Friday, November 26, 2010

Words to Live By

"Spread love everywhere you go: First of all in your own house...let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
Mother Teresa 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that your entire Holiday season will be wonderful as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name....

Aspartame is being renamed "AminoSweet" and they are calling it 'natural'.  They are renaming high fructose corn syrup, too.   It is now 'corn sugar', and it's natural.  Any time the public gets wise to health hazards of different foods and food additives what better to do than rename them, call them natural, get FDA  approval and start over?  Marketing genius!  

This shouldn't be a big surprise.  

Did you read the pus to milk ratio as allowed by law?  That's what I said... pus.  Blood has a legal limit in milk, too. Hormones and antibiotics also have a legal limit in milk. After all, without the antibiotics, the cattle will produce so much bloody pus from the mastitis caused by the hormones they are given to increase the milk productivity, that the pus and blood ratio would be too high and then it wouldn't be salable.  However, you are not allowed to distribute raw milk, yes... the same stuff that generations of people throughout time immemorial lived on, because of microbial hazards. Maybe I'd rather take my chances. I'd  certainly like to be allowed to make up my own mind!

You're also allowed a percentage of plaster of paris in your bread.  There's a legal limit on the percentage of "other" materials allowed in grains; things like bug  parts and animal hair and feces actually have an acceptable limit!!  Ok, so maybe some of that's not totally avoidable considering the fact that grains have to sit in huge silos for a time, but what about GMO stuff? Should we even start 'that' conversation?  What about mixing fish blood with fruit and veggies?  Who thinks this stuff up???  You can't even get non-gmo corn in things as an ingredient anymore, and corn is in almost everything!! 

Now they are GMO-ing pigs so that they don't produce so much waste (poo) and so they'll fatten up on more accessible/affordable feed (waste products). Chickens and turkeys can be fattened and matured in record time for maximum productivity, all thanks to hormones and the FDA.  Fish are grown in such unnatural conditions that the producers have to add different artificial nutrients and colors to pass them off on the public.  

Look at all the pharmaceuticals they pump into animals now.  There's another can of worms!  Just like pesticides and herbicides (and GMO monster food thingies) those drugs that are pumped into our food are assimilated right into our bodies and they are having horrible effects.  Yet they are FDA approved as safe for human consumption, and they tell you when confronted that the "long term effects are still largely unknown".  Then they shouldn't be approved!  

Some effects are well know.  Effects ranging from something as seemingly insignificant as fatigue, headaches or dizziness all the way to obesity, diabetes, metabolic interference and cancer.  Yet the FDA, those well intentioned folk in our government, approved these things.  We can see the effects, but they are shrugged off or winked at, attributed to other things or perhaps your overactive imagination or precarious state of mental well being is to blame.  So we buy it.  We eat it.  We feed it to our babies.

In the 1970's Tyson began what is commonly known as factory production of chickens.  The farm's conditions were atrocious due to the "higher productivity" feeds they were using and the 'factory' like living conditions were so poor that the chickens became sickly and were infested with parasites to the point that they weren't growing, lowering the desired productivity and all important income.  To overcome the problem, they began to treat the chicken's feed with small amounts of arsenic to kill the parasites problem that had grown out of control as a result of the conditions.  Only recently have the resulting cancers and deaths been directly attributed to this practice, and I'm certain they would have argued that the "long term effects are still largely unknown" if confronted on it at the time.   

They are not unknown now.

Yep... I'd trust the FDA, alright...

The list of additives is enormous. Many of them are to extend shelf life.  I submit to you that food that will not spoil should not be eaten. Some are to enhance the flavor or color.  Some are to improve the texture or consistency.  They are defined as "non-nutritive substances".  There are trans-fats, MSG which is used as a flavor enhancer and is evidently an excitotoxin, which isn't good, BHA and BHT to keep fat from going rancid,  nitrates and nitrites,  chemical food colorings, and many, many more.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  This information was very easy for me to find.  I don't claim to know a lot about this stuff, but I'm not going to sit around and remain ignorant just because the FDA says it is approved.

Who holds these people accountable?  NO one. No one.  The only thing that makes them pay attention is the money.  If we won't buy it they won't maintain the level of income they are looking for and they will have to do something else. Now that they have figured we are learning to think for ourselves and check up on things, they are sneaking and hiding things intentionally. Maybe they think we are not smart enough to notice that.  It's like a game that we have to stay one move ahead on,  a game with very high stakes.

It benefits the manufacturers and wholesalers and the rest of the powers that be if we simply remain ignorant.  They can easily change the wording and the process, but it costs them, even if it's only a change in labeling, so they try to cast enough doubt on the people who are attempting to shed light on this problem to discredit the whole argument.  It's much easier and much more profitable to make a group of people look like alarmists,  panic mongers,  worry warts, or conspiracy theorist than it is to change the status quo.  With the backing of agencies like the FDA and the AMA it's  easy to do.

