Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Introducing: B. in the City

I have been wanting to do this for a long time. A few years ago I started a blog series in My Dog, Dinner called B. in the City and it was all about all the things I did or you could so in the city of Calgary.

It didn't last that long. I still labeled some of my adventures as B. in the City but I stopped going out of my way to post things.

A few months ago I created a new blog called B. in the City (B. being me of course) and I have been updating it with information and events as they come to me. Sadly, I don't have the time to put all the events that I find but I put the ones that interest me the most. I always receive feedback about the amount of knowledge that I have of happenings in the city so I thought it might be nice to have a "go to" place where all of my information can be accessed (as side from picking my brain).

My intention is to bring attention to the things I think deserve attention. Events, festivals, eats, adventures, free stuff, local products, presale codes for concerts I am interested in, etc. I am not really sure how it's going to look in a year. I hope it will be full and well developed like My Dog, Dinner. I haven't been able to figure out how to make it stand-out in Google searches but it will come. There is a hair place in the states that I think is kind of pissed off I have the same title.

There is a link on the right side of my blog (exact picture that is posted above-- for now) that will take you directly there or you can also find it in my blog list just below on the right side again.

It's been fun so far finding stuff to write about. There should be lots more in the coming months to update and when I get my cookie business up and running, I'll be posting about that in there as well. GO ME!

If you have any feed back, please let me know. I am all ears.

I do this for that one person on a Saturday night, wondering what the hell they can do in the damn city that doesn't involve going to the bar or to the movies.

I do this for the person who has just asked out their soul mate and has no idea where to take her and wants to do something special.

I do this to help spread awareness about the gems this little city of ours has to offer.

I do this to try and make life a little easier and a lot more fun.

I do this for all of you. You have supported me this far, and I love you.

Lets hear it for funny dreams and know-it-alls! *cheers!


There is a lot of stuff going on right now. I seem to be working on everything. I'm still applying for jobs, I just sent another resume yesterday. It usually takes about 6-8 weeks for things to come through, at least for the stuff I've been recently applying for. There is a system that I can check online to see the status. I applied for a position as a buyer with The City of Calgary. I know I have what it takes to do it.

After I got home from Monday night Pub Night I baked cookies again. I am working on my recpeies still. I did a dark chocolate chunk (ew HATE that word) cookie. It is so delicate it melts in your mouth before it even touches your lips. I am beyond impressed with myself. I have a good quality product. I just need to find the right chocolate. I chopped up a good qauity bar of chocolate last night, I think the neighbours must have thought I was doing demolition in my condo. Next cookie I am trying is a fresh ginger cookie. Chewy and dense. No tea needed for this cookie. All of these are cookies my mum can eat, she has an allergy to dairy and they also don't have trans fats (I am not using shortening).

I'm still working on my guitar, I know someone who is in a well known Calgary band who has offered to help me get past my beginner level. The best motivation for keeping the guitar practice going is not wanting to rebuild my callouses. I restrung everything with the help of CW and I'm good to go with some decent sounding guitars. I've been learning Ray LaMontange songs because they are so beautiful and soulful. I see him tonight in concert, SO EXCITED!

Driving has been going well. I'm excited to get my car.

I hit 100 lbs over the weekend. 100 lbs. I have never been heavier than 98 lbs in my life. I have never been this healthy and curvy. I am proud of me. It's a symbol for how good I'm doing. I look in the mirror and love everything about my body. I was so frail and skinny at the start of the year. That was so sad. I put in so much work and I overcame everything. I feel so strong, vivacious and alive. I don't know if anyone really knows just how hard I worked to get where I am now. It doesn't matter though, I know and I am moved to happy tears with pride for myself.
I'm working quietly on planning my next trip. I can't decide if I want to go at it alone or bring someone along for the ride. All I know is there will be adventure to be had. Great, wonderful adventure.

School starts in September as does my training/yoga/gym stuff. I need to go to the university to pick-up my books. I also like to find where my classroom is this time. It's not in the science buildings. I really not to take some social science programs but they are all during the day. It turns out another friends of mine wants to take similar classes but he can only find ones during the day as well. He works just like me so he can't go but he mentioned Athabasca University which has a wonderful correspondence program. I might follow along those tracks.

