Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sourdough Croissants

Julie challenged her readers to make croissants. I have a sourdough starter so I decided to use her technique but replace the commercial yeast with sourdough yeast. As the croissants baked, I remember telling myself, I don't care how these taste because right now my house smells amazing and the smell alone is so worth it! I messed up the measurements so they came out really small but they were still amazing.

Here is one while it proofed.

I stuck a piece of chocolate in a few.
Here are the yummy mini croissants.
Be sure to check out Willow Bird's Croissant Photo Tutorial.

End of the Year..yaay

It's the end of the year and I think every blogger who is worth his/her salt is writing a recap post and/or a resolutions post. I am definitely not worth my salt but as I sit here waiting on a dish to finish cooking, I figured that I would try to write something.

It's been difficult to write here. As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I started here after Journal Space crashed. I loved JS; I loved the community at JS. I would write almost everyday. Most of it was just ramblings about my day; but at least I would write. Here, it is different. I just can't seem to get into it. It isn't even that I don't have anything to write about. Yes, my days are pretty much the same every day and for the most part, nothing "interesting" ever happens. However, that never stopped me in the past.

I'd love to write about how about how much Christmas sucked this year. Yes, I know I'm blessed but you know what? Sometimes, I just want to whine. And I would love to whine about Christmas. But each time I sit to write about it, I either find myself on the verge of tears again or I just don't feel like dealing with it. I think I am getting sidetracked here. What's the point of this post again? Recap and resolutions?
....

I just got interrupted by a phone call and lost the flow. There goes that. So....

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Michael Crichton's A Case of Need



 

I took some time off recently to catch up on some reading. I was surprised to discover that there were a few books on my bookshelf that I had not yet read. After reading perhaps the 12th novel last night, I thought I could start a new section on my blog - book reviews. I thought I would start with Michael Crichton's A Case of Need since it's still fresh in my mind.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I read a Michael Crichton. I couldn't even be actually sure that I had  read one. But that couldn't be possible. I had to have. In any event, I was looking forward to this one. After all, Stephen King had even given this one his stamp of approval. I opened the novel, got comfortable and settled in.

I started with a table of contents which indicated that the book spanned one week in October. Quick, I thought and then moved on. The first page showed what I later learned to be the chart for the main patient in the novel. I noted that the book spanned a week in October, yet her chart was dated November 15 (no year given). I assumed that this perhaps happened in November of another year. However, I quickly learned the patient's chart was indeed created the day before the novel started. This irritated me. That is a huge typo. How could anyone let this slide? I later learned that this may have been Michael Crichton's first novel (he used a pseudonym then). However, I am sure this novel was read by editors and when it was reprinted under Crichton's name, why wasn't this checked and changed? There were several other typos in the novel and I think they would have bugged me less were it not for that glaring error in the beginning.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable novel. Of course there were a few plot holes but not enough to make the novel less interesting. It is a medical thriller and so there is a lot of medical jargon. There are helpful footnotes if you do not understand them. I appreciated this because I know that I would probably pause to Google some of it. In some cases I definitely did.

Book summary: It's the 1960's and abortions are illegal. After a botched abortion, a young lady hemorrhages and dies. A known abortionist is immediately arrested. His best friend and fellow doctor does not believe  he is guilty and sets out to find the truth.

My Rating: At some point in the future I will come up with a rating system for the books I read. Perhaps I will use glasses? In this case, I would give A Case of Need 3.5 glasses on a 5 glasses scale.

Disclaimer: All links are Amazon Affiliate links.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake

I made the Red Velvet Cheesecake in stages over a few days. That made it lost easier. First I made the Red Velvet Cake.
Then I made the Oreo crust.
Next, I attempted the ganache. That did NOT work out well. Reading is fundamental!
Finally, I made the cheesecake. I don't know why I always thought of cheesecakes as complicated. I used a waterbath (Look Ma, no cracks!) but I did leave it in for a little too long.
Then it was assembly time! I am not very good at decorating so I deliberately took the blurriest picture of this ever.
It was great!! I felt so fancy! I loved it!
I highly recommend that you try this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cupfakes

The first recipe that I made from Willow Bird Baking were her Cheddar Chive and Bacon Cupfakes. I didn't have many of the ingredients but I wanted them so badly so I simply made a few substitutions. It went very well. I love when recipes are easily customizable.
I didn't have avocados so I didn't make the frosting. I didn't have bacon so I sauteed some franks. I added some Philadelphia Cooking Cream and some jalapenos too. AMAZING. !!

My Obsession with Willow Bird Baking

In early October my friend T sent me a recipe for a Birthday Cake Cheesecake and asked me what I thought of it. I am not really a cheesecake person but for some reason this one intrigued me. I started reading through all the other recipes on the blog (Willow Bird Baking) and I was instantly hooked. I needed to make a cheesecake immediately. I saw the Red Velvet Cheesecake and decided it would be the one. I don’t even like red velvet cake that much either but I simply could not resist. Before I completed the cake, I also saw her cupfakes and made the Cheddar Chive Cupfakes substituting a few ingredients. It was delicious. In upcoming posts I will post pics and a few notes on the recipes from Willow Bird that I've made.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm learning how to make roti

Slowly but surely I am going to get this right. I love roti too much to not be good at it. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I want to marry the inventor of the slow cooker

A few years ago, my roommate bought a slow cooker and I asked if I could try it. I tried a chicken stew but it pretty blah. Too much liquid. Over-cooked. Blah. Next I tried some ribs for a New Years dinner. The ribs were also pretty blah. Too much fat. Too much liquid. I never tried the slow cooker again.

My mother, on the other hand, had been singing praises about her slow cooker. She had three in different sizes. I thought she was nuts. Last summer when my sister came to visit, she bought me one despite my protests. I don't need it, I cried. I won't use it. She ignored me. It sat in the box for several weeks and I had pretty much forgotten about it. One day I pulled it out and thought I should at least use it once. On the cover was the picture of a whole chicken in the pot. I had a whole chicken. I wondered if it would fit.

I seasoned up my chicken well and then placed it in the ceramic pot. It definitely fit. I couldn't decide on how much liquid to add. I saw that some recipes suggested no liquid. I also remembered that too much liquid was a problem when I first used it. I decided to go with no liquid and hope that it and all worked out. And you know what? It did. That chicken was A M A Z I N G. After just one dish I was hooked.

Since then I have found sites dedicated to slow cooking. While I haven't tried any of the recipes, I do browse from time to time. The slow cooker is so versatile. I can toss the food in and go to sleep. I can leave the house. I don't have to keep running to the kitchen. Can I marry the inventor of the slow cooker? Please?

Here are some of my favourite dishes to cook in my slow cooker.

Whole chicken - no need to heat up the whole house during the summer. Be careful not to cook it too long or it will be falling apart and difficult to remove from the slow cooker in one piece. Each slow cooker is different. I find that mine cooks a lot faster than others.

Chicken parts - toss them in with your favourite seasonings. Guess what? You don't even have to marinate your meat. I know! Crazy. Toss it in and walk away. I often cook a bunch of parts and then shred the meat for sandwiches and salads for later.

Beans - I love doing beans. Sometimes I'll do a combination of several types of beans. I can then turn that into a bean stew, bean soup or even just a bean filling for a wrap. One thing I have noted is that when using my slow cooker, I don't use as much salt. In fact, I tend to leave salt out when cooking the beans and I don't notice a difference. I have since done the same with meat. Just make sure you use a lot of onions, garlic and herbs.

