Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Hmmm.... let's compare, shall we?
Smoking Banned In Homes
Smoking Bans and the Third Reich
So, smoking bans were originally thought up by Hitler, and he funded research to further his position. How are we any different again? We kill our children before they're born, we've decided that the A-rabs are an undesireable race and deserve death, we ban smoking in private and public places.... Again, how are we different?
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Oh, I am getting so impatient right now. Not quiet two weeks ago, I made my very first batch of homemade vanilla extract. It was fun (though a tad time consuming) to cut open 30 vanilla beans, mix the caviar and pods into a big wine bottle with 2 1/2 cups of vodka, and shake it up really good. But the hard part now, is waiting for it to finish curing. I still have a little over two weeks to go before it's really ready to use in it's most raw form, but it will be several more months before it's fully extracted all the vanilla-y goodness from the pods and the caviar. It smells absolutely heavenly though, and if extract didn't taste so horrid, I would be gulping it down as I type.
This is really an economical way to make your own extract, especially if, like me, you go through about 16 oz. per 9 months. It gets pricey. I made mine a little stronger than store bought (I love the Penzey's double strength vanilla). So for the cost per ounce, I think it worked out to about $15 (roughly) for the amount of vodka and beans that I used to make about 20 oz. worth of extract, compared to the $46.95 for a 16 oz. bottle of Penzey's double strength, I'd say it's a huge savings. I think I might go for some better beans next time too. I got some decent ones, but there are a lot of various sources to choose from. I went for speed :)
I'll let you know in a few weeks how the extract tastes in baking. If I last that long...
I'd be growing my own food instead of allowing these companies to poison me and my family.
US Airways passengers get $5,000 each; is it enough?
$5000 isn't enough? You land safely in a river, instead of crashing into a horrible death on solid ground, you get a bloody nose and a few bruises, and $5000 and a refunded ticket aren't enough?
Wow. Honestly, with this being an obvious accident, I think the airline is being exceedingly generous. They don't "owe" those passengers anything. There's always an inherent risk when you are on a plane, and instead of being thankful that he survived with pretty minor injuries, this guy is whining about how he's not getting more.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Did you know that Christopher Walken was a dancer? I didn't.
Check this out, it will show you a whole new side to Walken.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
The city of Rice Lake is asking everyone in town to continuously run a steady stream of water from at least one faucet until further notice.
Rice Lake Utilities manager Scott Reimer says the city is trying to avoid the costly damage of frozen pipes.
Reimer says wasting millions of gallons of water is something no one wants to do. But, Reimer says it's the lesser of two evils.
Especially when they're spunky like this.
101-Year-Old Woman Explains Secrets To Long Life
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Several weeks ago, I sent off a few form letters to my Representatives and Congressman. It was a basic letter, denouncing the evils of the new CPSIA law that will be going into effect in a few weeks. If you don't know what it is, look it up. It's an absolute travesty of a law, and it will destroy whatever is left of the economy, not to mention many small businesses. From what I understand, the way it sits now, pretty much every toy or product or just about anything that could possibly fall into the hands of a 12 year old child, must be extensively tested for lead. The fees appear to be outrageous, and will be crippling to the smaller companies, as the fees are the same across the board.
Here is an excerpt from a recent letter, and I've been seeing these more and more. This is from a company called Hands and Hearts, which create kits for home schooling families to teach their children about history.
I called a CPSIA-certified lab today to get an estimate for testing one
of our kits. I knew we wouldn't be able to afford it, but was
interested in getting an actual number. This is a general estimate and
the actual written estimate could be a bit lower or a bit higher, but
the over-the-phone estimate to test ONE Middle Ages kit was . . . . .
(drumroll please) $92,595. That isn't a typo.
Everytime we change something in a kit, the entire kit has to be
retested. We put 1/4 of a sheet of felt in each kit. Every new sheet
of felt is considered a new batch for the purposes of this law. This
means we would have to have every 4th kit FULLY tested for more than
92K. (The CPSC won't accept our just testing the new sheet of felt.)
Every new batch of anything would require all new full testing of the
Hmmmm . . . .know any homeschoolers interested in dropping 30,000 bucks
or so on a history kit? This law effectively makes it illegal to sell
history kits to children.
We're discontinuing our kits, of course. Testing them is a joke. Keep
in mind, though, that there are companies who will keep selling their
stuff because we need to keep buying it, and we will all ultimately bear
the costing for certification under the CPSIA.