Mixed in with all these is a satisfying social life, there have been changes, some of the people I used to be really close too are no longer as close. I am better adjusted to it now. It took me some time though. It went from someone who I spent almost every day with to someone who I only talk to once or twice a month. Just blam. Done. The partner had issues with me for a while, jealousy and that put a strain on everything. Things are better but it's kind of left me a little sad. I have established stronger relationships with other friends and made lots of new ones as well.

There are some interesting people in my life right now. I still look at my life like it is a computer game or something different levels and challanges to overcome so I can move on to something bigger and better. Each of these new people have a different feel to them. Some feel like the past, some feel like the present and others feel like the future. It's interesting to me.

Anyway, I am not sure why I wanted to share where my life was. I think I am just proud and happy. I am not meaning to sound braggy, I just want to stard forth and share.

What has your summer been like? Have you been able to move forward with tasks you've wanted to accomplish or were you able to take a nice, relaxing break from it all?


Blind Love

My best friends, brothers wife or should I say my first ever boyfriends wife or should I say my last boyfriends, brothers ex-girlfriend (!!) has decided to set me up on a blind date.

for real.

I have a blind date, I don't know anything about him. He's nice, he may have been in the military, he knows JB and she can vouch for his character. She's been very honest about a lot of things recently so I trust her opinion a lot.

I'm seeing other boys, in a nice way. I have not resorted back to the ways from my mid 20's and I'm proud of me. I'm taking my time, listening to my gut and just being a lady about it. I feel way better. This is exciting to me and I forgot that I actually like dating. I like meeting new people. I like the quest of looking for someone who matches me and I match them. Someone who has the same grounded ideas about love. I realise now that I'm not the one that needs to compromise my standards, that there is someone who is what I'm looking for. I know that I can but I don't need to.

RH was right, she said when I was ready I would just start attracting opportunities. People are coming out of the wood work. I'm okay being single but in the end, I want to share my life with friends and a lover. To me, that is fulfilment. Someone who I can have my life and be with. Someone who doesn't give up their life to be with me either. Balance, that is what I need. I don't need to be a single girl with a boyfriend on the weekend and I don't need to be a girlfriend who can only be with her boyfriend. I am happier when I both myself and my partner are autonomous yet still emotionally intimate. No crazy infatuation 'love'.

I am in such a healthy place. I should have taken this break months ago but I didn't. And maybe if I had not I may not have been able to reach the place that I am now in my life and that would have been a shame becasue I like  LOVE where I am. I love everyone and most importantly I really love me.

Enough fluffy chat about love, I have a blind date this Friday. I have no idea who he is, what he looks like or what we are going to do. JB is playing match maker so we will see. I trust her and most importantly I really trust me.

Tell me, have you ever been out on a blind date before?


Look at this adorable post from Giulia Geranium. It's right up my alley adorable. I love bunnies.

Changing Cup Size

Coffee lovers at two Ontario Tim Hortons outlets may soon be doing a double take at their double-double.The popular chain is brewing up something new using outlets in Kingston and Sudbury as test markets.

Tim Hortons spokesman Nick Javor says the company is introducing a new extra-large cup size which will hold 24 ounces (710 millilitres).

This may cause you to gain weight.

Let's say you're a double-double drinker (as many Canadians are - for my American friends, a double double is double cream, double sugar). Let's also say that for each respective cup, you have two a day (meaning your Tim's fix was two small double doubles daily). If you continue to order up the same, given Tim's new larger sizes, how many extra calories will you be consuming a year?

Small: 18,250 extra calories (roughly 5lbs more).
Medium: 18,250 extra calories (roughly 5lbs more).
Large: 29,200 extra calories (roughly 8lbs more).

So for those keeping score, or if you yourself are a Tim's junkie, if you gain weight consequent to these changes, it's not because of your genetics, it's not because of inactivity or a lack of "willpower", and it's not because of epigenetics, obesogens, advertisements or ill-directed crop subsidies. It's because of one single, solitary change in your daily food environment.

Think anything else has changed in our food environment since let's say the 1970s? How many other changes have there been that have been foisted on us that impact on weight?

What year did chocolate milk start in school lunch programs, or vending machines show up in school halls? When did Pizza and Ice Cream Days become entrenched as fundraisers? Which genius decided that kids need treats each and every time they step on a blade of grass outside, or "sports drinks" when we were all just fine with water? How large has your go-to fast food combo grown? What meals is your boss bringing in for you to eat while you work late? How many foods are you buying that your parents used to make from scratch? How many times are you going out to eat or buying takeout because your day is spent tethered to an electronic leash?

