Thursday, June 23, 2011

Watch out for Potato Chips

LOS ANGELES - Blame the potato chip. It's the biggest demon behind that pound-a-year weight creep that plagues many of us, a major diet study found. Bigger than soda, candy and ice cream.

And the reason is partly that old advertising cliche: You can't eat just one.
"They're very tasty and they have a very good texture. People generally don't take one or two chips. They have a whole bag," said obesity expert Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer of the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

Read more:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Battle of the Fruit Flies...

It's that time of year... getting warmer outside but still not so hot that we have to close up the house and turn the Air Conditioning on. That's something we avoid until the last minute.

The problem, however, is that, in this weather, the fruit flies start to swarm around the vegetable and fruit scraps waiting to go out into the garden and make our cooking area very unpleasant.

This morning we started our campaign which was 100% successful last year over a couple of days. We built fruit fly traps which draw the little devils in by the gross and get them out of our way.

We start with a small Ball jar. Into that we put about 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, a little water and a few drops of dish soap. Some people add a piece of banana to the mix - something fruit flies love - but I haven't found it necessary.

On top of the jar we stretch tightly a piece of plastic wrap, or a small sandwich bag, and seal it around the neck with a rubber band. Then we take a toothpick and poke about 7 or 8 holes in the top.

That's it.

Put the Jar (or 2 or 3 of them) in the infestation area and pretty soon the problem will be gone... and you can count the number of bugs either floating on top (new captures) or lying dead on the bottom. I'm up to around 60 with one jar which I set up about 3 hours ago.

A jar with the vinegar/soap mix lasts a couple of weeks and then can be refreshed with a new mix. Keep the traps going until the problem disappears or the start of heavy air conditioning season (you may have to overlap the two.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Lime Pie Experiment...

I've been trying variations on a Vegan Key Lime-ish Pie for about a week now, working on ways to get a good, low calorie, egg and sugar free pie. I'm now at the point where I have one that I like, my wife likes and that friends we have served it to like.

Here's the recipe:

Ingredients: 1 lime, 1/3 cup lime juice, 1 pkg. Healthy Top, 1/3 cup Egg Replacer, 1/3 cup powdered stevia (I used Truvia), pinch of sea salt, 1/2 cup cocoanut or almond milk, 1 1/2 cups hot water, vanilla, graham cracker pie crust (make your own or get one already made - after checking ingredients.)

You will need:

A double boiler (or two pans set up to duplicate one), Electric Mixer, cold bowl for whipping Healthy Top (I took the bowl from our Kitchen Aid Mixer and put it in the freezer for a couple of hours), a rubber spatula, measuring cup.

OK. First put the stevia, the Egg Replacer and a pinch of salt into the dry top pan of the double boiler and thoroughly mix them up with the rubber spatula.

Grate about 2 tablespoons of zests off the lime. Add the zests to the dry ingredients mix and thoroughly mix them in,

Now turn on the double boiler and add 1 1/2 cups hot water and 1/3 cup lime juice to the mix and stir it up with the rubber spatula. As the water in the base of the double boiler gets hotter, keep stirring the ingredients mix in the top pan. As the filling mix starts to get hot, add 1/4 cup of the Healthy Top and stir it in until it is completely blended.

Keep stirring until the mix gets thick enough that it creates mounds when you pick up some with the spatula (about ten minutes.)

After you take the top pan off the heat, stir it for about five minutes as it cools off. You will notice that it gets even thicker.

When the filling has cooled off a little and is nice and thick, pour it into the pie crust and spread it evenly. Make sure you use the rubber spatula to scrape all the filling from inside the pan... you don't want to leave any behind. The mix will fill about half the shell. Don't worry... there's more coming.

Put the filled shell in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let it get really cold.

About 20 minutes before you take the shell out of the refrigerator, you are going to make the topping.

In the frozen mixing bowl, add the remaining contents of the Healthy Top package. to this add a teaspoon of vanilla, the 1/2 cup of cocoanut or almond milk, a teaspoon of stevia and a tablespoon of lime juice. Whip it with the mixer until it fluffs up like high class whipping cream.

