Thursday, April 27, 2017

CPR (Chocolate Peanut Butter Revival) Bar Cookies

The first version :)

Hey y'all,

So, after Lent was over, I started craving sweets again like crazy, especially since that was the first thing I cut out.

So, a couple of days after Easter, I went to pull down the large package of Chips Ahoy! that I had stashed up for there since forever.

I opened the package, and...they were pale. Apparently the sell by date was back in March. Figures right? I ate a couple, and they seemed just a little stale but not terrible.

Anyways, the search began for a dessert recipe that used ruined/stale cookies. Cause I wasn't about to waste over 30 cookies.

In the end, I ended up drafting one for bar cookies. I crushed up half the package of Chips Ahoy and placed the crumbs with some melted butter in the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Then I melted a Hershey XL bar of chocolate and mixed it with some peanut butter and spread it on top of the crumb mixture. I will say that was easier said than done. Then I placed some dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses to fill in where the mixture missed. Then I placed it in a 350 degree oven for around 15 minutes.

The result? A ridiculously hard crust and a super soft top.

It did taste good though.....

So I tried again, since I only got rid of half the cookies the first time.

This time, I added milk to the crust, enough to wet the cookies that weren't wetted by the butter. Finding out the right amount of milk was really tough, because Chips Ahoy cookies don't need a lot of milk to be soaked. I will say that the milk really helped to soften the crust and it was somewhat easier to spread. However, the layers were a lot less distinct, which produced a blending effect, which I didn't like. However, I'm not sure how to fix that balance just yet. But, the second batch was met with rave reviews, so I will add the recipe file below.

Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie

*********************************************************************************

CPR (Chocolate Peanut-Butter Revival) Bar Cookies

Ingredients:
½ Family Size package of Chips Ahoy! Cookies
Milk
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup peanut butter
1 XL bar of Hershey’s Chocolate
Optional: Hershey’s Kisses

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Chilling Time: 2+ hours. 
Dishes needed: an 8x8 pan, spatula, microwaveable bowl

Directions:
1.      Preheat oven to 350F
2.      Place melted butter in bottom of the 8x8 pan.
3.      Crush up Chips Ahoy cookies as finely as possible. Spread evenly in the pan with the butter.
4.      Dampen cookie mixture with milk (a little goes a long way). Press crust evenly.
5.      Melt XL bar of chocolate in microwave. Mix with peanut butter right away with spatula for easy blending.
6.      Spread mixture over crust as evenly as possible. 
7.      Bake in oven for 15-25 minutes. If it’s bubbling, take it out!
8.      Place in refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to chill.

9.      Serve and Enjoy! 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Labora Agricultura : Industrial Agriculture

Hey y'all,

My first installment of my agriculture series! As I mentioned in my post last month, in this series I'll be talking about several different farming systems that are present in the United States today. Since industrial farming is the most prevalent and the system that is most likely to stock the groceries in the stores, I'll start with that one. 

As an agriculture student at a small college, I learned heavily about industrial agriculture methods. In this post, I'll just give a general overview of the system for both crop and animal production. If you have a question about a specific practice, I'll be happy to answer it in the comments.

Modern industrial agriculture has the following attributes:
1. corporate farming
2. confinement livestock operations
3. heavy use of chemicals
4. bioengineering/genetically modified organisms - this last one I will deal with in a separate post.

Corporate farming is the practice of being under contract by a large food or agricultural corporation such as Tyson, Perdue, Cargill, Pioneer, etc. Some family farms are incorporated for financial and legal reasons, but they don't fall under the same definition. 

With corporate farming, the farmer is often at the mercy of the market and the companies that control it. Strict user agreements have to be followed. In a sense, it's the corporation that is producing the food, not the farmer. Both animals and crops may be produced in this way. 

On the crops side, industrial agriculture is fairly easy. Just know when to plant, when to spray, when to harvest, when to sell, and keep an eye out for weeds and disease. The farm is on a large scale - farming more than 500 acres - and often uses all the land available. 

Industrial crop farming is also very highly mechanized. Literally everything is done with a tractor or by a machine, with the exception of some tree crops and vegetables. Some of these machines are pretty cool, but they come at a cost (often in more than one way). A lot of people worry about compaction and pollution from these large machines. Personally, I don't feel comfortable operating a tractor (I don't do stick shift. At all.), but I won't shame anyone for using one since I know the usefullness of one. 