I could go on, and on, and on.

The world has changed. While there are certainly hundreds of factors involved in societal weight gain, there's no doubt (in my mind at least), the most important factor by far is the environment we've got not choice but to live in, and if we really want to see things change, it's the environment we need to work on.

Now of course bodies aren't perfect math formulas, and not every Tim's drinker's going to gain weight - but some are. And that said, daily Tim's coffee drinkers, maybe now's the time to make the switch to black?

More on that tomorrow (maybe).


Monday, August 29, 2011

Say it Outloud

This morning as I was getting ready for work a commercial came on for The Bay. The husky voiced president, Bonnie Brooks, went on to explain some of the "exciting" changes the department store has made as well as introducing their new on-line magazine "B Insider". It may look innocent enough on paper but hearing it on the radio my ears picked-up something else. Go on, say it out loud. Have another person sitting next to you say it out loud and hear what I hear.


It makes me wonder, did they not talk about this at all? Was there not a brainstorming meet with names being tossed around? Did someone stop and say "Hey, wait... this kind of sounds like something else... "

The saving grace of course is that on paper, with the "B" from The Bay, it looks great and totally not suggestive.

Anyway, that was the start to my morning. I did a search to see if I could find a sound bite or something but I seem to have been the only one with perverted enough ears to have heard it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Guess What I Get to Buy for a Dollar??

thanks Mum and Dad! My first car for a $1-- a little Honda Element!

A Pop-Up Book for You

When I was little 2 of my favorite picture books were pop-up books. One was a The Night Before Christmas and the other was something about a circus. Waking up at the wee hours of the morning I would creep into the library and read and re-read those same books over and over and over. My little fingers would gentle explore the paper works in front of me, careful for the break the delicate handy work. My eyes would take in everything, every detail and I would be filled with wonder until my parents woke up to feed me breakfast.

I think memories like this are one of the reasons I am drawn to this book, Visionaire 55 Surprise. It's beautiful.

Family Jewels That You Can Eat

The perfect gift for everyone on your list this Christmas (yes, it's August and I said the "C" word. Admit it, you've been thinking about it.). It glitters like a gem, it comes in a pretty box, it's sweet, it's gluten free, its vegan, it's non-dairy, and it's stylish. It's the XAN Confections Jewel collection.


These actually remind me of these little Burie chocolates we would get from one of our gem supplies at Christmas. They were so smart with their diamond certificate and appraisal. Here is the site, they were amazing chocolates too. Melt in your mouth. The box would be gone before the end of day.

Fantastic, isn't it!

I Painted my Chicken... Gold?

If you’re anything like Veruca Salt, you want your food now and you want it pretty, Daddy! Well my darlings, here’s the solution: Esslack Food Spray.

Created by a German company called The Deli Garage, this edible spray allows you to glam up your food in gold or silver, without altering the taste or edibility. Seriously awesome, right? We’re thinking this is one food trend that’s going to blow up bigger than bacon-flavored everything.

Bacon Jack

Last night I went to Libertine on 8th Ave. I had already eaten Mushroom Toast at Local 522 so I wasn't overly hungry when I arrived. I picked something that was $5 and I picked something that had bacon. Safe all around folks. Well, they brought me out popcorn. For real. I don't even really like popcorn (which FYI, I call "bee-bop" and Bacon, I call that "Bean-bum". Left over isms from when I was a young child). Big pieces of bacon, toasted almonds and sweet-salty goe covering every piece.

It was nothing short of amazing.

oh wait.. I just googled Bacon Jack for a recipe and it makes sense. The Jack is for Jack Daniels.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eating Life

Albert Adrià’s falling chocolate trunk filled with frozen chocolate powder, on a forest floor of lime-and-mint yogurt, with almond praline, puffed quinoa, and green-pistachio streusel [via]

amazing. Too beautiful to eat. Too stunning not too.

The Science of Sweet

 Last year I read a wonderful article that blasted a lot of sugar beliefs I had out of the water. It was posted in a highly respected blog I reguallry follow called Science Based Medicine. Please, read:


High Fructose Corn Syrup: Tasty Toxin or Slandered Sweetener?

