From the Kitchen – my first venture into gluten free baking

I made my first venture into gluten-free baking this weekend. I find the whole gluten-free craze to be largely nonsense, especially when people would ask us in the meat department if a steak was “gluten-free”.  However, a friend has muscular dystrophy and prefers to avoid gluten. I had been curious on how the flours worked so this gave me a chance to do some experimenting.

I made my meat pies with a gluten free flour mix from King Arthur and modified their recipe (which also calls for xanthan gum and their clear gel product) for their pie crust by leaving out 1 tablespoon of sugar and adding a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to it. It worked better than I thought it would, with the only minor problem being a little cracking of the dough as I folded it over the meat filling. I may add a bit of water next time I make these to compensate for that. I did use my tortilla press on the flour and it worked just as well as it did with the regular dough.

I baked the pies for about 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, 10 minutes uncovered and 15 minutes with a sheet of aluminum foil over them to prevent over browning. Some of the gravy did leak out of them but they were very good, with a nice flake to the crust. I had also made some pies with the regular crust I use and everyone said that the gluten free ones were just about as good.

I also made a gluten free version of our chocolate chip toffee cookies,  and used a recipe from King Arthur. These did have a different texture, more like a shortbread, but they tasted the same. As usual, I substituted toffee chips for half of the chocolate chips.   The gluten free cookies do not flatten and spread out like the regular type, so I recommend flattening the balls of cookie dough so they cook faster and more evenly.

I still prefer the regular flour versions but if you can’t eat gluten, or don’t want to, these are a very good substitute.

Eat well!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Roe v. Wade

006-Men-Cant-Get-PregnantThis day is an anniversary of the date that women won the ability to control their own bodies here in the US when it comes to childbirth and abortion. This was the famous Roe vs. Wade decision.

Pleasantly enough, I have just read that the GOP majority in the US House of Representatives have failed to pass their draconian bill to attempt to retake control over women and treat them as second-class citizens who can’t make their own health care decisions.  Some of their own members, women for the most part it seems, were not willing to vote for something that would require women to report rape to the police to be permitted to have an abortion.   In an aside, lots of these Republicans in congress would like to entirely eliminate abortions for any reason, essentially forcing girls and women to bear the children of their abusers and forcing girls and women to bear to term fetus that have no chance of survival for no reason.

I personally think abortion is a stupid means of birth control, when there are so many good methods out there (let’s hear it for IUDs!).  However, a puritan sense of morality keeps those hard to get for women, so abortions are what many are left with.

Many Christians claim that they are “pro-life”.  This is shown not to be the case when these same people are often horrified if they are expected to provide a decent life for that child.  These people are simply “pro-control”, needing to make everyone obey their religion and beliefs in a need for external validation.

If you are so interested in preventing abortions, support the availability of birth control and good thorough sex education, not some crap about celibacy which does not work.  I had to be my friends sex ed teacher when we were in high school because the class was taught by gym teachers who had no idea what they were doing, and who never talked about anything but the anatomy charts.  My mom was smart enough to talk to me and let me ask questions.  None of my friends got pregnant; a lot of other girls did.

And if you still want to pretend your religion has a position on abortion, read your bible.  Your god does a lot of killing and commands a lot of killing in there, women, children, and men and not one bit about how it’s important to keep eggs and semen.  If you think that this god will judge anyone who supports a women’s right to control her own body, then allow him.  Trying to murder them yourself certainly shows you have no respect for life at all or care what your bible says.

From the Kitchen and From the Bar – Cake and Sake

sakeThis weekend we were stuck close to home thanks to my husband being on call. I decided to get a new alcohol to try and finally got around to making the chocolate bundt cake with coconut filling that I mentioned back in November.

The alcohol was Tozai Snow Maiden Junmai Nigori Sake. This sake has not been filtered and is opaque white when mixed up. The scent is pears, asian and regular. The taste is very dry, a touch chalky from the rice pulp, and a bit bitter because of the fairly high alcohol content, 14.5%. This is a sake to drink chilled. It is one of those drinks that I find myself sipping again and again to decide if I actually like it or not. I did like it and would get it again.

cakeThe cake is something I’ve been trying to get right ever since they stopped making Bundt cake mixes for the chocolate coconut version. The cake itself was just a boxed chocolate cake mix. Use whatever brand you like best. The filling was from the King Arthur Flour website for a Lemon Bundt Cake with coconut filling. Make the cake batter as the box says. Make the filling like the website says. Butter and flour your bundt pan, and place enough cake batter to cover the bottom. Then carefully place the white filling on top of this. Spoon the rest of the batter to cover the filling so you don’t displace it. Bake for around 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Check to see if done by sticking a bamboo skewer in to the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. I actually got the filling to be fairly centered this time.