Commodity crops (such as corn and soybeans) honestly don't bring in that much money. As a matter of fact, the government has to pay farmers in order for them to break even if not make a small profit. That's called a subsidy.

In order to stay in business, a farmer is often forced to expand his acreage, up the amount of chemicals used, or invest in new costly technologies. All of which adds to his expense column and reduces his profit margin.  

In order to control weeds and pests in the past, farmers did a lot of tillage and cultivating. Scientists then discovered that those practices led to increased soil erosion. Hence the devolopment of herbicides (such as Round-up, which kills weeds), insecticides (which kills bugs) and fungicides (which attack fungi spores that cause disease). Big name companies such as Monsanto got their start as agricultural chemical companies. 

Oftentimes, there really is no difference taste-wise between conventional crops and organic. The issue goes much deeper into the ethics of the producer and consumer. There has been some pushback from consumers concerned about eating chemical residues and the environmental impact of using chemicals, which has resulted in the growth of organic and more 'eco-friendly' agricultural practices.

Most commodity crops and livestock are sold via contract, often what's called a futures contract. Basically, that's paying a farmer a price that the stock exchange thinks will be the market price will be that month. Its a very highly speculative way of doing business. The other way is to just sell the crops at the elevator or livestock at auction which are both highly fluctuating prices too. Other ways of marketing include contracts with processing companies, and grocery stores.

On the animals side, there is a common management practice called a Concentrated Animal Farming Operation or CAFO in order to produce large amounts of meat and eggs for consumers. This is mostly done for beef, pork and chicken. 

Ever wonder when you were a little kid, riding in the car passing farm fields, what those huge long buildings were?
Photo Credit: "hog confinement system" Friends of Family Farmers, via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/31347258@N05/3201578319/in/photostream/

Well, I can now answer that question.
Those are barns. Barns that can hold upwards to 100,000 poultry birds, or 10,000 hogs.
Mind boggling, isn't it?

In livestock operations, feed, medications, maintenance and livestock are trucked in by the company, depending on the nature of the contract. A lot of the time, the farmer only provides the land, some labor, and the agricultural know-how to know when something​ is wrong. The barns are monitored by a large set of electrical switches - controlling the temperature and ventilation (so much so that a degree off is a cause of concern).

Industrial farming is very highly specialized, and breeds of livestock reflect that. There are breeds that are specially bred and adapted for confinement farming. This may have future consequences as gene pools narrow and there may be a time when livestock cannot live outside at all.  

Reducing labor costs is a big deal with industrial farming. With the low profit margins, and high costs, priorities must be set. Unfortunately, most will be willing to invest more money into the latest and greatest labor saving device and biosecurity measures than jobs.

Biosecurity is one of the hot button topics in AG today. As the world famous Temple Grandin said "Big is fragile". With thousands of animals in close proximity, an outbreak of disease quickly becomes a pandemic in a confinement setting. Should an outbreak happen, it can cause major supply shortages and rising food prices. Since bacteria and viruses can travel into everywhere through anything, common biosecurity measures include: heavy lysoling of vehicles (if not heating), concrete floors, and shower in-shower out policies (which I believe are the most ridiculous of them all). 

Confinement operations, therefore, act as a bubble. Unfortunately, this can really cause a public relations nightmare as the public starts demanding to know what is going on behind closed doors. 

Public perception of confinement operations overall has been really negative. Animal rights groups such as PETA have done sensational video exposes, which take advantage of a public far removed from agriculture. In reality, there is a logical reason for a lot of practices, including farrowing crates (reduces crushing of the young) and other seemingly barbaric practices. 

Oh and another thing, those antibiotic and hormone free slogans you see on meat packages? A lot of those are actually marketing schemes. 

Here's the deal: it is now required by law for producers to wait a certain amount of time (called a withdrawal time) after administering an antibiotic or hormone before sending it to market. How long depends on what drug you use, but it is usually around 2 weeks. This is so that there are no antibiotic residues in the meat. Lately, the beef and pork industries have really been cracking down on antibiotic use among their own by Quality Assurance programs, which set management procedures for animal producers. 

Also, growth hormones are illegal to use in chicken and pigs. Beef only allows a few, and the dairy industry has banned rBST. 


