Little Steps With Big Rewards

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Since I moved here to Spain, my biggest handicap is my inability to speak the language. I don't have any friends here out side my boyfriends family and acquaintances, and I never had money for lessons. Slowly I have picked up words and phrases thought my time here, but never enough to really be fluent.

Finely, I had decided that if were going to make it here, it's time I really set out and found a way to speak Spanish. After a bit of searching and brain storming, I came up with the idea to offer lesson exchanges, via a yahoo group called FreeCycle.

I posted my add and meet with great success! Not only have I found tutors to teach me, but I have started a second yahoo group dedicated to the idea. My first full lesson is on Thursday, and our first group meeting is on Wednesday.

I am excited eager to meet new friends here in Madrid, and to finally learn Spanish. It's amazing how often being a little innovative and brave can often pay off.

My Yahoo group is entitled MadridTalk and can be found via this link.

Customs Adventure, Part 2

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Well after getting up at 8 am and out the door with out breakfast or coffee, my friend Pablo and I, made our way to customs. It was a short subway trip to the bus terminal, and an extremely long trip on the bus. Once we reached the end of the line, we were fortunate enough to have a nice bus driver who told us the way to customs. It is on an industrial outstretch of the airport, adjacent to a big highway we had to cross with out street light. Always exciting!

Once there we had a short walk around the urine smelling building to the hidden entrance along the side. Luckily because we left early there wasn't any lines and the employees were still in a good mood. Having my friend Pablo translate for me, we explained the package was a gift from my mother. It was sent to me for my birthday and all the contents were for personal use. We were promptly informed that "There are no gifts as far as customs is involved." Apparently a company motto as they all repeated it often.

Fortuity the nice woman who had taken our claim was quite helpful. She asked permission to look in the box then stepped out of the room a few short moments. When she returned she informed us that the fee was waved and we could pick the box up for the 4 euro surcharge and be on our way. She also explained to us the reason it was stopped is because it contained food items.

If you plan to ship food to a person in another country, be prepared for some hassle. The crack down on meat, fresh produce, and chemical contents is at a high. Even items containing animal products will be stopped. The care pack from my mother had only a few sweet treats and none of them contained chemicals on the no ship list.

We were then free to walk way and make the whole lovely trip in reverse. This time with a large and heavy box to add some entertainment. In all our trip came from 8:45 am when we left the house, until almost 1pm in the afternoon when we returned home. All to speak for under five minutes with a customs agent and pay a 4 euro surcharge.

We where happy that the 100 to 6,000 euro charge wasn't applied to us. (On the notice we received from customs it said we would be charge between those amounts, even if for personal use.) I still don't understand, if nothing was wrong with the box and no one did anything illegal, why we had to pay anything at all. I'm not going to dwell on that though, it worked out and thats all that matters.

If your ever wondering why customs is so bad, I have found the truth. Across from the postal and customs building was this.

Yes, it all makes sense now!

Customs Adventure, Part 1

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tomorrow I get the pleasure of enjoying a trip to Spain's customs agency to negotiate release of my package. Never once, since I was a small child, have I ever had an issue with customs. I have been vacationing, traveling, and sending mail back and forth for many years. Of course I have at times payed a little extra money for tariffs or taxes when it comes to some packages crossing countries, but thats to be expected.

This time however, they have withheld my package until I appear at the airport. Not only will this be extremely inconvenient, but it is likely to be both expensive and time consuming. Then of course, I need to ask a friend for help, because I am not fluent in the native language. All of this because, well I can't really figure why. I have had bigger and more expensive items shipped to me in Spain. I pay my tariffs and taxes and life goes on.

By no means am I looking forward to tomorrow.

I will send an update after this affair is settled and hopefully I will receive an explanation on what went wrong and how I can avoid it in the future. Wish me luck!

Ah.. Silence at Last!

Monday, July 7, 2008

A while back I wrote a post complaining about my neighbors from hell. Well, it seems we weren't the only ones who had enough with the noise levels. The neighborhood community set out a campaign to lower the outrageous amount of noise past midnight. After the third notice arrived last week, warning about the crack down on violators, the late night street parties have seemed to diminish.

It's nice to sleep at night once more! Now if only the other neighbors would stop deep frying sardines in butter, it would be perfect. At least they don't eat at the same time as us. This way we can at least enjoy our food before the smoke and stink of burnt fish and butter fills our home. God I love apartments!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Here is a link to a blog for humor. It will have jokes and pictures of humorous things, but some of them may be considered offensive to some people. Listed below is the page description and warnings for Just2Wrong.

Just2Wrong is a blog for humor. This is a collection of jokes that make you roll your eyes and look away, even though your snickering on the inside. We will avoid explicitly sexual and violently raciest humor, other then that no one is safe.

Any content that may be considered too extreme will be filtered out, any off color items will be off site linked. This way no one is exposed to more then they care to be, and the site will remain work and child safe to view.

In no way do the jokes express the blogs or my own stand points. This is just some thing to laugh at, most images and jokes here are FICTIONAL, and should not hold barring on the people they poke fun at.

If at any time you feel a topic is past the limit, please feel free to comment and it will be off site linked. There will never be any nudity openly shown on this site.


Happy 4th

Friday, July 4, 2008

To all my American friends, and any other who wish to celebrate today, Happy Fourth of July!
I hope every one can enjoy this clip =)

I have to give Credit to Neatorama for finding it.

Email Safety: Before You Forward That!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I have noticed a lot of forwarded letters from friends and family. The act of receiving a mass mailed letter doesn't bother me one bit, not even chain mail. Seeing my email in a huge list that has been given to countless numbers of people does. Here is a little bit of short and simple information for email etiquette to help you and your mailing list stay safe.

Protect Others

If you have to forward an email to several people use the BCC, this will allow all the people you are sending it to to remain antonymous. No one want's 300 spam mail letters to their email account.

Protect Your Self and Your Family
  • Don't forward with your personal signature attached.
  • Don't use email with your full name for social letters.
  • Never give even basic personal information in email or chats that are not encrypted and with a reputable source.
Email can reach limitless amounts of people with a single froward, do not allow personal information to fall in to the wrong hands. With a name and a phone number a good criminal can obtain enough information to use your identity. Even if people can't access your money or credit, they can use your name, phone number, and address in other circumstances.

For example, a few years ago my friend received a notice he had a bench warrant in an area he has never been. As it turns out some one who had his full name and address gave it to the police as his own when receiving a jay walking ticket. My friend had to travel to another state and have the issuing officer verify he was not the man he wrote the offense out to.