Pork leg - oh yeah. This is probably my favourite. Season up that pork shoulder really well. Let it marinate for a little while. It's a large cut of meat after all. Put it in the slow cooker and walk away. When you return, you will have DELICIOUS pork that's perfect for pulled pork sandwiches or whatever else your heart desires. I'm drooling just thinking about the last pork shoulder that I did.

Baked beans - oh yeah! You can definitely do baked beans in the slow cooker. Use some small white beans - like northern beans. Combine tomato paste (or ketchup), barbecue sauce (or just the ingredients for bbq sauce), a little vinegar, lots of brown sugar, maybe some dried mustard, oregano. Taste it. Does it taste really good? Like extra yummy bbq sauce? Great. Now add it to the slow cooker. Add your soaked beans. You want to cover the beans with the sauce plus maybe another 2cm or so of liquid. Not as much liquid evaporates during slow cooking and you don't want your baked beans to be swimming in liquid at the end. However, if they are, put it on the stove to dry it out or stir in some cornstarch to thicken things up. It should be fine though. That brown sugar is going to caramelize and make something lovely. These baked beans were so good that I wanted to just take the ceramic pot and grab a spoon and not move until they were finished.

Chicken + beans + potatoes + carrots - I got the inspiration for this from What's for Dinner's Cowboy Stew. She uses beef. I was out of beef. I soaked my beans and made the same sauce as I would for baked beans, rubbed the chicken pieces in some of it too and put the pieces on top of the beans. I also put some onions and garlic at the bottom. Next I was going to add the potato and carrots but I was craving raw carrots and decided to just do a slaw instead. I then decided to just do a baked potato too. End result? Finger licking good! Another dish that I want to eat straight from the slow cooker. One other thing I should mention, for this dish, I actually added frozen chicken to the crock pot. Yup. Yup. You can toss frozen chicken into your slow cooker.

You want to marry the inventor too, don't you?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Friendly Friday


When Allison at O My Family started Friendly Friday a few weeks ago, I thought it was a great idea. Let’s actively seek out persons to help and, of course, blog about it. But who would I help, I thought? I don’t interact with that many persons on a daily basis. I see my students and the persons in my lab. That’s it. And just like that, I had lost my desire to help.

I read her posts each week and thought, hmm, I guess I could do that. But then, I don’t talk to my neighbours so baking them something would be a bit strange. I don’t know what the postman looks like either. My car is dead so there’s no giving old ladies rides to the bus stop. I had, once again, given up on helping. Besides, I didn’t want to help just so that I could link up in a Friendly Friday post. I wanted to help just to help.

For class this week we were scheduled to talk about prosocial behavior. I cringed. I would be prepping a lecture on helping. I’d be reading all the psychological reasons why we don’t help and pretty much nodding in agreement.

Another Friday passed and I had no Friendly Friday post. I hadn’t helped a soul. Sure, I had made copies for my students. Sure, I had critiqued a paper for a friend but that just wasn’t the same. I headed to the supermarket to get my Friday night movie. As I walked out the supermarket, it started to rain heavily. A lady, her baby, her older daughter and husband stood next to me watching the rain.

The husband decided that he’d brave the downpour and go get the car. After all, it did not seem like the rain would end anytime soon. We could be standing there forever. This is your chance, Kelster. Offer your umbrella for the trip to the car. I froze. I decided to wait. If the husband didn’t come back with an umbrella, I’d offer my umbrella so that she could cover the baby. Finally! I could link up in Friendly Friday.

Uh. What? Was I only doing this so that I could link up in Friendly Friday? No, no, of course not. FF had certainly giving me the extra motivation but even without FF, I would have offered to help this family. I knew this was true but there was the nagging doubt in my head.

The husband drove the car as close as he could and I quickly offered to shelter them on their walk to the car. The wife thanked me profusely. The husband, however, was not as friendly. He walked up to us, picked up his daughter and said, “It’s not raining that badly anymore.” I shrugged. I didn’t care how lightly it was raining at that point; I was not going to have a drop of rain fall on that precious sleeping baby if I could help it.
After they left, I started thinking. Does it matter why we help? Should it only matter that we helped? Three theories of helping exist. One, the empathic-altruism hypothesis, states that we help simply for helping’s sake. The negative state relief hypothesis states that we do it because we feel bad when someone is in distress and helping relieves this. The empathic-joy hypothesis says that we help so that we can feel good. The latter two seem to be more about the helper than the helpee. But again, should it matter why we help? I will address that another time. For now, I am just glad that I did.

Épinards et fromage Vol-au-vents (Spinach & cheese vol-au-vents)

Later this week I am going to do a detailed post on my current love affair with Willow Bird Baking. However, for today I leave you with the beauty that came out of my oven last night.




Spinach and Cheese Vol-au-vent on HOMEMADE Puff Pastry. Yes, I needed to use caps for that. At the beginning of this year, I was still avoiding most recipes that required working with dough. I have just never been a fan of kneading. What was that about me baking bread? Ha. I try to choose recipes that don't call for a lot of kneading. I do everything by hand because I don't own a mixer or a food processor. Therefore, I do not attempt recipes that would be best done with equipment. However, after some success with sourdough croissants, I decided to try puff pastry and these vol-au-vents. I have Willow Bird to thank for this. I would have never ventured out of my comfort zone if it were not for her.

Go check out Willow Bird and her gorgeous vol-au-vents!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not Extreme Couponing

I have always been a frugal shopper. I realised pretty early that most items went on sale at some point. I live near to a Publix, Sedano's and Winn Dixie and typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix and Sedano's. Publix always has great Buy One Get One sales and Sedano's usually has great deals on meat and produce. I rarely buy anything at full price.

I always got Red Plum and Procter & Gamble inserts in the mail but I never really used them much. Slowly I started going through them but I found that there were never coupons for items I really used so I would use them only rarely. I started reading more and more about couponing and following couponing websites such Two Frugal Friends (no longer active) and I Heart Publix. I started seeing that I could get great deals. But I also realised that it took a lot of work. I would also need to have multiple sets of inserts to really take a great advantage of coupons. Too much work, I decided.

I started really understanding how these persons used coupons and decided that it was time. I got myself a coupon boxes and started clipping. Of course, a few months into clipping (and still not fully catching on), the inserts stopped arriving in my mailbox. ARGH! I guess I need to now subscribe to the local newspaper to get them. I still haven't done that because I am not yet couponing full time.

I feel a little awkward sometimes because there is NEVER anybody else using a coupon at my store. I don't want to hold up the line. And I also worry about the language barrier. I live in a predominantly Spanish area and it's not uncommon to have a cashier that does not speak a lot of English. There is usually no English whatsoever in Sedano's. I would not dare to try to use coupons there or ask about the coupon policy.

I am ready to take the plunge, subscribe to the newspapers and print internet coupons. Join me as I try to save a few pennies here and there. It won't be extreme but there will savings.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Last Easter when I was baking buns, I was using a lot of Guinness. I still had a few bottles left over and wondered what I would do with them (I don't really like Guinness/beer so drinking them wasn't an option). I came across this Chocolate Stout Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen and vowed to make it. Since then, I've been distracted. However, I had to bake a VERY late Easter bun and so I needed something to do with with the leftover Guinness.

This was that something.




I didn't use the chocolate ganache or use the frosting I saw other persons use. But I did use a chocolate Guinness sauce that I found at Recipe Girl.

