Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Samples: Panty Liners

Free samples of Carefree Liners and Stayfree Pads are now available online.

Fill out the form
and submit.

Offer only good while supplies last. Limit one sample per household. No requests from groups, clubs or organizations will be honored. Offer only good in USA and APO/FPO addresses.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Gamesmanship ~ Dragon Age: Origins

Dragon Age: Origins
reviewed by ITChuiko

At the beginning of this month Bioware released its latest fantasy RPG for both PC and consoles, and ever since then it’s been raining roses, praises and applause...

The games outer layer – graphics and sounds – leaves no room for complaints: the environment is slick and polished, the characters and armors are highly detailed, and the soundtrack and sound effects are decent and nonintrusive....

But I wouldn’t go as far as to call it outstanding, impressive, state of the art, or a 5star game as many others did. No, it’s not a life changing experience. No, I wouldn’t lift babies towards the sun to thank the gods for it, I wouldn’t stand in line for it and no, I’m not dying to find out if they are working on a sequel to it. But if you are looking for decent entertainment, I can assure you that Dragon Age is a good investment of both your money our time.
Dragon Age: Origins
Gamesmanship

Friday, November 27, 2009

Recipe File: Beef Steaks

In The Civil War Cookbook, historian William C. Davis compiled a record of the conflict’s cuisine, describing the menus of the camp commissaries and how selected dishes were prepared. Beef steaks were cooked over an open fire according to the following recipe:

2 Tbsps butter or oil

2 beef steaks (best quality available)

3 onions

Black pepper

Mixed herbs

Fresh horseradish

Beats the steaks with a mallet.

Peel the onions and cut into thick circles.

Heat thebutter or oil in a large frying pan, when hot place the steaks in the center of the pan and surround with onion slices.

Sprinkle the steaks and onions with the pepper and herbs and fry quickly over a high heat to required doneness, turning halfway through.

When the steaks are almost ready, sprinkle over some grated horseradish.

Serve the steaks straight from the pan.

Serves 2.

Recipe File: Sweet Potato Pudding

In The Civil War Cookbook, historian William C. Davis compiled an authoritative record of the conflict’s cuisine, describing the menus of the camp commissaries and how selected dishes were prepared. Sweet potatoes were often prepared as sweet potato pudding for holiday fare.

6 medium-sized sweet potatoes (white or orange-fleshed)
1 C milk
1 C sugar
3 eggs
Juice of a lemon
1 tsp cinnamon

Boil the potatoes for 30 minutes until soft and mash with the milk to a smooth consistency.

Add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and cinnamon, and beat until smooth.

Pour into a shallow, lightly buttered dish and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes.

Serves 4.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Open Air: City of Marco Island Farmers Market

Despite rain, the first City of Marco Island Farmers Market was held successfully yesterday at Veterans Community Park, according to a report in the Marco Island Sun Times.

The market wll continue every Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 14, 2010.

City of Marco Island Farmers Market

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Stall Review: The Civil War Cookbook

The Civil War Cookbook
by William C. Davis
Courage Books, 1993

"My Christmas was bean soup without bread. The boys are not seeing a good deal of fun," wrote Johnny Jackman in his diary 146 years ago.

A trooper in the 9th Kentucky of the Confederacy, Jackman's lean Christmas was shared by thousands of other young American men in 1863.

Food supplies for the armies of the Civil War were usually limited to the basics and deprivations were common. If they filled their journals with reviews of their meals it was because these events were often the highlight of an otherwise dismal day.

In 1864, Jackman's Christmas holiday was a little brighter: fresh pork, baked sweet potatoes, hardtack.

Civil War historian William C. Davis compiled an authoritative record of the conflict's cuisine, describing the menus of the camp commissaries and how selected dishes were prepared.

"The Civil War Cookbook" combines historic photographs and reportage with handsome studio portraits of meals and kitchen accoutrements. More than four dozen authentic Civil War era recipes are included, from Southern gumbo and rice bread to Yankee doughnuts.

