The Expanding Circle

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Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Yo mamma’s so dumb she bought chocolate extract

Posted by tinako on January 8, 2013

It was called for in a cookie recipe my son makes.  It cost just as much as other extracts such as Vanilla and Almond.  At home we opened it and noticed it smelled just like chocolate syrup, looked at the ingredients and found that it is alcohol, agave syrup, and cocoa powder!

It is a very tiny, very expensive bottle of Hershey’s Syrup.  Duh.

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2012 in review

Posted by tinako on December 31, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

This blog had 23,000 views in 2012.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Starbucks Removes Beetle-Based Coloring

Posted by tinako on April 27, 2012

According to The Onion, they’re switching to a tomato-based food coloring.

As one of their fake respondents replies:

It’s a shame they can’t just make a strawberry Frappuccino out of some kind of naturally red fruit.

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Vote: The Ethics of Eating Meat

Posted by tinako on April 23, 2012

Don’t forget to vote in the NY Times essay contest, “The Ethical Case for Eating Meat.”

I voted for the first one, “I’m About to Eat Meat for the First Time in 40 Years.”  The deadline is tomorrow night.

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2011 in review

Posted by tinako on January 2, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Kitchen Painted

Posted by tinako on January 14, 2011

Before

After

We painted our kitchen.  It’s a high-traffic area and my kids can’t seem to walk through the house without putting their hands everywhere.  After eight years it was grungy and banged up.  We decided to make it more colorful, too, like the rest of the rooms are.  Our region has snow on the ground a good part of the year, so it is a treat for the eyes to have color inside.  I love before-after pictures, so here are two pair.

After

Before

The whole story of this kitchen’s design is in the finale of my Kitchen Saga: 1 | 2 | 3.

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Recipe Copyright

Posted by tinako on December 30, 2010

Over time, several people have asked if I have permission to post the recipes I have here.  The answer is no, I have no permission for a single recipe posted at this site.  I don’t need it.  It is not required by law or even by etiquette.

This is a pretty good explanation based on case law.  And here is the original law for your reference.

In sum, authors cannot copyright a list of ingredients.  I’m not allowed to exactly copy their recipe text or photos without permission, but I do not do that.  In most cases etiquette says I should give credit, and I do.

Here’s what I do.  I use someone’s recipe to make something, taking note of changes I make.  Then I write out what I did, in my own words.  I also take a picture of what I made and use that.  And then as a matter of courtesy and honesty I give credit to their inspiration.  If I didn’t change anything (except write it in my own words), I say the recipe is “from” them.  But I almost always change something, and I don’t even use the “three ingredients” rule they mention in that above posting.  I’m not stingy – their recipe inspired me; unless the recipe bears almost no resemblance to the original, I give credit.

So if you want to see the author’s original ingredients, tested directions, variations, and professional photos, you’ll have to buy or borrow their book or visit their web site.  My web site is about what I made, and that’s what you get.

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Kwanzaa Angel Food Cake

Posted by tinako on December 19, 2010

Stefon

This cooking video reminded me of Stefon from Saturday Night Live Weekend Update, who gushes over the creepy smorgasbord of weirdness at “New York’s hottest club.  This place has everything!”

Sandra Lee's Kwanzaa Cake

This cake has everything! But as with nightclubs, that might not be a good thing.

I was OK with the store-bought Angel Food cake (though angel food is not vegan), I began to question adding cocoa and cinnamon to canned frosting, and it didn’t look very good, sort of gray.  I became more concerned when canned apple pie filling was dumped in the middle, horrified when pumpkin seeds and corn nuts (she calls them acorns) were sprinkled on, and the laughter began when the enormous candles were jammed into the top.  When the candles are bigger than the cake, it’s time to rethink things.

It was like something my kids would come up with unsupervised!

Here’s an article written by a woman confessing to having invented this cake.

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Chocolate Showdown

Posted by tinako on October 15, 2010

Last week I bought a bar of Ghirardelli 72% and Lindt 70% to do a dark chocolate taste test.  Most of these companies’ product line are non-vegan but these are exceptions.  Note that cocoa butter is vegan.

My husband and I have had the Ghirardelli before (as baking chips, which I don’t think they make any more), and we started with that, then trying the Lindt.  We both agreed the Lindt had a very strange flavor.  The ingredients were the same, but I thought it was almost as if it had rum in it or something.  But I thought perhaps it was just not what we were used to, so gave it another chance: We only eat one or two pieces per night (if any), and as the week progressed we ate up first the Ghirardelli and then moved to the Lindt, and when we were eating the Lindt by itself it was fine.

