Friday, April 25, 2008

Chocolate Nut Chewies

**REVISED** (forgot to list the nuts ... oops. chocolate NUT chewies??!)
This recipe posting is a request ... because these are incredible.
The recipe is from Ann Faulstich. When my brother and I went to visit one of our closest neighborhood friends Amy Lynn and "Blair-Boy", their mother Mrs. Faulstich would invariably be pulling cookies right out of the oven. How she always managed to be thin I have no idea. But this woman seemed to bake cookies on a daily basis (I'm not exaggerating). We'd march into her house and grab several and off we'd go playing. When I got married, she sent three of her favorite and most popular cookie recipes along with a specially handmade cookie jar. Here is one of the recipes. Look out, you might have several!

Chocolate Nut Chewies
(Mrs. Faulstich noted that "Everyone likes these!")

2/3 cup butter
1 box brown sugar (1 lb)

2 eggs
1 t vanilla
Then add the dry stuff:
2 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 cup pecans (or whatever your favorite nut is) and 1 cup chocolate chips
Mix until smooth. Pour into a 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Mrs. Faulstich adds that "Sometimes I put 1 cup of chocolate chips on top after I take it out of the oven, let them melt and spread - let it set until firm." That's what I did! Yum.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


There was another Providence Journal article regarding plastics yesterday. I've searched online to get a copy of the article, but after 15 minutes I can't find it. So, here are some excerpts ... as I still have the old fashioned hard copy pulled from my recycling pile here in front of me.
From the Providence Journal: Material from the New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and the Associated Press was used to compile this report.
Chemical in plastics new cause for concern
Retailers move quickly to remove baby bottles containing BPA from store shelves

Are toxic plastics lurking in your kitchen?
That's the question many people are asking after reports last week that a chemical used to make baby bottles, water bottles and food containers is facing increasing scrutiny by health officials in Canada and the United States.
The substance is bisphenol-A, or BPA, widely used in the making of hard, clear and nearly unbreakable plastic called poly-carbonate. Studies and tests show that trace amounts of BPA are leaching from polycarbonate containers into foods and liquids.
Yesterday, Woonsocket-based CVS Caremark said it was joining numerous other retailers, including WalMart and Toys "R" Us, in pulling tens of thousands of products containing the chemical off its store shelves.
Nalgene, the maker of a popular sports bottle, and the baby products maker Playtex have announced they will stop using the plastic.
And last week, the Canadian government became the first country to ban BPA from use in baby bottles, a move that spurred a leading Democrat in the U.S. Senate to call for legislation that would prohibit its use in a number of everyday consumer products.
"We have immediately taken action on bisphenol-A because we believe it is our responsibility to ensure families, Canadians and our environment are not exposed to a potentially harmful chemical," Tony Clement, the minister of health, said in a statement.
BPA is used in production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy linings to add strength and resilience to the products. U.S. manufacturers produce more than 6 billion pounds annually.
While most of the focus so far has been on products for children, the plastic is also used in food-storage containers, clear plastic pitchers used for filtered water, refillable water bottles and the lining of soft-drink and food cans.
The article goes on .... and end with statements from the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate / BPA Global Group and the Grocery Manufacturers Association ... basically encouraging you to go ahead and continue to buy their stuff.
This article from the New York Times is also good - click on link below -
This is an excerpt from the NYT article that I list because it contains some information that I didn't know about. Like presence of BPA in canned food and drinks. Sheesh.
From the New York Times:
What about canned food and drinks?
While much of the focus is on plastic bottles, most human exposure occurs through the lining of canned foods. Canned beverages appear to contain less of the chemical than canned foods like soup, pasta, fruits and vegetables, which are often processed at high temperatures. Virtually every canned product, even those labeled organic, has a liner with BPA. One brand, Eden Organic Baked Beans, says it uses a BPA-free can.
How do I lower my exposure?
Switch to frozen or fresh vegetables. Use glass, porcelain and stainless-steel containers, particularly for hot foods and liquids. If you don’t want to use a glass baby bottle, several companies, including the popular brand Born Free, now sell BPA-free baby bottles and sippy cups. For formula-fed babies, you can switch to powdered formula rather than liquid.
Although many plastic products claim to be microwave safe, some scientists warn against putting any plastic in the microwave. “There is such a wide variety now, from disposable containers to actual Tupperware,” says Dr. Anila Jacob, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based advocacy group. “I don’t know of anyone who has done definitive testing of all these different types of plastic containers to see what is leaching into food.”
Hope this is helpful.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Victor MADE IT! Go Lovey!