The sweet potatoes Johnny Jackman referred to in his diary may have been prepared as sweet potato pudding for holiday fare. Here's the recipe Davis found:

Sweet Potato Pudding

6 medium-sized sweet potatoes (white or orange-fleshed)
1 C milk
1 C sugar
3 eggs
Juice of a lemon
1 tsp cinnamon

Boil the potatoes for 30 minutes until soft and mash with the milk to a smooth consistency. Add the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and cinnamon, and beat until smooth. Pour into a shallow, lightly buttered dish and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

The old maxim that an army marches "on its stomach" was certainly appropriate for the Civil War, whose outcome may have been decided in the camp kitchens as much as on the battlefields. Union kitchens were almost always better supplied than their Confederate counterparts, and consequently their soldiers ate more heartily.

A Union solder's Christmas was often more festive, writes Davis, "with their mess tables or camp kettles groaning with turkeys, chickens, hams, and special issues of vegetables, supplemented by goodies sent from home and goods locally purchased from sutlers and farmers."

Beef steaks were cooked over an open fire according to the following recipe:

Beef Steaks

2 Tbsps butter or oil
2 beef steaks (best quality available)
3 onionsBlack pepper
Mixed herbs
Fresh horseradish

Beats the steaks with a mallet. Peel the onions and cut into thick circles. Heat thebutter or oil in a large frying pan, when hot place the steaks in the center of the pan and surround with onion slices. Sprinkle the steaks and onions with the pepper and herbs and fry quickly over a high heat to required doneness, turning halfway through. When the steaks are almost ready, sprinkle over some grated horseradish. Serve the steaks straight from the pan.

Serves 2.

Captain William Seymour of the Confederacy's famed "Louisiana Tigers" is quoted from his diary on Christmas Eve, 1864. It was a cold night at Raccoon Ford, Virginia, and Seymour had been warming his toes by the campstove.

"We had made up our mind to go egg-nogless to bed, when -- about 11 o'clock -- the welcome sound of horses hoofs on the crisp snow outside; out we rushed and there we found the tardy 'Mose' with his well-filled demijohn. The eggs were quickly beaten -- the sugar stirred in and then the whiskey added, and we had one of the most delicious nogs that ever mortal man quaffed."

Davis offers the following recipe for the treat Seymour so enjoyed:

Egg Nog

4 egg yolks
4 Tbsps sugar
1 C cream (whipping)
1 C brandy
1/4 C wine
4 egg whites
A little grated nutmeg

Beat the egg yolks until light, then slowly beat in the sugar, cream, brandy and wine. Whip the egg whites separately and then fold into the other ingredients. Sprinkle with nutmeg to serve.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Video Game Posters



















Each poster measures approximately 24" x 36"

Selling Points: Green Market Continues to Grow

The market for products marketed as eco-friendly, green, natural, organic, humane, or fair trade is thriving despite the recession, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts.

Based on data from Packaged Facts' surveys, one-fourth of U.S. adult shoppers frequently purchase certified organic food or beverage products and one-third are usually willing to pay more for organic foods.

“With the economy foremost in consumers’ minds, heightened price sensitivity in the midst of the current recession is inevitably having an effect on the market for ethical products,” says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts.

“However, our survey indicates that more shoppers understand the environmental, social, and economic implications of their choices. The result is a sizeable number of consumers who will purchase typically more expensive ethical products even in economically challenging times.”

The U.S. market for "ethical products" has annually grown in the high single- to low double-digits over the past five years. Packaged Facts forecasts the growth rate will persist despite the recession and the market will approach $62 billion in 2014, up from a projected $38 billion in 2009.

Selling Points

Rural Delivery: Final Harvest

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1989. All rights reserved.

Standing in a field just a few hundred yards from the place where he was born 70 years earlier on "a cold February morning," the retiring rancher eyed the crowd gathered around his dismantled windmill.

An auctioneer cried out from the center of the throng, "Last chance! Two-twenty-five, give me two-twenty-five! Sold for two hundred dollars."

The auctioneer and the crowd moved on, away from the rancher and toward a rusty manure spreader. The man with the highest bid, a neighbor, lagged behind. He studied the metal fan blades of the windmill and then crossed over to the rancher. His round, flushed face was reflected in the older man's dark glasses.

"You're going to have to help me put this thing together," he said.

The rancher studied him a moment from behind the glasses, then announced in mock seriousness. "Nope, I can't help you. I told you not to buy the thing."

Auctions like this can be gloomy affairs. When a century-old ranch is sold and its equipment goes on the auction block, often there's a foreclosure or a death in the family. Neighbors stand around, hands in their pockets, and bid sheepishly. The owner may not even attend.

