Yield: One 10″ cakeVasilopeta is a cake made for the feast day of Saint Basil, which is on January 1st. The cakes can be made in a variety of ways ranging from light risen breads to dense cakes. Included in all is the traditional coin which symbolizes good luck for the year to the person who finds it. Traditionally the first piece goes to Saint Basil, the second to Christ, the third to the oldest member of the family and all following pieces to the family members in descending order of age.1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened2 cups sugarPinch of salt1/2 tsp. vanilla1 tsp. lemon zest1 tsp. orange zest6 eggs3 cups all-purpose flour2 tsp. double-acting baking powder1 cup lukewarm milk1/2 tsp. baking soda1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice1/2 cup slivered almonds1 1/2 Tbsp. sugarPreheat oven to 350Â°.Grease and flour a 10″ x 2″ cake pan. Set aside.Clean and sterilize a quarter and wrap in a small piece of aluminum foil. Set aside.In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter and 2 cups of sugar until lightened. Add the salt, vanilla and zests. Beat until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add the flour in thirds using a spatula to occasionally scrape down the sides and mix until just combined. Stir the baking powder into the milk. On low speed gradually add milk mixture to the batter. Stir the baking soda into the lemon juice. On low speed gradually add lemon mixture to the batter. Use a spatula to ensure that the batter is completely incorporated and pour into the prepared cake pan. Place prepared quarter into one side of the cake.In a small bowl combine the almonds with the remaining sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the cake. Place in center of oven and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until top is golden and cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely.Recipe Courtesy: Cathy Speronis
Makes 7 cupsBlack-eyed Peas4 slices thick bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces1 stalk celery, chopped1 small onion, chopped1 garlic clove, peeled and pressed1/2 lb. dry black-eyed peas, picked through and rinsed2 cups water1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth1 tsp. salt1 bay leaf1/4 tsp. dried thymePinch of ground cayenne5 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained wellPlace bacon in a 3 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.Remove all but 1 Tbsp. bacon fat. Add celery and onion. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.Add the black-eyed peas, water, broth, salt, bay leaf, thyme and cayenne. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer stirring occasionally until peas are tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Add spinach and heat through.While the peas are cooking prepare rice:1 cup white, long-grain rice, soaked for an hour in cold water to cover and 1 tsp. kosher salt then rinsed well under cold water2 Tbsp. unsalted butter1 can (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth1/4 tsp. kosher saltIn a large 10″ skillet melt butter over medium-low heat. Add rice and stir to coat evenly with butter. Cook, stirring until rice gives off a nutty scent, about 1 minute. Immediately add chicken broth and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and let sit covered for 15 minutes. Do not uncover until time is up.In a large bowl, gently combine black-eyed pea mixture with rice. Top with reserved bacon and serve.Recipe Courtesy: Cathy Speronis
Recipe adapted from “Cooks Illustrated”Serves 8 – 10Pork Brine:1 bone-in, skin-on pork picnic shoulder (7 – 9 lbs.)3 cups sugar1 cup non-iodized table salt1 1/4 cups kosher salt6 quarts waterCloves from 2 medium garlic heads, crushed and peeled1 Tbsp. cumin seeds3 1/2 cups orange juiceZest and juice of 2 limesThe day beforeBrine the porkWith a sharp knife make 1″ deep slits all over roast spacing about 2″ between. In a 14 quart stockpot or cooler dissolve the sugar and the salt in the water. Add the garlic cloves, cumin seeds, juices and zest. Stir to combine. Place roast into brine to submerge completely. A small plate may be used to help keep the roast submerged. Cover and place into refrigerator. Refrigerate for 18 – 24 hours.The day of Preheat oven to 325Âº F with rack placed in lower third of oven.Make the pasteGarlic Paste:12 medium garlic cloves, peeled2 Tbsp. ground cumin2 Tbsp. dried oregano1 Tbsp. kosher salt1 tsp. black pepper2 Tbsp. orange juice1 Tbsp. lime juice1 Tbsp. olive oilPlace garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until garlic is coarsely chopped. With motor running add orange juice, lime juice and olive oil until a smooth, wet paste is formed.Remove roast from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Rub paste all over outside of roast and into slits. Place roast skin side down on a rack set inside of a roasting pan lined with foil.Roast uncovered for 3 hours. Flip and continue roasting skin side up until roast reaches an internal temperature of 190Âº, about 3 hours more, tenting roast with foil if skin begins to get too dark.When done, remove roast from oven and allow it to rest for 1 hour. Remove skin and excess fat. Cut off large pieces or pork and shred with forks.Serve with Mojo Sauce. Recipe follows.Mojo Sauce4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and pressed1 1/2 tsp kosher salt1/2 cup olive oil1/2 tsp. ground cumin2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar1/2 cup orange juice (from 2 oranges)Zest of 1 orange1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro1/4 tsp. dried oregano1/8 tsp. ground black pepperPlace garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Using the flat side of a chef’s knife, drag the garlic and salt back and forth across the cutting board until the garlic is ground into a smooth paste.Heat olive oil in a small skillet until shimmering. Add the garlic paste and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and whisk in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.Sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to room temperature before serving.Recipe Courtesy: Cathy Speronis
