Addiction is Absence of Connection

A great little short video that explains, with new studies, how the old studies on single rats in cages was flawed when it came to identifying drugs or other substances as the cause of addiction. Humans naturally crave connection, just as rats do. We are social animals. Separation as well as poor living situation is what can drive both humans and rats to substances to numb out.

Empires and how they fall


This is actually a short synopsis based on a video (pasted in below) from the Kaiser Report. I found it interesting, as we seem to be in a similar time/situation here in America as the Roman Empire was shortly before its fall. It’s a good thing to look at history and how it played out before…I added some of my own thoughts in italics.

Empires are based on global reach and extraction of resources beyond home borders.

Eight Factors that Characterize the Fall of Empires

  1. Profound Political Disunity (i.e. Powers that Be break into factions warring amongst themselves over what to do about the decline of the Empire)
  2. Rise of Unproductive Complexity (tens of thousands of regulations no one can keep track of)
  3. Erosion of those bearing the sacrifices of keeping the system going (mid rank military, doctors & nurses are resigning in droves)
  4. Decay of Leadership (no real leadership)
  5. Rise of Bread & Circuses (distractions in the form of entertainment, often dark, but sometimes light)
  6. Decline of Ability to Produce Wealth (relying on trickery to produce wealth rather than real value)
  7. Sclerosis that occurs when vested interests control everything in the Empire–Common People have no say
  8. Resource Depletion and Environmental Damage

Empire currencies usually lasted far longer than the empires themselves. (In the case of the Spanish Empire and the Roman Empire, of course, the currency was on valuable metals, so they had some basis other than fiat–but then, people were also used to accepting them, as they are fiat currency now.) Physical cash might still be a source of value, precious metals, etc.

Trust your network, not the State. Set up systems of informal credit and/or barter (ie LETS in Asheville, if that’s still going), as well as local currencies. Crypto-currencies are another idea. Diversify. Skills are also valuable. Whole local economies could be based around a common interest or commodity, as well, such as craft brewing in cities like Portland, Oregon (or Asheville! Here we’d have a good basis for a “chocolate” currency as well!).

Eventually empires become too expensive to maintain, as the people in those empires–at least the ones at the top–live with much more than they need, multiple residences, assets, etc. After the fall of empires, life tends to “re-localize.” Generally life in the rural areas bear with the change easier than in large population concentrations (at least during the Roman Empire collapse–because food was produced there, and they didn’t “depend” on the city centers as much, where the power structure was concentrated).
As heard on Max Keiser’s report Aug 6 by Charles Smith of

My Cookbook Site: Paula’s Kitchen Alchemy


Announcing my A.A.S. Web Technologies Degree Capstone website, which is my cookbook in progress! A bit better organized than this blog (but still needing some tweaks, of course), Paula’s Kitchen Alchemy is my own custom coded (with the help of the Laravel framework) PHP/SQL database driven cookbook website. One of the requirements for the project was to have a visitor view that was more limited than a full member view, so viewers need to sign up (which is free) in order to see the recipes–but a visitor can see what recipes there are, along with thumbnails and descriptions. I need to add a print css stylesheet at some point, but perhaps more important, I need to use Javascript to organize the results returned on the “All Recipes” page.

In the meantime, however, now that I’ve graduated (and have more time finally–I’ve certainly neglected this blog because of the crunch!), I need to find a job, and right now, that takes precedence. But I definitely intend to keep adding to the cookbook, and have some things on there that are on this blog. I have many more things to add to the cookbook that I’ve already typed up, even, but it’s so satisfying to post pictures, too, that I’m having to go through and make them and take pictures–it reminds me of that movie about the blogger working her way through Julia Child’s cookbook!

Hope you enjoy!

Gluten-Free Baguette

gluten-free baguette pieces



1 1/2 cups Brown rice flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill because it’s so fine)

1/2 cups Millet flour

1/3 cup  Tapioca starch or flour (or Cassava flour)

1/3 cup  Potato starch (not potato flour)

1/3 cup Arrowroot flour

3 1/2 tsp Guar gum (can substitute flax seeds by grinding 3.5 tsp with 3.5 tsp warm water and let soak)                

1 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 cup  Coconut Sugar    

1/4 oz /1 packet Dry yeast   (1.5 tsp of instant yeast if you have it loose)       

1 3/4 cup Milk         

1/4 cup Olive oil

1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

3 Eggs (room temperature if possible)

For baguettes you will need a special baguette pan…otherwise, you can use a loaf pan as long as you grease it well, or use a silicone pan.


