...and I am very happy there.

...and I am very happy there.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Homemade Granola

Yesterday I made my own granola using a recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food cookbook. I didn't have all the ingredients so I added my own -- Delicious!

As a few asked for the recipe I am placing it here:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup honey
3 cups oats
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup chopped Flax seeds
1 cup nuts, chopped or sliced
(any combination of almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup wheat germ/bran
2/3 cup dried fruit
(cranberries, raisins, chopped dates, chopped apricots, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a baking pan (13 X 9) or ovenproof skillet.
Add honey and mix with butter.
Add in the oats and next four ingredients and thoroughly coat mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes stirring often.
Add in wheat germ/bran and bake 10 more minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from oven and cool before adding fruit.
The granola will dry out as it cools.
Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Store in cupboard for a few weeks, or better, in the refrigerator for longer.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Food for thought...

Is anybody out there as frustrated as I am with our government's irresponsibility in protecting our food supply? I know, I know, many of you, but it just keeps getting worse! I mean what is the FDA's job, if they don't inspect and regulate our FOOD???

Last week I had the opportunity to do a presentation to a group of alternative health professionals. These folks are natural health providers and most were organic farmers and activists for the health and well-being of the human race as a whole.
Andrew Weil's "Quiche" recipe made with mostly organics.

During the discussions and presentations I found out some new things:

1. Those cute little carrots we buy for a snack for our children are soaked in bleach to kill bacteria.
2. Some potatoes may also be soaked in a solution as one attendee said she let a bag of potatoes sit for about a week in her kitchen and when she opened the bag, her white potatoes had turned green. (We are warned NEVER to eat GREEN potatoes or areas of the potato that are green.)
3. Most bottled water today is PURIFIED tap water, not spring water -- read the labels carefully. Not saying the purified stuff is necessarily bad for you, but you are not getting what you are paying for. Plastic bottles of course are terrible for our environment.
4. Filtered tap water from your home may be better for you than some of the spring waters.
5. Much of our produce is sprayed with chemicals to keep it FRESH. Almost all produce is irradiated. Some is coated in wax (or as we read today "shellac"!) to maintain the freshness. Any idea what wax does in our system (not to mention shellac)?
 6. Of course our meat supplies have been known to contain hormones (and we wonder why our kids are so "developed" at such young ages), antibiotics and chemicals from fertilizers for years.

Again, I ask what is the FDA for?

By there own definition they are:

An agency within the Department of Health and Human Services  and consists of Centers and Offices, which are listed in menu at left (see http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/default.htm for this menu or click "left").

The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation, and by regulating the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products.

The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods, and to reduce tobacco use to improve health.

And don't tell me they aren't getting enough money to hire people to cover the jobs. We all know the second term for "government" is "WASTE"...

Years ago I learned the fact that what we put into our mouth affected our immediate well-being and long-term heath. So I did my best to prepare meals that I thought were healthy for my family. Assuming the government was overseeing the production of food coming into our country, being manufactured in our country and being sold in our supermarkets and eaten in our homes, I rarely worried about what I bought unless it was a funny color or wilted or just plain looked bad.

If you do attempt to get through the FDA website you will see it is huge and covers so much more than food. I am sure millions of people are employed by the FDA to do parts of the job from office administration to inspections. I have heard for years how inspectors are few, so much gets through without being opened, let alone inspected.

Then we have the whole idea of pasteurization! This was started to kill bacteria in milk that was collected in the barns of dairy farmers in days of old. Now many of you that have an idea of what pasteurization entails knows that they heat the product to kill the bacteria and just like chemo kills cancer cells and all the GOOD cells in one's body, pasteurization kills all the good stuff in our food as well!

Today you can't buy any juice, milk or any dairy product for that matter that is not pasteurized. Those farmers that wish to sell raw milk, must meet stringent criteria to do so. Thereby keeping many dairy farmers from doing so. The only other solution is to buy your own cow.

My personal Juice Master (Grandson Elijah)
I even try to juice the oranges I buy for fresh squeezed juice that isn't pasteurized...I am kind of surprised that the government hasn't made the fruit farmer find a way to pasteurize the fruit from the tree before it gets to the supermarket. I do see pasteurized eggs now (how do they do that and not have hard-cooked eggs? We probably don't want to know.)  Good grief! What are we coming to?

I think we already have that answer:

People dying of all kinds of cancers that they can't find the cause.
Children developing autism for unknown reasons.
Populations of people so obese that the next generation will not outlive their parents.

Organic food was the answer and many have jumped on the bandwagon. No longer given the stigma it had of being "granola" if you bought organic food, the industry started taking notice.To the point of Monsanto wanting to force farmers to use their seed to for crops. Seeds that are loaded with chemicals. Yes, even the organic farmers would be forced to use these seeds.

If you don't know who Monsanto is, please watch the movie FOOD, INC. and other documentaries on the food industry. It 's disgusting what our government is allowing. When will health take precedence over the mighty buck?

