Sugar sugar everywhere~

It’s all over the news these days~if you want the long, very informative version, go <a href="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dBnniua6-oM” target=”_blank”>here. Robert Lustig, MD gives a great talk entitled Sugar: The bitter truth. Other than talking about sugar, hormones and calories, he states that A calorie is NOT a calorie. I found that in itself very interesting~a fat calorie is not equal to a carbohydrate calorie and so on.
Listen to learn more~it is very enlightening! If you have the time, there are great (!) photos and diagrams to go along with the talk, providing more in depth information.

If after that you are seeking more information, there was a great conversation on the NPR Program Forum on April 21, 2011. In it, Michael Krasny interviews Dr. Lustig and talks more about sugar, types of sugar, calories and much, much more. Find that interview here.

Happy weekend!

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Belief creates biology~

Apologies to all the scientists & folks who know more about this than I, but I found the above statement very revealing. It means, simply, that we might each try to focus on all the positive things and choices you made for the day rather than the perceived negative ones.

I got a very disturbing email forwarded to me by dad, who has almost as many computer hours logged in as I do, despite the late start he had~he gets MANY emails from his internet & real friends and one of them had a “photo” list of where chickens (possibly) come from~those chickens used in making funny processed chicken wings and nuggets and the like. It also had interesting information about the numbering on food~those scan codes usually mean something other than name & price~by breaking it down you can figure out where the food came from, if that is of importance to you and your family.
I was fairly confident in reading through that email that we are “safe” from harm’s way in terms of getting creepy chicken in our diet due to packaged foods. We don’t each much from a box or a can~and when we do, I am careful to check where the food was processed and grown as well as how much sodium it’s going to parlay into our systems.

I know full and well that food is a very touchy subject for so many people. I myself feel overwhelmed by all the choices and diets and books offering a new, sexy me but I find that if I turn to the “whole” food, not processed, not in a box, not grown 500 miles away and flown on a plane to get to us, then we are making good choices.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t pick up those $2 a bag M & M’s for an easter craft project, I obviously did. But for the most part, I believe that the choices I am making and the foods we are eating are going to support our growing children and maintain our health in ways that box food just cannot do. See the good you are doing and build on that~

frost things first

Well, I have returned safely from what can surely be named the crafting event of a lifetime. Pattern factories, pajama factories, pants factories and surely we can’t forget bag factories were all part of the amazing weekend I just spent with my lovely friend Mary Jo and her lovely friend, Kari. We sewed, we laughed, we sewed, we thrifted, we sewed. You get the picture.

But! More on this later. I am considering it my civic duty to bring you my NEW FAVORITE FROSTING recipe. Many of you might know that I’ve been searching high and low (mostly low…as in close to the garbage can low, as in most of the frosting went directly in this direction due to it’s high lack of merit and low level of frosting delight). BUT! Now we shall redeeem ourselves and share the almost perfect 3 minute buttercream frosting recipe.

Here I bring you the *heavily modified* Honey Buttercream from All Cakes Considered:
You will need:

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter, room temperature
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice (the original recipe calls for 1/2 CUP but then it is truly and surely Lemon Buttercream which is nice if you REALLY LOVE LEMONS but I am not that person. If you can wait a week, say, while you go on a major crafting adventure and come back and see that there are miraculously 3 bites of cake that you had left behind and they are screaming your name, please feel free to eat them. And then you will notice that you have a delicate lemon flavored frosting~but only if you’ve waited a week.
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (more than the original. see Lemon juice note, above. And this is where you could reasonably and safely trade out vanilla for almond or peppermint or wheat germ. just kidding on the wheat germ. don’t try that at home 🙂
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey

To make:

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, whisk together the sugar and egg whites for 3 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. The mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove from heat.
Using a handheld mixer (if you are feeling farm-ish: you have been milking the dairy provider (notice I said MILKING!) (and I am talking about goats/cows/sheep) and you have the arms and time and wherewithall to stand around whisking your mixer around the bowl. I do not have most any of these things. But if you want, I’ll take a nice Jersey cow for Christmas, if you are so inclined. At any rate, I use my handy dandy kitchen aid mixer. She holds the bowl, she mixes the mixture and so far she has never complained nor asked for a raise. (Thanks mom & dad! Best gift EVER!!!)
Where were we? Oh, yes. Mix the mixture of egg whites & sugar on medium speed until cooled, about 5 minutes. Add the butter, in tablespoon sized amounts, one at a time. Add another once the previous is mixed in. Beat the buttercream on medium high another 6-10 minutes, until it is very thick *and* smooth. You may end up with smooth but not thick or vice versa. Keep going until you have both.
If along the way your buttercream starts to curdle (looking more like a mass of shiny, sticky butter swirling around in a bath of liquid the consistency of syrup DO NOT DESPAIR!!! Keep mixing. See? I told you this was a lot of mixing. At some point it will all come together very nicely. Just think of it as extra time for the cake to be cooling off, over there on the counter.
Lower the speed to medium and gradually beat in the lemon juice and then the vanilla extract and then honey. If you are not trying to meet or beat all land speed records for cake-out-of-the-oven-and-into-the-mouth-with-potentially-the-best-frosting/cake-combo-before-you-leave-for-a-cross-country trip, then by all means, cover it tightly and it will wait for you until you are ready. Which leads me to my next point, that being~
This frosting stores beautifully! Really, really lovely. It will wait patiently for you until that time when you are ready for cake baking or, if you find you have too much frosting (ahem) then you can *tightly* cover it and tuck it away until ready. Just do two things for me on this:
Give it a little while to come to room temperature on its own. It may need a little more of that mixing together action to get past the softened and now curdled stage it might show you when you go to use it. Or it may go directly from waiting patiently to soft and ready to use.
You must also store the frosting in a tightly sealed container. And preferably not in your dead great aunt’s refrigerator which although free, has lingering scents of unknown origin and may well threaten the perfect combination of flavor additives that you have previously chosen.
Enjoy!!! I use this successfully on my go to chocolate cake and I tell you, I am all kinds of a happy mama for this winning combination. Now, off to explore the many enchanting new things I learned about while I was away! Stay tuned for updates on what I did, where I went and who I met…

*ed. note: no cows, goats, sheep or dead great aunts were harmed in this post. any reference to relatives and animals known and unknown are done with utmost respect and honor.

what’s for breakfast? what’s for lunch? can I have a snack? what can I have?

Used to be, in days of yore, I would hear these questions more times each day than I was years old. Not long ago, I stumbled upon the idea of writing it all down. We have a small girl who is just now saying some good words and a big girl who uses LOTS of words. I decided to meet them in the middle and create this list so that their questions and their bellies would be sated more often than not and my mind would be free (well, who are we kidding here, almost free) of the constant barrage of food related questions.
The idea is this: create a list of foods which are usually available in your home and from which the kids might choose their meal from. I think of it as a menu and they pick one item each from two columns for whatever their need is currently: snack, lunch, etc. Ours hangs on the refrigerator, not very ceremoniously but highly useful and visible.

Our list has four columns: Fresh, Dairy, Grains, Protein. These are what made the most sense for us, and seem to work well for the menu idea. It works really well when everyone is going in a different direction (weekday mornings) or going in the same direction but hungry at different times (weekends).  Not all items are available all the time but it helps to put them up there to remind us of what we like to make (donuts) and what we might need to buy (peanut butter).

We have all really benefited from this list. Mornings are calmer, big sister is more independent (and confident) in her food choices and I am more organized with what we need to have on hand to feed our sweet bugs!