and now B9

Feb. 13th, 2013 09:58 am
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I heard part of the NPR story about folic acid cutting autism risk by 40%.  I searched online and found a lot of associations between folate and issues that I blog about regularly such as epigenetics, demyelination, effects on brain areas specifically associated with autism, and most importantly... low energy levels.

For now, I'll just say that I will finish my bottle of vitamin D supplements next week, and I will replace it with vitamin B9 instead.  There are upper limits on safety of folic acid (the common artificial form of folate), so I won't go with mega-doses of it.  B9 needs to be kept in near proportion to the other B-complex vitamins to be useful, so I'll continue with my multivitamin too.  My regimen now includes multivitamin, B12, and B9.

I'm amused that my body may have already known about a B9 problem.  I prepare few recipes regularly, but one of them is my homemade spinach dip.  Spinach apparently is exceeded in folate density only by beef liver.  I can't afford premade spinach dips or those expensive packets of flavor powders, so I experimented to make my own.  Here's the recipe that I have used for years.

Spinach Dip
1 package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted but still chilled (squeeze out all of the extra water)
1 package 16 ounce sour cream (low-fat version will work but tastes slightly less flavorful)
1 package water chestnuts (diced to small cubes)
1 T garlic powder (or more, depending on your taste)
1 T onion salt (or more, if you can safely have that much salt)

Mix the sour cream and spices, then the water chestnuts, then the spinach. Make sure all of the spinach is coated with sour cream.  Chill again when you're done.  I usually pack the mixture back into the sour cream container (as much as will fit) to store in the refridgerator, then pig out immediately with corn chips on what's left over in the bowl.  Yummy, cheap, and easy!
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
This salsa is herbal-spicy and very tasty. It is my own creation after a great many experiments. I use it more than any other recipe. How have I blogged for so many years without posting this recipe already?

I've eaten the whole batch myself as my meal-of-the-day with corn chips. It also works extremely well as a "relish" to add on top of hot dogs or brats instead of the usual condiments.

Safety Rating:
Ingredients: 10
Dishes: 7
Wash the jalapeno, cilantro, and tomatoes to remove chemicals and dirt.
Remove cilantro leaves from stem by cutting with knife or pulling with fingers. Discard stems.
Cut tomatoes into eighths. You may discard the seeds if you find their taste unpleasant.

This recipe is made in 3 simple steps: spices, tomatoes, and seasoning.
The lime and salt are added away from the metal blades of the food processor, so they do not react with the blades to promote rusting.
  1. Add all ingredients (except tomato, lime, and salt) to food processor. Process medium (not fine), then pour mixture into mixing bowl.
  2. Add tomatoes to food processor. Process coarsely (not fine), then pour mixture into mixing bowl.
  3. Add lime juice (and pulp if available) and salt to mixing bowl. Mix everything well.
Serve immediately or chill first. The salsa is very wet and juicy, so it is best to serve it in a bowl rather than on a plate.
You may prepare salsa ahead of time then refrigerate for a day or two. Doing so will remove the "heat" from the jalapeno. You may need to compensate by adding an extra jalapeno during the initial creation.
red onion, 1/2
jalapeno, 2
garlic, 2 large cloves
cilantro, 10 stems
white pepper powder, 1/2 teaspoon (do not substitute black pepper)
cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon
ginger powder, 1/4 teaspoon
roma tomatoes, 6 small
lime, 1
salt, 1/2 teaspoon
food processor
cutting board
large mixing bowl
large spoon
measuring spoon

I almost always use more spices than listed here. I don't measure the exact amounts, but the ratio is always white pepper > cumin > ginger. Also, I sometimes use 2 tomatillos and only 1/4 (instead of 1/2) of a red onion. Remove the dry husk from the tomatillos, then scrub them under hot water to remove the sticky residue. This recipe also works with habenero substituted for jalapeno, but I recommend letting the salsa rest in a refrigerator overnight after making it, so it loses some of its fiery heat.

Here are photos that I took today of steps 1, 2, 3, and final product. Click to embiggen.
20120630.salsa.step1 20120630.salsa.step2 20120630.salsa.step3 20120630.salsa.step4

I need to find a healthier way of eating salsa than using commercial corn chips. I've experimented over the years with taking plain corn tortillas and baking them in the oven. I get only "acceptable" results, nothing really good. Here are photos from before and after baking today.

20120630.chips.step1 20120630.chips.step2

I'm open to suggestions, both for baking corn chips and for an alternative that doesn't use chips at all.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
I wish I could make some dandelion wine, but I've settled for battered dandelions for breakfast this morning.