It is simply delicious! And moist! Bursting with flavour. Guinness and chocolate were made for each other. I was licking the sauce from the pan. And it's taking a lot out of me to not go get another slice of that cake right now.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nobody Canna Cross It

If you're Jamaican and not living under a rock, you have heard of Nobody Canna Cross It.

First it started with this news item.




Which led to this music video.



And now it has led to everyone saying "nobody canna cross it," "di bus can swim" and all variations. Some are even wearing t-shirts. If you are interested in a t-shirt, I have created a few and they are being sold here.

Things Jamaicans Say

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Tofu Chronicles


Source: Nasoya.com


As I mentioned in my last post, I used half a block of tofu in an eggplant rollatini recipe. That meant I had half a block left. What to do with the rest? I'd read several places about marinating tofu. Some opted to marinate then cook. Others pan fried then marinated. The logic was that the tofu would absorb more marinade since pan frying would get rid of some of the moisture.

I gave my friend the reins and she simply sliced the tofu into pieces, added some water and then every single seasoning in my cupboard. From scotch bonnet peppers to mojo to spanish paprika to garlic, it all went in. I asked how long the tofu would keep and was told that it would keep for about a week. That wasn't good. I had a lot of other food in the fridge that needed to be used up, I didn't want to add tofu to the list. I wasn't going to waste it though.

First I pan fried it and added it to a spinach omelet. Yes, I was eating two things that I didn't like - tofu and eggs. But guess what? I loved it. The tofu was flavourful and it didn't have that texture that I hated. I didn't do anything special to the tofu so I couldn't understand why I liked the tofu that I made and not what others had made. But then I remembered - I was using extra firm tofu while in almost all the other cases, I had tried soft tofu.

Later I did a pad thai with the tofu. But still there was more tofu left - I'm pretty surprised that one block stretched that far. I was heading out of town. What to do with it? I googled freezing tofu. Sure enough, you can freeze tofu. However, the texture and colour changes. It was suggested that I freeze it without the marinade so I poured it off and tossed it in the fridge. Freezing it in the liquid could lead to ice crystals in the tofu.

When I returned, I tossed some in a pot of black bean chili that I had made in my slow cooker (ode to my slow cooker coming soon!) and it was delicious! The black bean chili was GREAT. The tofu? It tasted almost meat-like. The texture had definitely changed and it now seemed just like meat. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. I pan-fried a few pieces and put them on top of a salad and let me tell you, you could really fool someone into thinking they were eating chicken. Seriously - you just need to marinate it in tons of seasonings so it has a lot of flavour. I liked it so much that I honestly might buy a block of tofu again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Google thinks I'm Vegan

I follow a few food blogs via Google Reader but only one of them is vegan. Nevertheless, whenever I check the recommended items, my Google Reader tends to suggest more vegan blogs than non-vegan ones. At first I refused to click. If I didn't click them, Google would think that I didn't like them and stop recommending them. Right?

One night curiousity got the best of me and I started clicking. I was hopping from one vegan blog to the next when I came across this Eggplant Rollatini. It looked interesting. I have never cooked eggplants before and I have always wanted to try but just never knew what to make. I liked it even before since my vegetarian would be visiting in a week and I would need to think of meals for her.

One thing that bothered me however was the tofu ricotta. I don't like tofu. I've had tofu on numerous occasions but the texture has always been a turnoff. It has never had enough flavour to counteract my dislike for the texture. It has that eggy kinda thing going for it and I don't like eggs. I also don't like ricotta (again a texture thing) so I figured that I'd just use some cottage cheese with a mixture of shredded cheese instead. I asked my friend what she thought of the dish and she mentioned that she was avoiding dairy. Great. I guess I needed to think of a new dish then. Or... try the tofu?

I thought of a few other dishes but just couldn't get the eggplant rollatini out of my mind so I reluctantly purchased a block of extra firm tofu (with veggies). The next day I cut it in two and followed the recipe to make the ricotta. We ended up added a ton of other seasonings to the tofu ricotta - pretty much anything in the kitchen to punch up the flavour. We tasted as we went along. You can't go wrong it seems so do what works for you. I like bold flavours so I added accordingly. I followed the rest of the recipe as is but used store-bought pasta sauce tossed it in the oven and hoped for the best.

It was DELICIOUS! I loved it! It didn't taste anything like tofu. This was the first time that I was eating a dish that had tofu and loving it. I eventually sprinkled a little parmesan on my rollatini and loved it even more. Some vegan recipes suggest adding nutritional yeast for that cheesy flavour. I've never worked with nutritional yeast but I think it would be a great addition. If you're not dairy-free, sprinkle on some parmesan.


Go to This is Vegan to check out her step by step pictures of this recipe


Or go straight to the recipe here. You'll see that there are several steps but none of the steps are difficult. It is actually a pretty easy recipe.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Eggs Florentine




I have a love-hate relationship with eggs. Some days I tolerate them and other days they make me sick. For unknown reasons I had a craving for Eggs Florentine this week. Well, let me clarify that. I've never had eggs Florentine before so what I was actually craving was a combination of spinach and eggs. I may a spinach and tofu omelet at the beginning of the week and I wanted more. I googled a few recipes and that's when I realized that it called for a poached egg. Hmm. Interesting. I have never poached an egg before. This could get messy.

I followed Emeril Lagasse's recipe and sauteed my spinach, set my water with vinegar and salt to boil and put my bread in the toaster oven. I didn't have white pepper but I added some cayenne pepper to my Mornay sauce. After the required poaching time was up, I opened the pot and stared at my egg. And that's when it hit me.

POACHED EGGS HAVE RUNNY YOLKS.*

I don't like runny yolks. I ran to Google. Apparently, the yolks don't have to be runny. They could be "almost set." But something told me that set was not going to happen. I sighed and lifted my egg out of the pot, placed it onto the bed of spinach then poured the Mornay sauce all over it. And you know what? It tasted GOOD - runny yolk and all. I really enjoyed my breakfast and it kept me satisfied for hours.

I enjoyed it so much that I may make a variation of this tomorrow. I'm out of spinach so it may be more like an Eggs Benedict but with sausage instead of Canadian bacon. I won't be attempting a hollandaise sauce though. I like the Mornay - especially with the extra cayenne.

*I've since learned that I can get a hard yolk from a poached egg. I just have to leave it there a lot longer than Emerill suggested.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quick hair update

On Saturday morning I cowashed with La Bomba and then rollerset my hair. I was in such a hurry that it was not until my hair was almost dry that I remembered that I had not put anything else into my hair - no setting lotion, no leave in conditioner, nothing. That should tell you how good La Bomba makes my hair feel.

I had beautiful curls when I removed the rollers. I was able to wear those curls until the wedding the next day. My roots felt and looked great. I'll relax my hair in about 3 weeks at about 16 weeks post. I really think that adding the Organix Keratin is going to help me with those additional 3 weeks. My roots shouldn't be as tangled.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Organix Brazilian Keratin Take 2

I mentioned that I would be trying the Brazilian Keratin again. I was pretty hesitant because I will be travelling a lot and need my hair to be perfect when I get to a wedding on Sunday (It's currently Wednesday night). Would using the BKT be my best option at approximately 13 weeks post relaxer? Or should I simply relax? After a lot of debate, I decided to try the BKT again. I must say that I like the way my hair felt and behaved after the last time.

Step 1

So here I am, it's 11:38 PM and I just used the pre-treatment shampoo. I only lathered my hair once this time because I washed my hair last night (I added a rinse) and I didn't add any product to it since I knew that I would be clarifying it for this BKT. As soon as my hair gets to what I believe is 80% dry, I will be moving on to step 2 - applying the treatment. Let me just say again that I LOVE the smell of this shampoo. I almost want to taste it.

