Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Turtle Cupcakes

Turtle Cupcakes

December 4, 2013 by Hannah Jane
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Opening my email this morning, I found a lovely missive from the Pioneer Woman’s blog which contained a recipe for Pretzel Turtles.  Can you say, “Yum”?
Unfortunately, we’re out of mini pretzels and we haven’t purchased caramels in a long time.  Pretzel Turtles were unobtainable, at least until we go shopping again.  But that didn’t stop me from wanting something turtle-inspired.  My brain began to search for alternative ways to indulge in lovely mix of pecan, caramel, and chocolate – and I suddenly remembered all the salted-caramel frosting recipes I’ve been seeing on Pinterest lately.  Surely, this was the way to get the caramel portion without any actual caramel candies on hand.
The next logical thought was that the frosting had to be on something.  Chocolate cake was the first thought which came to mind, but I discarded that idea in favor of chocolate cupcakes – and the pecan part? That could be sprinkled on top…
A few hours later, I had gobs of little-bitty cupcakes.  And though I might be slightly biased, I honestly think that they’re some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had.  From the way they’re disappearing from the counter, I think my family agrees, too, so the recipe needed to be written up – and since I had to type it anyway, I thought I’d share it here.
Now, before I give you the recipe, I ought to note two things.
  •  First: these can not be classified as health food.  They won’t do as much damage to your well-being as many baked goods, perhaps, but they still aren’t healthy.  Which is why I made them in mini muffin pans.
  • Second: I realized after I made this recipe that it made a ton of cupcakes, and I ended up putting the second half of the batter into a 8×11 pan and making a cake – so I halved the amounts when typing it out here.
The first step was to make the caramel sauce, which was a far more straightforward process than I’d imagined.
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The sugar is heated in a pan until it melts – it got rather “crunchy” looking before melting fully, but then soon liquefied completely.  The directions I read stated that it should be whisked constantly until it melts, and that it should mostly be left alone after that until it reaches the temperature of 350 degrees, but I found that there was almost no time whatsoever between the sugar liquefying and reaching that temperature.  (A candy thermometor came in quite handy for this step.)
2
As soon as the sugar reaches 350, the butter is added in all at once and the mixture whisked until the butter melts.  The sugar will bubble, which is why a small saucepan should not be used.
3
The most annoying part about making this was not the recipe itself, but the whisk.  We just bought two new whisks a few weeks ago, and I was using one to stir the (still melting) sugar when the handle suddenly broke apart from the whisk part.  I glared at it and tossed it into the sink, grabbing the second one to replace it.  Not thirty seconds later, that handle popped off too.  AUGH!  I ended up using the whisk part without any handle – thankfully, there was enough left for me to grasp without burning my fingers.
Anyway, after adding the butter the pan is removed from heat and the cream is slowly stirred in until combined, and the salt added.
4
After the caramel had cooled, I measured out the amount needed for the frosting and then put the rest into a handy-dandy squeezy bottle we had on hand.  I think it was originally intended to hold ketchup or some similar item, but it worked perfectly for drizzling the caramel later on.  :)
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Next up to make was the cupcake batter – coffee and cocoa powder are whisked together and allowed to cool.
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The dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt are sifted together.  I’ve recently started measuring flour by weight instead of volume, and I really do feel that I end up with more precise and consistent results.
10The butter and sugar are creamed, and then the eggs and vanilla are added.
11
The cocoa mixture and the flour mixture are added to the butter mixture, starting with the flour (which is added in fourths) and then the cocoa (which is added in thirds).
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Adding the last bit of flour – then the cupcakes are baked.
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While the cupcakes are in the oven, it’s time to toast the pecans.  We have a toaster oven, so I simply spread them out on the little tray (I had to do it in two batches) and toasted them.  Literally.
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I put them into our food processor with the chocolate chips, which weren’t mini-sized.
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As you can see, the chocolate didn’t really chop up all that well, which wasn’t a big deal, though I do recommend using mini chocolate chips if you have them on hand.  Next up: the frosting….
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The butter and cream cheese are mixed together first, and I really recommend that you let them warm up a bit before starting on the frosting – I didn’t, and it took some extra mixing to compensate.
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The vanilla and powdered sugar are added next… I always forget how much powdered sugar poofs up when mixed, and it always makes a mess.  Tsk.
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Then the caramel sauce is added in… and a bit more sugar added, until the consistency seems right.
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I really could have gotten away with simply smearing the frosting unto the cupcakes using a knife or rubber spatula, but decided that I’d go the “fancy” route instead.
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*ahem* Note the broken cupcakes on the left – that’s what happens when one tries to remove the cupcakes from the pans too soon.  
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I tried to group the cupcakes as closely together as possible when sprinkling on the topping, but much of it still landed on the counter top – so I simply picked it up and re-sprinkled it again.  (No fear, the counters were clean.)
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Then the caramel was drizzled on top… mm…
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Yum.
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This was the cake I mentioned earlier – I might add more pecans later on if I feel like it, but it’ll taste fine even if I don’t.

Turtle Cupcakes

Ingredients
Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup (7 oz.) white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, cut into small parts, at room temperature
  • ½ cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • ½ Tbsp sea salt
Cupcakes
  • 1 cup (hot!) coffee
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 3/8 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
Pecan Topping
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
Salted Caramel Frosting
  • 6 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ – 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ cup salted caramel sauce (recipe above)
Instructions
For the Caramel Sauce:
  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the sugar over medium high heat. The sugar will seem “crunchy” while it is beginning to melt, but will quickly become liquid. As soon as it reaches the temperature of 350 degrees, dump in all the butter and stir until it is melted.
  2. Remove pan from heat, slowly pour in the cream. Whisk until well combined and smooth, then stir in the salt.
  3. Set sauce aside to cool.
To make the cupcakes:
  1. Whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Let cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until well blended.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Beat until fluffy.
  6. Add the flour and cocoa mixtures to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (in fourths) and alternating with the cocoa mixture (in thirds). Stir until just blended after each addition. Do not overbeat.
  7. Spoon batter into well-greased mini muffin pans, filling cups about ⅔ of the way.
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool in pans for a few minutes before removing.
For the pecan topping:
  1. If the pecans are un-toasted, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for a few minutes.
  2. Chop in food processor (or however you want to chop them), add chocolate chips.
To make the frosting:
  1. Beat together the butter and cream cheese, add vanilla.
  2. Mix in 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  3. Add the caramel sauce, then blend in remaining sugar until desired consistency is reached.
To assemble:
  1. When cupcakes are cool, spread or pipe on the frosting. Group them closely together, and sprinkle on the pecan topping, then drizzle on some of the remaining caramel sauce. Keep cupcakes fairly cool for best results.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Unaffordable Care Act