I encountered this recipe a few days ago, and I decided I finally needed to try out dandelions as food.  I've wanted to do something like this for years.  That's why I've mentioned repeatedly over the years to my roommates that I didn't want any chemicals used in the back yard where I grow food.  Even "weeds" can be food.

dandelion flowersdandelions prepared

Comments to the recipe mentioned that some people can be sensitive (bitter, nauseating) to a chemical in the base.  I was careful while preparing the flowers to cut right across the "crown" ridge.  Any higher, and the flower just fell apart.  Any lower, and too much of the base was still intact.  I didn't have a deep fryer, so I just pan fried them after soaking them in the thick batter.

dandelions battereddandelions frying

They came out very well.  I think now that you can basically treat them the same as fried mushroom.  Honestly, though, fried mushrooms have more flavor to them.  I ate about half of them plain, and they were yummy.  How can you go wrong with deep-fried anything, though?  I dipped others in either ranch dressing (which didn't taste great to me) or yellow mustard (which I liked).  I wonder if something sweet would also make a great dipping condiment for fried dandelions.

dandelions for breakfast

I encourage other people to experiment with this dish too.  As long as there are no yucky chemicals (insecticides, herbicides, vehicle runoff), then please go out there and harvest some of the food growing in your own yard.  It's delicious.

mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
Here's a curious question about (or for) omnivores: what won't they eat?

I have consumed meat from the usual variety of critters that Westerners eat (pig, cow, chicken, fish, shrimp) plus a few more (frog, rattlesnake, crawfish, and various bugs accidentally caught in my mouth while bicycling). I am planning to eventually convert to a primal diet that will require much more meat than my current diet. What creatures are not to be found on my menu?

There are some animals that I will not eat unless dire circumstance might present a reason, but why are they on my list at all? I've eaten rabbit before, so I'm not wired to avoid a kind of animal just because I've been emotionally attached to one of them before. I write my list with that trans-species bill of rights in mind, the one that doesn't exist but that I repeatedly reference anyway.

I avoid creatures that I consider sentient at some level. Sentience is a kind of meta-cognition, meaning that the creature can think about its own thinking.  I believe that some kinds of suffering require sentience to experience.  I think that all mature animals experience pain aversion.  More intelligent animals can experience dread of recurring pain.  A persistent history of dread may even offer a kind of despair. I think true despair, however, is limited to sentient creatures because it requires the ability to survey large landscapes of possibility and still find no course to alleviate suffering.  Despair requires mental exploration of options for relief, and the failure to locate any.

I will not eat creatures that might be capable of despairing that they will someday serve as my food.  I currently include these creatures in my prohibition:
  • coleoid cephalopods (cuttlefish, octopus, squid)
  • primates (human, ape, monkey)
  • cetaceans (dolphin, porpoise, whale)
  • various birds that don't seem easily grouped (european magpie, african grey parrot, crow, finch)
The only item from my do-not-eat list that appears in common restaurants is the squid. I've eaten calamari (squid) before, but I will not do so any longer.  I would be willing to eat even creatures on this list if they had already died of other causes (not intended as food), and I needed the nourishment.  I expect of myself that I would not kill them, however, if I needed nourishment and their living body was the only available source.

For the record, this list began with a single animal.  At Epcot Center in Disney World many years ago, I encountered a lone cuttlefish in a circular display aquarium.  It's bland coloration and catatonic body convinced me that it despaired of ever escaping its confinement.  I think it felt the despair of a pointless existence, or at least the alien equivalent of such emotion and realization. I have slowly added to my list as I learn of the advanced reasoning abilities of other animals.
mellowtigger: (gardening)
I haven't posted much about the garden this year.  Unfortunately, I just haven't had much energy on weekends to deal with "outdoors" in general after bicycling to work each week.  The garden suffered for the neglect this year... again.  :(

But a few things produced.  On Sunday, I fixed myself a meal from some of what I had available.  The tomato, celery, carrot, and dill came directly from the back yard garden.  :)  I had to rely on store bought tuna, olive oil mayonnaise, and bread.

toasted tuna salad

Toasted tuna salad is always a very yummy meal.  :)  And it's so easy to prepare: just cut things up, mix them together, and toast them in a small oven.  "Fresh from the garden" makes it even better.