Step 2

It's 20 minutes later and my hair is pretty much at what I would assume is 80%. My hair dries quickly! I don't know if it's since the BKT or if my hair is suddenly really porous. I came straight out the shower and didn't use my towel at all and the front is barely wet. Time to go apply the BKT.

It took about 20 minutes for me to apply the BKT. I may have over saturated in some areas. I'll know for sure if my hair is smoking. Or maybe it's the right amount if it's smoking. I still have a wee bit left in the bottle! I tried to add more to other areas because it's possible that some areas didn't have enough but figured I would just be oversaturating some areas in the process.

I love the fact that my comb glides easily through my hair after I apply the treatment. My hair felt "clarified" after the shampoo so it's a comfort that it feels "conditioned" when the treatment is applied. Now it's time to wait the 30 minutes until step 3.

Step 3

I just blow dried my hair. I suck at using a brush so I didn't use it much. One day I'll learn. As I mentioned above, I added a rinse to my hair last night - just a temporary colour. I couldn't see it much today which was expected. I didn't use a lot and you often don't really see the colour very well until a few days in. I just blow dried and the BKT seems to have highlighted my colour. I can definitely see it more than before.

Whew. Flat ironing takes a while. I don't have much practice flat ironing so I know that it takes me longer than others. Plus, you are supposed to go over each section 7-10 times. Yes, that's a lot of heat. However, there's a heat protectant in the treatment if that makes you feel any better. I know that some sections didn't get 7-10. None got more than 7. I wonder if I did 7 the last time? Anyway, as usual, my roots aren't super straight. I'm just not good at doing it.

One other thing about flat ironing. It's well, HOT. My hair burned my finger several times! I kept trying to find ways to protect them. I had gloves (not plastic) on my left hand at times but I like being able to "feel' my hair so it felt weird. Other times I would just have to take a break in between. Now that I'm finished, I am holding onto my water bottle for comfort.

Colour - My colour is pretty vibrant right now. Loving it! I would recommend colouring before you BKT. If not, you have to wait a couple weeks.

Flaking - I saw a tiny amount of flaking but it was so little that I attributed it to my own dry scalp before I remembered that this could possibly lead to flaking.

Smoking - very little. I saw some for a few seconds and that was it. My flat iron got a little smoky but it always does if there is any buildup on it so I simply wiped it off.

Smell - I didn't smell much of anything, really. Even when there was some smokiness, I didn't get a strong smell and my eyes weren't irritated. I don't have windows open nor do I have my a/c going.

Waxy buildup - None.

Overall feel of hair - Feels great! I was worried that it would feel dry since it hasn't been moisturized in a couple days but it feels pretty good. Hopefully it still looks and feels good in 3 days when I need it to look amazing for this wedding I'm attending. My biggest concern is that it will be rainy that day and the rain could do bad things to my hair. I think I may go for a half pinned up do to help with this.

Time - That took about 2.5 hours. I was texting while flat ironing my hair so that surely slowed me down.

Now for the hardest part - keeping it straight while I sleep!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sleep App Test & Eggplants

I failed miserably trying to use the sleep app over the last couple of days. I promise to start again tonight.

I made vegan eggplant rollatini over the weekend and I want to share that with you.

Expect that soon!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stuffed S'mores Brownies





Last week a colleague sent this link to S'mores Brownies and asked if I would make them. I said I'd think about it but what I really wanted to make next were Knock You Naked Brownies. I kept thinking about the brownies though and then eventually decided that I'd make them.

However, when I read the reviews, I felt a bit skeptical. Burning marshmallows? Sticky mess? Brownie not fully cooked? Just how many Graham Crackers equaled a cup and a half of crumbs? I reconsidered. I started searching online for alternative S'mores Brownies recipes. And that's when I came across Stuffed S'mores Brownies from the Picky Palate.

For this recipe she used a brownie mix. She poured half the batter into the pan, added a layer of graham crackers, topped that with Hershey's and then some marshmallows. Next she poured on the remaining brownie batter. Easy.

I decided that I would use chocolate chips instead of Hershey's but at the last minute, I left the chocolate chips out so I simply used a brownie layer, then the graham cracker layer:



I then added 18 marshmallows to my remaining batter and made sure that they were well-coated so they wouldn't burn. I then poured that on top.



It took a bit to make sure it was evenly spread. I wanted to use my Perfect Brownie Pan that would slice the brownies easily for me. However, when I inserted the piece that slices the brownies, I could tell that there were some parts that had more brownie mix than others. The brownie mix is thick so it's not that easy to make sure it's even when I mixed it with the marshmallows. I removed the insert but the sliced look remained and so my brownies still baked kinda-sliced.



As you can see, some of my marshmallows look a little extra toasty. When I first checked my brownies, they weren't done but the marshmallows definitely were. It's not as bad as it looks and it came out AMAZING. They are so delicious. Unfortunately, I have calculated that each one is about 300 calories. It would have been worse if I had included the chocolate chips. So as amazing as they are, I cannot eat too many.

But I want to.

I think the next time I do these I will try to add less than half the batter at first so that there is more batter to cover the marshmallows. I saw a similar recipe where they half baked the bottom layer before they added the marshmallow layers.

Try this recipe!
Thanks Picky Palate

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Insomnia: Is there really an app for that?

I have always had trouble sleeping. Part of it is related to my anxiety disorder. Perhaps, all of it is. Last year in the midst of another battle, I wondered if there were sleep apps. Sure enough, when I searched the Android Market, I came across a few.

There weren't that many and I downloaded the free version of Sleep ZZZ. It played various white noises. You could set it to determine how long it took you to fall asleep by constantly touching the phone if you weren't asleep yet. I didn't like that. I'm sure it would have been helpful to know just how long it took me to fall asleep and it would be helpful if I wanted to sleep for a specific number of hours. However, needing to touch my phone kept me awake! I like to get comfortable, wrap myself up in a tight cocoon and not move. Touching the phone constantly just wouldn't work for me.

Another feature was the Power Nap feature. You could set it to alarm before you fell into deep sleep so that you wouldn't feel groggy after a quick power nap. Sounds pretty useful but I didn't use it much. I'm not big on power napping.

I did however use the white noises. At this point, I can't tell you if this app really helped me to fall asleep. It's possible that whenever I finally decided to use the app to help me to fall asleep, I was already at the point where I would have passed out anyway. I kept it for a while then deleted it. Nothing against the app, there was a lull in my insomnia and I needed space on my phone.

The past few weeks have been sleepless and pretty brutal on my productivity. Once again, I looked to an app. I was desperate. I decided to try something new and went with Brainwave Tuner Lite. The app claims to play binaural tones and gave a fancy explanation about why these tones would help you to sleep. Additionally, the app has other settings to help you to mediate or to concentrate and be more alert. I chose the Sleep Induction option. This option plays a sound that sounds similar to someone breathing heavily while sleeping plus the tones. Soon, I fell asleep.

Did the binaural tones work? It's hard to tell. Once again, I chose to use the app after hours of being unable to sleep and feeling pretty exhausted. In lieu of a full experiment on the matter, I think I will definitely try to put this app to the test. Lately I haven't been able to fall asleep before 6:30 AM no matter how tired I am. Tomorrow I want to be up and at it by 8AM the latest (I have some baking to do - more on that tomorrow!). I think I will try to fall asleep around 2AM using the app. Let's see how well it works. I will keep trying this for the next week and then report my results.