In a large mixing bowl (preferably your stand mixer bowl) combine the flour blend, salt, and sugar. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Make a small depression in the center of the flour mix and pour the yeast packet into it.

Warm milk to 100F – 110F (or whatever temperature yeast calls for). Pour warm milk gently over the flour and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. If it does not foam up, something’s wrong–find a different yeast and try again…

Add the oil, vinegar, and eggs and mix well until smooth and free of lumps, preferably using the stand mixer. The mixture will be sticky and the consistency of thick cake batter, not firm like wheat bread dough. It will quickly try to climb the sides because of the gumminess of the millet, so be sure to watch it! You may need to keep putting some of it back in with a spatula (preferably silicone).

First %22shaped%22

While it’s embarrassing to admit this, I only took pictures the first time I made this, and after I tried shaping the loaves on the baguette pan sprayed with oil and having them partially “drip” through the bottom. I now recommend (having great success with this–just didn’t take pics) LINING THE PAN WITH PARCHMENT PAPER–just cut a piece and drape it across all 2 or 3 (this is kind of a “mini” baguette pan) hollows. Spread out the dough as best you can to shape–a silicone spatula works well for this, dip it in water if you need to.

after 30 min rise

Allow to rise for 30 minutes. As you can see, the dough will rise, but not double in size–it will gain some volume in the oven potentially. Preheat the oven to 375F. Once it’s up to temperature, pop them into the oven and bake for 25 minutes. (Again, these are slightly smaller loaves, so if you have a larger baguette pan that only makes two, you may need to play it by ear).


They will turn out pretty browned and, as you can see, gain some more volume in the oven! These can cool in the pan (again, on the parchment paper!).

If you use a loaf pan, you will want to bake them a bit longer, like 35 minutes, and you’ll need to remove them from the loaf pan after they’ve cooled 15 minutes or so to turn upside down and release more moisture from the bottom.

Either bread is really nice sliced, toasted, and served with butter. Enjoy! I usually store them in ziplock bags, but the baguettes don’t stay around long enough to spoil–they get eaten up pretty quick.


Recently I had a job interview that went really well for the first one, and they asked me back, and during that one, I had all sorts of red flags go off, and I KNEW, basically, from that second interview that I could never work there, but I wanted a job so bad to get out of debt, so went against my instincts (which felt TERRIBLE), and asked what the compensation was–and was disqualified, much to my instant relief.

I found out later that it was a very good thing I disqualified myself, because that company would have been TERRIBLE to work for, and that it was preferable to have a bad interviewing experience than a bad job experience.

Emotions are powerful indicators of what our intuition is telling us. Our mind can overpower our “gut” for only so long, and feelings will out, eventually, if not immediately. What I’m learning lately is that I have much less tolerance than I used to for ignoring my instincts. Doing so, especially in such a situation as the job, with my friends urging me to “go for it and ignore your fears,” quickly drives me into deep, overwhelming depression, and I suspect it is a protection mechanism at this point.

The idea for the graphic below (done in Illustrator) came from a dream I had a few weeks ago, of an “Emotion-o-meter” to gauge situations, thoughts, beliefs, etc. Anything that felt GOOD was allowing my core vibration, anything that felt BAD was resisting my core vibration. It was a pretty powerful image to me, because often, I’m so used to having my head overrule my heart that I needed something to gauge.



And, since money’s sooooo tight, and I am not a salesperson, someone suggested adding a “donate” button to my blog, which I have just done, and plan to do more posting over the summer…I have let this blog lapse while so busy in school, in favor of my technical blog. I also hope to get much more of my cookbook keyed in from the several inches thick stack of papers of hand-written recipes in my bookcase in the kitchen!

