Spring has sprung! Gardeners and Conservationists are all jumping for joy! A Garden Review.
So what can you do to help those Hungry Hummers?
Happy Easter to Everyone!
“Why am I here?” she asks her sister. Edee is a woman who is suddenly without her family after a traumatic event. So traumatic that she cannot discuss it. The movie opens with a woman in an upscale therapist office silently watching the grains of sand in the hourglass fall.
|Movie Review: Land|
Therapist: Edee, why did you decide to come here?
Edee: Emma, my sister, said you were magic.
The session continues. Slowly and with pauses. We learn that Edee is in the session at her sister’s request.
Therapist: How are you feeling, right now, in general, what are you feeling?
Edee: I’m feeling, um, that it’s really difficult to be around people. Because they just want me to be better
We do not know how Edee lost her loved ones (until the last few minutes of the movie). She has flashback memories of her son and husband so we are aware they are dead. Her grief is overwhelming and numbing. She tells the therapist that in the beginning she shared her feelings with others. But she stopped.
Edee: Why would I want anyone to share in that? They can’t anyway.
Therapist: But that means you are alone with your pain.
And that seems to be all that Edee can manage. Being alone with her pain.
Edee is a “city” woman who packs up and moves to a remote cabin in the wilderness. Edee cuts off all human contact. She tosses her phone into the trash, which severs all ties with the world including with her loving sister. It is unknown to me if her goal was to heal herself or to “not be here” – which she almost succeeded at on more than one occasion (warning: some of the scenes are uncomfortable - a potential trigger for some.)
She clearly should not have survived her self-imposed “cure”. She was clearly ill-prepared to wander off into the wilderness and exacerbated the risk by having her rental car picked up. From the flashbacks we know that she has been fishing and has that skill. And she seems to intend to provide food for herself from the land in addition to the very small amount of canned goods she brought along. From a drawing in crayon, we know that in the past there was someone who wanted to go fishing and live in the mountains. Perhaps this is why she chose to move to this off-grid cabin.
Edee (Robin Wright) is found by Miguel (Demian Bichir) nearly frozen and starved to death. Miguel and Alawa (a nurse from the nearby small town) nurse Edee back to health.
Edee continues to exclude people from her life, but allows Miguel just enough contact during infrequent visits to teach her how to trap food and to hunt game. After all, Miguel said that he would respect her wishes. He would teach her to trap and to hunt in the fall. Then he would leave her alone. Miguel is a man of his word. The seasons go by: planting, foraging, harvest, hunting, and a return to snow. The years go by. Two years.
My Thoughts About This Amazon Prime Movie.
I rented this movie on Amazon for far too much money. I regret having spent that much for an Amazon Prime rental. However, as odd as it sounds, if/when it is released in an inexpensive blu-ray or CD version I will buy it and watch it again.
The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The cabin scenes were filmed in Alberta, Canada atop Moose Mountain.
I found it to be well-acted and I think the messages related to grief and trauma are supremely important reminders to us all. Each person handles depression, trauma, and grief differently. Not every mainstream treatment is effective. And most of all, depression, trauma, and grief are very painful. It is not easy for people to just “be better.”
Some reviewers complain that Land was “slow”. And that the character was “egotistical” and “selfish”. Some reviewers complained about the choppy flashbacks. I found all of those things to be a realistic part of the experience of many people with debilitating depression. Severe depression does not allow the person to think of others. It impacts the person’s thoughts and their 5 senses. Memories can be intrusive – sometimes welcomed, sometimes not.
I think the “slowness” of the movie was perfect. Yes, it was slow-paced. I don’t believe the movie was meant to be an action/adventure movie. True depression and hopelessness is like swimming through neck-deep mud. It is restricting. People are busy trying to survive each moment of every day. I felt the pace of movie portrayed this feeling perfectly.
I only wish that the movie had been longer. That we would have been spectators of more details of the journey, the landscape, and of each season. And of the lessons taught by Miguel.
I hope the message of the movie is, and is understood as; depression, grief, and trauma are difficult things to get through. But they are survivable. And while every person has an individual response and recovery, it is better when it is not done alone. Each person who gets through it has the ability to be meaningful to the next person who is struggling.
This movie reminded me a bit of Wild with Reese Witherspoon. The movie was based on the written memoir of Cheryl Strayed and was another story of how a woman left civilization after experiencing severe grief and loss and ending up finding herself. You can read my review of Wild here.
