Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recipe Round Up: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now, Everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie, and what's better than a chocolate chip cookie with the added wholesomeness of whole rolled oats?  This recipe will become a regular in your house and everyone will be running to the kitchen to enjoy one of these fabulous cookies.

1 cup butter, softened (not melted)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 (11.5oz)package chocolate chips (I prefer dark chocolate)

Using an electric mixer cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Mix in the flours, by the half cup.  Mix in the baking soda and salt.  Using a spoon, stir in the cooking oats.  Add the chocolate chips and stir well.  Chill the dough for at least an hour. 

Preheat oven to 350.  Remove dough from refrigerator.  Prepare baking sheet with oil of choice (I use olive) and spoon dough onto the baking sheet by tablespoon, about 1-2inches apart. 

Bake for 7-9 minutes until edges just start to brown.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to sit for a minute or so.  Remove cookies to cooling rack, (if you can resist the urge to eat one right away), and allow to cool for another 5 minutes.  ENJOY!

 “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
~Robert Fulghum

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Frustrated to Fantastic

Frustrated to Fantastic

You ever have one of those days?  The alarm goes off, you hit it....stare at it...and then wish with all your might that you could stay in bed.  Oh, today was that day.  I've been very frustrated lately.  I've had to learn that its ok to be frustrated.  I try my best to be as upbeat, patient, and personable as possible.....but sometimes.....its ok to just be frustrated. 

I'm even frustrated about multiple job leaves much to be desired, and the job market makes it inescapable.  I'm me....this town is practically wall papered in my resumes.  (pssst....if you know of anything let me know.)  :)   In addition to that frustration, I've had an ongoing ear infection in my right ear....for as long as I can remember really.  Tubes when I was little etc. etc. etc.  I had surgery to have it fixed three weeks ago...and on Monday of this week...pain...infected again.  DOH!

Today, when that alarm went off and the world started screaming my name to pack lunches, and be awake, and mobile, friendly, and alive....I just wanted to roll over and scream NO!  FIVE MORE MINUTES...or hours..... but alas....I crawled out of bed and I went to work.  I made it through the day, and to my Dr's appointment where I was told the ear still looks good...more an irritation from the procedure than an infection and was sent on my merry way with some new ear drops.  (Finger's crossed)

So how did all this turn out fantastic?  I went to the grocery store.  Those of you who know me will know that I have a sick obsession with food.  I can get my retail therapy buying groceries.  I didn't get much, but I had some fresh ingredients and was starting to feel better, and hopeful for what experiment I'd be making this evening.  I picked up my daughter from school, and we headed home chatting about what we would make for supper.  I said crepes, she said frittata....we decided on empanadas.  I'd never attempted to make an empanada before....but we did it. 

She mixed the dough, I cooked the chicken, veggies, and spices.  She helped me roll the dough out, and cut it.  She carefully spooned the filling onto the dough, and I cringed a little at the scrape of her metal spoon on my skillet.  She even helped fold them and do the fork crinkle on the edges, ever so carefully.  When my husband got home he beat an egg and started doing the egg wash on the ones that were ready to bake.  And there we were, all three of us in my little kitchen making dinner together. 

Frustrated to fantastic.  I started focusing on the positive instead of the negative.  The night ended up being awesome...and the empanadas were pretty fantastic too.  Does my ear still hurt...well..yeah.  My job isn't magically blissful either.  Is it ok to be frustrated sometimes?  Absolutely.  But today, I was able to shake it off and I'm glad I did, because I was able to open my eyes to the things that weren't being frustrating.   Will I pop out of bed with a smile on my face promises......

"I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up. "
Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Green Your Pet!

Green Your Pet

I am an animal lover.  I have a dog and cat at home, and the family just wouldn't be complete without them.  We love our animals, but how can we lessen their impact on the environment?  Here are some easy idea's for helping your furry friend be a bit...greener.  :)

The first thing I have to say is spay or neuter your pet.  Too many animals end up in shelters or euthanized because of lack of homes for them.  On that same note, adopt a pet from a shelter next time you get one....consider it a recycle a pet program.  :)  You'll save a life and gain a loved one all in one gesture!

