Sunday, May 31, 2009

Good Weight: ShamWow! Meets Its Match

As seen on TV: ShamWow! towels are touted in advertising and infomercials as a super absorbent and long-lasting alternative to sponges and paper towels.

Consumer Reports recently pitted a ShamWow! costing more than $2 against a 14-cent sponge in a series of tests and found that the sponge was just as absorbent and effective at mopping up spills.

The biggest advantages of ShamWow! were its lifespan -- estimated at 10 years by the manufacturer -- and its machine washability.

"Contrary to what the infomercial suggests, sponges can be washed, too. And while they won't last 10 years, they do cost a lot less," Consumer Reports concluded.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Free Sample: bodycology Hand Soap

Free samples of bodycology hand soap, lotion and mist in either Coconut Lime or Brown Sugar Vanilla are available online by filling out a short form.

The Coconut Lime has a sweet scent of coconut that mingles with refreshing lime to help relieve stress and tension ~ like a tropical island getaway.

The warm scent of vanilla, brown sugar and sensual amber in Brown Sugar Vanilla inspires a cozy, comforting feel.

Limit of one sample per household. Samples are only available to consumers in the United States.

Free Sample: Crest Whitening Strips

Free samples of Crest Whitening Strips are available online by filling out a short form and answering some questions.

Crest Whitening Strips are oated with a gel that contains hydrogen peroxide, the same enamel-safe ingredient dentists use for teeth whitening. Clinically proven, according to Crest, to give you whiter teeth for 12 months when worn just 30 minutes, twice a day.

Limit of one sample per household. Samples are only available to consumers in the United States.

Recipe File: Mushroom Soup

This is a favorite of mine. When my friend Sue Ann Harmon and I are down or having a bad day, a pot of this soup and a loaf of fresh bread help us soar to new heights.

# 4 medium onions, minced
# 2 cloves garlic, minced
# 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
# 2 pounds fresh mushrooms, chopped
# 2 cups light whipping cream
# 2 cups beef stock
# 1 cup Parmesan cheese
# 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
# Chopped fresh parsley

Sauté onions and garlic in butter in Dutch oven over medium heat until onions are tender.

Add mushrooms and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, or until tender.

Gradually add cream and stock.

Continue cooking until thoroughly heated.

Do not boil.

Sprinkle each serving with cheese, almonds, and parsley.

Yield: 21/2 quarts soup.

From Kentucky's Best, Fifty Years of Great Recipes
by Linda Allison-Lewis. University Press of Kentucky.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Recipe File: Cracklin' Corn Bread

* 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1-1/2 cups milk
* 1/4 to 1/2 cup crackling

Notes: Crackling are the crisp bits left in the fat after meat is fried.

Preheat oven to 400°

Sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine beaten egg, milk, and cracklings.

Combine with cornmeal mixture.
Beat well and pout into hot, greased iron skillet.

Bake until brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings.

From Kentucky's Best, Fifty Years of Great Recipes
by Linda Allison-Lewis. University Press of Kentucky.

Open Market:: McClure's Pickles

One of our pickle vendors, McClure's Pickles, is featured in the May 24 Detroit Free Press.

In an article entitled "Revenue is expected to double this year for McClure's Pickles," business writer Jewel Gopwani describes how Joe and Bob McClure have converted a family tradition of making pickles using their great-grandmother's recipe into a prosperous business.

"This year, Joe expects McClure's Pickles to more than double its revenue," Gopwani reports. "The company's customers, at about 80, has doubled compared with last year. McClure's also is almost doubling its space by building a walk-in fridge next door to its pickle-making operation in Troy.

"The company makes two types of pickles -- garlic dill and spicy. McClure's also makes relishes in those flavors, and is starting to make beer-based mustards.

Look for links to McClure's Pickles on our Pickles page as well as the Michigan Farmers Markets Directory

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Weight: MacBooks Top CRs Notebook Rankings

Apple's products earned top ranks in the latest assessment of top laptop computers by Consumer Reports, which judged currently available models on their performance, design, versatility, screen quality, and battery life. Grouped by screen size, the top 3 models in each category were as follows:

13 inch
1. unibody MacBook
2. MacBook Air
3. plastic MacBook

14-16 inchBlogger: Farmer's Market Online - Create Post
1. MacBook Pro
2. Toshiba Satellite
3. Asus X83Vm

17-18 inch
1. MacBook Pro
2. Dell Studio 17
3. Lenovo IdeaPad Y730

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Good Weight: Hybrid Values

Automakers sold some 308,000 hybrid vehicles in the U.S. in 2008. Part gas motor, part electric motor, these vehicles are the source of some confusion. They are not electric cars, they do not plug in to electric outlets to recharge, and they are not a "new" invention. Fact is, hybrid vehicles have been around for over a century.

