The Unthinkable Just Happened

Just to be sure that the universe is not amiss, I scoured the news and I saw no articles about time shifts, dis-harmonic resonant frequencies, alternate dimensions intersecting our own, benevolent beings awakening dormant strands of our DNA, multi-verses colliding, Thoth resurrecting ancient wisdom or knowledge, Atlantis being found, or anything else that could explain the extreme anomaly that occurred yesterday. Thus, the only thing that can explain yesterday is perhaps a miracle.  Or I finally got it right.  My money is on the miracle option.

Yesterday, I baked bread that was edible and good!

For those who are as inept in the kitchen as me, it should come as no surprise when I say that my past efforts at baking bread have been anything but stellar. From the loaf that looks heavenly but has the weight and density of a bar of gold, to the unfortunate yeast calamities whose result was effectively, a compact brick, to biscuits whose tops are barley brown but whose bottoms are charcoal-like and smoking. My attempts at baking have resulted in one spectacular disaster after another.

And it’s not that I haven’t read all the articles on how to bake, because I have. I’ve read every last article on the entire interweb, to no avail. I’ve purchased organic ingredients, used the purest water and bought and proofed the freshest yeast. And still, at no time in the past have I been able to pull off baking an edible anything.

Until yesterday, that is.

With exceptional optimism and subdued pride, I formally announce that my fortune may have changed!  I am ecstatic to write that I may have gotten past my crippling baking handicap. I found this recipe on the interweb and decided to give baking yet another try. Typically, after each baking disaster I need to give myself about two years to repair my ailing self-esteem. Only then am I fully charged and ready to give it another go.

It’s been much longer than two years, and with the holidays coming up I thought it’d be nice if I had some fresh, homemade dinner rolls on hand. So off to the store I went in search of ingredients.

Before I proofed the yeast this time I got a thermometer and made sure the water was no more than 115 degrees. Only then did I add the yeast and sugar to the water, and waited patiently for it to foam and smell like bread. After about fifteen minutes, the yeast looked and smelled just right, so I prepared the rolls exactly per the recipe. I knew I was in good shape when I saw the dough rise according to plan. I was trying not to let my enthusiasm run away, but that was nearly impossible given the success of the dough rising on not one but two occasions. Satisfied thus far, I popped the dough into the oven and tried not to watch it like a hawk, in case that old “a watched pot never boils” saying was actually true.

When the timer went off I pulled them from the oven, inhaled deeply, exhaled with a sigh, and pulled one of the rolls out of the pan. In spite of the second degree burns to my finger tips and palms, I pulled apart the roll, slathered copious amounts of homemade vegan butter on it, said a quiet prayer and took a bite.

Oh, my…

Heavenly!  Flakey!  Tasty!  Edible! Is this really happening? It is!  Edible baked goods.  I couldn’t have been happier or more proud. Finally! Flour products made by me that amounted to more than just an organic door stop. I thought this day was never going to get here. I believed for years that there was no way that I’d ever be able to make a tasty loaf of bread, a flakey biscuit, or tender dinner rolls.  And now that this day has arrived, it’s everything I dreamed it was going to be.

I am filled with anticipation of my next baking success. Fearless I will be, the next time I attempt to bake flour, water, sugar and yeast. I can hardly wait to experience my home filled with the scent of freshly baking bread. My dreams of being a great and fabulous baker have been restored. I envision homemade, complex, sourdough rye bread from a sourdough culture that I started and have continued to grow for great periods of time. I envision country-style biscuits fresh from the oven, just like in those TV commercials, rosemary flat bread, and a whole bunch of other types of bread I haven’t discovered yet. All baked by me and all being exquisitely wonderful. Dare I say, even highly sought after.

“I like dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”

Now that I’ve come back down to Earth, just to be sure this wasn’t a fluke I’ll be making these again sometime this week. I really need to know that wasn’t just a freak accident. If the next baking story doesn’t appear until 2016 or so, that can only mean that subsequent attempts at baking haven’t been as fruitful as my last.  On the other hand, I could be writing a whole lot more about baking bread.

On Tep, on!

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My First Pressure Cooker Experience

I did it!

I triumphantly used my pressure cooker for the first time yesterday. I am happy to say that my roof is intact, birds a plenty are flying over head, the walls and ceiling are free of food debris and damage, and I ended up with a meal that was edible and very tasty.

That’s right lesser beings. I’m now a pressure cooker expert.

When I’ve cooked brown rice in the past, the result is typically a watery, bland and severely al dente meal. My brown rice adventures are so bad that I all but stopped cooking it. And given my embarrassing track record, I was afraid that the pressure cooker version of brown rice would be the same. I’m happy to tell you that I couldn’t have been more wrong.

While I successfully produced a magnificent, savory brown rice and vegetable dish, yesterday’s adventure wasn’t without a few smiles.

Before I began I RTFM numerous times to make sure I didn’t miss something critical. Because rice and other grains tend to “froth, foam and sputter” during cooking, the directions read that I should put the rice and other food in a glass or stainless steel bowl, cover it with foil to ensure nothing escapes and clogs the air vent, then place that in the cooker, and cook.

I nailed that part.

I added some water into the cooker and placed the lid on it, put the pressure regulator on the vent pipe and turned the stove on to medium high. At first I took shelter on the other side of refrigerator, but after a few minutes I mustered up some courage and slowly made my way back towards the stove. After a minute or so steam started coming out of the air vent, which is normal and expected so the directions read. Believing that the cooker had reached the fifteen PSI mark, I turned the heat down and waited for the rice to cook. After eight long minutes I turned the heat off and let the pressure drop of its own accord, opened the lid and removed the foil. And what did I find?

Raw brown rice and veggies.

Perplexed but not undaunted I re-read the manual. It turns out that I confused the steam coming from the air vent with steam coming from the regulator, which meant I turned the heat down very prematurely.

That’s alright. Given my extreme apprehension going into this, I’m not going to beat myself up too much over that. I’ll just cook the rice some more. So back onto the stove the cooker went.

Once again I turned the heat to medium high, watched for a steady flow of steam to come from the pressure regulator and then turned the heat down. I waited for eight long minutes, turned the heat off and let the pressure drop, opened the lid and removed the foil. And what did I find?

Partially cooked brown rice and veggies.

Channeling my inner Otto, I yelled, “disappointed!” Now what’d I do wrong? Several things, actually. First, the directions read that I should put the heat on high to start with, which I didn’t because of my unreasonable, childish fear. I used medium high heat instead. Second, the directions read that if I use a glass container inside the cooker instead of a stainless steel container, I should add as much as five additional minutes to the cooking time. And last, as everyone whose ever tried to cook brown rice before knows, it takes galactic year for it to cook.

Fine. Whatever. I’ll just try it again.

For a third time, back onto the stove the cooker went. After ten more minutes I turned the heat off and let the pressure drop, opened the lid and removed the foil. And what did I find?

