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Archive | November 10th, 2011

Sweet Potato Side Dish Gets Dessert Makeover

by Janet Tharpe

What happens when you take a sweet potato souflee and convert it into a luscious cheesecake? Sheer decadence, that’s what! The baked sweet potatoes keep this cheesecake nice and moist, and along with the marshmallow fluff swirled into the batter, lend flavor and sweetness. The gingersnap cookies and macadamia nuts kick up the crust.
This creative confection is a perfect way to spice up the holiday desserts table, while still featuring familiar flavors.
See step-by-step photos of Jessica Silva’s Sweet Potato Marshmallow Swirl Cheesecake recipe and thousands more recipes from other hometown Americans at:
www.justapinch.com/marshmallowswirl
You’ll also find a meal planner and coupons for the recipe ingredients. Enjoy and remember, use “just a pinch”…
  – Janet

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Swirl Cheesecake

 

“I wanted to turn my yummy sweet potato souflee into a dessert. Here’s what I came up with! ”
Jessica Silva
East Berlin, CT (Pop. 1,133)

What You Need
1 c finely crushed gingersnap cookies (30 cookies)
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
2 lb sweet potatoes
3 1/2 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese softened, divided
2 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sour cream
1/4 c heavy cream
3 eggs
7 oz marshmallow fluff
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour

Directions
•    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
•    Cut potatoes in half and place cut side down in a baking dish. Bake until a knife inserted in center goes through easily, about 1 hour. Cool, peel and puree.
•    Combine gingersnap cookies, melted butter and nuts. Press into bottom of a 9 ½ inch or 10 inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
•    In a large mixing bowl, beat 3 pkgs cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add sugars, sweet potato puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, sour cream and heavy cream. Beat until smooth. Add in 3 eggs, one at a time, blending well after each. Pour filling into prepared crust.
•    In another bowl, combine 1/2 pkg cream cheese, marshmallow fluff, vanilla extract, 1 egg and flour, until well-mixed.
•    Add drops of marshmallow mixture on top of cheesecake and swirl with butter knife.
•    Fill pie plate with water and place on bottom oven rack. Place cheesecake on the middle rack. Bake for about 1 hour, 10 minutes, or until the center is almost firm. Turn off oven and let cake cool with the door open.

Submitted by: Jessica Silva, East Berlin, CT  (Pop. 1,133)

www.justapinch.com/marshmallowswirl
© 2011 Just A Pinch Recipe Club. Used by Permission.

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Remember Our Real National Debt on Veterans Day

By Fang A. Wong, Commander
The American Legion

Google the term “National Debt” and you will quickly receive the search results for millions of websites.
Most deal with the very serious issues of government overspending and the accumulation of more than two centuries of federal deficits. Yet very few bring up the biggest national debt of them all—that which America owes to her veterans.  November 11, Veterans Day, marks the perfect opportunity for us to take an historical audit on just how much this nation owes her heroes.
Marine Sgt. Dakota Meyer is one who America owes an enormous debt. Humble by nature, but heroic by deed, Meyer drove a humvee into an Afghan valley that he knew was heavily populated with well-armed enemy insurgents. Outgunned and outnumbered, Meyer and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez made multiple trips to the hot zone, killing insurgents as Meyer manned the turret.
Disregarding serious shrapnel wounds that he received, Meyer left his vehicle several times searching for pinned down comrades and coalition forces. He found his comrades shot to death, but with the assistance of Army Capt. Will Swenson, Meyer carried their bodies and gear away from the village. As he received his well-deserved Medal of Honor from President Obama, Meyer requested that his fallen colleagues be remembered.
Our debt to these heroes can never be re-paid but our gratitude and respect must last forever.
For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children, freeze in sub-zero temperatures, bake in wild jungles, lose limbs, and, far too often, lose their lives.
Military spouses have had to endure career interruptions, frequent changes of address, and a disproportionate share of parental responsibilities.
The children often had to endure changes in schools, separation from friends and, hardest of all, the uncertainty of whether or not Mom or Dad will live through their next combat mission.
As the leader of our nation’s largest veterans service organization, The American Legion, I recently had the opportunity to testify before a joint Congressional committee on Veterans Affairs. I reminded our lawmakers that it is not in the nature of America’s warriors to complain. Warriors endure. Warriors make do with less. Warriors finish the job, no matter how hard, no matter what is asked.
Warriors need advocates and that is why The American Legion exists. We are here to serve veterans, their families and our communities. Veterans need each other, but, more importantly, our country needs our veterans.
You cannot fight a war without warriors and while the utopian idea of a society without war is appealing, let us not forget that wars have liberated slaves, stopped genocide and toppled terrorists.
The American Legion shows its support for America’s heroes through its Family Support Network, Legacy Scholarship Fund, Operation Comfort Warriors, Temporary Financial Assistance and the National Emergency Fund, just to name a few of our programs. But you can show your support simply by saying “Thank you” to the next veteran you meet.
You can show your support by hiring a veteran in your workplace, visiting a VA hospital or donating to a veterans program. Companies should understand that it’s smart business to hire veterans, and when members of the Guard and Reserves deploy, it is America’s business to ensure that their civilian careers do not suffer.
Homelessness is another issue that affects veterans disproportionately. Too often today’s tattered citizen of the street was yesterday’s toast-of-the-town in a crisp uniform with rows of shining medals. This is hardly the “thanks of a grateful nation.”
We can do better. We must do better.
Fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title “veteran.” And while the great military phrase  “uncommon valor was a common virtue,” has been so often repeated that it risks becoming a cliché, it is no less true.
In 1789 George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country.”
We must ask ourselves as a nation, are we serving veterans even half as well as they have served us?
Fang A. Wong, a Vietnam War veteran of New Brunswick, N.J., is national commander of the 2.4-million member American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans service organization.  For more information, go to www.legion.org.

