Archive for December, 2012


What Macaroni and Cheese is NOT

America I have news for you Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese is NOT macaroni and cheese. Deluxe Shells and cheese with “cheese sauce” is not macaroni and cheese. If it comes in a box with powdered cheese or a package with “cheese sauce” it is not macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni  and Cheese uses elbow macaroni, Velveeta, cheddar and a small amount of mozzarella and provolone. You add in onion powder and garlic powder as well and white pepper ( to keep the cheese pretty) and  a touch of paprika. Put it in a dish bake it in the oven on 350. You may or may not want to garnish with bread crumbs.

Short and sweet, if it isn’t oven baked, if it comes pre packaged or in a box, if it is microwave safe it ain’t macaroni and cheese.

Ok stepping down off of my soap box.

My next recipe coming the weekend has Daiya cheddar, the previously shared coconut milk “Velveeta” , and a home-made mozzarella.

Over the summer I shared this wonderful velveeta type vegan cheddar “cheese”. What i failed to mention was how to make sure your cheese is smooth and creamy when sliced and doesn’t have little gelatin or agar agar clumps throughout. This is purely a cosmetic fix. It does not change to taste nor the ingredients. Trust me, this “cheese” is so good i would never do anything to alter the flavor.

Overall it is an easy peasy fix.

step 1. Vigorously shake your cans of coconut milk. This eliminates the need to boil until no longer separated because the product you now pour out of the can is combined.

step 2. In an empty medium sauce pan put all dry ingredients ( nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, gelatin or agar-agar, and tapioca starch.

Step 3. Stir the together well. It should look like a pale orange or yellow powder when evenly mixed.

Step 4. Now add your wet ingredients beginning with the coconut milk stirring the whole time.

Step 5. Now you bring the mixture up to a boil. Boil for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly.

Step 6. lower heat to medium and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. If you encounter any clumps break them up by mashing them into the side of the saucepan with your stirring spoon then stir vigorously to reincorporate into the “cheese” mix.

Step 7.  Remove from pan and put in greased, flat-bottomed glass dish or parchment paper lined loaf pan. ( step 3 from original recipe)

Step 8. Let cool two hours. You can also stick in fridge when cool and use the next day ( step 4 from original recipe)

**Yes I am aware the gelatin is not a vegan ingredient. However I am not ona vegan diet and use what ever is in my cupboard at the time. 🙂

 

Through my childhood journey with multiple food allergies ( milk,eggs,wheat,and fish), I knew i could eat baked in eggs and milk. By the time i was in highschool I was eating omelets, frenchtoast, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, cheese baked on pizza etc with no problem. Imagine my surprise when I found most people didn’t know that baked in eggs & milk  are okay for most people with an egg or milk allergy and that the repeated exposure to baked in egg  is thought to help the allergic child “outgrow” the allergy faster. The same is generally true of Milk.

The following is a very cogent link from about .com on baked in eggs and the NIH for Milk.  Sharing about .com’s article means everyone has access to it but if anyone is coping with multiple food allergies I recommend joining FAAN (Food Allergy & Anaphalylaxis Network). They have great article and help for adjusting to the new diet.

http://allergies.about.com/od/eggallergy/f/cookedeggaller.htm

 

http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodAllergy/research/Pages/bakedMilk.aspx

Shaqweenna

Tanishinicka

 

Short sweet and to the point. If your name has this many duplicate letters or vowels and the name is supposed to be written and spelled using the english language is a fail. try again. go back to the drawing board. Pick a name that is actually Arabic or Swahili, or any  language.

Hot chocolate.

This recipe comes  from my mom. She learned it from her older brothers Uncle Herman and Alvin. They learned it from Grandmommy. Uncle Alvin and my Grandmother have passed away and I live hundreds, well, over a thousand miles away from  Uncle Herman. This recipe is, however, a little way my mom remembers her childhood. A tiny piece that keeps our family close at heart.

She has taught my children and myself this simple but yummy way of making hot cocoa. Originally this recipe was done in parts.

1 part sugar to 3 parts milks to 3 parts water to ½ part cocoa and vanilla to taste. While a recipe in parts is uber easy to increase and decease, very few people cook in parts so sharing a recipe in only they format would be difficult for some to implement.

