October, 2010 | Bettina Network's Blog

Archive for October, 2010

Whole Foods Out of the Box

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2010

October is Non-GMO month and we are acutely aware of those who are working to eliminate food grown with GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED and those who are the great transgressors. Whole Foods has become a leader in the Non-GMO movement and we commend them on that effort and praise them for making such a timely choice. So we are removing Whole Foods from the Bettina’s Box of Shame.

We noticed several other reasons to take them out of Bettina’s Box of Shame. One of our big concerns, at the time we put them in the Box of Shame, was their frozen spinach, etc. from China, especially since, at the time, melamine was being found in foods from China. We find they no longer stock such frozen spinach, however, their current crop of frozen spinach is from Brussels – some from France. While we think those countries are great, we don’t think stocking frozen foods from outside the United States is so great. We hope they will change that practice. There are too many signs around their stores touting “buy local” for them to continue to engage in the practice of having some of their frozen foods come from other countries with no choice given to those who actually want to buy local – even frozen foods.

On the good and most amazing side at Whole Foods – which started to turn our thinking, – several times this summer we found Whole Foods had organic fruit at a price lower than conventional fruit – strawberries, in particular. That practice needs to spread to other foods. It is cheaper to raise organic foods – eliminating the high cost of Monsanto Seeds, pesticides and other offending crutches some farmers use, should eventually result in the lowering of the cost of organic foods.

We found that lower cost particularly exciting and loaded a cart full of the fruit, sending emails to all we could think of to tell them that news and invited friends and colleagues over for tea with Whole Foods fruit and small labels on the table asking them to notice that the price of the organic fruit they were eating (the strawberries) was $1.00 lower than the price of the conventional fruit – $1.00 higher.

We commend Whole Foods on its leadership in the non-GMO movement and will follow and support their activities in this realm. We hope you will too. CUDOS, Whole Foods, on a job well done. Keep up the good work and stay out of Bettina’s Box of Shame.

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Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

This is a curated blog so you cannot write your responses at the end of each entry. TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG email bettina-network@comcast.net or info@bettina-network.com

TO LEARN MORE about Bettina Network, inc. try www.bettina-network.com

IF YOU ENJOY OUR BLOG, USE OUR SERVICES TO BOOK ACCOMODATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL!

1-800-347-9166 inside the U. S. or 617 497 9166 outside or inside the U. S.

A NEW BREAKFAST HABIT – FRESH COFFEE

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The Bettina Network, inc.
copyright 2010

We have started a new tradition, thanks to a guest, from Oxford in England, who makes Espresso for himself every morning with a popcorn popper and good, green espresso coffee beans.

It was a fascinating conversation to realize something which I had dismissed as complicated, time-consuming, etc. is being done on a regular, daily basis by a young bed & breakfast guest who has lots of other things to do – a busy life, research, moving his career forward, etc. We tried to get him to write for Bettina’s Blog, but in spite of much begging and pleading, he resisted. Maybe in the future he will relent and write a blog about his morning coffee ritual.

We will have to report this third hand. As you try it, please give us feed back to help us and you refine the process.

The guest referred us to a web site – www.sweetmarias.com. We went all over the site and learned much, which we are trying to put into practice.

First, we had to find the right popcorn popper – mainly because the coffee roasters we found are way up in the hundreds of dollars and only last, according to what we’ve read, about two years. So the popcorn popper is our beginning. Who would have thought you could have really fresh coffee made with beans roasted in a popcorn popper. But who knows, if we become really good at this we can spin off a Bettina coffee roasting company. You can have your coffee beans shipped overnight mail so you can have really fresh coffee in the morning – Bettina style. I suspect some Bettina host families might put up a fuss if we started to require all homes have fresh coffee in the mornings, but stranger things have happened.

I learned, right before the guest left, that the popcorn popper we had would not work. His advice was to get one with holes in the sides of the well where one would normally put the un-popped corn. The hot-air popcorn popper we have has a screen over the hole in the bottom of the well, but no holes in the sides of the well. The holes in the side are needed to keep the coffee beans rotating. They won’t roast and pop out of the popper the way corn does – they will crack and the outer shells coming off the beans as they crack, will fly out of the popcorn popper the way the corn does. For lack of a more professional word – I call that flying stuff ‘shaft’.

