i told nate about liz’s idea of writing a devils syrup memoir, and he said, “start scribbling.” ok!

preliminary scribblings conclude the following topics to include:

  1. pre-devil’s syrup
  2. what made me go beyond slacktivism
  3. taking stock and grocery shopping
  4. surprise! X has corn syrup. why does everything have it?
  5. one month to one year and beyond
  6. social eating
  7. big corn – monocultures, large farms, corn subsidies – cost of corn vs. sugar
  8. monsanto is the devil
  9. but corn on the cob is corn – why do you eat that? why not eliminate all corn products? ethanol?
  10. gardening, food co-oops, farmers’ markets and the organic section. not to mention a quarter cow.
  11. reactions
  12. don’t sweat the small stuff. its not the end of the world if you eat it.
  13. what the future holds – hydrogenated oil ban? no processed foods? purchasing a farm.
  14. the substitutes – golden syrup, pepsi throwback, cane sode, sugar, maple syrup, foreign foods
  15. reading labels, pre-food research, and diligence diligence diligence
  16. history of corn
  17. health benefits? weight loss? (not from corn syrup, so i took up running)
  18. fallbacks – cadbury minnieggs and the quest to find a british versions
  19. letters to corporations – i wrote to pepsi and cadbury
  20. and i’m sick. too much hfcs after none will do that to a person
  21. so i’m a hippie. and i hate being classified as one after seeing and reading about all the “modern” hippies out there.
  22. recipes, watch lists, reading lists.

this MIGHT be enough. now its time to organize and outline! can anyone think of something obvious i’m missing?


last easter, i told the story of how i made cheesecake. i think, however, that i didn’t take any pics. so here are the pics! but first, the recipe, from the joy of cooking, which, i have found, i use quite a bit.

The Joy of Cooking

The Joy of Cooking

Creamy Waterbath Cheesecake – from The Joy of Cooking

Have cream cheese at room temperature, 68° to 78°F. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Sprinkle with

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs.

Tilt and tap the pan to spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides.

In a large bowl, beat just until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds: 2 pounds cream cheese. Scrape the sides of the bowl and the beaters well. Gradually add and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes:
1-1/3 cups sugar

Beat in 1 at a time, just until incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl and the beaters after each addition:

4 large eggs

Add and beat on low speed just until mixed:
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Set the pan on a length of wide heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold the foil carefully up the sides of the pan without tearing it.

Set the pan in a large baking dish or roasting pan. Set the baking dish in the oven and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Bake until the edges of the cheesecake look set but the center jiggles slightly when the pan is tapped, 55 to 60 minutes. Turn off the oven, prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon, and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove to a rack and let cool completely in the pan before unmolding. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably 24 hours, before serving.

IMG_9179I started off with the crust – i know i have a fancy food processor, but it was just easier and less time consuming to crush that little graham crackers with the rolling pin. i also might add that the only non-organic graham crackers that are devil’s syrup free is the honey-maid low-fat version. rubbed butter all over and threw in the crumbs.

IMG_9184mmmm. look at that filling. it tasted great.

IMG_9189pre-waterbath! foil is there so the water doesn’t seep into the springform pan. last year i used regular sized foil and i still got water in the cheesecake. this year, i specially bought the heavy-duty stuff so i’d have the correct size.


mmmm, look at that! it’s still in my fridge like that right now. gorgeous! tastes delicious. and cheesecakes are not that difficult to make, so don’t be intimidated by them.

answers pt. II

What do you look at on reddit?

i subscribe to some subreddits – books, politics, food, gardening, loseit, twoxchromosomes, cats, awww, frugal, photography, environment, a couple minnesota ones, to name a few. some are really pretentious – frugal and books can get that way sometimes. gardening is useful as is the photography and pshop subs. cats and awww are always entertaining. twox is decent, but i can’t look at too much of it at once because it’s really focused on the woman as a victim. the most heartening and encouraging sub is loseit – they’re a good, useful, celebratory bunch.

do you think they are a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals who think they are hilarious?

some are like that (r/atheism) but sometimes you stumble onto treasures.

Would you ever do something daring like move to New york with no job just to see how it goes?

not at this age 🙂 the most daring thing i think i would do now is force nate to take a vacation.

Do you have regrets? If so, what?

the best quote i have read about regrets is this: do not regret anything in your life, because at one time, it was exactly what you wanted. i like that. why regret anything? if things hadn’t happened the way they had, i would not be where i am today.

Remember Mavis Beacon?

hahahhhaa, you were obsessed with her. 😉


what is your favorite holiday tradition, and why?

a christmas tree. i love a christmas tree! you go out and pick it out, bring it home, let it sit and make the whole room smell like evergreen. then you haul up your boxes of tree decorations that have been sitting in storage for a year. you open them up and look at all the ornaments you forgot you had, and each one has a specific memory tied to it, so it’s a little piece of sentimentality each time you look at it.

if cows could talk, what do you think they’d want humans to know?

you guys are crazy for drinking our milk!

if you had to give up one of your senses, which one would you choose and why?

i would give up taste. might make it easier for me to stop eating food!

