Saturday, December 29, 2012

We men may be total apes! But, we can sure dance!

video
A favorite song, done a long time ago (circa the 90's), by a group known as the Nylon Beat. And, even though you might not know the Finnish language, I thought my foreign viewers might still enjoy a rehash of a song about us men, who are really apes. For my few friends in Finland - Kiitos!

Is there a connection between stress and the spread of flu?

Click on to enlarge
A couple of research papers I've recently come across hint to there being a causal effect existing between the severity of a cold or flu and certain physiological or psychological stress factors that a person might be experiencing. Other studies likewise hint that by just being stressed, a person is more susceptible to catching a bug in the first place! If true, then that theory may be well tested this winter as forces that often result in high levels of stress like unemployment and growing poverty have never been higher. The ILI chart here does seem to indicate that we might be in for a rougher than normal flu and cold season season.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Eating a bowl of chili….is it really healthy? Uh yeah, sure!



If you've ever asked; 1) how good does a bowl of chili really taste and 2) whether it’s actually good for you to eat, you might get lots of positives for the former and few, if any for the latter.

The truth be told, there are a lot of chili abusers out there. Individuals who prefer to slather on the copious amounts of cheese or otherwise 'corrupt' the nutritional value of the dish with all sorts of wacky additions (see Cincinnati 5-way)!

I like to follow a much more mundane, (and hopefully) a nutritionally safer route to my version of ‘chili heaven’! Read on…
-------------------------------------------------
In my world, a bare bones bowl of chili could contain the following;

Beef – ground or chunks
Tomatoes – stewed, diced or whatever
Chili powder to add a little heat
Cumin – for that authentic chili taste

While this works out OK, the result is rather boring. As an option, here is my favorite recipe for chili:

1 lb ground beef (80% - 20%  mix)
1 onion, chopped (as a topping for when you eat)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, 8 oz
1 can red kidney beans, drained
14 grams of Williams chili mix  (per lb ground beef)
1 tsp Olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar (optional) per lb ground beef

Directions: To make it, you simply brown the meat in a frying pan, drain off the excess fat and then dump this along with the rest of the ingredients into a crock pot set to low. That’s it! The whole deal takes me about ten minutes to throw together in the morning. Then, I can go out and play, work or whatever, and I’ll have a steaming hot bowl of chili ready for me when I get home. This recipe will make enough for four to five one cup servings depending on what you idea of a cup really is.
-------------------------------------
Now, as to the nutritional factors. Here’s a label that combines all the ingredients. Note that the sodium is low because I used low sodium beans and so-called fake salt (potassium chloride) to flavor the dish. For added heat, I also used a shot of Tabasco sauce!


Note: When I was figuring out what a true serving was, I figured that a cup was about right and that's what I based the nutritional analysis on. The bottom line is that a good hot bowl of chili ain’t all that bad for your body assuming you supplement it with lots of fruits and veggies!

Oh, and how did this chili taste? Marvelous, just marvelous!

Jerry Holvick visits Forsyth!



A man I used to work with, Jerry Holvick was in town recently and I had a chance to see him at a local eatery once cold December morning. Eating with us was another friend, John Carnahan who, along with me and Jerry, worked at the National Enzyme Company many years ago.

Jerry, I learned is currently working for an enzyme company by the name of Deerland Enzymes located in Kennesaw Georgia and was visiting the Forsyth area to see family and friends that still live in the area.

I was good to see Jerry, who appears to be in fine health as is his wife and family. We had a great time discussing the old days and I was pleased to see that Jerry has done so well for himself.

Everything is OK! Don't Panic!


Is a cold bug going around the Forsyth Mo area!

Now that we’re just into the official beginning of the 2012-13 winter season, I noticed that a lot of my friends and associates are down with some type of cold bug that results in a sore throat and a persistent cough. I’m posting this because I’ve been surprised that over 50% of the people I know are either sick or coming down with something.