I empathize with my daughter-in-law who tries valiantly to protect her family by providing healthy, clean food for her family. It's a full time job! It's coming down to growing your own vegetables, eliminating all meat from your diet or raising your own chickens, cows, goats or any of your own food. The cost to buy it from someone else has been prohibitive. The prices are coming down, but as the demand is going up the non-organic food producers are trying to get the standard for "organic" to be lowered rather than bringing their standards up to meet the federal standard -- enter Monsanto once again.

Please get involved. Watch when the votes come up on items dealing with our food supply.  If you want to get involved or learn more please research it on line. If you know of any particular websites, please put them in the comments to share.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mmmmmm....Hot Chocolate!

Nothing says winter time to me than a snowstorm. It's at that time we want to breakout the hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Today we are having snow squalls -- when it's sunny one minute and looking like a blizzard the next. It is a sign that winter is on it's way out. That doesn't mean we are finished with major snow storms, by any means. I can still remember a major snow drop one year on May 7. And I do mean DROP. Snow dropped, tree limbs with leaves dropped, power lines dropped and some roofs dropped. Power was out in the area for more than a week! I worked at a craft store and people were coming in to purchase craft kits and yarn because they had nothing else to do! It was like a flashback to Little House on the Prairie. Candles were selling like hot cakes. (Why do we say that? Did hot cakes ever sell fast at some point? What is a hot cake anyway?)

Today we decided since I finally bought some mini marshmallows and I couldn't get warm even after baking and making soup all day, we should have a cup a chocolate. So you can see I used the biggest cup I have -- a Christmas gift from my grandson, Elijah and we made some delicious hot chocolate. Yum, it hits the spot and warms you to the core!

Everyone is complaining of winter and yes I sometimes wish it would move on. But this year has been so exciting. We kicked off with a small dusting early in December and then had a major blizzard the day after Christmas. Since then we have had snow storms for almost seven weeks straight. A saying was going around, "If it's snowing, it must be Tuesday!"

I loved it. I hate nothing more than having snow before or after Christmas and then mud, slush and yuck for the rest of winter. So I have been celebrating winter, as you can see by my wreath, that I refuse to put away. (Over the star it says, "Winter Wishes"). And wearing my favorite winter sweater that says, "Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!". (I have been asked by coworkers to leave it at home. lol!)

 We currently still have about a foot of snow on our picnic table and a good ten inches on the ground. But the driveway and pathways are clear. We did warm up enough to get some melting and then some new creations appeared.

Amazing how as one season slides into the next there are always new things to enjoy. I sometimes feel sorry for those that never get to experience the change.

Of course there are those like our two sons in Florida who are happy as clams to be in the heat and away from the cold. Our son Bryan was flabbergasted when he moved to Florida and realized some people had never experienced snow. Or worse yet, their KIDS never experienced snow! Funny!

Like me, he can't imagine a winter without snow and ice...at least the fun part of it. No one likes black ice or driving through storms, especially with inexperienced drivers or just plain dumb folks that take no precautions.But I hope to never have to live in a place where there is no winter. That just wouldn't seem right.

I almost feel people don't understand how to enjoy the fun winter can provide. I got a glimpse of that when I was shopping for marshmallows. I happened to see some in Bed Bath and Beyond. Now what on earth are marshmallows doing in BBB? As I picked up the bag I noticed they weren't exactly the fresh fluffy kind I would have expected and then I noticed the Marshmallow Shooter... what is the world coming to?

(Note: I did not buy those marshmallows. I went to a grocery store and purchased the deliciously sweet, squishy, fresh minis that are just right for a cup of hot chocolate.)

So enjoy the winter wherever you may be. I will hunker down with my books, my sweaters and a very large cup of hot chocolate!

Rest in His arms Aunt Amelia...you will be missed.


Amelia "Emily" Anderson

Amelia (Emily) Anderson St. Johns Amelia (Emily) Anderson died on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011 at the age of 91. She was born July 31, 1919 in Queens, New York. Emily graduated from Central High School and The School of Comptometers in New York City, where she worked in several offices. After WWII, she married Warren S. Anderson on Feb 16, 1946 and moved to St. Johns in 1949. Emily worked at Julie K Shoppe in St. Johns and later at Jacobsen's in East Lansing. In earlier years, she enjoyed her bridge club, scrabble group and volunteering at the hospital gift shop. After retiring, she and Warren spent many winters visiting friends in Florida, until his death in 1986. Emily is predeceased by one brother and one sister. She is survived by daughters, Lorraine (Stephen) Wearley of Westfield, NJ and Barbara (Terry) Thurston of St. Johns; four grandchildren; Heather (Brian) Russell of Lansdale, PA, Marcelle Thurston of Olympia, WA; David (Cecilia) Wearley of Jersey City, NJ and Scott (Meredith) Wearley of Westfield, NJ; four great grandchildren; Cami and Delaney Russell, Sage and Giada Wearley and many nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 11a.m. at Keck-Coleman Funeral Home, St. Johns 989-224-4422 with Deacon Marv Robertson officiating. Interment will follow at Mt Rest Cemetery. The family will receive relatives and friends Sat., February 12 at 5-7 p.m. and Sunday before the service. Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association (http://donate.americanheart.org).

