Saturday, September 06, 2008

Recipe: Low-carb peanut butter fudge

I decided to make these today after seeing one of Kent Altena's videos on YouTube.

And now the recipe:

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick - unsalted is important UNLESS you're using unsalted peanut butter. If so, salted butter is fine)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I used smooth organic)
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup granular Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda (I used Sweetzfree)
2/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder

Melt the butter and peanut butter together in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes; whisk well. Whisk in the cream cheese until well blended and smooth. Whisk in the Splenda then the whey protein powder and blend well. Line a loaf pan or 8"X8" square pan with wax paper or nonstick foil. Spread the fudge mixture in the pan and chill or freeze until set. Cut into 20 squares. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Makes 20 pieces. Can be frozen.

With granular Splenda:

Per Piece: 105 Calories; 9g Fat; 4g Protein; 3g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fibre; 2.5g Net Carbs

Per 2 Pieces: 211 Calories; 18g Fat; 8g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fibre; 5g Net Carbs

With liquid Splenda:

Per Piece: 101 Calories; 9g Fat; 4g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fibre; 1g Net Carb

Per 2 Pieces: 201 Calories; 18g Fat; 8g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1.5g Dietary Fibre; 2.5g Net Carbs

I found that these tasted fine, but the texture needed some getting used to. It wasn't unpleasant at all, just different than fudge made with sugar. I really liked them, though, and will make them again. I'll freeze what I made tonight. To get 20 pieces, you really should use a 8" X 8" square pan. I made two batches: one using a loaf pan (the photo above is from that batch) and one using the square pan. The pieces using the square pan are not as "high/thick" as shown in the photo. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

UPDATE - SEPT. 7/08: I just amended the salted/unsalted butter issue. I used unsalted peanut butter AND unsalted butter. You should probably go "one with" + "one without". I used both "without salt" and it could use a bit, I think. The original recipe assumed the peanut butter was salted.

Click here for the original source of the recipe at the excellent Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes website.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Atlantic Canada being visited by Hanna on the weekend

Looks like we're in for a wet and wild Sunday! Click on the photo for a larger version.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

If you come across bear poop that has bells in it and smells like pepper, you'll know why...

Click on the photo for a larger (more readable) version.

University friendships that can last forever

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page (pg. D6)
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This is the first week back to class for yet another year. Throughout the land, university and school students are hitting the books again in what will be another year of homework, tests, essays and projects.

My first day of university was a mind-boggling 26 years ago. I can hardly believe it's been that long, because I remember it like it was yesterday.

I dreaded every minute of the nearly three-hour drive to my new adventure. I wouldn't know a soul there. I'd been to the city a grand total of once before, not exactly often enough to make me very comfortable with my surroundings.

I assumed that everyone there would be in the same boat that I was in, but soon came to realize that many students at my university knew each other from high school. Seeing that I had gone to French schools, my very English, very high-Anglican university in another province wasn't exactly at the top of the list for my high school classmates.

Thankfully, there were others like me whose only friend upon arriving was their own reflection in the mirror, too. It made me feel less like a freak to see others wandering around as lost as I was, wondering who to be friends with and finding their entire support network and comfort zone thrown into disarray.

I had a great bunch of friends in high school and still hang out (or at least keep in touch) with most of them today. There have been marriages, divorces, the deaths of parents and personal illnesses, but we still manage to get together often to catch up and socialize. Had I known that these would be lifelong friends, I would have allowed myself to enjoy that first day (and even my first year) of university a bit more.

My erroneous philosophy at the time was that a person could only have a finite number of great friends, and that these university folks had better not get any ideas. I already had my quota filled, thank you very much.

Of course, that was silly thinking, but when you're 18, in a foreign environment and essentially by yourself, you tend to think crazy thoughts. As I've aged, I've come to realize that there are no limits to the number of great friends that a person can have.

Eventually, I started to relax and grew close to some of my university classmates. Some really good friendships evolved over those first few weeks, as they usually do during initiation into university life.

Of course, there are always a few bumps in the road when thrust into such an alien environment. The "nice" person you started to hang out with turns out to be completely psychotic. And that angelic-looking person who initially seemed like they could work part-time as Jesus's personal Bible editor turns out to be a druggie with an addiction so intense that they could put any Colombian drug lord to shame.

During my first week of university, I found myself drinking rum in some guy's room. As the conversation went on, I quickly discovered that this was far from someone who I'd normally associate with, but how was I to know before? I hate rum. I can barely swallow it without gagging. I can't even smell rum extract used in cooking without my throat closing up. I don't think I ever spoke to him again throughout my four years of university after those few shared drinks and a very bizarre conversation. I can't even remember what we talked about, but I remember thinking, "Get me out of here!"

By the end of the first week, I'd started to figure out who my kindred spirits were. I was a pretty basic person. I would drink beer, sure, but wasn't into drugs at all. It's just not something that's ever appealed to me. I tended to hang out with like-minded people. I naturally gravitated toward the "good-but-not-snobby" people.

