Monday, January 12, 2015

What are GMO's?

As a whole, our society is always looking to jump on the next trending idea without fully understanding why they are doing so. One of the more recent trending ideas is the aversion to GMO's or Genetically Modified Organisms. Avoiding GMO's is a personal choice that should be made based on actual facts and understanding of what these things are rather than simply jumping on board with another trend. Hopefully after reading this, you will be able to answer the questions posed to the individuals in the video below!

Genetically Modified Organisms
A GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) is an organism or microorganism whose genome has been altered by genetic engineering. This puts genes into organisms that would not otherwise be found within it.

Thousands of plants have been genetically modified to overcome issues that humans deem a "nuisance". These include:

  • Injecting strawberries and tomatoes with fish genes in order to protect them from freezing.
  • Salmon and chicken that are engineered with extra growth hormones to allow them to grow larger.
File:Genetically modified corn.jpg
Courtesy of Keith Weller, U.S. Department of Agriculture
The Center for Food Safety reports the following percentage of Genetically Modified Organisms.
85% of U.S. corn
91% of Soybeans
88% of Cotton
And an estimated 75% of processed foods in a supermarket contain GMO's.

This introduction of a different strand of DNA is done by various methods but one of the most common methods utilizes DNA from viruses such as E Coli in order to convince the host to accept the new parasitic DNA.
File:Sacramento 2003 GMO USDA protest'Resist' flag.jpg
"Resist Sacramento 2003" Courtesy of Daniel Mayer

Originally the companies behind this gene splicing were under the impression that only one new trait would be introduced. However, we now know that many different traits can be altered in the host plant by changing just one gene. Hypothetically creating plants that can continue to have new DNA sequences and cause harm to both the plant strain and the people consuming them!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Fun

Why is it that just when we are getting the most enjoyment out of the great outdoors that the weather turns on us and forces us back inside? Well this year I am putting my best foot forwards when it comes to getting fresh air! 

We recently moved to another area (still in the great state of VT) but I am now struggling with the confinement of an apartment building... After our summer of outdoor living it is a huge adjustment but hopefully all will pay off in the end. The perks of our new abode: Heat (really you can't ask for much more), a yard, and a great Class 4 road to wander down with the dogs. As long as we are happy and healthy we can make any place our home.

Critter Update-
Charlie the rabbit has been relocated to my family's dairy farm and is enjoying life alongside of the cows. 
Thelma & Louise have been misnamed! Apparently the reason they were not laying eggs is that my lovely girls are actually male mallard ducks! They are loving their first snow fall and plunge into their icy water dish with vigor every morning!
Ratchet the cat disappeared for a full ten days after moving into our new place. Just when I had given up searching for him a wonderful neighbor stopped in to tell me he had been sighted! We hurriedly went about a quarter mile up the road and found him lurking under their porch. Upon seeing it was us, he bounded up out of the snow and came home! His journey took quite a toll on him and he lost a little over 8 lbs! Thankfully he has made up for it with eating and sleeping constantly since he got home.

Happy Holidays All!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Apple Shenanigans

Well Hello All! 
Again I know my postings have been infrequent over the last few months but I will continue to do my best to bring you some of the latest highlights before winter! First off, fall is my absolute favorite time of year. Gorgeous fall leaves set the backdrop for bright orange pumpkins lining front porches while the kids are fast asleep after their busy days of apple picking. Not to mention the smell of that fresh apple pie sitting on your kitchen counter!
Although fall went by quick this year I was ecstatic to spend at least one day apple picking at Douglas Orchards in Shoreham VT. After picking a 1/2 bushel of Macintosh for the low low price of $3.50, I had enough apples to make everything imaginable. Pan upon pan of apple crisp disappeared from my kitchen over the weeks without time enough to even snap a picture! Another fabulous dessert I tested this year for the first time was apple cake. Extremely easy to make, this cake was fluffy, moist, and used up the last of my soft, somewhat rough looking apples! If you want to take a gander at the recipe follow the link below. 
Easy Apple Cake.  
Another awesome idea I had, Apple Chips! Slice your apples and gently pick out any seeds, the stars in the center are edible. Put on a peice of parchment paper and sprink the slices with cinnamon and sugar. Preheat your oven to 225F and forget about them for awhile. They can cook in 45 minutes but can take as long as 3 hours!
This year was also my first attempt at homemade applesauce which came out perfectly! I started by peeling and coring all of my apples- I use an apple corer and am left with 8 slices. 
 I then combine the apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, and I utilized apple juice.

I let these apple slices cook for about 15-20 minutes until the apples were tender. I then put them in my handy dandy food processor (compliments of my parents) and pulsed for about 1 minute. This made about 5-6 servings of apple sauce and did not require any canning! 
Megan's Apple Sauce
4 cups of apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup of apple juice or water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Stir regularly for 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Put through a food processor until desired consistency.

I hope you can try some of these quick and easy recipes this fall! Good luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Backyard Visitors

More often than not I awake to the sound of barking dogs in the middle of the night. Standing tense at the door, hair bristled, waiting for the chance to patrol the backyard as soon as the door is open. After months on end of this endless routine I decided to do a little inspection of our backyard and was shocked to find several deer trails leading right to the meadow on the far side of the property. I immediatly set up our infared game camera on the apple tree and was simply blown away by the results after only a few days!
Whitetail fawns are usually born in late April to early July and can be singles, twins, or even triplets. They generally keep their spots until late October in the same year they are born.I get such a kick out of watching the fawns graze while their mother keeps an eye on the treeline.
Notice the spots still on the fawns!