Protect your family and household!
  • Never spread an email that lets people know you have children or live alone.
  • Never spread an email with dates or times your not at your house.
With your phone number alone most people can find your home or work address. This makes it easy for a predator to break in to your house, stalk you, or worse. People with children and elderly need to be extremely careful of online predators, they are predators off line too!!!

Here are some links to help you find out how vulnerable you are and how to help protect yourself and your emails.

E-mail safety information

Prevent Spam Mails

See what others can with your phone number alone:

Odd Happy Birthday Greeting

Friday, June 27, 2008

This morning as I was opening my mail I found an odd Happy Birthday greeting. Star Gate Worlds, a new MMORPG in development, sent it. I am registered with their forums so I guess it's a polite feature they added. I have been playing MMOs since EverQuest came out 9? years ago. This is the first time any of them have sent me a Birthday Greeting, I found it quite nice of them.

As you can see it's short and to the point, no adds or subtle catches. Just thought I would share as it was an unique experience to receive one like this. For any one who is wondering you can find the game trailer movie here. The game is in development for later this year, and has not yet reached beta.

30 by the Morning

Thursday, June 26, 2008

When I wake up tomorrow morning I will be 30. I look froward to a quiet day with my boyfriend, a good meal and a movie with snacks in the living room. Of course the meal we will eat out, no dishes on birthdays, it's an international law of mine. The following morning we will be going out to the families house to see his mother, It was her birthday last week.

If I don't get another post in before Tuesday, don't be surprised, but I will have all three posts up next week.

Have a great weekend!

Game Review: GTA 4 (PS3)

I'm not a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, the whole idea of shooting police and prostitution was never appealing to me. When my boyfriend bought himself a copy of GTA 4, I rolled my eyes and went on about my day. After a few weeks went by hearing and glancing from time to time at him play, my curiosity got peaked. Eventually I gave in and decided to give it a try, after a short time playing, I was impressed.

The content is still extremely adult, but the game box is rather explicit in emphasizing that it's not for children. The story lines are rich, there are plenty of cut scene, and most unwanted content is optional. I find it to be no worse then a rated R movie Any scene your not interested in you can fast froward threw.

One of the features I like about the game is the ability to change the story line and determine your characters nature by making choices for the character. The fact that allowing some one to live or die has future rolls to play in the game is a nice aspect that gives it good replay ability.

The ability to make and keep friends, gain favors, date, save cars, change clothing, shop, and even use the in game Internet (not real Internet), are interesting side tracks from the daily grind of missions and story line. There is no lack of mini games either, between ramp jumps, side missions, races, and pigeon hunting. They even included some puzzle style video games you can access from the arcade machines.

What I don't like about the game is the countless repetition in missions. I do appreciate the fact they tried hard to make hours of play for content, but doing the same thing 10 ways is some times annoying. The fact that a professional hit man some times tries to do things in irrational ways is some what annoying to me as well.

While some people may enjoy walking in to the middle of a room and gunning every one down, I prefer a little more tactics. If I was going to assassination a person, I would not wait in front of his house then chance him threw the streets in a car. Needless to say, stupid people annoy me and that includes in video games.

There are few bugs to speak of, once in a rare while you get a graphics bug, but nothing game stopping. As far as auto and visual it's a nice game. The occasional camera angle may drive you mad, or completely block your view, but this is the same with all games. Some of the game issues I find discouraging is th lack of customization to the controllers, and weapon swapping.

With the controllers there is only two settings and they are pre-configured. There is no ability to change driving and camera controls. The aiming can be a bit much in some times too, as you have to cycle threw targets with auto aim. As for the weapon swapping, it is again cycling threw the weapons until you get the right one. This is all during active play, you can not pause and do this.

In all I would have to give GTA4 a good review, I am enjoying the game and eager to see how the story plays out. While I am not a fan of games with such violent and adult topics, the labeling is clear and the characters seem to discourage a lot of it.

For more on this game feel free to view some professional game reviews.

Sugar Alcohols: Round Up

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sugar Alcohols are natural occurring chemicals found in foods, most commonly starches and sugars. Their chemical make up closely resembles that of both sugar and alcohol, but the substance does not contain either one. It is technically a group of carbohydrates called Polyols.

Each Sugar Alcohol is different and the pros and cons may vary. The three most commonly used in current food production are: Xylitol , Sorbitol, and Maltitol.

These are often used in combination with each other or with artificial sweeteners. Most often they are used to lower calorie, carbohydrates, or sugar levels in food. This however, is not the extent of their use. Commonly you can find them as flavoring, bulking agents and to add texture to foods.

Below are the good, bad, and some times ugly sides of Sugar Alcohols. Please understand these effects can vary greatly due to the amount used, the kind, and your tolerance to them.

The most common benefits of Sugar Alcohols are:

  1. Lowered Calories
  2. Lowered Glycemic Levels
  3. Lower Net Carbs
  4. Oral Health

Here is a chart from on the sweetness and glycemic index of some Sugar Alcohols.

This chart compares the different polyols.

GI=glycemic index

Cal/g=Calories per gram

Bear in mind that the glycemic index is a range, rather than a fixed number. Different studies yield different results. This chart is mainly sourced by the Livesey research reported in Nutrition Research Reviews, December 2003.

Comparison of Sugar and Sugar Alcohols

  • Ingredient Sweetness GI Cal/g
  • Sucrose(sugar) 100% 60 4
  • Maltitol Syrup 75% 52 3
  • Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate 33% 39 2.8
  • Maltitol 75% 36 2.7
  • Xylitol 100% 13 2.5
  • Isomalt 55% 9 2.1
  • Sorbitol 60% 9 2.5
  • Lactitol 35% 6 2
  • Mannitol 60% 0 1.5
  • Erythritol 70% 0 0.2

Common disadvantages to Sugar Alcohols:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Rectal bleeding
  5. Vomiting
  6. Weakness
  7. Dizziness
  8. Persistent urge to empty the bowel
  9. Flatulence

Real Life Stupidity: Kidnapping for Cleaner Homes

This has to be one of the worst reasons to kidnap some one. (Not that there are any good reasons) Just a little advice, if you going to risk the serious charges attached to a crime like kidnapping, think of a better reason then a clean home.

An Italian man was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend from a pub, taking her home and forcing her to iron his clothes and wash the dishes, police said Monday.

Link: Reuters

It's just amazing what some people do with out thinking it threw.