We found the right kind at a second hand store for about $3.50. So off we went with our green coffee beans. We had no idea about quality in coffee beans, but since this was a trial, it didn’t matter.

The beans went into the hot air popcorn popper, plugged it in, put a glass bowl where one normally puts one to catch the popped corn which comes out of the popper and out came ‘shaft’ – after the first crack.

Oh, I forgot the cracks! One must wait, while the beans roast, with an incredible smell filling the house until you hear the beans ‘crack’. After this first ‘crack’ the ‘shaft’ – or what I think is the outside covering of the coffee bean – will come out of the popper since it is light and the hot air just blows it into the glass bowl. The directions from our guest says wait until almost the second crack and your beans are done. I had no idea when the second crack would come to be able to anticipate and take the beans out of the popper at that point so I waited a minute or two after the first crack and took out the beans.

The next direction was to make sure you cool the beans by using two pans and pouring the beans from one to the other until the beans cool down or they will continue to roast as long as there is heat and you have lost control of the roasting process.

I stood in the kitchen, pouring the beans from one sifter to the other thinking I had really lost it in my search for perfect breakfast foods and had I gone too far this time? There are perfectly good organic coffees – ground and whole beans, which I could grind – on the market. What was I doing messing up the kitchen and destroying this popcorn popper trying to do what? I didn’t even know if I had good beans or not.

After cooling, I continued to follow the guests directions and let the coffee beans sit overnight. I’m not sure why, but I follow directions pretty good. I don’t deviate until I have tried the prescribed directions and they don’t work and then – all bets are off.

This morning, I am sitting in my office having the best cup of coffee I have ever had in life. Its like the difference in quality between buying a bag of popcorn which was popped probably a month ago, packaged and stored in a too hot warehouse and popping the corn in your kitchen in a kettle popper, eating it fresh and hot out of the popper.

The coffee is incredible. Remarkable!

Now – I am going to try again. This time after reading a bit about coffee beans, learning something about differences in quality of the beans and refining my roasting and grinding technique. I might even buy a coffee grinder, instead of using the grinder we use for nuts to grind the coffee beans.

Growing up, my great-grandmother made her coffee from green beans every morning. She had a wood burning stove in the kitchen and once that stove was fired up, she roasted coffee beans and had a coffee grinder screwed to the wall – a glass jar contraption – and into that grinder she put her coffee beans and had really fresh coffee daily. It was normal! That was just a part of her morning ritual!!! No one considered that strange or special or anything, that was just how you made coffee.

How far we have come from such basics. – Today we have ‘decaf’ coffee which, if you spill on the flame it lets out an incredible stench and the smell of burning ‘decaf’ coffee grounds is a horrible, horrible odor. It always amazes me when guests ask for ‘decaf’. I wonder if they know the process and if they have ever spilled any of their ‘decaf’ coffee grounds on the stove in the flame or electric element.

All the ways we have coffee. Is it because we’ve lost touch with simply roasting your beans, grinding them and making your coffee in a small french press? That is an exquisite way to start your day.

This is going to be quite special, discovering different coffee beans, filling the house with the smell of freshly roasting coffee beans. The one consistency, which ties back to everything else – ALL THE BEANS WE EXPLORE WILL HAVE TO BE ORGANICALLY GROWN! I’m sure you’ve guessed that.

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______________________________________________________________

Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

This is a curated blog so you cannot write your responses at the end of each entry. TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG email bettina-network@comcast.net or info@bettina-network.com

TO LEARN MORE about Bettina Network, inc. try www.bettina-network.com

IF YOU ENJOY OUR BLOG, USE OUR SERVICES TO BOOK ACCOMODATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL!

1-800-347-9166 inside the U. S. or 617 497 9166 outside or inside the U. S.