Poopy Bags -
It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.  You love your dog, you walk him, you play with him....but everyone poops eventually, and what you do with that poopy can make a big difference.  If you live in a townhouse, condo, or apartment and have to pick up every time, I highly suggest the flushable bags.  You pick it up, toss it in the potty, and flush.  No lingering smell, no paper/plastic waste, just down the toilet with the rest of the family's poopy.  The trouble with the flushable bags for walks and what not is that if its humid or rainy, or the poo isn't completely.......solid.....the bag may break down before you get home for the flushing.  For these times I suggest a compostable, or biodegradable bag.  There's plenty out there.  You can even get them at your local pet supply store now. 

Kitty Litter-The most popular type of cat litter is clay.  It is mined, shipped to a factory, ground into pellets, powder or flakes and then packed to be used as kitty litter; either clumping or standard.  I want to go back to that last sentence.  It is mined....strip mined to be exact.  It's not a byproduct of something else, they strip mine the clay specifically for kitty litter.  In fact, the US Geological Society estimates that about 85 percent of the nearly 2.6 million tons of clay used in the US per year is used for absorption of pet waste.  This is something I didn't learn until just now.  The waste must be scooped into baggies of some sort, and disposed of.  The litter is not flushable, and once dumped ends up sitting in a landfill for eternity.  If that wasn't enough, your typical clay cat litter also contains silicon particles, known to cause cancer in humans, so when you dump your kitty litter or scoop and your gagging on all that dust....there might be something even nastier getting into your system.  

OK....I'm done putting down the clay cat litter...lets look at alternatives.
 - You've got your Silica cat litter.  This one isn't clumping, but is very absorbent.  You scoop the poo, but only change the litter once a month or so depending on the number of cats in the house.
 - Plant based litters are probably your most sustainable.  World's best cat litter is made from corn.  Swheat is made from wheat, and Feline Pine is made from...well...pine.
 - Recycled material kitty litters are typically made from recycled paper or newspaper pressed into pellets such as Yesterday's News.

My pets:  Ozzy (the cat) and Jax (the dog)

Now we all know kitty is finicky, so choose a litter that your kitty will actually use.  In addition, the silica, corn, and wheat litters are flushable, although there is some concern over toxoplasma being flushed with it.  The plant based and newspaper litters claim to be biodegradable, but this is of course only if you plan to compost them yourself.  They, unlike the clay litters, will eventually break down in a landfill.   

Food -
The most important thing I can say about pet food is to try to get a high quality food made in America.  The next step after that, if your pocket book can handle it, is to find organic foods, or try the raw diets if you want.  Buying a food made in America makes a huge impact, and is safer for your pet. (remember the pet food recall a few years back of several foods made in China?)  You're food will be fresher, and won't have to be shipped as far.  Check out Canidae, Evo, Wellness, and Orijen.  A lot of people also like to feed their animals canned food.  Keep in mind these cans, or plastic containers take a lot of energy to produce, are probably leaking BPA or other harmful chemicals into the food, and are probably not necessary for the health of your pet.  They're actually bad for dental health.  If your animal has a medical condition that requires wet food, check the container for recyclability. 

Toys -
The first rule here for me is reduce, reduce, reduce.  I can't tell you how many times I walk into someones house and see cat or dog toys all over, and I mean really, how often do they play with all those toys!?  My dog has one ball.  That's it.  One.  (He's a seek and destroy dog....nothing stuffed stands a chance, and his 80lb chompers can rip apart almost anything)  My point here is, get a good quality toy that will last a long time.  Our ball is 2 years old.  There are lots of options out there now for toys made from recycled, and/or natural materials too.  Hemp cat toys, the orbee dog toys, and simply fido organic toys are all great options.  You can even grow your own catnip (doesn't get much greener than that) and stuff it in the toe of some old pantyhose for hours of kitty fun. 

Out pets make our houses into homes.  They just need a little help lessening their carbon "paw"print along the way.   

 "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
~ Anatole France 
Jax and his best friend (my daughter)