Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Tis the season...

I love the holidays--the singing, special food and drink, decorations, cards, gifts, the whole shebang.

While there's little money for gifts this year, it's an excuse to make yummy homemade gifts to take to party hosts. The best part about this is that there are always leftovers! In addition to Christmas cookies (which will be baking tomorrow), I tackled, as it were, a criminally easy fudge, a bit of which will go to auntie as a present, some for a present tomorrow, and some to remain at home.

This fudge is absurdly easy because there's no candy thermometer to fiddle with, no baking, and takes, oh, ten minutes to prepare in all. Honest! (Recipe adapted from Shmooed Food.)

Vegan Fudge (makes one 9-inch x 9-inch pan)

4 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 nondairy milk
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine (e.g., Earth Spread or Soy Garden)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond (or other flavored) extract, optional
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Lightly oil or spray the baking pan and set aside.

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder together into a large mixing bowl. (For my purposes, "sift" can mean stir around with a fork until the lumps are out, the ingredients are nicely mixed, and are lightly fluffed.) Add the chocolate chips, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the nondairy milk and margarine to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. When the milk is at a steady, strong boil, pour it over the powdered sugar mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined and the heat has melted the chocolate chips.

Stir in the vanilla (and other extracts, if using), and the nuts, if using.

Spread the fudge into the prepared pan and refrigerate overnight to solidify.

Enjoy (a little at a time--this stuff is rich!), preferably with hot liquid refreshment.

cup of coffee with fudge * * *

Surviving the holidays...

An unfortunate side-effect of modern life is that many of us eat like the holidays much of the time, with high-sugar, high-fat diets year round. For many, this results in devastating conditions like strokes.

There is treatment available for strokes, when they are detected early. An easy way to detect if someone might be having a stroke is ask someone the following questions (STR):

S -- ask the individual to SMILE

T -- ask the person to TALK and SPEAK (coherently) a simple sentence

R -- ask the person to RAISE BOTH ARMS

If the person has trouble with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately, and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Other warning signs can be found in Don Hazen's Alternet article, Want to Save Some Lives? Here is a Simple Formula for Identifying Strokes.

Please don't ignore the signs--I have a friend on the Hill who is alive and well today because her stroke was treated in time.

To paraphrase the old saying, a sign in time saves lives!

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