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup and why is it bad for you?By- Dr. Joan Marie PellegriniHealthy Living at WABI has in the past covered the dangers of drinking soft drinks because of the hidden sugars and extra calories. However, is it as simple as just extra calories from sugar or is the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used as the sweetener that is particularly harmful?First, let me define what the different sugars are: sucrose is our usual table sugar and comes from cane or beet sugar. This is a two-sugar molecule with one glucose and one fructose bonded together. The sugar in our body is glucose. Dextrose is the same as glucose. Fructose is the sugar found in fruit. Fructose has a low glycemic index, which means that it takes a long time for the body to break down, resulting in a slow release of sugar, rather than a sudden rush. For this reason, it is sometimes recommended for diabetics. High fructose corn syrup comes from corn and is a mix of glucose and fructose but with higher percentage of fructose. The sugars in HFCS are single and not bonded together. Regular corn syrup is all glucose.HFCS is less expensive to make and also preserves foods and soft drinks longer than glucose can. It tastes sweeter and has properties than add to food texture. Because of this, food manufacturers prefer HFCS. It did not exist until 1996. All non-diet soft drinks are sweetened with HFCS.All sugars have the same caloric content but the effect on metabolism and hormones may be different. A recent study attempted to look how our bodies may differently metabolize some sugars:Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dr. Peter J. Havel, professor of nutrition at the University of California Davis and lead author of the study randomly assigned 32 overweight or obese men and women to drink three daily servings (25 percent of their daily energy requirements) of a glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverage for 10 weeks. At the end of the study period, both groups had gained similar amounts of weight, but those consuming fructose-sweetened drinks showed an increase in intra-abdominal fat, the kind that embeds itself between tissues in organs, became less sensitive to insulin (the hormone released by the pancreas that controls blood sugar), and showed signs of dyslipidemia-elevated blood levels of lipids. The fructose group also showed increased fat production in the liver, elevated LDL or bad cholesterol and larger increases in blood triglycerides. The group drinking glucose-sweetened beverages showed none of these changes.When fructose is consumed, however, it “appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation,” explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. “Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn’t increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain.” Glucose helps to control appetite and fat storage.Americans’ obesity problem started about the same time that HFCS came on to the market. It is this association that has led some nutritionists to want to study if HFCS is metabolized differently than regular sugar. Unfortunately there is not much funding for this type of research and therefore there are not that many studies. Also, there are some conflicting studies that seem to come to the opposite conclusion (that HFCS is no worse than other sugars).So, what can I recommend given this controversy? First, it is inconclusive that HFCS is inherently bad. However, because it is present in so many foods and all non-diet sodas, it is an omnipresent source of extra calories. Therefore, you must look at food and drink labels and try to pick the brand that doesn’t have added HFCS. Chances are good that brand will also not have added sugar of any type. It is fair to say that our intake of extra calories is a problem and that the increase in HFCS consumption is not helping. You should avoid food with added sugar regardless of whether it is table sugar or HFCS.
Every year we try to learn from past mistakes and make the upcoming year a better one. But where to start and what to do to make 2011 better financially may be confusing for you. Here are some ideas.How? Think it through- 1.) set reasonable expectations, that typically means LOWER them. You won’t take ALL your money and save it. You could set yourself up to fail if you aren’t reasonable. 2.) expect obstacles and setbacks. What if many of your friends are going away for a winter vacation and you are trying to pay off credit card bills. You want to go, there’s room on the card for more spendingâ€¦But you could just say no. If you splurge on dinner out instead, that’s what happens. 3.) plan treats and 4.) let others know that you are doing things even smarter this year. What are some good resolutions?- 1.) save more and spend less. 2.) don’t add to credit card debt. 3.) get some advice. Think through the specifics of how much are you going to save. Make it reasonable. Who will you seek advice from? When will you really do this? Marion R. Syversen, MBA – PresidentNorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.com
What now? Bills are coming in and you are shocked, shocked, to see just how much you spent. What can you do to get the bills paid and to have a strategy for next year? Here are some helpful tips.Credit increases spending- When using a credit card folks may spend 12-18% more than using cash. Some report that credit card use increases spending by 20%. That doesn’t account for the extra money that interest adds to the cost of that gift so lovingly purchased.Paying down debt- Pay more than minimum, Find money in some everyday ‘luxuries,’ use any extra money from overtime or a tax returnWhat’s the plan for 2011- First HAVE a strategy, a plan. The strategy includes several components. First is a budget. The budget could mean the amount you will spend for presents. But it also could be very inclusive dinner at your house with 40 relatives, Christmas cards, maybe even special shopping for holiday outfits. You could use the last few years spending as a guide. You may need to cut it back to perhaps more reasonable amounts if you have lacked a bit of self-control. Now SAVE for the spending. You could also shop very early. Many items, tools, house goods, toys, are available all year so if you have a coupon or there is a special sale, but the item early. Of course you have made a list! Simplify your giving. You can’t give everything you’d like to for everyone you know. You can choose names, only give gifts to kids, you can bake or give the gift of babysitting. If you see lists or controlling spending as a punishment instead of the freeing, empowering thing that I think it is, then you will be always chased by money controlling you, and your past indulgences controlling your future. Marion R. Syversen, MBA – PresidentNorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.com