Interestingly, in one week (as of December 15), the number of reported flu cases in the Springfield Missouri area have nearly doubled, from 24 to 46. The Springfield-Greene County Health Department says the greatest increase was in children ages 5-14 years old. Children, especially young children, are typically more vulnerable to the effects of the flu than older children or adults. (A more recent report is expected to be released from the CDC later today)!
Yet another good reason to make sure everyone washes their hands frequently and to stay home if they don’t feel well.

As a side note, the day after I posted this I too came down with the same bug!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Here we go – bravely onwards into 2013... and on over the cliff!

“Call it the not-so-happy new year.

Unless Congress wrangles a deal in the next few days, Americans will ring in 2013 with champagne, funny hats -- and a knock-you-off-your-feet cocktail of tax hikes.

The Washington-imposed financial headache goes beyond higher taxes. Due to the inaction on Capitol Hill, certain industries could be hit particularly hard by budget cuts and millions of taxpayers could be held up in filing their 2012 returns.”


My thoughts: If this were not my country, I'd be watching this 'theater of the absurd' and laughing my ass off (unfortunately, I am and I'm not). To those simpletons who actually voted for this idiot, I'll resign myself to follow you all to an abyss of unparallelled proportions.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Kaiser roll type of ham sandwich!



The Subway is on the left!

What better meal deal for a man (or woman) that’s on a diet than a hearty ham on bread sandwich! Herein is a version of the kind of sandwich that Jared Fogle lost so much weight on and which is still advertized and sold by Subway! The only major difference is that the way I make mine is; 1) so much simpler and 2) way less costly (Subway’s 6-incher costs about $3 while mine came in at a miniscule $1.50)!

While the 6 inch sandwich that Subway makes may look a lot better (it sure does), we both still come in at about the same level of nutrition. Here’s a side by side comparison:


 Following is a simple recipe that anyone can throw together, lose some weight and save a little money:

My Ingredients:

1 Kaiser or similar roll
2 oz of honey ham (Oscar Mayer or similar)
2 slices of white onion
1 slice of dill pickle
1 tbsp of mayo

There are no directions given here! If you don’t know how to make a sandwich, then I’d suggest checking into a care center somewhere.

The bottom line is that you too can lose weight and save a little bit of money without giving up a great tasting meal!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

News not fit to print!



Yeah, that looks about right!
The FDA now pushing for acceptance of genetically altered fish!

The FDA wants everyone to know that genetically altered fish are okidokie to eat! This proclamation, from on high, coming in spite of other research to the contrary. My feeling on this is hey, if someone from the FDA wants to eat these things, then more power to them! Just please leave me out. Original Source: USA Today

Mealworms may be the food of the future!

Oh, this is just wrong!
If the cost of producing beef continues to rise out of sight, government food researchers are now banking on the eventual acceptance of ground meal worms either as an additive or eaten by themselves in products like hamburger. One rumor has it that large food chains, like McDonald’s, are already working in that direction. One person I talked to that eats them on a regular basis informed me that they do have a special nutty taste that takes getting used to! Original Source: ABC News


When asked, the public says sure let's go over the cliff!

Maybe they public has grown tired of all the talk going on in Washington over the last year that has resulted in nothing getting done about the Nation's deficit. So maybe it was no surprise that, when average citizens were asked what they felt the solution to our fiscal problems were, a solid majority voted in favor of doing nothing and thus allowing the sequesterization acts kick in. Perhaps many Americans now feel that since Washington can’t get it done, then perhaps a little bit of pain ain’t all that bad after all.Count me in!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Random thoughts on a slow day!


And then the flood gates opened…..
California 2020?

After voting, last month, to make Californians among the highest-taxed residents in the country, a debate has now been sparked as to whether or not a mass exodus will ensue.