I glazed it with a mix of confectioner’s sugar (the superfine stuff with the cornstarch in it) and milk. Start with a cup of the sugar and put in a tablespoon of milk. Mix and keep adding milk a little at a time (and I do mean a little) until it becomes a thick slurry that you can drizzle over the cake. Very tasty, and just like I think I remember it being.

Eat and drink well!

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – religious tv – yes, you knew it was going to be awful

093-Faith-Plate-Tectonics-650x406Here’s a pair of reviews of the tv shows I’ve mentioned in earlier blog posts.

The “History” channel has a “docudrama” called Revelation: End of Days. I briefly mentioned it here. Oh my, the nonsense.   I fast forwarded through most of this unadulterated piece of shakey cam crap. Here’s a bit of a stream of consciousness review of it. Below is my review of the exodus show. Oy, the pain I put myself through.  🙂

Let’s see, “they” are killing all of the sick and elderly. “They” evidently are piling up garbage in orderly piles, but the film makers are trying to make it look apocalyptic.

Oh yes, there is a lots of film from a real disaster, Hurricane Katrina. There is a “Christian terror group” called the red eagles, which are of course made out to be the heroes against the “dictatorship”. They were in Coudersport, PA. Coudersport is a lovely victorian era town, built when lumber was king in northern PA. Weirdly enough, Wikipedia has that it has a huge freemason following there. Conspiracy theorists, mount up!

Seems like things got rundown and apocalyptic in a few months. Of course reporter dude can wander in anywhere and no one is on guard or afraid of unknown people.

It also has lots of unbiblical stuff that is claimed to be in the bible. Such bad cgi, with big brother tv screens placed in actual crowd footage since these poor bastards couldn’t afford real actors or extras and had to steal footage of anything they could get their hands on. Evidently the final trumps sound like whales and Jesus disintegrates cameramen for no good reason. Perhaps he was “raptured” but it’s odd that God doesn’t need tv cameras but does need clothes and shoes. I guess we can’t be nekkid in heaven?  🙂

It was about 180 minutes and about 1 hour of that was ads. It was pretty much idiots feeding on other idiots, using the stolen footage of the death and misery of real people to do it. It has to be the stupidest, most poisonous thing I’ve seen in a very long time, the Left Behind crap notwithstanding.

Now for Suviving Exodus, on the Discovery Channel. This was ginned up trying to ride the coattails of the Exodus movie. It seems to be mostly how one survives the ten plagues. I do hope the fellow who is doing the reporting isn’t a first born child. They have a number of the usual hosts and experts on this show, poor things probably didn’t notice that blurb in their contracts.

The plague of frogs is pretty hilarious. One of the hosts in in bed with frogs. We get a little eco lecture that frogs are a warning of disaster. The flies are sort of gross, since they stuffed a milkshake full of them.

Boils are nasty, especially since it surely does have a lot of collateral damage. Yep, make the kids suffer for the actions of this god.

Hail is next. They have a guy in a manufactured hailstorm. That’s rather cool, you did need a helmet.

Now, locusts. The new host is Hakeem Oluseyi, the African-American astrophysist that isn’t Neil DeGrass-Tyson 😉 They have grasshoppers, not the locusts that make noise and come out every 7-14 years. They claim that locusts swarm because they are “angry”. Ah, no. They are hungry. Very cool demonstration of how about 50 locusts can eat a few pans of wheatgrass in two hours. They’re pouring grasshoppers on his head. They do mention that people can, and do eat them, so it does beg the question, why this was such a plague?

Darkeness is next and of course it’s one of the big ones that no one noticed at all, or mentioned.

The murder of the first born is the final one and the show says that the Jews do celebrate this murder every year at Passover.

The show went out of its way to not mention that it was not the pharaoh that was responsible, but this god.   It was gratifying that they showed lots and lots of people leaving Egypt, thanks to movie footage. (though quite a few less than the hundreds of thousands/millions claimed in the bible.)

It’s rather amazing on how dry the bottom of a sea is in this show and evidently in the movie. They show Hakeem walking along the bottom of a pier and try their best to make it seem like it was tidal evacuation that was the crossing of the red sea. But if it were, then we could find likely locations, times, and then all of the detritus of an entire army being destroyed. All of that nifty stuff called physical evidence. There is none. They can’t quite decide if they want the gradual, but inexorable force of a tidal wave, or some surf from California and Hawaii.