It’s been 42 days since the website for Obamacare went live on October 1st.
A whopping total of six people signed up on that first day, although they didn’t exactly pull out that number and brag about it – instead, they listed the number of people who loaded the site, claiming that the website had millions of hits.  Hmm.  Maybe, but, I wonder, are they as unreal as 19.5 million of Obama’s twitter followers?
This webpage shows a graph of how many insane gullible folks have signed up for Obamacare thus far, although there are definitely holes and less-than-certain numbers given in some places.  However, this is the most thorough list I’ve been able to find so far.  Update: This website also has a lot of sign up numbers on it, most of which seem to be lower than the other site I linked to.  Interesting.
Interestingly enough, it seems that the statistics listed most commonly on the web are those of New York, California, Maryland, Oregon, and other states with relatively high numbers.  The states with only a single-digit number of people signed up for sure aren’t exactly being publicized far and wide.
At this point, the total of signups, not including those for Medicaid, is 373,196, which is just a little more than 0.1% of Americans.  (If you add in those for Medicaid, the number jumps to 962,144, which is roughly 0.3% of Americans.)
Setting up the website for Obamacare ran up a staggering bill of $634,320,919.  I want to know, HOW DO YOU EVEN SPEND THAT MUCH MONEY? You’re setting up a website!  Did they feed the developers imported caviar and civet coffee? Give them multiple Obama-style vacations?  AND THE WEBSITE DOESN’T EVEN WORK!!!  AUGH!!

*ahem*
Okay, ranting aside, that means that so far, only counting the costs of the website itself, Obama is approximately paying $1,700 per sign up (not including the medicaid sign ups).  Oh, wait.  Obama isn’t paying that, you taxpayers are.  Sorry.
But wait, $634 million is small potatoes when compared to the billions spent in federal funding thus far.  As of April 2012, the total was $12.1 billion, and I’m certain the number has since climbed much higher. (At the moment, April 2012 numbers are the most recent that I can find.  Maybe I’m just too tired?)  There are plans for spending over $100 billion before 2019.  I don’t even want to figure out how much it’s cost per person using those numbers.
When you look at some of the individual states, the numbers are even more staggeringly ridiculous.  In Delaware, $4 million was spent – and 4 people have signed up so far.  It is also interesting to note that New York and California account for about half of the sign ups.
Obviously, as more people continue to sign up these numbers will change somewhat – and yet, it should be painfully obvious to everyone that Obamacare is a flop in so many different ways.
I haven’t yet even touched upon the fact that the “affordable” insurance Obama isn’t even affordable on the individual level.  All it takes is a simple google search to find that people seeking to get Obamacare are shocked at what it would cost them.  Countless other people are losing their jobs or at least a portion of their paychecks, and others are learning that their insurance has been dropped or will cost them much more.  “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it”?  Yeah, right.
Then there’s the fact that Obamacare is tyrannical.  Government isn’t supposed to be involved in such issues.  We can’t afford to have our Constitution undermined in such a manner.
Oh, and extra taxes and/or inflation?  Can you afford that?  Doesn’t matter, you’ll have to find a way.
Affordable Care Act?  I think not.  There is no way that we can afford such a thing.
Oh, and don’t tell me that we should’ve elected Romney and avoided this mess.  He wanted to “replace” Obamacare with “Romneycare”.  We would have ended up with a disaster nearly identical to this, though “Conservatives” would be the ones shouldering the blame and pretending that everything was okay.  It’s time for a R[3VOL]UTION, not just another paradigmagogue with an “R” by his name.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

More Kitchen Mishaps

First it was mayonnaise.  Then sourdough.  But that wasn’t enough for me, folks.  I have to come up with some creative way to humiliate myself in the kitchen rather often, it seems.
Three days ago, I needed a teaspoonful of coconut oil.  It needed to be in liquid form.  Since we don’t store the coconut oil jar in the oven, it was not liquid.  At all.
In the past I’ve melted small amounts of oil by simply running the jar under hot water for a while.  Feeling rather impatient, however, I chose to grab a spoon, fill it with the oil, and hold it over the stove.  After it had melted, I dumped the oil out of the spoon.
That was when my brain decided to stop functioning properly.
I looked at the spoon and realized that there was still a wee bit of coconut oil left upon it.  So I brought the spoon to my mouth, completely forgetting about the fact that I’d just held that same spoon over a stove burner.  I’m such a doofus at times, people.
It was only when I heard the hot metal of the spoon touch the moisture on my lip and sizzle that warning signals started flashing through my mind.  Oh!  Yeah! It’s HOT!
Thankfully, I was able to pull away the spoon before getting seriously burned.  Mom thought my brain lapse was utterly hilarious, and started snickering every time she thought of it.  I walked around with an ice cube wrapped in a wet paper towel for the rest of that evening, which constantly helped her remember said brain lapse.  (Really, I wasn’t seriously hurt at all; every trace of the burn had vanished by the next morning.)
Two days later (er, yesterday) I found myself in kitchen once again.  Mom was having trouble with a can opener, and asked me to help, since I’ve met others’ complaints regarding the can opener with skepticism in the past.  
With some amount of effort I was able to get the can mostly opened, but there was no way I’d be able to get the last inch, given the rather warped and sorry appearance of the can at this point.  No problem – I’d just bend back the lid and pour out the enchilada sauce, right?
Bending back the lid proved troublesome, however, and I realized that just opposite the intact-inch there was another sliver intact – also out of reach of the can opener.  But it was tiny enough that it would be easy to break.
Placing my thumbs against the lid of the can near that errant sliver, I pressed downward.  Mom glanced toward me with at concerned expression and, “Hannah, I don’t think that’s -” at about the same instant that the tiny piece of metal broke.  Green chili enchilada sauce erupted out of the can and spewed forth onto my hands, the counter, and floor.  I may or may not have also gotten some on my face.  Which looked like this, but with green chili enchilada sauce:
Grumpy Cat

Oh, and I’m also not a cat.  That should be obvious, but I thought I’d clarify just in case. 
I guess I won’t doubt those who say that we need a new can opener, anymore.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween

The weather is beginning to cool, the trees are gradually letting go of their leaves after displaying a breathtaking show of crimson and gold.  All around, there is beauty… if one will just take a moment to behold it.
That is, until your eyes fall upon the disembodied foot hanging from that mailbox over there…
Oh, yeah.  That “holiday”.  Halloween.  The festival of all things gross and evil.  Why do people celebrate these things?  I have no idea; I’ve never understood that.
What bothers me most, however – what I really don’t understand – is why churches have special programs to celebrate “Halloween”.  I really, really, don’t get it. What is the logic behind this practice?  Why do we try to baptize this festival of evil by getting the church involved?
We dress up our kids as witches and ghosts, give them skull shaped candy and, in short, celebrate death and evil and paganism…
… and then tell them that Jesus hates sin, that He died to redeem us from our sin, that witchcraft is wicked, and that Christ has overcome death?
Doesn’t work, people.
Don’t tell me that Halloween is just a neat chance for kids to dress up, that churches get involved to help avoid the danger of going to knock on strangers’ doors, and that it’s all a bunch of innocent fun.
That illusion may have been possible to believe in decades past, perhaps, when the blatantly evil side of Halloween wasn’t always so overt – but a simple glance at the Halloween decorations in Cracker Barrel or Walmart or any other store should convince anyone that this is not just a harmless, silly way to amuse the children.

Friday, October 4, 2013

America - World Police?

It seems to be a widely accepted notion, nowadays.  America, as a strong, powerful nation, is responsible for the well-being and security of other nations.  This is not merely the view of the liberals, but of conservatives as well.
While most Americans recently were strongly opposed to Obama attacking Syria, they seem to forget that much of Romney’s rhetoric was quite similar to Obama’s.  If Romney had won the last election, would he have responded differently to the situation?  I doubt it.  (Though I do think that so-called “conservative” Americans would have been far more likely to support him, the same way they supported Bush.)
“America has a proud history of strong, confident, principled global leadership—a history that has been written by patriots of both parties. That is America at its best….
[I]t is the responsibility of our President to use America’s great power to shape history—not to lead from behind, leaving our destiny at the mercy of events….
The President [Obama] has failed to lead in Syria, where more than 30,000 men, women, and children have been massacred by the Assad regime over the past 20 months. Violent extremists are flowing into the fight. Our ally Turkey has been attacked. And the conflict threatens stability in the region….
America can take pride in the blows that our military and intelligence professionals have inflicted on Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. These are real achievements won at a high cost. But Al-Qaeda remains a strong force in Yemen and Somalia, in Libya and other parts of North Africa, in Iraq, and now in Syria. And other extremists have gained ground across the region. Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight, but they are no substitute for a national security strategy for the Middle East….
The greater tragedy of it all is that we are missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East—friends who are fighting for their own futures against the very same violent extremists, and evil tyrants, and angry mobs who seek to harm us. Unfortunately, so many of these people who could be our friends feel that our President is indifferent to their quest for freedom and dignity. As one Syrian woman put it, “We will not forget that you forgot about us.”
It is time to change course in the Middle East. That course should be organized around these bedrock principles: America must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose and resolve in our might. No friend of America will question our commitment to support them… no enemy that attacks America will question our resolve to defeat them… and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt America’s capability to back up our words.”
-excerpts from Mitt Romney’s speech on foreign policy (August 2012)
This is not only true among those who are “establishment Republicans” but also among the Tea Party groups.  There were many who liked everything about Ron Paul “except his foreign policy”.  Non-interventionalism is not a common idea nowadays, and few seem to embrace it consistently.
“A large void in ethical world leadership has been present for quite a while, and this is a perfect time for the United States to step forward and offer effective, morally consistent policies unconstrained by political correctness.  If a bully faction or bully nation is beating up on those with whom it disagrees or simply doesn’t like, we should immediately stop them with brutal force, if necessary, because it is the right thing to do.  If that were done consistently, I guarantee that such incidents would cease almost immediately.” -Ben CarsonAmerica the Beautiful
We are so willing to support war, nowadays.  We seem to view it through rose-colored glasses, feeling that to protest would be, somehow, un-patriotic, that we would become some sort of modern-day Benedict Arnold if we dare question whether or not we are involved in a just war.
Yet, it is essential that we do question.  If we truly do support our troops, it is our duty to ensure that they are not being sent to die for no reason.  We need to make sure that they fight only for things which are worth fighting for, that they do not enter a war which they have no business entering.  Supporting our troops does not mean that we cheer when they are sent to fight and die in unconstitutional wars.
I know the protests.  But the evil dictators!  Who will suppress them?  Who will step in to quash their tyrannical regimes if we do not? 
But is that the job of civil government?  To continually become involved in the conflicts of other nations, declaring ourselves to be the policemen of planet earth?  On July 4, 1821, John Quincy Adams answered that question clearly:
“And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind?
“Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right.
“Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.
“She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….
“Her glory is not dominion, but liberty. Her march is the march of mind. She has a spear and a shield; but the motto upon her shield is Freedom, Independence, Peace.”

To go into other counties in the world and act as the world police is not a task given to the civil government. No matter how nasty their bullies and tyrants, we should not be getting involved.  World police? This was not a principle which our founding fathers embraced, and I think I can state with confidence that they would be utterly horrified at the wars which America has willingly entangled herself in during the last several decades.
As Ron Paul stated, “Legitimate use of violence can only be that which is required in self-defense.”  This is a completely Biblical principle.  God has not appointed us to be policeman, judge, jury, and executioner of those who are acting wickedly in other nations.
Thomas Jefferson encouraged “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.”
“We the people” set up our Constitutional republic with a limited civil government to rule us.  We did not give – could not have given – it the authority to judge other nations, other citizens, other governments.
“How did we win the election in the year 2000? We talked about a humble foreign policy: No nation-building; don’t police the world. That’s conservative, it’s Republican, it’s pro-American – it follows the founding fathers. And, besides, it follows the Constitution.”
-Ron Paul

Monday, September 23, 2013

Raspberry-Chocolate Coffee Cake

I know, I know… I’ve been posting far too many dessert-type recipes lately.  I *do* bake and cook more than just sweets, but the cakes and such seem to be the recipes which make it onto my blog. 
While the cake itself is quite plain, a ripple of berry filling studded with chocolate and an almond crumb topping makes it quite delectable.