Slightly over cooked but really yummy, moist brown rice and veggies. WOO HOO! After my first bite I did my happy dance (I don’t dance) all around the kitchen, sang glorious praises to the greatness that is me, and ate the rest of my exquisite rice dish. In fact, I couldn’t believe how flavorful it was! This was so much easier than I thought it was going to be. And clean up was super simple and quick, especially since I used the glass bowl in the cooker. Clean up time was maybe a minute or two.

I can see now that using a pressure cooker is both an art and a science. Figuring out temperatures and cooking times will be a trial and error process for sure, and I know that this won’t be the last over-cooked meal I’m going to end up with. But if my first dish is an indication of how tasty food can be with so little effort, I’m sold. I can see where this is now going to be my go-to appliance for cooking. And I must note that pressure cookers are definitely slacker friendly. Cooking just doesn’t get much easier than this.

I have no idea what I’ll cook next time, but I can’t hardly wait. I feel quite silly now, about how I feared these things. And now I can enjoy brown rice again!

I need to stop fearing fear. With the success of my maiden voyage using a pressure cooker, expect yummy recipes to follow.

Two fears down, 2.37 x 108 to go.

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What a Piece of *Expletive*

Not long ago I had to prepare some food for a gathering with my very good friends.  It was a potluck so I wanted to make something really tasty for everyone to eat – something that no one else was going to bring. As such, I choose to make some spicy chipotle hummus and an artichoke chickpea pate, both of which require a food processor.  By the time I got around to making these I had just a few hours time to shop, prepare and arrive at my destination.

With time running out and having fought and lost yet another battle with a faulty food processor, I was angry beyond words.  Saying I was livid doesn’t come close to the unbridled anger I felt over an expensive appliance whose worth was essentially nothing, from the moment I go it.  In the middle of trying to salvage my dishes, even being very short on time, I decided to put everything on hold, log onto Amazon and write a brutally truthful review of this piece of *expletive* food processor.

In case my review gets flagged as abusive (I cannot imagine why – I was 100% truthful), the text of the review is below.  Or, you can read it here on Amazon.

This review is from: KitchenAid KFP0922CU 9 Cup Food Processor – Contour Silver (Kitchen)

Save your money and get an appliance that actually works.

I bought this food processor because kitchenaid used to make fairly decent home applicances. But with the roll out of this expensive, ineffective, poorly designed piece of equipment, it’s clear that they no longer embrace quality.

The Pros: You can use the box it came it to store stuff in the attic.

The Cons: Speed, save-the-consumer-from-themselves design, price.

If the bowl isn’t at least half filled, it’s not going to process anything. All it’s going to do is shoot food debris on to the underside of the lid, and what doesn’t stick there will be wedged into the lid’s many crevasses. This happens even when using the small bowl. Case in point: tahini paste. I had to fill the *expletive* bowl over half way before it’d actually blend sunflower seeds, making WAY more tahini that I actually needed. What a waste.

This *expletive* thing has first and second gear only. No third or fourth gears, and no turbo. The blade turns incredibly slow, even on high! So slow so that I have to use my Vitamix to process soaked cashews into a creamy, smooth, faux cheese sauce. Isn’t that what a *expletive* food processor SHOULD do, without having to be bailed out by a blender? What a pain in the *expletive* to have to transfer partially chopped soaked cashews or tahini paste from a food processor into a blender! I mean, it’s not like I’m trying to process granite or diamonds, or anything. It’s soaked nuts, for *expletive* sake. It’s a good *expletive* thing for kitchenaid that Vitamix doesn’t make food processors…

If you get so much as a nano-particle of food on the inside of the lid where the lid meets the bowl, the safety feature dutifully kicks in and the *expletive* thing won’t turn on. WT *expletive* kitchenaid? Enough already. Stop trying to save me from myself! Everyone on the planet knows that if your digits get too close to a semi-rapidly spinning blade, said digits will no longer be attached. We get it. But for *expletive* sake, design a lid where I don’t have to clean every last *expletive* nano particle from it before the machine will detect that it’s securely in place and turn on when I press the high or pulse buttons.

How can I have a properly secured lid on the bowl and still not be able to turn the *expletive* thing on? Why do I have to have the largest lid insert in place too? What a *expletive* joke! Do you know how much time it takes to clean all those inserts? Sure – yeah. Right. Let’s waste some more time, some more water, some more effort, some more soap, cleaning more stuff than I need to clean, just so I can turn the *expletive* thing on.

While we’re on the subject of lids, why the *expletive* did you design ALL those nooks and crannies on the underside of the lid and lid inserts that make it next to impossible to clean?! What the *expletive* is the point of those anyway, other than to catch small particles of food? Props to the out of touch, never-EVER-used-a-food-processor-before engineer who designed this feature. That person managed to create nooks and crannies into which no regular kitchen cleaning brush or scrubbie thingie can access. Nice job *expletive*-tards.

And what the *expletive* is up with all those lid inserts anyhow? Holy *expletive*, man. Apparently, not only has the engineer who designed this never use a food processor before (which we’ve already established), apparently that person never once had to clean up an appliance with so many *expletive* lid inserts. If that person had, there wouldn’t be so many *expletive* lid inserts.

Hey kitchenaid, I have one question for you. Have you actually USED this *expletive* product? I thought not.

If all you need to process is water, air or imaginary foods, this food processor works like a charm! But if you actually need to process diverse foods at high speeds, fugetaboutit. It ain’t happening. It kills me that I wasted my money on this piece of *expletive* crap. I am so *expletive* tired of having to transfer partially blended food to my Vitamix.

This baby has the reliability of the 1976 Buccaneers, the speed of a 1971 Ford Pinto running on three cylinders going up hill, the price tag of a hot dog, fries and beer at a Red Sox game, the quality of the Health Insurance Marketplace, and the attractiveness of Golum with a sinus infection.

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Organic Does Not Necessarily Mean GMO-Free

The sole purpose of this article is to make those of you who are not aware (like me), that organic food does not necessarily mean GMO-free food. I am still, and will continue to be, an outspoken advocate for organic food.

While this post is quite long, the vast majority of it are quotes from the USDA’s website.

I did a great deal of reading about what it means when food is labeled “organic”, and after careful consideration, research and discussion, I’ve come to realize some very disturbing things. It is my opinion that buying organic food from sources whose dedication to growing food free of GMOs and pesticides/fungicides/herbicides is questionable, is quite likely a waste of money and not as healthy as we may believe.

This is rumor control. Here are the facts.

The USDA is the governmental body that determines the definition of organic, and under  what circumstances the “USDA Certified Organic” label can be used. Here are my findings and, of course, my riveting commentary.

If you prefer the short version, here is it: Any food that bears the UDSA’s organic label can contain non-organic components, GMOs and potentially toxic chemicals.

If you want the long version, I highly recommend reading further.