Jun. 7th, 2011 06:21 pm
mellowtigger: (bicycle)
I've marked the passage of a few "firsts" in my bicycle commuting adventure.  I don't know what to do when rain finally arrives.  Guess I'll find out on that day.

clipped:  I got clipped by a car on Friday coming home from work.  I had the eastbound right of way, but the oncoming westbound car decided to gun the engine and make a left turn to beat the other eastbound cars (not noticing me).  Luckily I pounded the pedals fast enough to escape any frame or rim damage.  My back wheel bounced and skidded a bit, then I rode on without any problems.

jock itch: I shower after getting to work, but air conditioning is regularly bad there.  Even when I drove to work in a truck, I ended up sweating in my cubicle from the heat.  So now with bicycle commuting, I don't actually dry out for 6 hours out of the day.  Not fun.

38C/100F: I rode home today in very hot weather.  Ugh.

adjustable handlebar: Wow, this change makes such a great difference on my wrists.  I should've put it on my bicycle when I first got it 12 years ago.  I swapped out my old handlebar stem with one that adjusts from horizontal (facing forward like the old one) to vertical (pushing the handlebar much closer to my torso).

appetite: The voracious appetite struck me on Friday evening.  I've made it thus far without any pizza, but I have succumbed to scarfing down vast quantities of corn chips.  I'll try this week to reduce my consumption.

I had intended to start a new paleolithic diet as well, but I've backed off of it somewhat.  Too many changes for me to accommodate at once.  Still, though, I've been trying out a few recipes.

parsnip: I made a buffalo and parsnip chile last week that would've been very good with some sharp cheddar cheese to balance out the sweetness.  I was expecting parsnips to be sort of like potatoes, but they aren't.  They're just albino carrots, very sweet.  Maybe next time I'll try rutabaga with the buffalo meat instead?

broccoli salad: I always enjoy eating that broccoli-bacon-mayonnaise salad, but I never made it until this weekend.  I ate some of it yesterday, and it's very yummy.  I need to figure out how to get more volume from the liquid stuff so everything coats better, but it was very easy to make and very tasty.
mellowtigger: (gardening)
[ profile] dodecadragon quinoa leaves in saladsent me an interesting table of information from the USDA website on spinach and lamb's quarter nutrition.  Where values were available for both plants, lamb's quarter (related to quinoa) beat spinach for best value in a majority of the vitamin and mineral categories.

The trouble when searching for recipes or nutritional value of quinoa, however, is that it's most commonly grown for its seed rather than its leaves.  It seems the best solution is just to substitute quinoa leaves for whatever recipe calls for spinach leaves.

Recipes that involve heat might be best.  When I used the leaves in a salad, they were a bit on the chewy side because of their thickness.  Cooking would wilt them enough to eliminate that problem.

So... what's your favorite spinach recipe?  I don't cook with spinach, so I'm not familiar with options for what to do with these quinoa (or lamb's quarter) leaves.
mellowtigger: (absurdity)
Busy weekend.

sand in pickupI'd rather reuse material than consume new material.  Conveniently, [ profile] dodecadragon had a big pile of "dirt" (sand, pebbles, and rocks) on his lawn, and he didn't need all of it for his own home project.  He offered the sand to me for my patio project if I did the work of sifting it through a wire mesh.  I showed up early Saturday morning and got to work on it.  After a few hours, I had a decent haul of sand in the back of my truck.  I took it back to the patio and spread it around.  It was almost enough to halfway finish the patio.

quinoa, lettuce, and tomato saladAfterwards, I collected plants from the garden to eat.  I cut fresh quinoa leaves, lettuce leaves, and tomato fruit.  I rinsed them off, then I added some raspberry vinaigrette dressing from the store.  Fresh food is yummy.  Quinoa leaves, though, are similar enough to spinach that I may need to consider recipes for cooking them rather than eating them raw.  The leaves are thicker than I was hoping for in a salad.

I need to find a recipe for something to do with all that fresh huge squash, too.

clothes on the lineBefore I fell asleep for a quick nap, I hung my laundry outside to dry.  That's new.  I haven't done that in many years.  I was annoyed with myself, though, for not changing my habits after the Gulf oil spill.  I've decided that the large items will no longer be thrown into an electric dryer.  They will air dry instead.  Now I need to find a good source of wooden (not plastic or metal) clothes hangers or all-wood clothespins.  Otherwise, I'm not really prepared for air drying clothes outdoors in the wind and sun.  How strange is that?

