Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Toss out the Chametz and start baking Marble Cholocate Matzoh

Pesach (Passover) preparation begins on April 5, 2012. It is the time to begin clearing your homes of chametz, or leavened products derived from wheat, barley, oat, spelt or rye.   As of the fifth seasonal hour, 11:45 am EDST, you are fobidden to eat chametz. So what can you eat during the 8 days of Pesach that can be made with out flour or yeast? No Worries–Kosher bakers, such as Paula Shoyer, author of The Kosher Baker: 160 dairy-free desserts from traditional to trendy, have learned to work around these restrictions and still present mouth watering meals for entertaining, and snacks to get through the week. For more recipes order your copy of The Kosher Baker .

Marble Chocolate Matzoh
Serves 12

1/3 cup slivered almonds
10 ounces parve dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup parve white chocolate chips
3 large or 4 small pieces of matzoh

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment. Spread the almonds on the pan and toast for 15 minutes, stirring the nuts after 10 minutes. When the almonds are toasted, remove the pan from the oven and slide the parchment off the cookie sheet.
While the nuts are toasting, melt the dark chocolate in one heatproof bowl and the white chocolate in another. You can do this either on the stovetop or in the microwave.  If you use the microwave method, be especially careful with the white chocolate chips so they do not burn.

When the almonds are toasted, use a large knife to roughly chop them into pieces about 1/3 of their original size. Mix the nuts into the melted dark chocolate.
Line 1 large or 2 smaller cookie sheets with waxed paper and place the matzohs on top of the waxed paper. Spread the dark chocolate and nut mixture all over the matzoh slices to cover them entirely on one side with the chocolate.
Drop clumps of the melted white chocolate randomly on top of the dark chocolate. Use a toothpick to swirl the chocolates to create a marble effect. Place in the refrigerator to set for 1 hour and then break into pieces to serve.  Store in the refrigerator for six days or freeze for up to three months.

Devices to Monitor Concussions? Can They?

“Concussion in youth sports is a serious public health issue.  With all the recent attention to preventing concussion in professional athletes, concerned parents are eager to protect their children’s brains.  The Impact Indicator, a chinstrap that measures the force of a hit and signals the likelihood of a concussion,  is another device that is aimed at greater protection.  The question is, “How accurate is it at detecting concussion?”  The research isn’t out yet, so it has not been independently scientifically validated.  It should still be considered experimental and not yet fully evidence based.  The reality is that if you suspect a concussion, no information from a device should deter you from getting the athlete to a health care professional for an exam.  We know that you do not have to have a hit to the head to sustain a concussion.  A whiplash or strong force can cause a concussion.  In such cases, a mouthguard or  helmet or chinstrap can’t protect against a concussion or signal that one has taken place.  

Better equipment in youth football is important and the advent of the Impact Indicator is just one step in the evolution of safer equipment.  With further research and development of such protective devices, we may be better able to protect youth athletes. But we must remember that no one tool or device is best suited to diagnose or prevent concussion.   We should use all the available updated knowledge, equipment, and resources we have, and a health care team approach, to provide the safest athletic environment for our youth.”

Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, PhD, ABN, ABPP-RP
Director, Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey
Author of Ahead of the Game: The Parents’ Guide to Youth Sports Concussion, (UPNE)

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Clarity of Granny D

Reposted from The Clarity of Granny D by DeannaRoss

at ninety years old
she marched across the States
for campaign finance reform

'find your passion, follow your path' 
In honor of Doris Haddock (1910-2010), otherwise known as Granny D, who on January 1, 1999 began a 3,200 mile walk across the country to demonstrate her concern for the issue of campaign finance reform, walking ten miles each day for fourteen months. Doris traveled as a pilgrim; walking until given shelter, and fasting until given food. With the unflagging generosity of strangers she met along the way, Doris never went without a meal or a bed. She trekked through over 1,000 miles of desert, climbed the Appalachian Range in blizzard conditions and even skied 100 miles after a historic snowfall made roadside walking impossible. When she arrived in Washington D.C., Granny D was met by 2,200 supporters representing a wide variety of reform groups. Several dozen members of Congress walked the final miles with her. It took two more years to gain passage of the McCain/Feingold bill that Granny D fought for. In 1994, she ran against the incumbent for a New Hampshire Senate seat, losing by a surprisingly narrow margin. Granny D passed away in 2010 at the age of 100. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Granny D Never Stopped being a Teacher, Mentor, or an Activist

Re-posted from Huffington Post written by co-author of Granny D's American Century, Dennis Michael Burke

New from University Press of New England and University of New Hampshire Press, Doris "Granny D" Haddock's latest collection of memoirs covering the last 100 years, Granny D's American Century.  To order a copy of the book, visit Available in Hardcover (ISBN978-1-61168-234-2) and Ebook (EISBN 978-1-61168-235-9).

