you remember in a hilarious way.  I don't know if she is trying to be hilarious, I just think she is.  (Like her imitation of a microwave dinging as she explains one of the tones.  Did you know Chinese has tones?  Well, you will after you watch Yangyang.)

Although I've never been to China, I've traveled there in my mind through various books - The Story of Tea and Unbound are recent ones.  

I have to say, I think that the general stereotype that Westerners have of people from China is that they are very dedicated, hard-working, and quiet.  But after reading these books and looking a little further, I think that one ought to add exceptionally strong.  Through the books that I have read, I have watched women walk 6,000 miles on the Long March up and over mountains in sandals through snow.  I have been adjusted from thinking that everyone thinks of the individual first and then the group to knowing it is not this way everywhere.

Do you know that Chinese people say their family name (what we call our "last name") first?  Can you imagine what that says for you as a person?  You are part of your family first, and then an individual.  

It is fascinating, anyway.  I would like to learn Chinese very much.  It's on my to-do list.

(Speaking of learning, do you know about coursera?  It is a website that broadcasts university classes that you can sign up for to watch and learn.  You get to have homework!  YEAY!  I'm taking one in the fall on Egyptology, but it is also in Spanish so I can doubly soak my brain with exercise.  Just a thought if you have needs of high levels of educational stimulation.  And the cable TV salesman wondered what I do with my time without his product...)

Hey, enough talking.  On to learning!

Peace, love and zai jian!
Ms. Daisy

Monday, September 16, 2013

Response to David H. Freedman's article

I get Reader's Digest in the mail (thanks to my hubby's grandmother).  Most of the  time, I look up the vocabulary quizzes and then put the publication in the basement's bathroom until the pile becomes intolerable at which time I burn them in a fire pit.

This month (October 2013), however, there is an article that I actually read.  It is a clever piece of propoganda filled with wrong premises and lies that I just couldn't pass up the chance to talk about.  It is called, "Have the elite hijacked healthy eating?" by David H. Freedman (edited from his first version in the Atlantic).  Freedman writes for the Times, Inc., Newsweek, Scientific American and has written his own books, one named Brainmakers: How Scientists are Moving Beyond Computers to Create a Rival to the Human Brain.

Here is the overview:
- eating real food is expensive, elitist, inconvenient and unrealistic.
- people who adhere to Michael Pollan's (of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Food, Inc. fame) ideas are impeding science and progress.
- things that are called health foods have more fat than a Big Mac, so just eat the Big Mac.

Let's take a closer look, shall we?  Because I don't want to misrepresent what Mr. Freedman is saying, I'll quote his article directly at vital points I want to share with you.

Mr. Freedman begins his article on a quest across the nation to try some healthy food options.  He went to Oberlin, Ohio, to Cafe Sprouts and got an apple-blueberry-kale-carrot smoothie which his friendly server "spent the next several minutes preparing" for him.  He said it was tasty, but was (according to his rough calculation) about 300 calories and at $9, he wasn't about to make a habit of it.  But being a man of such perseverance, he tried again at L.A.'s Real Food Daily and got a green veg juice.  The poor man suffered and said, "I could stomach only about a third of the oddly foamy, bitter concoction.  It smelled like lawn clippings and tasted like liquid celery.  It went for $7.95, and I waited ten minutes for it." (italics mine)

Pause.  What is Mr. Freedman used to?  Based on what you read here, what is his palate used to?  How much time is Mr. Freedman used to spending/waiting for food to be ready?  Does this display anything about his character to you?

He reveals more to us in the next paragraph: "I finally hit the sweet spot just a few weeks later...Thanks, McDonald's!"  (He had their "delicious blueberry-pomegranate smoothie" - even though it contains artificial flavors, demineralized pineapple juice, and xanthan gum.)

Mr. Freedman (what an ironic name!  Am I in Orwell's 1984?) then says that the foodies are wrong when they say that processed food is making us overweight (false.  See article here: Link between processed foods and obesity, cancer, etc.).  He quotes Michael Pollan and says that Pollan's solution is to "replace - through public education and regulation - Big Food's engineered, edible evil with fresh, unprocessed, local, seasonal, real food." (Is it weird that he has a problem with this?  Isn't this the way of all history up until our very present age?)

He then states that, "there is no reasonable scenario under which these foods could become cheap and plentiful enough to serve as the core diet for most of the population - obese or otherwise..."

Screech the brakes, baby.  Hold up, homeboy.