This southern Idaho rancher stood his ground, wryly watching three generations of tractors, trucks and farm implements pass into other hands. Friends and neighbors, farmers and ranchers with weathered faces and calloused hands, approached the lank old man in the tan felt hat. Like the land around them, their conversation was sparse, but not subdued.

"Does this baler work good?" the auctioneer called out as he started taking bids on a John Deere 216.

"Oh yeah," said the rancher with a slight grin. "You hook it on the tractor and it'll follow."

The 1,100-acre ranch had been sold to a developer from California. Soon after the auction, the old rancher would leave a land homesteaded by his grandfather in 1886, a place that he grew up on in the 1930s, and a family business he had owned for 40 years.

At various times during its history the ranch had supported a thousand head of dairy cows, nearly 500 head of beef cattle, crops of clover, seed, hay, alfalfa, wheat, barley and potatoes. Some years were tough, others prosperous; adequate water supplies were always a concern.

To keep the ranch operating, the owners purchased fleets of tractors and trucks over the years. Their outbuildings swelled with machinery and equipment. Long rows of those belongings spilled out across the field below the rancher's log home, and the ranch's final harvest continued.

A horse-drawn manure spreader sold that day for $235, a calf table for $140. A New Hiolland 1049 Super harrow bed stacker drew a top bid of $7,000.

In selling the family ranch, the old man kept title to 40 acres of unimproved land across the valley. What he'd do with it, he had no idea. But looking out across the broad plain that used to be his ranch, nestled tight against the southern flanks of the hills, it's not hard to understand why a man would want to retain some portion of that space, if only to have a place to stand and watch you way of life go down the road.

"I'm just getting too old," he explained. His three sons were not interested in -- or could not afford -- taking over the ranch. The rancher's wife had passed away 18 months earlier.

At various times during its history the ranch had supported a thousand head of dairy cows, nearly 500 head of beef cattle, crops of clover, seed, hay, alfalfa, wheat, barley and potatoes. Some years were tough, others prosperous; adequate water supplies were always a concern.

To keep the ranch operating, the owners purchased fleets of tractors and trucks over the years. Their outbuildings swelled with machinery and equipment. Long rows of those belongings spilled out across the field below the rancher's log home, and the ranch's final harvest continued.

A horse-drawn manure spreader sold that day for $235, a calf table for $140. A New Hiolland 1049 Super harrow bed stacker drew a top bid of $7,000.

In selling the family ranch, the old man kept title to 40 acres of unimproved land across the valley. What he'd do with it, he had no idea. But looking out across the broad plain that used to be his ranch, nestled tight against the southern flanks of the hills, it's not hard to understand why a man would want to retain some portion of that space, if only to have a place to stand and watch you way of life go down the road.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Out of the Past: Promises of 1912 Deferred

In 1912, former Presdient Theodore Roosevelt campaigned for the presidency promising national health insurance along with women's suffrage, safe conditions for industrial workers, a federal minimum wage, and an old-age pension.

In many ways, the election of 1912 was a pivotal moment in American politics, inspiring fundamental changes still influencing society today.

Originally a candidate for the Republican Party in 1912, Roosevelt won a series of primaries that gave him a lead in party delegates going into the Republican Convention. But the incumbent president, William Howard Taft, controlled the convention floor and his backers excluded most of the Roosevelt delegates by not recognizing their credentials.

Enraged by these actions, Roosevelt consequently refused to allow himself to be nominated, allowing Taft to win on the first ballot.

Roosevelt and his supporters abandoned the G.O.P. two weeks later and formed the Progressive Party, under which he contended for the presidency against Taft, labor leader Eugene Debs of the Socialist Party ticket, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

The Progressives won 27.4% of the popular vote and 88 electoral votes from six states, an unprecedented achievement for a third party, but the presidency went to Wilson.

Although it took a new generation to accomplish them, most of the key elements of Roosevelt's social platform were achieved and became keystones in American society. National health insurance remains an exception.

Out of the Past

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bites: Grapes Squeeze Out Diabetes

The naturally produced molecule resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes, has been shown to lower insulin levels in mice when injected directly into the brain, even when the animals ate a high-fat diet.

