Feb 27, 2015

Happy Friday

Caress life, don't just flirt with it.

I caress life every day and fondle it freely on a Happy Friday!

Fabricated Animal Facts

Rabbits eat carrots, but as any bunny owner will attest, rabbits prefer leafy green vegetables. The image of the rabbit enjoying a carrot was made iconic by the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. However, when Bugs first did it, he was actually parodying a then famous scene from another movie called It Happened One Night. In the movie, Clark Gable is munching away on the carrot while talking and, when Bugs did it, he was merely referencing a scene which was quite well-known at the time, but became less so over the years.

Old cartoons tell us elephants love peanuts and they were constantly fed peanuts at circuses and zoos. This is no longer a common practice. In the wild, peanuts are not a part of an elephant’s diet and most who have been fed peanuts in captivity do not like them. They prefer hay and other grains along with fruits and vegetables.

An elephant's nose is a regular nose. Since it is very long and dexterous, an elephant can use it to grab things, but its primary role is to breathe air, just like any other nose. Something an elephant definitely cannot do is drink water through it like a straw. It might appear that way, because elephants do suck in water through their trunks, but only to carry it into their mouths.

Ostriches been never been observed sticking their head in a hole, except in cartoons. When an ostrich is in danger, it will either 'fight or flight' like most other animals. It is equipped to do both quite well. It can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. In a fight, an ostrich has big, sharp claws and a kick powerful enough to take down a lion.


Regardless of what we learned in Braveheart, the kilt didn’t appear until about 300 years after Wallace. The version we are familiar with today did not appear until the 18th century

The word kilt is of Scandinavian origin. Middle English (as a verb in the sense ‘tuck up around the body’): Danish kilte (op) ‘tuck (up)’ and Old Norse kilting ‘a skirt.’ The noun dates from the mid 18th century.

The kilt made its first appearance in the 16th century, but it was very different from the modern version. Now referred to as the great kilt or belted plaid, it was a full-body garment that covered both upper and lower halves. The upper half of the kilt could be draped over the shoulder like a cloak or worn over the head like a hood. This was the only type of kilt used for a couple hundred years.

Sometime during the early 18th century, Englishman Thomas Rawlinson decided that the standard kilt was too cumbersome to wear while working, so he came up with the small kilt. It was just the lower half of the great kilt and resembled the kilt we all know today. He went into business with Scottish chief Ian MacDonell, who liked Rawlinson’s idea and also started wearing the small kilt. Because they were influential, all of their employees started wearing it the small kilt and its popularity spread throughout Scotland.

Interesting Facts

A friend of mine, Bob D. passed on these tidbits, some old some new, but all interesting. The population of the world could fit into the state of Texas and it would still be less crowded than New York City. The surface area of Russia is slightly larger than that of Pluto. Lego makes more tires than any company, including tire companies. The combined weight of all ants on earth is about equal to the combined weight of all humans. Alexander the Great conquered half the known world by age 22. Tenth US president John Tyler (born 1790) has two grandsons (born 1924, 1928) still living (as of Jan, 2015). The last known widow of a civil war veteran died in 2008.

Texas Independence Day

Texas Independence is March 2. Here are a few interesting facts about the great state of Texas.

  • El Paso is closer to California than to Dallas.
  • World’s first rodeo was in Pecos, Texas, July 4, 1883.
  • The Flagship Hotel in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built over water. It was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008.
  • Brazoria County, Texas has more species of birds than any other area in North America.
  • Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America’s only remaining flock of whooping cranes.
  • Jalapeno jelly originated in Lake Jackson, Texas in 1978.
  • The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900, caused by a hurricane in which over 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.
  • The first word spoken from the moon on July 20, 1969 was “Houston,” but the Space Center was actually in Clear Lake City at the time.
  • The King Ranch in South Texas is larger than Rhode Island.
  • Texas is the only state to enter the US by treaty, (known as the Constitution of 1845 by the Republic of Texas to enter the Union) instead of by annexation. This allows the Texas Flag to fly at the same height as the US Flag, and Texas may choose to divide into five states.
  • Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. There is no period in Dr Pepper.
  • The Capitol Dome in Austin is the only dome in the US which is taller than the Capitol Building in Washington, DC (by 7 feet).
  • The name ‘Texas’ comes from the Hasini Indian word ‘tejas’ meaning 'friends'. Tejas is not Spanish for Texas.