I learned a few very good things during my travels with Doris "Granny D" Haddock. The first, which sounds hackneyed, is that one person can make a difference. It's truer than I imagined. When Matt Keller and other young Common Cause lobbyists were making their rounds on the Hill to get votes for McCain-Feingold--a flawed but worthwhile attempt to limit the flood of corrupting money into campaigns--they kept running into the same objection from Members of Congress: "Yeah, you good government folks want this reform, but the real people back home don't care about it--it's a Beltway thing."

Matt told me that all that changed overnight when they could say, "No, actually, people do care, so much so, in fact, that a 90 year-old New Hampshire lady is walking from California to D.C. to support this bill--and she's getting lots of ink along the way." The ink was true: newspapers and local TV stations were all over her, and were changing their editorial stances in favor of the reform. Even the conservative Dallas Morning News endorsed the reform after they talked to her.  So, yeah, one person matters. A lot.

The second thing I learned is that personal sacrifice is the key to political change, and it's very rare today. Getting on a bus to D.C. and walking around with signs doesn't cut it today, if it ever did. If there's not a little Selma in the march, it doesn't much matter. If Doris had been a healthy 35-year-old walking across the country, she would not have moved the bill to passage, which she did. (It could not have passed it without her, according to the bill's sponsors). Her secret weapon was her willingness to endure incredible leg cramps every night and to suffer through steep hills with her emphysema and her arthritis. Reporters walking with her became true believers, starting most notably with Frank Bruni of The New York Times. Big changes are all about personal sacrifice and the acceptance of pain to demonstrate the importance of the issue. The only real way to show people the depth of your feelings is to show them what you will do short of suicide or masochism (which don't sell and don't represent high human values).

Doris's willingness to keep going was an inspiration not only to me (I was the Common Cause guy for Arizona when she strode into our deadly desert), but also to people like the D.C. public relations wiz John Anthony, who pushed her story onto Good Morning America, NPR and a hundred other platforms. He introduced her, in fact, to Arianna Huffington, who became a big supporter of Doris and her message. Some 2,300 people were walking with Doris when she reached Washington, and she had to ski the last 90 miles after the biggest snowstorm in 40 years.

So I learned that we each can make a difference, but it isn't a casual thing: we have to make a sacrifice--that's the second thing to take away from Doris's life. We have to leave our ego and false sense of dignity at home and just get out there and suffer our way through. I learned that when you really do that, and when you are really balls-to-the-wall in service to a good cause, doors and opportunities open like magic for you every new day. It's actually spooky.

There was a third thing: A few years after her long walk, after the passage of her bill, she recruited a few friends to help her register working women to vote in advance of the 2004 election. It was a grueling trek--I don't remember how many cities, but about 23,000 miles were involved, mostly in a rattletrap old van. What I learned with her on that trek was the fact that the Democrats, or lets say the progressives, can easily win every election in almost every state if they would just listen to people and help them. On that trek, which is the subject of the second half of her new, posthumous, memoir, she did two things of note:

She took over the jobs of working women, just long enough for them to register to vote. She was an alligator feeder in Orlando, a mermaid near Tampa, and a bartender on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a masseuse in Detroit, and much more. She went into a strip club in Tampa to register the women, which she did (refusing a turn on the stage). She did all that to attract the television and print stories that would encourage working women to register, and encourage voter registration officials to create outreach programs. Her message to working women was, "Yes, it's a pain to take time off and go register, but if I can go to all this trouble at my age and infirmity just to remind you, you can damn well do this thing for yourself and your country," and it worked.

The other, more mind-opening thing she did was listen to people's troubles. When our little wildly-painted van pulled into a housing project, be it Little Haiti, Fort Meyers, Memphis, St. Louis, or as far up as Duluth, kids came out to see us. Our traveling artist, Blue Broxton, would start drawing on the sidewalks with big chalk, and then she would give colors to the kids, and the sidewalks would explode. Then their parents would come out to see, and we would register them. Many of those people said they had never had anyone come into the project to help them register. They told us their problems, and we listened and often did what we could with phone calls to officials. We encouraged them to organize, and to work with churches and other organizations. People seemed inspired by Granny to actually do things like that for themselves and their neighbors. They planned after-the-vote parties to encourage voting.