The effects of loss and trauma on a human are not pretty. And yet many people not only survive, but thrive after they get through it. These two stories are examples of surviving the nitty-gritty and finding the reasons to live.
Today's review is about finding peace in a busy and often chaotic world.
When my soul needs a boost, I sing. At night, I'll play various lyric videos and blast out every word as loud as I choose.
I've long since stopped being self-conscious about it. My boys hear me singing all the time. I actually love that they hear their mother singing; I like to think I'm teaching them to be brave. It's also a way for them to see me making time to feed the soul.
For two years now, I've actively taken steps to balance in my mind, body, and spirit.
For the body, I've lost over 60 pounds on Keto.
No, I'm not superwoman. I turned 60 in 2020 and made a decision that, before that monumental milestone birthday, I was going to tick off some boxes on my 'get-er-done beyatch' list.
So I stopped the talk, and walked the walk.
Today I'd like to pass along some of my personal choice lyric videos. Sing along, or just enjoy the words and message.
"Cause I'm not givin' up,I'm not givin' up, givin up, no, not yet,Even when I'm down to my last breathEven when they say there's nothing' left,So don't give up on me"
"You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing,you say I am strong when I think I am weak,And you say I am held, when I am falling short,and when I don't belong, oh you say I am Yours,And I believe, oh I believeWhat you say to me, oh I believe,Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at your feet,you have every failure God, You have every victory"
" So why do we close our eyes,when we pray, cry, kiss, dream,Maybe the most beautiful things in this lifeare felt, and never seen"
. . . in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.
The above quote from the jacket of The Return, rather speaks to the meaning of the title of Nicholas Sparks' latest novel. As always, Sparks brings together fascinating characters and a love story for the ages.
Trevor has returned to New Bern, North Carolina, to his grandfather's home he has inherited, to try and get his life together after the devastating injuries he received in a mortar blast in Afghanistan. He finds that the familiarity of the home he spent so many happy childhood hours in, and tending to his grandfather's beloved beehives, is beginning to bring peace and healing back to his life.
Then things get complicated. First, he meets Natalie, a local deputy sheriff. From their very first meeting, Trevor feels a connection to her and soon realizes he is falling in love. But even as Natalie seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains distant and Trevor wonders what she is hiding.
Later, Trevor meets a sullen teenage girl – Callie – who knew his grandfather. Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances surrounding his grandfather's death, but she appears reluctant to discuss it with him.
Suddenly a crisis triggers a race to uncover the true nature of Callie's past. While attempting to unravel what his grandfather's last cryptic words meant, and to discover the secrets both Callie and Natalie are keeping, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness.
|Author Nicholas Sparks|
You can visit him at NicholasSparks.com.
Book Review of The Return is written by (c) Wednesday Elf.
Carrot Cake Cupcakes are a delicious treat anytime!
My mother recently made 2 dozen carrot cake cupcakes using the recipe below. She was generous and thoughtful enough to share them with me and my household. I was beyond thrilled to receive this gift. I understand the time commitment and work behind making a few dozen cupcakes. Therefore, I can really appreciate receiving a dozen homemade cupcakes.
Cupcakes are a personal favorite since they are made in single serving
portions. That saves serving preparation and clean-up. You can grab a
cupcake, toss the paper liner, and eat it without needing to get out a plate
or utensils. So fast & easy!
The carrot cake cupcakes are fabulous for breakfast, a special treat, or dessert. For 3 days straight, I was able to enjoy a carrot cake cupcake with my coffee for breakfast. I was rather sad when they were all gone. But, I have the recipe! And, I am willing to share it with you so you too can start your day with delicious carrot cake.
2 c. shredded julienne carrots
2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. canola oil
4 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c. unsalted butter (softened)
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
4 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c. chopped pecans
Instructions for Cupcakes
1. Grate carrots & chop pecans
2. Preheat oven to 350°
3. Line large cupcake pans with cupcake liners (3 pans of 12 each)
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs. Beat until well-blended.
5. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Beat for about 2 to 3 minutes.
6. (Set aside your mixer) Stir in shredded carrots & pineapple.
7. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full and bake for approximately 22 - 24 minutes (toothpick test)
8. Set cupcakes on cooking racks and allow to cool completely before frosting
9. While the cupcakes are cooling, set out the butter and cream cheese to soften (about 30 minutes)
Instructions for Frosting
1. Beat softened cream cheese and butter together until smooth.
2. Add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until well blended. (Approximately 4 minutes)
3. Stir in chopped pecans (or hold them to sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes)
4. Frost the Cupcakes
Recipe Substitutions or Additions
I prefer pineapple, but Mom suggests substituting raisins if desired. You may also want to add 1 cup shredded coconut for a more authentic carrot cake consistency & taste.