So here the recipe is in cups. I hope this brings as many happy memories to you as it has to our family.

Ingredients

1 c sugar

½ c baking cocoa

3 c non dairy milk. Something thick and full works like cartoned coconut milk

3 c water

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan add cocoa powder and sugar. Stir together until cocoa is evenly dispersed in the sugar.

Add water. Stir until well mixed.

Turn saucepan up to medium high heat and add the non dairy milk of your  choosing.

Continue stirring on medium high heat until just before boiling, when steam is rising from the surface.

Add vanilla extract and reduce heat to just keep the cocoa warm.

You can adjust the sugar to taste as well as the vanilla. Stove top hot cocoa has a full flavor and a depth of taste that “just add water hot chocolates” can’t match

Come visit my new Facebook page, everyone is invited. Click here remember to like me while yor there. 🙂

Taking a break from recipes I thought I would write up a post on  being cable free. Existing as one of those Mythical cord cutters that cable company execs are sure don’t actually exist. I’m a unicorn. At least I know it now.

People are always surprised when I tell them we don’t have cable. Many seem to think either we are poor to the point of being impoverished or really really out of touch. I get comments like “ your poor kids” “ oh you;re the mean mommy who threatened to take away the TV and really does it”, “ yeah it’s  so expensive I wish we could cxl ours too”, “it must be hard to miss your shows huh?” or the most popular “ well then what do you watch??” LOL. It is truly laughable.

My secret? We didn’t have to give up much besides a 169.00 bill each month to get great cheap TV.

What moved us to cut cable TV was the fact that we needed a bigger place. My toddler was crawling and all over the place and we were crammed into our old duplex like sardines. The prospect of a new larger home meant a new larger monthly payment. The money had to come form somewhere, and though I diligently checked none of my trees started growing twenty dollar bills .Therefore we had to cut some bills. I had recently joined Sam’s club and was reveling in the savings of bulk buying, and Aldi had recently come to town.

We sat down and really figured out where we had money to save. Insurance policies were consolidated. I realized if I looked at places that didn’t have the big vaulted ceilings I could potentially save a bundle on heating and cooling costs.  Armed with the knowledge of our price range, how many bedrooms  we needed, and what energy wasting features to avoid; the Lord blessed us with out current home. The previous owner had made the home more energy efficient. The utility bills were cut in half. But we still needed to whittledown  the cash outflow.

We considered cxling the home phone and TV right off the bat, but thought we’d see if maybe there was some kind of discount  or way to lower our bill. At first I just lowered our package and they gave me retention pricing but my bill came and it was wrong it was too high by almost $100. Then the next bill came and it was $50.00 to high. The third bill arrived at our new home. It too was wrong. Something wasn’t adding up.  I finally decided to take the plunge an cxl my U-verse.

I had been researching ditching the cable TV for a long time. My friend Laura and her Hubby have never had cable, she planted a little seed.  While looking into internet capable devices,I realized I was underusing my Wii. We used it to download games and demos but we had a Netflix subscription and with it I could get streaming TV shows and movies. What’s this??? A download-able app you say?? I had to have it. The whole family loved the instant access of streaming but were a little bummed that there weren’t more current seasons. Then my research led my back to antenna TV. Remember antenna TV from being a kid? It was fuzzy you got between 3-12 channels depending where you were and there was no kids programming after 5pm? Oh, have things ever changed. Learning more about the digital conversion of 2009 was truly enlightening. By mandating digital broadcasting the public now has access to stunningly clear programming in HD with almost no signal compression.

What does that mean?? Your HD pic is crystalline. Literally. The poor signal cable satellite and telco call HD is shameful compared to the free over the air( OTA) signal. Additionally, the networks can now broadcast multiple channels in the same bandwidth. Here in my area for instance we have PBS on channel 13.1 and channel 13.2 is PBS international. Channel 5.1 is NBC channel 5.2 is NBC entertainment channel and 5.3 is NBC weather channel. This area gets around 55-60 channels. If you remove the duplicate channels and foreign language channels (Spanish and Vietnamese) we have roughly 30 unique channels.