Usually soon after this family leaves, another doe sneaks in for a late night snack! I have yet to see her on camera with another deer but you will notice she looks slightly thinner than the doe above.

Occasionally the deer brave the sunlight and the busy activity of our house to snack on the fallen apples...
That is until the turkey flock chases them away!
The turkeys have not yet grown fond of the ducks but often times you will see them intermingling with the chickens. Roaming the lawn in search of food and I have even caught them in the chicken coop trying out the roosting box!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Hello All!
Sorry that my posts have been somewhat sporadic lately. I am currently starting up a new semester of college and am a little more swamped than I had planned! It seems that any free time I have had lately has been consumed by my critters (along with any extra money) but I can honestly say I would not trade a one of them!

~My Boys

So in case you are just tuning in, I am the proud co-owner of two Labradors Cole and JD (No, JD does not stand for anything). Cole is a chunk of love that just hit 2 1/2 and has just started disappearing when he thinks we are not looking. Three mornings in a row I had to truck to the end of the driveway in my pj's to holler at him to get back to the house. As always, he comes right back wagging his tail ready to play. Since his recent excursions we have put a lock down on his "free time" and have been putting him in his kennel whenever he wanders too close to the driveway. Fingers crossed, it seems to be working!

Unfortunately this trick does not do any good with JD and we have had to pick him up from doggie jail at least three times (Ch-Ching!). Since his love for running does not allow him to stay close by he is generally on a leash or hooked to a run when he is outdoors. That way we can still bring him for a swim at the pond every few days.

Over the past week we started to notice that he would cry whenever he shook his head and continued to rub it on the ground whenever he went outside. After taking a peek in (N.A.S.T.Y) we figured he had some sort of infection. After a $70 vet bill we found out that he had the doggie version of "swimmers ear" and can no longer go swimming! However he is allowed to go to the pond and chase frogs around the edge which seems to be his favorite activity anyways.

~My Girls

Next on my list of emergencies is my poor little ducklings! Thelma and Louise have grown substantially since I last posted photos and have even laid one egg... Minus the shell part.


About a week ago my boyfriend got home just in time to catch them in the act of pecking at the dirt around the garage. Somehow Thelma managed to pick up a fish hook through her lower beak and was in quite a bit of pain. After stripping the comforter from our bed, he managed to get the ducks in a corner and captured them in the blanket. With a pair of pliers and a lot of quacking he got the fish hook out and the girls are back to normal! Some days I think pets are equal to if not more work than children!

They think they can fly...

Monday, August 25, 2014

The difference between Blackberries and Black/Red Raspberries

While I am fresh on the subject of berries... I have gotten a few emails asking to discuss the differences between blackberries and black raspberries. The difference is actually quite simple!

A Blackberry has a white fleshy core that will stay within the berry when you pick them and overall larger cells than a raspberry. Although blackberries are more tart than a raspberry they are an added treat to any desert recipe!

Black/Red Raspberries:
In a raspberry, red or black, they are hollow in the center when they are ripe. Raspberries are also smaller, and covered with tiny hairs (although both can have some hair attached). These little fruits are also harvested earlier than blackberries; ranging from June to August but can tolerate a little cold if the weather changes quickly.

Get out there and pick as many as you can of either kind!

Blackberries Picking & Cooking

Well.... I officially have 1 Green Pepper!!! I did not take pictures of it this week because, quite frankly, it is the saddest green pepper I have ever seen.

With the plant only reaching 11 inches high the green pepper is just pushing 1 inch in diameter and did not look overly delicious on camera! Although my garden has not produced a bountiful harvest this year I could not have been more tickled to see this tiny vegetable beginning to grow!

While I was out inspecting my garden I came upon a large cluster of wild blackberries just waiting to be plucked from the vine! The more I looked around the more aware of these plants I became, until I was stumbling across them in every thicket and hedgerow on the property. After picking for about an hour I had gathered about 4 cups of delicious blackberries with a few late blooming raspberries thrown in.

 I decided to whip up a small recipe to test them out and I froze the other half for future uses. 
**A great tip for freezing any vegetables or fruits that tend to clump together: Flash freeze them first in a single layer on a cookie sheet (I use a plate) before putting them in a bag. This allows you to dip in to however much you need per recipe!

For the other half of my blackberries I made an Arkansas Traveler's Cake. 

This recipe was Extremely easy and tastes delicious served warm with a large dollop of Vanilla ice cream! 

Naturally because this cake was so good I have no pictures to share-It really did not last long out of the oven! If you want to give it a try I have included the recipe below! 

Arkansas Traveler Cake-Megan's Version
1/2 cup Butter (Less is absolutely fine!)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 Cups Blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place 9x13x2 pan inside with butter. (I used a 9x9 pan and came out with a slightly thicker cake although it takes some changes to the cooking time). Allow butter to sizzle; generally 2-3 minutes.
2. Mix flour, sugar, milk, and baking powder until creamy; No lumps!
3. Pour blackberries into mix, stirring lightly. (The original recipe called for blackberries to be placed in the middle but I have had better luck mixing them into the cake batter before pouring in).
4.Pour the batter into the hot prepared pan.
5. Allow to cook for 1 hour until crust is golden brown on top.
6. Serve warm with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Happy Cooking!