What is your typical day like?

work day: i get up about half hour before i have to leave, dress, eat oatmeal, then take off. depending on my schedule at work, i might go to 5 meetings a day or zero. log in at work and pull up our stuff – i monitor twitter all day for mentions of the school. do worky stuff – might be some web design or just posting to fb or researching some crap. eat lunch. continue worky stuff. time to go home and i make supper when i get home, watch some tv, maybe read a book, maybe go to a store, then go for a run if it’s a running day, take a shower, read/movie/tv again. nate leaves for work, continue reading, go to bed. i’m pretty boring.

Do you ever have random people post comments or regularly surf your site?

i had a couple of random comments on my LJ blog when it was still active. that probably had more to do with a search ability within LJ. i do look at my analytics from time to time and have a lot more readers than who actually post. it would be nice if those people would post occasionally so i know who they actually are…:(

Which of your cats is your favorite?

by default i have to say chasey because she’s been my kitty for the longest. but secretly i also like sophie a ton. she is more of your typical cat and actually enjoys snuggling! how about i say this: ralf is my lease-favorite cat, haha.

What is your ideal job?

can i say lying around and doing nothing? no? hahaha. i like my current job – it’s pretty decent. the thing with ideal jobs is that if it’s something you enjoy, it could get to be a chore. i think it’s a good idea to keep hobbies and work separate. based on my hobbies, i would probably be a small-time farmer who photographs and blogs her food. if that paid money, i’d probably get sick of it.

What do you think of homeopathic medicine?

i don’t know much about homeopathic meds to make a real informed decision, but you have to wonder how much of that is a placebo affect. or any medicine, for that matter (you know, for like, headaches and stuff – not huge stuff like pancreatic cancer).

would you consider writing a book about your devil’s syrup free life?

this is the most exciting thing i have thought about in a while. i might do this!!! problem is, can i fill 200 pages with devil’s syrup stuff? would i self publish or try to get a publisher? how long would it take me – a year? hmmmm….so much to think about! maybe i’ll start with an outline.


i got a request to do an “ask kate” post. so ask away and i will answer within reason!

to drink tea

tell me about how you drink coffee tea

coffee has never really held any kind of allure to me except when doused with sugar and dairy products. however, i have been a tea drinker as long as i can remember. there’s just something about a cup of tea.

the best way to make tea is loosely with a tiny strainer tea ball on a chain that you dip into a pot of not-quite-boiling water to steep. after 1-5 minutes, remove the teaball and pour a steaming mug of tea to be sipped slowly at first and then gulped readily as it cools down. refill from the teapot as needed.

the easy way to make tea is in the microwave with a teabag. after 3 minutes of heating water in the microwave, dip the teabag in and let it steep until the color looks ok (1-5 minutes), then sip slowly at first, gulp later as it cools down.

the hot-weather way to make tea is outside in a jar. using the cheapest of the cheap black teabags, place 5-10 of them in a gallon jar of cold water, set on your porch in the sunlight, and let the sun do your brewing. after 3-5 hours, the tea is ready to be brought inside and poured over a glass full of ice that creaks and cracks as the liquid is sloshed over them. add a lemon if so desired.

the best way to drink tea, hot or iced, is with both hands wrapped around the delivery device, either taking in the warmth of the coldness, because whichever type of tea you make, the weather calls for a wrapping of digits. breath in the steam, when warm, or noisily suck liquid around ice, when cold. either way, the earthy, bitter taste of tea is ready for you devour.

black teas: lipton – boring; earl grey, hot – tangy; irish breakfast – a meal unto itself! chewy, even; english breakfast – heavy and thick; green – tastes like dirt and leaves.