A new UT Southwestern Medical Center study suggests that when acting directly on certain proteins in the brain, resveratrol may offer some protection against diabetes. Prior research has shown that the compound exerts anti-diabetic actions when given orally to animals with type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus), but it has been unclear which tissues in the body mediated these effects.

"Our study shows that the brain plays an important role in mediating resveratrol's anti-diabetic actions, and it does so independent of changes in food intake and body weight," said Dr. Roberto Coppari, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern.

"These animals were overrun with fat and many of their organs were inflamed. But when we delivered resveratrol in the brain, it alleviated inflammation in the brain."

Dr. Coppari said his study does not support the conclusion that consuming products made from red grapes, such as red wine, could alleviate diabetes.

"The main reason is that resveratrol does not cross the blood brain barrier efficiently. In order for the brain to accumulate the same dose of resveratrol delivered in our study, the amounts of red wine needed daily would surely cause deleterious effects, especially in the liver. Rather, our study suggests that resveratrol's analogs that selectively target the brain may help in the fight against diet-induced diabetes."

For the study, the researchers investigated what happens when resveratrol acts only in the brain. Specifically, they wanted to know whether resveratrol injected in the brain activated a group of proteins called sirtuins, which are found throughout the body and thought to underlie many of the beneficial effects of calorie restriction. Previous animal research has shown that when these proteins are activated by resveratrol, diabetes is improved. In addition, drugs activating sirtuins currently are being tested as anti-diabetic medications in human trials, Dr. Coppari said.

In one group of animals, researchers injected resveratrol directly into the brain; another group received a saline-based placebo. All the surgically treated animals consumed a high-fat diet before and after the surgery.

Dr. Coppari said the insulin levels of the animals treated with the placebo solution rose increasingly higher post-surgery. "That's a normal outcome because insulin sensitivity decreases the longer you keep an animal on a high-fat diet."

Insulin levels in the mice given resveratrol, however, actually started to drop and were halfway to normal by the end of the five-week study period, even though the animals remained on a high-fat diet.

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rural Delivery: Paddle Your Own Canoe

by Michael Hofferber
Copyright © 1992. All rights reserved.

On a golden afternoon in early autumn I return to a mountain lake I've visited many times over the years, dating back to when I was a child at summer camp. Some sense of connectedness brings me back, time and again, to reacquaint myself with familiar waters and old recreations.

Each time I rent an old 15-foot Grumman at the marina and paddle, somewhat aimlessly, along the shoreline. The rhythmic lapping of water against the hull and the far-off cries of loons float atop a deep and peaceful quiet. Blue skies are mirrored on the smooth surface, where anything that moves produces a sparkle and, then, dimpling circles of ever wider and fainter proportion.

Sometimes I'll drop a line for trout or scramble ashore to look for frogs or driftwood. Mostly, I linger in private coves scented by bordering pine trees and watch for deer emerging from the shadows or osprey soaring overhead.

Canoeing appeals to many moods and ages. For me, it's been at various times a source of childhood adventures, fun-filled family outings, and quiet retreats from day-to-day business. It's as much a sport for boys as girls, and as easy for Grandma to master as it is for a burly truck driver.

Some folks, like myself, canoe the flat waters of quiet rivers and calm lakes. Others lean toward the challenges of fast and roaring whitewater. Whatever your preference in this self-propelled sport, there is a canoe to match your ambitions.

The word "canoe" derives from "canoa," a Carib Indian word recorded by Columbus meaning dugout. Many Native Americans crafted canoes from hollowed out logs -- dugouts -- or by using birchbark or hides stretched across a wooden frame. European explorers, fur-trappers and missionaries became enthusiastic canoeists, paddling and portaging their craft for hundreds of miles across unfamiliar territory.

The canoe was as essential in the backcountry of the 17th and 18th centuries as four-wheel-drive vehicles are today. It could be maneuvered down narrow channels or across broad lakes with similar ease, and if a man had to he could carry it across land. Try that with a Land Rover!

Canoes of the late 20th century are made of synthetic woven fibers instead of hides. Plastic resins and thermoplastics have replaced most wooden frames. The modern canoe is lighter, tougher and faster than its colonial counterpart. An average person can lift many of them one-handed.

Not all canoes are the same, of course, and there are almost as many styles as there are uses for the craft. Recreation canoes are best for leisurely paddling or fishing on calm waters. Their hulls are wide and they have a flat bottom that gives them extra stability. These are the canoes rented at most liveries and resorts, designed to safely carry families as well as sportsmen.