Raspberry-Chocolate Coffee Cake

Ingredients
Filling:
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp cold water
  • 3 cups (frozen) raspberries (mixed berries also work*)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ⅛ tsp almond extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Cake
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Crumb Topping
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup sliced or chopped almonds
Instructions
Filling:
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the first three ingredients and whisk until smooth.
  2. Add berries, cook over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, let boil one minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove from heat, add lemon juice and almond extract.
  5. Let mixture cool.
Cake:
  1. Sift together flour and next four ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cut in the butter until crumbly.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and combine, mixing until just combined.
Crumb Topping:
  1. Cut together first three ingredients, add nuts.
Assembly:
  1. Grease a 9×13 pan and spread ⅔ of the cake batter evenly in the pan.
  2. Spread berry mixture over batter, sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
  3. Use a spoon to dollop the rest of the batter over the berry and chocolate layer, smoothing out as best as possible.
  4. Sprinkle crumb topping on top.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or til tests done.
Notes
*If you use a berry mix with blueberries, you may have to use a food processor or blender to break down the berries further before assembling the cake.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Eat at McDonalds. Or Else.

Have you ever complained about the quality of McDonalds’ hamburgers?  Do you order hamburgers from other places, or even go so far as to make your own, because of this lack of quality?
Shame on you.
You ought to know that some people are poor enough that they can’t afford to eat elsewhere.  Your abandonment of the fast food joint ensures that they’ll never ever be able to eat a decent burger.
You see, we all need to stop searching for better burgers and eat at McDonalds.  That way, we’ll have a vested interest in trying to convince the company to create a better burger.  If no one ever goes to their competitors, they’ll be sure to come up with a perfect burger.  You’ll see.
Sure, we might have to put up with lame and disgusting burgers for a few years.  We might end up with diseases from lack of nutrition and extreme amounts of indigestion.  We might find that the thought of one more burger is enough to make our stomachs rebel.
But in the end, McDonalds will be sure to hear our vehement complaints.  They will realize that if they don’t create a better burger, we’ll all… er… whine when we order our next burger.  Yeah, that’ll teach ‘em.  Tell ‘em that if their burgers don’t improve, we’ll keep whining… as we order them.
Yes, folks, the way will not be easy; the burger might take years to improve… but future consumers will thank you.
And if you dare buy from WhatABurger?  Or Hardees?  Or Burger King?  Or Wendys?  Well, then it’s quite obvious that you are a bad person.  Stop complaining about food which you aren’t willing to eat and start making a difference.  Order a Big Mac today.
*Cough*
No, I have not lost my mind; I don’t really want you to buy from McDonalds.
The above is my attempt at a loose parody of this “manifesto”: “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person”
Now, this article is so flawed that if I were to address every single fault, I’d probably end up with a book.  I’m attempting to write a reasonably-sized blog post; I’ll only touch on the three most obvious (to me) flaws.

1. – Eliminating Competition.

“Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better.”
“[I]f every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve.”
Competition is not bad. It forces good businesses to excell in at least one area, and gives the consumer the leverage needed to get a good deal.  Quite a few stores, for instance, will lower the price of an item for you if you let them know that another store in the area is selling it cheaper.  Why?  Because they won’t make a profit if you choose to buy from that other store, and therefore they will do their best to ensure that you are pleased.
Eliminating competition is not a good way to ensure better customer service, better products, or better education.  This should be obvious to anyone.  It really isn’t that complicated, people.  You don’t need to have a Ph.D. to be able to figure this out.
Obviously, McDonalds and Public Schools aren’t exactly the same.  One is tax-funded, and you are required to pay for it.  The other only takes your money when you order a burger.

2. – Taxpayer-Funded Education

“This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)”
This smacks of socialism.  Make sure that everyone is certain to have exactly the same thing, assume that they deserve it, offer it as a government program, force everyone to pay for it, etc, etc.

God didn’t order give the civil government the authority or duty to ensure that everyone is educated.  God tells parents to educate their children.  Public schools shouldn’t even exist.  They are unconstitutional, unbiblical, and as they have proved over and over, utterly incompetent.
“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. -Deuteronomy 6:6,7

3. – Is Education Important… Or Not?

Honestly, I’m still not sure what this lady is saying.
On the one hand, she is arguing that high-quality education for everyone is vital.  That you ought to make sacrifices to make certain that everyone gets a good education.
On the other hand, she assures you that your child won’t suffer when you ensure that they receive a mediocre education. They’ll do fine; the experience will be good for them.
Huh?

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” -Romans 1:22
“Give [instruction] to a wise [man], and he will be yet wiser: teach a just [man], and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.” -Proverbs 9:9,10

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pumpkin Squares

Ingredients
For the Cake:
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar (or sucanat)
  • 2 cups pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups flour, all purpose or whole wheat pastry or spelt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
For the Frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
Cake:
  1. Mix together the oil and sugar, add the pumpkin.
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl, then add to wet ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined, do not over mix.
  4. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 pan.
  5. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until tests done.
Frosting:
  1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together until smooth, add powdered sugar.
  2. Spread on cooled cake.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

{Awkward & Awesome}

Quite a few of my bloggin’ friends have weekly “Awkward and Awesome” posts.  While I’ve often considered joining in on the trend, I always decided against it, as I’m really bad about posting things on schedule.
Since I really enjoy reading others’ posts, however, I’m going attempt to at least do an occasional A&A post.  Whether or not they’ll be on schedule or not… well, we’ll see.  
ANYWAY.  Without any further ado…
Awkward:
  • Sipping a mocha frappuccino and feeling something lodge in my throat – I  assume that it’s just a chunk of ice and wait for it to melt, only it doesn’t, and I finally cough up a miniscle piece of foil.  What. on. earth.?!
  • Babysitting and not being able to understand half of what the energetic five year-old is saying.
  • An alarm clock which doesn’t pay attention to whether or not it’s set to go off or not.  Augh! 
  • Walking outside and nearly tripping over the huge black dog who insists on laying on the top step.
  • Not wanting to print out a sheet of music without first hearing it, so I set my iPod on the piano and squinted at the tiny notes on the screen while trying to play them… fail.
  • Casting my fishing line over a telephone wire instead of into the lake.  Don’t ask.
  • The amount of homemade dill pickles I’ve consumed in the last week or so.   I’ve refilled the jar twice.
  • Deciding to re-upholster the seat cushion of my desk chair and pulling 31 tack-thingys out to get the current fabric off.  I think someone went overboard?  Slightly?