Published by Jim Laidler under Nutrition,Public Health

The perils of fructose:
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has, over the past few decades, gradually displaced cane and beet sugar as the sweetener of choice for soft drinks, candy and prepared foods. In recent years, there have been a growing number claims that HFCS is a significant health risk to consumers, responsible for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and a wide variety of other illnesses. 

In fact, there are large amounts of experimental data supporting the claims that high levels of fructose in the diet can cause hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats — triglycerides primarily — in the blood), obesity and insulin resistance and may lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (for a good recent review, see [1]). A high-fructose diet is thought to cause hyperlipidemia (and probably visceral obesity) because fructose is preferentially “sent”  to fatty acid synthesis and it also reduces the activity of lipoprotein lipase (for a good review, see [2]). The mechanisms by which fructose causes insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease are less clear (see, for example [3], [4] and [5]), but there is no shortage of hypotheses. Despite the fact that some of the underlying mechanisms are not clear, the evidence seems pretty solid that there are real risks to high fructose consumption.

However, the question remains — is HFCS more of a health risk than other sweeteners? Many of the sources that demonize HFCS list alternative sweeteners — cane sugar, honey, agave syrup, etc. — that they claim are healthier than HFCS, but those claims usually rest primarily on the fact that these alternatives to HFCS are “natural” rather than any actual data showing that they are safer than HFCS. 

Sugar 101:
Before we can properly analyze these claims, we need to understand a bit about sugar. To begin with, what is sugar? To most people, sugar is the white granulated solid that they find in the sugar bowl. In reality, sugar is a much broader term. There are two general classes of sugars — aldose and ketose — and over twenty individual sugars (monosaccharides), if you limit yourself to only those found in nature. Of these, only a few play any significant role in human nutrition, primarily glucose, fructose and galactose (ribose, a sugar that forms the backbone of DNA and RNA, also plays a minor nutritional role). 

Further complicating the issue, there are also sugars — disaccharides — that are compounds made of two monosaccharides covalently bound together. The most common of these is sucrose, a compound made by joining one molecule of glucose to one molecule of  fructose. Sucrose is the sugar in the average sugar bowl. It is also the sugar in brown sugar, molasses, cane sugar, beet sugar and is the major component of maple syrup (and maple sugar). Another common disaccharide is lactose (milk sugar), which is a combination of glucose and galactose. Less commonly encountered is maltose, a combination of two molecules of glucose. 

Starches, such as corn starch, are also sugar. They are made up of long interlinked chains (polymers, also known as polysaccharides) of individual sugars (usually glucose). Cellulose, the major component of paper and wood, is also a polymer of glucose (with different bond geometries). Insect and crustacean shells are made of a sugar polymer known as chitin (also a major component of fungal cell walls). We literally live in a world of sugar. 

One final note about sugars — humans only absorb monosaccharides; no matter what form the sugar enters the digestive tract, it is only absorbed after it is broken down to its component monosaccharides (there are, as usual in biology, a few minor exceptions to this rule). There are a variety of enzymes — amylases, disaccharidases, etc. — that perform this function. Any disaccharide or polysaccharide that isn’t broken down (such as the raffinose and stachyose in beans and many other gas-causing foods) remains inside the gut, providing food for our gut bacteria.

“Natural” Sweeteners:
Now, let’s take a look at some of the sugar-based sweeteners in common use today. Honey was probably the first sweetener — at least in the part of the world where honey bees are native. Honey is about 82% sugar, with almost all the remainder being water. The sugar in honey is 43% glucose,  50% fructose, 4% galactose, 2% maltose, 1% sucrose and trace amounts of other sugars [6]. As mentioned earlier, it is considered by many to be a natural sweetener that is a healthy alternative to HFCS. 

