My favorite cow!

 

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Welcome to Bovine Blvd. So glad you turned down this street today. My love of the bovine species always takes me in so many different directions. One of which are the interesting and detailed origins of some of the breeds. Like us they have a history filled with immigration, cross-breeding and evolution. One such bovine that I love particularly because of its beauty and natural ability to evolve and adjust to its environment is the Scottish Highland. It’s more than an interesting animal. They exhibit phenomenal qualities both genetically and physically. Above all of that, it is  believed that they are a mellow tempered and even friendly breed of bovine. I know, the very thought is exciting to say the least. Hope you enjoy these little fun facts and snippets that always give me a smile.

  • With long horns and wavy coats they are born with black, brindled, red, yellow or dun colored hair. They are now imported mainly to Australia and North America.  And surprisingly ( to me) although groups of cattle are known as ‘Herds’, a group of highland cattle is referred to as ‘Folds’. You can’t get any cuter than that.

  • They are proud herbivores whose lifespan is generally 15- 22 years and they possess a fun scientific name, Bos Taurus, and weigh anywhere from 900 lbs- 2200 lbs. Which is like weighing that of a tiny little Fiat. There only predators are the wolf, coyote and ……Humans. Surprise!

  • The Scottish Highland is the oldest registered breed of cattle. ( 1885) What this truly means I am not entirely sure. All I could ever find was the fact itself but I suppose being the first of anything is cool in and of itself.

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  • They are disease resistant. With the new scares in our country of Ebola and weird mosquito transmitted diseases popping up I’d try whatever they are trying.

  • They are said to be genetically advanced and have evolved to encumber harsh climates, both extreme heat and colder than cold climates. Even those colder and harsher in temperature than their native highlands. I can barely survive in 65 degree weather as I am always cold. I literally wear sweaters and scarves all year-long, which is borderline ridiculous seeing that I live in the Northeastern part of America. I wasn’t born with fur though, so … you know.

  • They thrive on foods, pasture and range lands that other breeds simply can’t or won’t bother to sustain themselves with.

images– They are an even-tempered breed, reportedly, so much so that I’ve read that many farmers/breeders find them a joy to herd and raise and often they will even allow any children nearby to pet and stroke them on occasion.

  • The highland cattle’s meat is wonderous in regards to nourishment. It’s meat is very lean, high marbled and lower in cholesterol than most others. It’s super flavorful, I imagine this is due to their very strict diet of “all things others won’t eat” hehe At the very least this holds true in the British Isles where they consider highland beef premium and it’s recognized and the finest you can get.

I love them and now you probably do too.

❤ Cassandra….. Mooo!

 

 

 

 

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Beer Highlight: DuClaw- Neon Gypsy!!!!

download (4)DuClaw Brewery- Baltimore, MD 6.5 % Alc,  Medium bodied

Flavor:

Sharp, bitter and citrus-y on the tongue.

For a second time I was thoroughly impressed by the brewers at DuClaw. Aptly named ‘Neon Gypsy”, this new Indian Pale Ale brought out a raucous, giddy way in me. There are many IPA’s, good ones, out there that can taste very similar to each other in that they are sometimes  either over or under hopped. However this IPA being slightly more bitter than their ‘Serum” but less hoppy and strong, seriously held its own among the great IPA’s I’ve had. The bitterness gave a slight lemon feel to me and the aroma was unusually sweet. I decided to on snack on some white cheddar popcorn while I enjoyed a bottle and the pairing was surprisingly perfect. I tasted ginger, orange and lemon.

Made mostly with  a blend of 7 different hops: Columbus, Simcoe, Chinook, Amarillo, Citra, Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace

I love this beer and would recommend it for a beautiful fall evening, wrapped in your favorite sweater with good company and a snack. 🙂

Happy Sippin’

❤ Cassandra

My favorite candy!

One of the best things I discovered later on in life was candy. Now this may sound weird but my mother was one of those awful parents who wouldn’t let me consume unnecessary amounts of sugar and rot my teeth until I was old enough to choose for myself to eat unnecessary amounts of sugar and rot my teeth. So as you can imagine, most of the wonderful candies out there in the world didn’t enter into mine until I was well into my late teens. Now, this is not to say I didn’t sneak some skittles here and there, which were always in abundance at my grandparents house, or have a sweet snack from time to time. But I discovered most of my favorite little gummy sugary treats later in life. And I enjoy them still, but for some reason or another I always get a little pang of guilt when I have had just a few too many pieces and my moms voice is in my head urging me to put them down. I thank her for that now, Diabetes is a scary thing and I am sure she saved me from it so very long ago.