Spread the whipped topping on top of the pie and build thick mountains and swirls of the whip. When you are done, put it in the freezer until you are ready to serve (an hour is all you really need).

The nice thing about Heavy Top is that it expands in quantity as you whip it. You are likely to have about 2 or 3 cups left over. Here's a tip: put about two cups of fresh or thawed frozen fruit in a blender and blend until it is free of any lumps. Pour this into the mixing bowl with the remaining whipped topping, add three tablespoons of Egg Replacer, and mix them all together at a medium speed. Then put the mix into a covered pyrex or plastic container and freeze. n three hours you will have a delicious ice cream substitute.

Have fun.

Friday, May 6, 2011


If you're protesting the presence of non-organic foods at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, or other "organic" food stores, look at this:

Thanks to Millions Against Monsanto.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Join the Millions against Monsanto...

... sign the Truth in labeling Petition.

Sign HERE.

Thanks, Bill.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What do you know about Food Disparagement Laws?

Until last night, I knew nothing about them… but as I attended the F.A.R.M. program (Food Art Revolution Media) last night it was one of the topics that Melinda and Dan Hemmelgarn discussed last night.
These laws currently exist in 13 states and do things like banning photographers from taking pictures of food processing plants, or writing articles protesting farms that spray their crops with Monsanto poisons, or just discussing in the public press (and no doubt in blogs like this one) the disadvantages of non-organic farming.
The food disparagement movement has major corporate support (Monsanto, Dow, Buckeye Eggs and others) and haul people into court with their heavy economic advantage if the smallest criticism is raised. This has been going on since the 1990′s (a lot of it came out because of films like “Food, Inc.” or the works of Michael Moore.)
Senator Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont) made this statement in the late ’90s concerning this situation:
Some states permit lawsuits against those who question the safety of our food supply. It is my view that under the First Amendment, Americans possess the right
Official photo of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Sen Patrick Leahy (D - Vermont)
to raise safety and health concerns about the foods we eat, such as the levels of mercury in our fish or the levels of pesticides in imported foods. State laws that permit lawsuits against those who question the safety of foods can have a chilling effect on public health discourse. That is not the American way –healthy debate on issues of public concern is how this country does business.
The FoodSpeak Coalition highlights the chilling effect that these laws have on the exercise of free speech. Defamation laws should not intimidate citizens and the press who want to speak out about food safety.
Americans in all states must be allowed to openly debate issues of public health.
Here, here!
I spoke with a woman at the meeting last night whose 5-year work on a book concerning the dangers of chemical spraying on US Agriculture has been filed away indefinitely because she is afraid of lawsuit under food disparagement laws… and West Virginia doesn’t even have such laws. States like Iowa and Florida are affecting the entire country.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Food Art Revolution Media (F.A.R.M.)

Went to a very interesting lecture and panel discussion on the need to expand locally grown organic food and the battle against companies like Monsanto and Dow that are poisoning our food supply.

The speakers, Dan and Melinda Hemmelgarn, were out of Columbia, Missouri, and they combined the skills of
photography and dietetics with a heavy dose of activism. They were co-presented by AHA and the Source. Although the audience was fairly small, the excitement of the discussion after the 7:00 PM presentation lasted until

close to 10 PM.
Even after the panel there was still continued discussion over a variety of delicious goodies.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On Eating Animals

This piece from RSA interviewing author Jonathan Safran Foer

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to identify Genetically Modified foods at Whole Foods...

Whole Foods Market admits it sells genetically modified foods:
"The reality is that no grocery store in the United States, no matter what size or type of business, can claim they are GE-free. ... we are not going to mislead our customers with an inaccurate claim..."

Whole Foods Market
Internal Company Memo 1/30/2011
Activists with the Organic Consumers Association's Millions Against Monsanto campaign went to Whole Foods Market in San Francisco to try to identify which foods are genetically engineered, but couldn't get any help from store employees.

Check Out This Video courtesy of the Organic Consumer Association:

For more information, go to:

(also posted at Under The LobsterScope)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I tried a Lemon Refrigerator Pie today...

... which I was going to post a recipe for. However, it has not gone along the way I expected and I'm about 5 hours away until it has set enough. It may taste and cut just fine, but I expected something prettier.