[ profile] foeclan woke me from my nap to warn me about the impending rain.  I got outside to bring in the clothes.  It was only the first line of rainclouds, though.  A few hours later, storms arrived with high winds, heavy rain, and even a tornado somewhere north of us.

sand in patio areaThe next day, I went back to [ profile] dodecadragon 's place to sift more sand for the patio.  I quickly found, however, that it was too thick with rain water.  I could still sift it, yes, but it was taking a lot longer than before.  I could sift all day and not collect as much sand as I did on Saturday.  It needed more time to dry.  Since I was wanting to finish the sand portion today, I went to Home Depot and bought some sand base.  It was soaked too, as it turns out.  Some of it was so thick coming out of the plastic bags (ugh, and me trying to be more "green") that it looked almost like wet cement.  It needs more time to dry out too.

Next weekend, I guess, I finally get to compact the sand, level it, and then lay the bricks.

At 7pm, I treated myself to a movie.  I walked over to the Heights to see "Inception".  Long movie, pleasantly complicated, plenty of action and psychology.  Like "Matrix" and "Total Recall", much of the movie is filled with the viewer wondering if the current setting on the screen is real or imagined.  You have to wait until the very last second of the film to witness as much evidence as the movie will offer you to answer that question.  I liked the movie.

The walk back home from the theater offered a nice "back to earth" transition as the sky turned dark.

food hints

Jan. 18th, 2010 11:36 am
mellowtigger: (Default)
Not full recipes, but hints of recipes that could be written.

Basil:  It turns out that basil is the secret ingredient to making great non-alcoholic margaritas.  Something about the aftertaste of the basil mimics the tequila that should normally be in the drink.  A few months back, I picked up some basil limeade (lime, water, sugar, basil) made by a St. Paul company called Golden Fig. I tried it with crushed ice and some added salt.  It was a pretty good imitation of a margarita!  It would be interesting to develop a recipe for making the icy drink direct from fresh ingredients.  I've used up all the basil limeade, but I can still get raw ingredients at the grocery store.

Dry Ice:  In my long term efforts to simplify cooking, I go camping without any foods that need to be cooked.  Refrigeration, however, I do accommodate.  I keep things in an ice chest with dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide gas).  I discovered by accident that fresh whole fruit kept this way will become infused with carbon dioxide gas, making it all bubbly inside the fruit.  Fizzy fruit juice, still inside the fruit.  Fun!

Rice Flour:  I dislike cooking bread products made with rice flour, but I found another great use for the stuff.  It works great (better than corn meal) for dusting bread that's being made into pizza crust.  Similarly, it makes a great covering for wet foods that need to be baked until they form a crunchy crust.  I've used it on sliced potatoes that I bake into "french fries".  Very crispy.  I've also used it on frozen diced chicken bits before baking them.  Again, nice and crispy without adding a distracting flavor to it.

Orange Marmalade:  Another discovery based on simplified cooking.  Using the above baked chicken bits in a bowl of mixed rice (white and black) with frozen broccoli, two heaping tablespoons of orange marmalade make a decent dressing.  It could probably be improved by replacing one of the tablespoons with either fresh squeezed orange juice or even a tablespoon of frozen orange concentrate.  I'll keep experimenting.  Now I just need to find a suitable non-meat replacement for the chicken bits.  The bitterness of the orange rinds in the marmalade work well in this dish.
mellowtigger: (Default)
It's used like a kind of chocolate gravy, actually. Motivated by [personal profile] randomcub's bizarre chocolate sandwich recipe, I dug into my bookshelf and pulled out the 1995 Reid family reunion cookbook. These are reunions that were held ever since 1953, representing the many (13) offspring of Mama Reid, my great great grandmother (who eloped at the age of 12). This recipe was donated to the cookbook by "Bubba", my great grandmother. Pictures here and here.

Nobody knows where the recipe came from or how long it's been passed through the family. All I know is that we were all addicted to it. So, this morning, I made a "traditional" Sunday morning breakfast: biscuits, scrambled eggs, sausage, white gravy, and chocolate syrup. I had to make a special trip to the grocery store for the sausage, since I usually don't keep meat at home.  There should be bacon and hashbrowns too, but I didn't want to cope with so many dishes. The syrup is excellent on biscuits, even better on buttered toast, and I also like it on scrambled eggs.

Changed here to fit my new experimental recipe format.

Chocolate Syrup
Difficulty: 4Ingredients: 5
Dishes: 6
Measure 1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cocoa into saucepan. Mix together. Add 1/2 cup milk and bring to boil while stirring occasionally. Cook until bubbles begin to thicken. Syrup will thicken more after cooling, so don't overcook. If syrup gets too thick, then add a little milk to dilute.