Democrat and self-described icon Governor Jerry Brown successfully pushed the tax increase by suggesting that high-earners must shoulder the largest burden in bailing out the state, particularly its debt-ridden public school system. And boy, oh boy were they ever stuck hard…so hard that many of the top earners have now fled to other states like Nevada, Arizona and Texas where they have since poured billions into those economies.

Now, with massive Federal tax hikes slated to take effect in January, the feeling by many is that what had been a strong stream will soon become a flood. One scenario sees California rapidly sinking under financial waves of debt, as all too soon, the only residents left living there will be largely comprised of illegal’s and those on entitlement programs. Good luck to that Jerry!


The media and why people are tuning them out!

With the possible exception of stations like Fox News, you can forget about getting anything that even vaguely looks like objective and balanced reporting. Now if you’re looking for fiction, then definitely tune in to CBS or ABC. Or, if your tastes run more to the extreme left, then by all means give the people at MSNBC a shot. Just don’t expect to have anyone working there come even remotely close to telling the truth…about anything!

But wait! There’s more! In an effort to pile on even more of a visual and auditory insult, you’ll also want to pay attention to those incredible ads that at shown every five minutes. Personally, I like to group these atrocities into groups, including those that either insult your intelligence or want you to believe their doctors. That’s when they’re not trying to feed you junk to make your pecker hard. Plulleease. Thank God there’s a rental market where you can still snag a good movie or two.


A solution for taking care of the crooks and crazies!

It’s no secret that the US has a prison overcapacity problem. It’s also no secret that the country is rapidly filling up with wackos (ahem, sorry - mentally unstable) who are becoming increasingly violent. Taking care of them is time consuming and expensive with the average person costing upwards of 60k to house and feed in a given year. While there are just over 2 million criminals in prison, the number of mentally ill is thought to be much higher. Taking care of that many people is simply beyond the ability of the states and will soon even tax the deep pockets of the Feds.

So what to do? My solution would be to move all these felonious folks in troop ships and airplanes over to countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria where they can be set lose to run amok and do their thing! Those who do manage to survive for the duration of their sentences can then petition our government for a chance to return. Alternatively, they can elect to just stay and show the Muslim population some new tricks of their various trades.

An action like this would free up vast amounts of space here in the US and would not doubt present somewhat of a deterrent for anyone who would consider committing a felony. This win-win situation would also make for classic TV as new series with names like ‘Islamic Survival’ pop up everywhere which show our felons making funny blunders as they attempt to ‘engage’ their new found friends with their own unique version of the Brotherhood. I don’t know about you, but I’d watch!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hobo meals are worthwhile!

Whatever name you call this meal deal; be it Hobo or Campfire, this recipe has a lot going for it! It’s tasty, easy to prepare, nutritious and cost effective! As an added bonus, cleanup is a snap! Wow!

Ingredients (per packet):

1 hamburger patty
1 strip of bacon
1 med potato cut up
2 carrots cut up
1 onion, quartered
1 wedge of cabbage
Salt and pepper
Heavy aluminum foil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using heavy foil, make a square about 12” by 16” in size (just eyeball this). Form a small patty out of the hamburger and wrap it with a strip of bacon. Cut up the veggies and arrange them along with the meat in the center of the foil. Use salt and pepper to taste. Carefully bring up the sides of the foil and make an airtight seal leaving some airspace on top. (Note: The steam generated during the cooking process helps to cook this meal). Place the meal into a shallow oven safe casserole dish (to help prevent leaks) on a center rack in the oven.

After about an hour and fifteen minutes, carefully remove the meal(s) and allow it or them to cool for at least ten minutes before opening. Open the top to vent and watch out for any steam! Place the packet on a plate and dig in!

Nutrition

Assuming that you take care to keep that ground beef patty down to a reasonable size and that you 86th the bacon, this meal turns out to be quite nutritious! (Hey! Throw out both meats entirely and I'm sure Mrs. Obama would embrace you in a fast and furious fashion….:)

A word about cost…

At the time of this post, our Nation is still basking in the warmth that was President Obama’s re-election! A man who was once is said to have said that ‘there’s no country I can’t bankrupt given enough terms in office.’ I have this to say about cost...