Oh well, you win some you lose some. If it taste OK I'll let everyone know how I made it.

I've been doing lots of experimenting with my Ice Cream recipe which I posted the other day. So far I've made Rich Chocolate Banana, Peach, Cherry Chocolate Chip, Blackberry, and Fresh Orange Cream.

I've stocked my freezer with several more frozen fruits and my refrigerator with fresh ones which I'll try in the next couple of days until I run out of Healthy Top and have to order more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Organic Gardening Tips

This is something my wife turned me on to. Below are the first 50, but there are hundreds at the SITE:

Organic Gardening Tips

Looking for tips on specific types of vegetables or herbs? Get vegetable gardening and herb gardening tips here. Or read about 11 useful organic gardening products for your home garden.

1. Mulch your flower beds and trees with 3" of organic material - it conserves water, adds humus and nutrients, and discourages weeds. It gives your beds a nice, finished appearance.

2. Mulch acid-loving plants with a thick layer of pine needles each fall. As the needles decompose, they will deposit their acid in the soil.

3. The most important step in pest management is to maintain healthy soil. It produces healthy plants, which are better able to withstand disease and insect damage.

4. Aphids? Spray infested stems, leaves, and buds with a very dilute soapy water, then clear water. It works even on the heaviest infestation.

5. Compost improves soil structure, texture, and areation, and increases the soil's water holding capacity. It also promotes soil fertility and stimulates healthy root development.

6. Look for natural and organic alternatives to chemical fertilizers, such as the use of compost. Our use of inorganic fertilizer is causing a toxic buildup of chemicals in our soil and drinking water.

7. When buying plants for your landscape, select well-adapted plant types for your soil, temperature range, and sun or shade exposure.

8. Landscaping your yard is the only home improvement that can return up to 200% of your original investment.

9. Plant trees! They increase in value as they grow and save energy and money by shading our houses in the summer, and letting the sun shine through for warmth in the winter.

10. Think of trees and their locations as the walls and roofs of our outdoor rooms, when you are planning their locations and sizes.

11. Grass won't grow? Find an appropriate ground cover for the exposed earth and fill the problem space, creating an interesting bed shape.

12. Plant vines on walls, fences, and overhead structures for quick shade, vertical softening, and colorful flower displays.

13. If gourmet cooking is in your plans, organically grown herbs make wonderful landscape plants. They flavor foods, provide medicinal properties, and offer up fragrances. And most thrive on neglect.

14. Shade gardens are low maintenance - they require less watering, slower growth, and fewer weeds to fight.

15. Everyone loves flowers! Annuals are useful for a splash of one-season color. But since replacing them each year is expensive, concentrate them in just a few spots.

16. There is no need to work the soil deeply when adding compost or soil amendments. Eighty five percent of a plant's roots are found in the top 6" of soil.

17. The best organic matter for bed preparation is compost made from anything that was once alive, for example leaves, kitchen waste, and grass clippings.

18. Dig an ugly hole when planting a tree or shrub. A hole with "glazed" sides from a shovel will restrict root penetration into the surrounding soil.

19. Planting from plastic containers? Carefully remove the plant and tear the outside roots if they have grown solidly against the container.

20. Think of mulching as "maintaining the forest floor": add 1" to 3" of compost or mulch to planting beds each year.

21. Natural fertilizers, compost and organic materials encourage native earthworms. Earthworms are nature's tillers and soil conditioners, and manufacture great fertilizer.

22. Bare soil should not be visible around a new planting. Always cover with a layer of mulch, any coarse-textured, loose organic material.

23. Think "biodiversity". Using many different kinds of plants encourage many different kinds of beneficial insects to take up residence in your yard.

24. Organic pest control is a comprehensive approach instead of a chemical approach. Create a healthy biodiversity so that the insects and microbes will control themselves. Using natural products and building healthy soil is the best long-term treatment for pests.

25. Weeds? Spot-spray with common full-strength household vinegar, on a sunny day. It's an organic weed killer that's safe for you and the environment.

26. Mulch! The rain and irrigation water runs off the land, eroding and depleting your unprotected soil.

27. Residential users of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides apply more pounds per acre of these chemicals then farmers do. As these pollutants run off, they harm aquatic life and contaminate the food chain. If you keep your soil healthy, you won't require chemical fertilizers.

