Archive for April, 2009

Swine flu has made us map crazy all over again.

Check out all these maps tracking swine flu.  This vaguely reminds me of the obsessive up to the minute maps of the ’08 Presidential Election.  I can’t help but keep updating.

http://healthmap.org/swineflu

http://googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/2009/04/swine-flu-outbreak-on-google-maps.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-04-27-swine-flu-states_N.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/04/27/us/20090427-flu-update-graphic.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30435064

Amish Friendship Bread

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This was THE LONGEST PREP TIME FOR A RECIPE EVER. Fortunately, I received a pre-made starter from a friend that was already 3 days into the 10 day prep. And I STILL think it was the longest time ever.  Was it worth it?  I’d say so. The bread is incredibly moist and sweet, and the texture and depth is nothing like the quickbreads I usually make.  I actually lost count how many days in I was, and some days I even forgot I had the starter. Luckily it all turned out really well, and I was even asked for the recipe.  Amish Friendship bread is like a food chain letter, you make a bread starter and pass it along to 3 friends, and they pass it onto 3 friends, and so on.  Does anything bad happen when you DON’T pass it to friends?  I have yet to find out…

* If you wish to not pass it along to friends and want the correct measurments for 1 batch, do the math yourself.  It was hard enough for me to do it, luckily I have a human calculator for a husband.

Amish Friendship Bread Starter

*Do not use metal bowl or utensils

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°F)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk (110°F)

 

Directions:

1.      In small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes. Stir well.

2.      In a 2 quart glass or plastic container, combine 1 cup sifted flour and 1 cup sugar. Mix thoroughly or the flour will get lumpy when you add milk.

3.      Slowly stir in warm milk and dissolved yeast mixture. Place mixture in gallon size zip-lock bag.  Consider this day 1 of the cycle.

 

 

Mounds Amish Friendship Bread – makes 2 loaves

 

Day 1 – Do nothing

Day 2 – Squeeze the bag

Day 3 – Squeeze the bag

Day 4 – Squeeze the bag

Day 5 – Add 1 cup each flour, sugar and milk

Day 6 – Squeeze the bag

Day 7 – Squeeze the bag

Day 8 – Squeeze the bag

Day 9 – Squeeze the bag

Day 10 – Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Divide into 4 1-gallon zip-lock bags, with 1 cup each for 3 of your friends and 1 cup for your own loaves. Give to friends with instructions for Day 1 to Day 10.

 

After removing the 3 cups of batter, combine the remaining cup of Amish Friendship Bread starter with the following ingredients in a large bowl.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 5.1oz. box of chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup coconut flakes

 

Directions:

1)     Stir all ingredients by hand until well blended.

2)     Grease and lightly flour 2 loaf pans.

3)     Bake at 325°F for 1 hour (individual oven temps may vary). Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans.

shut up and eat!

Why do people point to every friggin dish at a buffet and ask, what’s this? What’s that?  It’s a buffet. They aren’t going to charge you more for trying something. Just put it on your plate and move on. And if you don’t know what fried chicken is by looking at it…you’ve been living in a bubble.  There’s also a label on the sneeze guard, jackass.

Guacamole

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 This is my husband’s recipe for guacamole.  It’s his prized recipe.  I’m exploiting it.  He’s not Mexican, but it’s better than guacamole from Mexico.  Everyone loves it, including Mexicans.  We eat bowls and bowls of it. It’s wonderful.  Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 8 oz. Jack’s Special Salsa (whatever flavor you wish, we use mild or medium)
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt

Directions:

  1. In food processor, blend avocados, salsa, and onion together.  Pour into bowl.
  2. Stir in lime juice, and add salt to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips.

* Guacamole will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if well sealed in container.

Swine Flu – “…deaths could be from healthy people who have a healthy, robust immune system that overreacts.”

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Instead of reading the 1000 articles about swine flu that say the same thing in different ways, try these sites below, which actually provide facts:

http://www.cdc.gov/ – Center for Disease Control and Prevention

http://www.who.int/en/ – World Health Organization

I just watched a small clip on CNN about their poll of how many Americans would delay travel to Mexico or continue their plans to Mexico. And how only 2% would cancel/delay, and something like 38% would go forward with their plans.  I hate these polls.  They don’t make sense.  What percentage were actually going to Mexico?  