I have a double oven, one is a convection oven. My ovens allow me to bake 3 pans of cupcakes at one time. (2 in the convection oven & one in the lower regular oven).
Mom has one regular oven. Therefore, she makes larger cupcakes divided across two pans, which she bakes separately. Her yield is 24 larger cupcakes that take slightly longer to bake (approximately 26 - 28 minutes).
Because oven temperatures vary, the toothpick test is required to determine when they are completely baked.
What is the Toothpick Test?
Quickly stick a toothpick down into the center of a cupcake or cake and pull it right back out. If it comes out clean, the cake/cupcake is done. If it has batter on it, you need to bake a little longer. I usually test in 1 – 2 minute intervals.
There are a few kitchen tools that allow us to bake cupcakes with ease,
starting with a large cupcake baking pan & cupcake liners.
Cupcakes are also very hard to transport from place to place. If you
do plan to take them elsewhere, I highly recommend the carrier featured
|Delicious keto bread that isn't heavy, dense, or crumbly!|
When I began my successful keto diet journey in 2019, Maya Krampf's popular Wholesome Yum website and The Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Cookbook (which I have recommended in my Keto Gift Guide and other posts here on Review This Reviews) quickly became two of my go-to resources for quick and easy, healthy keto recipes and reliable information about the ketogenic approach to eating. Maya also has developed a line of high quality, low carb, gluten free, keto food products made with clean ingredients (including her excellent Besti keto-friendly sweeteners), and new products continue to be added to her Wholesome Yum Foods online shop.
The Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix that launched on December 21, 2020 is one of Maya's newest products. I think it's also one of her best!
A few days ago, she also published a new Keto Yeast Bread Recipe for this bread mix that delivers even more impressive and delicious results. I’m excited to share my in-depth product review of this excellent Wholesome Yum mix and compare the differences in between the loaves I've made with original recipe and the new keto yeast bread recipe.
|This keto bread mix has all the pre-measured dry ingredients for a delicious, fresh-baked loaf|
The directions currently printed on the bag require just three ingredients in addition to the packaged mix: 6 tablespoons of butter, 4 large eggs, and 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of unsweetened almond milk.
You can replace the almond milk with a different keto-friendly milk, if you wish.
The recipe calls for the prepared bread mix to be baked in an 8" x 4" loaf pan lined with baking parchment paper, with the parchment paper overhanging at least the two long sides of the pan.
|Make sure the parchment paper overhangs the long sides of the pan|
I have been lining the pan with unbleached If You Care Parchment Baking Paper, which is chlorine-free and compostable. It's also silicone coated, and nothing sticks to it!
For environmental reasons, the box doesn't have a serrated metal cutting strip. Since the larger, softer cardboard "teeth" don't cut as cleanly as the metal ones, I just use scissors to trim the a sheet of the desired length.
All the ingredients should be at room temperature when make the keto bread dough/batter.
Note: Although there is an asterisked line to this effect in the printed directions on the bag, it's easy to miss, not only because the very small type is hard to read, but also because there are no corresponding asterisks attached to the individual ingredients. (A single asterisk with no corresponding reference is meaningless.) It would be helpful if this were fixed during the next packaging print run.
When a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, they should be at approximately 70 °F (21 °C), with the exception of butter. Room temperature butter should be a bit cooler, roughly 65 °F (18 °C). It has reached the correct temperature when it is still a bit cool to the touch and retains its shape, but has softened enough to leave an indentation when pressed with a fingertip.
|One bag of mix + butter, eggs, and almond milk = quick and easy keto bread!|
Using room temperature butter, eggs, and almond milk allows the butter to cream properly and the eggs and butter to be fully incorporated into the creamed butter, so there are no remaining clumps of butter after the dry ingredients in the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix are added.
Conversely, using ingredients that are too warm or too cold will likely produce less-than-optimal results.
When I tried the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix for the first time this January, the New England winter meant that our north-facing kitchen (with its large expanse of windows) was quite chilly. As a result, even after sitting out on the counter for a couple of hours, my "room temperature" eggs, and almond milk were much cooler than 70 °F (21 °C), and even my butter was colder than 65 °F (18 °C) and had very little "give" when pressed with a fingertip.