Between reshowing parts at the beginning of every section that you saw ten minutes ago, and the ads, there was about 28 minutes of unique footage. Again, more nonsense for the credulous who are desperate for evidence for their religion.

For my review of Exodus the bible book, you can go here.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – another challenger who is sure that the bible flood happened, Diana Lesperance

(this was more enjoyable to write than reviewing bad television(which is damning with faint praise), but we’ll get to that next post.  And yes, it’s long.  Such a great surprise 🙂 ).

Diana’s claims about science are always curious, but nothing new in the realm of young earth creationist claims. I reviewed her claims about the universe here. She came back to tell me I was wrong, notably without addressing any points or questions I had. Diana now wants to teach me about geology and fossilization. You can find her post here. I thought this deserved a blog post on its own, as an opportunity to point out creationist failures and lies again. All of these topics have been covered before in this blog, so if you are a long time reader, you may want to give this post a pass.

Update: There is much information and discussion down in the comments.  

This is written addressed to Diana.

For someone who claimed she was so very ignorant, it is pleasantly edifying to see that your claim was false. You are still quite ignorant of the subject under discussion, but you thought that you could lie in order to bait me. It is fascinating when Christians intentionally lie. It does seem to indicate that you have no more belief in it than I do.

It is also interesting that you think to ask me these questions rather than reading a book by a known expert in the subject of fossilization and evolutionary theory. One would think that those are simply too scary for you to consider since they might show you that you are wrong. I will of course do my best to show that. I know that you are not interested in learning, but in search of any evidence at all that your creationist claim are true. I do believe that you are a young earth creationist. I have recently encountered an old earth creationist Christians who is sure that the earth isn’t only a couple of thousand years old nor that all animals poofed into existence as they appear now, nor that there was a world-wide flood. I wonder, which of you should I believe? It seems none of you since neither one of you has any evidence whatsoever. And you both insist that you are the Christian with the “truth”.

The silliest thing is that you, Diana, have no problem in accepting the same science that supports evolutionary theory and fossil formation as long as it provides you with modern comforts. You are quite a hypocrite.

You ask what is the necessary environment for fossils to be formed? And then you acknowledge that you know what paleontologists say and what I have already said. Are you looking for a different answer? Why?   I have no idea why you give me a link to something I already know and that is filthy with popups. What bizarre behavior. If you wish a good site, with plenty of reference to scientific journals, I would recommend the Wikipedia entry on fossils. It has an excellent bibliography.

Why is there such a profuse fossil record all over the world?   Because there were biological entities all over the world and there was the proper conditions for fossilization, see above.

Yes, fossilization does seem to usually require quick burial. It doesn’t always; something could have been died, mummified, then been covered; something could have been reduced to its hard parts before fossilization and that’s all that was fossilized (coral, calcareous shells, bones, etc), etc.

Why yes, sedimentary rocks are formed by deposition in different ways and in different environments. I took a couple of courses on this in exhaustive detail (I’m a geologist) and most 7th graders know the basics. Again, what bizarre behavior to tell me something I already know. I really do advice that you find other websites than those that are for educating children. The concepts are understandably simplified but they do no present the entire picture.

Coal can be the fossil record of forests. It’s more likely to be the fossil record of swamps or peat bogs. It comes from anaerobic environments, burial and compression(which causes heating). Western PA is noted for coal. There was large river delta there at one point, full of swamps as is the Mississippi Delta. The mountains to the east eroded and buried this feature, causing the compression and then the coalification.

Quite a non-sequitor, your baseless claim that “For there to be so many fossils to suddenly appear is a miracle.” Now we are back talking about the Cambrian Explosion. Your ignorance in this is quite notable, so dependent on being willfully ignorant.

Sometimes-Evolution-SucksThe Cambrian “explosion” is not a sudden event, as you, Diana, so desperately try to claim. I believe I have already told you this. The Cambrian period was around 40-53 million years long. In contrast, humans, chimps etc split about 5 million years ago (8 – 10 times as short). If we compare it to the claims of young earth creationists, 53 millions years just for one period (which was around 540 million year ago) is 4000 to 5300 times as long as the supposed age of the earth. As I have already told you, there was likely a great extinction event just before the Cambrian started and that opened up a lot of niches for critters to evolve into, just like how evolutionary theory predicts and is thus shown accurate. I would ask you a question here: Do you know what evolutionary theory says? If you don’t, it’s curious to watch someone who doesn’t understand something to attack it as wrong. I would recommend a couple of books to learn about it: Why Evolution is True by Coyne and Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Nye. If you are indeed interested in learning as you claim, then you will read these books or others. You can get them for free from your local library or through it through interlibrary loan. Continue reading