People need to be more pro-active and stop trusting in and relying on the good ol' government to watch over them.  Sadly, even when they know full well that they agencies aren't doing a proper job of it they STILL wont take any steps to help themselves.  It's just as surely slavery as if they had our feet in stocks,  but it's a willful ignorance that's causing it.  It's infuriating.  That mentality makes it really hard for the people who are trying to shed light on this mess to make any progress at all.  In cases like these, if they are not for us they are against us.

I guess this is all leading to a post on gardening and self-sustainability, so stay tuned, but for now this will have to do. It's already long and I was only planning on making a passing mention about the aspartame thing.

Keep your eyes open and an ear to the ground, friends.
And they don't want us to pray..............

I'll leave you with this wonderful recipe:

Grandma's Homemade Sucralose 
(Reprinted from "Better Meals Through Chemistry" by Alton McGuiness,

"The most indispensable ingredient of all good home cooking - love, for
those you are cooking for." - Sophia Loren

If you love the great taste of Splenda® sweetener ("Made from sugar,
so it tastes like sugar"), you're a fan of sucralose – known
affectionately to gourmets around the world as
4,1',6'-trichloro-4,1',6'-trideoxygalactosucrose. If you are a die-hard
traditionalist or do-it-yourselfer, you may have thought about whipping
up a batch in your kitchen, just like grandma used to do. Here's your

This recipe has been handed down for generations, starting with U.S.
patent 4,362,869 which was filed on December 4th, 1980, just in time for
holiday baking. At least a dozen more patents have come along since
then, but most people use the original method which is fine as long as
you're not too worried about impurities or residual hydrochloric acid.

Sucralose can be used as a substitute for sugar, but in lesser amounts
since the same "magic trick" that is used to make pesticides more potent
– chlorination – is used here to make the sugar more potent. So
you use less! And since your body can't use sucralose the way it uses
sugar, ninety percent of the sucralose you eat comes back out again.
They hope to find out where that other ten percent goes someday in the
future, but sucralose is something you can enjoy today!


2 cups white sugar
1 quart water
2 quarts pyridine
4 cups acetic anhydride
1 cup thionyl chloride
1 cup sulphuryl chloride
4 cups dimethylformamide
A pinch of Splenda® brand sucralose

2 ion exchange columns
Large mixing bowl (not plastic)
Ice cream maker (at least 1½ quart capacity; hand-crank or electric)
Rock salt

Notes on Ingredients

Pyridine is a toxic colorless flammable liquid with a disagreeable,
putrid fish-like odor, and is usually derived from coal tar although if
you are out of coal you can whip up a batch using acetaldehyde,
formaldehyde and ammonia.

Acetic anhydride is the chemical compound with the formula (CH3CO)2O and
is used in lots of recipes, like the one that you use to refine opium
into heroin.

Thionyl chloride is listed as a "Schedule 3" compound under the Chemical
Weapons Convention Act, along with phosgene gas and cyanide, so be sure
that you start on the paperwork at least six months before you need it.

Sulfuryl chloride is a colorless liquid with a thick pungent odor so be
sure to leave the windows open, especially since it can explode on
contact with water. Since sulfuryl chloride is not found in nature, it
can be pricey but when it comes to attaching chlorine atoms to sugar,
pesticides, etc. there is just no substitute.

Dimethylformamide has been linked to cancer and birth defects in humans
and penetrates most plastics, so be sure to use a glass or metal mixing


1. Be sure to use all of the necessary safety precautions that
grandma taught you in chemistry lab.

2. Slowly add the acetic anhydride to the pyridine. When it is
dissolved, pour half of it into the ice cream maker, reserving the other
half for later. Pack the ice cream maker bucket with ice and rock salt
to bring the temperature of the pyridine-acetic anhydride solution to
around four degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Be sure to never use the ice
cream maker for anything else ever again.

3. Add the sugar and crank the ice cream maker for about four hours.
If you are using a hand-crank ice cream maker, you will probably want to
get family members or neighborhood kids to take turns – when they
hear that their reward will be cookies made with chlorinated table
sugar, they'll be eager to help!

4. After four hours, most of the sucrose will now be
sucrose-6-acetate, which sounds tasty but the overpowering toxic fishy
scent of the pyridine will help remind you not to sample the goods until
we're finished. Separate out the sucrose-6-acetate using the ion
exchange column; if you don't have an ion exchange column, try whisking
in the whites of six eggs and a pinch of baking powder, then strain
through two layers of cheesecloth. Note that this latter method will
not work.

5. Now, we'll make some fresh "Vilsmeier reagent." Pour the thionyl
chloride into a mixing bowl and add the dimethylformamide. Put some
plastic wrap over the bowl and put it in the freezer for four hours
until a white precipitate forms. Take it out of the freezer and pour
into the ice cream maker. Resist the urge to lick the bowl! As if your
life depended on it, which it does.

