Tuesday, February 21, 2012 Hi, Atus! Nice to meet you!

Between my diet and my new puppy I have completely lost all interest in food. Yesterday I ate one taco for dinner and was stuffed. This is good for my waistline, bad for my blog.

So what's going to happen to the Headbanging Hostess? I have no idea. Apollo has been home for 4 days - we are sleep deprived, unable to tend to our own personal hygiene and the house looks like a bomb dropped on it. It was so clean...

I just finished reading a book called The Believing Brain. Keep an eye on Alternative Control for my review. I'm already itching to go to the library for a new book. I'm hoping to replace eating with reading and expanding my brain power instead of my ass.

I have a full-length play to finish writing. I also have a play in production now in Fairfield. And I have this puppy to raise.

So let's call it a hiatus. I'll be back - in a new form (both physically and mentally) until then... Rock on!


Thursday, February 16, 2012 Kitchen Sink Cookies

The other day I made oatmeal raisin cookies with almost no oatmeal and absolutely no raisins. Neat, huh? This is one of the joys of having gone to culinary school. Understanding recipes and how they work allows you the freedom of changing them around, if need be, and you won't end up with an inedible product.

Professional baking recipes are done by weight, not volume. Nothing about cups in a professional recipe. At different times of the year that cup of flour is going to have different weights, never mind how densely you pack the cup. If you weigh the ingredients you'll end up with a more consistent cookie (or pie crust, cake, bread, etc.)

So here we go. This is basically the recipe. I'll explain the science as best I can, including viable substitutions. You'll notice some of the smaller amounts (baking soda, cinnamon) are in teaspoons. Not everyone has a scale that can measure such small amounts. For the larger amounts a postal scale does the trick. It's worth the investment if you're going to be baking a lot.

Kitchen Sink Cookie Formula

4 oz Butter
7 oz brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon sour cream
6 oz AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 oz oats
1 Tablespoon milled flax seed
4 oz raisins

Okay, so let's first talk about those lines. Those indicate your mixing pattern. The first ingredients are creamed together in a blender - keep mixing until it looks like a uniform cream. Starting off with room temperature butter is key.

Add your egg and mix it in until the mixture is again uniform. Add your vanilla and sour cream and mix in.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before adding to the dry ingredients. Once it is all combined add the raisins.

Bake at 350 until done, this depends on the size of your cookie. Mine were slightly less than the size of my palm and they took 20-25 minutes.

Now! Onto the fun stuff and the science - they go hand in hand.

The butter is obviously the fat in the recipe. You can substitute apple sauce for butter if you're watching your calories. You can do half and half and get the taste of butter and half of the fat. The pectin in the apple sauce also helps keep your cookies together. And you can always substitute another fat - shortening, oil, bacon fat. Go ahead.

Brown sugar is what we call an acid (along with maple syrup, honey). The molasses in the sugar reacts with the baking soda to provide a little lift in your cookie. If you don't have brown sugar you can do half white sugar and half molasses, maple syrup or honey. If you were to use plain white sugar you'd need to use baking powder, which contains an added acid. And you'd need to use more of it - one teaspoon of soda is roughly equal to three teaspoons of powder. But why bother? Brown sugar gives the cookies a fantastic taste.

Sour cream is another acid (as is buttermilk, yogurt) that will react with the baking soda. I've started replacing milk in recipes with sour cream. I made corn bread with sour cream... Mmm, mmm, mmm. That'll have to be a future post.

As for the oats in the recipe, that's where I came up short. I used what little oats I had in combination with the crumbs from the bottom of my Kashi cereals to make up the 4 oz. I crushed the cereal a little just to break up any big chunks. You can use steel cut oats, cereal, granola. Have a little fun.

And the raisins...the raisins that I didn't have. I used chocolate chunks from a hot chocolate kit, sliced almonds and pecans. Hence the kitchen sink reference. Go nuts with this one, no pun intended. Dried fruit, chips, nuts, bacon! Just try it!

If you follow the ratios and principles of the recipe you're almost guaranteed not to fail. I say almost because we all make mistakes - and even if you screw it up the ingredients only cost a couple bucks.

So go ahead and try it! What's the worst thing that can happen?


Thursday, February 9, 2012 Holier Than Thou Vegetarians and the People They Drive Crazy (i.e. Me)

I wrote this sometime last week and wasn't sure if I should post it. It's a little angry and I don't want to offend my friends that are vegan. But today, I saw this image on good old Facbook. It's a German man who was married to a Jewish woman and had spent two years in Hitler's Camps for marrying her. He is refusing to saulte Hitler. Someone commented "That's how I feel being a vegan. I see everyone saluting the animal holocaust but I refuse." So, this post is for you buddy.