However when I do indulge I sometimes get so excited as to which ones to pick my hair stands straight up as though I had been playing with the electrical sockets. When asked what is my favorite snack or candy bar or treat it is always a brain burner. So I decided to make an official list of them. Why I love em and as many fun tidbits and facts as I could find on them. hooray!!!!

First up, Gummy Bears!

As the above video shows, they are gummy and dance and sing down my into my belly every time I eat them.  In German they are called Gummibärchen. Which is their place of origin.

In 1920 their was a man and he was a confectioner by the name of Hans Reiger Sr. and he started the Haribo company. Haribo gummy bears are my favorite brand actually, they were the first gummy bears ever made and in 1922 he was inspired by the dancing bears at festivals throughout Europe in the 19th century.

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They come in an array of ingredients to suit the needs of everyone. For example in Turkey they produce a Halal bear and they even make sugar-less bears for those with diabetes. They also produce ones that are made with pectin or starch instead of the original gelatin so that it’s suitable for vegetarians.


Twizzlers, they make mouths happy!

Look at this amazing idea I found online for Twizzlers in a mason jar!

Look at this amazing idea I found online for Twizzlers in a mason jar!

Y&S Candies Inc. ( a subsidiary of Hershey) produces Twizzlers. 1929 was the year the Twizzler candy brand was created in Montreal, although I believe the licorice itself was introduced in 1845.

I love Licorice but only actually eat Twizzlers, the strawberry flavor. However they come in a variety of sizes and flavors now like chocolate, watermelon and cherry. They are so yummy and I love to put them in giant mason jars as edible decoration. The best thing you can ever do for your life is open a pack of Twizzlers and  bite off each end and use it as a straw. This may sound juvenile but I assure I only use it to drink my beer therefore it is an adult activity. 🙂

All Twizzlers are apparently Kosher Certified by the Orthodox Union, so yay to that I guess. And they also do not contain any gelatin or other animal products so the people of PETA love them and they are vegetarian safe!

The workers who make twizzlers are alloted 2 pounds of candy per week, which means I am considering quitting writing and joining the twizzler factory.

They are 8 1/4 inches long and next to popcorn, Twizzlers are the second most popular movie theater snack.

 


 

Next up the amazing Air Heads!

air heads 2

Created in 1986 by Perefetti  Van Elle in Erlanger, Kentucky they are brightly colored, chewy taffy like candies that look like a giant tongue. I usually can’t eat more than one at a time because they are so sweet but delicious nonetheless.

They are only sold within the United States and Canada.

Flavors include cherry, lemonade, watermelon, white mystery, green apple, strawberry, blue raspberry, orange, Cola, Pink Lemonade, Grape-o-licious, Mang-o-tastic, Strawberry Banana, Tutti Frutti

and “Slammin’ Sour” and “Flaming Hot.”

 


Lemon Drops

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The original Lemon Drops, were a hard candy shaped like little lemons and rolled in sugar. They originally come from England, which somehow makes so much sense to me.

Starting off as a throat lozenge the lemon drop has a clouded history of sorts, meaning I could barely find any information on them whatsoever. There are tons of brands of these candies and I actually haven’t had any in a very long time. But the best ones to get are the ones you find in an actual candy store where everything is perfectly placed in clear mason jars and you have to scoop them out into a little baggies.

If you’re looking for the old fashion kind that are a perfect combination of sweet and tart there is a great website to order them from, appropriately name oldtimecandy.com yum!

 


Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

 

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Created by H. B. Reese in 1928 this is one of those wonderful milk chocolate candies that doesn’t bombard you with chocolate, instead its overwhelmed with peanut butter. Fun!!  As it turns out H.B. Reese was a dairy farmer and a shipping foreman for Milton S. Hershey. It would seem the reeses peanut butter cup was destined to happen.

As of 2012 the Reese’s candy brand is the #1 selling candy brand in the US.

With 10 million likes, It even has more friends than I have on facebook. 🙂

I love to eat these after letting them sit in the freezer for a bit, wait until after you have put on your pj’s and forget to brush your teeth then have one. It is the best midnight snack ever.

These round chocolate cups of yummy come in a multitude of variations, most of which I have never tried but now are officially on my list of ” Candies I’ve never had. And yes, I do indeed have such a list. Here are just a few:

Big Cup, Caramel, chocolate lovers, crunchy cookie cup, double chocolate, double crunch, fudge, half pound cup( released in Canada in 2011) lol, hazelnut cream, honey roasted, inside out, marshmallow, miniatures, minis, peanut butter and banana cream and white chocolate. Phew! That is a whole lot of options. I love it and you should too.