According to James L. Benson, author of "Hybrid Vehicles - What They Are, How They Work And Why You Should Buy One," today’s modern hybrid began with Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the designer of the original Volkswagen Beetle. In 1901, Porsche designed and created the “Mixte,” a car that powered a generator with a gasoline engine. The generator then powered a series of small electric motors, creating a battery pack.

The Mixte was based on an even older design of Porsche’s called the “System Lohner-Porsche.”

Later, in 1915, Woods Motor Vehicle created the “Dual Power,” a car that ran on an electric motor below 15 mph and gasoline above that. This car was in production until about 1918, but since few people actually had the money to purchase a car, let alone a hybrid car, and with the invention of the self-starting gasoline engine, the idea eventually fizzled out.

Inventors tinkered with hybrids throughout the 20th century, but no ideas stuck until the 1990s, when the Japanese car company Toyota launched their Toyota Prius. The Prius was the first hybrid car available to the masses, and it was the result of decades of research, starting with a 1977 prototype, the Toyota Sports 800 Gas Turbine.

In 2000, the Prius became available in the United States, after success in the Asian market and the successful of 1999 launch of the Honda Insight hybrid. Demand for hybrids has been exploding ever since, and car companies are struggling to keep up the supply without flooding the market.

Hybrids cost $3,000-6,000 more than comparable gas-only vehicles, but are less costly to maintain, according to Consumer Reports, which has been tracking their history for 9 years. Replacing battery packs in hybrids can cost up to $3,000, but may not be necessary. According to manufacturers, battery pack on hybrids are designed to last the life of the vehicle.

The miles-per-gallon difference between gas-powered cars and comparable hybrids is about 40 percent, or 26 mpg for a standard vehicle versus 44 mpg for the Toyota Prius, acording to Consumer Reports.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Energy Farming at Farmer's Market Online

A new section of Farmer's Market Online has opened for tools and resources related to Energy Farming, including Wind Energy, Solar, Hydropower and Biofuels.Booth space is available for vendors with appropriate products.

Register for a Booth Lease on any of the product pages, or use our online Booth Lease and Construction form. Booths leased in the Farm Supply product category will be included in the Energy Farming section if they feature Wind Energy, Solar, Hydropower and Biofuels products.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Have You Tried... Fountain Pens?

Does anyone remember the fountain pen?

You may have seen them; horrible things with rubber bladders that sucked up a supply of black stuff from an inkwell on the school desk, and then squirted all over your clothes. More than one mother cursed Lewis Waterman, who patented the infernal devices back in 1884. His was the first "practical" patent; the others before him were practically useless, and spilled more ink than they put on paper.

Before the fountain pen with its internal ink supply, we only had quill pens. Pulled from goose tails, the shaft was shaved to remove the fuzz that could soak the ink up the shaft to your fingers.

You've heard of penknives, right? These were originally the knives used to sharpen the end of a pen to a point and then split it at the end.

Just why are fountain pens split at their point? For exactly the same reason we used to use penknives to split the quills - the split point will hold more of the ink. Not much, for sure. You'll still be dipping into the inkwell every few words, but the split does hold more ink than just a point. Put pen to paper and write a few words. Dip it into the well again for more ink and write a few more words. More dips, more words. Dip, write, and repeat.

The Book of Kells is an example of the beautifully illuminated manuscripts created by simple quill pens.

People got tired of having to sharpen the quills, which wore out very quickly and broke easily. In the early 19th century someone invented a steel nib trying many variations of splits and folds trying to get it to hold more ink. Still seeking improvement, other inventors came up with new ideas, and finally in 1930's we had the first ballpoint pen.

When the pen manufacturers added a clip so men could keep pens in their pockets, they became a part of fashion. Rings were added to women's pens so they could be attached to a chain.

Ballpoint pens went wild in the 60's. You could get them with up to ten different colors in one big fat pen. People pretty much stopped using fountain pens as much because of the cost as compared to the ease of using the new disposable pens.

But today, the fountain pen is making a reappearance, at a more modest price. Many writers, artists and executives prefer a classic Parker to the plastic Biro that gets tossed out when empty.

So, you once more have the option of a beautifully crafted set consisting of fountain pen and mechanical pencil, another blast from the past. Or, you can pick up just the pen, in a classically lovely box, lined with velvet and embossed with gold.

About the author.
Gretchen Allbright is a calligrapher who has been a student of artistic writing all her life.
She teaches calligraphy to private students in her studio. You can read more articles about pens at yupPen

Good Weight: Recalls

Friday, May 1, 2009

Recipe File: My Derby Grits

1 quart 2% milk
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup 3-minute grits

4 ounces Swiss or Gruyère cheese, grated (1 cup)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 375°.

Bring milk and butter to a slow boil and stir in grits slowly.

Stir often until mixture thickens.

Put in large bowl and beat with electric mixer until grits become creamy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add Swiss cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix well and pour into greased 2-quart casserole.

Dot with butter and sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8.

From Kentucky's Best, Fifty Years of Great Recipes
by Linda Allison-Lewis. University Press of Kentucky.