I just read this article by some guy in England I’ve never even heard of and my blood is boiling. Why? Because he’s up there on his pedestal preaching about how superior he is because he doesn’t eat meat.

Bully for you, dude.

Look, I know people need to read this stuff. I know it helps to educate people and to get a dialogue going and it helps to change people’s minds. But your plan for the future is flawed. What happens to all the animals when we stop eating them? Are we going to keep purebred flocks, herds and gaggles of umpteen varieties of heritage livestock to keep their history alive for future generations? Or do we just let them all die; all these chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, cows, pigs, rabbits and sheep that people have bred over hundreds if not thousands of years. Ever heard of a feather bed? That’s what people slept on before the Bob-o-Pedic. Feathers were a blissful by-product of Sunday dinner. They didn’t go to waste, they were used! Cow hides made leather for saddles and shoes. Pig skins made Superbowl Sunday possible.

Interdependence. Fantastic word, isn’t it? Animals depending on a farmer to feed them, the farmer growing the food to feed them (and himself) in soil fertilized by (you guessed it) the animals - of course the animals are also bred for their young, their milk, their eggs and eventually killed for dinner, but that’s the circle of life! Certainly not the wheel of fortune, but that’s what people have done to animals for thousands of years. That's partly why we're still here.

When you do a google search on the “absurdity of veganism” this lovely little article is one of the first to pop up. Simply delightful in its absurdity, it makes me laugh and cringe and yell at the monitor all at once. This fellow seems to think we can take all the animals that will be out of jobs and put them in reservations where they will not be allowed to breed until they eventually die out because we don’t need them anyway. What a fabulous example of stewardship. Really, I can see why he thinks he’s so superior to the rest of us. Because he’s out of his fucking mind!

*Disclaimer – I feel it’s necessary for me to say that I do have vegetarian and vegan friends. I also have black friends, but I don’t think there’s any overlap. My point is I don’t have a problem with vegetarianism or veganism; I have a problem with folks who think they are better than me because of what they don’t eat. Especially when their ideals are fundamentally flawed – if you’re going to ignore the history of agriculture and the “circle of life” because it’s unpleasant then you’re not making a considered argument.

People have been eating animals since the dawn of time. They’ve also been using up every last bit, preventing any bit of that animal from going to waste. Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, make-up; medicines, medical supplies, medical research; anti-freeze, plastics, rubber; instrument strings! Do vegans not listen to music? Wash? Go to the hospital when they’re sick? Drive a car to get there?

Do I even need to get into the fertilization of the fields? Would you not eat that carrot if it were grown in cow poop?

Can we eat less animals? Of course! Do we need to treat them better? Abso-friggin-lutely. No doubt our food system is broken, out of whack. Personally I’d like to see it all taken out of the hands of multi-national corporations and put back in the hands of the family farmer. Everyone should have a homestead. But I’m not insane enough to think that will ever happen, not to that extreme. Well, maybe when the cows on the reservations all die…


Wednesday, February 1, 2012 One Month and Seven Pounds, Gone

The muffin top is almost gone, seven pounds are gone, I look pretty damn good if I do say so myself. What's my secret? I don't have a secret. If you've been reading my blog you'd know, I'M JUST EATING HEALTHY!

It's not called "healthy eating" to annoy you, it actually healthy.

High fiber, whole grain, fruits, veggies - these foods have replaced candy, ice cream, junk, fried food, bacon, big hunks of meat and cheese. I've eaten one slice of pizza since the New Year and quite frankly it stunk. When your body grows accustomed to real good food it won't be happy when you fill it with crap.

Do you know how it feels to walk uphill carrying your groceries and not be out of breath? I do!

Unless you've been living under a rock since the 1980's you really have no excuse for not knowing how to eat healthy. Me too, I'm just as guilty. I joyfully spent two years learning how to cook and eat. But I made a conscious choice to do so. I knew I was gaining weight. I knew I wasn't feeling as healthy as I used to - but I didn't care. I have no one to blame but myself. I ate all my food with a side of apathy. Bad on me, yo.

But one month into this, I am fueled by my success. I even went out and bought a new shirt, size small.

Is it strict? Yes. Can it be done? Yes. Is it worth it? YES!

This week I've eaten chili, roasted chicken, corn bread stuffing...and it's only Thursday. I've also eaten a few bowls of Kashi, some fruit, high fiber pasta salad and frozen Whips yogurt. The longer you stick with it the easier it gets.

Stay tuned, my weight has no where to go but down!