One bone of contention that I have with industrial animal production is the lack of employment. Confinement operations often have well over a thousand animals per operation. How many employees would you think that they would take? 100, 200, or more?

Try less than 20.

Basically the only reason that people are even hired is because agribusinesses haven't developed a robot that has replaced a set of human eyes for spotting trouble, and can hop over fences quickly. Feeding, watering, even cleaning is often done by automation. These large operations, which should provide well over 100 jobs for agricultural students and working class adults, in reality cheat a lot of people out of working in the industry.

To conclude, I'll leave you with one of the most succinct definitions of industrial agriculture that I've ever seen.  

"Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country."
~ The Communist Manifesto

Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Awkward & Awesome: Holy Week





Hey y'all,

Happy Easter everyone! To add to the spirit of joy and laughter, I put out an Awkward and Awesome post for Holy Week. Enjoy!


Awkward:

Being slap-happy and holding in giggles when you're SUPPOSED to be in Adoration.

Trying not to fall asleep during Adoration (Our church does it till midnight on Maundy Thursday).

Long, long, long confession lines (the ones that stretch all the way to the side altars)

During Good Friday's Veneration of the Cross, you approach the cross the wrong way and it jams into your chest. *Ouch*

Being up front for the New Fire....until a tall altar boy perfectly and completely blocks your view.....

Losing your voice because you sang so much.

Seeing all the same people for multiple days straight, often only hours apart.

Watching the altar boys make mistakes.....poor boys.

Hearing the ice cream truck outside the church window...on Good Friday....

Do we genuflect or bow???...

Awesome:

Priests that stay an extra 2 hours for confessions (GOD BLESS YOU FATHER)

Lumen Christi antiphion!!! I love it when the Pascal candle is the only light in the church going into Holy Saturday mass.

The chant and polyphony music for Holy Week :)

Seeing couples in Adoration together.

Doing Stations of the Cross with your best friend.

Having time off of school...even if it's only one day.

Getting food ready for the big feast. 

Easter Sunday...which means end of fasting and penance!!!!


Any other A&As that I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Word about Feminism and Utopias

Hey y'all,

So...I apologize in advance, but I really need to get this off my chest and combat some evil with some good.

I just sat through one of the most sickening classes that I've ever been in my life.

I made the mistake of taking a class on Utopias for my senior global that I'm required to take. Literally my other options was a Hiroshima class (which from my roommates comments is really bad) and a class on the Middle East (in which I would be required to visit a mosque.) What the heck is education coming to????

And since from the impression I got was that the class was based off of mostly traditional texts like St. Thomas More and Plato, I figured why not?

By the way....those works were in there but it was only a third of the class. The rest of the class literally is all Marxist/Communist and all the CRAPPY BAD IDEAS FROM IT.

By that, I mean crappy bad ideas like eugenics, environmentalism and the bane of my existence, feminism. I'll talk more about utopias later on in the post, but I really need to say a few things about feminism.

I am not feminist. I am feminine.

Believe me, there is a major difference.

Feminism really wants to destroy the following:
Traditional marriage and nuclear family (no procreation)
The idea of gender and sex itself (one gender)
Sexual taboos (including incest and sex with children)
Pregnancy and motherhood (reproducing asexually)


All by eliminating the need for men and their influence on society. Feminists act as usurpers, taking what is rightfully the man's role. Women nurture not just bodies but minds too. But we need men to balance us out and make us stand up straight. There is a universal truth that fathers have a big role in their daughter's emotional development rather than the mother. This is especially true when it comes to the daughter's confidence levels.

Suddenly, after re-learning all this feminism crap, it makes total sense why we have such a crappy society.

I know that this is probably a rehash of what you have heard before. But trust me ladies, I'm not suggesting that you actually look this stuff up. It is so sickening, I can't even begin to describe it. I literally was fighting the urge to scream in total rage.

Basically, feminism is the Woman's version of non servam. 

Non servam is Latin for "I will not serve."

This is the critical phrase that cast Lucifer and his confederates down to Hell.

The church fathers have been clear for centuries that Woman was especially called to be a mother. Whether it physically happens or not. It is her uniquely defined role that she must fulfill. Shame on these feminists who call for such a gross dereliction of duty among our young women!!!!!!!!

Ok, now I'll climb onto my other soap box: utopias.

