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)


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?)


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!


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.