Here is how the USDA defines “organic”:

“Organic is a labeling term for food or other agricultural products that have been produced according to the USDA organic regulations. These standards require the integration of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. This means that organic operations must maintain or enhance soil and water quality while also conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

All organic crops and livestock must be raised in a production system that emphasizes protection of natural resources; plant and animal health; preventative management of pests, diseases, and predators; and compliant use of allowed materials. All organic products must be protected from prohibited substances and methods from the field to the point of final sale…”

This sounds very reasonable and implies taking care of the environment and soil, managing water resources and waste materials, and healthy food and living conditions for farm animals. Being mildly impressed, I read on:

“What types of products are eligible for organic certification?  USDA standards recognize four categories of organic production:

  • Crops. Plants that are grown to be harvested as food, livestock feed, or fiber used to add nutrients to the field.
  • Livestock. Animals that can be used for food or in the production of food, fiber, or feed.
  • Processed/multi-ingredient products. Items that have been handled and package (e.g., chopped carrots) or combined, processed, and packaged (e.g., bread or soup)
  • Wild crops. Plants from a growing site that is not cultivated.”

The USDA considers “chopped carrots” processed? I found this odd since prior to reading this, to me “processed” implies something being cooked, cured, fermented, or mingled with other products and then packaged. How could anyone consider chopping a vegetable “processed”? I guess that makes me a food processor – LOL. Perplexed, I continued reading:

“Can I use the USDA organic seal?  The following products may be labeled with the USDA organic seal:

  • Raw agricultural commodities that have been certified organic.
  • Processed or multi-ingredient products that have been certified organic and contain 95 to 100 percent organic content.
  • The following products may not be labeled with the USDA organic seal:

Any product that has not been certified organic by an accredited certifying agent.  This includes exempt operations, described in “Who needs to be certified?” above.

  • Processed or multi-ingredient products that contain less than 95 percent organic content.”

Here’s where my B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot senses started screaming: Danger Will Robinson, Danger! How can something be called organic if part of it is not organic?

Did the USDA flunk math? Labeling something organic which is not entirely organic is like being a little pregnant – there is no such thing; you either are or you’re not. So if 5% of a product does not have to be organic, then what could this 5% be? Could it be a GMO? A synthetic substance? A toxic substance?

The answer to these three questions, unfortunately, is yes.

So my friends, unless we grow our own food or buy our food from a very reputable source, we’re likely being gouged by, and lining the pockets of, the very companies and products we are trying desperately to avoid. Additionally, we’re not getting the health benefits we expect or are paying for.

Allow me to elaborate.

The USDA’s National Organic Program page reads,

“Organic

Raw or processed agricultural products in the “organic” category must meet these criteria:

  • All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic, except where specified on National List.
  • Non-organic ingredients allowed per National List may be used, up to a combined total of five percent of non-organic content (excluding salt and water).
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.”

Pay attention to the second bullet point. Up to 5% of non-organic content can be used in products labeled organic. But wait!  You may counter and say, “But what about the ‘100 percent organic’ portion of this page?”:

100 Percent Organic
Raw or processed agricultural products in the “100 percent certified organic” category must meet these criteria:

  • All ingredients must be certified organic.
  • Any processing aids must be organic.
  • Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.”

One might suppose that something labeled 100% organic may actually be 100% organic.

To verify this supposition I spent the better part of an entire day reading the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7: Agriculture, PART 205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM portion of our great republic’s website, and learned that according to our leaders, almost anything can be called organic.

The “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.204   Seeds and planting stock practice standard” section states:

“(a) The producer must use organically grown seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock: Except, That,

(1) Nonorganically produced, untreated seeds and planting stock may be used to produce an organic crop when an equivalent organically produced variety is not commercially available: Except, That, organically produced seed must be used for the production of edible sprouts;

(2) Nonorganically produced seeds and planting stock that have been treated with a substance included on the National List of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production may be used to produce an organic crop when an equivalent organically produced or untreated variety is not commercially available;

(3) Nonorganically produced annual seedlings may be used to produce an organic crop when a temporary variance has been granted in accordance with §205.290(a)(2);

(4) Nonorganically produced planting stock to be used to produce a perennial crop may be sold, labeled, or represented as organically produced only after the planting stock has been maintained under a system of organic management for a period of no less than 1 year; and

(5) Seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock treated with prohibited substances may be used to produce an organic crop when the application of the materials is a requirement of Federal or State phytosanitary regulations.”

Non-organic seeds and plants can be sold as organic and can be treated with prohibited substances. By this reasoning, non-organic = organic. Apparently, not only did the USDA flunk remedial math but it never took a logic class either.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.206   Origin of Livestock” section states:

“(a) Livestock products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be from livestock under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation or hatchingExcept, That:

(1) Poultry. Poultry or edible poultry products must be from poultry that has been under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life;

(2) Dairy animals. Milk or milk products must be from animals that have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than 1 year prior to the production of the milk or milk products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic, Except,

(i) That, crops and forage from land, included in the organic system plan of a dairy farm, that is in the third year of organic management may be consumed by the dairy animals of the farm during the 12-month period immediately prior to the sale of organic milk and milk products; and

(ii) That, when an entire, distinct herd is converted to organic production, the producer may, provided no milk produced under this subparagraph enters the stream of commerce labeled as organic after June 9, 2007: (a) For the first 9 months of the year, provide a minimum of 80-percent feed that is either organic or raised from land included in the organic system plan and managed in compliance with organic crop requirements; and (b) Provide feed in compliance with §205.237 for the final 3 months.

(3) Breeder stock. Livestock used as breeder stock may be brought from a nonorganic operation onto an organic operation at any timeProvided, That, if such livestock are gestating and the offspring are to be raised as organic livestock, the breeder stock must be brought onto the facility no later than the last third of gestation.

(2) Breeder or dairy stock that has not been under continuous organic management since the last third of gestation may not be sold, labeled, or represented as organic slaughter stock.”

If I’m reading this correctly, genetically altered livestock fed GMO feed could be brought to an organic farm, and after a period of time be considered organic? Really? Put away the laptop, turn off your cell phone, log out of Facebook and leave your cubicle, USDA people.  Stupidity isn’t a good look for anyone.

A portion of the Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.206    Livestock Feed“ section states:

“(a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must provide livestock with a total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including pasture and forage, that are organically produced and handled by operations certified to the NOP, except as provided in §205.236(a)(2)(i), except, that, synthetic substances allowed under §205.603 and nonsynthetic substances not prohibited under §205.604 may be used as feed additives and feed supplements, Provided, That, all agricultural ingredients included in the ingredients list, for such additives and supplements, shall have been produced and handled organically.”