Victor finished the Boston Marathon yesterday looking great. You'd never know that the guy had one of the more difficult marathon runs (out of his more than 25+ marathons that he's completed). Now, with a wifey (me!), two kiddos and a job to hold down ... it's tough to find time to train. And this time 'round he didn't train as much as he'd like to. After debating how I might pull off a trip to Boston with two kids, half of the city shut down b/c of the marathon and a Red Sox game going on at the same time ... I decided to give it a try. We drove up to the Quincy T station and took the commuter train into Boston and walked along a bit of the "Freedom Trail" exploring local history. Then took the long winding walk (because of all of the shut down roads) to find the end of the marathon. Unfortunately, we were unable to get over to the side that Victor was expecting us to be on (when I say CROWD that just scratches the surface of what insanity was around the finish line) so, sadly after waiting to kiss and hug Victor for 2 hours (cheering on all the runners) -- Victor gracefully jogged by on the opposite side of the road waving to onlookers as we screamed at the top of our lungs and flapped our arms. At least we saw him. Then we walked around the maze of blocked off streets to get to the family and friends area divided by the alphabet. There we found him. Like I said, looking great. My sister-in-law Michelle said that some folks were literally crawling across the actual finish line (where she and Victor's mom were able to get to). When Victor says he had a tough run ... it means he didn't run like a gazelle the whole time. Sheesh. Here are some pictures (the last one is Victor with his long time friend Paul who also ran for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society). It's still not to late to donate to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society - he ran in memory of my cousin Eileen who died at the age of 33 of Lymphoma - and help Victor to reach his goal of $3000. Go to his site. You can donate right online with a credit card. Some of the donations are still not showing, so, not to worry those of you who have donated, but don't see your name! :) Thanks everyone!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Minor League BASEBALL

Here is Benjamin with his friend all dressed up for his first "minor league" baseball game. Looking sharp. (of course instead of smiling he's saying the word "baseball" which isn't as flattering as "Cheeeeese", but what are you gonna do?) They had a fun time, but after the sun of the day wore off most of the parents were freezing in the bleachers with temps at 47 degrees. Brrrrrr. Looking forward to warmer weather. (Hey, we could be like Iowa who got snow last week.)


This article was the Wednesday, April 16th Providence Journal via The Washington Post. The headline was "New concern is raised over 'everyday' chemical" and "A federal scientific panel signals a shift in thinking about health risks related to bisphenol-a, used in numerous products." Good grief. The upsetting thing is how government agencies go on the defensive when concerned organizations and citizens raise concerns -- and then they come out saying "Gee, maybe there is a problem". I'll copy the whole article here, but here are a few excerpts in case you don't have time: "Used in plastic production since the 1950s, BPA in laboratory animals may be linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, early puberty in females and behavioral changes (like hyperactivity - see previous entry) according to the study." BPA "has been detected in the urine of 93 percent of the population over 6 years of age." Here is the article. All I can say is that I'm glad we've gotten rid of our plastic both from an environmental standpoint and from a health standpoint.

Government raises safety questions about chemical in plastics
01:43 PM CDT on Wednesday, April 16, 2008
By MATTHEW PERRONE / Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A chemical used to make baby bottles and other shatterproof plastic containers could be linked to a range of hormonal problems, a preliminary government report has found.
The report was greeted by some environmental groups as confirmation of their concerns, while chemical makers latched on to the report's preliminary nature and its authors' warning against drawing overly worrisome conclusions.
The federal National Toxicology Program said Tuesday that experiments on rats found precancerous tumors, urinary tract problems and early puberty when the animals were fed or injected with low doses of the plastics chemical bisphenol A.
While such animal studies only provide "limited evidence" of bisphenol's developmental risks, the group's draft report stresses the possible effects on humans "cannot be dismissed." The group is made up of scientists from the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the Institutes of Health.
More than 90 percent of Americans are exposed to trace amounts of bisphenol, according to the CDC. The chemical leaches out of water bottles, the lining of cans and other items made with it.
The American Chemistry Council, which represents manufacturers, said the report "affirms that there are no serious or high level concerns for adverse effects of bisphenol on human reproduction and development." Among the manufacturers of bisphenol are Dow Chemical Co. and BASF Group.
The group said it supports additional research to determine whether adverse effects seen in animals "are of any significance to human health."
Environmentalists, meanwhile, hailed the report as the first step toward reassessing a chemical they believe could contribute to cancer and other health problems.
"We're hoping this decision will force FDA to recognize the toxicity of this chemical and make manufacturers set a safety standard that's protective of the most vulnerable populations," said Dr. Anila Jacob of the Environmental Working Group.
The toxicology group's findings echo those of researchers assembled by the National Institutes of Health, who last August called for more research on bisphenol in humans.
The FDA in November said there is "no reason at this time to ban or otherwise restrict its use." The agency on Tuesday did not immediately have any comment about the new report.
But growing concern about the chemical has pushed many consumers toward glass alternatives, and triggered investigations by state and federal lawmakers.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., called on FDA Tuesday to reconsider the safety of bisphenol, saying the toxicology report's findings "fly in the face of the FDA's determination."
Dingell, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued letters to seven companies that make baby formulations earlier this year, questioning whether they use bisphenol in the lining of their cans and bottles.
The companies included Hain Celestial Group, Nestle USA and Abbott Laboratories.
A spokeswoman for the International Formula Council, which represents baby food makers, said Tuesday "the overwhelming scientific evidence supports the safety" of bisphenol, adding that no foreign governments have restricted or banned its use.
The National Toxicology Program will take public comments on its initial report through May. A final version will be issued this summer.
Earlier this month state lawmakers in New Jersey passed a bill that would ban the sale of all products containing bisphenol.
Canada's health agency is also examining the health risks of bisphenol is expected to issue its findings in coming days.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Catching up