Most of the locally broadcast channels have a cable equivalent. Retro TV has similar programming to Nick at Night. Daystar is a christian broadcast channel, Qubo is a free network channelthat carries kids programming 24 hours. Yeah, that channel that your cable or satellite provider might not even carry and if they do they put it in the more expensive kids tier? That expensive channel that your kids love???Free, just like PBS. As for the Sprout channel, it has a few original programs but mostly replays PBS shows. Many areas have PBS educational channel and from 6 am until 8 pm it has a very similar line up to Sprout. Not to mention My TV, ABC, CBS, Fox, The CW, ION and more. In this area channel 21 plays all the locals games. I live in the Dallas area. That covers the Mavs, Cowboys, Rangers, and Stars. Not ESPN but definitely covers the basics.

If you have seen a Tivo add, they have a very interesting factoid. 98% of all TV viewing is from network (free) programs.

But how do my old analog TVs get a digital signal? That was what the government converter box program was about in 2009. It provided 2 coupons for said digital converter. Most of the time the coupon didn’t make the converter free but took $30.00 off so the consumer only had to pay $15.00-$30.00 dollars for the converter. The digital converter takes the new digital signal and converts it into a format an older TV can play. Since this household didn’t switch until 2012 the converter program was long gone. Instead bargains were found on a couple of well rated converter boxes on line for $29.99. Using that company’s site to store shipping there were no shipping costs. This is the most important part. Remember how with the old analog signal you didn’t need an antenna? With out it you could still get a few channels even if they were fuzzy? Not so with digital channels. The New tuners must have an antenna connection. You will see a lot of people talking about these expensive $30+ antennae they have per TV. Not always necessary. I bought cheap-o $10.00 bunny ears for each set. Check what channels are available in your area at antennaweb.org. Before I bought my 4 antennae, I bought 1 set of bunny ears and tried them out on one TV. We were still running U-verse and the difference in picture and clarity was breathtaking. For a one time $40.00 total per television we get 30 or so  free english language channels. My home is wired for cable so my eventual plan, some time next year, is to get one roof mount antenna that will run to all of my televisions. I want to eliminate some of the indoor clutter and it does get old readjusting the antenna.

What about the Netflix? That was expanded to all sets also. Thanks to my streaming set top box, Roku. What is a streaming set top box? It allows you to watch many internet programs on your television set with out buying a new expensive web connected TV. There are a plethora of set top boxes on the market Apple’s Boxee box, Google TV, Tivo, netgear streaming media players, Roku and even many blue-ray players have some internet connectivity. We switched our internet to Time Warner Cable to take advantage of the higher streaming speeds at a much better price, only $50.00 per month. That price includes WI-fi. I have 2 Roku LTs, a Roku HD and the Wii. With them I have access to Netflix, Hulu plus and a host of other Roku channels. Many of the Roku channels are free. The cost for the Roku LT was $50.00 per set top box. I bought the Roku HD on sale for $39.99. And it is so tiny. Really about the size of the palm of my hand. We upgraded our Hulu to Hulu plus. That allows much of Hulu’s programming to be watched via the Wii or Roku’s. Hulu also allows me to watch many cable shows right on my laptop with out needing to subscribe to those channels. It costs $8.43 per month and we have found it to be a great value.

The other item I wanted to mention was home phone. Many people have abandoned this service in an attempt to save money, for the convenience of cell phones, to eliminate redundancy etc. Well we still have it primarily for the ease of 911. If one of my kids goes into anaphylaxsis I do not want myself or the sitter to have to remember our address like you would from a cell phone. I want the 911 operator to be able to find us. Once I discovered Magic Jack has e-911 and you can port your phone number I was sold.

What is magic jack? It is a usb device that turns a high-speed internet connection into a phone line. It does not conflict with internet use like old dial up. You can watch Netflix, scroll facebook and talk on the phone all at the same time. There are 2 types of Magic Jack, one version needs to plug directly into the computer or laptop and that device must be on, in order to use to “phone”. The other can plug directly into your router or modem and does not need to be connected to a computer. The former is $19.99 for 1 year of home phone service with unlimited long distance. The latter is more expensive. It is $69.99 for the first year and you can purchase an additional 5 years for $99.00 that breaks down to $20.00 per year. So 6 years of home phone for $169.99. that’s an average of $2.83 a month for home phone.