Eggs for Breakfast?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

copyright The Bettina Network, inc. 2010

Needless to say, there has been much talk around Bettina breakfast tables about eggs – given all the media coverage which concentrated on one large farms’ transgression and didn’t give any coverage to the alternatives we have to keep away from eggs with salmonella and other bad things. This summarizes some of what was discussed:

Basically, the question was – what has happened to our food supply that this pops up and the media coverage paints every farm that raises chickens and sells eggs with the same brush. We didn’t see any really good investigative articles on this whole area.

Does this mean we are soon going to see only pasteurized eggs allowed on the market? Was this entire scare a set-up by the large corporate farms to require a large investment pushing out small egg farms? Similar to what happened to raw almonds?

One thing that is scary is the chlorine baths which many large corporate farms put their eggs through. It is mind-boggling to think that we then eat those eggs. Whatever happened to having a clean farm, raising healthy chickens, letting them out in the sun to forage and gathering the good eggs they produce – free of disease. How have we reached this point of having our food produced by large corporate farms which do horrendous things to our food supply and expect us to buy and eat what they produce, no matter how vile or harmful to our health? That is what happens when you turn over responsibility for your life and health to someone else or some other group or corporation. You wake up one day and you are in a mess and don’t know how you got there or how to get out!

If you want to know more, in detail, try www.cornucopia.org – they did research on eggs and have rated some of the farms which produce organic eggs.

One of the healthiest food you can eat is raw eggs. How can we continue to eat raw eggs with all this swirling around?

The Bettina Network asks all of its host families to serve organic eggs from a local farmer whose farming habits they know. This is not about ‘trust’ – trusting the farmers. It is about taking responsibility for your life and health and food supply. Asking questions like – Are the chickens given organic feed? Do the chickens have space to live and run around in the sun and pick and peck in a large space without bumping into other chickens because of lack of space AND especially, do not live in cages stacked on top of one another with their feces dropping on the chickens in the cage beneath them? Is that outdoor space in the sun and not just a small porch which satisfies the organic criteria, but violates the spirit of that organic label?

How do we work full-time, travel the world and still keep up eating organic eggs – and not a bad substitution by those trying to gain the extra money for their product, but not produce the product properly?

No one had an answer to those questions, but some of the discussions were lively. Bottom line – you are responsible for your health and the health of your family and friends and somehow, you have to navigate the sharp rocks which have been put in our paths by a food industry which seems to be getting more and more irresponsible as they concentrate on maximizing profit even if it means compromising their customers’ health. We must all stay vigilant and earn a living. If we all take care, it lessens the load on each one of us because sharing information, having these conversations, helps keep us going in the right direction and maximizing our health.

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______________________________________________________________

Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

This is a curated blog so you cannot write your responses at the end of each entry. TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG email bettina-network@comcast.net or info@bettina-network.com

TO LEARN MORE about Bettina Network, inc. try www.bettina-network.com

IF YOU ENJOY OUR BLOG, USE OUR SERVICES TO BOOK ACCOMODATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL!

1-800-347-9166 inside the U. S. or 617 497 9166 outside or inside the U. S.

Breakfast Apples

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

copyright Bettina Network, inc. 2010

One of the Bettina Host families has finally sent us her recipe for the apples which are a trademark of her breakfasts. Every morning, you can count on geting these apples, no matter what else she serves.

We loved them from first taste. They are not stewed apples, which break down to a kind of mush and are nice with certain dishes. These apples pretty much keep their shape and taste fantastic.

They are quick and easy to make if you have the right equipment and what you need is a very good apple corer and a VERY sharp knife for slicing.

“I use organic Granny Smith apples for this dish and buy them by the box. Needless to say a box barely lasts a week.

I wash the apples carefully because I use the peel. It gives a nice semi-caramel taste and texture to these apples. With organic apples I don’t have to worry about strange and awful stuff on the outside because that isn’t allowed, but I still wash them with great care.

Core the apples with an apple corer.

Slice the apples with a very sharp knife. The width of the apples depends upon your taste. Experiment! When you came to stay with us I was slicing the apples about an inch thick, now I slice about half an inch and I like that better.

Put a generous amount of butter in a flat, iron skillet. The skillet probably has another name, but I don’t know what it is. The flat skillet with a little lip around the side is perfect for these apples. The lip catches any butter that strays.