Sugar Alcohols: Maltitol

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Maltitol, is a polyols made from high maltose corn syrup. It has 90% of sugars sweetness and approximately 3.0 calories per gram. The calories in Maltitol is not much of an improvement from sugars 4 calories per gram, but because it is a polyols, it uses less insulin to digest. This makes it lower in carbohydrates and safer for diabetics to consume. Like most polyols, it does not to promote tooth decay.

All though it is considered the safest of sugar alcohols, excessive consumption may have a laxative effect. Some people have considerable trouble tolerating even small doses of Maltitol. Studies have shown this may be due to the fact that in some people, the digestive process extracts considerable amounts of sorbitol. My friend wrote to me about his encounter with maltitol, and said he was in significant discomfort.

For most people Maltitol in small doses is harmless, how ever it does have a laxative effect close to Sorbitol and other polyols. Low carbohydrate diets are advised to avoid maltiol, due to the low reduction from calories to sugar. While diabetics may find some relief in the lower hypoglycemic levels of maltitol, they should be concerned with the amount ingested.

Reference links

Finally a Break

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Today was my last appointment of the month, with my dentists and his medical appointments June was one busy time. The only task I have left this month is my birthday, and I plan to celebrate that in a relaxed day out with my boyfriend.

I look forward to returning to posting several times a week, and I thank every one for checking back to see if I was still around. I now have my camera and I hope to start adding some photos with my project posts.

Sugar Alcohols: Sorbitol

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol with two thirds the calories of sugar, and 60% of sugar's sweetness. It like many sugar alcohols is not fully absorbed in the digestive process, keeping insulin levels lower then sugar would. It also does not promote tooth decay.

Sorbitol is used as a bulk sweetener, it is often used for the texture or taste it can add to food products. It has been used in a variety of products reduced in calories, sugar, or fat. Sorbital has been used for almost half a century already, it occurs naturally in a wide variety of fruits and berries.

Sorbitol has been declared as GRAS for food product use by the FDA and is approved for use by the European Union and others, including Australia, Canada and Japan. Sorbitol has many other uses apparently, in addition to food products it can be used in medications such as the following.

SORBITOL ORAL - This medication is used as a laxative to treat occasional episodes of constipation.
3% Sorbitol Urologic Irrigating Solution- indicated for use as a urological irrigating fluid with endoscopic instruments during trans urethral procedures requiring distension, irrigation, and lavage of the urinary bladder. It may be used for lavage of an indwelling catheter to maintain patency.

However Sorbitol has some serious down sides and dangers. It has been linked to or believed to be linked to all of, and not limited to, the following.

  • dehydration
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • diarrhea
  • rectal bleeding
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • persistent urge to empty the bowel
  • flatulence

sorbitol in quantities as low as 10g per day causes diarrhea - brought on by the so-called osmotic purge happening in the gut.

Sorbitol is a polyalcohol sugar and is neither digested nor absorbed by the small intestine. It passes through to the colon where it drives an osmotic purge (2). This means it passes through the lining of the intestine causing fluids (mostly water) to pass through in the opposite direction via osmosis. Bowel motions become watery and lead to dehydration and over time, other consequences like malabsorption of nutrients.


Sorbitol may even be hazardous to diabetics, child development, and may even cause fetal damage in pregnant woman.

It is important to remember that Sorbitol is a NATURAL substance our body uses every day. How ever introducing anything, no matter how beneficial, in large and unnatural amounts is dangerous. It just so happens that sugar alcohols occur in extremely small amounts naturally and increasing them threw artificial means, can be dangerous. This is not to say never use it, I am just trying to say maybe it's better to solve the sweet tooth with natural fruit then with a sugar free cake.

Links: reference

Off to the Dentist Again

Friday, June 13, 2008

If I have to have my teeth poked, prodded, or pried at one more time I think I will run away. For the last few weeks I have been in and out of two separate dentists for a list of procedures. Of course it's my fault, but that doesn't make it any easier.

It's odd for me to have such an issue with my teeth, the only time before in my life when I had to go to the dentist was for my wisdom teeth. When I was in my late twenties I had a wisdom tooth invasion and they all came in the wrong way, I had all but one removed. The one that remained was barely threw but had already broken the tooth in front of it.

They were working on that molar when I came to Spain. I regrettably, never had it finished and spent the last 3 to 4 years with temporary dental work. Now all at once, one of my upper molars broke, the temporary work is ruined, and the wisdom tooth came to reap it's revenge. Thats why I have had limited posts and many adventures in and out of the dentists here in Spain.

I do hope this is the last trip, I am going in for at least 1 root canal today. If they can fix the top tooth and finish the other then I would have completed all the work needed. I don't know, however, if they plan to do only one to both today.

On the up hand this has given me several things to write about when I can grab the time again. It seems simple things like water supplies, diet, and the amount you chew food, can effect your dental health. I plan to write on how to deal with, avoid, and treat dental pain and aliments. Perhaps this will help you all avoid the annoyance of the dental chair.

Sugar Alcohols: Xylitol

Monday, June 9, 2008

Xylitol, can be considered one of the better Sugar Alcohols on the market. It is one of the most common polyols found in our natural food supplies. This Sugar Alcohol is often made from foods like fruits, berries, mushrooms lettuce, hardwoods, and corn cobs.

Our body actually produces some of this substance naturally in digestion and is considered a regular part of metabolism. The human body can even produce up to 15 grams of Xylitol depending on our diet.

Xylitol is also promoted for tooth care, it is believed that regular use of small amounts can help protect your teeth. It has been identified that using gum or candies made with Xylitol can stimulate saliva, witch in turn, helps keep your teeth in good shape. Some even claim that it can kill bacteria in your mouth it's self.

The daily recommendation for Xylitol is 12 to 15 grams. This however INCLUDES what your body makes naturally. Most gums and candies made of Xylitol contain .7 to 1 gram, in it's self.

The real warnings you need to know are simple. DO NOT EXCEED 15 GRAMS A DAY. Failure to comply will cause side effects. It is said that consuming 400 grams would be highly toxic to humans, and there are great concerns on the processing techniques used to mass produce Xylitol.

In lab tests, Xylitol will kill a rat 50% of the time in a dosage of 16.5 grams of Xylitol for every 1000 grams of rat. Medium rats weigh 100-120 grams, or say .25 pounds. That means, to kill a 100 gram rat, you need only to get the rat to consume, 1.65 grams of Xylitol.