That sounds all fine and well, except some of the things listed in §205.603 include asprin, Oxytocin, stuff that kills parasites, and a whole lot of chemicals that can only be administered by a veterinarian. If only Walter White were available for an interview, then we’d know what that extensive list of chemicals really is and what effects these may have on humans and animals.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.237   Livestock feed” section states:

“(a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must provide livestock with a total feed ration composed of agricultural products, including pasture and forage, that are organically produced and handled by operations certified to the NOP, except as provided in §205.236(a)(2)(i), except, that, synthetic substances allowed under §205.603 and nonsynthetic substances not prohibited under §205.604 may be used as feed additives and feed supplements, Provided, That, all agricultural ingredients included in the ingredients list, for such additives and supplements, shall have been produced and handled organically.

(b) The producer of an organic operation must not:

(3) Feed plastic pellets for roughage;

(4) Feed formulas containing urea or manure;

(5) Feed mammalian or poultry slaughter by-products to mammals or poultry”

Yes, you read that right. The USDA actually has to put in writing that it’s NOT OK to feed plastic to livestock.

Are you people high?!

How could anyone with a functioning cerebral cortex think it’s ok to feed plastic to animals? And how bad and widespread is this practice such that you actually have written instructions not to do it! It makes me wonder if the person who included that statement in this document ate a few too many burgers whose meat came from cows that snacked on those yummy, hard to resist, you can’t eat just one, plastic pellets.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.238 – Livestock health care practice standard” section states:

“(a) The producer must establish and maintain preventive livestock health care practices, including:

(6) Administration of vaccines and other veterinary biologics.

(b) When preventive practices and veterinary biologics are inadequate to prevent sickness, a producer may administer synthetic medicationsProvided, That, such medications are allowed under §205.603. Parasiticides allowed under §205.603 may be used on:

(1) Breeder stock, when used prior to the last third of gestation but not during lactation for progeny that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organically produced; and

(2) Dairy stock, when used a minimum of 90 days prior to the production of milk or milk products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic.”

Highly regulated drugs and synthetic medications are allowed to keep livestock healthy. Riiiiight.

You know what else works really well? Letting animals graze in their natural habitat, eating the foods they would normally and naturally eat, on their own, in a non-caged environment, without human intervention. Wait – what’s that called? Don’t tell me – it’ll come to me…

Nature.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements,  §205.239   Livestock living conditions” section states:

“(1) Year-round access for all animals to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, clean water for drinking, and direct sunlight, suitable to the species, its stage of life, the climate, and the environment: Except, that, animals may be temporarily denied access to the outdoors in accordance with §§205.239(b) and (c).

(b) The producer of an organic livestock operation may provide temporary confinement or shelter for an animal because of:

(1) Inclement weather;

(3) Conditions under which the health, safety, or well-being of the animal could be jeopardized;

(4) Risk to soil or water quality;

(5) Preventive healthcare procedures or for the treatment of illness or injury (neither the various life stages nor lactation is an illness or injury);

(c) The producer of an organic livestock operation may, in addition to the times permitted under §205.239(b), temporarily deny a ruminant animal pasture or outdoor access under the following conditions:

(2) In the case of newborn dairy cattle for up to six months, after which they must be on pasture during the grazing season and may no longer be individually housed: Provided, That, an animal shall not be confined or tethered in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, and moving about freely;

(d) Ruminant slaughter stock, typically grain finished, shall be maintained on pasture for each day that the finishing period corresponds with the grazing season for the geographical location: Except, that, yards, feeding pads, or feedlots may be used to provide finish feeding rations. During the finishing period, ruminant slaughter stock shall be exempt from the minimum 30 percent DMI requirement from grazing. Yards, feeding pads, or feedlots used to provide finish feeding rations shall be large enough to allow all ruminant slaughter stock occupying the yard, feeding pad, or feed lot to feed simultaneously without crowding and without competition for food. The finishing period shall not exceed one-fifth (15 ) of the animal’s total life or 120 days, whichever is shorter.”

Risk to water or soil quality? Are you kidding me? Isn’t that exactly what a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) does, is risk water and soil quality? For those of you who never had to drive through Kettleman City’s (or other unnaturally large) dairy farms, for miles and miles, not even with rolled up windows and industrial strength air freshener can the smell of the countless cows forced to live in their own muck be masked.  It’s disgusting.

Tell me, how can such an un-natural concentration of cow poop and urine not harm the water and soil quality over time? This seems to me like a great excuse to throw out all common sense and animal welfare efforts out the window.

  • Humans create an unnatural and unsanitary way to manage dairy farm animals.
  • In so doing, said humans taint the soil, water and air because of bad practices.
  • Said humans can then ignore organic standards because intentional mis-management threatens water, soil and air.

Shame on us.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.270   Organic handling requirements” section states:

“(a) Mechanical or biological methods, including but not limited to cooking, baking, curing, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, distilling, extracting, slaughtering, cutting, fermenting, eviscerating, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, chilling, or otherwise manufacturing, and the packaging, canning, jarring, or otherwise enclosing food in a container may be used to process an organically produced agricultural product for the purpose of retarding spoilage or otherwise preparing the agricultural product for market.

(b) Nonagricultural substances allowed under §205.605 and nonorganically produced agricultural products allowed under §205.606 may be used:

(1) In or on a processed agricultural product intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “organic,” pursuant to §205.301(b), if not commercially available in organic form.

(2) In or on a processed agricultural product intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)),” pursuant to §205.301(c).

(c) The handler of an organic handling operation must not use in or on agricultural products intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)),” or in or on any ingredients labeled as organic:

(1) Practices prohibited under paragraphs (e) and (f) of §205.105.

(2) A volatile synthetic solvent or other synthetic processing aid not allowed under §205.605: Except,That, nonorganic ingredients in products labeled “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” are not subject to this requirement.”

Section §205.605 gives a spectacularly long list of chemicals that makes the periodic table look like a caption.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.271   Facility pest management practice standard” section states:

“(c) If the practices provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section are not effective to prevent or control pests, a nonsynthetic or synthetic substance consistent with the National List may be applied.

(d) If the practices provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of this section are not effective to prevent or control facility pests, a synthetic substance not on the National List may be appliedProvided, That, the handler and certifying agent agree on the substance, method of application, and measures to be taken to prevent contact of the organically produced products or ingredients with the substance used.

(f) Notwithstanding the practices provided for in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), and (d) of this section, a handler may otherwise use substances to prevent or control pests as required by Federal, State, or local laws and regulations: Provided, That, measures are taken to prevent contact of the organically produced products or ingredients with the substance used.”

In other words, if organic methods don’t work then by all means use conventional methods. Let’s lace the soil, the animals, the air, the water, and by extension people, with more chemicals than Donal Trump has pennies.

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.272   Commingling and contact with prohibited substance prevention practice standard” section states:

“(a) The handler of an organic handling operation must implement measures necessary to prevent the commingling of organic and nonorganic products and protect organic products from contact with prohibited substances.