Here's to sleeping before the sun rises!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Revisiting Grocery Tracker

A month ago I mentioned that I was trying to find a grocery app. I was using (and loving) Grocery IQ but it was much too big. I have a Droid Eris and if anyone else out there has one, you know that we do not have much storage space. Droid Eris owners live for apps that can be stored on the SD card or, in my case, rotate apps.

I mentioned in that post that I had downloaded Grocery Tracker but I just couldn't "get it." I was determined to understand that app and spent several hours that Friday night playing with the features. After about 3 hours, I gave up and uninstalled. I then went searching for other apps. None of the other apps even came close to measuring up to Grocery Tracker or Grocery IQ. I sheepishly reinstalled Grocery Tracker and tried again. I also contacted the developer who was very very helpful. (Thanks again, Mike). He quickly responded to my questions and told me about features he was working on for a later release.

Yesterday I finally uninstalled Grocery IQ. Yup, I got rid of my beloved. I am still not completely sold on Grocery Tracker. There are some features that I am still trying to understand and others that I am tailoring to suit my needs. However, I realise that this is the strength and weakness of the application - several features. So far, things are going well. I haven't been shopping much in the last couple of weeks so I haven't used it recently but the few times that I have, I did like it.

I must honestly say that the reason it beat out by beloved Grocery IQ is its ability to save prices from different stores. I am a huge comparison shopper and when shopping for several items, I have often found myself making excel spreadsheets to determine which store has the best prices and where I will buy the majority of my items. I can easily do that with Grocery Tracker. With a few clicks, I can have my shopping list showing me only the prices of a particular store. I can also quickly glance at my list and see all the prices of the different stores I have saved.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rummy Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake


I found a new food & fitness blog (The Fitnessista) today. As I perused her recipes, I came across her microwave chocolate mug cake. I drooled. This was perfect. I had been craving chocolate cake but didn’t want to bake an entire cake. For one, I would end up eating much too much of it and two, I wanted to bake this Guiness Chocolate Cake but I didn’t have any sour cream.

I started comparing her cake to others that I found online. They were all pretty similar except that most of them required an egg while hers is a vegan version that uses flax meal instead. This was actually perfect for me. I didn’t actually want to use an entire egg in this cake. Your average cake calls for about 3 cups of flour and maybe 3 eggs. This cake called for approximately 1/4 cup of flour. 1 egg to 1/4 cup of flour just seemed like too high a ratio to me. I certainly didn’t want my cake tasting eggy.

I also found that some recipes used baking powder, while others did not. Gina (at the Fitnessista) uses baking soda. It’s a tiny amount of each and baking powder vs. baking soda should not make a big difference in this case. Baking soda would react with the chocolate and baking powder would work alone. I liked the fact that Gina added some protein powder. This made me trick myself into believing it was healthy. And let’s be honest; it really isn’t unhealthy. There isn’t that much flour in it. If you leave out the sugar (as I accidentally did) or use a low calorie sweetener then it’s even better.

I also found that some recipes used more oil than Gina’s. She suggested 1/2T of oil while others suggested 3T. The oil is to keep the cake moist. Gina suggested using chocolate chips to help with this. Below I am posting how I made mine but be sure to check out Gina’s and this one from O My Family (another favourite blog of mine).

Rummy Microwave Chocolate Mug Cake (adapted from Fitnessista)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon protein powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark. Other recipes called for 2T but I found it was chocolatey enough without the extra. Maybe this was because I was using the dark cocoa).
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon of flax meal + 3 tablespoons of water)
2 tablespoons of rum cream (the recipes call for milk but I hardly ever have milk. Add a tsp of water if it’s really thick rum cream)
1/2T of oil (increase to 2T-3T if you're not using chips and Nutella)
1 tablespoon chocolate chips (see notes below)
2 teaspoons Nutella (see notes below)
Sugar to taste (other recipes suggest 3 tablespoons. I actually forgot to add sugar but I ate it with some rum glaze that I had in the fridge so the sugar wasn't needed.)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (yup, I forgot; but when there’s rum, you don’t need vanilla. Right?)

Directions

1. Grease or spray a mug with cooking spray.
2. Mix the dry ingredients.
3. Add the wet ingredients. Mix well.
4. Add a little sugar (maybe start with a tablespoon) then taste. Sweet enough?
5. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds (see notes below).
6. Invert over a plate and let cool for a few minutes. It should slide out of mug if your mug was greased well.
7. Serve it with some chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, rum glaze or whipped cream.
8. Enjoy!

Notes

1. Do not fill the cup more than about halfway. The cake will rise as it’s microwaved and you don’t want it to spill over and waste any of that chocolatey goodness.
2. Microwave ovens vary. You have to be careful not to overcook this or you may end up with rubbery, inedible cake. I’ve seen several variations in the amount of time you should use. Mine was done in 1 minute and 30 seconds. The top was dry and the sides still looked a tad wet. If yours is still completely wet, add 30 more seconds then check. Maybe I could have added 30 more seconds so it would be completely dry but I am glad I didn't. The inside was dry enough. Maybe it takes longer if you use an egg? I really don’t know. Thickness of mug may also be a factor.
3. Nutella and chocolate chips are optional. I think you may want to increase the oil if you leave these out as I think these help the cake to be moist.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mr. Scientist Says What?

It's rare that race issues get me riled up. But when they do, it's hard for me to ignore it. I've been meaning to blog about the skin bleaching epidemic in Jamaica and an article comparing that issue to black women relaxing their hair. However, I've been extremely busy and that was put on the back burner. It's still in my drafts though so I will definitely finish it.

Fast forward to this afternoon.

Twitter is buzzing about an article by Satoshi Kanazawa entitled "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" published on Psychology Today. Say what now? Black doesn't crack! Didn't anybody teach him that? But I can be objective. Before jumping on the bandwagon to defend my race, I decided to read his article. Psychology Today removed the article but you can read it here.

Let's break it down.

At the end of each interview, the interviewer rates the physical attractiveness of the respondent objectively on the following five-point scale: 1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about average, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive.The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.


OBJECTIVE? Excuse me? How is that an objective measure of attractiveness? Perhaps he needs to sign up for a basic research methods class and then relearn terms such as objective and subjective. Does he really think that little of his readers? Does he really think that that would fly as an objective measure?

And who are these 3 interviewers? What are their races? Attractiveness is a cultural construct and hence, highly subjective. An Asian male may be viewed as attractive by fellow Asians but merely average by a Caucasian rater. Kanazawa has conveniently ignored this. He has a history though. (Yes, I know that's a Wiikipedia link and not the best source but you can follow the references to learn more about Kanazawa).

At this point we don't even need to read the article any further. If your operational definition and measurements are flawed, your results will be flawed. But let's read a few more sentences.

From these three scores, I can compute the latent "physical attractiveness factor" by a statistical procedure called factor analysis. Factor analysis has the added advantage of eliminating all random measurement errors that are inherent in any scientific measurement.


Factor analysis does what? Maybe I need to retake statistics because my stats professors never told me that factor analysis eliminates all random measurement errors. Wow. Factor analysis is better than I thought! I am actually thinking about grabbing my stats books and relearning factor analysis. I've been missing out. Who is Kanazawa writing this stuff for? I've seen from his website that he has several peer reviewed articles. Blogs on Psychology Today are not peer reviewed so bloggers can post a wide range of articles from scientific to unnscientific. I would hope that in his peer reviewed articles he pays close attention to basic research methodology and statistics.