Sorry I've been out of touch.
I've been a little down about the seemingly endless rain and 10 degrees lower than normal temperatures for the past month. However, I'm very excited about the 65 degree weather that's warming up outside. Thank the Lord. (Today we had to go to skating class ... me dressed in my long down coat. Ugh. Only two more weeks of classes)
I was finally able to catch up with the laundry after a week of strep throat. It was like going on a vacation where you have to play "catch-up" for over a week to recover. Strep throat wasn't quite like a trip to the Bahama's though. Hmph.
Also this week I've been hard at work trying to trouble shoot my bread baking. I made the Raisin Oatmeal Bread again, but it rose poorly. Totally demoralized I went to The Fresh Loaf website and asked for help in the "forum". (click that link to get to the conversation) This is a place where you can pose questions / problems regarding bread baking and loads of people email you back with suggestions and information. Fabulous. I was so thankful for the help of hard core bread bakers! One man who helped me out a great deal was Mike from Sourdough Home. I'm giving his site a plug because he was so helpful and generous with his time. He has a lot of helpful bread baking tips on his site as well. I have never tried to make sourdough bread, but I think I'll give it a try. Doesn't it sound good? Homemade Sourdough Bread?? MMmmmmm. Anyway, I'm excited to report that yesterday I produced two beautiful whole wheat loaves from The Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. Yum. I'll list that recipe later -- as I want to get outside and enjoy the weather.
My seedlings are coming along nicely. I have peppers, tomatoes, okra, broccoli, broccoli rabe, leeks, kale, herbs planted indoors. And cold weather peas, lettuce and spinach planted outside. Unfortunately the guy who's going to help us enlarge my garden space and plant my fruit trees came down with pneumonia and is set back two weeks. So, sadly I'm on hold outdoors. But two weeks will pass by quickly. More on that later too ... as I'm leaving you know to fold laundry and then to GO OUTSIDE!! Yipee!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Children make you Laugh

Thank God. Children make you laugh. Yesterday's examples:
Last night when it was time for the kids to take a showers / baths Benjamin lamented.
"Why do we have to take showers every night?" in a whinny tone. Of course I didn't point out that they hadn't had showers the night before, but said "Because, you get dirty." Benjamin plunks himself on the bathroom counter top and folds his arms and states (while trying to suppress a smirk) "Well, I'm not going to. I'm going to sit right here for the rest of my life." As the wheels of my very smart 8 year old start turning he adds ... "drinking water from this faucet ... and eating soap." I blew a gasket laughing. Seriously. Hilarious.
This is a case of son and husband making me laugh.
Victor was sitting after getting home from work, flipping through a J.Crew catalog (The only one I haven't cancelled) with Ripley standing by his side looking on. They were in the men's section checking out the hope of summer attire when Ripley stops Victor and flips the catalog back a few pages and inquires with what Victor detected as a twinkle in his eye "Who's Heeeeeerrrrrr?" referring to the adorable, gorgeous, young "adoring" blond woman giggling behind the young dashing man featuring a pair of pants and shirt. Adding to the hilarity, Victor bounds over to me at the stove -- proud father that he was -- pointing out the dame that Ripley had supposedly ogled over. "And ...." Victor adds "she's not bad looking either!" (as if to say, Ripley really knows how to pick 'em) Proud Papa. Sheesh.
And this morning ...
Benjamin was reminded to do his jobs ... one of which includes sorting out dirty laundry and bringing a load downstairs. He laments "No one in my class does this job." and as if to point out my laziness "Their Mom and Dad does!" Then I challenge like I'm considering composing an email to the class parents "I think the kids should sort the laundry" Benjamin responds "That's because you're one of THEM." Hilarious.