Posted in Voices and ViewsComments Off

Maint Street

Taking it easy
My humor column research crew was pretty productive this week so I didn’t have to do any thinking. (Hard work has a future payoff.  Laziness pays off now.)
Not so sharp
A butcher shop employee in the German town of Braunschweig inadvertently handed a customer a bag containing more than 2,000 euros ($2,750) in cold cash rather than the cold cuts she usually gets.
Sharp
A woman, reporting her car as stolen, mentioned that there was a car phone in it. The policeman taking the report called the phone and told the guy who answered that he had read his ad in the newspaper and wanted to buy the car. They arranged to meet, and the thief was arrested.
Fender philosophies
Give me ambiguity or give me something else.
Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot.
He who laughs last thinks slowest.
Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.
Okay, who stopped payment on my reality check?
I used to have a handle on life, then it broke.
Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.
It’s lonely at the top, but you eat better.
Power of prayer
The new army recruit was serving his first guard duty. He did his best for a while, but about 5 a.m. he went to sleep. When he opened his eyes he found the day officer standing before him. Remembering the stiff penalty for being asleep on guard duty, this clever young man kept his head bowed for another moment then looked upward and reverently said, “A-a-a-men!”
Cyberspaced
A businessman dragged himself home and barely made it to his chair before he dropped, exhausted.
His sympathetic wife was right there with a tall cool drink and comforting words. “My, you look tired,” she said. “You must have had a hard day today. What happened?”
“It was terrible,” her husband said, his eyes rolling back. “The computer broke down and all of us had to do our own thinking.”
Newspapers: read your own headlines!
If strike isn’t settled quickly it may last a while
War dims hope for peace
Smokers are productive, but death cuts efficiency
Cold wave linked to temperatures
Blind woman gets new kidney from dad she hasn’t seen in years
Man is fatally slain
Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say
Death causes loneliness, feeling of isolation

Posted in Roger on Main St.Comments Off

EarthTalk®

E – The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: I drink diet soda but I’m told it’s bad for me and linked to health problems. Is this true and if so can you suggest any healthier alternatives?    – Mitchell James, Ronkonkoma, NY
While rumors have circulated for years that diet sodas are unhealthy, researchers have found no direct links between such drinks and specific human health problems. Aspartame (also known as NutraSweet) is the sugar-alternative of choice for most diet soda makers. It’s 180 times sweeter than sugar but contains no significant calories and does not promote tooth decay. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved aspartame in 1974, though health advocates held up its widespread use for over a decade.
Over half of Americans consume aspartame regularly in soda and other foods—all told, diet varieties accounted for some 29 percent of the soft drink market for the top 10 sodas in 2010, according to Beverage Digest—so it is certainly reasonable to be concerned about any potential health effects. However, initial reports that implicated aspartame in seizures, headaches, depression, anxiety, memory loss, birth defects, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, methanol toxicity and even cancer turned out to be false (even a hoax), according to a wide range of reputable, peer-reviewed studies and clinical and epidemiological research.
Another concern that has been voiced about aspartame is that it produces methanol when metabolized, which converts to formaldehyde (and then formic acid) in the body. But studies have shown that the amount of methanol in aspartame is less than that found in natural sources such as fruit juices, citrus fruits and some fermented beverages, and that the amount of formaldehyde generated is also small compared to that produced routinely by the body from other foods and drugs.
While aspartame and diet sodas have not been linked directly to specific health problems, researchers who surveyed the eating, drinking, smoking and exercise habits of some 2,500 New Yorkers between 2003 and 2010 did find that those who drank at least one diet soda per day had a 61 percent higher risk of so-called vascular events (e.g. heart attack or stroke) than those who avoided Diet Coke and other products with aspartame. “If our results are confirmed with future studies, then it would suggest that diet soda may not be the optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages for protection against vascular outcomes,” reported the study’s lead author, Hannah Gardener of the University of Miami School of Medicine.
But others say that such a finding constitutes a link, not proof of cause and effect—and that those who have switched to diet sodas may be replacing the calories they used to get from regular sodas with other unhealthy foods that may be increasing their risk of heart attack or stroke.
The takeaway should be that those who drink soda regularly, diet or otherwise, should be sure to exercise and eat right otherwise. Or, better yet…give up the soda entirely. According to Katherine Zeratsky, a nutritionist with the Mayo Clinic, healthier choices abound. She suggests starting off the day with a glass of 100 percent fruit juice and then drinking skim milk with meals. “Sip water throughout the day,” she recommends. “For variety, try sparkling water or add a squirt of lemon or cranberry juice to your water.”
EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