Wait, what was that? He doesn't?

At the end of the article, he proceeds to explain his findings as a function of testosterone levels. Blacks have higher levels of testosterone than other races. Considering that his measurements are flawed, it isn't even worth addressing the testosterone issue. Additionally, I would need to do research on testosterone levels in various races. I simply cannot take his word for it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More about my Brazilian Keratin

OK. So I mentioned here that I used the Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy but I haven't updated since. Sorry. I didn't follow directions. You were supposed to wash your hair 2 days after and I waited a but longer because I became extremely busy. You were supposed to keep hair extremely straight during those two days and I can't guarantee that I did that either.

A week later, I wanted to wear my hair curly for a wedding. I had originally wanted to do straight but decided a curly do would look better. All week I had worn my hair down and had received a lot of compliments - the BKT really did make my hair look a little lighter and a lot straighter. One person asked if I had gotten extensions.

We got to the day of the wedding and I was running around a lot. A couple hours before and I decided to wear a different dress - one that required me cutting and sewing a new hem. I rushed through my deep conditioner (still loving La Bomba!) and then quickly threw in my rollers. My hair now dries extremely quickly because of the BKT. I sat under my hooded dryer but I kept moving about, trying to fix my dress, answering the phone. Soon it was time to hop in the shower and my hair wasn't completely dry. The bottom curls were still damp so I ended up running my flat iron quickly through all my hair. In the end, my hair did not look that good but that's really my fault and nothing against the Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy. I think it really needs for me to use high heat after getting my hair wet.

As I said before, I will try it again and maybe I will follow the rules - except for the 400-450 degree flat iron. I'm definitely not getting a new flat iron just for this. My hair will also be about 12/13 weeks post relaxer so it will definitely be a better time to see what the BKT does. Another thing to factor in is my moisturizer. My current moisturizer is water based and makes my hair a bit wet. I think I need a more oily moisturizer if I am going to use this treatment.

The Test

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about the various men in our lives. She mentioned that the only (one of the?) reason(s?) she wouldn’t have sex with a particular young man was that knowing her luck, he’d have super strong sperm, she’d get pregnant and she’d be stuck in Podunk raising his babies. I laughed; I laughed hard. But when I stopped laughing, I started thinking. Wasn’t that an extremely valid reason?

Each time you have sex, there is a possibility that you could get pregnant. No contraceptive is 100% effective so unless one of you is infertile, there is no guarantee of not conceiving (and it's still possible if you’re one of those women on I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant. Can I go off on a tangent here? The vast majority of those women were “diagnosed” infertile yet years down the line a child falls out of their vaginas into a toilet. I follow a lot of mommy blogs and they all talk about feeling their babies ninja kicking them or simply moving around in their bellies. Did these ladies really think that it was just a huge gas bubble? Now, yes, I know; if the doctor says that you are infertile, a baby would be the last thing on your mind. But if you know that you’re infertile and there’s something dancing around in your tummy and you’re not going to take a pregnancy test, you should at least call a priest to come do an exorcism. Let me get back on topic.)

So yes, I’m thinking that since there’s always a possibility of conception, it isn’t a crazy idea to only have sex with someone whom you would be OK raising a child with or at least you’d be ok getting pregnant for (or impregnating). I know thoughts about children and pregnancy would probably take the fun out of the experience. But you’ll probably enjoy it more if you’re not worried about what would happen if you got pregnant. If you did get pregnant, you would already know how you would deal with it. That’s actually a conversation that I believe every sexually active couple should have – what will we do if we get pregnant? Of course when it happens, you could certainly feel different but at least you would have some idea about your partner’s views. It would save a lot of stress.

I have been telling people about my “Loin Quiver Test.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: if a guy doesn’t make my loins quiver then he shall stay squarely on the friends ladder (read more about ladder theory here). I think I shall add the “Baby Test” too. Maybe I want to find a different name, however. That name alone may scare guys off. Any suggestions?

Monday, May 2, 2011

My best bread yet




This will be a quicky because I want to get back to my sandwich. You see that picture? That's a picture of an oat & honey bread that came out P E R F E C T L Y. OK, so my crust was a little more browned than I would have liked. L O V E IT. Head over to Northwest Sourdough for some great information. I'll blog more about her e-book in the next few days.

But for now, I must go dive into my bbq shredded chicken on amazing oat & honey bread.

Monday, April 25, 2011

No Knead? Yes, please.


Last week when I was looking for sourdough rolls or buns recipes, I came across a no knead recipe. Why hadn't I tried one before? In fact, a no knead sourdough recipe is what had inspired me to make a starter. An added bonus was that this called for the incorporation of flax meal. I had a bag of flax that was just sitting around begging me to do something with it before it went rancid.

Sign me up!

This is the recipe that I used - No Knead Sourdough Flax Seed Bread. I used half of the recipe since I only make one loaf at a time. I found that it needed a little extra salt so when I made it again this weekend, I added a little more salt and some garlic. (This garlic bread experiment is bound to be a failure though as I am currently over-proofing my loaf. I'm not home and it's way past the time for it to be baked. Oops!)

This was a very easy recipe to follow. I mixed, I let it sit, I moved it to the fridge, I folded once or twice, I tossed it in the oven. E A S Y. Try it, you won't be disappointed.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grocery List Apps

I like having my grocery list on my phone. I can update my list on the go and don't have to wait until I get home to add to a paper list at home. I started using Springpad's list function but it just wasn't giving me what I wanted. I downloaded a few apps and then settled on Grocery IQ.

I love Grocery IQ. I can create my list online and sync with my phone. I can use the barcode scanner; I can save items in favourites; It gives a running total of my shopping cart. I love it. The problem? The application takes up a lot of space on my tiny tiny Droid Eris. I've held on stubbornly but I knew that I needed to find something else.

Last night I downloaded Grocery Tracker. Grocery Tracker is feature heavy. It can do all the things that Grocery IQ does plus keep track of your inventory and a host of other functions. It's small and can be saved on the SD card. I really really really want to love Grocery Tracker. I really do. So why am I not head over heels? I just can't seem to "get it." There's just so much that it is ruining the experience for me. It took me forever last night to get the automatic reorder function to work. But I'm not writing this one off just yet. It does some things that I would really love from Grocery IQ - e.g. tracking price of items at multiples stores. If I can tweak things and get it running perfectly, it could replace my Grocery IQ. But for now, Grocery IQ is winning.

Today I downloaded Out of Milk. But it doesn't have a "by store" option. I guess I could create separate lists. It also doesn't allow me to put items in categories. It's just too bare for me. It does have the Pantry option. You can keep track of what's in your pantry but it's really not wow-ing me. I decided to just uninstall it.

Jamaican Easter Bun

Easter in Jamaica means bun and cheese. Yes, there's the true meaning of easter and all of that but it just isn't Easter if there's no bun and cheese. This year I decided to make my own bun and cheese. I had some trouble with the first recipe and needed to increase the moisture content. With the second recipe, I had some trouble baking it. It seemed like it was taking forever. However, the buns were delicious. So here I present, my Jamaican Easter Bun recipe. I think I may play around with the ingredients some more and if I make any changes, I will update it here.

Jamaican Easter Bun


3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoon melted margarine
2 cups mixed peel & fruit
1 tablespoon mixed spice (you can use cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg or the mix)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup stout
1 egg beaten

Soak the raisins in wine or stout for at least 24 hours. The longer it soaks, the better.