There is great debates on the conclusiveness of the published MSDS for Xylitol, critics say they are inconclusive and not been proved safe for consumption. The FDA has however labeled Xylitol as GRAS for human consumption. Please note these concerns are aimed only at the MASS produced versions and not the naturally occurring substance made plants or by your body.

Resources Link: Here

Amazing Photos of Terrifying Natural Events: Flash Floods, Tornados, and More

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I wanted to share a few more pictures of the worlds crazy weather lately. When Mother Nature wants your respect, she commands it threw force. It's hard to think we can put men in space and search for life across the universe, but not master our own planet. We can't even get along with it actually, from the way the environmental news has sounded, maybe this is Earths way of defending it's self.

Then again, maybe it's just freak weather and a lot of pain killers!

Below is the pictures and captions, click the images to go to source page and read articles.

German Flash Floods
That once was a car!

A damaged blue car is seen near Jungingen, southwestern Germany Tuesday, June 3, 2008. Police spokesman Lambert Maute said a normally quiet stream that runs through the Killertal _ which means "killer valley" in German _ in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg became choked with rainwater and morphed into a raging river on Monday evening. Three women were killed and more than 10 people were injured overnight when a severe storm unleashed heavy rains and flash floods on southwestern Germany, police said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Frank Engelhardt)

US Tornado in Oklahoma
This is just a beautiful picture of one of natures most ravaging and deadly forces, I don't know if I should admire it or fear it.

Toxic Town Hit by Tornado, May Pose Health Risks
Murray Evans in Picher, Oklahoma
Associated Press
May 12, 2008

A deadly tornado blew through a heavily polluted former mining town where lead-filled waste is piled into giant mounds, sparking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to check for high lead levels on Monday.

Tornadoes on the Sun
OK so this one isn't on earth, but if tornadoes get your attention, just imagine great big molten, fiery tornadoes!

A solar storm on the sun's surface was shown to twist, like a tornado does on Earth, in images from NASA's STEREO satellite taken on April 9, 2008.

Ethiopia’s Ertale volcano
Speaking of molten and fiery here is a beautiful and deadly photo of lava from Ethiopia’s Ertale volcano.

Lava bubbles and oozes inside a lava lake in Ethiopia’s Ertale volcano. Molten surface temperatures range from 550 degrees Fahrenheit (288 degrees Celsius) to nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (540 degrees Celsius) at the center of the pit.

A Bit More on Sugar Alcohol

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The more I read on Sugar Alcohol, the more I need to look up, here is my basic summaries on what I have discovered so far.

Sugar Alcohol 101

Sugar Alcohols are natural occurring chemicals found in foods, most commonly starches and sugars. Their chemical make up closely resembles that of both sugar and alcohol, but the substance does not contain either one. It is technically a group of carbohydrates called Polyols.

The production of these "Polyols" depend on what form of Sugar Alcohol you want. Some are extracted and some are refined from different assortment of plants and berries. Their common uses include that of bulking agent, flavoring and sweeteners.

Sugar Alcohols, once ingested are incompletely absorbed from the small intestine into the blood. This is why they are considered low carbohydrate and advertised to have weight loss and blood sugar benefits. This slow and incomplete digestion may also lead to diarrhea, bloating, cramps, and gas. This is often effected by the amount eaten and the severity greatly varies from person to person, and by types of Polyos used.

Sugar Alcohols have been determined to not decay teeth, they are considered unfermentable carbohydrates. Simply put, they do not produce the sugar acids that eat away your teeth.

For the most part, Sugar Alcohols seem to be "safe for consumption" due to the fact they are natural substances we eat in common fresh produce and grains. The dangerous part comes when people start to ingest abnormal amounts of them. The more low carbohydrate and sugar free products we eat, the more we add chemicals to our bodies in unnatural amounts.

I still have a whole lot more on this subject, and it would seem that Sugar Alcohols need to be broken down and identified by their subgroups and individually to determine the effects, benefits, and hazards of use. As it seems not all Sugar Alcohols are equal and some are much more hazardous then others.

I hope to have the dieting and blood sugar article done this week, but I will be out of the house and heavily medicated a few days. That may postpone the heavy writing until the week after.

References Link

Computer Game Lovers

Saturday, May 31, 2008

If your a fan of computer games I have some handy links for you. First off I found this lovely link to "List of commercial games released as freeware". Basically, it's a bunch of games you can download, copy, and play legally with out fear. If you have a Torrent, you can find them rather easily. There is also this list of open source games.

If your like me then you prefer to have a copy of the manual, you can find them here. If you want to know what the game is like before you download it, look on one of these review sites:

Just a note, if you have old games you bought and can no longer read or lost your code. Try out this site to help out, they also have programs to help you run it with out having to keep the disk in the whole time. The site is intended for legal purposes only and has some raunchy adds some times, so it's not work or child safe.

Cutting Down a Bit

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I have to post less, I just can't keep up with all the stress of things going on here and posting every day. I will be in and out of dental surgery for the next few weeks, we have lots of doctors appointments coming up, plus were getting married.

I will aim for 3 posts a week, and as things improve I hope to add more. Be sure to check weekly as I will continue to add content. I enjoy doing this, I don't enjoy rushing articles or publishing anything I am not sure of.

Sugar Alcohols?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A friend of mine asked me the other day what I knew about Sugar Alcohol. He seemed quite optimistic at the claims made on the effects for weight loss and blood sugar. As it turns out most people don't know or don't understand properly what Alcohol Sugar is or what it does. As my concerns in nutrition cover weight loss, sugar levels and carbohydrates, I looked a bit deeper in to the topic.

Sugar Alcohol is a low calorie sweetener or flavoring commonly used to replace sugar or improve tastes of artificial sweeteners. They do not contain sugar or alcohol and are considered safe for consumption. Common examples are: Glycerol, Erythritol, Xylitol, Ribitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Isomalt, Maltitol, and Lactitol.

In short, we look forward to the advantages of Sugar Alcohols as a substitute to sugars because it's not known to cause weight gain, raise your hypoglycemic levels, or decay teeth like sugar.

Even thought all sweeteners and food products are extensively studied before FDA approval, we still need to be concerned with how much we use because it's a newly approved product, there are some known side effects, and a lot of claims are still in debate.

**Please note that Alcohol Sugars have not been "approved" as a whole, but some forms have been approved for limited use. The FDA official stand is "generally recognized as safe" and others as approved food additives.

I am always cautious of "new products" as some are ban after they have been approved for years. After all at one time we all painted our homes with lead and asbestos was the next big revolution in construction.