Awesome:
  • Thrift stores.  Seriously, where else can you get 3-4 items of clothing for less than $10?
  • Having sisters *cough*finally*cough* agree with my opinions on how our room should be “decorated”.  Now to find some black paint to “fix” that bright red bunkbed…
  • Getting home and having little siblings run out to meet me while squealing with excitement – even though I’ve only been gone for a couple hours.
  • People who “get” my corny, rather bizarre, and kinda-sarcastic sense of humor.
  • The fact that our road (as far as I know) isn’t going to be re-paved.  I know that sounds like an odd thing to list as “awesome”, but I really don’t want to have the amount of traffic coming down our road increase.  I like things quiet.  
  • Taking a day off from normal activities to go fishing and four wheeling.
  • The fact that the end of summer is in sight.  Which means that my three favorite seasons are just around the corner.
  • Pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins for breakfast.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Feminism

e, that we can pick and choose which parts of the Bible to follow?
Yes, I’m being sarcastic.  Obviously.
According to feminists, the mother who stays home to teach her own children is less-than successful.  Were she to teach someone else’s children in a classroom miles away from her home while sending her own children to different classrooms down the hall, she would be successful.  But to sit in her own house, teaching her own children?  Is she even qualified for that?
To work as a cook in a restaurant is an acceptable way for her to spend her time, but to cook for her own family, up to a thousand or so meals per year?  Why would she want to do that when eating out is an option?
Since a career is supposed to be the most important thing, children are no longer a blessing, but are instead an obstacle to the betterment of self. An individualistic mindset is praised and extolled.  We have broken through the glass ceiling, we don’t have to be oppressed with the responsibility of caring about the welfare of anyone but ourselves, you see.
Marriage is optional and should never ever hamper your career, and children should be put off until the time that they are affordable and convenient and “planned”.  Oh, and two children are more than enough, right? The only reason that anyone would want more is because they want their own TV show like the Duggars, of course.
To be politically correct, children have to be put in government schools. After all, it’s the job of the government to educate kids, right? The family isn’t qualified for such things, and why would they want to put so much time and effort into their children when they could be expending their energy on more important things?
Yes, women are just as important and valuable as men, but the only way that they can prove this is by acting just like a man and eschewing every element of their femininity.  This is how they are able to achieve worth and value.
According to the feminist mindset, anyway.
But rather than helping women as they claim, however, feminists have demeaned women.  If a woman has to be able to act like a man to prove that she is a fulfilled person, than obviously, it stands to reason to conclude that a woman is inferior to a man, and that only by leaving her natural passions and sphere of influence, only by trying to be a man, does she achieve worth.  Femininity is attacked, and the truly successful woman, we are told, is one who is able to do everything a man does just as well as he does it, or better.
Is a women equal to a man in worth?  Absolutely.  God did not create humans and sub-humans.  But having her try to prove this by acting just like a man is contradictory in the extreme.  God did create man and woman different, and it is ridiculous to attempt to prove that they aren’t different.
What if the US Air Force tried to prove its value in the same way that feminists try to prove theirs?  What if they all abandoned their airplanes and built a fleet of ships, insisting that they were just as good as those in the Navy?
Wouldn’t it be easy for us to recognize the fact that their words and their actions were at odds?  That if they truly are as important as the Navy, then the abandonment of their roles in the Air Force is incredibly detrimental to our country’s defense?
Why then can’t we realize that feminism follows the same sort of twisted logic?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Chocolate-Swirl Coffee Cake



Although we haven’t done it as often lately, our family’s traditional Sunday-morning breakfast for the last several years has included coffee cake or muffins. This may not be *the* healthiest breakfast recipe ever, but it certainly is good – and if you don’t wish to serve it for breakfast, it’ll work just fine for snacking or dessert.
I personally like to use freshly-ground flour and sucanat or coconut sugar for this, but all-purpose flour and white sugar work fine.  I also double the recipe to ensure that we don’t run out, and since we don’t have two tube pans I divide the extra dough between two loaf pans and reduce the amount of baking time slightly.
I personally think that the best way to serve this is with a little butter – some members of my family like to pour yogurt on top.

Chocolate-Swirl Coffee Cake

Ingredients
Cake:
  • 4 – 4½ cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp instant yeast
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
Chocolate filling:
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
Crumb topping:
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts, optional
Instructions
Mixing the cake:
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1½ cups of flour and yeast.
  2. Combine the sugar, butter, water, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter is nearly melted.
  3. Pour heated mixture over flour mixture, stir well.
  4. Mix in eggs.
  5. Knead in the remainder of the flour, loosely cover bowl and let dough rise for about an hour.
Making the filling:
  1. In a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips, milk, and cinnamon. Heat until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Crumb topping:
  1. Cut together the flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Add nuts and chocolate chips.
Assembly:
  1. Grease a 10″ tube pan.
  2. Place dough on floured surface and roll out to make a rectangle about 14″ x 22″.
  3. Spread filling over dough, leaving a 1″ border on all sides.
  4. Starting with one of the shorter ends, roll the dough up cinnamon roll-style.
  5. Pick up dough and place it in the tube pan, forming a circle. Pinch the two ends together.
  6. Let cake rise until nearly doubled.
  7. Sprinkle topping on top of cake.
  8. Bake cake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until tests done.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

I've Been Out-Gardened by Chickens

2012′s garden was a dismal failure.  I planted all sorts of different seeds, watched them sprout and grow to about a 1/2 inch, and die.  Don’t know why they didn’t survive, but the only crop I was able to harvest from the garden that year was the spinach I’d planted in the winter of ’11.  Spinach is good, but when it’s the only thing the garden is producing, it’s less-than exciting.  -_-
Note that I specified that the only thing we were able to harvest from the garden was spinach.
‘Cause, see, we were harvesting tomatoes from the yard.
I didn’t plant ‘em there.  We just found them growing in a couple random places in the yard, and although most of the plants were mowed over because of the inconvieniant places they were in, at least one of the plants survived and produced tomatoes.
After some puzzled deliberation, we decided that they must have been “planted” by the chickens, which are contained in a movable coop Stephen built.  (I think he based it on the ones featured in Joel Salatin’s book, “You Can Farm”?)
I don’t pretend to have a green thumb.  But to find that I’d been out-gardened by a couple of cowardly birds? Ouch. 
So when spring of 2013 rolled around, my competitive side showed itself and I was determined to prove that my thumb was at least a little bit greener than a chicken’s.  I planted my seeds and felt quite satisfied with myself when they sprouted and grew and started producing, even when I had to buy a couple plants after a few of mine didn’t make it.
But, guess what we found growing in our backyard a week or so ago?
Yeah, that’s right.  The chickens were at it again.
I hadn’t planted corn, simply because I didn’t want expand my garden enough to fit it in, and I didn’t think that our seeds were good anymore, anyway.
And cucumbers?  Well, one of my plants had survived, but I wanted more cucumbers than that, so I got a couple more from Walmart.
So the chickens snickered and planted corn and (I think) cucumbers.
P1040845
Hmph.
Do chickens even have thumbs?
P1040851

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wendy Davis v. Roe?