(b) The following are prohibited for use in the handling of any organically produced agricultural product or ingredient labeled in accordance with subpart D of this part:

(1) Packaging materials, and storage containers, or bins that contain a synthetic fungicide, preservative, or fumigant;

(2) The use or reuse of any bag or container that has been in contact with any substance in such a manner as to compromise the organic integrity of any organically produced product or ingredient placed in those containers, unless such reusable bag or container has been thoroughly cleaned and poses no risk of contact of the organically produced product or ingredient with the substance used.”

What are the chances that reusable containers are properly cleaned before re-use for organic food?

A portion of the “Subpart C—Organic Production and Handling Requirements, §205.290   Temporary variances” section states:

“(a) Temporary variances from the requirements in §§205.203 through 205.207, 205.236 through 205.240 and 205.270 through 205.272 may be established by the Administrator for the following reasons:

(1) Natural disasters declared by the Secretary;

(2) Damage caused by drought, wind, flood, excessive moisture, hail, tornado, earthquake, fire, or other business interruption; and

(3) Practices used for the purpose of conducting research or trials of techniques, varieties, or ingredients used in organic production or handling.

(b) A State organic program’s governing State official or certifying agent may recommend in writing to the Administrator that a temporary variance from a standard set forth in subpart C of this part for organic production or handling operations be established: Provided, That, such variance is based on one or more of the reasons listed in paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) The Administrator will provide written notification to certifying agents upon establishment of a temporary variance applicable to the certifying agent’s certified production or handling operations and specify the period of time it shall remain in effect, subject to extension as the Administrator deems necessary.

(d) A certifying agent, upon notification from the Administrator of the establishment of a temporary variance, must notify each production or handling operation it certifies to which the temporary variance applies.”

Here we go again. Protocols for organics have been established but can be waived under countless circumstances. Is it Tuesday? Waive organic rules. Is the wind blowing from the North? Waive organic rules. Did the sun come up today? Is the Earth still spinning on its axis? Does water still flow downhill? Waive organic rules.

Yawn.

A portion of the “Subpart D—Labels, Labeling, and Market Information, §205.301   Product composition” section states:

“(a) Products sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic.” A raw or processed agricultural product sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic” must contain (by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt) 100 percent organically produced ingredients. If labeled as organically produced, such product must be labeled pursuant to §205.303.

(b) Products sold, labeled, or represented as “organic.” A raw or processed agricultural product sold, labeled, or represented as “organic” must contain (by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt) not less than 95 percent organically produced raw or processed agricultural products. Any remaining product ingredients must be organically produced, unless not commercially available in organic form, or must be nonagricultural substances or nonorganically produced agricultural products produced consistent with the National List in subpart G of this part. If labeled as organically produced, such product must be labeled pursuant to §205.303.

(e) Livestock feed. (1) A raw or processed livestock feed product sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic” must contain (by weight or fluid volume, excluding water and salt) not less than 100 percent organically produced raw or processed agricultural product.

(f) All products labeled as “100 percent organic” or “organic” and all ingredients identified as “organic” in the ingredient statement of any product must not:

(1) Be produced using excluded methods, pursuant to §201.105(e) of this chapter;

(2) Be produced using sewage sludge, pursuant to §201.105(f) of this chapter;

(3) Be processed using ionizing radiation, pursuant to §201.105(g) of this chapter;

(4) Be processed using processing aids not approved on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances in subpart G of this part: Except, That, products labeled as “100 percent organic,” if processed, must be processed using organically produced processing aids;

(5) Contain sulfites, nitrates, or nitrites added during the production or handling process, Except, that, wine containing added sulfites may be labeled “made with organic grapes”;

(6) Be produced using nonorganic ingredients when organic ingredients are available; or

(7) Include organic and nonorganic forms of the same ingredient.”

The out for part (4) – “100 percent organic” is, that if one reviewed the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (immediately below) any number of exceptions can be used to skirt organic rules.

A portion of the “Subpart G—Administrative, The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, §205.600   Evaluation criteria for allowed and prohibited substances, methods, and ingredients” section states:

The following criteria will be utilized in the evaluation of substances or ingredients for the organic production and handling sections of the National List:

(a) Synthetic and nonsynthetic substances considered for inclusion on or deletion from the National List of allowed and prohibited substances will be evaluated using the criteria specified in the Act (7 U.S.C. 6517 and 6518).

(b) In addition to the criteria set forth in the Act, any synthetic substance used as a processing aid or adjuvant will be evaluated against the following criteria:

(1) The substance cannot be produced from a natural source and there are no organic substitutes;

(2) The substance’s manufacture, use, and disposal do not have adverse effects on the environment and are done in a manner compatible with organic handling;

(3) The nutritional quality of the food is maintained when the substance is used, and the substance, itself, or its breakdown products do not have an adverse effect on human health as defined by applicable Federal regulations;

(4) The substance’s primary use is not as a preservative or to recreate or improve flavors, colors, textures,or nutritive value lost during processing, except where the replacement of nutrients is required by law;

(5) The substance is listed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when used in accordance with FDA’s good manufacturing practices (GMP) and contains no residues of heavy metals or other contaminants in excess of tolerances set by FDA; and

(6) The substance is essential for the handling of organically produced agricultural products.

(c) Nonsynthetics used in organic processing will be evaluated using the criteria specified in the Act (7 U.S.C. 6517 and 6518).”

I think the folks at the USDA who have been purchased by chemical, weapons and pharmaceutical companies have done a few too many “synthetics” themselves, given how utterly flawed the above statements are.

1)  Why would you need anything synthetic in organic food?

2)  Regarding Section (b)(1), why do we need “the substance”? What isn’t produced from natural sources when one grows food (plant or animal) in a well balanced, diverse, thriving eco-system, without man-made chemicals? And if “the substance” isn’t produced from said eco-system, why would we need it in our food?

3)  Regarding Section (b)(2), how the heck would the USDA know if a manufactured substance has adverse effects on the environment? Since the EPA and the USDA (and likely a plethora of other departments or agencies of the US) are in collusion with Monsanto and other, similar bio-tech/weapons/pharmaceutical firms, there are no lengthy studies being conducted – intentionally, IMHO. You’re likely not going to find what you’re not looking for.

4)  Regarding section (b)(3), once again, I know of no long term studies to determine how a substance breaks down or the potential adverse effects a substance has on human health. But it is my opinion that, given the state of our physical and mental non-health, it’s pretty clear that the “substances” created by Monsanto (et al) which taint our food, water, and air, must play a critical role in the decline of human, plant and animal health and well being.

5)  Section (b)(4) and (b)(5) are…

You know, I’m getting really tired of pointing out the obvious. Anyone with an IQ equal to or greater than a russet potato doesn’t need me to point out the continued nonsense in these sections.