By: Dr. David PrescottCommon Resolutions for 2011: According to a recent survey cited by Time Magazine, the recent worldwide economic recession seems to be impacting people’s wishes for the New Year. Globally, 40% of people cited improving their economic circumstances as next year’s goal. While many Americans share this goal, favorite U.S. resolutions included: Â¨ Developing a healthy habitÂ¨ Losing WeightÂ¨ Getting OrganizedOther common resolutions in our country include quitting smoking, developing a relationship, or getting more education/job qualifications. Do Resolutions Help Us Change? Does setting any type of personal goal make a difference in whether or not we really stick to a change? Research on the impact of resolutions suggests that it does help! However, the majority of people who make some type of New Year’s Resolution find that they don’t make significant progress towards their goal. Psychologists have found that there are some very practical tips for improving your odds of meeting, or at least coming close to meeting, your New Year’s resolution. How Many People Stick to Their Resolution? More often than not, people do not stick to their New Year’s resolution for very long. In one study over two years, about one in five people (20%) are able to keep to their resolution. On the other hand, three in five (60%) dropped their resolution within 6 months. In a recently reported British study, 22% of people reported that they were “very successful” in keeping their resolutions. Interestingly, it doesn’t appear to matter that much what type of resolution you make. For example, people who picked “weight loss” weren’t more or less likely to keep their resolution than people who picked “improve my relationship.” It also doesn’t appear to matter whether you are male vs. female, or old vs. young. Tips for Keeping Your Resolution: What does appear to matter is how you go about specifying your goal, and how you arrange your life to try to meet that goal. Some of the most helpful ways to keep a resolution include the following: Â· Start Small – Just One Goal: It is usually easier to think of goals than to accomplish them. You have a better chance of progress if you stay focused on just one goal. Accomplishing one goal usually makes you feel better than falling short on many goals, no matter how worthy they are. Â· Get Some Support from Others: While the motivation to change often comes from within, sticking to your goal in the long run usually requires some support from others. Share your goal with people who will keep you on track. Other people can provide encouragement, ideas, and emotional energy when you feel your motivation start to wane. Â· Any Action leads to More Action: Doing something is, almost without exception, better than doing nothing when it comes to changing behavior. Changing one small behavior, for example exercising one time a week, usually leads to more and more change. Waiting until you are ready for the “big change” doesn’t work as well as taking one small step. Â· Plan for Relapse: People who make changes and stick to them often slip back to old ways at least once. Plan for this. How are you going to get back to your new ways? For example, if your goal is to exercise more, plan for the time when you miss your exercise. Think of ways that one missed day doesn’t become two. Reward your success, and move on quickly from your disappointmentsÂ· Specify Your Goal: People who are successful in changing an unwanted habit are able to say exactly what it is they will do. People who are vague about their goal have less chance for success. Being specific also helps you actually make a start. Set a date and time to begin your change if possible. For example, saying that you want to “eat better” is a helpful, but setting a goal of eating one fruit and one vegetable at each meal is even better. Starting tomorrow! Or, if you want to get along with your in-laws better, deciding to send them a card once a month would be a more specific step. For More Information: Acadia Hospital Website: www.acadiahospital.org American Psychological Association Web Site: www.apahelpcenter.org
Not that your children would ever do this, but sometimes kids ask the darnedest questions. And money and the variation between what you have and the things or houses of others, may be the focus of some of those questions. An article by Ron Lieber had a few suggested conversations. How much do you make?- Kids compare height, running speed, and all manner of things when they are together. A child may not be looking for an actual amount when they ask what you make. Maybe they are worried about paying the bills, or wondering how come some people live in a bigger house than you. With older kids you could make a sample budget in a range of expenses. Include a mortgage and explain how much one house might cost if you save for a mortgage or buy it without saving. Show another mortgage and the difference because of the location or size of the house and the benefits of that. Add electricity and food costs and talk about what kind of job or career might be coupled with that needed income without getting specific about your family or others income or education. Are we rich?- For everyone having savings means spending less than we earn. But kids probably don’t know that. Maybe you could let your children understand either what percentage of what you earn goes into savings for emergencies and retirement or get a book about storing up what you get today for tomorrow. Don’t tell them specific dollar amounts but do explain the concept of setting today’s money aside for the future and the sacrifices that entails.Doing without- Things happen and explaining the financial reversal to kids can seem complicated. Kids have no idea about money unless you tell them without telling them the real details. Kids need to know if they will eat if you lost your job. The article suggested getting older kids to help figuring out where to cut back, ask for ideas on free fun family days or stay-cations ideas. When a stranger at the grocery store asks, How are you? It’s more a question of being polite and less a deep question about everything on your mind. The questions kids ask are sort of the same. Teach them principles about money that will help them in their own lives. Don’t tell them everything that is really going on in the household checking account. Citation:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/10/your-money/10money.htmlMarion R. Syversen, MBA – PresidentNorumbegaFinancial207.862.2952Marion@NorumbegaFinancial.com