As a result, even after being creamed at high speed with my trusty KitchenAid mixer for for nearly 15 minutes, the butter never softened fully, and when I added the eggs and almond milk to it, they wouldn't incorporate smoothly, no matter how long I beat the mixture.
You can see in following photo that the first batch of keto bread dough/batter didn't come together as smoothly as it should and would have if my kitchen hadn't been so chilly.
|A cold kitchen made my butter a bit uncooperative!|
In retrospect, I could have put the unshelled, room temperature eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5–10 minutes and warmed the almond milk gently on the stovetop or in the microwave. However, the butter still would have been a problem, since using any form of added heat to soften butter without melting it is a tricky proposition.
|The first loaf I made with this keto bread mix turned out well, even with the too-cool ingredients|
Making low carb, gluten-free bread with Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix was easy. The hard part was waiting until the next day, as the package directions recommend, before slicing into the loaf so I could taste it!
|A lighter, less dense texture than most keto bread|
Although it is possible to find low carb bread recipes that don't contain almond flour, most of them do. Ground almonds are heavier than grain flours, lack gluten for structure, and interact differently with leavening agents. As a result, most loaves made from a keto bread recipe are pretty dense, and tend to crumble easily.
So, when I cut into the loaf I made with the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix, I was very pleased to see small air pockets, indicating a somewhat lighter, less dense texture than most low carb bread made with almond flour. (You can see the air pockets better in the close-up photo of my half-sandwich.)
Not only did it make great toast, it also was less crumbly than most other keto-friendly almond flour breads, which allowed me to make a sandwich that didn't fall apart as soon as I bit into it!
My sweet half-sandwich on keto bread made with the Wholesome Yum mix
(Note: For scale, this is a salad plate.)
After making a great slice of toast, the next thing I tried was a sandwich. I had just received my order of keto-friendly Good Good sweet raspberry jam (which is currently out of stock, but other flavors are available, including Good Good Sweet Blueberry Jam) and ChocZero Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (a keto diet friendly alternative to Nutella), so I decided to cut a slice in half and make myself a raspberry-chocolate hazelnut half-sandwich. (Hey, don't knock it until you try it! I like to think of it as a 21st-century update to the Fluffernutter, a lunchbox favorite back in the 1960s, when I was a kid, that I can't imagine eating today.)
I was able to eat my half-sandwich without the bread crumbling or breaking, which was a major improvement over most other keto bread recipes or mixes I had tried.
Even though I was pleased with the results I was getting from Maya's new keto bread mix and had already begun to write a product review of it for Review This Reviews, I was extremely excited by her revelation last month in one of the Wholesome Yum Facebook groups I belong to that she had been working on a keto yeast bread recipe for the new mix and thought she was close to perfecting it.
I knew that adding yeast to the batter/dough would result in a taller loaf with a lighter, airier, more sponge-like texture and might also give the bread some of the flavor characteristics of conventional yeast breads.
I decided to hold off on my product review of the bread mix until the new recipe had been published, so I could compare it to the original and confirm or correct my assumptions about the effects of adding yeast to the batter.
|Feeding the yeast with inulin allows this keto yeast bread recipe to be 100% sugar free|
You can use any brand of active dry yeast, such as Fleischmann's or Red Star. I decided to order my favorite from my BK (before keto) baking, SAF-Instant Premium Yeast - Red, which is widely used by professional bakers and consistently produces superior results with any type of bread, pizza, croissant, or other unsweetened doughs.
I discovered the red SAF-Instant Premium Yeast many years ago on the King Arthur Baking website (a reliable source of baking expertise and a go-to resource for baking enthusiasts). The fact that it's the yeast they use most often in their test kitchens was a good enough endorsement for me!
In addition to improving bread dough baking results, a 1-pound vacuum-sealed bag/brick of SAF-instant yeast ends up costing much, much less per use than the 4-ounce jars or strips of three individual packets of active dry yeast sold in supermarkets.
I keep mine in the freezer in an airtight container, where it remains good for years, and unopened packages have a two-year shelf life.
Tip: If you're not following a low carb or keto diet, use SAF-Instant Premium Yeast - Gold, rather than the one in the red package, for making conventional sweet dough recipes.
In this recipe, the active dry yeast is fed with powdered inulin, a soluble fiber and prebiotic, instead of the sugar or other high glycemic index sweeteners that recipes typically used for that purpose.