Note: this is a re-working of a post which I’d published earlier and then decided to pull for further editing.  For any of you who are subscribed via email or RSS, I apologize for the (sort-of) double posting. 
You may have heard of state Senator Wendy Davis’ (D-TX) filibuster, where she talked for over twelve hours during Texas’ special session in an effort to block SB 5, an omnibus bill which would regulate certain aspects of abortion.  As I understand it, the bill had previously been passed in both the Texas Senate and the House, but the Senate version had been passed without the section which would make abortion after 20 weeks illegal – so this was a concurrence vote.
I’m not going to go into great detail about what happened – it should be easy for you to go look it up if you don’t know much about it.  Or you can just read about it here, or here, or here, or here. Instead, I’m going to ask what no one else seems to be asking:  What makes this bill so pro-life?
At first glance, restricting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy may seem to be pro-life, yet the section clearly states that:
“[R]estricting elective abortions at or later than 20
weeks post-fertilization, as provided by this Act, does not impose
an undue burden or a substantial obstacle on a woman’s ability to
have an abortion… the woman has adequate time to decide whether to have an abortion in the first 20 weeks after fertilization”
(The reasoning behind the date of 20 weeks is that, “substantial medical evidence recognizes that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization”.)
Now, no matter how much feminists may scream and holler, they can’t deny the fact that even Roe v. Wade puts a limit on when one may murder their child.  In the case of Roe v. Wade, it is somewhere around 40 weeks, give or take.  You can’t have the doctor murder your baby after she is born.  That’s illegal.
For pr0-choice folks to be consistent in their logic and reasoning, they should support a woman’s “right to choose” in all three of the following (entirely hypothetical) scenarios:
A:  “I really didn’t intend to be a mother at this point.  I’ve twenty-five weeks along, and having doubts about whether or not to continue this pregnancy. My finances are tight, how will I care for a baby?  I’d always planned to wait until the age of thirty or so before having to worry about kids – I really don’t feel that this is a good time.  It’s not convenient, and I want to finish college first.  Besides, it’s my right, right?”
B: “I’ve had baby Johnny for three weeks now, and I just can’t handle it anymore.  I’ve got the postpartum blues, and he wakes me up every night with his wailing.  I did some math today and realized just how much his diapers are going to cost.  He needs constant care, is incredibly demanding, and he is draining every once of my energy.  I really don’t want to do this anymore.  It’s probably best for me to ask the doctor to give him a lethal injection at our next check-up.”
C: “I’ve been a loving, patient mother for seventeen years, but I don’t know if I can give Suzy the care she deserves.  Not only has she been rebelling a bit lately, she’s also been looking at colleges, and I’ve realized that there is no way I’ll be able to send her to one.  I want to give my daughter the very best, but I really don’t think that I can right now.  I’ll probably be able to get my younger kids through college if I save up now, but since I can’t give Suzy the very best… I think I’ll take steps to terminate her life.”
Obviously, even the most ardent feminists don’t go around approving of scenarios “B” and “C”  – but they do fight tooth-and-nail if someone says that scenario “A” is horribly wrong, and should also be illegal.  With their logic, they cannot clearly state why “B” and “C” are so terribly wrong without also condemning “A”.
The bill says that 20 weeks is a long enough period of time for a woman to decide whether or not to get an abortion.  Roe v. Wade says that 40+- weeks is long enough.  The debate, then, is not one of whether or not you may get an abortion, but rather, how long it should take for a women to know whether or not she wishes to murder her baby.
The rest of the bill, in my opinion, is completely in line with the professed ideology of Roe v. Wade.  According to prochoice.org:
“In the years before Roe v. Wade, the estimates of illegal abortions ranged as high as 1.2 million per year. Although accurate records could not be kept, it is known that between the 1880s and 1973, many thousands of women were harmed as a result of illegal abortion.”
“Many women died or suffered serious medical problems after attempting to self-induce their abortions or going to untrained practitioners who performed abortions with primitive methods or in unsanitary conditions. During this time, hospital emergency room staff treated thousands of women who either died or were suffering terrible effects of abortions provided without adequate skill and care.”
“The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made it possible for women to get safe, legal abortions from well-trained medical practitioners. This led to dramatic decreases in pregnancy-related injury and death.”
In other words, the fact that abortion was illegal resulted in it being incredibly dangerous, and making it legal also made it safe.  I’ve read SB 5 through several times, and I can’t figure out what part of it is supposedly contesting Roe v. Wade.
Several pro-choice people have been protesting this part of the bill:
[T]he minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted under Section 243.010 for ambulatory surgical centers.
Why are they protesting this?  It’s simply an attempt to keep abortion safe, right?  Isn’t that what they want?  A safe way to murder the unborn, isn’t that their goal?  Why does this result in Sen. Davis filibustering it?  Why did the hashtag “#standwithwendy” go viral among the “pro-choice” community? Why did the crowd erupt in protest when lawmakers tried to end the filibuster?
“If SB 5 becomes law, the vast majority of the abortion clinics in the Lone Star state will be forced to close their doors — potentially dropping the state’s abortion providers down from 47 to just five”, one site warns.  Yet, I can’t find anything in the bill which could be considered radical in its safety restrictions in any way.
To require abortion facilities to be held to the same standards as other surgical centers?  To ensure that a doctor is present when an abortion pill is administered?  To make sure that follow-up care is given, that the woman has the proper phone numbers to call if something goes wrong?  This isn’t pro-life, people.  It’s supposed to be why Roe v. Wade was enacted in the first place – it’s supposed to make abortion safe.
If forty-something clinics in Texas would be forced to shut down, the question should be that of whyPerhaps abortion, even when legal, isn’t “safe”?  Or maybe Gosnell’s “house of horrors” isn’t an isolated case?
Will the repercussions of this bill being passed (and, it seems inevitable that it will eventually be passed) end up saving at least a few lives?  Probably.  Does that make it “pro-life”?  No, not really… though I and many others can rejoice if it results in even one life being spared, it really isn’t all that radical.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sourdough II {+ Plums}

I finished my last post with a promise to tell you guys how the sourdough bread turned out, fully intending at the time to do so fairly soon.  But then, stuff happened, and writing a follow-up blog post just wasn’t a high priority.  Sorry ’bout that…
I’d show you a lovely photo of the finished product, except that I don’t have one.  And honestly, the bread wasn’t lovely, anyway.  Picture in your mind a brown brick made of baked dough…
Mom liked the bread, at least.  I’m less than thrilled with the results.  Maybe I just had silly and unrealistic expectations, but I wasn’t expecting a squarish lump which tastes like kefir.  But that’s what I got.
One lady referred to sourdough starter as a pet.  O.o  So.  I have a new pet, sitting inside the fridge like a lump of dough.  I think it needs to go to obedience school.  Or cooking school.  Or maybe I’m the one needing to go to school.  Or something like that.
Anyway.  I’ll try again with the silly stuff later, and hopefully will have better results.  If not… well, at least Mom will eat it.