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Banana bread loaf

It’s been a while since I posted–I’ve been super-busy with school, and having to keep up a technical blog for that (which I update more regularly, lol), but here, since we’re snowed in today, I created a new experiment. It turned out well, if a bit delicate, but really delicious. It has to bake quite a while, though, and my recipe below will be for muffins, which I originally planned to make, but then I wanted to try out these new silicone bread molds (see photo above) that my mother got me for Christmas. So, the baking estimate for the muffins is a guess–I can update the blog when I actually make them, or if someone else makes them, please comment and let me know how long it took, thanks! As for the loaf, though, it took a full hour and 25 minutes.

Grain-free chocolate chip banana muffins

yields 12 muffins or one loaf

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup flax meal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
2 extra-large eggs (if using large, use 3)
1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil (melt or cut up fine)
3/4 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with papers or grease loaf pan. Mix wet ingredients first (starting with eggs–I used a stand mixer on medium and just left it running much of the time! Adding ingredients one by one as I gathered them). You can mix the dry ingredients (except chips and nuts) in a separate bowl and add them to the wet OR simply add dry ingredients one by one to the running mixer filled with the wet mix. Make sure to add the baking soda last, however. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts with a spatula (as the mixer may be straining at this point).

Pour into muffin cups or a bread mold and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes (?) or until a toothpick inserted comes out dry. Loaves of bread will take longer, 1 hour and 25 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting.



Home made “Grounding” Sheet

I know, I know, it sounds like a weird idea–what in the heck is a grounding sheet? Well, I came across the concept while reading a book which mentioned disrupted circadian rhythms usually led to weight gain, feeling sluggish in the morning, snack cravings at night (hence weight gain), etc, and I thought–“Whoops! That sounds like me!” So I started looking into ways to get back into balance. I haven’t managed to get up early and stay in the sun for a half hour between 7 and 9 am yet (precious little sun here lately, anyway–raining now, s’matteroffact), but I thought, “Sleep must be a real culprit–I wake every morning almost more tired than I went to bed!” So delving a little deeper, I found out about grounding sheets.

The idea of a grounding sheet is to connect us electrically (we’re pretty electrical, believe it or not–every thought is a small electrical pulse–in fact, all neurons are firing off electrical impulses all the time to communicate) to the earth, to “ground” us. There’s a lot of EM interference from all the appliances in our houses, clocks, computers, lights, etc., so it’s a good idea to ground out that energy at night for deeper rest. There’s something to do with the Schumann resonance, too, which is some deep vibration in the earth that is healing and soothing–but to be honest, I just read a little bit and thought, “Cool! I’ll try it! How much are grounding sheets?” Well, we have a queens-sized bed, sooooo, I was dismayed to find that they cost $199–more than I cared to spend on what was an experiment, anyway. So I found a video by a guy who made his own. What follows, then, was me following his instructions, with a little help from my husband Sherman, who got to use his electronics degree😉 My total cost for the materials below (I already had the tape and the scissors) was under $15.

It’s important to note that this is merely a mattress cover–you will not be sleeping skin against metal! Instead, your regular sheets will cover the grounding sheet.


Materials you will need:

  1. An old sheet you don’t mind sacrificing to the cause
  2. Metal screen wire mesh (as for a screen door) that is not coated or fiberglass (which is not conductive)–enough to cover where your torso will go (I chose the smallest roll I could get)
  3. Scissors (wire stripping tool is handy, too, but I used scissors for my part)
  4. Single grounding wire (I chose green for ground, and 16 gauge, because it was long enough in the pack to do what I needed)–you will need to measure the “path” to know how much wire to get
  5. Strong duct tape (I used Gorilla tape)
  6. Something metal & conductive to be a “stake” for the ground outside (I did not get into the grounding through an outlet, as I believe this outlet may not be grounded, nearby, so instead, if you wish to go that route, watch the video, and he explains it😉
  7. If you plan to solder wire instead of simply wrapping it, you will need a soldering iron and solder and wet sponge and patience.

Lay out screen

First, unwrap the screen and lay it out on top of the sheet roughly where your torso will lie at night. Cut off the excess (this was surprisingly easy to do with scissors, I thought) so that it is a bit in from the edge (ie. 2 inches or so) on either side.