If you’ve been keeping tally for my four televisions; that brings my total up front expenses to appx $140.00 for the Roku’s, $120.00 for the digital converters, $40.00 for the antennas, and $70.00 for home phone. Soooo $370.00. My monthly expenses are down to $50.00 for internet, 2.83 for phone and 8.43 for Hulu. I do not count the cost of Netflix as an additional expense because we had it long before I considered cutting the cord. Total monthly cost appx $61.27. Down from $169.00 per month.

Savings of $1292.84 per year. Less first year star up costs net savings of $922.84.

That’s the dollars and cents of it. Over a thousand dollars less each year and I still get the shows I want.

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/429232/five-reasons-cord-cutting-may-not-be-for-you/

http://disablemycable.com/

http://www.magicjack.com/plus-v05/

http://www.antennaweb.org/

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/02/your-guide-to-cutting-the-cord-to-cable-tv-updated-2012-edition052.html

http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2012/07/need-help-cutting-the-cord-to-cable-this-e-book-will-guide-you207.html

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/09/cord-cutters-soon/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Top+Stories%29

http://gigaom.com/video/topic/cord-cutters/

Monquella

Shatrella

Janaik….. pronounced Za-nique

and not to leave the guys out

Ba’Quan

Thanksgiving recap

I have a confession to make, My Thanksgiving was AWESOME!!!!!.

My cousin came in from out-of-town another set of cousins and their kiddo came over. We had food. Lots and Lots of allergen free food. It was fabulous. I ,however. was exhausted trying to put this dinner on. You must understand my mother and I both managed to get Bronchitis. I was in the hospital on the Monday before thanksgiving. Mom refused to go she soldiered on but last time I soldiered on through bronchitis it became pneumonia soooooooooo no pushing for this asthmatic.

Being sick meant I didn’t have all of the days of prep time I’d planned on. So 2 days to put on a feast. It was tiring. And hard work. I am very thankful that I did. It was the best thanksgiving I have had in a long time and the whole family is looking forward to Christmas.

Though I am pretty sure certain family members just want to eat the yummy foods again. Needless to say dinner was a hit. My younger cousin (11 yrs old)  kept saying how good everything was. If it was good enough to make a picky kid happy it was gooood! 🙂

Biggest moment for me was seeing everyone eating talking reconnecting. Being a family. My joy was seeing my toddler eat her first cookie ever. The Jam filled butter cookies are her favorite. I filled them with home-made blueberry spice jam.

The pared down menu was as follows

Turkey

dressing

Mashed potatoes

gravy

dinner rolls

cranberry sauce

deviled eggs

black-eyed peas

Cabbage

Carrot cake

Chocolate cake

2 lemon meringue pies

Apple Brown betty

Lemon Bars

2 dozen sugar cookies

3 dozen jam filled butter cookies

2 dozen meringue cookies.

Eggnog

hot chocolate

bottled water.

I didn’t scale down on the desserts, just the sides.LOL

But I tried reintroducing soy to my toddler seeing if she has outgrown her allergy. I rolled my pie crusts with regular soy based shortening. It was a no go. Her eczema flared up in patches all over her arms legs and tummy. Alas we are still soy free. Sigh.

I really want to give a special thanks to Jeanne of  The Art of Gluten free Baking. Her kindness in sharing her hard work and efforts with the world really made my thanksgiving possible. To properly credit her  let me tell you the recipe’s I used that weren’t all her but made bog contributions.  The dressing used a pan of gf corn bread and a 3/4 loaf of gluten-free bread crumbs. The bread crumbs used her recipe for white bread. for the pie crusts i used her recipe. I had never successfully rolled a wheat crust before life mandated they be made the from scratch. All the countless other ways she hashelped,  given tips on her website, answered questions,  and been encouraging to all who want to learn. Thank you.

Just one real Gem today.

A name to put rest to all other names.

A name without a match.

A name I hope no one who speaks the english language ever again uses.

 

Latrina.

 

As in latrine. According the merriam wesbeter a tatrine is defined as

LATRINE

1: a receptacle (as a pit in the earth) for use as a toilet
2: toilet 3
Congratulations Mom, You named your baby girl TOILET! Good for you!