WHY is junk food so cheap?  Is someone subsidizing it?  Is the government tied in with this food industry to make sure crap costs less than real food?  The answer is heck yes.  (To the tune of the government paying out $20 BILLION plus a year for the subsidized products, corn leading the pack: read here - agricultural subsidizing)

Now let's go the other way.  Even if we can't change what the government has decided to subsidize, we can change what we do and how we spend our money.  If you have cable TV, quit it.  If you have a car lease, dump that and buy a cheap car in cash.  If you have a smart phone, ditch it for a flip phone with no data plan (or don't have a mobile phone at all).  Never go out to eat.  Don't go to the movies (they aren't any good, anyway!).  Don't go to the mall so your greed gene won't even be tempted to kick in.  Get media from the library instead of paying for it (Netflix, books from Barnes and Noble, etc.).  Learn how to do stuff yourself.  Want fresh food?  Plant your own garden on the space you have, even if it is small.  Get chickens if you can.  Learn how to preserve your own food.  Stop buying junk food and convenience food and you'd be surprised at the rest of your grocery budget.  Make do, fix it up or do without.

If you just said that was totally unrealistic, then you haven't met me and many other people who are doing exactly those things.

I'd rather pay for the good stuff now than to pay out in health care later.

Next point - Freedman (I can't get over that irony) says real food is fattening, too.  He repeatedly points out calories and fat in his examples.  This is built upon an untrue premise that foods that have fat and calories are inherently unhealthy.  "What the [Vegan Cheesy Salad Booster] does contain, though, is more than three times the fat content per ounce of the beef patty in a Big Mac...and four times the sodium."..."By weight, [Trader Joe's Inner Peas] has six times as much fat as it does protein, along with loads of carbohydrates.  I can't recall ever seeing anything at any fast-food restaurant that represents as big an obesogenic crime against the vegetable kingdom."

The point that is trying to slide by under the radar is that you probably should just skip the other stuff and go for the Big Mac.  And just because he "can't recall" ever seeing anything at a fast-food place that has more fat than TJ's Inner Peas doesn't mean it's not there, doesn't exist and is healthier for you.  But if you take a closer look, you'll see something that still doesn't line up: he's comparing one processed convenience food to another and to another.  The "Pollanites" (as he calls them) would probably more likely aim you toward comparing a Big Mac to a grass-fed burger with the organic raw carrots you grew in your back yard, not the bag of Inner Peas.  Don't let them slide things by you.  Let's always pay attention to what is trying to get in.

Again, he says, "Check out their products' nutrition labels online: fat, sugar, and other refined carbs abound."  Think.  To be quite frank with you, I don't ever read the nutrition label.  I read the ingredients.  If your food is real food, the nutrition label is not going to worry you, or at least, it shouldn't.  I certainly hope you don't pick your food based on nutrition labels.  Ingredients are what matter, not calories.

Read here to check out why counting calories is actually a very bad idea: (Spoiler - the stress of doing it increases cortisol levels, causing you to be unable to lose weight at all.)  Counting calories is gonna make you fat.

Read here about how eating fat doesn't make you fat and is actually healthy for vital functions in your body: Eating fat doesn't make you fat.

Read here about: how full-fat dairy is linked to skinny people and low-fat is linked to overweight people.

And about how full-fat dairy may lower the risk of diabetes.

And lastly, about how awesome butter is - why it really should be considered a health food.  

Freedman (ha!  It's getting funnier every time I write it!) states "The U.S. population does not suffer from a critical lack of any nutrient, because we eat so much processed food. (Sure, health experts urge Americans to get more calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and vitamins A, E, and C...)"  This is so wrong that I almost fell out of my chair when I read it.  The entire book that Dr. Weston A. Price wrote concerns this very topic.  As humans, we have only the sense of hunger - we do not necessarily hunger for nutrition, although when we do not gain nutrition from what we eat, we are not satiated and our brain tells us to keep eating and searching for vitamins and minerals, thus we pack our bodies with empty food that eventually fattens us from overeating wrong things.  (You can read his book online here: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration)

Did you see that he said we are urged to get more of at least seven different vitamins and minerals?  Would you say that we are doing a good job?  What kind of standards does Mr. Freedman have that he thinks a lack of at least seven vital vitamins and minerals is normal and expected?  Is it any wonder so many people are so ill?

Freedman says that these processed foods are just fine - the proof is that they are regulated by the U.S. FDA and their "effects on heath are further raked over by countless scientists who would get a nice career boost from turning up the hidden dangers in come common food-industry ingredient or technique."  

