Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Norse mythology, Valhalla

Posted: August 12, 2019 in Did you know?, General
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Enhance this article with a Viking Chant Click to listen

stairway_to_valhallaIn Norse mythology, Valhalla (/vælˈhælə, vɑːlˈhɑːlə/; from Old Norse Valhöll "hall of the slain") is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin.

In Old Norse, the word for this warrior heaven is "Valhǫll" (literally, "hall of the slain"); in German, it is "Walhalla." … It can be a place of honor (a hall of fame, for example) or a place of bliss (as in "an ice cream lover’s Valhalla").

Does Valhalla mean heaven? In Old Norse, the word for this warrior heaven is "Valhǫll" (literally, "hall of the slain"); in German, it is "Walhalla." … It can be a place of honor (a hall of fame, for example) or a place of bliss (as in "an ice cream lover’s Valhalla").

Do you have to die in battle to go to Valhalla? That is the fate of those who end in Valhalla. If you are unwilling to die in battle, then Valhalla is not the place for you. However, if your problem is not that you are unwilling, but that you are unable to, then consider this: a heroic death, must not be a death through battle in a war.

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bullyingFrom insults hurled on the playground to nasty rumors spread on social media, bullying continues to be a pervasive issue that seems to grow worse as time goes on.  Many layers add to the difficulty in addressing it: a child too afraid to report it, a teacher failing to take reports seriously, parents not knowing what to do,  these can result in severe consequences down the line.

Below is a guide for parents to identify, address, and solve issues surrounding bullying.

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Europe is experiencing a hot boar summer. Why? For one thing, it’s crazy hot there, the kind of heat wave that necessitates kiddie pools under tables at restaurants. For another, wild boars are reportedly ransacking the Continent.

wild_boarThe Guardian published a piece on Tuesday describing all the boar mayhem. Long known to be a hearty, invasive species, capable of thriving most anywhere, boars have recently expanded their domain to metropolitan centers including Barcelona, Berlin, and Rome (and even Houston and Hong Kong). This phenomenon is reportedly owed to increased urban sprawl and the accumulation of enticing waste around city limits. On top of which global boar populations have risen since the 1980s because of warmer weather, declining predators, and increased crop yield, The Guardian reports. And apparently boars become sexually mature when they reach about 77 pounds, meaning eating lots of processed food trash is good for fertility.

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Summer meteor showers are firing up, yielding nature’s spectacle of lights high up in the night sky. And the show’s something of a double feature running through August, with the Perseid meteor shower overlapping with the Delta Aquarids. meteor_show

The problem is finding a dark-enough spot in which to watch the celestial show. Enter the Texas Parks & Wildlife to list some of the best place in Texas to watch and marvel.

To extend the show analogy further, think of the Delta Aquarid as the dress rehearsal to the highly anticipated, main feature that is the Perseid meteor shower for which sky-watching parties are being organized across the landscape below.

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Stop saying this to single people

Posted: July 29, 2019 in General, Opinions
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single_peopleYou might have the best intentions when speaking to people about their single lives. But certain things you say can annoy or even hurt them. So for the sake of your single friends and loved ones, here are things you need to stop saying to single people, coming from one.

“How are you still single?”

This question is often meant as a compliment when you can’t understand why your attractive, smart, and funny friend hasn’t found someone yet. But it also implies that no normal person should still be single after all this time. And it forces single people to justify why they are not in relationships.

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I have just a link for you today

Posted: July 26, 2019 in General
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Watch the Rain Dance


leafy_veg_storesThe fresh produce section of a grocery store promises what few other aisles can whole foods, largely unprocessed, full of nutritional benefits like fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Part of that “pure food” message is spread by tiny nozzles mounted above leafy greens that spray water all over vegetables in timed intervals.

There are, of course, perceived benefits to doing this. Psychologically, shoppers probably like seeing produce that’s shiny with water, presuming it’s going to remain fresh. Some stores even pipe in thunderstorm sound effects to complete the visual.

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coleman_mustard_powder“Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.” Mustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia.

Drop a dab of this yellow dynamite on your naked tongue, and in less than two seconds you’ll feel the heat in your sinuses like the afterburner from a jet engine.

“It’ll blow your socks off and make you breathe better than you have in years,” laughed Sheela Kadam, co-owner of The British Emporium, a specialty food store in Grapevine, Texas, where Colman’s mustard is a staple item on the shelves.

The Colman’s company calls its hot mustard “The Not-So-Mellow Yellow.” And indeed, one taste of this fiery English condiment will convince you that not all British food is as bland and boring as it’s reputed to be.