To wit, this meal contains only one truly ‘expensive’ item and that would be the ground beef. No problemo! You can save money by either cutting back on the size of the patty or by substituting whatever it is you can track, kill and grind up!

At right is a breakout of the per serving cost of this meal as of the end of 2012. So, for about two bucks per serving you can still enjoy a decent dinner at home!

Also, please note that all of the veggies can be grown right in your own backyard for very little cost and so can really help out the family budget for those of us living in a post financial cliff world!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Random Thoughts on the Eve of the End of the World as we know it!



It was the video and I have da pruf!

While State Department officials are getting the axe and Hillary (bless her soul), is recovering from a concussion, I have definitive proof that the Libya mess was caused solely by that darn old film ‘Innocence of the Muslims. You see fellow readers, the producer named Mark Basseley Youssef, was just now sentenced to a year in prison! Let them there Democrats now rejoice as the 'onus badonus' has been lifted off those pure shoulders of our so very President. And take note, you bad old Republicans, is so not a liar!

While he may not be fiddling, he definately is watching us burn!

With mere days left before the country goes over a cliff that will surely result in mass riots and the loss of our country in bankruptcy, our illustrious Leader Barrack Insane Obama is very busy doing anything and everything but addressing the spending problems in Washington. God bless this man – at least he is consistent! When recently asked about the budget, he was heard to say ‘what budget?’

To the scammers of Newtown…

May you scammers rot in hell or at the very least be caught and held up to the bright lights of media coverage! I’d really like for everyone to see what a true lowlife is all about…

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BBQ Meatloaf


I happened across a menu item called BBQ Meatloaf that was created originally by Paula Deen, a noted restaurateur and famous chef, and thought I’d give it a try. The ingredient list was very doable and I had most everything on hand.

Ingredients:

1 ½ pounds of ground beef
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 onion, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ bell pepper (added by me)
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
16 ounces of tomato sauce
3 tbsp. vinegar
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup water if needed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the beef with the breadcrumbs, onion, bell pepper, salt, pepper and about half the tomato sauce. Form this into a loaf and place it in a shallow pan. Stir together the remaining tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and pour this over the meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices.

Now that's what I'm talking about!
I did manage to follow this recipe pretty closely with the exception of that last part concerning the remaining tomato sauce. Rather than mix all that other stuff into the sauce, I elected to add it directly to the meatloaf. The only things that were poured over the loaf was that remaining sauce and some vinegar.

The end result was a nice looking meatloaf that tasted awesome! I also made a mental note to stop at the store and get a loaf of plain white bread so that I could enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures….a meatloaf sandwich! Give this recipe a try! It’s easy to make and oh so good to eat!

Critique: Aunt Jemima's scrambled egg entree!




For a couple of bucks you get granular eggs, mushy hash browns and a couple of limp bacon strips! So, what’s not to love?

This 149 gram entrée from the folks at Quaker Oats would not seem that appetizing at first glance. It’s also a nutritionally challenged meal coming in at 310 calories of which 200 of those calories are derived from fat! To add misery to madness, the cholesterol does is 92% of the daily recommended allowance for an average person and there’s enough salt present (36%) to make you crave a glass of water afterwards. And don’t even get me started on the saturated fat content of this little puppy….

So, why do I buy and eat junk food like this? Call me crazy or perhaps just a bit off center, but this stuff does really taste pretty darn gooood!

Maybe it’s the fat content and maybe it all that salt. Whatever the reason, I like to make Aunt Jemima part of my breakfast plans one or twice a month. I scored this a solid 7 on a scale of 10. (The score would have been higher, but hey - this stuff will kill you)!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Critique: Michelina's Sesame Chicken




I would have guessed that any food description with the word sesame in it would be OK. After all, sesame seed plants are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world! Why, I often eat hamburger with buns that have sesame seeds sprinkled over them (why this is even done is a subject for another post). So, I figured since this meal-deal was also on sale, I’d give it a go.