Remove from heat. Pour into serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon butter and a few drops of vanilla. Stir to mix.

Serve over biscuits as if it were a gravy.  Easily coats 6 biscuits that have been cut in half for serving.
1C sugar
1/2 C milk
1T cocoa
1T butter
vanilla (a few drops)
stirring spoon
measuring cup
measuring tablespoon
serving bowl
serving spoon
mellowtigger: (Default)
I've been experimenting for months with this recipe, and I finally have it ready to share. I'm also experimenting here with producing a recipe in my brainstormed format for people with various cognitive disabilities (autism, seizures, and other problems with attention or dexterity). I welcome comments on both the recipe and the format.

I like spicy foods, and this one easily works for me. Minnesotans may need to reduce some of the spices. It came originally from a radical faerie vegan recipe for serving masses of people at gatherings. I significantly altered it to find an easy 1-person meal. I think it's very tasty and very fast. I timed it today, and it took only 10 minutes from pouring water from the faucet to having a finished meal ready to eat. This is a huge 1-dish meal. I tend to eat only 1 meal a day so I eat a big portion then. This recipe as written is surely enough for 2 meals if you eat more frequently.

(edit: for some reason, the table borders are not showing up properly on livejournal)

fiery peanut noodlesDifficulty: 4ingredients: 8
dishes: 6
In large pot, add 2 quarts of water. Set on stove at high heat. Add 1 cup of frozen large vegetable mix, 1 cup of frozen small vegetable mix, 1 handful of rice noodles. Let it reach boil, then boil for another 2-3 minutes.

While waiting, add 1 cup (or more) of V8 tomato juice to microwave-safe bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of red chili pepper seeds, 1 tablespoon of dried ginger root, and 1/4 tablespoon of powdered mustard seed. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter, then use the tablespoon to mash the peanut butter into the mixture until it's spread evenly. Put bowl into microwave oven for 90 seconds at high setting.

After the noodles have boiled, turn off the heat.  Use strainer to drain out the water. Pour rice/veggie mixture into large serving bowl. Pour peanut sauce into serving bowl. Mix well with serving fork.
Ingredient list:
1C mixed frozen large veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, etc)
1C mixed frozen small veggies (corn, beans, etc)
1 handful medium-width rice noodles
1C V8 tomato juice
1T red chili pepper seeds
1T dried ginger root
1/4T powdered mustard seed
1T (heaping) peanut butter
Dish list:
microwave bowl
boiling pot
serving fork
serving bowl

I've done other experimentation, and it's possible to reduce the difficulty rating here to a 2 instead of a 4.  It just takes longer that way, boiling the noodles and vegetables in another microwave dish instead of using the stovetop.

I'm unsure how to adjust a difficulty rating for things that people need to watch with a timer or test a condition before moving on to another step in the recipe.  Waiting for a microwave oven to beep is a lot easier than waiting for noodles to cook on a stovetop until they're soft.  I need to ponder that for a while.
mellowtigger: (Default)
Not the matter of substance that I was originally considering for post topics, but I might as well start somewhere...

As a desert native (raised in west texas), I'm fascinated by snow here in Minnesota. After nearly a decade up north, I still like watching the stuff fall from the sky. It's snowing again here in the Twin Cities area. After a few inches this weekend, I worked to clear the driveway for my car. There's no convenient place to throw the snow that would be within the arc of movement while shoveling, so that means lifting each snow shovel full and walking it to the side of the garage before throwing it into the yard. The pile of snow against that garage wall is small for now, but I figured I'd create a mini-project showing how it grows over the course of this winter season.

snow 2007-12-03

Maybe it's just a "Texas thing", I'm not sure, but I've never found anyone up here who's eaten "snow ice cream" before. I asked my roommate [personal profile] foeclan  today too, but no he hadn't either. It's really easy. Just scoop up some snow in a large (well insulated, preferably) cup. Pour some milk (but not too much!) into it so that you can use a spoon to stir it up.  Add just enough milk so that the snow mixes easily. If you make it too sloshy, then the snow just melts faster. Rice milk is also very good instead of cow's milk.  Then add about a tablespoon of sugar, plus a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Stir some more. Eat. Very tasty.

A quick web search turned up this recipe for a whole bucket of the stuff.

Please, use only fresh snow. If it's any color other than white then don't use it. :) Happy eating.


mellowtigger: (Default)

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