Posted in Featured, HealthComments Off

Women’s Health

NOW Is the Right Time to Quit Smoking

By James N. Martin, Jr, MD
President, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

For people who smoke, kicking the habit is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Cigarette smoking kills about 178,000 women each year in the US, shaving an average of 14.5 years off the lives of female smokers.
Each puff of cigarette smoke exposes users to 2,500 chemicals and cancer-causing agents, including nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. Smoking causes 87% of lung cancer deaths and increases the risk of developing cervical and other cancers. Smokers are more likely to experience heart attack, stroke, emphysema, bronchitis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, and infertility than non-smokers are.
Pregnant women who smoke put their babies at a higher risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, poor lung function, asthma, and bronchitis. The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke are also passed through breast milk to babies. Smokers who quit can stop or reverse the damage caused by cigarettes. In the days and months after you quit, your heart rate and blood pressure drop to healthier levels, and your breathing, circulation, and sense of smell and taste may improve. Heart attack risk decreases by 50% within the first year after quitting, and the chances of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and other ailments fall to nearly that of a nonsmoker in the first few years.
Nicotine withdrawal and cravings derail 70% to 90% quit attempts. If you are thinking about quitting, nicotine replacement products—such as patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and nasal spray—or doctor-prescribed medications, such as bupropion or varenicline, can help curb cravings and may increase your chances of quitting successfully.
Smokers can call 800-QUIT-NOW, a free national smoking cessation hotline, to speak with trained counselors who will help develop individualized quit plans. Support groups, such as Nicotine Anonymous, and other local smoking cessation resources may also be a great place to start.
Set a quit date when you will throw away all your cigarettes and clean your clothes to get rid of the smoky smell. You may want to schedule your quit date for November 17, 2011, to coincide with the Great American Smokeout. Keep busy
on your quit day—exercise, go to the movies, take a long walk, etc.—get plenty of water, and ask your friends and family to help keep you honest.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 75% of women say they want to stop smoking. It takes most smokers several tries to finally quit for good. If your first attempt is not successful, don’t get discouraged. Get some help and get back on track. For more information on smoking cessation, go to www.cancer.org/.

Posted in HealthComments Off

Help available to veterans with health problems

Many vets not taking advantage of benefits

Did you know that Michigan’s veteran population ranks 11th in the nation (about 700,000 veterans) according to the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, but is ranked last when it comes to veterans’ affairs funding on a per capita basis? Last year, Michigan only received $2.2 billion from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, resulting in $3,409 per capita. The national average is $4,894.11 per capita. This is because many veterans do not know what benefits are available to them.
The Kent County Department of Veterans’ Affairs is working on an outreach campaign to help the men and women who served during Vietnam know what assistance they can receive.  Kent County is home to nearly 37,000 veterans, and most of them served during the Vietnam era.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has connected certain diseases to qualifying military service. These “presumptive diseases” include prostate cancer, lung and other respiratory cancers, Parkinson’s Disease, Hodkgkins Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease and others.  Those veterans exposed to Agent Orange (or their widows) may be eligible for benefits from the federal government.
The Kent County Veterans Affairs Office can assist veterans and their spouses in finding information and resources. Call the office of Kent County Veterans Affairs at (616) 632-5727.

