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July 1st, 2015 at 00:55 am

Ingredients: Honey 101

in: Recipes

Hummingbird Ranch Honey Part of my thinking about the economics of relying on Food Stamps research – has me going down the path of “ingredients for healthier eating on a tight budget”

My father volunteered in one of the programs when our government thought it was more important to feed its citizens first and enemies of our country second, there was a “food share” program where ANYONE could go, once a month, and buy a box of basic stuff. It usually included a quart of honey. Since those boxes included some perishables, he always came home with at least one purchased box and some of the perishables that would not keep until the next distribution day.

The Public library (dark ages no internet – in fact no such thing as home computers) had a good selection of cookbooks and I found quite a few recipes that used Honey and the other ingredients in those books. My brothers thought honey research was a great hobby. Junk food was not in our family budget – home made desserts were a treat.

Here are some things I learned then and some I am still “thinking about now – five decades later.

Many recipes suggest that Honey can be subbed one for one (1 cup Honey to replace 1 Cup Sugar) I disagree.

Keep in mind that Honey tends to make a strong flavor statement – so a lighter hand is often needed, particularly with fruit of any kind. The obvious benefit is less sugar/carbs added to the diet. Second, if the goal is to add sweetness only, then you can usually reduce the amount of honey by at least 25 percent.

One thing I can say is that I find Honey, once you get the proportions “right” adds a depth of flavor I have never been able to achieve with either processed or raw sugar.

Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. This is a huge plus for most baked goods because “moist” is usually a desirable attribute.

Crispy toppings, like the crumbs on your fruit pie or cobblers, you may need to either reduce the butter, or increase the dry ingredients (I vote for more topping – bad as it might be for me) Still working on this one.

Honey browns more easily than Cane Sugar – you may need to reduce the oven temperature. How much varies depending on the food being prepared. Experiment or and always check the progress frequently.

I have found that reducing temperature by 25 degree F is a good place to start – still ovens vary – it may take more than one try to get it right. You will likely also need to adjust baking/roasting time – keep and learn to use a good temperature testing is a must have for your kitchen.

A cup of honey contains approximately 1/4 cup of water; this means that you may need to reduce other liquids in your recipe proportionally. In some recipes, you will need to reduce other sources of moisture (fat, water, milk, etc)

With Diabetic (not enough insulin produced “naturally” so high blood sugar, etc) and a Hypoglycemic (too much insulin – low blood sugar leading to other issues) we both need to keep a sharp eye on the amount of sugars and carbs we consume.

If you have medical conditions, always consult your primary or specality physician before making changes in your diet. Honey is said to have about 20% more calories (approximately 22 per teaspoon – “white” sugar is estimated at 17 – since you will use less Honey in most cases, it is probably about even.)

It has been our experience that high fructose corn syrup is at best a problem and at worst a HUGE problem. Lots is being written about many of the artifical sweeteners, and setting health issues aside, I just can’t stand the aftertaste. Perhaps needless to say, I spend a LOT of time reading labels.

According to the information from NIH (National Institute of Health) at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19817641
Honey might be a better choice for the type II diabetic. So long as care is taken to use the same degree and care for it as a diabetic would for Cane Sugar.

Our doctors have always told us that if we find something is the factor causing trouble – then the smart money avoids that ingredient.

Thanks to learning basic skills, a willingness to prepare experiment or two, often superior dishes are easier to make acceptable,
What I have not yet completely worked out is the cost comparison. And, a source for “crystallized” honey (or how to do that myself) so I can do more experimenting

I am hoping life long family friend Richard Focht of Hummingbird Ranch and my other beekeeper friends will be able to help me out with the sourcing or, I will have to “make the rounds” of local beekeepers and see who has what – starting at my favorite local farm stand. Then it will on to Maple Syrup – one of the few candy flavors I have difficulty resisting.

Do you use Honey in your regular diet? Any recipes to share?

June 26th, 2015 at 04:33 am

Tiplet: How to Choose A Craft Mentor

under the DAMN I WISH I WROTE THAT
No matter what your fiber art “compulsion” her advice translates well to the all.

Deb Shipp of DMK has shared some excellent thoughts on how to select a mentor for Kumihimo and Braiding in her blog at dmkartisanjewelry.blogspot.com

She shared much of this in a conversation in our FB group Beaded Braids Kumihimo & More but as every one knows, info can fast disappear – so you might want visiting and bookmarking the post. I did

June 24th, 2015 at 22:21 pm

Tiplet: Better Beginning The $1 Well Spent

This is NOT a commercial but it might sound like one.
More like a rant and ramble

And, I suspect I am about to annoy more than a few of those packaging kits for Beaded Braids – but since I do not buy kits, only “hear from my customers” and members of our facebook group about their misadventures – this really is not directed at individual or group of kit makers.

The most commonly used stringing material used for beaded braids is SuperLon (SLon). and you can read more about than you probably really want to know at:
The BeadSmith SuperLon (SLon) Cords and Threads
Happy Endings come from Better Beginnings and Good Better Beginnings start with Proper Planning
– enough with the alliteration

The most commonly given advice is to cut your cords 3 times longer than you want the finished braid.
And, that often works FOR ONE OF THE THOUSANDS OF BRAIDS that actually are Japanese and therefore considered Kumihimo.

If you are making the “round hard spiral” Japanese name Kongo Gumi (or Kongoh Gumi) then yes 3x might work. But if you value your time please consider….

One of the victims to paraphrase a friend of the
“Learn It On Monday,
Make a Tutorial On Tuesday
Teach It On Wednesday
Pack a “Kit” with the bare minimum on Thursday
is also the cause of the most grief to new braiders.