Touring canoes are a little longer (16 1/2 to 18 feet) and wider with a slightly rounded bottom. Built for longer trips across rougher water, they'll carry more gear and maneuver more easily than the recreational models.

Cruising canoes are designed for experienced canoeists who want more speed. These canoes are about 18 feet long and have a shallow V-shaped hull that delivers more speed and distance per paddle stroke than the recreational or touring models.

Other types of canoes include wilderness-tripping canoes for long-distance travel, whitewater canoes for negotiating rapids, and downriver canoes for racing. All of these are built for veteran canoeists who know their strokes, not the novice or weekend paddler.

Out of the water, most canoes transport rather easily. There are handy loading devices available for stowing canoes atop vehicles or trailers. The top of a fold-down camper can also be outfitted to hold a canoe.

Paddling a canoe is actually easy to learn and not as strenuous as it might seem, especially on calm water. By trial-and-error most first-time canoeists quickly learn that paddling on the right side of the canoe makes it veer left, and paddling on the left side makes it veer right. Only by paddling on both sides alternately, it seems, will the canoe travel in a relatively straight line. But by turning the paddle away from the canoe at the end of the stroke the push-away movement will correct the veer and keep the craft going straight ahead.

There are other tricks to paddling solo and in tandem, like using back strokes to brake your speed or a bow rudder stroke to turn sharply with little effort. These are taught in canoeing classes, schools and clubs in many communities. But no one should let the lack of formal training dissuade them from going canoeing on a calm lake or gentle river. The basic skills of the activity are like riding a bicycle -- quickly learned and rarely forgotten.

Canoeing may involve long trips through wilderness areas or quiet moments on local lakes and rivers. Splendid opportunities for paddling are available in almost every state and the mobility of the canoe allows access to quiet, scenic sites far from crowded campgrounds.

Wherever you choose to paddle, the best advice anyone can offer is to go easy and follow your own interests. Canoes are like pickup trucks, reliable vehicles for those who know how to drive and appreciate them. Whether it's a family picnic on a secluded island or a hunting expedition in the backcountry, the right canoe can get you there.

For myself, I am happy for some stolen moments on a quiet lake or meandering stream, fancying myself akin to the aboriginal Indians or some intrepid trapper. Sometimes I'll sit back, paddle at rest, and drift with the wind while listening to the plop of rising fish, the squawk of waterfowl and the pee-yeeps of tree frogs. I'll have found my destination, then, and reached it by canoe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Farmer's Market Online Today

Welcome to Farmer's Market Online, the world's oldest and largest continuing online marketplace for producers selling their handmade, custom crafted, home grown and farm raised goods direct to consumers worldwide.

On Tuesday, November 10 there were 3,522 unique visitors at Farmer’s Market Online making 17,591 page hits.

Vendors in this market receive 100 percent of the purchase price for every item sold. There are
no sales reports to file and no commissions to pay. Every transaction is strictly between the consumer and the vendor.

Shoppers communicate with and deal directly with the producer, giving them the opportunity to
know who is making or growing the goods and how they are being produced.

Some of the most popular places at Farmer's Market Online this week have been:

On the Bulletin Board:
Selling Points: Slotting
Rural Delivery: The Animals Within
In Season Guide: Garlic
Rural Delivery: Real Cowboy Hats
Bites: Curry Spice Destroys Cancer Cells

Popular Booths and Listings:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gift Pack from Graton, California
Pickles from Gold Beach, Oregon
Wreaths from Danforth, Maine

What’s Fresh and New:
"Raw Stamina" Chocolate Bars from Ojai, California
Phalaenopsis Orchids from Vernon, California
Gourmet Hot Chocolate from St. Louis, Missouri

To join Farmer's Market Online as a vendor, either lease a Booth or register for a basic Listing on the Buy Direct Directory.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Gamesmanship: Flock! Wins First BAFTA Scotland Award

Recognizing the growth of Scotland’s gaming industry, a digital media award in a Games category was presented at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Scotland Awards for the first time this year.

Held at the Glasgow Science Centre on the banks of the River Clyde, BAFTA Scotland's annual awards celebrating the moving image industries also included honors Interactive and Web media.