A portion of the “Subpart G—Administrative, The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, §205.601   Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production” section states:

“In accordance with restrictions specified in this section, the following synthetic substances may be used in organic crop productionProvided, That, use of such substances do not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water. Substances allowed by this section, except disinfectants and sanitizers in paragraph (a) and those substances in paragraphs (c), (j), (k), and (l) of this section, may only be used when the provisions set forth in §205.206(a) through (d) prove insufficient to prevent or control the target pest.

(a) As algicide, disinfectants, and sanitizer, including irrigation system cleaning systems. (1) Alcohols, (i) Ethanol, (ii) Isopropanol, (2) Chlorine materials…, (i) Calcium hypochlorite, (ii) Chlorine dioxide, (iii) Sodium hypochlorite, (3) Copper sulfate…, (4) Hydrogen peroxide, (5) Ozone gas…, (6) Peracetic acid…, (7) Soap-based algicide/demossers…, 8) Sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate

(b) As herbicides, weed barriers, as applicable, (1) Herbicides, soap-based…, (2) Mulches, (i) Newspaper or other recycled paper, without glossy or colored inks, (ii) Plastic mulch and covers (petroleum-based other than polyvinyl chloride (PVC)), (c) As compost feedstocks—Newspapers or other recycled paper…, (d) As animal repellents—Soaps, ammonium…, (e) As insecticides (including acaricides or mite control), (1) Ammonium carbonate…, (2) Aqueous potassium silicate…, (3) Boric acid…, (4) Copper sulfate…, (5) Elemental sulfur, (6) Lime sulfur, (7) Oils, horticultural…, (8) Soaps, insecticidal, (9) Sticky traps/barriers, (10) Sucrose octanoate esters…, (f) As insect management. Pheromones, (g) As rodenticides. Vitamin D3, (h) As slug or snail bait. Ferric phosphate, (i) As plant disease control, (1) Aqueous potassium silicate…, (2) Coppers, fixed…, (3) Copper sulfate, (4) Hydrated lime, (5) Hydrogen peroxide, (6) Lime sulfur, (7) Oils, horticultural, (8) Peracetic acid…, (9) Potassium bicarbonate, (10) Elemental sulfur, (11) Streptomycin, (12) Tetracycline, (j) As plant or soil amendments, (1) Aquatic plant extracts…, (2) Elemental sulfur, (3) Humic acids, (4) Lignin sulfonate…, (5) Magnesium sulfate…, (6) Micronutrients…, (i) Soluble boron products, (ii) Sulfates, carbonates, oxides, or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and cobalt, (7) Liquid fish products, (8) Vitamins, B1, C, and E., (9) Sulfurous acid…, (k) As plant growth regulators. Ethylene gas, (l) As floating agents in postharvest handling. (1) Lignin sulfonate, (2) Sodium silicate…, (m) As synthetic inert ingredients as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for use with nonsynthetic substances or synthetic substances listed in this section and used as an active pesticide ingredient in accordance with any limitations on the use of such substances., (1) EPA List 4—Inerts of Minimal Concern, (2) EPA List 3—Inerts of unknown toxicity…, (n) Seed preparations. Hydrogen chloride…, (o) As production aids. Microcrystalline cheesewax…”

I’m not even sure where to begin. If one is a vegan, the fact that (7) Liquid fish products may be used in organic food production is very unsettling.

Next – and this is one of my favorites, is the, “Inerts of unknown toxicity”. Would someone please explain to me what the purpose of something with “unknown toxicity” has in the production of food?

And don’t you just love how the pharmaceuticals companies and their products – “(11) Streptomycin, (12) Tetracycline” manage to seep into every portion of our lives? The USDA is advocating the use of antibiotics throughout the entire food chain.

Here’s what I find most disturbing about this list. It’s notes like these that make me realize the people calling the shots at the USDA are completely and irrevocably insane:

“(3) Copper sulfate…is limited to one application per field during any 24-month period….”

“(6) Peracetic acid…as allowed in §205.601(a) at concentration of no more than 6% as indicated on the pesticide product label”

“(8) Sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate (CAS #-15630-89-4)—Federal law restricts the use of this substance in food crop production to approved food uses identified on the product label”

“(m) As synthetic inert ingredients as classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for use with nonsynthetic substances or synthetic substances listed in this section and used as an active pesticide ingredient in accordance with any limitations on the use of such substances.”

Remember, the above are on the allowed list. LOL. The prohibited list is immediately below.

A portion of the “Subpart G—Administrative, The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, §205.602   Nonsynthetic substances prohibited for use in organic crop production” section states:

“The following nonsynthetic substances may not be used in organic crop production:

(a) Ash from manure burning, (b) Arsenic, (c) Calcium chloride…, (d) Lead salts, (e) Potassium chloride…, (f) Sodium fluoaluminate (mined), (g) Sodium nitrate…, (h) Strychnine, (i) Tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate)”

Isn’t this backwards? The allowed list is miles long and the prohibited list is a single paragraph.

Just for a few more laughs, let’s look at the allowed synthetic substances list versus the prohibited synthetic substances list.

A portion of the “Subpart G—Administrative, The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, §205.603   Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic livestock production” section states:

“In accordance with restrictions specified in this section the following synthetic substances may be used in organic livestock production:

(a) As disinfectants, sanitizer, and medical treatments as applicable, (1) Alcohols, (i) Ethanol-disinfectant and sanitizer…, (ii) Isopropanol-disinfectant only, (2) Aspirin…, (3) Atropine…, (4) Biologics—Vaccines, (5) Butorphanol…, (6) Chlorhexidine…, (7) Chlorine materials…, (i) Calcium hypochlorite, (ii) Chlorine dioxide, (iii) Sodium hypochlorite, (8) Electrolytes—without antibiotics, (9) Flunixin…, (10) Furosemide…, (11) Glucose, (12) Glycerine…, (13) Hydrogen peroxide, (14) Iodine, (15) Magnesium hydroxide…, (16) Magnesium sulfate, (17) Oxytocin…, (18) Parasiticides…, (i) Fenbendazole…, (ii) Ivermectin…, (iii) Moxidectin…, (19) Peroxyacetic/peracetic acid…, (20) Phosphoric acid…, (21) Poloxalene…, (22) Tolazoline…, (23) Xylazine .., (1) Copper sulfate, (2) Formic acid…, (3) Iodine, (4) Lidocaine…, (5) Lime…, (6) Mineral oil…, (7) Procaine…, (8) Sucrose octanoate esters…, (1) DL-Methionine, DL-Methionine-hydroxy analog, and DL-Methionine-hydroxy analog calcium…, (3) Vitamins…, 1) EPA List 4—Inerts of Minimal Concern.”

A portion of the “Subpart G—Administrative, The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, §205.604   Nonsynthetic substances prohibited for use in organic livestock production” section states:

“The following nonsynthetic substances may not be used in organic livestock production:

(a) Strychnine.”

The USDA isn’t allowing strychnine for use in organic livestock production. Oh, good. I’m so relieved! That’s been keeping me up at night for a long while now.

