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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Dawn-Ann’s adventures

Posted by Dawn-Ann on December 6, 2008

I should be adding to my Adventures page more often. I’ve gone to L.A. and Scotland, but just haven’t written about them yet. Oh, and how could I forget Isaac’s and my road trip across Canada and the U.S.? Anyway, if you haven’t had a look at what I have written yet, please do. Follow this link to get there. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll be inspired! ;)

Ghostly pictures

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 30, 2008

Have you ever putzed around the ‘Net and looked at eerie pictures of “real” ghosts and orbs and the like? Some of them are pretty freaky, but I am always suspicious. It is just too easy these days to fake or Photoshop a picture. Some folks are really clever about making a photo look like something it’s not, but even amateurs and accidents can account for some weird ones.

Following are a few I found on my own harddrive!

Caught in low light, just as Odessa was about to blow out her candles.

Caught in low light, just as Odessa was about to blow out her candles.

My son Isaac created this "ghost" with a moving sheet in low light causing the blur.

My son Isaac created this "ghost" with a moving sheet in low light causing the blur.

So-called "orbs" are often caused by dust or ice crystals catching the light of a camera's flash, creating eerie looking little balls of light.

So-called "orbs" are often caused by dust or ice crystals catching the light of a camera's flash, creating eerie looking little balls of light. They'll often occur in dry, dusty halls, such as where this Medieval Feast was held.

Isaac created this "ghost" by spraying an aerosol spray in front of the camera.

Isaac created this "ghost" by spraying an aerosol spray in front of the camera.

Isaac caught in the act while Kim looks on. :)

Isaac caught in the act while Kim looks on. :)

What’s in my bread?

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 29, 2008

I have had a loaf of bread sitting on my counter for a week now. My husband and I have been eating it in fits and starts – a piece of toast to go with my oatmeal one morning, a couple of slices of French toast another. Each time I used it, the bread seemed fresh and soft. Even this morning when I finally threw it out it was still un-moldy and Wonder-squeezable and it seemed a shame to waste, but my goodness… It was a week old!

I don’t know about you, but I am highly suspicious of bread that doesn’t go bad. In the REAL world, it should go stale and dry after a few days, possibly even sprouting the blue fuzzies. I should be able to take that stale bread, dry it on the counter, and then use it for stuffing or more French toast. What the heck is IN our bread nowadays that makes it last so long? I decided to check.

In my research I found others who said things like, “I don’t want to eat the bread because it can’t be good to have lasted that long.” Someone suggested that this person check the ingredients – a fine idea! I dug out another loaf of the same bread I’d just thrown out, bought at the same time and frozen. It had the usual ingredients, flour and milk and the like, but it had a few things that had me scratching my head; items such as sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate and L-cysteine hydrochloride. I decided to find out what they were.

Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate is used as an emulsifier, plasticizer, or surface-action agent (plasticizer?). It is used in many things, including bread and meat batters (meat batters?). It is prepared from lactic acids and fatty acids. Sounds fairly harmless, actually. The Canadian Food and Drug Regulations allow for the use of use of sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate at levels from 0.05 to 2 percent. I got the impression from my research that it is a relatively new ingredient that has no real data backing it yet. Even the doom and gloom websites that said to avoid it couldn’t say why. As near as I could tell, it is a form of lactic acid which can sometimes cause headaches, intestinal upset and skin disorders in sensitive people. Folks who are lactose intolerant should avoid it, too. Iffy stuff, but I doubt that’s what is making the shelf life of my bread unnaturally long.

L-cysteine hydrochloride is an amino acid. From what I can tell, it is actually good for you and some people take it as a dietary supplement. The only possible negative effect I could find was that it could possibly cause chelation (removal) of minerals. It is used as an “improving agent” in bread, whatever that means.

Neither of these things seemed particularly dangerous to eat in small quantities and neither could explain why my loaf of bread had lasted so long. One source suggested maybe I just didn’t have any mold spores floating around my home, but I know I do. Other things go moldy. And what about the fresh, soft texture? What has prevented the bread from drying out and going stale? Even the taste was still fresh-ish (though admittedly not the perfection of hot-out-of-the-oven goodness).