Another sweetener used in ancient times — especially in regions where honey bees were not native — is tree sap. The most famous of these is the sap of sugar maple trees, used to make maple syrup and, when crystallized, maple sugar. Natural maple syrup is 60% sugar, with that sugar being 95% sucrose, 4% glucose and 1% fructose [6]

Fruit juices also have an ancient history of use as sweetening agents and — not surprisingly — are often cited as natural and healthy alternatives to HFCS. The sugar content of fruits varies with the type of fruit and even with the variety. Apples, for instance, are a bit over 10% sugar by weight, with that sugar being 57% fructose, 23% glucose and 20% sucrose. Peaches, in contrast, are 8.4% sugar by weight with that sugar being 57% sucrose, 23% glucose and 18% fructose. Pears – the most common fruit juice used in sweetening - are 9.8% sugar, with that sugar being 64% fructose, 28% glucose and 8% sucrose. Table grapes are about 15% sugar, with the sugars being 53% fructose and 47% glucose [6]

Sucrose, the disaccharide in common table sugar, was originally obtained in ralatively pure form from sugar cane, which can only grow in the tropics. The high cost of cane suger led to a search for alternative sources. As early as the 1700’s, sucrose was being extracted from sugar beets, but it took both selective breeding of sugar beets to increase their sucrose content and improvements in the extraction process to make beet sugar economically viable. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, sucrose from sugar beets had outstripped cane sugar in Europe and the U.S. Sugar beets have the advantage of growing throughout the temperate zone, closer to the demand. Just to be clear, beet sugar and case sugar are indistinguishable — they are exactly the same chemical compound (sucrose).

The rise of HFCS:
So, with all of these sugar-based sweeteners available, what prompted the development of HFCS?

Corn syrup is a relatively recent arrival as a sweetener; it had to wait until food processors discovered how to take corn starch (which, like most starches, is a polymer composed of long interlinked chains of glucose molecules) and break it down into isolated glucose molecules using the enzymes amylase and maltase. Commercial amounts of corn syrup were available by the middle of the 20th century [7]. Corn syrup was so much cheaper than sucrose that it saw extensive use as a sucrose substitute for thickening foods and to help retain moisture. It wasn’t much used solely as a sweetener because it isn’t as sweet as sucrose.

The fact is that not all sugars are equally sweet. If we assign sucrose (table sugar) a sweetness of 100%, glucose has a sweetness of 60 – 75% (on a gram-per-gram basis) and fructose has a sweetness of 140 – 170% [8][9][10]. (Note: the sweetness of fructose varies with its conformation, and so will differ under different circumstances [11]) Candy and soft drink manufacturers exploited the greater sweetness of fructose even before HFCS was available by using what is called “invert sugar”. Invert sugar is sucrose that has been treated with a weak acid solution and then recrystallized (to get rid of the acid). This treatment causes a portion of the sucrose to break apart into fructose and glucose. Although the glucose part is less sweet than sucrose, the fructose is so much sweeter that the overall effect is to get more sweetness with less sugar. This allowed the manufacturers to use less sugar and thereby save money, even though invert sugar was more expensive than plain sucrose.

In 1957, a process was developed to convert some of the glucose in corn syrup to fructose, yielding a product that was 42% fructose and 58% glucose [12]. This dramatically increased its sweetness, making a product that was a commercially viable competitor to sucrose as a sweetener. This was HFCS 42, which has a sweetness — gram-per-gram — slightly greater than sucrose (110%).

The primary advantage of HFCS 42 to food manufacturers was its low cost — much lower than the cost of sucrose. Secondary advantages were that it retained moisture better than sucrose (twice as many molecules), was slightly sweeter than sucrose (so less was needed), was in a liquid form and didn’t caramelize as readily as sucrose (this last one could be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on the use).

Later, HFCS manufacturers began putting some of their HFCS 42 through separation columns to produce syrup that was 90% fructose (HFCS 90) [5]. Today, the bulk of the HFCS 90 production is used to make corn syrup with 55% fructose, known as HFCS 55, although a very small amount is used in some reduced-calorie confections (HFCS 90 is about 60% sweeter per gram than sucrose, which allows a 35% reduction in the amount of sugar used). 

With the introduction of HFCS 55, which is 25% sweeter than sucrose, food manufacturers found that the slightly increased price (which was still less than sucrose) was more than offset by the fact that they needed less of it to get the same level of sweetness. 

That’s right, HFCS allowed food manufacturers to use less sugar — and thus fewer sugar calories — in their products without compromising sweetness. Using sucrose — cane or beet sugar — would require 20% more sugar (and 20% more sugar calories) than using HFCS 55. 