“Colman’s is the classic ‘clean’ English mustard, where all the heat comes from the mustard itself,” said Barry Levenson, curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum in Wisconsin. “Many people think that the ‘heat’ in Colman’s comes from the addition of horseradish, but there’s no horseradish in it. The pungency comes from the mustard seeds themselves.”

From a Tiny Mustard Seed

mustard_seedsMustard grows wild in many parts of the world, from Europe to Asia. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and also mentioned in the Bible. Mustard has been grown in England since Roman times, but it wasn’t until 1720 that a process was developed in England for grinding and sifting the oily seeds to produce a dry spice with the texture and consistency of milled wheat flour.

The real popularity of mustard powder in Britain dates from a century later, in 1814, when Jeremiah Colman—a flour miller himself—first created his own pungent blend of ground-up brown and white mustard seeds at a water mill in Stoke Holy Cross, south of Norwich, England. The product was soon a commercial success, and Colman’s business continued to grow. In the early 1850s, the Colman’s mustard factory relocated to the outskirts of Norwich, where it remains a center of mustard production today.

Colman’s mustard was originally manufactured as a dry powder, or mustard “flour,” that could be used either as a spice itself or mixed with water (or other liquids) to produce “made” mustard, for use as a cooking ingredient or table condiment. Later the company also started producing its own “made” mustard, the condiment that is now called “prepared,” “wet,” or “pre-mixed” mustard. This beloved British condiment is often served in little ceramic mustard pots, at home and in restaurants, as an accompaniment to roast beef and other cooked meats.

For decades Colman’s dry mustard powder has been packaged in a distinctive yellow “tin”—a re-usable metal spice box—with bright red lettering and the company’s bull’s-head logo on the front. The “prepared” version, marketed as Colman’s Original English Mustard, comes in glass jars. Both products are available at most gourmet food shops and large supermarkets in the United States, although you might find the dry powder located in the spice section of the store and the prepared mustard on the shelves with other similar “wet” condiments.

Use It, Don’t Lose It

coleman_mustard_spreadThe beauty of having dry mustard in your kitchen cabinet is that you can make it up at a moment’s notice, I recommend combining equal parts of Colman’s dry mustard and a liquid such as water, wine, vinegar, beer, milk, or cream, then letting the mixture stand for ten minutes, for the full flavor to develop, before using it. “I’ve even heard of people mixing it with champagne!"

Wet or dry, Colman’s mustard can give a flavorful kick to casseroles, soups, stews, sauces, relishes, dips, marinades, and many other recipes. Stir a tablespoon of the prepared mustard into a cup of mayonnaise, for a spicy sandwich spread. Add a teaspoon of it to your favorite salad dressing. Use it to perk up baked beans.

Just don’t slather gobs of Colman’s all over your hamburger or hot dog, unless your tongue is coated with asbestos. A little goes a long way.

Colman’s is also an essential ingredient in classic deviled eggs. “The British food term for something that is ‘deviled,’ like eggs or sauces, stems from the addition of hot mustard to the dish,” It suggests that there was a bit of devilry going on in the kitchen, or that the devil had a hand in it.”

I also found a mouthwatering use of Colman’s dry mustard for making English roasted potatoes. “Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks, and parboil them until they’re half-cooked. Then rub them with olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and plenty of Colman’s dry mustard powder. Place them in the pan around a chicken or joint of beef, and roast them in the oven, basting the meat and potatoes with the meat juices as they cook. When done, these potatoes come out all crispy, with a wonderfully flavored crust.”

Connoisseurs’ Cult

The enthusiasm for Colman’s mustard has grown into a cult of connoisseurs in Britain and abroad. Several websites (see Sources) also offer a variety of Colman’s products for purchase online, along with recipes, cooking tips, and souvenirs.

Colman’s souvenirs? That’s right. You can buy all sorts of products sporting the Colman’s logo, from aprons, tea towels, and mugs, to mousepads, wristwatches, and teddy bears. One of my favorites is a bright yellow ceramic mustard pot shaped and painted like a tin of Colman’s mustard. The best selection of these souvenirs can be found at Colman’s own quaint Mustard Shop in the historic city center of Norwich, England. Inside this replica of a Victorian spice store, you’ll find a mustard museum in the back and plenty of Colman’s food products, memorabilia, and gift items for sale in the front. Some of those souvenirs are also sold on the Internet.

No matter how you cut the mustard, Colman’s “not-so-mellow yellow” is hot stuff!