In the Games category, Dundee-based developer Proper Games won top honors for its downloadable sandbox puzzle game Flock! Other titles nominated for the award were Dynamo Games’ Championship Manager Express 2010 and Low Grav Racer by Cobra Mobile.

Mechanical automata Cybraphon won the Interactive category and blipfoto captured the best Web award.

Open Air: Orillia Farmers' Market

The City of Orillia City Hall on Andrew Street in Orillia, Ontario, now hosts the Saturday morning Orillia Farmers' Market.

Moved from its location beside the Opera House in downtown Orillia, where it was held for 137 years, the Orillia Farmers' Market is being held in the city building until the re-development of the market block, behind the Orillia Opera House and Orillia Public Library, is complete in about two years.

Market vendors will be setting up both inside and outside the city hall.

Orillia Farmers' Market
Ontario Farmers Markets Directory

Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Stall Review: The Year that Changed the World

The Year that Changed the World
The Untold Story Behind the Fall of the Berlin Wall
by Michael Meyer
Scribner, 2009

As Newsweek's bureau chief in Germany, Michael Meyer was an eyewitness to the fall of the Berlin Wall. On the 20th anniversary of 1989, he pays tribute to the event in this memoir which documents the key players in the drama, from Czech president Vaclav Havel and the Hungarian despot Nicolae Ceasuşescu to Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

"Nothing has ever been so freighted with symbolism, ideology, and history. The Wall was World War II, the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, the high tide of totalitarianism and communist dictatorship, the frontier of democracy. You could feel it, smell it, run your hands over it, look across it. On the one side, us. On the other, them."

For those born too late to recall its significance, this book tells the story of the rise and fall of a Cold War icon. For the rest of us, its another opportunity to shake our heads in amazement. It really is gone, isn't it?

Rural Delivery: Real Cowboy Hats

Real cowboy hats don't have feather bands, nor do they come in mink fur or shades of mauve. The real thing, like the Stetsons and Resistols of old, is 100 percent fur felt. It's sturdy enough to weather gully-washers and to withstand horse's hooves, and it comes only in basic colors: good-guy white, bad-guy black and wrangler tan.

It used to be, a hundred or so years ago, you could tell where a cowpoke hailed from by the style of his hat. High Plains horsemen wore hats with wide brims to shade them from the glaring sun. Backcountry packers and riders in wooded areas favored hats that were narrower, to avoid tree limbs, and more bowed, to keep rain off their necks.

Nowadays mass production of cowboy hats has messed things up, but there are still some distinctions among real-life working cowboys. Your Texas cattleman, for instance, still wears a conservative rancher-style hat with a crease down the center of a six-inch crown and a dent along each side.

Most Nevada buckaroos, on the other hand, seek out the scruffiest, most old-fashioned hat imaginable and wear it with great pride.

And only bankers and other city dudes wear those black, short-brimmed bowlers.

The earliest cowboy hats were self-made fashion statements the likes of which won't be found in any store. Hat-makers started off by digging a hole in the ground the size of a man's head. Then a piece of wet rawhide was stretched over the hole and nailed down.

Into the middle of the wet skin the cowboy would stuff several handfuls of grass and shape the crown from the inside with his fingers. The brim was tamped down and cut to whatever width the maker desired.

Once the rawhide dried, it was smoked and heated over a campfire for waterproofing.

Such hats, which date back to the early 1800s, did not last long. Their brims wore like corrugated cardboard, according to historical accounts, and broke apart in chunks after a few months.

Not many cowboys make their own hats these days unless they are professional haber-dashers like Tom Hirt in Colorado. Hirt uses early-century techniques to custom-craft hats from a dense Beaver fut felt. He cuts and shapes the hat by hand, but instead of using a hole in the ground he forms the crown using antique wooden blocks, or "lasts," to get the head shape he wants.

Hirt then works the brim on a heat press to create the sloping dip of a Wyoming cowhand's hat or the "pencil-roll" lip of a riverboat gambler's. After sanding and oiling the fabric to a smooth finish, he ties a simple leather cord or a colored ribbon around the brim.