How safe are other sweeteners compared to HFCS?:
Still, none of this alters the fact that a diet high in fructose has been shown to cause — or at least contribute to — hyperlipidemia, obesity, insulin resistance and cardiac disease. However, those who have been paying attention will have noticed that HFCS is not the ONLY sweetener that contains significant amounts of  fructose.

In fact, sucrose — even “natural” cane sugar — is 50% fructose once it is digested and absorbed. While this is 20% less than the fructose content of HFCS 55, food manufacturers need to use less (about 20% less) HFCS 55 to get the same sweetness, so it’s a wash as far as fructose content.

Honey, long touted as a “healthy” and “natural” alternative to evil HFCS, is also 50% fructose. Agave syrup (also called agave nectar), often promoted as a healthy alternative to HFCS (especially in diabetics),  is very high in fructose, although there is some disagreement over how much fructose it contains. According to the USDA, the sugar in cooked agave is 87% fructose (due to breakdown of fructans — a starch-like polymer of fructose — in the plant when it is cooked) [6]. A wholesale supplier of agave syrup, however, lists the fructose as 70 — 75% of the total sugar in their syrup [13]. Either way, agave syrup is higher in fructose than any other natural sweetener (and any form of HFCS except HFCS 90). 

Even fruit juices (and what could be more natural and healthy than fruit juice?) are 40 — 70% fructose, if you count the fructose in sucrose. And for those who argue that ingesting sucrose delays the absorption of fructose, Monsivais et al (2007) showed that sucrose breaks down spontaneously in carbonated beverages (and, presumably, all acid solutions), with 50% of the sucrose being hydrolyzed to fructose and glucose within the first 30 days after bottling [14].

Finally, a study that directly compared the short-term effects of fructose, HFCS and sucrose showed that they are indistinguishable [15]

What does all this mean?:
So, what are the take-home messages from all of this? 
  1. HFCS 42 and HFCS 55 have essentially the same amount of fructose, as a fraction of their total sugar, as honey, sucrose (cane or beet sugar) or maple syrup/sugar (to be agonizingly precise, HFCS has slightly less, and HCFS 55 has slightly more).
  2. HFCS 42 and HFCS 55 have an equal or smaller amount of fructose, as a fraction of their total sugar, as many commonly consumed fruits.
  3. Agave syrup has higher fructose content than any type of HFCS except HFCS 90. 
For people who are worried about their health or their children’s health — and who isn’t, these days — the data suggest that the best choice is to reduce intake of all sweeteners containing fructose. That includes not only the evil HFCS, but also natural cane sugar, molasses (which is just impure cane sugar), brown sugar (ditto) and honey. Even “unsweetened” (no added sugar) fruit juices need to be considered when limiting your family’s fructose intake. 

Finally, the best nutritional advice is to eat everything in moderation — and that includes sweets. While a diet high in fructose may increase your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease — maybe — a fructose-free diet is not guaranteed to prevent those diseases. Eat a variety of foods, including a small amount of sweets, get enough exercise, watch your (and your children’s) weight and see your doctor for regular health check-ups. 
And stop worrying that HFCS is poisoning you and your children. 
Until later,

Jim Laidler
 Jim Laidler, MD graduated from USC School of Medicine and went on to do an internship in Pediatrics before spending four years as a flight surgeon in the US Army. After his military service, he completed a residency in Anesthesiology and a fellowship in Pain Medicine at the University of Illinois. He practiced for several years in Alaska and Oregon before deciding to take up a new career in research. He is currently finishing his PhD thesis in Molecular Biology in Portland, Oregon.

DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed by Dr. Laidler are his own and not those of any organization or institution he is affiliated with. His writings are not meant to diagnose or treat any diseases or disorders except ignorance and misinformation.