These are my favorite candies. I wish I had more to add to the list in all honesty but I simply don’t eat that much candy all that often, however one of my favorite things ever about being an adult is that I get to eat candy whenever I feel like it. 🙂

Happy snackin’

❤ Cassandra

 

 

 

How to tell when your Beer Belly has nothing to do with beer.

When is big just too damn big? Well that is the question isn’t it? As someone who has a healthy amount of care and respect for my body, its shape and what nourishes it, I figured I would touch upon the subject slightly. In the U.S obesity is as common and rampant as prime time television shows. Meaning…..it’s happening everywhere and all the time and looks to not be slowing down anytime soon. According the CDC (Center for Disease Control) more than one-third of American adults are Obese. That’s 34.9 % or 78.6 million people. Obesity in this country is higher among middle-aged folks (40-59 yrs old) than younger adults ( 20-39 yrs old). Obesity is determined in adults with a BMI ( Body Mass Index) of 30 or greater.

My boyfriend works on the railroad and as such many of his co-workers travel on the road most of the year. So a balanced, fairly healthy diet generally evades many of these guys. So I’ve seen my fair share of ginormous bellies over-powering their cotton shirts and protruding aggressively over their denim jeans. However this problem is one that we all face as a country. And not including an entire group of people who suffer from thyroid conditions, we are breeding an entire generation of extremely fat and unhealthy children. 17 % of our youth in this country are obese and that number is growing fast.

I always wonder if people ask themselves, when is enough actually enough? Do people understand the difference between large, “big-boned” and just plain ole obese? I think not. Now, let us forget about society’s view of whats perfect, of what women and men should look like in order to be considered beautiful. Because it isn’t about that. As humans we come in all different types of shapes and sizes and we are beautiful exactly for this reason. Let us instead speak on the inner voice that I believe we all have, that many of us simply just don’t listen to and ignore more often than not. Let us speak on the stuff, food and other crap, that we are actually putting into our bodies on a regular basis. Then and only then, let us decide if we are at a decent, livable, healthy size or trapped within a body that no one should have to live in, possibly shortening our lives.

What can we do?

Now there is apparently a great effort to focus on public health issues such as obesity by the government through Special supplemental nutritional programs for women, children and infants and through various new regulations in regards to food packaging information implemented by the US Dept. of Agriculture, however the numbers seem to be growing. I believe it must begin with knowledge. It sounds cliche of course, but knowledge is most definitely power. The more you know about your health, your families genetic dispositions, your chances and likelihood for high blood pressure, obesity etc. the more you can do about it. The more choices you ultimately will have.

Where the fat lives. Below is an obesity prevalence map by state.

2013-state-obesity-prevalence-map-labels

What’s it costing us?

The extremely obese of this country have one very significant higher cost than the rest of the population. Increased healthcare costs. Some might think increased gas in one the most expensive things we suffer with as Americans. Ironically enough Americans spend 4 billion dollars a year in increased gas costs due to our weight. Which just simply sounds absurd. There are many unexpected costs associated with obesity. Which makes sense since we have the second highest obesity rate in world, next to Mexico. Things are constantly being altered and changed within society to accommodate the rampant weight increase as a society as a whole. NJ transit is widening their seats by 2.2 inches for passengers. In the year 2000, Airlines had to use and additional 350 gallons of jet fuel in order to handle the increase of weight by passengers. From a medical standpoint, new and larger machines and pieces of equipment, like mini cranes, MRI machines and wheelchairs, have had to be invented and changed to accommodate people larger than 350 pounds.

However from a business standpoint the increase in obesity is a wonderful opportunity to flourish. In 2008 $40 Billion dollars was spent on diet products. Which I find particularly interesting since the rate of obesity continues to increase. The possibilities business wise are endless if the current weight trends continue to increase as they are. Almost half of the country is estimated to be considered obese by the year 2030, which is basically around the corner folks. And if you were unawares of our current population, in order to put that into perspective, we are a country of roughly 320 million people. So there you are. You’re welcome.

I believe you must listen to your body but not ignore the advice of medical professionals as well. The general knowledge we possess as a society isn’t enough anymore to fight this war on obesity. We must search and find the knowledge and tactics to help us become healthier and ultimately happier starting from the inside out.

Happy livin’

❤ Cassandra

A visit to Pepperidge Farm.