In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, spice, salt, prepared fruit. Mix together sugar, margarine, honey,milk, stout and egg.

Add gradually to flour mixture. Mix and beat thoroughly

Bake in a greased loaf tin at 325 for 70 -80 mins.

Glaze with melted butter




One year later: I'm about to bake buns again and can't believe I forgot one essential ingredient on this list - BROWNING! You simply will not achieve this colour without browning. Add a teaspoon at at time at the end. You don't want to add too much or it will be bitter.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughts at 4 a.m.

4 a.m. April 21, 2010

I can't sleep. My alarm is going to go off in half an hour and I haven't slept. I think my mother and N are sleeping. I don't hear them moving. I need to sleep. Wait, do I? Won't I be sleeping through this ordeal anyway? Yes, I guess I'll rest then.


4 a.m. April 21, 2011

I can't sleep. My alarm is going to go off in 3 hours and I haven't slept. It's just like it was a year ago. Wait, no; it's not. A year ago I couldn't sleep because I was in pain. A year ago I couldn't sleep because there was no comfortable position that didn't cause pain. And let's face it, a year ago I couldn't sleep because I was scheduled to be at the hospital in 2 hours. For surgery. Brain surgery. Unreal.


I don't remember being nervous. My only care was that my mother would be OK. It would be hardest on her. I would be sleeping through it; she'd be waiting. Would she have enough food to eat? I had packed her a lunch bag. N cooked enough to last more than a week. A week was enough. Dr. Morcos said I'd be on my feet cooking my own meals in a week. I did not doubt him. (He was right. I made a pineapple upside down cake and brownies a week after I was released.) You have to be able to trust your neurosurgeon. That's important.


I truly never thought about it. I couldn't. Reality tried to creep in when Mn came to visit. He made me choke up. Damn him. But that's OK; MF stopped by next. He made me laugh. No, damn him too. Laughter caused pain.

"Not after tomorrow," he said.

Well, what about that lady in my support group who was still in pain post-surgery?

"There'll be no pain after tomorrow."

He was right.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My experience with Organix Brazilian Keratin Therapy

OK. I took the plunge. Luckily, I hadn't done it on Friday night because during my walk on Saturday, I was soaked from head to toe by rain. I would have been upset if I had had the keratin in. Late Saturday afternoon, I started it.

First, I washed my hair with the pre-treatment shampoo provided. I loved the smell of the shampoo. It had a chocolatey smell. I washed twice, leaving the shampoo in my hair for a few minutes on the second lather as instructed.

Next, I let my hair air-dry. The instructions said that your hair should be about 80% dry. My hair dried so quickly that I actually had to spritz it a bit. Maybe too much.

I then applied the treatment. My first impression was that it was creamy, a bit thin and had no noticeable smell. OK, that's not true. It has a faint shea buttery smell. It's isn't unpleasant. I was expecting something unpleasant based on some reviews. It's hard to tell if you're over saturating your hair if your hair is too wet. The next time I do this, I will ensure that my hair really is 80% dry (now if only I knew how to empirically test this). Applying it was quick and easy.

I waited 30 minutes and then I started blow drying. I am no good at blow drying my hair - and definitely not with a brush. I blow dry my hair maybe once per year and I never use a brush. I think the use of a brush is essential here and it helps to start straightening the hair.

Next, I started flat ironing. My flat iron only goes up to about 375 and they recommend 450. Additionally, my flat iron doesn't get to my roots very well. I expected lots of smoking and a strong smell as some persons had described this. Additionally, the instructions state that it should be used in a well ventilated area. I had no problems with smoking or a strong smell until I got to the front of my hair. I knew the front of my hair was a bit over saturated. I am thinking that those persons who experience all that smoking and burning of the eyes have a lot of product on their hair. Or maybe, I had too little.

At the end, my hair felt good. It felt soft, smooth and silky. It even seemed longer. I was a bad girl and slept on the side of my hair that night. I just couldn't do the sleeping on my face thing. Sorry. So my hair wasn't perfectly straight when I woke up on Sunday morning. But I'm OK with that. I may have sweated a bit too.

Some persons mentioned a waxy buildup on their hair. I didn't have this. I did see some white flakes at the front of my hair - in the sections that I knew had too much product.


I am washing and conditioning tomorrow. Let's see if I can tell the difference. I will probably end up roller setting my hair for an upcoming wedding. Maybe the treatment will make my roller set that much sleeker? Frizz and fly aways are my main problems. If the keratin treatment can control that, then it's a win for me. Maybe down the road I will get better at blow drying and flat ironing. I won't purchase a new flat iron though - I only flat iron about twice or thrice per year so it's not worth it.

I think the results of this treatment are best seen on hair that is not already straightened and perhaps when one uses a flat iron that gets to the recommended temperature. All in all, I like the results. It's not perfect but I know I didn't do it perfectly. I still have some left and will definitely do it again.


ETA: Today someone asked me if I had lightened my hair. I guess this treatment does lighten your hair somewhat. I never noticed it but my house is pretty dark. I will look at it in brighter light later. They could also tell that my hair looked straighter and longer.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sourdough Waffles

Or How I became a Waffle Convert.

I'm Jamaican and I grew up eating very Jamaican breakfasts. Instead of waffles and pancakes, we had ackee and saltfish, callaloo and fried dumplings. So when I hit undergrad and people were flocking around the waffle iron in the refectory, I wasn't interested.

I used to buy frozen waffles occasionally and while I liked them, I wasn't head over heels. I tried making my own once but that was a disaster. I had no idea how to use the hand me down waffle iron. I never tried again because I rarely have milk in the house and waffles require milk.

On my last morning in Tallahassee, my friend made waffles and suddenly I had waffle fever again. They were good. I wanted more. I was about to text her for the recipe yesterday when I thought: what about sourdough waffles? I googled and recipe in hand, I prepped my sponge.

I halved this Classic Sourdough Waffles recipe from King Arthur. I halved the recipe because I didn't have enough starter. (And also because I wasn't sure that I would be successful).

Overnight sponge

1/2 cup starter (straight from fridge -no feeding necessary).
1 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk (I soured my own)
1 tablespoon sugar

Batter
All of sponge
1 egg
1/8 cup oil/melted butter
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

I made the sponge, left it overnight.
This morning I plugged in my waffle iron then I whisked the oil and egg. I added it to the sponge along with salt and baking soda. It was very bubbly. Light airy batter would mean light waffles, right?

I scooped about 2 ounces into each side of my iron (I have 4 x 4.5 inch plates) and hoped for the best.

Let me be honest, I screwed up the first two but I tasted them and they were so delicious that I soldiered on.

I made 8 total of the most delicious waffles I have ever tasted. Light and buttery with a hint of sourdough.

I'm in love!
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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brazilian Keratin Therapy


After spending much too long reading reviews, I decided to hold off on the keratin. There have been several warnings not to get the hair wet and that includes sweating. I have to walk about ten miles tomorrow so I'm pretty sure my hair will be sweating. I will do it after my walk if I'm feeling up to it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

To BKT or not to BKT

Over the weekend, I met up with a friend whom I hadn't seen in ages. She mentioned that she had gone natural and she was now using the Brazilian Keratin Treatment. Her hair looked good! It certainly wasn't for me because I didn't like the idea that you had to keep your hair straight - no clips, no anything - for the first couple days. I'm too lazy for that. Plus it costs about $300. No thank you.