I was in such a rush to order inulin powder for this recipe that I inadvertently ordered a huge 2.2-pound bag of it on Amazon (with free Amazon Prime delivery)! However, since it you need only one teaspoon of it per 2¼ teaspoons (or one packet) of active dry yeast, I recommend buying a smaller package, such as this 8-ounce bag of 100% pure inulin powder that is made in the USA (in Utah) from non-GMO Jerusalem artichokes, sometimes called sunchokes.
To make the keto yeast bread recipe, you start by mixing the batter according to the original recipe, then fold in active dry yeast bloomed in lukewarm water mixed with inulin powder, and set the covered yeast batter aside in a warm spot to proof. After the yeast bread batter/dough has been allowed to rise for an hour, it is transferred to the parchment-line loaf pan and baked at the same temperature, and for the same length of time, as the original recipe. And, like the original recipe, the baked loaf should be removed to a cooling rack and left until it has cooled completely (overnight, if possible) before you slice into it.
Here are the ingredients, tools, supplies, and equipment you will need to make Maya's new keto yeast bread recipe.
* The inulin powder is a prebiotic fiber that is used in this recipe to feed the yeast. It is a keto-friendly alternative to feeding the yeast with sugar, honey, or other high-glycemic sweeteners that can elevate your blood glucose and insulin levels. If you follow a strict sugar-free or keto diet and want to ensure that your keto bread is absolutely sugar free, the inulin in this recipe is an essential ingredient that cannot be substituted. However, for people whose dietary requirements and preferences are less strict, the recipe also offers the option to replace the teaspoon of inulin powder with a teaspoon of coconut sugar.
** At room temperature
*** Use plain, unsweetened almond milk for this recipe. Unless the package specifically says "unsweetened almond milk," assume it contains added sugar, and is not suitable for a low carb, sugar-free, or keto diet.
**** I recommend biodegradable, reusable beeswax food wrap as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to disposable plastic wrap (aka cling film). It's available either precut or in rolled sheets that you can cut to size, as needed. Although I own and use both types, I'd suggest buying an uncut roll to ensure that you'll have a large enough piece to cover your large mixing bowl while the keto bread batter is proofing.
Follow Maya's full Keto Yeast Bread Recipe on Wholesome Yum, which provides not only step-by-step directions with photos, but also helpful tips, refrigerator and freezer storage instructions, and an FAQ that answers questions such as as whether yeast and inulin are keto-friendly ingredients.
Update 4/8/21: Last weekend, we finally had a warm-ish spring day here in New England (a "balmy" 58 degrees Fahrenheit, lol!). I had just finished the last slice from my first loaf, and hoped that my room temperature eggs, butter and nut milk would be warmer and more cooperative this time. Indeed, they were! I was able to get the butter to cream properly, so it was nicely pale and fluffy. And the eggs and nut milk (I used macadamia nut milk this time) were fully incorporated into the creamed butter, so there were no large lumps of butter in my yeast bread batter, which made it much easier to smooth the top after transferring it to the parchment paper-lined loaf pan.
|My second keto yeast bread loaf|
When I followed the original Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix recipe printed on the bag, the top of the baked loaf remained lower than the rim of the baking pan.
|The basic recipe without yeast produces a shorter loaf|
However, when I followed the new keto yeast bread recipe, the batter's volume increased considerably as it proofed, which produced a baked loaf that was taller than baking pan.
|Adding yeast to the original batter recipe produces a larger, taller loaf that rises above the pan rim|
The recipe printed on the bag produced slices that were slightly larger, and had more air pockets and a lighter texture, than typical keto breads.
The time it takes to bloom the yeast and fold it into the prepared batter is minimal.
However, the yeasted dough also needs to be covered and set aside to proof before it is transferred to the parchment paper-lined pan, which add 60 minutes to the total time, start-to-finish .
On the other hand, since the batter doesn't need to be monitored while it's proofing, that time can be spent elsewhere, on other activities.
Unless I'm pressed for time or can't start baking until later in the day, I consider the superior loaf produced with Maya's new Wholesome Yum Keto Yeast Bread Recipe well worth the minimal additional effort and the one-hour delay while the batter is proofing.
However, even without the addition of yeast, the Wholesome Yum Keto Bread Mix is a convenient, time-saving, and delicious option for making freshly baked, keto-friendly bread.
Wholesome Yum Easy Keto Bread Mix and Yeast Bread Recipe by Margaret Schindel
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Review This is Dedicated to the
Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
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