I am currently doing research in to the following topics of Sugar Alcohol: Pros, Cons, Warnings and Interactions, Sugar Alcohols with Dieting, Sugar Alcohols with Diabetes. There will be new articles and information found on this topic within the next few weeks.


Another Day Off For Dentist

Monday, May 26, 2008

Going for Dental Work today, will try to post more tomorrow if not there will be new content on Wednesday.

Sorry for the delay!

Fast Food Lifestyle?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

So many Americans have a fast food and take out life style. We don't want to waist time cooking or doing dishes, so we get fast food or go out to eat. A lot of people know how bad fast food is and try to avoid the items we think are the worst. We get grilled chicken and salads in stead of burgers in hopes to avoid eating the most naughty items.

Sadly, the clear choice isn't always so clear. Fast food does a good job of making the most healthy of meals the worst pick on the menu. The following web pages will help you decide what the least damaging food is when you pull up to that window.

Eat this, No that, this web site lists the best and worst picks of fast food and chain restaurants. They even cover some Supermarket picks, drinks, and more.
This one is a fast food calculator and nutritional information guide, but it has some political messages and the owner clearly hates Rush Limbaugh. If that doesn't bother you, then I suggest checking out their combo calculator. It will let you know just how much damage your about to do and how to avoid the worst of it. They also have this one to help you find the best foods and this one to let you compare the choices side by side.

This site is a calorie calculator that has fast food, deli, pizza, and store bought products. they are all conveniently categorizes with drop down or fill in searches.

I hope this helps in making your fast food choices a little more healthy every day, and remember 33% of all litter is fast food waist. Don't add to the problem, dispose properly and recycle!

Lack of Variety Makes a Diet Hard

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In Spain obesity is a fairly new issue. I know there has always been over weight people in every country of the world, but here it was never a wide spread health problem.

The Spanish diet is heavy on fish and olive oil. Rarely does a traditional Spanish recipe call for butter or cream, even frying they use olive oil. In fact the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the most healthy in the world.

This is a great thing! Well it's great unless you need to be on a calorie restricted diet. Because they are not used to the need of food that is light or sugar-free, they are considered specialty items. This means to buy some thing like tofu or ground turkey you need to travel, or buy an alternative of super lean cuts of beef and chicken from the butcher. In both cases your paying a premium price every time, if you can get it at all.

My only recourse in this matter is to do it myself. This means more investments I don't want to make. I need to find and purchase a meat grinder, an ice cream machine, a crock pot, a grill, and an oven. They are investments I can't afford to make, but can't afford not to.

The real down side is large upfront payments in a time when we have no income. The up side is we both enjoy to cook and they will pay for them selves over time. We can't afford to go off the diet, but we can't afford paying top dollar for meats, produce is costing enough as it is.

It's a hard decision to put out money when the wallet is tight, and it will take some deep consideration and bergen hunting to make this plausible. I will give updates as the week goes on, I need to start window shopping. If you have any suggestions on these items, please let me know. I'm quite open to on line shopping as well as going on foot to stores.

Food Rookie: French(ish) Onion Soup

Thursday, May 22, 2008

One of the foods I truly enjoy is a bubbling hot crock of French onion soup. Unfortunately, like most of my favorite French recipes, it loaded with butter and fats. That's why I have devised a healthy and easier version of the soup. I can't call it French onion soup, but I can say it's smiler in taste, and so much less fat and calories.

This soup is extremely easy to make, the instructions and measurements are just rough guidelines. Experiment with this, I know it may sound crazy but the mix of onions, sauce, and beefy broth smothered in cheese is just hard to mess up. It's a tasty soup and even better the next day.

You can find detailed information on the soup including calories, nutrition, and serving size on my health blog : link here

French(ish) Onion Soup Base:


200 gram onion
50 gram leek, light green and white parts
300 ml vegetable broth
400 ml warm water, with one beef cube dissolved (I use Knorr brand)
10 ml Worcestershire Sauce
teaspoon butter

  1. Slice onions and leek thin, in to half moons.
  2. In hot pot add 2 tea butter, spread, or olive oil. When it's melted add 150 grams of onions and the leek.
  3. Saute until transparent stirring occasionally, if they begin to brown, reduce heat, add broth and simmer until tender.
  4. Add in water and broth then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minuets.
  5. Add reserve onion then return to boil, add Worcestershire Sauce Return to simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Adjust flavor with additional broth, and Worcestershire Sauce, as needed.

French(ish) Onion Soup Finish:

  1. Toast your favorite bread, and layer it in center of bowl.
  2. Shred or thinly slice cheese.
  3. Poor hot soup over bread
  4. Cover with cheese
  5. Place in oven or broiler, and melt or brown the cheese as desired
  6. Enjoy!
Please note, nutritional information of soup does not cover bread and cheese, so choose wisely.

Computer Gadgets: reCAPTCHA

reCAPTCHA is a nice little web based program that helps you fight automated spam mail. It deters spam bots that search forums and chats for email addresses, or web sites that require email to sign up then spam you.

reCAPTCHA simply adds a verification box so that automated mail will not go threw. All it requires is that the sender types out the letters they see in the box before the mail is sent. This is great if you use messengers, forums, or chats that you need to send your email threw.

You don't have to change your email address, or give your password or account information to use this. It's easy, simple, and free, for more information check out the site at:

Tired of spam? reCAPTCHA Mailhide helps you protect your inbox by asking people to solve a reCAPTCHA before they can view your email address.

The reCAPTCHA can only be solved by humans, so this stops spammers from gaining access to your email address through automated programs. Here is an example:

Herbal Garden: Prepping for Basil

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It seems my preparation work for basil will be almost identical to that of Rosemary. The only difference is that fort basil I need to pick up some liquid plant food, and be sure to get a good rich compost soil.

Because it can take some time to germinate seeds or root clippings for basil, I am going to look for seedlings. If I fail to find them, i will try a late start with germinating my own seeds.

Basil prefers a well draining soil just like rosemary, so more broken pots to help my plants grow. It's a great way to release stress, and your recycling! I never thought I could have so much fun smashing ceramic and not worry about feeling guilty.

Just remember if your breaking items like this, wear eye protection. You may look funny, but loosing an eye would look worse. You can feel free to use old plates or cups, this is a good use for many old items. Be sure anything you use is non- toxic, last thing you want to do is kill your new plants.

Now the hardest step of getting ready for basil, picking the kind! It just so happens that there is a large amount of species to choose from. After talking it over and looking more closely at each kind, we have settled on Sweet Basil.