  1. Stanhope KL and Havel PJ. Fructose consumption: recent results and their potential implications. Ann. NY Acad. Sci. 2010 Mar;1190(1):15-24.
  2. Chong MF, Fielding BA and Frayn KN. Mechanisms for the acute effect of fructose on postprandial lipemia. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1511-20.
  3. Li P, et al. A high-fructose diet impairs Akt and PKCzeta phosphorylation and GLUT4 translocation in rat skeletal muscle. Horm. Metab. Res. 2008 Aug;40(8):528-32.
  4. Kebede M, et al. Fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase overexpression in pancreatic beta-cells results in reduced insulin secretion: a new mechanism for fat-induced impairment of beta-cell function. Diabetes. 2008 Jul;57(7):1887-95.
  5. Mellor KM, et al. Elevated dietary sugar and the heart: experimental models and myocardial remodeling. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 2010 May;88(5):525-40.
  6. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2009. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,  accessed 29 July 2010
  7. Alexander R.J. Maltodextrins: production, properties and applications. In: Starch Hydrolysis Products; Worldwide Technology, Production, and Applications (F.W. Schenck and R.E. Hebeda, eds.) 1992, pp.233-276. VCH Publishers, New York.
  8. Schiffman SS et al. Synergism among Ternary Mixtures of Fourteen Sweeteners. Chem. Senses. April 2000; 25(2):131-140 
  9. Hanover LM, White JS. Manufacturing, composition and applications of fructose. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Nov. 1993; 58(5): 724S-732S
  10. Davis EA. Functionality of sugars: physicochemical interactions in foods. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 1995; 62(1):170S-177S
  11. Shallenberger RS. Intrinsic chemistry of fructose. Pure & Appl. Chem. 1978; 50(11-12):1409-1420
  12. Marshall RO, Kooi ER, Moffett GM. Enzymatic conversion of D-glucose to D-fructose. Science 5 April 1957; 125(3249):648-649.
  13. The Colibree Company, Inc. website. accessed 23 July 2010.
  14. Monsivais P et al. Sugars and satiety: does the type of sweetener make a difference? Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2007; 86(1):116-123 
  15. Stanhope, KL et al. Twenty-four-hour endocrine and metabolic profiles following consumption of high-fructose corn syrup-, sucrose-, fructose-, and glucose-sweetened beverages with meals. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2008 May; 87(5):1194-1203.


As I explore the science behind baking I more and more aware of the role each ingredient has when creating the perfect cookie. I've been aware that sugar is more than a sweetner, it can also change the texture, taste, color and harness of a cookie. Rule of thumb, brown sugar has more mositure so it creates a chewier, softer cookie. White sugar has less and creates a thiner, crispier cookie.

But there is more. Much more...

When a recipe calls for creaming together the fat and sugar this is not simply a way of mixing these two ingredients together. The purpose of doing this step is to get air into the batter. This mixing causes the sugar granules to rub against the fat producing air bubbles in the fat. Later when the leavener is added, the leavening gases enlarge these air bubbles and cause the batter to rise when place in the oven. The length of time you cream the butter with the sugar determines the amount of air incorporated into the batter.

Sugar also attracts moisture in the batter which reduces the amount of gluten formed in the flour. The result of this is twofold. First, less gluten in the batter produces a baked good with a more tender crumb. Hence, recipes that contain a high sugar content produce a baked good with a more tender crumb Second, because not as much gluten is formed, the batter will be lighter. When baked, the batter will be able to rise more and the result will be a baked good with more volume.

The ability of sugar to hold moisture also prolongs the shelf life of baked goods. Liquid sugars hold more moisture than other types of sugars. Just as brown sugar will hold more moisture than granulated white sugar.

You may have wondered why batters brown in the oven. The browning is the result of the sugar reacting with the protein in other ingredients (eggs, milk) when heated. The higher the sugar content the darker the crust.

There are different types of sugar and the size of the granules can differ. Sugars vary in color from white to dark brown depending on the amount of molasses added during processing. The size of the sugar crystal affects the amount of air that can be incorporated into the batter during the creaming of the sugar and fat. For example, granulated sugar will incorporate more air into the batter than confectioner's sugar. The size of the crystal will also affect how quickly the sugar will dissolve in the batter. Therefore confectioner's sugar will dissolve quicker in the batter than granulated sugar.

White sugar is a refined sugar derived from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is sold in many granule sizes ranging from superfine to coarse.

Granulated white sugar or table sugar has fine to medium-sized granules and is the sugar most often used in recipes. Try to find one where the crystals are not too large as they do differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. When heated granulated white sugar takes on a toffee-like color and flavor.

Superfine (castor or caster) sugar is granulated white sugar that has superfine granules and is good for making meringues as it dissolves rapidly. You can make your own by processing granulated sugar in your food processor for a few seconds.

Coarse (decorators or pearl) sugar is granulated white sugar that has been processed into small, round grains that are larger than the grains of granulated sugar. They are typically used for garnishing baked goods.