Here's the big kicker, which is what has me rolling on the floor. After writing my little letter to Congressman Sensenbrenner, I received this little gem in the mail. Read it. It's hysterical. Seriously. Sensenbrenner, in his letter, says that most of the problems come from the toys that are exported from China, and that they shouldn't have been imported in the first place. And then, even goes on to state that the U.S., Canada, and many in the EU all have great track records when it comes to keeping lead out of toys. And yet, who is being most affected by this???? US! The moms and dads who work out of their homes to create hand made products that are safe from lead. Products that children can actually learn from, and they are the ones suffering the most. There's even a possibility that things like books for home schooling will be affected. Libraries, second hand shops, so many things will be affected, and in a major Depression, our government has chosen to make things even worse.
Here is a copy of the letter from Sensenbrenner. I underlined the best parts.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Here is a link to the video of the TMJ4 coverage on Iron Cupcake. Thankfully, I think you can only just barely see me in one shot, and that's it.
So here's the link to the video, and here's the link to the story on TMJ4.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Last night was the cupcake challenge. It was a blast meeting new people, and seeing all the great looking cupcakes. I managed to taste four out of the ten or so available. It seemed like there were a lot more than ten entries, but I think one or two people entered two or had a pretty little setup.
Out of all of the stiff competition, I managed to place third. Not bad for a first timer, 'eh?
Pop on over to No One Puts Cupcake In A Corner, Home of the Milwaukee Cupcake Queen, and host to Iron Cupcake Milwaukee. You can see pictures of most of the entries, as well as a lot of the people who were there. And oh yeah, there was a person from TMJ4 there taking video footage for a segment that will air Friday around 10:00 pm.
And wouldn't it figure, I managed to forget my camera. Thankfully, Sandy was there with hers and put a lot of pictures up on her blog. Go check it out!
So, here are my third place Apple Pancake Cupcakes, with Maple Glazed Walnuts.
Apple Pancake Cupcakes
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon maple extract (this can be adjusted to your tastes, I just sort of kept adding)
1 cup buttermilk
1 apple, finely diced
Preheat oven to 300⁰F. Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the extracts until the mixture is smooth.
Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and stir until almost combined. Add the buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and the apples and stir until all the ingredients are mixed in.
Using a cookie scoop, fill the cupcake liners just under 2/3 full. You will probably have some leftover batter, and you can either fill more liners in another muffin tin to be cooked at the same time, or save it for the next batch. (**I am going to work on some of the ratios for this recipe and hopefully finish perfecting it. I will post changes then.)
Place the muffin tin into the oven and raise the temperature to 325⁰F. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, checking frequently during the last 5 to 10 minutes. Just take a quick peek, as they are a tad difficult to judge when they're done. They are very moist.
Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes, and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the ingredients with enough milk to the desired consistency.
To frost the cupcakes, place the frosting in a zip top bag, cut the tip off, and place a nice sized blob on top of the cupcake. It will spread out a bit over the next few minutes.
Maple Glazed Walnuts
2 cups walnut halves
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat a dry skillet over medium high heat. Add all ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes or until the walnuts are toasted and the syrup is caramelized. Spread out on waxed paper and allow to cool.
For garnishing the cupcakes, place one or two on top of the cupcakes in the center. Alternatively, you could also add some thinly sliced apples, and then top with walnuts.
Friday, January 9, 2009
This is quite entertaining, if you have a few minutes, please watch. It's a nice look into the lives of home schoolers and the asinine comments people make when they find out what you're doing.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
I recently discovered a whole new Milwaukee underworld, Iron Cupcake. The theme is breakfast, and I am working on something from my childhood. I still need to work out a few tweaks, but so far, the flavor is great.
When I was little, my grandma used to make apple pancakes on Saturday mornings, along with bacon, sausage, and warm maple syrup. I still make the pancakes on occasion, though for some reason, my kids don't seem to like them as much as I did. They do, however, LOVE these cupcakes, or the incarnations that have been created so far. I'm still working on a few things, flavor combinations, icing, garnish, all the goodies.
The challenge is on Monday, January 12th at Fratellos in Milwaukee, at 5:30 p.m. Anyone is welcome to visit and check out the goodies.
As soon as the challenge is over, I will be sharing my recipe, so stay tuned.