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This month I came down with a little mini cold. I was under the weather for a few days and so my better half Red brought in from work one day a little care basket filled with all the necessities a sick girl might need. Nyquil, gummy bears, an italian sub, ginger-ale and a bag of pepperridge farm cookies. The short bread ones. You know, all the usual. Well…It got me thinking about my favorite cookies ever. Of course they are my mothers home-made short bread cookies that were made from memory, with no recipe or measurement cups. She’d throw in a pinch of this or a handful of that and presto! Cookies! Man would I love a fabulous plate of short bread cookies, sweet and sugary, that fell apart in your mouth. Many years later I discovered a similar happiness with Pepperidge farm cookies. The short bread ones of course.  Now, I like other types of cookies that they make however they always seem to leave something to be desired in my opinion. But then again I may a bit bias since I am sincerely in love with their short bread cookies. :-). Anyhow, after being a bit ill and bed-ridden for  a few days and all netflixed out it was a welcomed treat, those cookies.

pepperidge farm shortbread cookies

It turns out they have been around since the early 40’s and so I  figured there are lots of good tid bits to discover about the Farm. 🙂

Started by a mother and house wife, from Connecticut, Margaret Rudkin, attempting to find a preservative free bread for her son due to his allergies came Pepperidge Farms. What she started was a conglomerate of fabulous cookies and baked goods. A trip to Belgium in the 50’s and Pepperidge Farm being acquired in the 60’s by Campbell’s Soup brought us the very famous “Goldfish Crackers”  and “Chocolate Chunk” cookies and mor..

They rank in the top 2% brands worldwide in brand equity.

Despite my allegiance lying with only the shortbread cookies they actually use  real ingredients in all their other products.

Pepperidge Farm products are available in over 45 countries, have relationships with over 40 distributors and 80 retailers all over the globe.

They also offer the opportunity to become a Pepperidge Farm independent distributor. So very awesome, allowing the entrepeneur in us all to shine bright, if it should so be your desire.

To my surprise, their website boasts of a large array of company recipes and ideas from breakfast, pastries and sandwiches to full meals and desserts.

All in all I never thought that I would have so much to say about one of my favorite packaged cookies, however the short bread cookies are simply fantastic! I recommend them with the lights a bit dim and your covers pulled all the way up and your favorite Sylvester Stallone movie on the tube. Or have them after you’ve enjoyed that lasagna you have been putting off making since last fall. 🙂

Fantastic!

❤ Cassandra

 

Beer Highlight: Victory- Hop Devil!!!

hopdevilThis has long been one of my favorite beers to find out at a pub on tap. It happens so infrequently that when I am fortunate enough to encounter the Devil, it’s like tasting it for the first time all over again. Half way through the bottle the memories of the Hop Devil’s past flood my mind and I’m brought back to whatever occasion or experience I took part in before. When the broad barley notes roll down my tongue, I remember to sip slowly, as not to miss the enchanting maple sitting beneath the toasted nut flavors that are there. Like the average American, the Devil is full-bodied, but is above average in almost every other way. It’s tangy and very hoppy and almost demands to be drunken alone. It’s for the palate that knows no bounds. It’s for the spirit that does not fear the possibility of it tasting bad. You can not be persuaded to drink the Devil, The Devil must invite you in. And you shall know when it’s your time to be romanced by the complexity of its brewing components.

Made with whole flower American hops and German Malts (one of only a few in the country to do so), this American made Indian Pale Ale, brewed in Downingtown, PA,is described by its own brewers as spicy and menacingly delicious. It makes me wonder if their target audience are to be of the same nature. They also suggest pairing it (if the feeling should come upon you to do so) with grilled meats, bar-b-q ribs or anything with cheddar cheese and the only variant I’d offer in regards to this would be sharp cheddar.

For a brewery that is filled with German tradition then wrapped in American ingenuity, their ability to constantly produce creations of true craftsmanship and care astound and please me to no end.

Happy sippin’

❤ Cassandra

Great Pacific garbage patch- what it actually is.

It’s almost a joke that we insist on calling ourselves the most intelligent and highly evolved species on this planet when we continue to brutalize and pollute our environment to the degree that we do and abuse our natural resources, for which if they disappeared then we would too.

The great pacific garbage patch, also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex is an area in the North Pacific ocean filled with marine debris as per Wikipedia. I have heard of it over the years, often disturbed by its description. What has held my curiosity all these years is wanting to know what exactly it is, what it consist of and is it  indeed marine debris or garbage and trash accumulated in this particular part of our Earth’s ocean due to natural currents and flow of waters that converge there or is it one of those weird sea stories blown out of proportion.