Recipes

Mustardly Deviled Eggs

These spicy appetizers are perfect to serve with a casual brunch or even a picnic. For an even spicier recipe, add a teaspoon or two of habanero hot sauce.

  • 6 large hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons English Red Mustard (see recipe)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the eggs lengthwise in half. Scoop out the yolks and place them in a boql. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise, onion and the English Red Mustard and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the fillling among the egg halves, mounding it slightly. Garnish with dried pepper flakes or paprika powder. Arrange the eggs on a platter, cover, and refrigerate.

Yield: 3 servings

Heat Scale: Mild

Mustard Barbecue Glaze

This recipe comes directly from Colman’s. Use it to finish pork or lamb chops on the grill.

  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1 garlic clove, put through a garlic press

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a sauce to mop over pork, beef, or chicken on the grill or in a barbecue smoker.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Heat Scale: Medium hot

Hot Crab Dip

This recipe also comes directly from Colman’s. Use the dip with crackers, tortilla or potato chips, or sliced celery or carrots.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lump crabmeat

Combine all of the ingredients except the crabmeat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted and the mixture is well combined. Add the crabmeat and heat until warm. Serve warm.

Yield: Approximately 2 cups

Heat Scale: Medium

English Red Mustard

This recipe comes from Mount Horeb Mustard Museum. If you want it really hot, use piquin chiles.

  • 4 tablespoons cracked brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Colman’s dry
  • (powdered) mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 small dried hot red peppers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup beer

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl, then whisk in the water and beer until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, for the mustard to thicken and “ripen” before using. Store in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator.

Yield: Approximately 1/2 cup

Heat Scale: Hot

NOTES: You can order this mustard from Walmart and Amazon with free shipping, I recommend Walmart


civet_coffeeKopi Luwak, the world’s most expensive coffee, has become an international sensation. This exotic coffee sells for $30-$100 per cup and $100-$600 per pound. Retailers of this coffee market it as a rare product sourced from wild civets’ feces. They claim that suppliers need to forage for the partially digested coffee beans in the wild, which only allows 1000 lbs of kopi luwak to be produced each year, justifying the high price. This may have been how the coffee was originally sourced, but due to the increasing international demand, this story is now far from the truth. In order to satisfy the global demand, “civet poo coffee” is rarely sourced from the wild; it has become an industrialized product. Wild civets are instead held captive and force-fed coffee cherries to produce an estimated 500 tons of this “farmed” product annually.

The global Kopi Luwak market drives the illegal and inhumane civet trade.  In the wild, civets are solitary and nocturnal omnivores. Their diets consist of insects and fruit, including coffee cherries. In order to satisfy the demand, suppliers of Kopi Luwak capture civets from the wild and keep them in cramped cages, feeding them almost exclusively coffee cherries. The civets become very distressed from being caged in close proximity to other civets. The extreme stress and unhealthy diet leads to severe health issues and the caged animals frequently die.

Wildlife Alliance has rescued over 200 civets from the illegal wildlife trade. However, the international demand remains high, and civets increasingly disappear from the wild. With your help, we can save these animals before it’s too late.

You can also make a difference by sharing the truth behind civet coffee on social media and ensuring that your local coffee shop does not support this cruel trade.


fake_meatIf you’re vegan, it’s a question you probably get from time to time. And if you’re not, it’s probably something you’ve wondered: Why do vegans eat fake meat? And the answer is simple. First, most vegans grew up eating meat, and since many family traditions center on food, vegan meat alternatives allow people to enjoy familiar dishes and some of their favorite comfort foods without compromising their values of kindness and compassion.

Second, most people don’t go vegan because they don’t like the taste of meat. By switching to vegan versions of chicken, fish, burgers, and more, you can still enjoy your favorite flavors without supporting an industry that treats animals like garbage and pollutes our water and air.

Even if vegan meat isn’t for you, there are plenty of other delicious sources of plant-based protein. But remember, vegan meat is just meat made from plants. Wheat, soy, and peas are common ingredients in these products, which are cholesterol-free and typically high in protein and fiber.

Ready to give vegan meats a shot? Here are my top picks. Be sure to try a bunch to find your favorites!

Field Roast Frankfurters
franks
Everything you want and nothing you don’t.

Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble
beef_crumbles
Delicious savory crumbles, totally free of soy and gluten!

Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices
torfunky
From Tofurky’s mouthwatering variety of deli meats that are perfect for sandwiches!

Gardein Fishless Filets
fishless
Definite crowd pleasers.

Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
bacon
Because bacon doesn’t have to come from a pig.


Field Roast Smoked Tomato Deli Slices
roast
Packed with flavor.

So good!