Here is a little deeper look in to the kinds and what they are used for thanks to GardenAction.

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilcum) - the most popular variety in the UK used in Italian style dishes and salads. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in)

Cinnamon Basil (Ocimum basilcum) - form Mexico, with a cinnamon flavour. It grows to a height of 45cm (18in).

Lemon Basil (Ocimum citriodorum) - mild lemon flavour, commonly used with fish. It grows to a height of 30cm (12in).

Purple Basil (Ocimum basilcum purpurea) - similar to sweet basil, but with purple leaves. One of the more tender varieties. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in)

Red Rubin Basil (Ocimum basilcum) - similar to sweet basil but very darkly coloured leaves.
HHA. Ht. 75cm. A much deeper colour than purple basil. It grows to a height of 75cm (2ft 6in)

Thai Basil (Ocimum sp.) - very spicy, used in Indian cooking. It grows to a height of 90cm (3ft).

As always you can find more information on Basil from my reference links.

Herbal Garden: Prepping for Rosemary

After doing some reading on this wonderful herb, I have decided to skip the seeds and try to find a seedling or cutting to root myself. I was happy to find well of information on how to grow and tend to rosemary. The planting season has already begun, so I need to get read to start growing as soon as possible.

The first thing I need to do is find a good sunny spot on the terrace. I have lots of clay pots that we wanted to discard. I will use some to break and make a draining layer at the bottom of my growing pot. This will save me the time and money of finding stones or spacers for a drainage layer.

I will need to buy new soil, the old stuff that is in the pots are from when my boyfriend moved in about 7 years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if they were from the former tenants and he just never bothered to throw them away. Still, the clay pots littering our terrace are plentiful, and some in good condition, so they are ideal for what I want.

Most sites recommend using a sandy soil, because rosemary likes to stay well drained. Well, that's not hard in Madrid, I will pop out and get that from the local market square. They don't feed a lot so I won't worry about fertilizer for this first season in fresh soil. It should be more then enough to sustain it's self.

The terrace is open so the air circulation is good, and it gets 6 -8 hours of sunlight a day. That fulfills the other plant requirements for rosemary. The last thing I need to do is find some thing to elevate it on, so that it gets enough sun over the rail. At least until it is tall enough to fend on it's own. Rosemary does grow a bit large it would seem from the descriptions, so I have make some more room out there.

If you would like more information on the requirements of rosemary please feel free to visit my resource links.

I do have to note that I found this article from to be the most clear and useful.
Rosemary - You Can Grow the Herb Rosemary

Skribit Widget

You may be wondering what that Skribit box is on the left of the blog. I came across this while browsing some tech blogs. I believe I found it on a blog called Make Use of.

Skribit is a widget that allows you to make a sugestion of topics for the blog. You can write up to 100 characters. This will let me know what aspects of the things I write you are more interested in.
I just thought it would be fun to test out, and gives people a chance to interact in other ways then leaving comments.

For more information, please visit the Skribit site at:

Herbal Garden Selection

I was looking threw some things to find out what the best choice of herbs would be for our living arrangements. The two that I found best fulfilled my requirements was Rosemary and Basil, Not only do we enjoy to cook with them, but they also grow well in our climate.

It would seem these two spices have great insect repelling qualities, and do not attract predatory wasps . While Rosemary will attract bees during pollination periods, it should not be prolonged or excessive. These two plants are speculated to be especially good at repelling mosquitoes and flies. We plan to cook out on the terrace this summer, so they sound just right for what we need, and they should grow well here in Madrid.

Now the trick is finding a place that I can find started plants or seeds. I need to read up on how to grow and care for these two particular spices still. I do know that they are grown locally to our climate, but I have not yet taken time to learn how to do it myself. I hope to have more information for you this week.

To learn more on insect qualities of spices, please feel free to look threw my reference links.

Herbal Garden Project

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A while back I was talking about my bulk shopping and my friend Sangria brought up the home growing suggestion. I know it would be hard to make room to grow produce, and the laws about growing on your terrace would make it difficult to try. I have considered the alternative of growing my own herbs.

The considerations I have for this project are not nearly as complicated as most. I will need to pick herbs that can grow easily in the Mediterranean climate. Preferably ones that have the beneficial qualities of insect repelling. I would want them to be herbs we like to use, and that can be brewed for teas.

The things I will need to avoid are any herbs that attracts wasps and predatory insects or bees past pollination periods. We have both pollen and bee allergies to consider in my household. Our terrace is small and it would be hard to share with wasps. We don't mind the occasional hard working bee though.

With the laws here, i can only grow in pots, I cant make any troff. They have to drain elevated so I cant make any dirt or sand patches on to the ground. It also has to be a moderately low moisture plant that can withstand full or partial sunlight, and hopefully doesn't grow to large. Living on the fourth floor it also should not be a plant that drops any heavy or hard bits such as large fruits or nuts.

I will look in to this more another day, tomorrow is my first dentist visit in Spain. I will most likely not be up to working on anything after that one, but I don't plan to be out of action long.
If you have any tips or information on good things to grow in sunny Madrid, Spain that may help, please let me know.

Charity Clothing in Madrid

Friday, May 16, 2008

After burring the living room in bags of clothing for charity I used the Salvation Army contact so graciously provided by my friend Sangria. The morning after I had sent them an email, they sent me the following reply.

We have in Madrid three Community Centers which are receiving and distributing clothing.

In our Center in Valdemoro there is also a Thrift Store.

We really do not have here in Madrid a collect system. Usually people bring their own clothing to our Centers. If you have a big amount of clothing, we can arrange so that one of our official vehicles can make a collection.

As well as in the States, the money raised is used for the maintenance of our social services and development our charity projects.

Here you can find the contact info for the Centers mentioned:

c/ Hermosilla, 126. Lc. 4
28028 MADRID
Phone: 913566644
Contact person: Major Shane Gruer-Caulfield

Av. Rafael Alberti, 18Bis
28018 MADRID
Phone: 91 7781784
Contact person: Major Belinda Arias

c/ Bret�n de los Herreros, 10.
Phone: 91 2481646
Contact person: Captain Luis Romera

Please feel free to contact our colleagues to organize the deliver or collection of your clothing.

I trust you will find this information helpful.

May God bless you.


Carmen Alvea
Administrative Secretary
The Salvation Army - Spain Command

I also did some looking around my local area and found a local mall has bins for clothing collection. My boyfriends mother also mentioned that there was a church by her house that had bins. Seeing the Salvation Army is quite a distance from us, and I don't feel I have enough for a pick up, I will do small deliveries to the mall and drop off at the church.