In other news, the little tree in our front yard which produces these lovely blossoms every year has decided to give us plums.  Lots of itsy-bitsy-kinda-sour plums.
I blanched, peeled, and pitted a good number of them this evening, and I’m not going to do that again if I can help it.  I probably got a teaspoon or less of actually fruit out of each plum, and for that much work, it just isn’t worth it.  The meager amount of fruit left is cooking in the crock pot at the moment, and I guess I’ll figure out how to make it into jam or butter or something tomorrow.
Unless I figure out some easier way to take care of the rest, though, I think that’ll be the extent of our plum harvest this year.
ANYWAY.  That’s the extent of my kitchen woes for the moment.  Now I’m going to go figure out how to get my chocolate fix… ;)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sourdough

I’ve been hearing people mention the health benefits of sourdough bread for quite some time, and Mom recently read of a method which involves letting a bowl of flour and water sit on the counter for days on end in an effort to catch wild yeast and make a starter.
I’m daring enough to try my hand at making bagels, doughnuts, pita pockets, bread, and other such items, but this?  In my mind, the only thing that I’d catch would be mold spores, and I’m not really eager to do that.  So.
But then Mom obtained a sourdough starter.  Read:  I don’t have to catch the wild yeast, I just have to let it sit on the counter with flour and water and get activated.  Whatever that means…
I read the instructions several times and decided that it seemed about as straightforward as a tangled mass of yarn.  Slightly less intimidating than catching wild yeast, sure, but still rather foreign-sounding.
Letting food sit out on the counter when it’s 90° out and and we don’t have air conditioning?  Not something I normally do.
Never touching food with metal?  Sure, I’ve done this with kefir before, but half of the things in the kitchen are made with metal!  How am I to avoid it?
Feeding food?  Again, not something I’m accustomed to.  I feed food to people, but I don’t feed the food itself.  Most of the time.
Dumping half of the food so that there’s room for more ingredients?  Probably the most intimidating step of it all, as it I’ve been taught all my life not to waste food.
Nevertheless, I managed not to balk.  I pulled out some wide mouth canning jars and stuck the little packet of dehydrated starter in with the required amounts of flour and water.  I fed the stuff when instructed to, and put it in a place where it wouldn’t be disturbed, and made sure that I didn’t stir it with anything metal.
I couldn’t bring myself to just waste the excess, though.  The first time I just separated it and put into another jar, figuring that I would work two batches instead of one in case one failed.  I realized the second time, though, that this wasn’t going to be something I could do every time.  If I fed them every twelve hours and doubled my amount of jars at every feeding, in just four days I’d end up with over a hundred jars of starter.  Sure, I’m part of a large family, but we don’t eat THAT much.
So, instead of dumping that extra starter, I found a recipe that used it.  Two recipes, actually, but the idea of making cookies out of the stuff sounded too strange, so I went with the pancake recipe instead.  The result?  Failure.  The pancakes didn’t rise, didn’t even want to cook, and were not appetizing at all.
Some friends of our have a saying framed on their kitchen wall stating,  ”Even my failures are edible.”  I suppose that’s sort of true, as the chickens seemed to enjoy the pancake batter we threw at them.  Acceptable for human consumption, though?  Er… no.
In the meantime, my jars of not-yet-activated starter remained on the hutch, where I was keeping them.  I faithfully fed them everyday, and looked for the telltale bubbly-ness which was supposed to indicate that the yeast had been effectively activated.  I had some small amount, but nothing like what I was looking for.
So, off to YouTube it was for some instructional tutorials.  Halfway through one video, a light bulb went on in my head.  Oh!  OH!  Did she say two parts flour to one part water?
Yes, folks, I’d been feeding my poor starter half as much flour as it needed, which meant that it was far soggier than it should have been, and therefore, not bubbly. Oops.  This is also probably why the pancakes were such a failure…
When the next feeding time rolled around I put in the correct amount of flour, and after just a few hours, I was starting to see some bubbly-ness.  A couple more feedings, and the mixture was doubling in size from bubbly-ness, which is just what it was supposed to be doing.
Success!...hopefully.
The smell had me somewhat worried.  It had an unpleasantly sour odor, and didn’t smell “yeasty” to me.  Taking the mixture out of the jars it had been in and moving it to the fridge helped a bit with that aspect, though.
Then, I ran into another bit of confusion.  The recipe I was planning to use to bake the bread had instructions for how to use the starter in one way (feed the sourdough starter periodically while it’s in the fridge, pull out a lump whenever you need to bake with it) , and the instructions which came with the starter used a different method (pull out a lump of sourdough starter when you want to bake with it, then feed it for a day or two, then put part of it back in to feed the main lump and use the rest in your baking).  In the end, I went with the easier set of directions, which was the one with the recipe.
Easy is good, right?
Then, yet another bit of perplexity: am I allowed to use metal while baking with sourdough?  All of our mixing bowl are metal, how do I avoid using it?  A quick bit of research, and it seems baking with metal will be okay – I hope.
Then, FINALLY, after two or so weeks of prep work – it’s time to bake sourdough bread.  And once again, I’m in unfamiliar territory – I expect bread dough to hold it’s shape at least somewhat, and to be stretch and smooth and elastic.  This stuff?  It’s supposed to have a consistency similar to… oatmeal.  And it does, too.  I suppose I should be glad that it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, but instead, I’m annoyed about the fact that it’s supposed to be oatmeal-ish.
And now, as I write this, my porridge dough is sitting happily in three loaf pans, where it will remain for the next seven or so hours while it’s supposed to rise.
I shall come back with an update of how this ridiculous stuff turns out… later.