I have heard (of course AFTER I decided to take this class) that Catholics reject utopianism. I wondered why, especially since I knew about Saint Thomas' More's work called Utopia and had read part of it already.

Well, I know NOW why.

Here's the thing: utopianism is the idea of a perfect world on Earth. Something that most of us know that will never happen.

Saint Thomas More has the credit of creating the word "utopia" (oddly enough, it's Greek for either Good Place or No Place, depending on which Greek word the translation is based off of).

Saint Thomas' work Utopia is about a fictional world that he is (supposedly) told about. He never claims it as a perfect world though.
In this world, the vices seem to be toned down or removed from society. Correcting abuses of human nature in a way while expanding the virtues. Some of the ideas that he introduces throw me a little such as the introduction of religious freedom, which seems to be a defense of the idea of out of free will choosing the True Faith. From reading Utopia, it seems to be a society orientated towards attaining Heaven. Which is good.

Then Marxists got a hold of this idea. And turned it into a hellish concept. Errors being upheld as virtue and perpetuated. No thought of an afterlife ever enters in, just enjoying the pleasures of this society here on Earth. Some of these utopian ideas (such as racial utopias and gender utopias) are so full of contradictions, errors and evil that I just want to throw up.

And since everyone has their own concept of what a perfect world on Earth is like, how can such an idea succeed?

It can't. Pure and simple.

If utopian ideals had remained under a Catholic definition (which is a good society totally bent on the salvation of souls and one that eliminates evil over time), the concept is airtight and the foundation of a good society. Besides Utopia, a couple of other works have operated under this definition, including Dr. Walter's novel Russian Sunrise. A Protestant version would be Addison Russel Peale's work Sub-Coelum.  

Let in one error, and the concept springs a leak, sinking it into the depths of Hell. Quite literally in some cases.

Phew....ok, I feel better. I'll get off my soap box now.

Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Modest Business Professional Outfits

Hey y'all,

I've just finished another long and rather boring session of my professional agriculture seminar class about 2 hours ago. Despite my many complaints for this class (which I will not bore you with), it has forced me to confront a major issue in the workforce: immodest dress.

Here are some examples that the girls have been passing as "business professional":
Almost sheer blouses
Cut-out blouses/dresses
Low cut blouses (actually, this has not been as bad of a problem, but a lot of the blouses still aren't high enough for Catholic standards)
Short skirts/dresses (skirt hems at upper THIGH at the worst)
TIGHT skirts/dresses/blouses.
Khakis

A lot of them have been pairing these outfits with sweaters instead of good blazers or jackets, but that is a stylistic thing.

So...why am I making a big deal about it?

I mean, working a job outside the home....doesn't sound very feminine does it?

Unfortunately, it is a fact of life for a lot of single women (and now, married women too). Staying at home isn't really an option when you have over $20,000-100,000 of student loan debt breathing down your neck.

But does that mean that we need to give up our femininity? Or our modesty?

Absolutely not!

In fact, it is more important that women remain modest in a professional setting than in almost any other. Those men that you work with and those customers that you serve don't need to be distracted by your physical features. Your contribution to the workplace and service to them will do better for them in the long run. That feeling of being respected is especially important for women in the workforce, and what better way to demand respect by dressing yourself in a modest manner?  

But the big question still remains......how?

A modest professional outfit consists of either 2 or 3 outer garments: a modest dress and a blazer/professional sweater or more commonly, a modest blouse, skirt and blazer/sweater. Add to that pantyhose, slips, and undershirt/camisole. Jewerly and shoes are to your own tastes, but I would recommend going with just a simple necklace and pumps or sandals.

Actually, the pieces are actually easy to find (in theory). Thrift stores, especially in the more wealthier areas of the cities, are gold mines for finding good skirts and blazers.

The main problem is actually MATCHING everything.

Most blazers or suit jackets that are sold for women are often just fine for modest wearers. Look for some curved seams in the back, and flared seams or a peplum (large curved band that's at waist level) for a more feminine look. Just don't get a super tight one. The most professional color is black, but any color is acceptable. 

Modest blouses maybe a bit harder. Modest button ups can be found fairly easily and can be altered easily too. It gets even harder if you are looking for a nice professional pullover shirt. The most professional color is white, but in some cases, complementary colored blouses can also be acceptable.