Once the butter starts to bubble, but long before it browns, put apples in the butter and let them fry for just a minute. Turn them and fry on the other side.

Sprinkle the apples with a generous amount of organic turbinado sugar (I read the blog and changed from what used to look like sugar to me and now looks like white death, to this wonderful coarse brown-in-color sugar). Some people think I fry them in brown sugar, but the organic turbinado sugar is different. Most brown sugar (see I do research too) is white sugar with some molasses – which was originally taken out of the sugar – put back.

Once you’ve sprinkled them with organic turbinado sugar, let them fry about another minute on both sides and take them out with a spatula. The ‘no-no’ with this dish is to avoid the temptation of frying the apples too long. A very quick fry on both sides is all you need – this is not apple mush, but fried apple rings and apples will mush very quickly. This is the step which makes the difference between my apples and everybody else’s. (Wow, I’ve been around you too long, my ego is shooting to the moon).

If you need more you can continue to fry the apples in the same skillet adding more butter and sugar as you go along. The last batch is usally the best and I save that for me while I am cleaning the kitchen. Enjoy and stop hassling me for recipes and articles for the blog. You now have my most treasured recipe.

It takes time to really get these right. I made them for weeks before I got the hang of frying them in butter so that the apples would come out in whole slices and look really gorgeous on the plate. Don’t give up, just keep trying and one morning it will click.”

ed. note: I hope our readers’ appreciate all the guff I take to bring them the best from bed & breakfast host families and guests.

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______________________________________________________________

Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

This is a curated blog so you cannot write your responses at the end of each entry. TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG email bettina-network@comcast.net or info@bettina-network.com

TO LEARN MORE about Bettina Network, inc. try www.bettina-network.com

IF YOU ENJOY OUR BLOG, USE OUR SERVICES TO BOOK ACCOMODATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL!

1-800-347-9166 inside the U. S. or 617 497 9166 outside or inside the U. S.

How to Settle an Upset Stomach

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

A common problem among those who travel is an upset stomach. A traditional remedy is a cup of peppermint tea. From breakfast conversations and from our work with the Philippa Schuyler Committee we discovered charcoal tablets. Those were recommended by Dick Gregory and Josephine Cogsdell Schuyler for her daughter Philippa who travelled extensively giving piano concerts.

We also discovered, from guests from Bangladesh who travel the world constantly that another very helpful stomach settler is to have yogurt – the first thing every morning. Yes, even before your coffee and, according to them, you can eat or drink whatever is put in front of you including the water and not suffer ill effects. Since they have travelled for many years and haven’t yet had to stop or slow down their activities because of an upset stomach, we took that advice to heart and add Yogurt or Kefir as preventives – to eat (yogurt) or drink (kefir) first thing in the morning, before you have to deal with an upset stomach.

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{amount} donation plus {fee_amount} to help cover fees.

______________________________________________________________

Want to join us? Have a home that you want to open to become one of Bettina Network’s Hedge Schools? Call us and lets talk – or email us.

Ed. Note: Members of the Bettina Network Lifestyle Community can contribute to the Bettina Network Blog whenever they have anything they want to say and be heard by this fantastic group of people. Send your blog to bettinanetwork@comcast.net or mail it to us at P. O. Box 380585 Cambridge, MA. 02238 or call us on the telephone at 617-497-9166 to tell us what you want to say and we will write it for you.

Volunteer with Bettina Network Foundation, inc. to work estate sales; to help move items from one home to another; to contribute your ideas on how we can better use our resources in this effort to relieve and eliminate homelessness and poverty. We also need photographers; designers; and more. However much or little time you have, we are grateful.

Send your event information to be included in Bettina Network’s Menu of Events to: bettina-network@comcast.net

This is a curated blog so you cannot write your responses at the end of each entry. TO RESPOND TO THIS BLOG email bettina-network@comcast.net or info@bettina-network.com

TO LEARN MORE about Bettina Network, inc. try www.bettina-network.com

IF YOU ENJOY OUR BLOG, USE OUR SERVICES TO BOOK ACCOMODATIONS WHEN YOU TRAVEL!

1-800-347-9166 inside the U. S. or 617 497 9166 outside or inside the U. S.


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