30 June 2010

A Miracle Cure

I have been meaning to write about this for a long time. Living in the desert, the air is very dry. Because the air is very dry, my skin is very dry. Because I love to wear sandals, my feet are very, very dry. In fact, they crack and hurt. Hiking a lot also makes my feet worse. But I have found a miracle cure. Lanolin. Lanolin is a lotion often used by breastfeeding mothers, but I have found it to be the best moisturizer many occasions. Lanolin is not a standard lotion by itself, though it is used in many lotions. In its pure form it is more useful in treating serious dry cracking skin problems.

In the case of my feet, most other lotions just moisturized the top layer of skin, which seemed to soften and weaken the skin. Further sandal wearing just maked my feet hurt worse. Lanolin, on the other hand, seems to moisten deep into my skin. It actually helps my feet heal. Usually in just two days of my special lanolin application and my feet are almost entirely healed.

As you can see in the above pictures of my heel (kind of gross, I know), after only one day of lanolin use the cracks in my skin are healing. Well, maybe you can't see that very well. The second picture is so blurry. It's hard to take pictures of the bottoms of your own feet.

The secret to effective lanolin use is to apply the lotion to the dry skin and leave it there to work its magic as long as you can. My special lanolin application method is really quite simple, but very effective. I apply a generous amount of lanolin to my dry, cracked heals. Following the application, I put my socks and shoes on. This keeps the lanolin on my feet all day long. I don't usually put lanolin on while wearing my sandals because it makes my sandals stink. Lanolin is not a nice smelling lotion. I have found that Lansinoh brand lanolin has the least offensive smell.

A word of caution. Many people are allergic to lanolin. Make sure you are not allergic to lanolin before you use it. It can cause sever rashes and make your skin problems worse if you have an allergic reaction.

23 June 2010

Father's Day Dinner

Sunday was Father's Day and I was treated to great company and great food. It was a wonderful evening. I wanted to share the recipe's from the dinner because it was so exceptionally good. The main dish was rosemary pineapple chicken. We got this recipe from a good friend and neighbor Lorie Fleischer. Their was a side of freshly baked focaccia bread and fresh snapped green beans. The focaccia bread we dipped in olive oil and balsamic vineger. I can't stress enough the importance of buying good oil and vineger. We finished the night up with a wonderful Godiva chocolate cake with a cheese cake layer. An all around all star meal!

Rosemary Pineapple Chicken
12 chicken tenderloins
1 T. butter
1 t. salt
1/2 t. minced fresh rosemary
1/2 t. ground fresh ginger
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
12 oz. pineapple juice

In a large skillet, brown chicken in butter on both sides. Transfer to a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, rosemary, ginger, paprika and pepper. Place onion rings over chicken; pour pineapple juice over chicken. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until juices run clear. Optionally add fresh pineapple chunks.

Focaccia Bread
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 T. sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 t.)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. salt
1 T. extra virgin olive oil

Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

In a small bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and yeast mixture. Mix well. Knead dough on floured surface for 10 minutes, adding what is needed of the remaining flour until dough is not sticky. Place dough in a well greased bowl, turn once to coat, then cover and set aside in warm place for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle corn meal on a cookie sheet. Punch the dough down, then stretch out and place on cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over dough and spread evenly. Sprinkle on toppings. Make dimples in dough with fingers gently. Let rest for 10 minutes. Bake at 375 for 30 - 35 minutes.

Godiva chocolate cake with a cheese cake layer
Cheesecake Layer:
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 bar (1.5 ounces) Godiva Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped

Chocolate Cake:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sour cream

Make the cheesecake layer:
Beat together cream cheese and sugar in bowl until smooth, using electric mixer at medium speed. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. Set aside.

Place chocolate in microwave-safe cup. Microwave on medium (50% power) for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds more or until chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth and let cool.

Make the chocolate cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x2-inch square baking pan. Line bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter paper.

Mix flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Combine eggs, melted butter and sour cream and whisk until blended. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Spread cream cheese mixture over the chocolate batter. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until top is set and golden and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Cool in pan on wire rack. When the cake is completely cooled, cut into squares to serve.

13 June 2010

The Jungle

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is a very powerful, very disturbing book that everyone should read. It should not be read until you are a little older so that the subject matter can be understood. If you have never tried to find a job, if you have never tried to support a family, if you have never had to uphold your morality in the face of possible sever consequences then you may not be ready to read this book. Then again, you may want to read it knowing that you may need to do these things in the future.

The Jungle is an intense discussion about the horrors that humanity inflicts upon itself in the name of greed. It points out the destructive behavior of capitalism. It brings to light the problem of the inhumane treatment of a poor, ignorant workforce. It points out the deceitful nature of politics when connected to monetary gain. It speaks of the apathetic, arrogant, and disillusioned rich in their efforts to subdue the poor more fully and elevate their position to greater heights. If you think this sounds like the book may be propaganda for socialism, you're right. Interestingly, being written in 1906 it was yet to be seen if socialism would solve the ills of capitalism. Having the history we have today allows us to note that socialism, at least that backed by communism, exhibited many of the same problems attributed strictly to capitalism in this book.

A push for socialism was clearly not the only purpose in the writing of The Jungle. The topic of socialism is really only discussed in the last three chapters of the book. Most of the book describes the hopeless plight of the working class, the disgusting circumstances that they lived in and their fight for survival. The descriptive nature of the writing deliberately turns your stomach and tears at your heart. This major purpose, to create an awareness and sympathy for the poor workers of America, was delivered very successfully.

Producing an awareness of the struggle that the poor constantly have is critical in our world today. While there is still a great struggle between labor groups and businesses, America has come a long way in creating more reasonable working conditions. But America is not the only country in the world. Much of the world is rapidly developing and falling into the exact same destructive behaviors described by Upton Sinclair in 1906. A quick look at the Human Rights Watch website shows that there is still a lot of work to be done.

If you have not read The Jungle, you should. I have added a link to purchase the book on Amazon above, or if you would like to listen to it, Librivox has a great recording available.