Anyway, one major difference between a regular flu and the swine flu is that the swine flu seems to kill healthy people with strong immune systems between ages 20-45, while regular flu will have more fatalities in the elderly or extremely young. One hypothesis is that this strain of swine flu (a combination of human/swine/bird flu) makes healthy peoples’ immune systems attack themselves trying to fight the virus off. This is also the same age group hit in the 1918 flu pandemic.

So why is the swine flu hitting Mexico harder?  1) It could just be timing.  Maybe the flu hasn’t been in other countries long enough to be severe.  2) Healthy young people didn’t get treatment quickly enough, thinking they can recover on their own . 3) Maybe people in Mexico are fighting off other bacterium in their bodies, and their immune systems went crazy trying to fight off too many different things.

We shouldn’t think we have more mild cases in the US than Mexico. When the flu is transmitted from person to person, the virus gets more complex each time, and that could mean it can get more severe. The flu doesn’t get more diluted from person to person. There are too many reasons why Mexico seems to be hit harder than the other infected countries.

The number of people reported of testing positive for swine flu looks like it’s decreasing in Mexico, but that’s only because hospitals are rushed to provide treatment and don’t have time to go through days of testing.  People with the flu might not have days left, so they are provided pills and rushed out of the hospitals.  They don’t have any time to document every single case.  And how many of the 2,000 documented infected people are mild or severe? The numbers of fatalities, documented cases, etc. will keep increasing, but we don’t know how.

Scientists are also seeing the resemblance between the 1918 Spanish flu to the swine flu. The CDC has an article about the 1918 pandemic if you’re interested.  And during the 1918 pandemic, the first wave was mild, followed by a more deadly second wave.  Just because it’s mild now doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take precautions.

Also, the number is always going to be wayyyy off on how many cases there are.  For example, the first 8 cases were in a school in Queens.  Those 8 kids were the ones who stayed after school to get tested.  It was a friday afternoon, and the other 100 or so kids complaining of symptoms went home for the weekend, infecting their siblings who took the flu to their schools, infecting the parents who went to work, and so on. It also takes days to test for swine flu. By the end of the week, hundreds or thousands will have it.  So will closing our borders make any difference?  It didn’t just start last week.  This could have been going on for a month or so here, and even longer in Mexico.

The CDC and WHO also said that you cannot get the virus from eating pork.  It isn’t transmitted that way.  So slaughtering all the pigs in your country is just plain murder.  The name swine flu is misleading in that sense.  Just like the name Spanish flu.  It was only named the Spanish flu in 1918 because Spain was the first country to provide the most media coverage on the pandemic.  The name swine flu doesn’t mean eating pork gives you the flu.

Wash your hands. Carry hand sanitzer or wipes. Don’t share food or drinks with sick people. Stay away from work or school if you’re sick. These are all common sense rules I wish people would normally follow to begin with. 

And if you do get the flu, get treatment, especially within 48 hours.  My husband is a scientist in the field, which is why I felt the need to write all this. He thinks a pandemic is inevitable, given all the facts. He insists on getting treatment within 48 hours to prevent the flu from getting severe in case it has the strength to be fatal. Healthy people between ages 20-45 shouldn’t think they are healthy enough to fight it off without treatment.

Cheese from breast milk?!

http://www.indrani.net/index.php?q=2006/03/breast_milk_cheese

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

chilismall

An easy recipe for the crock pot.  Dinner cooks itself while you’re at work. Serves 8.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 14 oz. cans kidney beans
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 oz. jalepenos, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder

Add extra jalepenos or hot sauce according to your taste.

Directions:

  1. In skillet on medium high, cook ground turkey and onion until meat is done.  Put into crock pot.
  2. Mix rest of ingredients into crock pot.
  3. Simmer on high for 6-8 hours.

Grilled Zucchini

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A nice healthy accompaniment to any main dish.  If you live in an apartment and don’t have a backyard grill, use a panini or george foreman grill.

