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Archive for August 2010

Berry Smoothie and the Magic Blender

by Jonathan Berry Perry

Violet & the Oompa Loompas

A few weeks back the stars aligned.  First, mom gave me her old avocado-green blender, which is totally 1970s chic and probably older than I am, but it still works.  Then, I started on a berry kick.  Most notably a blueberry kick.  Berries, especially blueberries, are supposed to be good for the brain, are loaded with fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and have a boatload of antioxidants which act as ninjas to fight free radicals which cause cancer and other junk.  Ninjas!

Good stuff.  So I started scarfing blueberries by the handful and sprinkling them in my cereal until there were more blueberries than Mini-Wheats (I’d been eating cereal for other, non-breakfast, meals, so I had berries coming out my ears.  Blue milk in your cereal is pretty wicked, too.  I have not turned blue yet like that wicked child in Willy Wonka‘s chocolate factory).  I like most berries, being multi-berry tolerant, so I gradually added other types of berries to my blueberried cereal:  blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries.  If the market carried more weirdly named berries like gooseberries, lingonberries or boysenberries, I’d try those in a second.  Are there goat berries?  There totally should be.  No Marionberries for me, though (There really is a Marionberry, but it‘s not named after the nose candy dude.  I‘d try it if I could find it.  Oh, and the Marionberry is a blackberry.).

This brings me to the crazy awesome berry smoothie.  I’ve been making loads of them lately.  I know I’m late to the smoothie game, I didn’t invent them, and everyone else probably already makes them like pros all the time in their sleep at work, but I’m still quite excited.  I also beat McDonald’s to the punch (so McD‘s can bite me.  Also, your jingle sucks.).  I’m not selling them like McD’s, though, so I guess, we’re not really rivals.  Anymore.

I’ve been using the smoothies as meals and desserts, increasing my fruit intake and decreasing my processed sugar and caloric intake (hopefully) while consuming hearty goodness.  They taste fantastic and they’re super easy to make (I mean, if you have a blender).  In fact, they’re even kind of fun to make because you can experiment with strange tastes and throw different fruits into your mix to create interesting combinations and you can really do no wrong, as long as you like the way it tastes and don‘t die from, like, adding a poison mushroom accidentally to the recipe (though if you‘re adding mushrooms to your fruit smoothies, God help you).

I mentioned my new found smoothie operation to some friends and one of the girls asked if I was using a Vita Mix, which is apparently a pretty awesome piece of blending equipment that specializes in zombie brain smoothies.  I admitted to having an Osterizer that’s perhaps 40 years old with dull blades that would do a poor job on the smooth muscles of a brain and anyway I‘m a vegetarian.  And not a zombie.  The ancient Osterizer sits on the kitchen counter next to my 40 year-old Kitchen Aid mixer in some sort of appliance convalescence.  Another girl, feeling sagey, said that when an appliance is older than you, it’s probably a good idea to upgrade.  Resisting the urge to pull her hair, I pointed out that so far I’m only squishing fruits and berries into a tasty drinkable food substance and would probably be ok for the time being or at least until I start a small kitchen fire.

However, newly intrigued by the possibility of acquiring a nifty magic piece of equipment to change food from solids to liquids, from chewable to drinkable, I decided to buy a new blending device.  The blades would be sharp , the container made of glass, the buttons awesome, and it would look pretty excellent in my bachelor kitchen.  First, I had to do a little research.

Right away I found that the Vita Mix blenders sell in the $400-500 range, so that was a no go, since I‘m saving up to one day buy the Golden Gate Bridge.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re considered to be the best and most powerful blenders on the market and maybe in another lifetime I’d spring for it, but not now.  No, I just want to destroy little berries and bananas and figured I could do it much more cheaply.

Instead, I went with an Oster, basically a great-great grandchild of the avocado-green one from mom.   Osters are among the best rated blenders not in the $500 range.  They’re usually under $100.  In this case there was a sale, plus I had a store discount, so I ended up getting the thing for under $40.  Score!

For most of the smoothies I make, there are basically 3 types of ingredients:  berries, bananas, and soy milk.  At the moment, I’m using low-fat vanilla-flavored almond milk which is good stuff.  I know there are people who aren’t into soy or almond or rice milk, and are thinking “Dude, give me the real stuff.“, and if that’s the case, cow’s milk works fine (though there‘s some cholesterol and you‘re totally going to die).

I blend the milk and banana together before I start throwing in the berries.  Next, I usually add any frozen berries or fruit.  These frozen berries are great because they help make your smoothie nice and cold from the outset, also the flash-frozen fruit is supposed to preserve the precious nutrients better than berries sitting on the produce shelf for weeks.  I probably use ½ cup of frozen blueberries and ½ cup of frozen strawberries, but I don‘t really measure cuz I‘m a rebel like that.  I could call this random lack of measurement a glob, like a pinch or smidgen, but much bigger.