So I was in the store today and saw that the Lindt was marked “New Recipe” and “Smooth Dark” instead of “Intense Dark.”  We still had two pieces of the old kind left, so we did another taste test.  We started with the old and moved to the new, not looking at the ingredients or nutrition info until we had finished tasting.  The new Lindt is very different, smoother, lighter, creamier, softer, sweeter… and less chocolatey.  I think my husband might have liked it better, since he only eats the dark because it is what I bring home.  But not me – I have grown to like the intense flavor of dark chocolate, and this isn’t it.  After the old version, it tasted like vaguely chocolatey Crisco.

Then I compared the backs of the packages.   I’m not sure I understand how they did this.  In a 40 g (4 squares) serving they added 2 g of fat (saturated), 1 g of fiber, and 1 g of sugar, while keeping the cocoa at 70%.  4 g is 10% of the product.  The total fat (19 g) carbs (17 g) and protein (3 g) comes to 39 of the 40 g of product.  Clearly I don’t understand how the 70% works in, though I can understand that original cocoa itself may very well have fat or carbohydrate in it.   They added the ingredient soya lecithin, which has fat.

I’m just now eating another piece of the new Lindt, with a fresh palate, all in the name of fair testing, and it still tastes like nothing.  I won’t buy this again.  I’m going back to Ghirardelli or possibly Wegman’s.  You can probably save money by looking for the Ghirardelli baking bar in the baking section.  I presume it’s similar – do a taste test!

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Farm Sanctuary

Posted by tinako on July 14, 2010

We visited Farm Sanctuary this afternoon.  I made the mistake for a couple of years of going on hot sunny days – we were baked and the animals were shagged out in the shade of the barns.  Today was perfect, temperate and so overcast it looked like it might rain.

As members or animal sponsors, I forget which, we have the option of wandering around on our own, off-tour, so we usually do that and really take our time, but that means we can’t go inside the pens unless we glom onto a handy tourgroup happening to be going in.  Last year we were not allowed into the pig barn due to the risk of our giving the pigs swine flu, but that ban has been lifted, so we tagged along with a group going in there.  But the huge adult pigs were sound asleep in the big hay nests they build.  There were a couple of younger pigs outside who came over to see us, so we gave them a pat.  This was the first time I had ever seen a pig on his/her feet.

We spent a lot of time with two roosters (one of them pictured to the right) and a turkey who were in a separate pen.  I don’t know them well enough to know whether they were being friendly  or not, but they were certainly interested in us.

We spent even more time watching the ducks and geese – it is fun to watch their social lives, both friendships and squabbles, and see what interesting things they find to do around their pond.

The cows were way off in a field, as usual, but we saw goats and sheep and the friendly cat Sirella who last summer escorted us all around the farm, but this summer just saw us off with a few minutes of playing before we left.

We stopped for dinner at the Stonecat Cafe in Hector, NY, as suggested in a brochure at Farm Sanctuary.  It was very nice, one of the best meals I’ve gotten in the area.  I think they said everything was fresh and organic.  My daughter ordered two sides as her meal, focaccia and vegetables.  The $2.50 focaccia was OK but nothing special, indistinguishable from Italian bread, but came with some nice olive oil, and the seasonal veggies were overpriced at $6 for a small side dish, but they were very good, very fresh, organic summer squashes sauted in olive oil with salt and pepper.

Stonecat Cafe

I ordered a falafel wrap, which was excellent.  It was a green tortilla shell wrapped around fresh matchsticked carrots, a mesclun salad mix that they might have gathered from the beautiful herb and flower garden the patio overlooked, falafel which was green with herbs, and a lovely tahini sauce.  It came with interesting potato chips and a pickle for $8.50, and I thought that was pretty good.

We had a couple of other vegan choices: a half or full salad, a falafel salad, and a grilled tofu steak that sounded very good but was unaccountably $22, when the next highest entree, among several steaks and fish dishes, was I think $12.  Maybe it was coated in gold, or they hate cooking it, I don’t know.  There were more sides that might have been vegan.  The menu had a key for both vegetarian and vegan items (thanks for making the distinction) but the sides were not marked.  None of the kids meals was vegan, though none were the crappy usual kids meal fare, and at least two were vegetarian, if cheese-heavy.

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