Grilled Zucchini (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large zucchinis
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

1.  Using a peeler, peel stripes vertically on zucchini, as seen in picture below.

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2.  Slice into 1 inch 1/2 inch (sorry, I’m a moron and should’ve used a ruler) thick slices.  Try to make the thickness consistent so they grill evenly together.  Brush olive oil on both sides, salt and pepper.

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3.  Grill until brown, flip to other side and continue grilling until done. Serve.

Soy Ginger Salmon

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This is one of my husband and I’s favorite dishes.  We eat this once a week.  I’m sort of sensitive to the fishy flavor of salmon, and cooking it this way lessens the fishy taste/smell.  I make a soy ginger sauce for the  fish to marinate in the fridge for a couple hours, then bake it in the oven.  I find cooking it slowly in the oven isn’t as fishy as cooking it over the stove.  I never cook fish over the stove with oil, especially salmon.  Your house will smell like fish for days, it’s horrible, unless you like that kind of thing.  Ginger in chinese cooking gives fish a fresh, clean taste, and it also cuts the gamey-ness of poultry.  This recipe serves 2. Double ingredients if serving 4.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp honey OR brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chicken broth
  • 2 6 oz. salmon fillets

Directions:

1.  In small bowl, mix soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, garlic, and ginger together.  Pour over fish to marinate in fridge for 2 hours.  Sometimes, when I don’t have time, I skip the 2 hours and it still turns out fine.  But the 2 hours gives it a lot more depth in flavor.

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2.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Take fish out of fridge, put in baking dish with deep sides. Pour remaining marinade into dish, and add chicken broth into bottom of pan. This will prevent the marinade from crusting/burning as it cooks, and it dilutes the soy so it’s less salty. Drizzle honey or sprinkle brown sugar on top of fish. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chives over that.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is flaky.

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Crepes

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Crêpes are surprisingly easy to make.  Think of them as thin pancakes, well, because they are.  I needed another excuse to eat my cream cheese and strawberries in the fridge, and I had a couple of pears laying around too.  So that’s when I decided to whip these up.  Crêpes can hold a variety of fillings, for example, you can make breakfast crêpes with sausage, egg and cheese, or dessert crepes with fruit fillings, or plain crepes with sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top.  You can even mix cocoa powder into the batter and make chocolate flavored crêpes. The list goes on and on and on. 

Basic Crêpes (makes 8 )

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • non stick pan
  • spatula
  • liquid measuring cup

For sweet dessert crêpes, add these 2 ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar

Directions:

1.  In mixing bowl, mix flour and eggs.  Add milk and water intermittently stirring until well blended.

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 2.  Add milk and water intermittently, stirring until well blended.  Add salt and butter, blend until consistency of very thin pancake batter.  It should look like this:

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 3.  Lightly grease a small non-stick pan, heat on medium high.  Use a liquid measuring cup to pour exactly 1/4 cup of batter onto pan.  To cover surface with a thin layer of batter evenly, pour directly into middle of pan, then swish from the center out by tilting pan in circular motion.  Do not pour batter in zig-zaggy lines to coat surface quickly.  I did that the first time and it left gaps.

4.  Crepes should cook for around 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.  Use spatula to gently flip to other side.  Change heat back and forth between medium high to medium, if pan starts getting too hot and crepes are turing dark brown or burning.

 

 

Strawberries and cream cheese filling (makes 8 )

Ingredients:

  • 10-15 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/2 package of cream cheese (4 oz.)
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • honey
  • nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Mix 1 tbsp. sugar into strawberries, until glazed
  2. Mix 3 tbsp. sugar into cream cheese, lightly drizzle honey and sprinkle nutmeg
  3. Spread cream cheese down middle of crepe, then layer strawberries on top of that.

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Carmelized Pear filling (makes 8 )

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 large pears, peeled and sliced
  • 4 tsp. lemon juice

Directions:

1.  Melt butter in skillet on medium high heat.  Add brown sugar, stir until melted (about a minute).

2.  Add pears and lemon juice.  Stir frequently until pears release liquid, and liquid becomes carmelized with brown sugar.  Take skillet off heat, let cool a bit before putting into crepes.

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