Published in Lansing State Journal on February 12, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The one, two, three, four or more little kittens?

These days we share our home with two lively cats. They are really kittens under a year old, but almost full grown. They are almost too big for the games they play so they are continuously heard banging into the walls as they wrestle on the top bunk or roll together down the hall.

They are a joy to watch and remind us that we need to have a little fun in our daily lives.

These two came to us by a of a woman named Nita who valiantly tried to rescue 19 cats, left behind in upstate NY, when the family moved south. Nita sacrificed her vacation time to capture 16 of the cats and have them spayed or neutered and then feed them until homes could be found. One dairy farmer took three. We took two and several others were adopted to other families. The rest, unfortunately, were placed in a shelter to hopefully find homes for them as Nita didn't want them to live in the barn through the winter. A special lady, that Nita, it took her weeks to catch the cats, call around to get free services, locate homes and nurture them to trust humans.

Our two get along great and are settling into their new home comfortably. We give them full rein of the house and garage so we won't let them outdoors. We live on a busy road and would like to try to keep the cats alive for as long as possible, so indoor cats they will remain. We have had cats in the past that we let out and they learned to stay in the back yard. But they also would bring us treats of mice and snakes, frogs or birds.

We are avid bird watchers and wild life cultivators, and the cats tend to want to destroy our mecca of wildlife through their games and natural instincts, hence another reason to keep them inside.

Neko and Nellie love to watch our birds as well and have been known to clear my desk in an effort share the small space so they can both see out the window. They also love our bay window and even though the tiles are cold they like to sit there and bask in the sun. Now that we have had temps below 0 degrees, they have moved to the blankets on the couch. The view isn't as good, but it is much warmer.

I have had cats since I was a teenager. I find them much easier to care for than dogs, though someday I will have a dog again. Since we like to travel a bit, a cat is much easier to leave at home and just have someone check on. They also are pretty neat and we never have had to bathe them.

They are also content to amuse themselves with some things they find around the house: a pencil or pen, my earrings, small pieces of wood, chopsticks. This even though we have purchased them some toys of their own.

They are slowly getting comfortable enough with us to sit on our laps or lie on our bed with us. This, after many months of learning to trust us. When company comes they will find new hiding spots and one would never know they were around.

If you discover Nellie's hiding spot she will move to another one before you come back again. This baffled our grandson, Asher, who would "find" her and then come to tell us he found her only to have her gone when he returned to show us.
Cats are great company. Our sons loved the cats we had in the past. Bryan "found" RC in the woodpile when she was newborn. We had to put her on a heating pad and feed her with a dropper until she was old enough to eat on her own. "RC" was for Re-inCarnated because Bryan thought she was dead when he found her and we "revived" her back to life.

Later, we had Jessy and Sandy who were fondly called Skins and Mama Bear as their personalities came through. Skins was the mighty hunter and would scale trees and poles to the utmost heights. She was the one who brought us the snakes, mice, and rabbits. Mama had at least two litters before we could get her in to be spayed. She too wanted to impress us with her hunting skills and would leave bones and guts on our doorstep. Though she was proudest when she brought a mouthful of straw from the field. We never knew if she had a nest and dropped the babies on the way, or if she just thought the straw with the scent of field mice was enough.

Our son Aaron, wrote in his journal once that his cat was the best thing in his life. Our kids always loved our cats, the dog was another story. Skins, the wanderer, left us one day never to return. Mama Bear lived with us for over 17 years before disappearing one late morning after I went to work. We think she may have wandered in the field to die.

It was a few years before we surprised Aaron with his own kitten one Christmas, She moved with him to Florida and lived the life of a Queen until he married and got a dog this past year.

To date, there are four Tuxedo cats that make their home among the Bell households. Byran's family adopted, Jiji. Aaron & Corinn have Noobkins and we have Neko & Nellie.

Jim's grew up with dogs and cats. The Mullers only had one cat that I can remember. We did live on a farm, so we had a menagerie of other animals.

Jim and I had several cats before we had kids and later adopted many "found" cats that made their home with us. Tuffy, Muffy, Fluffy, were there first.  (There were a few more in there that we rescued, but obviously didn't make much of an impact on us.)  We also had Guinea Pigs, fish and and one dog we adopted and another dog that was pregnant we did foster care for until her litter was eight weeks old. By far the cats were the easiest to care for. Cats seem to favor Jim over me so that is the only cause for me to eventually want a dog. The dog we had loved me and I felt the same....that is until he bit me...and that's a story for another blog. :)