This just proves that, if you trust entities who have sold their souls for money, power or prestige, you will suffer in every possible aspect of your life IF you don’t take responsibility for your own health and growing or raising your own food.

I’m done reiterating portions of the “Subpart G” because I think everyone gets the picture.

There you have it. I personally feel that we’d get more for our tax dollars if we used it to play a game of dice with Big Jo-D behind the 7-11 on Blanding Blvd, than give it to the USDA to ensure the health and safety of the nation’s food supply. At least Big Jo-D is somewhat reputable as a fairly honest business man.

But the USDA is not all bad. It’s is doing a stellar job at protecting the vast majority of people who don’t actually eat.

Posted in Permaculture, Rants, Vegan | 2 Comments

Eggless Eggs

I know I’m a vegan.  I know I’m supposed to embrace all things vegan, including tofu.  I know I’m supposed to get super excited about faux carnivore dishes.  But this one? Amped is not the word I’d use to describe my attitude about making eggless eggs.

Nonetheless, here I go!  In the spirit of this adventure I donned the most appropriate garment I had for the occasion:

VegApron

I’m tired of ruining shirts and sometimes shorts with the errant squirt or enthusiastic splash, so I purchased this apron and I use it regularly. Why is it then that numerous shirts have been ruined but the apron – after many, many uses has hardly any stains on it?

Weird.

Anyway, I had to look on the interweb about whether I needed to strain the extra firm tofu, because I had no clue whatsoever. It turned out that straining it was recommended.  I took the advice of several random people’s comments and put the tofu between two folds of a kitchen towel and set something heavy on top and let that sit for about an hour before I used it. That seemed to work just fine. The tofu wasn’t the least big soggy or runny, or whatever tofu can be like if it has too much liquid in it.

The recipe was easy to make. I made the egg salad and prepared my sandwich as I usually would, with two pieces of slightly toasted sourdough, Vegenaise, onions and a few thin slices of a baseball tomato. I was out of lettuce or else I’d have included that too.

The sandwich was much better than expected! The flavor was outstanding but the texture definitely gave it away, in spite of my following the recipe pretty closely. I ended up using slightly more of the same ingredients than the original recipe called for but that was the only change I made. The egg salad was very tasty and it acted just like the real thing. But again, the texture gave it away. It wasn’t as creamy or smooth as I remember regular egg salad being. In spite of the very good flavor it was clear I wasn’t eating eggs. But that’s ok and was not unexpected.

This is a recipe I’m definitely going to be making again. In the future I will play around with the texture and see if I can’t improve upon it some. The flavor was good and that’s what I was going for. And next time I think I’ll only make half a sandwich as a whole one was a bit too filling.

So without further ado, here is the recipe as I made it.

Vegan Egg Salad

1 package (14 oz) extra-firm tofu, drained (pre-cubed works well; you don’t have to smash it as much)

4 Tbsp Veganaise (+/- to taste and for texture)

1/2 tsp grated horseradish (+/- to taste)

Several fat squirts of yellow mustard (+/- to taste and to get the right shade of yellow)

A fat pinch or two of kala namak (Himalayan black salt, +/- to taste)

Chopped scallions (the green part) to taste

Mix all the ingredients except the green onions, mashing the cubes of tofu until they’re no longer cubes.  After the mashing is complete add the scallions and serve.

While I’m not the least bit fond of horseradish, it’s absolutely essential in this dish. Don’t omit it even if you’re like me and hate it. The horseradish I bought came in a jar in tiny, tiny chunks so there was no grating necessary.

I also highly recommend going out of your way to find the Himalayan black salt as it has a distinct flavor that is uniquely suited for this. Be aware though that it isn’t really black. It’s sort of pinkish to purple in color. I would not substitute it with another kind of salt because it just wouldn’t work. The Himalayan black salt is a must with the horseradish, mustard and green onions.

So today, not only did I learn a new dish that I’m sure I’ll be making again, but I finally conquered my fear of preparing and eating tofu! One fear down, 2.37 x 108 fears to go. Working with tofu wasn’t nearly as heinous as I thought it was going to be, although it did feel kind of funny. That’s ok though. I think I’ll get used to it just fine.

(You know what I find most interesting about unreasonable and irrational fears? Once I face them, they’re never as bad as I thought they were going to be.)

I have enough left over to make a breakfast burrito or two. I think that’ll be dinner tomorrow night. I’ll stop and get some bacon bits from Native Sun and add some green chills, onions, some homemade salsa and a tiny bit of cheddar.

On a scale of ‘blech’ to ‘OMG’, I’d give the eggless eggs a ‘pretty good’.

I’d like to thank my friend and vegan mentor, Bill, for this great recipe. Thanks Bill!

Posted in Cooking, Humor, Vegan | Comments Off on Eggless Eggs

To Boldly Go

I’m not afraid to admit that I have more issues than a magazine rack. Amongst the silliest is fear and amongst the most interesting are my love-hate relationships. But let’s start with fear.

It’s unfortunate but I find that I’m afraid of a great many things, spanning numerous topics and to varying degrees. And given the nature of my blog and why I’ve created it, it’s time I address – in no particular order, some of my lingering fears. Today’s fear of the day to be addressed is:

Pressure cookers.

I have this vision of using a pressure cooker incorrectly and in this vision one of many things could happen. One potential is, the lid goes ballistic at mach two while attempting to make a ‘simple’ dish, creating a hole future skylight opening in my roof as it’s making its way into the troposphere, while simultaneously activating the moving target indication radar system at Mayport Naval Base. I imagine being interrogated by all kinds of US and military intelligence about how and where I got the technology to build such a ‘device’. I mean, how embarrassing would it be to try to explain that I don’t understand the fundamentals of a pressure cooker? Then there’s the matter of dealing with my homeowners insurance agent trying to explain the damage to my roof, the trees, and the few unfortunate birds that happened to by flying just above my stove when the lid became airborne. I am not afraid to say it out loud. I’m afraid of these things.

The next vision I have involves me making several metric tons of bland, over cooked, inedible food. I hate wasting food and when I make a meal that sucks I eat it anyhow, wasting as little food as possible. And that in and of itself is enough to keep me from trying new recipes and appliances. If you only knew how many meals I’ve prepared that even the dog won’t eat, you’d understand well my trepidation. Now that I’m a vegan I cannot rely on the usual fixes for a bad meal – adding extra butter, meat and cheese.

Another vision is that after all my pitfalls I’d end up putting it up for sale on Craigslist with some creative subject line like, “estate sale, everything must go”, and hoping no one sees through my feeble deception. I fear that every person who comes to check out my barely used pressure cooker for sale will instinctively know that I’m a hopeless appliance nerd who can’t even figure out how to use the most basic and oldest known, modern cooking device. That’s a lot for one person to handle.