Nether one of the two locations is close, but they are in enough distance to reach with small loads. In this day and age of hard times, I just don't have the heart to waist perfectly good clothing. I know there are plenty of people who can really benefit from a little bit of my effort, so I will make trips every time I can. I think in a week or so I can unload it all with out going directly out of my way to do it.

Now the real challenge is not spending money when I pass threw the mall so many times!

Diet Update and Todays Menu

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's been a few weeks and I thought I would take a moment to give you an update on how the weight loss and home rehabilitation have come along. So far in 3 weeks we have lost a little over 4 kilos (10 pounds). Our walking has made it up to 10 minutes every other day, and we have weaned down the need for some of the pain killers.

I still have him on a loose 1,000 calorie diet, that I let vary up to 100 calories on days he walks. With mothers day and some Madrid holidays within the last weeks, we did cheat about 4 days. He watched how much he consumed, but still ate a lot of food and sweets you wouldn't on a diet. This lead to one week with out weight loss, but no weight gain.

Here is a sample of the meal plan we used today, this is a 1,000 calorie base and was filling even for me. I did however eat an additional yogurt and soup to reach the calories I should have in the day.


  • Chocolate Puffed Cereal 30 grams (1cup) with 120 ML light milk (195 kcal)
  • 2 cups Spanish Coffee with 120 ml light milk (35 kcal each 70kcal total)



  • 3 cups popcorn (air popped) with Parmesan cheese (120 kcal)

Snack: (100 kcal)
  • 1/2 a turkey and cheese toasty 80 kcal
  • 30 gram apple 16 kcal
  • 20 gram tomato 4 kcal

*Note: Turkey and cheese toasty, made on light bread with low fat sliced deli style turkey and reduced calorie and fat cheese. Thin tomato, onion, lettuce and a small amount of brown mustard were also added. This is a great spot to fulfill your higher calorie needs by using whole wheat bread and eating a whole apple.

Another Delay in Progress

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Well, I just wanted to warn you I may not be posting a few days in the coming weeks. You see I was lucky enough to have my filling come out. Never is loosing dental work enjoyable, but I was able to deal with it. Now I have managed to break a separate tooth and the need for the dentist is here.

I will be making my appointments tomorrow and be back and forth with the dentist for as long as it takes to fix these teeth. Nothing in this world hurts quite like a good tooth ache, and it's just killing me. I will try to get as much up as I can, but I think most of my time will be spent on pain killers, ricing, or trying to sleep.

When this is all over I will resume my blogging duties properly and hopefully be able to add some content deeper then fluff, but right now I can barely sit at the computer. I do apologizes again.

Pic via

Computer Gadgets: PicArtia

This is a real interesting one, you upload images and it creates a mosaic for you. It's free and if you really like what you made you can order prints of it from them.

Just wanted to show it around, I found it amusing even though I have failed at getting a good outcome from it, but then again I don't have so many pictures to try.

Take a look and enjoy, you can find the link here.

Funny Stuff Caught on Film

Just had to share this great picture.

I found it on Pixaus, you can find it at this URL:

and this one at

Spending a lot of my life by water I enjoyed these a lot. It's hard to imagine how pesky and sneaks these seagulls can be until you catch them red handed.

Ingenious Rechargeable Batteries

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I came across these gems today while browsing this store. I know rechargeable batteries have been around a long time, and they keep improving them. However I have never seen USB rechargeable batteries before.

Such a simple concept yet so incredibly handy. Not only can you just charge it in almost any computer, but you can also use any standard NiMH charger. I just thought it was worth sharing, so I am passing it along.

You can find the information here:

Underwarter Cemetary Open for Busniess

As strange as it sounds this divers find is more then a must see before you die destination. For some people it's their choice for a final resting ground. If you like the idea of being part of an epic project that will have your name memorialized in an underwater tourist attraction, then maybe you should consider buying a spot at Neptune Memorial Reef.

There is of course some terms and conditions it. They can't actually bury your remains there, but they will be more then happy to dump your ashes in to a mix of concrete they use to build it with. For your moneys worth they make you a nice plaque that is installed in to the monument, it will server as your grave stone.

Click here to see their video:

Just remember cost of a placement starts at $995 and can go up past $6,000

Read more at: Watery graves offer a haven for divers via

Madrid Clothing Dilemma

I have been neglecting my blogging duties, and I apologize for that. The weather has been suitable to get underway with my spring cleaning projects and it seems the more I do, the more I find I need to do.

In my previous posts, I decided to start my spring cleaning with my clothing bins and closet. Most of our clothing is rather old and just doesn't fit right anymore or is begging to get well worn. The question isn't weather we should discard them, the question is how to do it. In the area we living there are no clothing drives.

I have been spending some of my time sorting out the clothing that is good enough to give away and what needs to be come rags. Now I need to decide what to do with all these rags and find some kind of charity or person willing to take the clothing. Once i sort out this dilemma I will be sure to leave a post on the options I found. It may come in handy for other people who are facing the same questions.

Fun Dose For the Day

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I didn't find enough energy or time today to write a proper post. All I can offer is a bit of humor I stumbled upon today. I hope you can enjoy them as I did.

Just a warning that if you are easly insulted don't read them. Nothing here should be specifically offensive, none of it is harsh or uses bad language. I thought just better to be safe then sorry and add a disclaimer.

This is one for the Europeans

This is for the Americans

This is for every one

This is for adults, but is safe for work. (no explicit content or foul language, just funny quotes about sex in general)

Food Storage: Bread

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bread has to be one of the foods that people waist more of. We often discard the crusts, toss out the ends, and allow half our loaf to go bad before we finish it. It's a shame that so much food goes to waist when stored correctly it can last so long and be used in so many stages of freshness. Here is some advice on the ways to store bread and the things you can do with your excess.

Bread Storage
If your not the kind of person or family who can eat a whole loaf of bread quickly, store it in the refrigerator. Refrigerating bread can add days on to it's freshness, and keep away the mold even after it becomes stale. For families who need even longer, try dividing the loaf in half. Package one of the halves in to portions, wrap in paper and foil then freeze. Place the other half in the refrigerator for use.

When freezing a whole loaf of bread, you can place paper between each slice and freeze together. Bread is easily defrosted by unwrapping and toasting, allowing to sit a few moments, or microwaving on low for a few seconds. You could also pack the frozen bread slices in your lunch pack. It will help keep the food cold, and will be defrosted and ready to eat by lunch. Freezing bread in pre-measured portions is a great way to help you keep track of your food and loose weight.

