Friday, January 30, 2009

Antiboitics in Honey and Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup

I found this article on mercury contaminated corn syrup via Tiny Morsels. Mercury is found in nearly 50% of corn syrup samples. It appears the caustic soda used to separate the corn starch from the corn kernel is the likely source of the contamination. Another reason not to feed your kids high fructose syrup corn syrup.
My sister sent me this article on honey contaminated with antibiotics that are illegal in the US. 2/3 of US honey is imported. Half of that (no mater what the label says about country of origin) is from China and could be contaminated with antibiotics that are illegal in the US. No one is really testing for antibiotic contamination. Just another reason to buy local honey. Bees make local honey from flowers (most likely). Honey from major companies is often made from bees fed sugar syrup.
See also my previous post on why to buy local honey.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Date-Spice Chiffon Cake

Happy Birthday Auntie Ruth. Ruth is allergic to dairy, so I knew the restaurant we went to would not have a birthday cake for her. I decided to make her a birthday cake. In the gold standard cookbook "Cooks Illustrated's The New Best Recipe" I found several chiffon cake recipes, all dairy free. I went with the date-spice version, but the orange-cranberry chiffon cake was a close runner up. Despite the admonishments to beat the whites until they are very stiff, I still don't think mine were stiff enough. All my date sank to the bottom and therefore ended up on top of the cake. My aunt said they were like frosting. They kind of were. The cake was pretty ugly, but was very moist and had good flavor. IMHO this cake is much better then an angel food cake. However, the texture is still too close to an angel food cake (which I hate) for my taste. But if chiffon cake is your thing, this is a good one, even when made by a cake making novice like me.
When my mom was 2 years old and my Aunt Ruth was 4 they snuck into the car by themselves. Ruth kept pushing the starter button (I don't know what that is either), which sent the car lurching forward six inches each time she pushed it. My mom was jumping up and down in the passenger seat yelling repeatedly "Go Ruthie!!". I agree.
Go Ruthie!!
They made it a whole block.

Date-Spice Chiffon Cake
Do not under beat the egg whites. If the egg whites are not very stiff, the cake will not rise properly, and the bottom will be heavy, dense, wet, and custard-like. Better to overbeat then underbeat. If you overbeat the egg whites and they end up dry and "blocky" you can smudge and smear the recalcitrant (whatever that means) clumps with the flat side of the spatula to break them up.


1 1/2 c packed (10 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar
3/4 c chopped dates
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/3 c (5 1/3 oz) plain cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs, 2 whole, 5 separated, at room temperature
3/4 c water
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

4 T butter, melted (or dairy free margarine)
4-5 T coffee
2 C (8 oz) sifted confectioners' sugar

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Process dates in a food processor until dates are reduced to 1/8-inch bits. Process all dry ingredients (up to salt on the ingredient list) until any lumps of brown sugar are pulverized. Transfer dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk in egg yolks, water, oil, and vanilla until batter is just smooth.

2. Pour the reserved egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer; beat at low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar, gradually increase the speed to medium-high, and beat the whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry (as little as 7 minutes in a standing mixer and as long as 10 minutes with a handheld mixer.). With a large rubber spatula, fold the whites into the batter, smearing in any blobs of white that resists blending with the flat side of the spatula.

3. Pour the batter into an ungreased large tube (angel food) pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity). Rap the pan against the counter top 5 times to rupture any large air pockets. If using a pan with a removable bottom grasp both sides with your hands while firmly pressing down on the tube with your thumbs to keep the batter from seeping from the pan during the rapping process. Wipe off any batter that may have dripped of splashed onto the inside walls of the pan with a paper towel.

4. Bake the cake until a toothpick or thin skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Immediately turn the cake upside down to cool. If the pan does not have prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan on the the neck of a bottle or funnel. Let the cake cool completely 2 to 3 hours.

5. To unmold, turn the pan upright. Run a thin knife around the pan's circumference between the cake and the pan wall, always pressing against the pan. Use a skewer to loosen the cake from the tube. For a one piece pan, bang it on the counter top several times, then invert it over a serving plate. For a two piece pan, grasp the tube and lift the cake out of the pan. If glazing the cake, use a fork or a pairing knife to gently scrape all the crust off the cake. Loosen the cake from the pan bottom with a spatula or knife, then invert onto a serving plate. (The cake can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 4 days.)