Well, I can safely say now that, unfortunately, that its not one of those amazing pirate tales of a garbage vortex that sucks boats and seamen alike into it’s grasps only to disappear without a trace.  Although less entertaining than that, it’s actually much worse.

It’s located between  135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N. It’s been said that it actually consist of an enormous amount of pelagic plastic, which I shall explain. To understand what they are you must first realize that plastic is forever. It neither bio-degrades nor breaks down from organisms in a natural way at all. They always remain a polymer. So when plastic finds it way to the ocean and is then exposed to long periods of sunlight it goes through a process called photodegredation, which simply breaks it down into smaller pieces and polymers. It will then remain in the ocean for centuries and inflict unknown amounts of environmental damage. These are pelagic plastics. Also within this great patch is chemical sludge and other debris that gets caught in the North Pacific gyre.

great-pacific-garbage-patchApparently it is quite large ( 4 particles per cubic meter), which is estimated at being as big as anywhere from 270,000 square miles to 5,800,00 square miles big.  That is roughly the size of Texas or larger. However it said to not be visible from space or satellite photography. Despite being considered one of the largest and worst examples of marine pollution much of the debris is actually almost invisible to the naked eye because the plastic has been broken down so much over the years into such tiny pieces. Much of it actually lies just beneath the surface of the ocean.

Where does the garbage come from?

The way in which it has been formed is pretty simple. It formed very gradually due to marine pollution that collected in the area due to natural oceanic currents. The circular pattern from these currents in the area pull in garbage and waste material from the North Pacific Ocean, including North America and Japan. The majority of the trash (about 80%) is said to come from land due to improper and illegal disposal and the rest from ships. However I found I had a difficult time when researching, finding numbers or statistics that were concrete that would allow me to be more specific about this claim.

Who discovered it?

The man who first discovered this particular area of floating trash is Captain Charles Moore, he is a surfer, sea-captain and scientific researcher. According to National Geographic the patch was predicted by many oceanographers and climatologists but Moore was the one who actually came upon it and reported his actual findings first to science community. He was sailing from Hawaii to California after a yachting competition of some kind.

What effect it is having on marine life?

The result of such an area with so much incredibly harmful debris and waste can be and is extremely dangerous to our marine life which ultimately means it is detrimental to us as humans as well. These particles end up in the stomachs of sea-turtles and many types of Albatross birds and their young. The breakdown of these plastics also releases all types of dangerous chemicals that are then ingested by the animals which in turn cause severe hormone disruption among other health problems. It also interrupts the animals ability to effectively detect where their natural food source is within the water. I found some research that determined that at least 267  different animal species are directly effected by this particular patch world-wide. That information in of itself shows me how very connected all life on this earth is because only a few of those 267 animals effected directly actually reside within range of the actual garbage patch area.

What can be done?

Well to begin I found a number of organizations and coalitions that are currently working on ways to effectively clean up and reduce the amount of plastic in these areas, which will ultimately be a life long process. However I believe that a lot of these issues are probably preventable for the future and is our responsibility as humans to figure out what not do to contribute to the problem, as most of the seas trash and waste is human produced and discarded by us as well, generally improperly or illegally.

We can start by being smarter consumers. There are many products in our homes that we use everyday that we discard of improperly and don’t even know it. Shampoo bottles, take out bins etc. are just some that actually should not go straight into our regular trash. Plastic is almost a daily used carcinogenic material that is in almost every kind of container in our home.  Most of which can not bio-degrade in a healthy and safe way when put into the regular trash. You must actually recycle your plastics not simply throw them in the trash. Find your city’s local recycle regimen requirements and actually apply it to your daily life. Plastic bottles are an extremely huge problem that many people either refuse to recognize or simply don’t understand the repercussions of. For example, 9 out of 10 plastic bottles are not even recycled in the United States.  We use 1 trillion plastic bags per year world-wide and considering that everything always leads back to the ocean that number should scare you. If you can’t truly wrap your mind around this number in word form let me show it to you in actual numbers. 1,000,000,000,000,000. Below is a wonderful little infographic that highlights some of the words I’ve written above because adding photos or graphs to data always helps people absorb it better. 🙂

Great-Pacific-Garbage-Patch (1)

 

All in all I’d say this is by far a scarier reality than that of pirates inhabiting the great seas and devouring up our sailors. Let’s open our eyes, just a little wider and take a cue from Maximus in “gladiator”. “What we do in life…… echoes in eternity.” Thanks Russel Crowe. 🙂