Cholesterol and Salt

Hooray, bring on the bacon and eggs! Two recent reports are shaking up the food industry. Salt has recently been vindicated by scientists. "Cardiovascular disease, heart failure, or death in older Americans are not linked to salt intake", according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine on January 19, 2015. This follows last year’s Institute of Medicine report, which also raised questions about sodium recommendations. The IOM committee found that there was no clear evidence to support limiting sodium to 1,500 milligrams or less per day.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in August 2014 which reported that people who consume less 1,500 milligrams of sodium are more likely to die than people who eat between 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams of sodium per day.

Now this new report says, cholesterol is no longer a "nutrient of concern," according to the US leading nutritional panel in February 2015.

In its 2015 version of the guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture, it will no longer place an upper limit on cholesterol, "because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol." The draft report said, "Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for over consumption." The recommended changes were compiled by 14 nationally recognized nutrition, medicine, and public health experts. It makes Dr. Adkins appear absolutely prescient.

Health experts agreed it is no longer necessary to consider a food's cholesterol content when making dietary decisions. The committee’s new report also advised eliminating 'lean meat'  as well as 'cutting back on red and processed meats' from the list of recommended healthy foods. The panel also said it OK to have three to five cups of coffee per day.

The science connecting high-cholesterol foods to the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the blood is lacking - not conclusive enough to warrant federal intake recommendations. Even the predictive value of bad cholesterol levels in looking at heart attack risk has shown to be weak by recent studies.

The new enemy is increased carbohydrates, according the current analysis of government data. It says that, "over the past 50 years, we cut fat intake by 25 percent and increased carbohydrates by more than 30 percent." That is what has led to the increase in obesity.

Other countries that offer dietary guidelines have long abandoned specific caps on cholesterol. According to David Klurfeld, a nutritional scientist at the USDA, "The US is the last country in the world to set a specific limit on dietary cholesterol." Finally science begins to trump headlines. Many of my friends know I have been a Cassandra of cholesterol for years. I wonder how long it will take for 'artery clogging' to be banished from the lexicon.

Nitrates and Nitrites

While it is true that nitrates and nitrites are unhealthy for your body, what most pro-veggie, chicken, and fish nutritionists fail to tell us is that we can easily avoid nitrates and nitrites by simply not burning, charring, and over cooking bacon. It can also be avoided by baking bacon in the oven.

If you include some dairy and citrus with your bacon meal, vitamins A, D and E work to effectively prevent conversion of nitrates and nitrites into toxic nitrosamines in the stomach, rendering them harmless to the body.

BPA Update

More good news. The FDA has reached a conclusion about BPA, the chemical that first made consumers worried about plastics that could act like hormones. Late in 2014, the agency issued a statement reiterating its position that products made with BPA are safe.

Crumpet, Muffin, and Pikelet

Most websites and cookbooks agree that crumpets and English muffins are different, although they all disagree exactly how.

Crumpets and English muffins are both griddle cakes - meaning they were originally made on the stove top in a cast-iron griddle pan. They are both round and generally biscuit-sized. They both have a spongy texture full of nooks and crannies for absorbing melted butter and other toppings. They are also both considered to be a breakfast, brunch, or tea food, but not the kind of bread you would serve with dinner.

Crumpets are always made with milk, but English muffins are not.
Crumpet batter is a loose batter. English muffins are usually made from a more firm dough.
Crumpets are made only using baking soda. English muffins are usually made with yeast or sourdough.
Crumpets are cooked only on one side, so the bottom is flat and toasted while the top is speckled with holes. English muffins are more bread-like and toasted on both sides.
Crumpets are served whole with jam and butter spread on top. English muffins are usually split before coating and serving.

A regional variation of the crumpet is the pikelet, whose name comes from the Welsh bara piglydd or "pitchy [dark or sticky] bread", later shortened simply to piglydd. This spread initially to the West Midlands, where it became anglicized as "pikelet", and subsequently to Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and other areas of the north. The main distinguishing feature of the Welsh or West Midlands pikelet is that it was traditionally cooked without a ring, with an end result rather flatter or thinner than a crumpet.