No feathers, no buckles, no flags on these hats. Real cowboys, their character molded by austere landscapes and a frugal lifestyle, disdain such adornments. The only concession to vanity may be found in gold lettering along the two-inch-wide leather sweatband inside the crown: the cowboy's name.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Open Air: Milwaukee County Winter Farmers' Market

The new Saturday morning Milwaukee County Winter Farmers' Market debuts this weekend in the lobby of the Tommy Thompson Youth Center at State Fair Park (Gate 5 at 640 S. 84th St.) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Some 20 local vendors will offer everything from farm-fresh eggs and apples to farmstead cheese and yogurt from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday through April 24.

The new winter market follows a national trend of farmers markets extending their seasonal connections between food producers and consumers to meet a growing demand for year-round local food.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

FAQ: Is there any way to monitor orders from a Booth?

All sales transactions at Farmer's Market Online are strictly between the vendor and the customer. We do not process or monitor sales activity.
Most Booths offer several avenues for orders:

* PayPal direct payment links. We set these up for vendors who have PayPal accounts and want shoppers to be able to make purchases direct from the Booth. These transactions go directly to the vendors PayPal account and are not monitored or processed by Farmer's Market Online in any way.
* Links to another website with an order form.
* Phone number for telephone orders
* Fax number for faxed orders
* Postal Address for mail-orders
* Email address

Orders from any of these avenues could be coming from the Booth at Farmer's Market Online.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Stall Review: The Guinea Pig Diaries

The Guinea Pig Diaries
My Life as an Experiment
by A. J. Jacobs
Simon & Schuster, 2009

A. J. Jacobs is a journalistic stuntman in the tradition of George Plimpton and Hunter S. Thompson who chooses a topical or peculiar actvity and immerses himself in it for a set amount of time, then writes a book about the expeirence.

For his first book, The Know-It-All, Jacobs read through all 32 volumes (33,000 pages and 44 million words) of Encyclopedia Britannica alphabetically. Then, Jacobs committed to a year following the Talmudic laws of the Bible as literally as possible and wrote The Year of Living Biblically. In this one, he volunteers himself as "guinea pig" for nine separate lifestyle experiments: practicing Radical Honesty, avoiding all multitasking, outsourcing a month of his life to a couple of assistants in India, being his wife's devoted servant.

Other experiments include a month of living like George Washington, pretending to be a woman in the world of online dating, and an afternoon posing nude for a photographer.

Why should anyone care? Because Jacobs is a well-schooled auteur and the feigned earnestness of these quests makes for entertaining, if not enlightening, reading.

Most of the these pieces previously appeared in the pages of Esquire magazine, where he is an editor at large.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recipe File: Flan

  • 2 whole allspice
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 T sugar
  • 2 C milk
Mix milk and vanilla. Tie spices in cheesecloth bag and place in milk. Heat slowly.

Beat together eggs and 6 T sugar. Carmelize 1/3 C sugar over medium heat in pan. Remove spices from milk and slowly beat milk into eggs. Pour into pan. Place pan in container of water reaching to the edge of pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Chill 6 hours. Unmold and serve.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rural Delivery: Cold Hardening

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

Hard frost again last night. My footsteps leave dark impressions on the ground. The breath of the cows rises in clouds as they huddle together like football players at Soldier Field on a December Sunday.

Fewer grasshoppers now, I notice. They used to scatter through the wheat stubble on my approach. Only a few stragglers remain. The rest have died or gone off to hide from winter.

The crisp night is giving way to a warm morning glow. It will be an "Indian Summer" sort of day, the kind we missed out on last year when winter dropped in early. Some of our coldest weather came in November rather than January, where it belongs.

Most of nature depends on a steady progression of seasons.

These cool nights encourage the growth of fat and fur on dogs, cats, horses and most other warm-blooded critters. My beard and waistline, too, seem to grow more readily this time of year. By winter solstice, or late December, we'll be well acclimated to the cold.

Reptiles, insects and other creatures make similar adjustments. Many bury themselves in the most protected spot they can find and slip into a deep torpor, like hibernation, which lasts throughout the winter.

Even no-see-ems -- those nearly invisible biting midges that infiltrate lawns and campsites, nibbling at whatever skin they latch onto -- have a nifty wintertime adaptation. Their bodies start producing a protein this time of year that acts as a sort of antifreeze.

Scientists don't know exactly how the no-see-em, or Culicoides variipennis sonorensis as they call it, accomplishes this winterization. They have discovered that if the insect is suddenly exposed to a temperature of 14 degrees for two hours it will die. But if the no-see-um is first exposed to 41 degrees for an hour, it can survive at 14 degrees for up to three days.