After I’ve added the frozen stuff, I throw in rinsed non-funky berries (although funkyberries sound cool).  I’m not really sure how much goes in, but I kind of eyeball it and probably add another cup or more of all that.  You might even try adding yogurt.  There’s an abandoned raspberry gelato in my freezer that I don’t much care for, so I might chuck that in (These smoothies taste better than that raspberry gelato).  I usually reach 3 or 4 cups of smoothie, by this point, and since a serving of fruit is ½ cup,  allowing for the milk, this might come out to 5 to 7 servings of fruit.  I usually end up with 2 or 3 large glasses of smoothie.  I may or may not have added a 2nd banana just to be weird.

Ultimately, I want to branch out from the berries and try other fruit.  Experiment with pear.  Go crazy with coconuts.  Get goofy with guava.  I added a nectarine and a mango a few days ago and they were superb.  Last week I added some amino acid to the smoothie.  Why, you ask?  Because I’m off my rocker.  The amino acid is in the form of huge double-horse pills I bought a while back for weight lifting.  I’ll need to be sure to chop the pills up better next time because there were unpleasantly large chunks of amino acid pills in my smoothie.  Blech.  This was my least favorite batch of the junk.

Some people add bran (not brain), whey, and other random healthy stuff to their smoothies.  I’ll have to mess around with these and see if they‘re not completely loathsome.  I’ve had good results with wheat germ and flaxseed and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  Otherwise, the basic berry smoothie recipe is easy, very tasty, and quite good for you.  And I haven’t turned blue yet.

What smoothie combos do you like?

The secret made-up compound word is Funkyberries

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Top 5 Reasons Women Choose to Stay Single

{This is the 1st in our series, Inside the Female Mind}

(Our guest blogger is Louise Baker.  Louise is a freelance writer whose articles have been featured by MSN, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Consumerist.  She writes for

Reason Number Five: Religious

Incompatible religious beliefs are a big deal breaker even for new romances, and usually cause a stall in the relationship even where the couple is able to enjoy each other’s company in social settings. While tolerance is the watch word nowadays, many women feel their personal religious sentiments (or lack thereof) are ties to emotional wellbeing, and find that a mutual agreement in this area is a must for an intimate relationship. Not having that connection keeps a girl going solo.

Reason Number Four: Financial

In these tumultuous financial times, it’s tough enough to pay your own bills, and some women aren’t willing to require financial statements before making an emotional commitment. Being wary about the man in the equation and his math aptitude, rather than getting some ugly financial news (i.e. poor credit score, no savings, past due car payments) after the relationship has grown, Frugal Felicia turns down the applicant and stays single rather than spending years in a relationship paying down someone else’s past due child support.

Reason Number Three: Personal Goals

It’s much easier to keep your eye on the goal when it’s not being distracted by a glint in someone else’s. The need to pursue a college degree or the “perfect” career choice can be too demanding to find time to spend with someone else. Many women know that goals can be fleeting and feel that the prize belongs to the youngest prettiest, contestant. With those golden years passing by quickly, staying single to meet personal goals can be the quick ticket to get where you want to go without extra baggage.

Reason Number Two: High Expectations

Sometimes it’s expectations that have women choosing to stay single. After sitting down and making “must have”, “would like to have” and “can do without” lists, a lot of women find that no one guy can fit their high expectations. But who can blame them? After waiting for Prince Charming all their life and knowing they deserve only the best, staying single can be so much more attractive than settling for second best.

Top Reason Number One: Self Satisfaction

Being content with her own life (being gratified with her work, her art, her family and friends) is the number one reason why women choose to stay single. Not having to deal with someone else’s annoying habits, or being criticized for your own, can really bring peace to any mind. Not answering to anyone else, and being so comfortable in the single woman’s place in this world, is a really fabulous way to keep putting yourself first and foremost at all times.

Louise Baker is a freelance blogger and journalist who writes for Zen College Life, the directory of higher education, distance learning, and online schools. She most recently wrote about the top online accredited colleges.

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17 Types of Bachelor Pads

by Jonathan Bonobo Perry

ABC has a new cheesetastic reality tv show called The Bachelor Pad which seems like it might combine The Bachelor with Big Brother and The Real World after they’ve soaked in a briny vat of The Girls Next Door.  It promises an abnormally good-looking and freakishly healthy cast of cast-offs from previous reality shows being overly-dramatic and dramatically-amorous in a fine and expensive model home.  Pray, what will this bachelor pad be like?  Certainly it has everything.  Entertainment, games, and watery places, perhaps 7 hot tubs (so a few could be decontaminated simultaneously).  This got me thinking about types of Bachelor Pads as theme parks for men or rather types of homes for types of bachelors. What if guys were only one-dimensional and could each be pigeonholed into one tidy category?  Here’s who 17 of those guys would be and how their bachelor pads would be set up to reflect the weirdness.