You can see how my fears have kept me from using this timeless kitchen aid. Surely though, if a thousand or more people on Amazon can figure it out I should be able to right? In the spirit of experiencing different and new things and seeking out other ways to accomplish familiar things, I decided to face up to my fears and buy a pressure cooker.

As mentioned, I’m pretty scared about all this. Not because of the fears mentioned above, except perhaps the bad meal argument. It’s because I’m afraid to fail; of making yet another dish that deals a blow to my culinary self-esteem. And now that I’ve gone public, the success or potential failure of my first endeavor will be amplified by a million. Nonetheless, I’m going to give it a try. I don’t have it yet because I’ just ordered it, but I am going to take a leap and try something in spite of my mortal fear of failure. So stay tuned for what I expect should be some very entertaining posts about my new gadget.

About my love-hate relationships, I will admit that I have many. One of which is tofu.

Prior to be becoming a vegan I used to turn my nose up at tofu. Let’s be honest here. Who in their right mind would ever consider tofu a food or include it in a meal? What is that stuff anyhow? It looks like something the North Korean remedial science team whipped up in the lab by accident, or it’s the result obtained from the same process that produced vulcanized rubber or plastic. It feels like some substance that was found growing deep inside the Earth, on a cool, damp cave wall. Tofu? Seriously?? Who would eat this stuff anyway? Only vegan-tree-hugger-hippie-people, that’s who. Not me! I’m a carnivore. I laugh in the face of tofu.

My, how times have changed.

While I will admit that I absolutely hate the thought of tofu, I love the idea that I may be able to make something I like with it. And since tofu is an essential part of most vegan and vegetarian dishes, I might as well just accept it, embrace it, deal with it, and learn to prepare it well. That’s what I’m going to do. No more turning my nose up at it. No more making that ‘blech’ sound when I think about eating it. When it inadvertently comes in a dish I order in a restaurant, no more poking it endlessly with my fork and contemplating it’s origins and how it came to be food. No. This weekend I’m going to make my first tofu dish.

I was at Native Sun not long ago and was Jones’n for a real breakfast, with eggs, bacon, toast – the works. I went to the deli and tried one of their vegan breakfast burritos which was much better than I expected. It consisted of tofu scrambled ‘eggs’ with various vegetables, vegan cheese and fake bacon bits. What made the burrito was the fake bacon bits. Those were surprisingly good. Together, all the flavors and texture and the fact that I could treat it like the food I used to eat made it just wonderful. I savored every bite of it and now my goal is to reproduce the same thing at home.

I can feel y’all turning your nose up at it and making that ‘blech’ sound, and I don’t blame you. That would have been me a year ago, so I understand.

Of course I knew what I was eating wasn’t real scrambled eggs and cheese. My goal isn’t to try to make vegan dishes that look, taste and have the exact same texture as it’s carnivore equivalent, but I am hoping for a very acceptable, tasty and satisfying substitute.

So this weekend I will be making scrambled eggs from tofu. I have all the ingredients for a fabulous breakfast burrito, and I am very optimistic that it’ll turn out just fine.

Regardless, this weekend will prove to be quite interesting, cooking wise.

If the scrambled eggs turn out well, the recipe will be forthcoming.  If you don’t see the recipe you’ll know my tofu experiment crashed and burned like the Northrop M2-F2.

Posted in Cooking, Humor, Vegan | 1 Comment

If Only

If only we could say or write what we really feel sometimes.

From time to time I run across instructions that epitomize silly. While I’m sure there’s good reason for such instructions, they do provide excellent fodder for creative and sarcastic minds. For example:

Here’s the original wording:

For safety concerns, we would like to remind employees that walking along the car park ramp to and from the State Street building and the lower car park is not allowed. Instead, please use the walkway along the side of the State Street building first and then take the stairs to access the ground floor.

Pedestrians and drivers need to keep these safety rules in mind:

Pedestrians:

Refrain from walking up or down the car park ramp to and from the State Street car park located next to the Main Street building.

When crossing the street or walking through the car parks, keep watching both ways until you are out of traffic’s reach.

Don’t jaywalk. It is not only dangerous, it is illegal.

Press the cross walk button, and wait for the walk signal before crossing.

When the walk signal appears, look both ways before crossing the street.

Be alert. Refrain from texting or talking on your mobile device when utilizing the cross walks.

Drivers:

Pedestrians always have the right of way – even if you have the green signal.

Look both ways before moving into traffic.

Be alert. Refrain from texting or talking while operating your vehicle.

Your safety is our highest priority. Thank you for following all safety rules to protect yourself and others.

Here’s what I’m guessing the person who had to write these instructions would have liked to write.

For safety concerns, we would like to remind employees that walking along the car park ramp to and from the State Street building and the lower car park is downright stupid. If you get run over it’s your own fault. Instead, please use the walkway along the side of the State Street building first and then take the stairs to access the ground floor.

Pedestrians and drivers need to keep these safety rules in mind:

Pedestrians (Targets):

Don’t walk in driving areas unless you want to get run over.

When crossing the street or walking through the car parks, keep watching both ways until you are out of traffic’s reach. Unless of course you’re a narcissist or otherwise severely defective, in which case I implore you – walk where the cars drive. Please.

No one cares if you jaywalk as long as you don’t cause an accident. If you get run over you’ll be imposing on your family, friends and co-workers and no one appreciates that. If you’re not smart enough to jaywalk without getting hit, I can assure you no one will miss you. And don’t even think about trying to sue anyone since it’s your own stupidity that got you into this mess. I’m sorry your parents are brother and sister but that’s no reason to expect a settlement.

Press the cross walk button, and wait for the walk signal before crossing. I’m sure that never occurred to anyone before. No need to thank us. We’ve got your back.

When the walk signal appears, look both ways before crossing the street. Unless you’re a narcissist or otherwise severely defective, in which case I highly recommend that you dart out into rapidly moving traffic, just for kicks. It’s a rush!

Be alert. Refrain from texting or talking on your mobile device when utilizing the cross walks. The only acceptable exception to this rule is if there are Joe Satriani tickets on sale. In that case you are entitled to hold up as much traffic and cause as many delays as is necessary until you score said tickets.

Drivers (Protagonists):

Pedestrians always have the right of way – even if you have the green signal. Only run them over if you’re in one of the many dead-video zones in and around the buildings, if the pedestrian crossing the street is an obvious narcissist or otherwise severely defective, or if there’s a killer swell coming in at the beach.

Look both ways before moving into traffic. Or not.

Be alert. Refrain from texting or talking while operating your vehicle unless you are trying to upgrade your Joe Satriani tickets to the meet and greet tickets. Then it’s not only encouraged but expected to talk and text while driving. We continue to respect those with the highest of priorities.

Your safety is our highest priority if and only if you are a productive and intelligent member of our team. Thank you for following all safety rules to protect yourself and others when you know someone is looking.

Posted in Humor, Rants | Comments Off on If Only