This wintertime acclimation, known as "cold hardening," is also found in the pesky fruit fly and the common house fly. It is one reason why a hard winter won't always kill off an insect population and the diseases it carries.

My own cold hardening begins with snow tires on the truck, weather-stripping around the windows and doors, and a couple cords of firewood split and stacked. There's still gloves and boots to buy, trees to prune, feed to stock up on, and garden beds to mulch. I don't have any antifreeze proteins in my system that I know of, but I've noticed that 30 degrees isn't as chilling as it was a couple weeks ago.

Selling Points: Bartering for A Better World

Some New Jersey farmers market vendors are contributing to "A Better World" by bartering produce in exchange for prepared meals at a new community cafe in Highland Park, according to a report in The Daily Targum at Rutgers University.

A partnership between Who Is My Neighbor? Inc. and Elijah’s Promise, A Better World Café aims to provide sustainable, healthy and affordable food options for those in and around the Highland Park community. The restaurant has a menu with set prices that patrons pay for meals, but cash is not the only option.

"Customers can volunteer an hour of time in exchange for a meal voucher, which can later be used in exchange for food, she said. Those who can neither pay nor volunteer may enjoy a complimentary meal option free of charge," The Daily Targum reported.

Zone 7, an organization that acts as a middleman between local farmers and restaurants, helped organize tbe farmers’ market vendors’ trades of produce for meals.

A Better World Café opened less than two weeks ago at the First Reformed Church of Highland Park. Food is prepared at Elijah’s Promise Culinary School on Livingston Avenue and delivered to the church. A grand opening will be held soon.

Farmer's Market Online Today

Welcome to Farmer's Market Online, the world's oldest and largest continuing online marketplace for producers selling their handmade, custom crafted, home grown and farm raised goods direct to consumers worldwide.


On the first day of November, a Sunday, there were 3,305 unique visitors at Farmer’s Market Online making 15, 917 page hits. A year ago, there were 2,010 unique visitors on the same day of the month.

Vendors in this market receive 100 percent of the purchase price for every item sold. There are no sales reports to file and no commissions to pay. Every transaction is strictly between the consumer and the vendor.

Shoppers communicate with and deal directly with the producer, giving them the opportunity to know who is making or growing the goods and how they are being producer.

The most popular Blogs at Farmer's Market Online on November 1 were as follows:

1. Open Air
2. Gamesmanship
3. Market Watch
4. Open Market
5. Husbandry
6. Growth Spurts
7. Bites
8. In Season
9. Contests
10. Book Stall


To join Farmer's Market Online as a vendor, either lease a Booth or register for a basic Listing on the Buy Direct Directory.

Contests: Favorite Holiday Recipe Challenge

Big Y grocers is conducting a Favorite Holiday Recipe Challenge in which entrants include Big Y labeled foods in their recipes and demonstrate how the recipes are prepared on video. Recipes with originality, ease of preparation and creativity incorporating Big Y Brand products have the best chance of winning.

One Grand Prize $1000 winner will be chosen and four First Prize $250 Winners.

Video entries must be uploaded online. All entries must be received by December 30, 2009

Throughout the entry period, registered users may visit the Big Y website and vote for their favorite entries. The five entries with the highest vote counts will qualify for judging for the grand prize. All those who vote are entered for a chance to win 
a $50 Big Y gift card.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Contests: Nigella Contest

Asian Food Channel is offering a chance to win a Nigella Express cookbook, a set of Asian Food Channel collectibles which includes an apron, a set of coasters and a recipes notebook.

Contestants must answer the following question online:

"If you could have one dessert for the rest of your life, tell us in 150 words or less what it would be and why!"

The most creative and unique answer wins!

The competition is only open to residents of the following countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, and Hong Kong. Deadline for entries 18 November 2009.

Open Air: Williamsburg Farmers Market

Williamsburg Farmers Market in Virginia concluded its 2009 season on Saturday. Three Holiday Markets have been scheduled as follows:

Saturday, November 21 8:30 - 12:30
Saturday, November 28 8:30 - 12:30
Saturday, December 12 8:30 - 12:30

The market is held in Merchants Square on Duke of Gloucester Street between Henry and Boundary Streets in downtown Williamsburg.