If you choose not to refrigerate or freeze your bread, then keep it wrapped well, out of sunlight and extreme heat, and away from moisture. Bread that goes stale can be used, bread that becomes molded must be discarded.

Bread Uses
There are many uses for the parts of the bread that many people consider undesirable. For example the ends and crust of bread can be dried and made in to bread crumbs. If bread becomes stale it can be used as garlic bread, croutons, bread crumbs, or even stuffing. If you keep a small bag or container in the freezer for bread scraps you can save the small amounts and make large batches over time.

*Look later this week for recipes that work well with older bread or crusts.

Amazing Photos of Terrifying Natural Events: Texas Events

Friday, May 9, 2008

"Amarillo, Texas, May 6, 2008—
A supercell—the strongest and most severe type of thunderstorm—lights up the sky over Amarillo. "

Just in case the storms in West Texas weren't enough, two days later the ground opened up. It still can't compare to the devastation the Volcano in Chile is causing right now, or that the cyclone in Myanmar, but it's still amazing!

Texas Sinkhole, this is just an incredible picture to me.

"Daisetta, Texas, May 8, 2008—Looking something like a prehistoric tar pit, a giant sinkhole yawns across the landscape of a southeast Texas town.

The huge hole formed suddenly on May 7 and rapidly began expanding, swallowing up vehicles, telephone poles, and oil-drilling equipment. Now some 600 feet (180 meters) wide, the crater seems to have stopped growing but sits filled with debris, water, and oil."

Read more on these stories:

Why We Support Troops

As every one knows the war in the middle east has been ongoing for many years now . I have heard hundreds of stories on why we are there, and hundreds of views on if we should be fighting at all.

Right now the one thing I know is true, and I feel is the most important aspect of this war, is to support the troops who are out there. Now many people don't understand why they should support troops if they don't support the war. I can see how some one not educated in military life can feel that way.

Let me explain it simply, the men and woman fighting right now are there because they wanted to defend their Country. In that military contract they sign over their lives to the judgment of the US government, and to the people who establish it. The government then sends them out to fight anything they deem necessary. If the individual solder or unit of military do not do the assigned duty, they are imprisoned.

Some people feel that prison is better then fighting a war, but when your trained and believe that you are responsible for the life next to you, you learn to think different. Every solder out there knows that if he abandons his friends, they are more likely to get killed. They know every man who doesn't fight, makes another man fight for him. No government on earth will ever say, Oh well we ran out of solders lets end the war. They would rather draft and force people against their will to fight and die on foreign land.

It is for this reason, that every American owes nothing less then support for the troops. If you don't know what you can do to help, here are several links to charity and collections for the solders in the Middle East.

Please note, these charities do NOT FUND the MILITARY and DO NOT FUND the WAR. They are strictly supporting the health and spirit of the individual troops.

If you don't know, silly string has proven effective in detecting trip wires. It can spray a good distance and is light. It will outline a trip wire with out setting it off and this saves lives!

Is Cooking Efficiently Gorse?

A short time back I did a "Food Rookie" on making stocks and broths. As it turns out a few people thought the idea of saving the tidbits of vegetables was disgusting. Truth be told, all those packaged soups you buy are made of scraps. Restaurants and dinners employ the same method too.

Just today I came across an article in the Culinary Review on being an efficient chef. One of the guidelines was saving the scraps for stock. I worked in a very nice three star restaurant when I was a younger. The first thing you learn in a kitchen is that nothing goes to waist. The food industry is a 100% return business. That means you need to make up 100% of the cost on each ingredient purchase in order to make a profit.

As you can imagine, that would mean taking simple shortcuts like making stock and broth from scraps. Saving yesterdays bread for today's garlic bread and croutons, and yes many places reuse unopened packages of condiments. If you want some more incite to the things an efficient cook saves check out my article on stocks and broths and this article on the Culinary Review.

Are You a Super Efficient Cook? - The Culinary Review
Food Rookie: Stock and Broth

Amazing Photos of Terrifying Natural Events: Chile's Volcano

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This absolutely amazing photo of Chile's Chait�n volcano causing an outbreak of lighting was featured in National Geographic's website today. Read article here

This incredible and horrifying event, has been erupting since May 2 2008, in an agricultural area of Chile. Apparently the clouds of dust and ice that form from eruptions can cause lighting. I'm both amazed and terrified at the sight of this volcano and it's effects on everything around it. If the sight of this isn't enough to command your respect, take a look at the effects of the areas around it.

This cow isn't resting in a light dusting of snow, thats volcanic ash that is spewing on to their grazing fields.

The source of the ash, the Chait�n volcano about 75 miles (120 kilometers) away, began erupting May 2. It could continue spewing ash for weeks, experts say (full story).

Chile has evacuated at least 4,000 people and many animals and crops are threatened. If you want to learn more about this event, there are links provided below.

Food Rookie: Mirepoix

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mirepoix, is a French cooking basic, it simply means the combination of carrot, onion, and celery in a dish. This food staple can be the base or topping for everything from simple soups to extravagant meals like Emeril Lagasse's Ribollita.

Today we are going to use it to add the solid foundation to
simple sautes. The combination of a Mirepoix is two parts onion, one part carrot, one part celery. The steps below will tell you how to make several flavorful yet effortless meals with this combination. The fact that this recipe staple is made of three produce items I buy and store in bulk, makes it even more appealing to use.

Mirepoix Combinations:

  • Saute a Mirepoix, after pan frying meat, until tender. Make sure you deglaze the pan with the vegetable combination, serve together as a dish.
  • Chop it small and saute it with more vegetables, server it as a compliment to a main course.
  • Add meat to a Mirepoix, with just one or two slices of bacon or sausage for a wonderfully tasty meal.
  • Saute with mushrooms, when clear remove from heat and add a spoon fool of bread crumbs, insert in to meat and broil. For a wonderful and satisfying stuffed meal.
  • Saute with spinach and add a salty cheese or tomato and stuff in fish to broil.
  • Brown chicken in a rice pan or skillet, then add Mirepoix. Saute until tender, add garlic, bay leaf, and chicken spice. Saute a moment until garlic is tender then add dry rice, mix well. Add water (or broth) to cover and simmer until rice is tender and chicken is cooked threw. Use more water or broth as needed.

A Mirepoix is a true stepping stone for any one learning how to get around the kitchen. Below are some links to the Mirepoix.

Picture via