This Lean Gourmet offering comes in at a meager 260 calories and even the sodium, at 600 milligrams, ain’t all that bad. But…it’s also an Asian dish – something I missed when I pick it up at the store. It’s not that I don’t like all things Asian; let’s just say that I’m more a meat and taters kind of guy. Still, it was on sale and so into the microwave it went.

This brings me to a problem I have with this line of meals from Michelina. Most of these packages instruct one to ‘tear a corner to vent’ which is OK. What’s not OK is that the instructions are on the bottom of the package. So, if there’s more than one operation to perform in the prep cycle (and there is), you have to carefully hold the whole affair up over your head to see what the next step entails. Most times, they want you to open up the package and stir this or that before re-nuking for another minute or more. Problem is, that lid like to curl up and so is really difficult to place back over the contents! I’m forced to place some kind of plastic utensil over the lid to hold it down! Michelina – This was not a well thought out process and you need to come up with something else.

After working through the intricacies of meal preparation, I sat down to eat. Right off, I noticed that the pasta was not al dente, but rather al soggy. Also, there was the issue with actually finding any chicken. I did spy what appeared to be some meat cubes, but they were too small to readily identify ad coming from a bird. Lastly, I found the taste to be mildly objectionable. Asian is just not my cup of tea and even though I ate the whole meal, it’s not some road I plan to travel again in the near future! This one gets a 5 on a scale of 10. Another in my growing list of entrees I plan to serve to guests I don’t particularly like.

The flu is making early inroads this year!


After experiencing a number of years where the onset of influenza was either late or very moderate, this year could be a change for the worst!

As of the latest report by the CDC dated December 1, 2012, the flu is really beginning to ramp up in some states, most notably the southeast. As the graphic of states would indicate, the incidents of ILI or Influenza Like Illness is becoming widespread in states like Texas and Louisiana while Mississippi and Alabama are getting hammered! My home state of Missouri is doing OK, so far with only moderate to low occurrences being reported. Interestingly, neither Taney or Stone Counties have seen a single case so far, but that will more than likely not remain the norm for long.

This season, the main problem bug seems to be H3N2 aka Type A/Brisbane/10/2007 which is the same bug that was prevalent last year. It's thought, therefore, the vaccine currently being distributed should be very effective if applied early in the season (which means right now).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Critique: Michelina’s Salisbury steak!



This small, yet so very interesting, offering by Michelina gives a man just what he wants – meat and taters boy! It’s just too bad that this entrée is good to go for only us smaller dudes. At a bare 330 calories, there just ain’t enough ‘beef n spuds’ to satisfy most he-man types.

Having said that, I felt that this frozen meal deal might still be a good candidate for anyone looking to lose a few pounds (like me). And anywho, it was cheap! (I bought it at a local grocery principally because it was on sale for just $1.25). These days, while basking in that post coital Obama election glow, I find myself forced to limit my dining selections to the stuff that’s on sale. Long gone are those days where I’d stop over by the old meat isle and just grab myself a cheap porterhouse steak! Hey! Obama baby, I could use some o that free money right about now…

Yes, I'm afraid its become infected...
Quickly then, onwards to the bottom line….

After nuking in the microwave as per the directions and looking at the result (see picture), I really had no great expectations. (After all, by the time I’d gotten to this meal, I’d had a history of disappointing meals strewn out behind me in the form of previous posts. I was also reminded that I needed to get after a clogged up cesspool out back). So, it was with a heavy heart and a diminishing appetite that I took my warm meal to the dining room table.

Egad! This stuff wasn’t all that bad! I have to give the Michelina folks some credit where credits due. The steak tasted a lot like meatloaf and the mashed potatoes, well, they tasted like they were supposed to. All in all, a great little meal for the money. I’d give this one a solid 7 on a scale of 10!