Stop.  Let's talk about the FDA.  Here is an article that can tell you the names of the men who have gone back and forth from their high positions at Monsanto (the world's leading GMO producer) and their high positions at the FDA.  I wonder if there is any conflict of interest there at all.  And here is an interesting demonstration of propaganda: Monsanto scientists are hired to pick out whether info should be accepted or rejected.

Freedman (eye roll) then dives in to the utterly inane and bewildering with, "the wholesome-food movement is impeding the progress of the one segment of the food world that is actually positioned to take effective steps to reverse the obesity trend: the processed-food industry."  Dear God, please tell me I am in some weird Alice in Wonderland dream.  Oh no, but wait, there's more, "In fact, these roundly demonized companies could do far more for the public's health in five years than the wholesome-food movement is likely to accomplish in the next 50."

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

He starts this in order to promote the industry of food-science engineering companies.  He speaks of a couple companies who add in strange unpronounceables and gums in a favorable manner, suggesting that these are the saviors of our obese world.  

"...there is a battery of tricks for fooling and appeasing taste buds, which are prone to notice the lack of fat or sugar, or the presence of any of the various bitter, metallic, or otherwise unpleasant flavors that vegetables, fiber, complex carbs...can impart to a food..."  

Pause again.  First - if you've adulterated a food, HECK YEAH you're going to notice if it is lacking fat and sugar if it was there in the first place.  Do you love how he says that the presence of vegetables, fibers and complex carbs carry an unpleasant taste?  What does this say about his palate?  If he speaks for the masses, what does it say about theirs?  Shall we dump what is right to appease the out-of-whack?  Please, dear ones, let's look at this from a sane perspective!

His solution: "people can make small, painless, but helpful changes in their diets by switching from Whoppers to turkey burgers, from Egg McMuffins to Egg White Delights, or from blueberry crisp to fruit-and-yogurt parfaits."  (Yeah right.  That's why Diet Coke makes people so freaking skinny.)

How about - people can begin to regain their entire overall health, not just a proper or desirable weight or BMI, by eating what they actually ought to eat - grass-fed meats, free-range poultry, organic fruits and veg, and using only whole grains in their breads that they will be making at home while they skip the things that have proven to make them fat, sick, unhealthy, depressed, lethargic, infertile, undernourished and completely lacking in satiation. 

You can't get around it in a way of trickery or through the back door.  Dr. Price writes, "Our modern process of robbing the natural foods for convenience or gain completely thwarts Nature's inviolable program...Our appetites have been distorted so that hunger appeals only for energy with no conscious need for body-building and repairing chemicals." (Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, chapter 21, p. 378)

This is exactly where we stand in our modern society.  Mr. Freedman writes to excuse himself from eating properly - such an inconvenience to his sweet-tooth and his hurried life.  He writes to justify those who wish they could feel better about eating McDonald's and who adhere to the Standard American Diet (SAD).  Those on the fence pondering real nutrition and health raise one cocked eyebrow and say, "Well I guess I've been right all this time.  I'm not so bad."  Instead of pushing people to be their best, he fills their bellies with lies, false premises and propaganda.

His diet matches his rhetoric and they bring the same results.

Be wise, my friends.

Peace, love and thinking may be hard - but it's worth it,
Ms. Daisy

Friday, September 13, 2013

Eat Dirt!

Hello, lovelies!  Just so you know, the title isn't an insult or an attack, it's my new crazy idea for you.

I have been reading Dr. Weston A. Price's book on his amazing work (Nutrition and Physical Degeneration).  This book is OFF THE HOOK, YA'LL!

If you aren't familiar with it, here's the basic deal.  Dr. Price was born in 1870 and published his book around 1937.  He was of Welsh origin and was born on a 200 acre farm in Southern Ontario.  He grew up to become a dentist and a researcher.  

The book is written in layperson terms (albeit using very dated language  - you have to just get over it and realize that his common language of the time did not hold the same volume of offensivity as it does today, ex: savages/primitives/calling everyone on earth "Indian", which, by the way, drives me up an insane wall).  An-y-way, he travelled the world in search of native people groups who were sheltered and untouched by current  "modern" diet (white flour, white sugar, refined messes of pretend foods laden with preservatives, etc.).  

His travels led him to the Loetschental Valley in Switzerland (which is my idea of heaven), people of the First Nations in Northern Canada ("Eskimos"), Native Americans, Melanesians, Polynesians, isolated African tribes, Australian Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, New Zealand Maori, and the native people of Peru.  Seriously, thank GOODNESS he went when he did.  I don't know if there is anywhere that survives on true traditional diets anymore.  His purpose was to reach people who had not been exposed to the modern diet in order to see what was going on with their teeth (remember, he was a dentist).