Posted in HealthComments Off

Diabetes question & answer session

United Lifestyles, a member of Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville, is offering a free question and answer session with a Diabetes Educator. The session will be on Thursday, November 17, 2011 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 407 S. Nelson, Greenville.
The diabetes educator will answer questions on diabetes prevention, risk factors and healthy lifestyle tips. A sample recipe demonstration will be provided. Registration is required.  For more information, call 616.754.6185, ext. 100 or 800.406.4551.
United Lifestyles is a dedicated, multi-disciplinary team of health care partners focusing on preventing illness and disease.  The goal is to use education and preventive measures to help curb high costs of health care and promote healthy lifestyles within our communities.

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Pure Michigan Hunt winner relishes waterfowl outing

Michigan DNR

Standing in chest waders, hiding in standing corn at Shiawassee River State Game Area, Randy Willis said he found waterfowl hunting to be an eye-opening experience.
“I’ve never imagined I’d be able to do this,” said Willis, a 56-year-old registered nurse from Augusta and one of three winners of the Pure Michigan Hunt drawing for 2011. “This is very cool.”
Having never waterfowl hunted before, he didn’t have the experience or the buddies with the equipment to show him the ropes, he said. Willis acknowledged that he didn’t have any idea what he was in for. “This is a blast,” he said. “I can’t say enough about it.”
Like many of the folks who apply for the Pure Michigan Hunt, which allows winners to participate in every limited-license hunting opportunity in the state, Willis said the chance to be chosen first in a drawing at a managed waterfowl area was well down his list of motivations for applying.
“Elk was the big draw,” said Willis. “I’ve been applying for elk since 1984. I’ve hunted bear before and spring turkey for years, but by purchasing the Pure Michigan Hunt application, and I purchased five, that was five extra chances to hunt elk in your home state. That’s special.”
Turned out it was very special. Willis hunted elk the first four days of the season in August and saw one small bull, but decided to pass on it. “One of the advantages of the Pure Michigan Hunt is you get a chance to come back later,” he said.
When the early season resumed in September, he came back. The elk were bugling and responding to the call and on the second evening, he had a 5-by-7 bull come within 45 yards of him. “He was bugling, just screaming at us,” Willis said. “It was storybook.”
Willis said he wanted to try to take it with his bow, but the elk was outside of his comfortable shooting range.
Later that evening, he saw a nice 6-by-6 moving through an opening at 250 yards. Willis put down his bow, picked up his .300 Mag., and when the elk stopped, he shot him.
And that was after he’d taken a bear, his first success in the Pure Michigan Hunt adventure. Willis hunted for 12 days over bait in the western Upper Peninsula. He said he saw a lot of bears, but was holding out for a record-book quality animal. But on the last day of his hunt, he took what he called “an average bear,” and was happy with that.
Then came the waterfowl hunt.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do about it,” he was. “Then Barb Avers (the Department of Natural Resources’ waterfowl specialist) called and asked me if I had plans. When I told her I didn’t, she said, ‘Let me see what I can do.’”
Avers put Willis in touch with Brian Siess, the president of the Shiawassee Flats Citizens and Hunters Association. Siess offered to guide Willis and his partners. So at 5 a.m. on opening morning of waterfowl season, at the drawing for hunting areas, Willis had the first choice.
And when Barry Pratt, who works at Shiawassee, announced to the waiting hunters that a Pure Michigan Hunt winner had the first choice that morning, Willis was greeted with a round of applause. Two hours later, with decoys in front of him and a couple of experienced waterfowl hunters calling for him, Willis was into it.
Willis invited his 80 year-old father, Gordon, with whom he’s been hunting since he was a lad, and his buddy Chris Ostrander to accompany him. Siess enlisted fellow Shiawassee veteran Butch Boivin to assist.
It started quickly with geese pouring into the flooded corn and buckwheat field Siess had chosen. In no time, the guys were banging away at Canada geese as Siess coached them on how and when to shoot. Two hours into the hunt, the party had a limit of geese in the bag.
The rest of the morning was dedicated to ducks. There were fewer ducks than geese flying and they were less impressed with the decoys and calling than the geese had been. By 10 a.m. the three of them had managed three mallards and a wood duck.
“I have to give a special thanks to Butch and Brian,” Willis said. “We’re feeling pretty special. To be able to come out here and hunt with experienced guys who are involved in the management here is special. The whole experience has been extraordinary, Willis said.
Willis said he primarily bought his Pure Michigan Hunt applications to give something to the DNR for wildlife management.
“The money goes to the Game and Fish Fund, so I figured I was making my donation,” he said. “You’re not only supporting the game and fish management, but you’re putting your name in the hat for something special. When (DNR Wildlife Division Chief) Russ Mason called and told me I’d won the Pure Michigan Hunt drawing, I said ‘Who’s pranking me?’”
Willis’ father, who is a lifelong hunter, but had never been waterfowling before, said he had an outstanding time, too. “It’s a blast,” he said. “It was so neat that those guys at the DNR were willing to step up and help us out. We didn’t have the equipment or the knowledge. Otherwise, we might have had to let this opportunity go by.”
Willis was most effusive in his praise for numerous DNR staffers, who put him in contact with guides and helped him understand all the rules, as well the sponsors who donated prizes (such as rifles and crossbows) to the Pure Michigan Hunt winners.
Willis admits he hasn’t bought any Pure Michigan Hunt applications for 2012 – yet. “I’ve been spending all of my money hunting,” he said. “But before the end of the year, I promise I will. There are folks that buy a Lotto ticket every week. I think it’s a better investment to buy Pure Michigan Hunt applications.”
To learn more about the Pure Michigan Hunt, visit www.michigan.gov/puremichiganhunt.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off

