Rainy Sunday

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Four inches of rain overnight, and rain predicted for every day next week. Maybe we’ll catch up and leave this drought behind.

Fall color starting to show on this Ruby Slipper hydrangea. In a couple of weeks, the leaves will turn from green to dark red.

Other People’s Recipes: Blueberry Muffins Redux

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Epic fail. They don’t look unappetizing. And they taste good. But something’s wrong with the texture of these blueberry muffins.

As usual, I used ingredients from several different recipes–including the two muffins I blogged about previously.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (from the dairy case, not canned)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 cup blueberries

Mix wet ingredients with dry ingredients until incorporated. I hadn’t planned to use so much coconut milk, but the dough seemed too thick, so I kept adding, a quarter cup at a time.

Add the blueberries last, then spoon into a 12 cup muffin tin. I’ve used parchment paper muffin cups to prevent sticking, but these fell out of the papers when I took them out of the oven.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

The flavor was spot on. Lemony with pops of luscious blueberries. But the muffin turned out the way it looked. Dry and grainy, and sort of unpleasant on the tongue.

This recipe also made about twice as much dough as needed for 12 muffins. I spooned the rest in a thin layer into a loaf pan. The loaf’s texture was a tad better, but not by much.

Less of the flours? Omit the baking soda? Another egg?

Your thoughts?

What Things Cost: Chicken

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I went to the grocery yesterday to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a tandoori-like recipe. The price for two smallish breasts, raised free-range and never given antibiotics, was twelve dollars. Yes. $12.00.

Wowzer.

I’ve been buying chicken all along. Maybe I haven’t bothered to notice the price before now.

But before someone tells me to buy thighs, I’ll admit I don’t like them. Thighs have a gamey taste that no amount of marinade can hide.  It’s breast or nothing. And since I already had the Greek yogurt and seasonings in the cart, I paid the price.

But I was curious. When did chicken get so high?

Back in 1989, I stopped eating red meat. My rationale? I was convinced that the growth hormones and antibiotics given to corn-fed beef contributed to obesity in humans. No studies—just my opinion. I didn’t eat pork or lamb. I lived in the Midwest, so good fish was difficult—okay, impossible–to find. What’s left? No, not turkey. I was cooking for one.

Chicken. Not once did I stop and think. Back then, chickens were given grain to eat and shot full of growth hormones and antibiotics. Darn. Chicken wasn’t healthy enough to make it the centerpiece of my diet.

But oh well. Water under the bridge. But, still curious about the cost. How much has the price of chicken gone up since chicken farmers stopped buying feed and growth chemicals?

Ta-da. The price has doubled since 1989. Curious yourself? Take a look at the data at the Official Data: Economy, Inflation, and More website.

Not out of line according to the inflation calculator found at the US Inflation Calculator. What used to cost $1,000.00 in 1990 costs $1,929.20 in 20018.

In other words, the price for everything has almost doubled in the last 30 years.

If prices keep rising at the same rate, I wonder whether two chicken breasts will cost $24.00 in 2050.

Hyperbole

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Is this the best photo of a sunset you’ve ever seen? Of course not.

What’s the problem with exaggerated claims—in other words, hyperbole? After a while, folks stop believing you. This whatever cannot be the biggest, the best, or the most. Something better will probably come along in the next few minutes, days, weeks, months … No matter how good things are right now, they can get better.

Hyperbole is nothing more than marketing taken to ridiculous extremes.

Don’t tell me this is the best economy we’ve ever had here in the United States. First off, I don’t believe you. I’m old enough to remember better. Second, let’s hold out some hope for the future. I’d like my grandkids to have a great economy too.

Sure, I understand that politics is 99 percent marketing, with less substance than we’d all like. And maybe many folks aren’t astute enough to recognize hyperbole when it’s in front of them. But more folks do.

So, stop it.

Other People’s Recipes: Almost-Paleo, Almost-Waffles

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In December 2018, I will have owned my waffle iron for 50 years. Yes, it still works as well as it did in 1968. Made in America. But already I digress.

For the last 25 years or so, I’ve made an overnight yeasted waffle that is to die for.  My print copy of the recipe is stained yellow with age and spilled ingredients. If you’re still using wheat, Google Overnight Yeast Waffle. Many different versions. Most are good.

Although take a tip from my hard drive copy, which includes this note: DON’T ADD BAKING SODA BEFORE COOKING. Many of the newer versions give the dough an added pop with last-minute baking soda. Not necessary.

But …

I’ve given up grains for the duration. I’m eating like a caveperson. Almost. But I really, really wanted waffles for breakfast, necessitating a different kind of Google search.

Paleo waffles.

Again, I found many different versions. Some made with coconut flour, almond flour, tapioca flour or plantains. Some made with coconut oil and coconut milk. Or water. Or ghee. Two, three or six eggs. What to do?

Here’s the list of ingredients I ended up with:

  • 1 cup fine ground almond flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 2 TBSP ground flax and chia mixed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 3 whole eggs (do not separate)
  • 4 TBSP or ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup Lactaid 2 percent milk
  • 1 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

A lot of recipes call for the addition of honey or maple syrup. Since I like pure maple syrup or jam or fruit ON the waffles, I didn’t add sweetener to the dough.

The method is what you’d expect. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Mix all the wet ingredients together. Be careful to cool the melted butter before adding it to the eggs.  Then mix dry and wet ingredients together until incorporated. Don’t overmix.

Follow your usual process for using the waffle iron. I used a bit more than 1/2 cup of dough per waffle, ending up with a thick waffle that didn’t quite make a perfect round.

The recipe is ALMOST Paleo because it contains dairy. For the Paleo purists among you, replace the milk with coconut or almond milk, although I have my doubts that Paleolithic humans had access to these substances.

And why do I call these ALMOST waffles? Jim called them ‘light and fluffy’ and scarfed them down. I found them somewhat dry and not-to-be-compared with my yeast waffles. But they did satisfy that I-need-a-waffle craving.

I may have to try Einkorn wheat—the wild wheat cultivated about 30,000 years ago—with yeast and see what happens. Definitely not Paleo, but genetically different—better?—than modern wheat.

 

What Things Cost: Fire Alarms

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We received an invitation to a free-dinner-talk, sent from what we thought was the local fire department. Turns out, it was a guy trying to sell us smoke alarms.

Sitting through the somewhat dreadful dinner of pulled pork, beans, and coleslaw, I whispered to Jim, “Bet it costs $5000 to put smoke alarms in the house.” And sure enough, the cost, as we learned on a subsequent evening, was $4900.

For smoke alarms? Really?

Now we already have wired-in smoke alarms in the house. They were here in 2000 when we moved in and, other than change the batteries, we’ve done nothing to them. But. What we learned the night of the dinner was this: our smoke alarms operate via ionization, detecting electrically charged particles. According to the salesman at the dinner, these fail in 55 percent of house fires.

Instead, the salesman showed us photoelectric devices, which detect smoke via a beam of light. He suggested we buy 6 photoelectric devices, together with alarms for the kitchen and attic that measure rate of rise in heat—when the kitchen temperature rises more than 15 degrees in less than a minute, an alarm sounds. Plus two fire extinguishers. Plus a fire blanket. All installed in the house for $4900.

Long story short, Amazon sells a variety of photoelectric smoke alarms for $35-$65. We bought four of the $35 variety, installed them ourselves. Cost? Less than $200. We can purchase the rest of the equipment for about another $200.

Total? $400. Of course, we have to install everything ourselves (thank you, Jim) and our products are made in Mexico rather than California. But is the supposed quality difference worth $4500?

Hmm …