Thread wire

Carefully strip off an inch of the wire insulation from one end–I did this with scissors, too, cutting around and sliding it off, but if you have a wire-stripping tool, definitely use that–easier and faster! Thred the copper ends as best you can over & under & into the mesh at the corner closest to where you intend to run the wire out a window (or to an electrical socket).

Taped up

Next, thoroughly tape the mesh to the bed. I doubled in some places, because it would get uneven on the cut edges, and I did NOT want to wake up being poked by metal. Be sure to tape it well–the weight of your body will cause it to sag inward at some point, and that is important to consider, too. I tried to get the mesh edge right in the center of the tap, but that was not always feasible. No one will see it, so don’t worry about how it looks, as it all gets covered by a regular sheet in the end.


After the mesh is taped and the wire connection is also well-taped, run the wire down the bed, across the floor, up the wall, whatever, out the window (this is why a smaller gauge wire works well–it goes easily under a screen in a window, or in this case, a window fan, to dangle outside until you connect it to your grounding stake.

Sanding tip of stake

The guy in the video suggested just using a clothes hanger, cutting it into a straight wire, sanding off the edges, and wrapping the wires around one sanded end with electrical tape while plunging the business end into the ground. But my husband, having an electronics degree, and a friend visiting who is an electrical engineer (whom I was amazed did not laugh at this idea, but thought it was very logical and added his input) insisted that a true ground to get to the Schumann resonance needed to be longer than a 6 inch tent stake (that I was planning to use), so Sherman dug in his leftovers and found a 24″ aluminum bar, .25″ thick, and decided it would go in easier if he sanded the edge to a point (I did not mention a belt sander in the requirements–I think it would still go in easily enough, with all the rain we’ve had!)


So the finished grounding stake turned out way more heavy-duty than I intended😉

tinning wire

Next comes attaching the wire to the stake. Now, the video simply had the wires wrap around one end of the stake, and get taped in place, but Sherman was concerned about oxidation, and wanted to do it properly, so started by taking the other end of the wire dangling outside the window, stripping off the last inch of insulation, and tinning the wire with solder.

Connect wire to stake

With a buildup of solder on the stake, he could then attach the tinned wire to the end of the stake. (If it’s cool outside, however, it might help to torch the end of the stake to warm it up).

Wrapping wire to stake

After the stake and attached wire cooled completely (it will be HOT!), he then wrapped it well with the Gorilla tape (which you’d do whether or not you’d soldered it in place, to protect it).

Hammer into ground

And he drove it into the ground all the way to the tape with a mallet (it went in VERY easily).

The first night, I didn’t notice much improvement in my sleep (and have had CRAZY dreams, but maybe that’s the next full moon coming up), and from just ONE NIGHT, I noticed some definite crinkles in the wire mesh, from me tossing & turning (it does tend to make the bed a little firmer).

Wire mesh after one night's sleep on it

Wire mesh after one night’s sleep on it

But now, 3 days (nights) later as I write this, I have noticed being able to wake up easier, though I’m still somewhat tired during the day. I’m not dragging as much in the morning. But, already we’ve had to re-tape some of the top, since my weight has pulled it loose from the tape and metal ends started sticking out. Still, as an experiment, I think it’s successful! Though, I’m feeling a bit guilty over all the fuss Sherman went through to make the stake, because now I’m considering getting one of the fancy grounding sheets, as it would probably be more comfortable. But until finances are a little more stable, this will fit the bill.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Fudgesicles

First bite of fudgesicle

Want something rich and chocolatey, but vegan and dairy-free? Have I got the thing for you…and oh, so simple, too!

Sugar-free Vegan Chocolate Fudgesicles

1 14oz can organic coconut milk

1/4 cup xylitol (or sweetener of your choice–could use maple syrup, erythritol, etc)

1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used dutched Valhrona cocoa)

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp almond extract (or other flavoring, such as peppermint extract)

Put all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on gentle heat to mix, like making hot cocoa (you might need to whisk it smooth). Set aside and let cool.