Snowmobile Trail Permit Fee Increase

Michigan Snowmobile Association and DNR support increase

The 2011 snowmobile season marks the next stage of a new fee structure for snowmobile permit fees.  This season the price for a permit is $45, an increase of $10 over last year’s price.  The fee will remain $45 through the 2015 snowmobile season.  A state law signed in 2008 provided for the incremental increase in snowmobile trail fees, which support maintenance and grooming of the state’s snowmobile trail network.
Michigan’s snowmobile trail network is successful because of the unique relationship that exists between the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and partners.  The DNR provides grants to local snowmobile trail partners, who in turn are responsible for the grooming and maintenance of the trails.
“We have strong relationships with our partners in the snowmobile community,” said Jim Radabaugh, section manager for the DNR’s Recreation and Trails Program in the Forest Management Division.  “It is because of our partnership with 68 snowmobile trail sponsors that Michigan is able to offer over 6,400 miles of designated, groomed and signed trails.”
The fee increase is necessary to offset the increasing snowmobile grant sponsor costs such as fuel, engineering services and insurance, to maintain the designated and groomed trail network, and to fund long-term trail infrastructure needs, such as bridges and culverts.
“When it comes to keeping Michigan’s trails safe and groomed, a little goes a long way,” added Lynne Boyd, chief of the Forest Management Division at the DNR.  “This fee increase is a way for every snowmobiler to do his or her part toward providing season-long access to miles and miles of magical Michigan trails.”

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Weekly fishing report

From the Department of Natural Resources

Steelhead action continues to build in the river systems. November is the month where catch rates increase for perch, pike, whitefish, walleye, bass and steelhead. Some decent bluegill fishing was reported on inland lakes. This is a good time of year to grab a pole and head out for some fall fishing.
Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report as of Nov. 3
St. Joseph: Pier anglers continue to catch good numbers of whitefish when using a small hook with a single egg. Steelhead were also caught.
St. Joseph River: Has good steelhead action all the way up to the Berrien Springs Dam. A few chinook were still going through the fish ladder at Berrien Springs. The river still has plenty of fish but few anglers were out.
South Haven: Whitefish and a couple steelhead have been caught however fishing pressure was low. Anglers are using spawn bags or a single egg on a small hook.
Kalamazoo River: The salmon run is reaching its end but steelhead activity is starting to increase up near the Allegan Dam.
Grand Haven: Is producing some steelhead off the pier but catch rates were still hit-or-miss. Those fishing the south pier caught whitefish on a single egg or spikes.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Is still producing a few leftover salmon however most are targeting steelhead, especially up near the Sixth Street Dam. Try spawn, spinners, small spoons, or a jig and wax worm. A few walleye were also caught.
Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead were caught at Lyons but the fish have not made it up to Lansing. Walleye were caught over at Moore’s Park.
Looking Glass River: Is producing some pike for those fishing with minnows.
Muskegon: Is producing some steelhead for those fishing off the pier with spawn.
Muskegon Lake: Has walleye for the taking. Boat anglers slow trolling in the late evening have caught fish.
Muskegon River: Water levels are good and lots of steelhead are downstream from Newaygo. Some are fly fishing while others are floating fresh spawn. Walleye and northern pike have been caught near Hardy Dam. Those fishing upstream of Hardy Dam have caught some big smallmouth bass.
You can now get the weekly fishing reports sent to your email address. To sign up, visit the weekly fishing report at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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