Monday, June 10, 2013

That Perfect Party

[sarcasm]
Ever since 2008, our country has been going downhill towards tyranny at a terrifying rate.  Before that, we had a nice guy in office for eight years, and so we never saw any increase in tyranny for that chunk of time.
The Republicans are the ” good guys”, after all.  When they bend or break the rules, we overlook it and trust that their course of action is best.  That they have the welfare of the people in mind, and would never ever in a million years abuse their authority.  Right?  Such nice people… not like those other guys who are wearing the blue ties…
Because the Democrats?  Everyone knows that they’re not going to follow the Constitution.  Get a Democrat in office, and almost every Conservative will scrutinize his actions, his every vote and controversial speech.  They use the Constitution (or what they know of it, anyway) to measure his competence, and protest vehemently when he falls woefully short of where he obviously ought be.
Get a Republican in office, however, and every one is happy and content with the condition of the country.  Because, you know, we don’t have to hold those in red ties to the Constitution – we just compare them to those in blue ties, and celebrate the fact that we were able to elect one of the good guys.  Sure, he might not be perfect… in fact, you might even call him the lesser of two evils.  Still, why would we wish to evaluate their actions in light of the Constitution?  Who are you, some sort of conspiracy theorist?
So The PATRIOT Act was passed by Bush?  What of it?  He’s fighting those nasty terrorists, who are we to criticize his methods?  Of COURSE it won’t be abused, why would you think that?
WHAT?!  You mean Obama is actually listening to our phone calls?  The tyrant!  What nerve!  How dare he think he has he right to do that?  The horrid Democrat!  Of course the PATRIOT Act was never meant to be used that way – the author himself was utterly shocked upon learning about these shenanigans.
Oh, so Romney had socialistic health care in Massachusatts?  Ancient history, people.  Now that Obama has adopted the same type of health care, it stands to reason that Romney can’t possibly hold the same position anymore.  See?  He says he wants to repeal it!  Oh, what’s that about replacing it?  Must be a typo…
Remember the horrible Lewinsky scandal, back in the days of Clinton-the-Democrat?  We should all be glad that no Republicans would ever do anything like that.  Huh?  Why are you mentioning Gingrich-the-Republican, what does he have to do with this?
Ah, so Bush raised the debt ceiling while he was president?  Who cares?  Obama has raised it more, so Bush’s actions look saintly in comparison.
Don’t you miss the good ol’ days when Republicans were in office, upholding and defending our Constitution?
[/sarcasm]
Let’s stop being hypocrites, folks.  Yes, the Democrats are often more blatant in their violations of the Constitution – but that doesn’t justify the numerous faults of the Republicans.  The Constitution must be upheld and defended, no matter what color tie the current President is wearing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cinnamon Scones

Scones

Cut together:
6 cups flour (All-purpose, or whole wheat pastry or spelt)
1 cup sugar (I use sucanat or coconut sugar most of the time)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda 
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter 
Add:
2 cups buttermilk
Mix until just combined, then spread grapefruit-sized portions of the dough out onto ungreased baking sheets, smushing into circles about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges. 
Mix together, in a small bowl:
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Sprinkle on top of scones.
Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
This recipe makes about 36 scones.  Which is enough for breakfast for the nine of us, with a few left over for snacks.  If you don’t want 36 scones, then you should probably just half or third the recipe.  :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Safe" Murder?

[Abortion-rights groups] say that Dr. Gosnell was a rogue practitioner, and that if abortion is further restricted, more women will be driven to clinics like his, which prosecutors called a “house of horrors.”
-from NYTimes.com
“Restrictions really work to hinder access to safe abortion,”
-Dayle Steinberg, president of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania.
“Safe abortion”.  Ponder those words for a moment.  Since when is murder ever safe?
Let’s come to a logical conclusion here, folks.  If it’s okay to murder babies, if we need to avoid restrictions so as to keep their mothers safe… then, logically, it’s safest to murder a baby after he’s been born.  After all, then the mother cannot possibly be harmed during the “procedure”, right?
Or… maybe not.  That would be murder, after all, and there are restrictions on that.  You’re allowed to kill a person if they’re over here, but not when they’re over there.  Those pesky restrictions…
If abortion is acceptable, then Gosnell’s main fault is merely that he didn’t kill babies quickly enough.  To say that it is okay to slaughter a baby one moment, but that it is not okay the next, is utterly  and completely delusional.
One who says that Gosnell should be on trial for murder cannot turn around a moment later and say that abortion is normally fine.   That’s ridiculousness.
Yes, Gosnell’s clinic was a “house of horrors”.  As is every abortion “clinic”.  Since when is murder anything other than horrifying?  Although the facts surfacing at the Gosnell trial about how abortions were preformed there are easily regarded as more disgusting than “regular” abortion, a baby dies either way.
Murder is murder, whether it takes place in a posh, sanitized clinic at 1:00 PM or in a filthy, run-down hovel at 1:01 PM.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April {Photos}

During the month of April (thus far, that is… the month isn’t quite over yet)…
Caleb realized that he no longer fits in the baby swing…
I took quite a few photos of flowers.  No, I won’t bore you by posting them all.  I’m only putting one in here.  You’re welcome.
Esther did… something in the backyard.  Played with the dog, maybe?  I’m not sure.
Joseph and Caleb talked to each other.  Using walkie-talkies.  Even though they were just a few feet away from each other… O.o
Abigail decided to pretend that Caleb was a baby, and tried to push him around the stroller.  This experiment… did not turn out too well.
Stephen found a turtle.
The logical thing to do, of course, was to bring it inside and put it on the dining room floor.
Joseph decided to get a closer look at it before it was brought back outside…
Liz studied…
Joe was in a chess tournament…
And so were Esther and Stephen.  Actually, these two were in multiple tournaments…
Scout tried to sneak into the house.  And failed, especially when it came to the sneaking part.
Stephen, my headless brother, and Lizzy had a snack… (okay, not really.  They were just cleaning out the freezer and discovered that we have a lot of ice cream.)
We helped take care of goats for some friends who were away on vacation…
(No, that’s not a goat.  We also took care of their dog…)
Esther made us laugh…
Abigail tried her hand at milking the goats…
…and lasted for about thirty seconds before quitting, but at least she tried.

Stephen and Esther played chess together.  Online.  While sitting in the same room.
We went to a barn dance on the 20th, and this is how Joe and Caleb dressed up.  You can’t see them in this photo, but Caleb is wearing his crocs.  Cowboys always wear crocs, right?
I don’t really have any good photos from the dance itself.  Which might be a good thing, because even though I didn’t do the chicken dance, others did.  So.
 
I know I said I wouldn’t post any more flower photos… this is a bug.  Not a flower, a bug.  Which  happens to be sitting (standing?) upon a flower.
No…. I’m not convincing myself, either. 
Anyways.  That’s all for now, folks…