6. Mix the sucralose-6-acetate with the Vilsmeier reagent, and add
the remaining pyridine-acetic anhydride solution plus a quart of water,
and whisk for as long as you can stand the fumes. This is the magic
step that adds the chlorine to the sugar to give it its distinctive
chemical structure and make it superdy-duperdy sweet.

7. Add one quart of water and cook over low heat to drive off the
pyridine and other stuff. Run the resulting solution over another ion
exchange column. I'm pretty sure that's the next step, I was having
trouble thinking straight when Grandma showed me this because of all the
fumes. I think it was my Grandma anyway.

8. The liquid you have left should have about 1 cup of sucralose and
1 cup other stuff that came pretty close to being sucralose, but no
cigar. Put this in the freezer and add the pinch of sucralose. This
will cause the sucralose in the liquid to crystallize and come out of
the solution and mostly leave everything else behind. It's weird that
you need sucralose to make sucralose, isn't it? Maybe it's just the
dimethylformamide talking, but how the heck did they make it the first

9. Strain through a cheesecloth. Voila, a chlorine-enriched,
zero-calorie sweetener just like Grandma used to make!

10. Sucralose is an amazing 600 times sweeter than sugar, so mix the 1
cup of sucralose with 599 cups of suitable "filler material" (sawdust,
baby laxative, etc.) and use just like sugar. Now go make those

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Have A Plan!!

I have lived in this same house for seventeen years.  It's been a happy home.  I've watched my children grow up here.  I've watched my marriage mature here. It's been quite an adventure and even though through some of the times I might not have seen how it could possibly be, it has been a blessing.   We have grown and matured and increased in body, in spirit and in accumulated stuff.

It's amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over time.  I was looking  at some pictures from when my kids were small and I thought, "Wow, the house looks so clean!"  I remember those times, and I remember it being hard to make it look nice because the carpet was old  and threadbare, the paint was drab and worn, the place was, well... lived in.  I remember trying so hard to make the place look nice and feeling hopeless about it, only to look back at pictures and wonder why it looked so good.  

It wasn't clean... it was clear, as in uncluttered.

For seventeen years we have amassed treasures scraped together during hard times, or received as gifts, or made by our children's own hands.  Things we worked hard for and relied on for years, things we touched with our hands and incorporated into our memories found their way into remote corners because the intrinsic value and the emotional attachment made them near impossible to simply get rid of them, just like that with no fanfare; tossed aside with no ceremony.  Now, with all the love in my heart, with tears of pain and joy I'm going through my treasures... and tossing them overboard!  

I made an actual plan!  Me!  I did! Moreover, I am sticking to it!  My avid readers might remember when I said that I was planning to do something, and that if I figured out what it was I would post it, well, here it is!!  I have decided that I am going to get rid of twenty items per day, (at least twenty to begin with because of how much their is) big or small, five days a week.  My kids have to get rid of one thing a day.  It's actually starting to make a dent.  It is bittersweet.  Some of the things call to me as I toss them toward a box that goes to the thrift store, or into the trash box, and they almost stick to my hands, but it's getting easier.  Each time I shed something I realize that the only way to keep the vessel afloat is to lighten her load.  

I remember when I was asking for help.  My friends and family had some great ideas, really, but I just could NOT implement them!  I was frozen, sort of.  I know, I know... they are just things, they are just this and they are just that, but they were so woven into the fabric of my memories and my life that I literally could not do anything.  However, somewhere along the line a realization hit me.  I finally understood how to make it happen.  

Sometimes soon I will blog about the process I went through to get to that point in hopes that it might help, or at least encourage someone else, because it was miserably stressful and confusing.  I'm sure I am not alone in feeling that way.  For now,  though, I just want to say it feels really good. As difficult as some of it is I can feel the stress creeping away an item at a time.  

Freedom.  Ahhhh... breathe in; breathe out.  Freedom requires that I do this.   

Just a little thank you to my friend, Loretta.  She said something I never thanked her properly for.  She suggested that I take pictures of some of the 'special items' before I get rid of them and make a memory album.  I sort of filed that suggestion away thinking I'd never really need it, (after all I was never going to part with anything) and passed it off.  She surely thought I ignored it, but I didn't.  It was there,  filed until I could use it.  Thank you, my friend.  That was brilliant!

So, yay for me!  I will update my progress periodically.  

Ecc 3:6  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Ecc 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Small Victories are Still Sweet!

I just wanted to pop in briefly and brag a bit.  I only got two pumpkins out of my garden, but two is two, so I baked them and pureed them and froze the puree last night.  There's enough for two pies and two loaves of pumpkin bread!!  I rock!