I kept in touch with my high school friends through letters and telephone calls. This was before the days of e-mail, Facebook, MSN chat and cheap long distance, so communicating was slow and expensive. I wish I'd had the Internet back then. It would have made things so much easier, not to mention a lot cheaper. In those days, long distance cost a fortune, not the mere pennies that it costs today.

As the years went on, I garnered a group of really good friends. And like my high school friends, I still keep in touch with many of them today.

So here's my advice to those university and community college students who are finding themselves away from home for the first time. Stay in touch with your friends from home, but be confident enough to take advantage of your new surroundings and meet new people. In the few short days since you've arrived at university, many of you have already met your future spouse or best friend, but just don't realize it.

Have lots of fun. "Party hardy," as they say, but remember to always be safe. Don't let anyone talk you into doing anything you don't want to. The people who get the most respect at this stage of the game are those who make the responsible choices and don't run with the crowd.

Be your own person.

Partying may be tempting. But -- trust me -- there will be many, many parties during your university life. Missing one (or two, or three) may feel like the end of the world, but there's always another one around the corner. Don't neglect your studies for which you are paying dearly, financially speaking.

And that person next to you in class? Be nice! You may marry them one day.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Peanuts animator and voice of Snoopy dies at 91

"Animator, director and producer Jose Cuautemoc "Bill" Melendez, whose television programs and theatrical films featuring Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" characters earned four Emmy Awards, an Oscar nomination and two Peabody Awards, died Tuesday at St. John's hospital in Santa Monica, according to publicist Amy Goldsmith. He was 91.

Melendez's career extended over nearly seven decades, including stints at the Walt Disney Studio, Leon Schlesinger Cartoons, UPA and Playhouse Pictures. In 1964, he established Bill Melendez Productions, where he created his best-known works, including the holiday classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965). Over the years, his films were honored with two additional prime-time Emmys, three National Cartoonist Society Awards, a Clio and 150 awards for commercials."

Click here for more.

Here are some scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas:

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about starting university and taking full advantages of making new friendships -- many of which will last a lifetime! Check it out on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript or visit here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Canadian Idol review and predictions for week of September 1, 2008


Hi everyone! The final two contestants will be announced on tonight’s Canadian Idol. It’s an exciting show for fans because we’re inching closer and closer to yet another grand finale – always the most exciting episode of the year.

Last night, our final three contestants paid tribute to Canadian rock legend Bryan Adams. All three had hits and misses.

Each contestant sang twice. In my opinion, here’s how they did:

Drew Wright was up first and sang Cuts Like a Knife. He did an excellent job and got rave reviews. Despite an almost complete lack of charisma, he manages to pull something great out of his hat every week.

Theo Tams sang second and chose Heaven. This was one of Theo’s greatest performances all season and had the crowd going crazy as well as each of the judges. Truly a great moment in Canadian Idol history. Excellent! Check it out:

Mitch MacDonald then took the stage to sing Heat of the Night. This was not Mitch’s best performance because he just wasn’t believable. I agreed 100% with the judges who mentioned that Mitch was just too likeable to sing such an “angry” song. He could pull off the singing, but not the emotion of the song.

Drew was up again with I’m Ready. In my opinion, this was a complete disaster from start to finish. It was fake, completely unbelievable and orchestrated. Why do contestants keep taking on songs that previous contestants aced? Greg Neufeld sang this last year and did such an amazing job that Zack ran up on stage to hug him. It was that good! Hated Drew’s version. Amberly Thiessen also tanked this year when she took on Space Oddity, which Jason Hoggard hit a homerun on in season two.

Here's Drew's version:

And Greg's:

I don't think there's a comparison. Greg's version was so much better!

Theo then took to the stage again with When You’re Gone. It was just “OK” and certainly didn’t impress me. It sounded too bluesy – and it just wasn’t appropriate. The judges weren’t crazy about it either, but all agreed that it was good enough to put him through to the final. I certainly agree with that.

Mitch closed the show with When You Love Someone, which was much more in sync with his style. I thought Mitch did very well. He really put forward the emotion needed. The close-ups of him singing showed him really giving it his all.

So who’s going home tonight? Well, there will not be a bottom two, so I’ll rank them like this:

1) Theo is definitely safe. I cannot imagine that he will not make it into the final. Earl’s elimination last week will see the Alberta vote flock to Theo, who’s also from Alberta. Theo would also benefit from a large national fan base.

2) Mitch has not been in the bottom two or three all season. Some people don’t care for his voice, but Zack was right when he said last night that he has a very distinctive voice that radio stations would love. Because he finished the show strong last night – and because he didn’t sing first (Drew did) – and because he’s never been in the bottom two or three – and because he has a strong following from the Maritimes, I predict that Mitch is safe.

3) That leaves Drew. Although he sang great during his first song, I hated his version of I’m Ready. Anyone who was comparing him to Greg Neufeld hated it, too, I’m sure. He's also been in the bottom two or three on a few occasions.

So it’s a Theo and Mitch finale, in my books!

Good luck to all the students and teachers returning to school today!

Here's a retro Staples ad that pretty much sums it up!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Barack's got two daddies...

... not that there's anything wrong with that!