So then I got thinking about some things I’d heard about irradiated wheat flour. Could that be it? According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website, wheat and wheat flour, among other things, are approved for irradiation in Canada. The ingredients list does not have to mention an irradiated ingredient to the consumer unless it comprises more than 10% of the finished product. I suspect flour comprises more than ten percent of a loaf of bread and my ingredients list didn’t mention it, so we should be okay on that score. Besides, would irradiation of the flour cause the bread to remain mold-free? I doubt it.

As an aside, the jury is still out for me as to whether irradiated food is harmful to eat. Some sources state that vitamins are killed in the process and turned into carcinogens, which kind of makes sense, knowing a little about how gamma radiation works, but that’s the subject of another post.

In the end, I haven’t answered my question about why my bread doesn’t go bad, but I will say one thing. I do feel a little bit better about the ingredients!

So… You’re menstruating

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 12, 2008

The title says it all – men beware. You can go read one of my other posts about urban homesteading or something. It’s from The Daily Blonde and I swear, it’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. I just wish I could remember who I was recently telling about the dreaded belt. Women over 45 or so will definitely relate!

So… You’re menstruating

Was King Arthur really a Scot?

Posted by Dawn-Ann on October 17, 2008

I am reading a fascinating book called Realm of the Ring Lords, which looks at ancient legends to see if there may have been some basis in fact to them. It goes into a lot of cool things like dragon queens and ring lords and their possible foundations in ancient history. Anyway, there’s an interesting chapter on King Arthur which says he may have been a Scot. Here’s a brief quote:

[After going through various kings that others had attributed to be King Arthur, the author says], “What is certain is that, in the year 600, another royal Arthur fought at the subsequent Battle of Camelyn, west of Falkirk in Scotland – a battle which is detailed in the Chronicles of the Picts and Scots. This other Arthur was undoubtedly the famed king of the Grail stories. Not only was he proclaimed High King and Sovereign Commander of the Britons in 574, but he was the only recorded Arthur ever born as the son of a Pendragon. He was Prince Arthur of Dalriada, the son of King Aedan mac Gabran of Scots, and his mother was Ygerna d’Avallon whose own mother, Viviane del Acqs, was the recognized Lady of the Lake. Born in 559, he was the only royal Arthur with a son named Modred and a sister called Morgaine (referred to in Royal Irish Academy texts as ‘Muirgein, daughter of Aedan in Belach Gabrain’), just as related in the Grail legends. Arthur’s primary seat was at Carlisle – the City of the legion (Caer leon) – from where he controlled the military defence of the English-Scottish border country. Arthur mac Aedan is cited in St. Adamnan of Iona’s 7th-century Life of St. Columba; his kingly installation by the druid Merlin Emrys is recorded in the Chronicle of the Scots; his legacy is upheld by the Celtic Apostolic Church of Scotland, while famous conflicts (including the Battle of Badon Hill) with which he is traditionally associated are recorded in the Chronicles of Holyrood and of Melrose, the Irish Tigernach Annals and the Books of Leinster and Ballymote.”

Interesting. Who’d have thunk it?

Fall harvest

Posted by Dawn-Ann on September 21, 2008

Potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and zucchini - part of my fall harvest

Apparently, the whole three weeks we were in Scotland, not a drop of rain fell on our garden. As a result, it was in pretty sad shape when we returned – especially the poor tomatoes. Still, when I went out yesterday to start bringing it in, I was tickled with the results. I still have some carrots and zucchini out there, but the rest has been brought in. I wasn’t expecting a pail and a half of potatoes in such a little garden!

The Vertical Farm

Posted by Dawn-Ann on September 14, 2008

Now here’s a nifty idea!  If you don’t have ground area to spread your garden out on, why not build it UP?  The Vertical Farm proposes just that.  And for those of us who are “urban” farmers, I’m sure we could modify the idea to suit our back yards.  I’m already scheming…