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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Friday, May 9, 2014

NOMZ! Addictive granola "bars"

I'm on a anti-inflammation diet right now, at the advice of my doctor.  She was right about the gluten so I am heeding her advice on this at the moment.  Anyway, I'm supposed to cut out dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs, wheat (of course) and corn.  After a few weeks of this I am supposed to introduce these things back one by one and see if I notice any difference in how I feel.  Anyway, I've been on it a week and a half. I'm usually hungry and have lost about 2 lbs.  Other than that, it is hard to tell.  The first few days my knees felt great, then they felt awful, and now they feel good again.  So it remains to be seen if it helps or not.
After about a week of this I was seriously craving snacks, so I searched the internet for granola bar recipes that I could adapt.  I found one at the Food Network site, and adapted it to suit my diet and what I had in the house. Anyway, this stuff is seriously addictive. It's kind of sweet, very crunchy, and more like a cookie or candy than granola.  I'll probably cut back the honey slightly, but it is extremely good, and I'll make it again even if I'm not on a crazy lady diet.

"Just like crack" granola stuff

8 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats, approximately 2 cups
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3 ounces sliced almonds, approximately 1 cup 
1/2 cup ground flax seed
6 ounces honey, approximately 1/2 cup
1 3/4 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup packed
1 -ounce coconut oil or butter, plus extra for pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional Extras (dried fruit, nut pieces, coconut, chocolate chips, etc)

Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats and almonds onto a cookie sheet . Place in the oven and toast for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch it carefully since it doesn't take long to go from underdone to burnt.

In the meantime, combine the honey, brown sugar, coconut oil (or butter), extract and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved and then cook a few minutes longer, watching it carefully.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F. Immediately add the oat mixture, flax seed and sesame seeds to the liquid mixture and stir to combine. If you have any extras (dried fruit, coconut, etc) add them and mix well,  Turn mixture out into the prepared baking dish and press down, evenly distributing the mixture in the dish and place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.  If you'd rather have granola-like chunks, press mixture down on a larger glass casserole dish or cookie sheet lined with foil.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes and remove before it looks burnt.  Allow to cool and cut (or break) into into pieces.  Allow to cool to room temperature and immediately put it into a ziplock bag - it absorbs moisture readily.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I expected better from NPR

As usual, I awoke to the sound of NPR this morning, when my clock radio alarm went off.  Unlike most days, the first words I heard were "bioinoganic chemist', which  made me wonder if I was still dreaming or if someone had finally started the world's first all-chemistry radio station.  (That would be awesome, incidentally).  Then I woke up more fully and listened to rest of the story.
Anyway, they were interviewing a husband and wife (Brian and Elizabeth), who are both bioinorganic chemists.  When their son was born, Elizabeth took lots of pictures and noticed "white-eye" in many of the photos.  She remembered reading that it was a sign of a type of eye tumor and stressed about it.  Initially Brian dismissed this hypothesis, and said it was their imagination, or a weird flash from the camera.  Eventually they took their son to the doctor; unfortunately, he did have the cancer and lost one eye. 
A few years later Brian (now an assistant prof) decided to see how long the white eye was showing up, and started analyzing all the baby pictures.  This eventually led to them teaming up with doctors and programmers to develop image recognition software, and published a paper on it.  This is all fine and good.  I think it's a great example of how scientists often excel in areas completely unrelated to their formal training.  I was intrigued and dug deeper and read today's NPR story, an older NPR story on it, as well as the transcript of the interview. 
That was when I started to get ragey.  From all of their statements in the interview, it sounded like 100% of a team effort.  Indeed, they are both on the paper.  Elizabeth made the initial discovery and persisted when Brian did not believe her.  Later he decided to investigate the old photos. To me, it was pretty obvious they have both put a lot of thought and effort into this.  However, you don't get any of this from either of the stories.  It's all about the genius male scientist. Even in the interview, the interviewer keeps setting up the questions as a narrative about a really smart guy who decides to solve a problem, rather than a team who of two scientists, without either of whom the research would not have been possible.  It makes absolutely no difference that she is a stay at home mom now, or that he is a professor.  They both contributed, and the fact that these sorts of stories are subject to revisionist history to fit a more familiar narrative pisses the hell out of me and makes it harder for people to recognize the true contributions of women and minorities in science.  To me, I think it makes for a far even more interesting narrative than the usual "white guy solves problem" type of story they usually run. 
Some of you may think I am imagining sexism where there is none, especially if you are young or are not a woman working in a male-dominated field.  I beg to differ.  I think it's more like when you buy a new car and suddenly see that make and model everywhere.  They were there before but now you are noticing it because now you are familiar with it.