kuchen part II

i tried my hand at an almond filling. ground up some almonds with powdered sugar, a little vanilla, and egg white. then mixed in some honey. it was gooey and looks like oatmeal, but tasted good. IMG_9044so, after a failed first attempt (i had unwittingly used year-expired yeast and after 3 hours, it had risen maybe 1/4), i finally got my dough ready to go. the only recipe i have for the b-kuchen is one in grandma’s church cookbook that she published it in. there are a couple questionable things (a rolled out thickness of ONE INCH??), but so far it seems to be the same recipe 🙂 IMG_9038but first, let me wax eloquent about the smell of lemons. the kuchen recipe calls for lemon rind, and this was the only time growing up that we actually bought a lemon. so it stands to reason that the smell of grating a lemon, or cutting into a lemon, always brings up memories of spring and eastertime. it’s such a fresh scent. now let me wax eloquent about my microplaner. if you do not have one of these, GET ONE NOW. not only do they grate fruit rinds better, but it will also serve as a whole nutmeg  grater as well. hard cheese (parmesan) is also served well with the microplaner. it’s useful and handy and easy to clean. ok. IMG_9047time to roll that bad boy out and cut into squares! insert homemade filling, pinch, pinch, pinch and pinch. IMG_9052rising pre-oven. got my post-oven setup ready to go. note silicon brush: only useful thing i found in a pampered chef catalog. IMG_9061and done! since my parents aren’t eating these, i pull my kuchen out when they are BARELY done. bottoms are barely golden, dough is nice and chewy (but not raw). i had some tops flip up, as you can see. no real exploding kuchen with the poppyseed, but the almond filling just went kaflooey all over. oh well. better luck next time. IMG_9067and i was actually surprised there were no exploding kuchen, because you can see that i packed it in there pretty good.

A NOTE ON THE FILLING: tasting just the filling proved to be sweet enough, but after baking, it seems that some of the sweetness was lost. not sure if this is due to the poppyseed being ground, raw, or what, but if you want the filling sweeter, i recommend upping the sugar content in the recipe from yesterday. next year i’ll up it to 1 or 1.25 cups of sugar. not that this is bad; it’s just not as sweet as the solo filling.

kuchen, part 1 – poppyseed filling

when easter rolls around, it’s the tradition in the wallace (derry [fuchs {schleppenbach<etc.>}]) household to churn out some boehma/bohema/behma/whateverkuchen. i actually tried googling it this year under many spelling variations to see if anyone else out there makes these kolache-type breads under that name. nothing. my favorite b-kuchen filling is poppyseed, and the last few years i’ve been dietarily lenient with the easter treat…but no more.

this year marks the 3rd anniversary of avoiding corn syrup, and as such, i thought it was fitting to finally give homemade poppyseed filling a go. (the FIRST ingredient in solo poppyseed filling is, ahem, corn syrup.)

after much googling, the answer lay in making a custard and mixing in ground poppyseeds. easy peasy! i went to the food co-op where they sold the seed in bulk and paid $3 for a pound (srsly a steal – would have paid $3 for a little jar of mccormick in the grocery store…food co-ops are awesome).

time to grind! every recipe said to use a coffee grinder – even a food processor won’t get the seed small enough. grind up 8 ounces of poppyseed.

grindok, so i was over .3 oz.

I tried to get a closeup to show you the difference between the whole seed and ground seed. it certainly smelled good when i dumped out the ground seed!groundTime to start the custard.

In a pot, combine:
1 c. milk or cream (of COURSE i used cream!!)
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar (edit: after actually using the filling in a baked good, i would increase this to at least 1 cup, 1.25 if you like it really sweet)
pinch salt


cook that until the butter is melted, sugar dissolved and the milk is a little frothy (but don’t boil – cook over medium-low).

beat 2 eggs in a bowl, then temper those bad boys – slowly drizzle in half the hot liquid from the pot while you whisk like a madwoman so the eggs don’t cook. after half is in the eggs, dump the whole shebang back in the pot.

eggstempered eggs

cook until it’s thick like you’re cooking pudding. then time to stir in the poppyseed.

cook2those little clumps are from where it stuck under the grinder blades.

stir that all up then cook over low for a couple more minutes to make sure it’s nice and thickened.

doneI added some honey and lemon juice still, just to make it taste like it traditionally does. i tasted a little bit, and you wouldn’t think it was pudding mixed with it – the poppyseed flavor is so overwhelming, that you would think it’s just a classier brand of solo filling. it’s actually a lot more earthy tasting – really pulls out the poppyseed flavor because it’s freshly ground.

part two to come tomorrow when i bust out my dough hook!

ETA: thought it was important to point out that this took less than 20 minutes to do. the only out-of-the-way thing you’d have to do is find some bulk poppyseed.


in which there is baking

i bought oatmeal from trader joe’s, a huge mistake because it’s so expensive. i can get cheaper oatmeal at the food co-op. BUT, there was a recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies on the back. and since i’ve been trying to limit (note: not eliminate) my carb intake, i thought this would be a good experiment.

original recipe:

  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 6 oz Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups Trader Joe’s Rolled Oats

i made a couple changes. i didn’t use white sugar, increased brown to 1 cup, and didn’t put in the nuts. they turned out more than fine! yummy, even! i was worried they would fall apart due to no real binder, but the eggs and oatmeal did well in keeping it all together.

Photo 2013-03-21 07.50.08 PM


today i actually had a coworker tell me, “well, anyone can take pictures if they’ve got a camera like that.” nice.

so here’s photoblog. happy bday to my dad today. and a bonus pic of sophie because she was looking especially cute (though not as cute as hannah, according to nate).