%22Hot chocolate%22

Line a small tupperware container with plastic wrap or tinfoil that goes over the edge. (I used tinfoil this time, because I’ve read such terrible things about the hormone-disrupting attributes of plastic wrap, especially with leeching into warm things…) Pour the cooled mixture into this and let it freeze overnight.

Lined container

The next morning, take it out of the freezer and carefully lift it out of the container. It should be a frozen block, like this.

Frozen block

It should be somewhat easy to cut up into pieces, and then put them in a Cuisinart or Vitamix, and beat it until it resembles frozen yogurt.

before blending

You may need to “tamp” it, if using a Vitamix or blender. The end result should be a somewhat wet purée, as shown below.


Here’s where you get your pop/fudgesicle molds (you can find them in kitchen stores, and occasionally at Dollar stores). It’s really better, the more runny the mixture is, to get it into the molds. Here I didn’t have it quite runny enough (until the very end), and was sloppily ladling it in with a spoon (if it’s runny enough, I prefer to use a funnel). Also, if it’s less runny, it has more of a tendency to form air bubbles, necessitating poking it with a chopstick to break the bubbles and “tamp” the mixture more firmly into the mold.

Filling molds

Now, fudgesicles take time–they will need to chill at least another day to be barely firm enough to eat. If you need more instant gratification (and you don’t have molds), you can always just pour it back into the container (minus the liner) to store in freezer, and it will be ready to eat (soft serve) after letting chill 30 minutes.

If making fudgesicles, don’t forget to put in popsicles sticks! These molds hold around 2.5 oz each, so this recipe made 6 fudgesicles, overall.

Filled with sticks

It does get firmer after a few days, and after several days it has the PERFECT fudgesicle consistency. Makes 6 fudgesicles. (Note, this picture is after slightly less than a day, so it is still on the soft side). (If you made just a sorbet in the container, you can still stick a spoon in for a couple of days, and after that, “cut” it with a strong spoon, to eat it.)


As I noted in the ingredients, too, you can flavor these however you like–I happen to love almond and chocolate. But you could just use vanilla, or use peppermint, orange extract, you-name-it. Enjoy!

Paleo Fried Avocado Slices


Why would anyone fry avocado slices? You may ask. Well, I was curious. A friend at the grocery store, when comparing notes on diet, said he’d “fried avocado” recently in coconut oil and that it was “awesome,” so, being hungry and wanting something quick, I decided to try it. I’d recently battered and fried eggplant slices for eggplant parmesean, so I knew it would work.

avocado setup

Battering and frying is generally a three stage/dip process. Flour–egg–bread crumbs. But, of course, the paleo diet precludes grains, so instead I chose coconut flour–egg–mix of flax, sunflower, and almonds ground into a meal (this mixture is from Dr. Cabot’s liver cleanse book–though Dr. Cabot would never EVER endorse frying anything like this!). I happened to have that mixture on hand, but one could easily use coarse almond flour or pecan meal instead. I also ground some salt and pepper and mixed it into the “breading.” Note that very little flour is needed, whereas more breading is needed–this was close, but I had to add a little bit more for the last couple of slices.

easing out of shell

After cutting the avocado in half and chopping lightly into the seed to twist and take it out, I sliced each side of the avocado into 4 slices while still in the shell, then gingerly “scooped” it out with a medium-sized spoon.

coconut flour

Unlike slices of eggplant, avocado slices are nice and moist, and coat easily with the coconut flour.

dipping in egg

Next comes the egg wash (this just one egg lightly beaten with a fork). In retrospect, I think I would beat the egg more thoroughly than just with a fork, as the egg white did NOT want to separate from slices. I ended up pinching off the egg white with my fingers each time.


And, finally, the “breading”–I usually plop the egg-laden slice right in the middle and use a spoon to scoop mixture on top and on the sides, until it’s dry enough to pick up and make sure it is all covered.

frying second side

I used coconut oil, in a cast iron pan, and had a good 2mm or so of oil to start (around 2 tablespoons), and made sure to give it some time to heat up before I put the slices in. This is after they’ve already been turned once.


And then, voila! Put them on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil, and let them cool down before trying to bite into them.


Tasty–tastes like avocado, of course! Soft on the inside, crispy on the outside.