We learned that many young adults had lost the right to vote because of the rap sheet that follow people in the projects as a result of Clinton's putting a zillion more cops on the streets instead of ending poverty. When we showed up in projects with the forms these young people needed to restore their voting rights, they lined up for them. Mothers took copies so they could make more copies after we left. Had anyone from either political party ever come through here to listen or to help? Never, they said. Never. And there were enough votes right there to swing any election.

With Chicago's amazing Andrea Raila we cruised the halls of Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago. People were delighted to register, and delighted to know they could vote down at the school they could see from their windows. Were we the first to knock on their doors with voter forms? Yes, they said, we were. Before we left, Doris cried in the parking lot to see such lovely children in such poverty, and so abandoned by the political class.

When the Democratic Convention in Boston rolled around, Doris spoke to a gathering of Dean and Kucinich progressives, whose joint gathering she had worked to create. She told them that elections are just the report card to tell us how well we have been listening to people and helping them with their problems. She said that to just show up every few years and ask for votes was fraud. She said that if the Democrats would shed their fancier offices and plunk down in the middle of the neighborhoods that needed political help every day, then the Democrats would never lose an election.
And she was right. But the parties are, for the most part, just lawyers versus doctors, vying for power. The Democratic party's dedication to real people's needs has more often than not been a scam--the present administration being not much of an exception.

At the end of her working women vote trek, a twist of fate (the last-minute departure of the Democrat candidate) made Doris the New Hampshire candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2004--not because she thought she could win or wanted to, but because it would be an opportunity to turn her state back into the blue by stumping against Bush's war and his anti-middle class policies. In fact, New Hampshire turned blue by a few thousand votes, and her headquarters was a victory celebration for those of us who knew her real reason for running.

That, perhaps was the fourth thing she taught me: you never lose if you're all in. You never lose because, as she said in a speech in Pecos, Texas, when walking across all of our country:
"Never be discouraged from being an activist because people tell you that you'll not succeed. You have already succeeded if you're out there representing truth or justice or compassion or fairness or love. You already have your victory because you have changed the world. You have changed the status quo by you. You have changed the chemistry of things, and changes will spread from you, will be easier to happen again in others because of you, because, believe it or not, you are the center of the world."
She believed that, not only for herself, but for you and me. She often stole that great old quote: "democracy is not something you have; it's something you do."

It's what she did. It's what we all must do, even on days when our bones creak and our voices wheeze.

Dennis Michael Burke is the co-author of Granny D's American Century [University Press of New England, $27.95].

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Treats from Paula Shoyer for Purim

Portion of this  blog is reposted from Paula Shoyer's blog

The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem, and he loved her more than his other women and made her queen. But the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her nationality.

The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. In a speech that is all too familiar to Jews, Haman told the king, “There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws; therefore it does not profit the king to suffer them.” Esther 3:8. The king gave the fate of the Jewish people to Haman, to do as he pleased to them. Haman planned to exterminate all of the Jews.

Mordecai persuaded Esther to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. This was a dangerous thing for Esther to do, because anyone who came into the king's presence without being summoned could be put to death, and she had not been summoned. Esther fasted for three days to prepare herself, then went into the king. He welcomed her. Later, she told him of Haman's plot against her people. The Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.

Jewish people are also commanded to eat, drink and be merry. 

In addition, they are commanded to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. The sending of gifts of food and drink is referred to as shalach manos (lit. sending out portions). Among Ashkenazic Jews, a common treat at this time of year is hamentaschen (lit. Haman's pockets). These triangular fruit-filled cookies are supposed to represent Haman's three-cornered hat.

It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests. I have heard that the usual prohibitions against cross-dressing are lifted during this holiday, but I am not certain about that. Americans sometimes refer to Purim as the Jewish Mardi Gras.
Information about Purim is from the Jewish Virtual Library

University Press of New England and our member press Brandeis University Press are delighted to have author, Paula Shoyer, share her recipes for hamentaschen.  For more of Paula's wonderful Kosher desserts, just in time for Passover, pick up your copy of The Kosher Baker

A Rainbow of Hamentaschen

For most of my life, I had no love for hamentaschen, the triangle-shaped filled cookies eaten on the Jewish holiday of Purim.  I always found the doughs dry and the fillings boring.  When I received my husband's family recipe, I had to change my tune.  The dough was easy to roll, shape and re-roll, and the cookies came out perfect and tasty every time.  I filled them with jam, prune and poppy seed fillings and chocolate for the kids.  After a few years, I was bored again.  