1 Lothario/Lech Pad-Round spinning bed, cocktail bar, fancy lighting, a fine collection of loungy mood music.  It would be like the digs for Quagmire from Family Guy or for Austin Powers, replete with bathrobes and smoking jackets and lots of velvet.  A hot tub.  This is usually the first picture that comes to mind when one thinks of the classic bachelor pad.  It’s a lie.  Mostly.

2 Gamer Pad-Comfy chair for all that sitting.  Probably plush.  A couple gaming systems (XBox, Nintendo, Playstation, Wii) backed up by a quality entertainment system.  Dice and game parts for various role playing games.  Occupant-pasty sleepy nerd. 

3 Partier Pad-A sufficient supply of food and beverages and, if lucky, easily cleaned surfaces.  Large tv and other entertainment devices:  good stereo, lots of music, the gamer’s gaming system, some board games and backyard games.  Possibly a jacuzzi and a grill in the awesome backyard.  There might be a firepit.  Tiki torches?

4 Handyman Pad-Handmade furniture or carvings.  An extensive collection of tools and parts.  A fine workbench in the garage.  Powerdrill always plugged into the wall.  Multiple projects at different stages of completion spread about the garage and house.  Possibly a classic car parked in the garage being restored.

5 Traveler Pad-Travel books, posters, and paintings.  Souvenirs and maps.  Photo albums of trips.  Several suitcases, bags & perhaps an enormous travel cases like Jimmy Stewart‘s from It’s A Wonderful Life.

6 Collector Pad-The house may be overrun and/or decorated by strange collections:  stamps, baseball cards, license plates, Coca-Cola memorabilia.  Butterflies.  Places to store and display all this stuff have been set aside. The Antique-r is a sub-specialist of collector. Or is it the other way around?

7 Gadget Dude Pad-Assorted collection of the latest and greatest gadgets both electronic and mechanical.  Not only does he have the latest ostentatious Apple product (iPhone, iPad, iTouch), he also has camcorders, ereaders, robots, roombas, gps’s.

8 Reader Pad-Several bookcases, maybe some built-ins for a large a well-organized library (possibly numbered books, as if it were a real library).  There might be a list of books lent out and who has them and why you’ll never get them back.  (Chris?  Marshall?).  If he’s gone gadgety, there might be an Amazon Kindle or a similar ereader.

9 Sports Fan Pad-There will be lots of sports memorabilia, some of it plastered to the walls.  Maybe jerseys of the home team.  There could be game highlight footage on DVD.  There might even be sports cards, but certainly sports magazines.

10 Movie and TV-Buff Pad-Huge TV entertainment system with surround sound.  Lots of DVDs.  Lots of VHS tapes with the player.  Possibly a Beta player and Beta tapes for some rare ancient weirdness.

11 Musician Pad-Instruments.  The pinnacle is a grand piano or a specialty guitar signed by some dead rock legend.  Recording equipment.  A fine hi-fi system that spans the years from phonograph to 8-track to cassette to cd to mp3 player.  There will be plenty of albums to play on this system.  There might be busts of musicians and sheets of music.  Perhaps rooms have been modified to adjust acoustics.

12 Fitness Enthusiast Pad-In this pad might be found a bicycle and helmet.  If he’s a daredevil he might have mountain-climbing equipment, otherwise regular (and strange) exercise devices: dumb bells, stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, medicine ball.  He might have his own awards from previous sporty endeavors.

13 Animal Lover Pad-Aquariums, terrariums, cages and kennels.  Leashes and bowls on the floor.  Adorable creatures that want to eat and bite you and need to use the facilities which may or may not be in your house.  Animal hair everywhere.  Unsolved allergy issues.  Hello Kitty stationery?  Maybe that’s just a sub-genre.

14 Hoarder Pad-this comes from mixing too many of the other categories together and having certain psychological issues.

15 Artist/Photographer Pad-Paints and brushes.  Easels and canvas and frames.  Cameras and camera equipment.  Maybe a dark room for old film.  Some of his own work might be framed on the wall as well as his inspirations’ works.  Art supplies and works are spread all over the house.

16 Gardener/Plant Guy Pad-Much of this guy’s stuff would be in the backyard: Veggie garden, flowers, other odd plants.  Sometimes the greenery will come inside and there will be pots of living greenstuff (non-mold) around the house.  There might be books and magazines for gardening ideas and tips.

17 Chef/Cook Pad-This dude has a kitchen full of quality cooking equipment.  Pots and pans and skillets or whatever.  There will be odd measuring devices which might use the metric system or stuff like pinch or smidgen.  He’ll have lots of spices and fancy oils.  The cupboards and fridge are stocked with all kinds of food.

Certainly your type has been overlooked.  That just means you’re weird.

The secret word is pigeonhole

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