6. FOR THE GLAZE: Beat the melted butter, 4 T (1/4 c) coffee,, and the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Let the glaze stand 1 minute, then try spreading a little on the cake. If the cake starts to tear, thin the glaze with up to 1 T coffee. A little at a time, spread the glaze over the cake top, letting any excess dribble down the sides. Let the cake stand until the glaze dries, about 30 minutes. If you like, spread the dribbles (before they have a chance to harden) to make a thin smooth coat. Serve.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This vegetarian soup is quick, easy, good, and healthy. What more could you want? It does have a bit of spicy heat, so it's not ideal for most kids. The ingredient list makes this soup look daunting, but there is only a small amount of chopping, a quick saute, lots of opening cans, and dumping. The original recipe included pork. If you want pork, coat some pork pieces in flour and saute then in oil before you add them to the soup. This was my recipe originally, but my sister Julie has probably made pisole 50 times more then I have. So, maybe it's Julie's recipe now? This soup freezes well. Hominy is sold in the Mexican food section of the supermarket. There is yellow and white hominy. I've never noticed a difference in taste. I usually get one can of each to make the soup more fancier. I serve this with whole grain cornbread muffins. I don't speak Spanish, and this may or may not be misspelled.



¼ c vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 c)

1/4 c carrots, chopped

1/4 c celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press

1 T chili powder

2 cups cooked pinto beans (or just use one can)

2 15 oz cans hominy, drained

¼ c chopped greed chilies or green pepper (or just use one can)
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes

4 c vegetable (or chicken) broth

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 ½ tsp dried oregano leaves

1 small onion chopped (about 1/4 c)

¼ c snipped cilantro

Saute 1/2 c onion, 1/4 c carrot, and 1/4 c celery until tender. About a minute before the onion/carrot/celery mixture is done, add the garlic and chili powder. Saute one minute. Add all the remaining ingredients except onion and cilantro. Heat to a boil, reducing heat . Cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c chopped onion and cilantro.

Bacon Fun, Part Seven

It all started when I found some fun bacon cups and curls on Then I started adding links to unusual bacon recipes as I came across them while surfing the net. Innocent fun... Bacon fun. (search bacon fun on my blog for more entries) Well, the bacon fun has come home to roost. The above picture is my Christmas present from my sister and brother-in-law. They both have a great sense of humor. The verdict? Bacon salt is kind of good, kind of weird. It's pretty good on eggs. I don't recommend it, but its not terrible. Oh, and they also got me this...

Who wouldn't need six kinds of bacon salt?Oh, and they also got me this...

Baconaise. Again, kind of good, kind of weird. It doesn't taste like bacon exactly. It's reminiscent of bacon flavor, but not bacon flavor. I've had this flavor before, but I can't place it for sure. If I were to guess, I'd guess it was a dip for a bloomin' onion somewhere. I'll eat it until it's gone, but I probably won't get more. My mom likes baconaise and barbecue sauce on her burgers. Oh, and they also got me this...
Bacon flavored chapstick. Just what I needed. Teaching my dog not to lick my face has just become a bit more difficult. What does it taste like? Liquid smoke chapstick.

Want more bacon fun? How about a chocolate bacon eclair? Or maybe a bacon chocolate cupcake with carmel frosting? Who could resist Elvis's Bacon Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (Fool's Gold Loaf) from the Coachman Hotel at the annual Parks Elvis Festival ?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Geek Cakes for a Geek Family

I found this post today. I'm a total geek. I admit it. I'd love the #2 and #18 Star Wars cakes. I'm a sci-fi girl (among other geek traits). My whole family is full of geeks. How can you tell? Post # 7 has a reference to my sister Kristy of Craftastica's Wii caketastrophy. Years prior she would have stayed up all night and made a new Wii cake. But since she had a baby, she decided to be a grown-up and go to bed. This was the first post from her blog to receive a lot of attention. Post # 10 is Tux the Linux penguin. Tux is the Linux Logo that was designed by my brother in law. In our family Tux is affectionately known as Pengie. My other brother in law would love the amazing #14 Mario cart cake. Yup, Geeks.

Snow Cake

This is the cake my sister Kristy made for my Mom's birthday. Click here for her post about it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Potato Pancakes

These weren't as good as I remembered. Then I remembered that they never were that spectacular. But they are easy and different. You don't have to shred potatoes, you just blend and cook. Serve these pancakes with applesauce or ketchup. I like my sweet potato pancake version of this recipe better.



2 eggs

1 small onion, peeled and cut into large pieces

1 tsp salt

2 T flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

3 raw potatoes, peeled and cubed

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour in 4 to 6 inch size pancakes on an oiled pan. Cook like pancakes. Make sure the pancakes are cooked through.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fancy Pants

My sister, who's pants are never fancy, must have been wearing fancy pants when she made this seven layer dip for my Mom's birthday.