Running out of thread before your braid is done and then facing the choice of “taking it out” or going thru the agony of adding – something not always possible.

Remember this happens because Braiding is a FIBER ART and far too often otherwise competent Beadworkers do not understand the differences that really do matter.

Primary among the issues is takeup – this is the amount of thread that is used in each step used to form a woven or braided structure.

Takeup is affected by lots of factors, mostly human and unless that is considered in planning – all too often leads to the running out of cord.

CORD IS CHEAP – Seriously -SLon, at $2.90 per spool is $.083 per yard, So added cost is 67 cents –

What about the cost of shipping you say?

Using our sales records which shows the “SLon Only” order is rarely under 6 spools, that means you could make each cord about a yard longer for a whopping 88 cents.

Hate the idea of waste, well consider “thinking” about making those cords even longer and making matching earring “dangles”, or if you sell your work, a small sample that will the same braid in different beads or colors – or just pat yourself on the back because you now have 30 minutes or more to do something else that makes you happy.

“But I sell my work and have to keep my costs in line”
add the $1 to the price and pat yourself on the back because instead of wasting time unbraiding or otherwise fussing to make it work – because if you can’t see the value of your time, I can’t help you.

Tough Love Commentary – One can often learn more from the misadventures of another than you might think

Professional Crafter or Just love Braiding –

Isn’t your time and enjoyment worth more than maybe wasting $1 (retail)?

Now you know what I think, I’d love to hear your side.

June 22nd, 2015 at 07:08 am

What If: WorkFare A Hand UP Not A Hand Out

Still I am going to keep coming back to the FB image about Working vs welfare refrig and not showing because all it accomplished was sensationalism of a real problem.

Rather, it so clearly demonstrates (at least to me) the Symptom and Consequences (not the least of which is hate and class “envy”).

Nor does it offer any insight in the why/cause and ultimately the solution

Whether the image was accurate or not is not important because all it does is further divide and offers no thought about the cause or possible solutions.

There is absolutely NO REASON why legitimate citizens of the United States of America should be hungry.
Or that Farmers should be paid NOT to grow a crop
Or that food grown in the US should be sent outside its borders as foreign aid (ok maybe some for disaster relief situations)

I kept looking at that picture and then started doing some research. So much information is on the Internet.

What if INSTEAD we looked back at programs that did work even if they expected some responsible behavior in exchange for that hand UP –

“Back in the 70’s” when I lived in NY – Westchester County tried to create what they called “WorkFare”
I remember it, because our small family business attempted to participate. That is a whole other story in itself, but for now let’s focus a bit on “solutions”

The concept was that those receiving benefits were found “appropriate” work. It was what would be called “honest work”. Among the means used was child care so that a single parent could participate

If I remember correctly (or maybe I just think it should be part of any hand up concept) It required that all receiving benefits participate – no hand outs.

There were provisions for child care (and some of the mothers were “aids” who brought their child under school age to “work” )

child of school age were expected to be in school. Reached that magic age of 16 and quit school – no more WIC, no food stamp allowance AND reduced other benefits (housing allowance)

No acquiescing to bullying by the by race baiters into unequal treatment. On Drugs, get into a program (methadone clinics were popular) or no help.

On drugs, not in a program, okay, then you get involuntary commitment as a danger to oneself and to others.

No job, okay you are assigned “honest work” suitable to your ability. And, job training was part of that program as well. Teaching of work ethic and requiring the practice of good working habits.

Get into trouble and find your family removed from the “projects” and off the “section 8″ rolls. Every major city has “empty” real estate that could be made useful for housing and with thoughtful tax incentives including responsible supervision – or, as “used to be common” working with church organizations to create safe places for those in need.

Just some starting points. But something to talk about, somethings to make important if you really want change for the better.

and yes, coming soon, more about that refrig image and why it looks that way and how to make it different.

June 21st, 2015 at 07:01 am

What If – Causes, Consequences, Solutions

Today is father’s day in the US. There is so much I have to thank my parents for, but perhaps the most important thing was teaching a sense of personal responsibility for my own actions.

They also were kind of big on doing something rather than whining.

Recently I saw a thing with a picture of what was supposed to be a middle class working family refrig vs a “welfare household”
I did not share it, but have been thinking about it so started doing some research. Recently I saw one of the “social commentary” FB placards about how you or I would have been DEVASTATED if our “diary” was found and read and worse yet, SHARED by a sibling WITH ANYONE>
Now we have an increasing population who really believe that how often they have a BM – it should be shared.
We see almost no conversation about the cause and effect of infantizing and less about teaching morals and ethics.

Instead we see the glorification of bad behavior and teaching of hate and division rantings instead of finding and listening to and working for real solutions however long it takes to get it done.

Sure there is a huge “temptation” to not look away from the train wreck – but why and are we not contributing to the problem when we assist in spreading hate instead of finding real solutions and working to attain or at least introduce them to the current society.

It is not simple and depending on who you listen to – at least in the US, the slide on this slippery slope began in the 30’s or mid-60’s

Growing up in the 50’s, and early 60’s was not all that different except that the majority culture was accepting responsibility for one’s own actions.

Explanations are well and good and maybe comforting – looking at the symptoms is no cure for the disease = excusing the responsible parties.

and again, there are no simple solutions.
it all seems irreversible – unless, maybe if good people start standing up to the bullies, refuse to be intimidated by the baiters and accept that change is possible, but it will take time to reverse the damages.

Let’s stop lamenting, at the very least look at the causes and then KEEP talking about those causes and consequences and the small steps each of us can take individually and collectively to effect change

feel free to share your thoughts by commenting on this and yes, more to come related rant and rambling

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