Last Thursday, as I was lying in bed in London at 3:00 am  suffering from jet lag, my mind drifted to what I needed to do when I returned home: Purim. Mishloach Manot. Hamentaschen.   I must have been inspired by the complete rainbow I saw in Edinburgh, Scotland earlier that day which appeared following 10 minutes of giant hail and sideways rain; I started to imagine tinted hamentaschen doughs that were flavored to match their fillings.

I returned to my laboratory and created raspberry, chocolate, apricot, hazelnut and pistachio hamentaschen. I filled the pistachio ones with pistachio paste and some with little triangles of good quality chocolate. I played around with the amount of baking powder in the recipe and found that less baking powder yielded crisper cookies.  My flat metal spatula was the perfect tool to lift the dough circles.  I discovered that chilling the dough for several hours or overnight made it easier to roll, but you can still roll right away if you want, just sprinkle more flour on your parchment and dough.  The chocolate dough can be found in The Kosher Baker, and I filled some with chocolate chunks and others with parve white chocolate chips.  My lemon hamentaschen recipe appears on the Joy of Kosher website.  

What is the most unusual hamentaschen you have ever tasted?  Any flavors you would like to see developed?  Let me know.  Happy Purim!

Pistachio Hamentaschen         Makes 4 dozen
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-5 drops green food coloring
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup shelled pistachio nuts, ground fine
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting parchment and dough
one 11-ounce can pistachio nut paste
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment.  In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, oil, and orange juice, and mix well. Add green coloring to achieve desired shade of green.  Add the baking powder, ground nuts and flour and mix until the dough comes together. You can chill the dough at least one hour or overnight or bake right away. 
Divide the dough in half.  Take another two pieces of parchment and sprinkle flour on one, place one dough half on top, and then sprinkle more flour on top of the dough. Place the second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll on top of the parchment until the dough is about ¼ -inch thick. Every few rolls, peel back the top parchment and sprinkle more flour on the dough.
Use a glass or round cookie cutter about 2 to 3 inches in diameter to cut the dough into circles. Place a teaspoon of the pistachio paste in the center and then fold in 3 sides to form a triangle, leaving a small opening in the center. Pinch the 3 sides very tightly. Place on the prepared cookie sheets. Repeat with the rest of the dough and re-roll and cut any dough scraps you have.
Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly browned. The baking time often depends of the type of cookie sheet used: cookies on darker sheets bake faster. Just watch the cookies until they look done—you do not want them to be brown on top because then they will be too hard. Slide the parchment onto racks to cool the cookies.

Raspberry Hamentaschen    
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon raspberry extract, Bakto Flavors 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-5 drops pink food coloring
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting parchment and dough
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
6 ounces fresh raspberries

For the dough, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, extracts and food coloring well and then add the baking powder and flour and mix until combined.  After you roll out and cut circles according to instructions above, fill each circle with 1 teaspoon jam and one fresh raspberry.  Follow instructions above to shape and bake. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rob Brooks: Sex Genes & Rock ' n ' Roll

reposted from

Rob Brooks: Sex Genes & Rock 'n' Roll

Throughout the history of medicine, most progress came from improved understanding of how we get infections, diseases and other mental and physical afflictions. But medicine can become even better when we understand why we get sick, and why our bodies, including our minds, respond to infections and stress in the ways that they do. The new field of Darwinian Medicine illuminates the origins of diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's disease and the causes of obesity, depression and schizophrenia.
Important evolutionary insights go well beyond medicine. Evolution is useful anywhere living organisms are involved, such as agriculture, fisheries, biotechnology, conservation, and carbon accounting. Most of all, evolution can teach us much about what it means to be alive, and why people do what they do. Another new field, evolutionary psychology, could be the most important development in understanding human behavior since Herr Professor Freud cracked open his note book and asked for the first time 'So, tell me about your childhood.'
In my new book Sex, Genes & Rock 'n' Roll: How Evolution Has Shaped the Modern World (University of New Hampshire Press), I aim to provide an entertaining glimpse of the world through the eyes of an evolutionary biologist. I research animal and human evolution in order to understand both human history and the lives people lead today.
The following slides provide a few highlights from the book, tidbits showing how an evolutionary perspective can give useful and interesting insights into familiar issues and problems.
Read the full article and the slide show: Rob Brooks: Sex Genes & Rock 'n' Roll.