Skirts can get rather interesting, depending on your style. Color matching to your blazer is a must. And I would go farther; don't match just the color, match the shade if at all possible. You'll be surprised at how many shades of black and camel that exist in the world. But like the blouses, complementary colors can also be acceptable. Stylistically, I prefer the A-line skirts, or skirts with a slight flair to them, but I've found that gored, pleated, and accordian style skirts work too. If you want a more casual look, maxis are also a good option.


Ok....off my teacher's platform. On to the examples!

This first outfit is an example of a solid skirt, solid blazer and white blouse, and the most professional outfit that I have in my closet:

As you can see, I have a black blazer, a black skirt, and a white shirt. I have paired with it a pair of low black heels.

Blazer: Bought at a small thrift store in Burlington. VT while on vacation. I think I paid only $5-8 for it, (which is a giant steal, because this thing fits me like a glove and there is hardly any wear and tear on it at all!). The brand is Fashion BugⓇ Petite.

Blouse: Hand-me-down from an older family member. It's a "standard" long-sleeved button down white blouse. The brand is Judy BondⓇ which from my understanding is not available commercially available anymore.

Skirt: Bought at a thrift store, can't remember what I paid for it. I did alter this skirt in the waist in order for it to fit. The brand is apostropheⓇ. I do sometimes switch this skirt out with another black skirt that is the same length but is A-line.

The second outfit that I have is an example of a solid blazer, a colored blouse, and a solid skirt:

(Disclaimer: In natural light, this skirt and this blazer are almost identical in shade. I didn't realize they were slightly off until I took the darn picture!)

Blazer: Hand-me-down from an older relative. Doesn't have a brand tag, but since this blazer was bought decades ago, I doubt the company still exists....(sorry guys...)

Blouse: Hand-me-down again. This blouse's brand is Liz ClaiborneⓇ. Instead of white, I chose a powder blue blouse, but I could have picked almost any color to go with this suit. 

Skirt: Oh my goodness. This is embarrasing, but I have no idea. I forget if someone bought this for me or if this was a hand-me down. The brand is Century of BostonⓇ which is another vintage brand off the stores (darn!).



The third outfit that I have is an example of a solid blazer, a white blouse and a complementary skirt:

If you want to change up your look, or just want a pop of color, this combination is totally acceptable.

Blazer: Ok....I didn't buy this one or have it handed down to me. The truth is...I made that blazer. It's made of medium linen, lined with synthetic. I estimate the costs of the fabric and notions to be around $15-20, the pattern being a cheap vintage one that I picked up at a sale. Oh, and you know that word "peplum" I used earlier? This blazer has one. There is a solid piece of fabric that is attached with a seam that is right under the bottom button that runs the entire back of the blazer. The other blazers I have don't have that; instead the body pieces flare slightly to give that same look.

Blouse: Another blouse that was handed down to me. This one is a long-sleeved blouse with two sets of darts and a button placard that covers the buttons. The brand is Croft and BarrowⓇ Stretch.

Skirt: Another creation by me. This one is made of a light cotton, perfect for spring. Notice the robins egg blue in the skirt matches the jacket? The fabric and notions cost me between 7-10 dollars, and the pattern around $5.


The last outfit that I will showcase is an example of a sweater, a blouse and a skirt. Frankly, I'm not as big of a fan the sweater look, but it works. Stylistically, I think a cardigan is more professional than a pullover.

(I seriously need to figure out another way of taking selfies.....or invest in a new camera and a tripod.)

Sweater: Yes...the colors suck. Sorry about that, but it was the only sweater that really qualified. This is another one of those articles of clothing that mysteriously appeared in my closet without explanation. The brand name is GuessⓇ

Blouse: The same one as the last one. I have other white ones, but they have the same story. (Seriously, I haven't bought a button up blouse in forever. My relatives had whole closets of them, I'm not kidding.)

Skirt: Bought this at Goodwill this past winter! Paid around $4-6 dollars for it, though I did have to alter the waistband in order for it to fit. Brand name is Jones New York SportⓇ



Hopefully, these examples help you in finding more modest professional outfits!

As a further help, I've created a board on Pinterest. Right now, it has a lot of vintage suits, but I'm working on finding some more contemporary examples.




Old-fashionably yours,

Farm Lassie