What he found was absolutely amazing.  In each case, even though the foods were all different (people living by the sea ate tons of seafood, the Swiss ate the rye they grew and lots of high quality butter and cheese, some African groups ate almost exclusively meat, milk and blood), they had no cases of dental ill-health.  Their teeth were straight, their palates were wide (so that the teeth were able to come in straight), there were no dental caries (cavities) or disease.  

This corresponded to their overall health.  We do hear of this today, but I believe we hear of it in a backward way.   You hear that people who floss and have good oral hygiene are more likely to have good overall health.  I believe that instead of thinking brushing your teeth and flossing are the key to good health, that rather it is proper nutrition that promotes not only good dental health, but also the production of overall health to your entire body.  I do believe you ought to be brushing and flossing, but I think your whole body will respond to proper nutrition, including your teeth.

Now, to the dirt.  In the "Practical Application of Primitive Wisdom" section, Dr. Price talks about how "primitive" treatment suggested that allergies be cured (and prevented!) by the use of kaolin clay.

I decided to be a bit of an adventurer here.  I have some bentonite clay (Redmond brand - a brand that is for internal and external use).  I usually use the bentonite clay in my homemade deodorant recipe and for facial masks (when I think of it, which is about once a year).  I have been having allergy sniffles for about 3 or 4 weeks and I thought, HEY, what the heck, what if I tried this?  So I did.  I totally ate dirt, ya'll.  (I mixed it with water, shook it like I was shakin' what my mama gave me and threw it down the hatch.  1/2 teaspoon of clay with about 6 oz. of water, in case you wanted to know the exact amount of craziness I participated in.)

I only have done it once so far, so I don't know if I'm quite cured yet, but I'll let you know.  So this spurred me on to check out other uses of bentonite clay.

It is crazysauce the amount of things bentonite clay can do for you!

You probably know that you can help your bee stings and bug bites by making a paste of baking soda and water.  Let me tell you, lovie, that ain't got nothing on bentonite clay.  

I was excited (and disturbed) to find that my dear hubby had some poison ivy so I could try out my new concoction.  (Same day as my eating dirt experiment - the joy!)  I made a paste and told him to slather it on in a thick and crazy way (I'm pretty sure if I were a physician, that's how I'd put it on the prescription label for instructive purposes).  We put it on around dinner time and I told him to just keep it on for as long as he could stand it.  I am not sure, but I think he either washed it off right before bed or slept with it on his wrist all night, so it was on for a while.

Dudes, I am telling you what.  He woke up this morning and there was NOTHING THERE.  I don't know if this is normal or if we are just special, but the itch stopped and there isn't any red on his wrist.  He was freaking out more than I was.  I smiled, gave him a pat on the head and said something like, "Stick with me, kid.  You'll be all right." Secretly I was cheering and clapping in my head.

Bentonite clay works by being an adsorbent.  Yes, I'm not dyslexic, I said aDsorbent, not absorbent.  It has a crazy property of grabbing toxins and delivering them to your excretory system (like my beloved kombucha!).  I am supposing that the allergic stuff got sucked out through his pores.  Or magic.  Either one.

But the myriads of uses for such clays are prolific and multitudinous!  Just listen to this.

- stops itching from insect bites, poison ivy, chicken pox
- gets rid of ZITS!
- soothes eczema, burns, psoriasis and MRSA (some people say it cured their MRSA when nothing else worked)
- fabulous face mask-ization
- cures diaper rash
- calms and cures mastitis
- use in a bath for detoxification and softening skin
- use as an ingredient in your homemade deodorant!  ;)

- oral health: you can use it to brush your teeth (I don't know if you should consider this as internal or external, it's sort of in between)
- oral health: you can use it with water as a mouth rinse - some people swear it helps remineralize your teeth (I prefer Standard Process' Bio-Dent, personally.)
- some people take 1/2 teaspoon in the morning with water to help with morning sickness during pregnancy.  Ask your midwife or OB/GYN, first, though just to make sure it is okay for you.
- 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon in a cup of water for digestive aid and detoxification
- some people use it for alternative cancer treatment
- reduction of the effects of radiation

There are piles more of anecdotal cures that you could resesarch if you have the passion to do so.  I thought it was rather exciting enough stuff to share with all of you, anyway.

Peace, love and go get some dirt (NOT FROM YOUR BACK YARD, which, by the way, is what my hubby thought I did at first when I said I ate clay),
Ms. Daisy