28. Some mulching benefits are protection of roots from the sun's heat, and protection of plant crowns from winter cold.

29. To prevent diseases and pest infestation , avoid piling mulch against tree trunks. Spread mulch out as far as the drip line.

30. For effective weed control use a layer of coarse mulch 3" or more in depth. Some hardy grasses may need to be rooted out for successful removal.

31. For a good start, water the ground thoroughly before and after applying a mulch cover.

32. Use plants in your landscape that are either native to your area, or were imported from areas with similar climate and soil. They require a lot less water and care, and won't die off in the winter.

33. Compost is what happens when leaves, grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, woodchips, straw, and small twigs are combined, then allowed to break down into a soil-like texture. Use it instead of commercial fertilizers.

34. Formal gardens are for you if you love symmetry. They work best around a focal point like a fountain, sculpture, specimen tree, or group of plants.

35. Some flowers, including sweet peas, iris, foxglove, amaryllis, lantana, lupines, clematis, dature, poinsettia, and oleander, are poisonous.

36. When buying annuals or perennials, select plants that are budded but not yet in bloom, so their energy the first two or three weeks in your garden will be directed toward making larger and stronger plants with better-developed root systems.

37. To increase water conservation, look for drought-resistant plants. Usually these plants have silver leaves, deep taproots and small leaves. Succulents are also able to withstand dry weather.

38. When planting, take into consideration the plant's size at maturity. Layer by height and bloom time for emphasis and constant color.

39. Soaker hoses deliver water directly to the base of the plant, reducing moisture loss from evaporation. Early morning is the best time of day to water.

40. Compost balances both acid and alkaline soils, bringing PH levels into the optimum range for nutrient availability. It contains micronutrients such as iron and manganese that are often absent in synthetic fertilizers.

41. Avoid frequent, deep cultivation, which can damage plant roots, dry out the soil, disturb healthy soil organisms, and bring weed seeds to the surface where they will germinate.

42. Use the least-disruptive and least-polluting protections against a pest. Try the following methods as applicable: first physical removal, barriers, and traps; next, biological controls; then, appropriate botanical and mineral pesticides.

43. Red, orange, and yellow in your landscape will draw the eye and bring objects closer.To make a small garden feel larger, place warm colors in the front of the space and cool colors in the back.

44. Cover street noise - sound pollution can be minimized by the use of water features, such as a waterfall, or a pond with a fountain jet. Wind chimes also help, as can bird feeders that attract songbirds.

45. Newly planted trees need supplemental water to avoid transplant shock, so water deeply on a weekly basis throughout the growing season.

46. Give order to your garden by defining the boundaries with fences, stone walls, or hedges. Include paths for movement.

47. Less than 2 percent of the insects in the world are harmful. Beneficial insects such as ground beetles, ladybugs, fireflies, green lacewings, praying mantids, spiders, and wasps keep harmful insects from devouring your plants. They also pollinate your plants and decompose organic matter.

48. Plant newly purchased plants during the late evening or on a cloudy day. They have a much better chance of surviving if planted during cloudy, rainy weather than dry, sunny weather.

49. Compost introduces and feeds diverse life in the soil, including bacteria, insects, worms, and more, which support vigorous plant growth.

50. Bright light washes out the cool colors, blue, green, and purple. They are best used in shaded areas for maximum impact.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quick Vegan Chili from Grocery Store Items

I bought everything I used in this Vegan Chile at the Natural Foods/Organic section of Martin's Supermarket (in some areas it's called Giant) and at the Shepherdstown Farmer's Market. Here are the basic ingredients:

I also pulled some things from my spice supply: Chile powder,Cumin, Sechuan oil, crushed red pepper flakes, and my ordinary hot sauce.

OK, I began by chopping up the green onions, then the clery and mushrooms.