The next day when I went to Walgreens to pick up some desperately needed moisturizer and Organix Conditioner, I saw that Organix had a new line - Ever Straight Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Well, what a coincidence. I was intrigued. At only $14.99, it was certainly a lot cheaper than $300 even if it only lasted 30 days compared to the 3-month duration of the salon versions.

I instantly looked up reviews and was intrigued. I've been poring over reviews all week. I bought a box and I think I am ready to take the plunge. But I am having second thoughts. My hair is recovering from a rough patch and is really enjoying the La Bomba conditioning and extra moisturizing. Should I just give my hair some more time then do this? It's tonight or who knows when.

I really want my hair to look amazing for a wedding next weekend. Since it's no longer feeling extremely parched, I know I can do a cute roller set for the wedding. But my hair gets so frizzy and messy easily that it might be cute when I leave the house but far from it when I get to my destination. BKT should help with some of the frizz.

Can I do roller sets after I do this treatment? Or am limited to straight hair only? Does it matter what kind of moisturizer I use? Those are some of the questions that I meant to ask my friend this week but never got around to. Sigh.

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Product Review: La Bomba Deep Treatment




When I first started my hair care journey, I heard a lot about Dominican hair products but I never took the plunge. My hair flourished but I still never found staple products.

The last year was tough on my hair.  I'm almost back to where I started. Yesterday I stood in the drugstore desperate for something, anything to rescue my parched tresses. My eyes fell on La Bomba.

I had read great reviews on  the Anti Hair Slave but I had seen not so great reviews elsewhere. But I was desperate. It was a $1.64 cheaper than I normally see it for. I sat outside the store, read a few more reviews then decided to just do it.

I got home, cowashed, (I had shampooed on Saturday), slathered on La Bomba then waited. I instantly loved it. My hair had slip. It was drinking it in. I combed it through very easily.

The directions suggested 10 minutes with heat. I prepped dinner then I sat under my dryer for about 10 minutes. I did some other chores then rinsed. My hair felt good. I added my foam wrapping lotion, some moisturizer and then put my hair in braids.

This morning my hair still felt soft. I'm about 7 weeks post relaxer but my relaxer didn't take very well so there's a lot of new growth. La Bomba tamed it well.

Thanks La Bomba! Now what do you have to make my hair shiny?

Price: I paid $4.35 for the 16 oz jar in my Publix


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sourdough Bagels

While I haven't quite mastered sourdough bread itself, I was itching to try something new. I wanted to do rolls but I came across a bagel recipe and decided that I needed to try it.

The problem is that most bagels recipes call for high protein flour and malt syrup. I had neither. After lots of searching, I found one that didn't (link later).

But what I really wanted were cinnamon raisin bagels. I figured there was more to it than simply throwing a handful of raisins and cinnamon into my batter. While most of the recipes called for yeast, I did find one that didn't.

I combined features of those two recipes and this one and made a batch of plain, sesame and cinnamon raisin bagels.

The pics aren't the best. I'm much too lazy to charge my camera. But trust me, these bagels are delicious. I may never make regular bread ever again.

Here they are after shaping. I left them to rise.


Here they are after their alkaline bath and seeding.



Out the oven and cooled.


Mid-bite




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Friday, April 8, 2011

Exercise Fail

I exercised a grand total of twice during the month of March. I think I've regained every pound and undone every bit of progress that I made with P90X.
I tried to start again last night and lost the motivation after 15 minutes of Core Synergistics. But my abs are on fire today. P90X is definitely no joke.
I think I will try to do core again tonight. Or maybe I'll do cardio. I just need to get moving again
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Pulled pork on sourdough bread

I have always wanted a slow cooker but was never sure what to make in it. I wasn't entirely comfortable with leaving the slow cooker going for hours either. But last May, my sister bought me a slow cooker. Months later I pulled it out of the packaging and I was immediately in love. I've done tons of things in my cooker. Yesterday I put a well-seasoned pork shoulder in and walked away. 10 hours later? DELICIOUS! It was falling off the bone. The bone was soft. It was just amazing! I had to pull myself away from the pot to go get ready. I can't wait to go home and eat some more over rice. For lunch I had some on my sourdough bread.

Great lunch. I was stuffing it down too fast to take a picture. This isn't food blog anyway, so that's ok, right?

My pork shoulder was seasoned with:

salt
garlic
onion
scotch bonnet pepper
chipotle pepper
smoked paprika
ginger
sugar
thyme
oregano
basil
I blended all of that together and rubbed it over the pork. I had cut slashes into the shoulder to make sure it really went in. I left it in the fridge for about 24 hours.

I then added some ketchup, vinegar, bbq sauce & sugar into the crockpot.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

989.9 miles; twice as many smiles

If you know me, you know one thing about me - I HATE driving. I go out of my way to not drive. There was a time that I'd drive to a point then simply take a bus. Yes, it's that serious. You see, for me, driving is the one surefire thing to trigger an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack while driving is not fun - nor safe. I'm doing a public service by avoiding the roads.

So when I got the bug last January to go visit a friend in Tallahassee for her birthday, driving there was the farthest from my mind. But plane tickets were $500 (seriously, Tally, why?) and 12 hours on the Greyhound sounded much too much. I opened Google Maps and looked wistfully. About 500 miles/7.5 hours of driving. Up to that point, the furthest I had driven was maybe 70 miles. 500 would kill me or take days. I closed the window.

I kept thinking about it but knew I could never do it. After a particularly hilarious conversation last Monday night, I told myself - Now or Never. I liked never. But Tuesday morning, I decided to just do it. Providing that my car could make it, I was heading on a solo road trip.

The plan was to leave on Thursday night - after rush hour. Did I mention that I don't drive at night? Thursday evening came and my plan for a 3 hour nap before hitting the road was foiled. Maybe I should just cancel. But I made a promise. People were making plans. I had to do this. I sat in the parking lot of the gas station for a long time before I took a deep breath, said a lengthy prayer and hit the road. 

The drive wasn't as bad as I expected it to be but it wasn't fun. On the final 50 miles, I was exhausted and in pain. When I made it to Tally, I was beyond cranky and not the nicest to one of my hosts (sorry :-(). 

But after a few zzz's, I was ready to live it up - Tally style. To summarize all the things that I did this weekend, would take much too long. The collages cover it all though. Suffice to say, it was one of the best times I've had in a very long time. Every aspect of my weekend was amazing - from earrings to galas to track meets to fish fries to dry ice to quiche to sniffing soap. 

On Sunday, I never wanted to leave. Could we just stop time? Cancel my life in Miami? Could I just stay in Tally forever? I delayed the return trip as much as I could and barely dragged myself out of bed yesterday morning. 

The return trip was slower because it rained 90% of the way. Did I mention that I don't drive in rain? However, I wasn't as exhausted nor was I in pain. When I pulled into my complex, I was both happy and sad. Happy to have safely driven 989.9 miles. Happy to have enjoyed twice as many smiles. But sad because it was over. I met great people this weekend - including strangers who welcomed me to dinner, an inspirational coach and a creative jewellery designer. Proving the small world theory, I had dinner at a then stranger's house who turned out to be the friend of a friend.

It's definitely a weekend that I will remember forever. I'm glad I stepped way out of my comfort zone (hundreds of miles out!) and made the trip.

A huge shout-out to my hosts! Thanks for taking so much time out of your schedules to entertain me!

Now let me go hide my car key. I am NEVER driving again. My butt hurts!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

I made bread!

Not the best pic and not the best formed, but I made Sourdough bread!
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