In my large pan I used about a half cup of olive oil to heat these vegetables up and get them soft:

To the vegetables I add 2 cups of Smart Ground  Mexican style meat substitute and cook it with the vegetables for a couple of minutes.
Then I added 1 jar of Organic Vegetable Tomato Sauce (which has carrots, garlic, tomatoes and a bunch of spices in it) plus 1/2 jar of water.I stir that up with the vegetables, then add 2 tablespoon chile powder, 2 tablespoons cumin, about 10 drops of Sechuan oil, some pepper flakes, and a couple of shakes of hot sauce... then I mix it all together. Meanwhile I have the stove on high until the tomato sauce bubbles, then I turn it to low.

Now I add two cans of kidney beans, rinsed, and stir them in:
Cover the saucepan and let cook on low for about half an hour, stirring occasionally and taste to see if it is spicy enough for you (I like mine hot.)

While that's cooking I make some brown rice, which takes about 40 minutes...
Finally I serve the chile over the brown rice and have a great lunch. I've made enough to serve six people here...or to have lots of leftovers for tomorrow.
Hope you like it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bill's 15 Minute Vegan Ice Creme..

Here's a recipe that will knock your socks off. I was buying the $4.98 vegan ice-cream substitutes (rice or soy) and going through two or three of those expensive little two-cup containers every week. I was getting too much sugar from them, too.

Then I discovered a way to make my own at home which was noticeably better than the storebought stuff, was much lower in sugar (but just as sweet) and full of fruit.

This recipe makes about five or six cups (depending on the amount of fruit you use) and can be frozen as pops or in containers as regular ice creme. You don't need an ice cream machine... just a blender and some containers or pop molds to hold the mix.

Here are the ingredients you need:

1. A package of MimicCreme Healthy Top (I order it in bulk since I discovered this treat.) You can order it directly at

2. 2 cups of frozen fruit (I'm using cherries in this one) plus a fresh banana (a sheer extra... I like the mix of flavors.) You can also use chocolate by liquefying plain cocoa with a little hot water, then add some sweetener to it... this will take the place of the fruit (will make about 2 cups less).

3. About eight drops (or the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of regular sugar) of Sweet Leaf Vanilla Creme liquid stevia, plus a teaspoonful of powdered sweetener ( I use Truvia, which is a stevia blend). You can also use a teaspoonful of plain vanilla and two or three teaspoons of the powdered sweetener.

That's it for ingredients. Now here's the method.

1. Thaw the two cups of frozen fruit (I use 1 minute in the microwave, but you can also leave it out at room temperature for a couple of hours.) Cut up the banana into chunks.

2. Put the fruit in a blender with the cut up banana, add the vanilla stevia drops and the teaspoon of powdered sweetener and blend them until they are smooth (about a minute).

3. Add the whole package of Healthy Top, set the blender on "Beat" and let it go for 3 minutes or so....
4. Pour the mix into a covered freezer container, or into pop molds and freeze for about 3 hours.

An that's it. It takes about 15 minutes tops to make it and when you try it, you'll never buy the expensive stuff again. This costs about half as much in equivalent quantities and tastes a lot better.

Hope you like it.   - Bill

An afternoon of Mushroom Innoculation...

Elly and I attended a great afternoon affair at Laurie and Bob's five acre farm on Engel-Moler Road. And what was the purpose of this get together that drew a couple of dozen conservationists, Sustainable Shepherdstowners, and your average local mushroom enthusiast? Why, to innoculate oak logs with mushroom spores so that they can be put in the dark to grow and develop edible shitake mushrooms for the Fall.

The process is fairly simple, but requires a lot of muscle effort and concentration. The logs that have been cut and stacked which will be used for the innoculation are put, one at a time, across a couple of sawhorses. Then holes are drilled all around each log at approximately four inch intervals.
Once the holes are drilled, small pegs with the preset mushroom fungus in them are pounded into each hole with a hammer or a rubber mallet.

After the pegs are malleted into the logs, each one is covered with a coat of melted wax which is brushed onto the top of the peg. At the lower left corner of the close-up photo you can see the splotch of wax on top of the peg. In the upper right of the picture is an exposed peg that hasn't been waxed.
Finally, the finished logs are stacked. They will be covered with a fabric sheet to keep the light out and the logs will be kept damp.
We followed up the afternoon activities with snacks and conversations and a mini-concert of bagpipes and drums. Lots of fun and learned a lot about growing mushrooms.