Crystal sugar is like coarse sugar except the crystals are pellet shaped.

Confectioners, powdered or icing sugar is granulated sugar that has been ground to a powder with cornstarch added to prevent lumping and crystallization. It comes in 4X, 6X and 10X but 10X is the one generally found in stores. 10X means that the granulated sugar has been processed ten times. Confectioners sugar is used in meringues, icings, confections, and some sweet pastry.

Invert sugar is mainly used for commercial purposes and is produced by heating cane or beet sugar with a small amount of acid, such as tartaric acid. It comes in syrup form and is used in cake and candy making. Invert sugar gives baked goods: added sweetness and crust color, prolongs shelf-life, and when used in icings it produces added smoothness.

Brown sugar is a refined sugar that varies in color from light to dark brown and has a full-bodied flavor and soft moist texture. In the past brown sugar was semi-refined white sugar where some of the natural molasses was left in. Now brown sugar is made by adding molasses back into refined white sugar. The color will depend on the amount of molasses added during processing of the sugar. The darker the color the stronger the taste so use the one you like the best. The same weight of brown and white sugars has the same sweetness. Because white sugar is denser than brown sugar, to get equal sweetness firmly pack the brown sugar so when inverted the cup of brown sugar will hold its shape. Substituting brown sugar for white sugar in a recipe will produce a baked good that is a little moister with a slight butterscotch flavor.

Brown sugar has the tendency to lump and become hard. To avoid this, store in a glass jar or plastic bag in a cool dry place. If is becomes hard, soften it by placing a slice of apple in a plastic bag along with the brown sugar for a few days. You can also sprinkle a few drops of water on it and seal in plastic bag for a few days.

Raw Sugar is what is left after processing the sugar cane to remove the molasses and refine the white sugar. In North America raw sugar is actually not "raw" as it has been partially refined to remove any contaminants. The color is similar to light brown sugar but it's texture is grainier.

Demerara sugar is a raw sugar that has been purified. It comes from Guyana and is a dry, coarse-textured amber sugar that has a toffee-like flavor.

Muscovada or Barbados sugar is another raw sugar that has been purified. It has a finer grain that Demerara and very moist. Its color ranges from light to dark brown and it has a strong molasses taste.

Turbinado sugar is a raw sugar that has been steam cleaned. It is light brown in color and coarse grained, with a slight molasses flavor.

sugar info borrowed from The Joy of Baking

qoute from Chow Hound that proves me point about sugar:
"White sugar made a cripier, lighter colored cookie, Brown sugar made a denser, more moist cookie. However, the class favorites were those cookies made with a combination of the two!! "

That's Hot: II

It was April and I had been dating a boy for just a short while. It was his birthday and he didn't seem like the kind of person to buy for, he was more the type of person that you experience for. I wanted to give him an experience. When we had first met he had asked me "would you ride a train across Canada with me" at the time, I don't think I said anything out loud but in my head I squealed "yes!". But only a few months dating the boy, I thought a trip for two on the Rocky Mountaineer might have been too much. Price is never an issue for me but it might have been for him.

So then I settled on a hot air balloon ride early on the morning of his birthday. It includes a typical Champagne toast and breakfast for two (once both feet are planted firmly on the ground). Though silly romantic, I knew it was something he had never done. I wanted to give him adventure that wouldn't over whelm him. He might have enjoyed it. A birds eye view of the city spent most of his adult life in all while watching the sun rise above the hills and mountains.

Well, it didn't happen. I had to cancel because the weather was still wet. It was spring in Calgary. It was a huge risk to take.

And then we broke up.

I still have the card sitting by my front door. It was perfect birthday card for a hot air balloon ride with a man who was once the love of my life. I don't know what I'll do with it, I should just throw it away. It's still wrapped in the paper bag it came in so I often forget it's even there.

I never told this boy what I had planned. I always figured I'd have another chance to treat him. I didn't and that's okay. We went to Banff instead and we hung out at the spa. We drank too much, sang and danced as a woman played piano and in the wee hours of the night, sat side by side as we hammered out songs on the piano. and then I fell into a plant. I remember the next day my tummy hurt from the crunchy things we ate at the bar. We went home and went for a walk stopping at one of my recent haunts for chicken sandwiches ending the night with Harry Potter.

I'll go on a balloon ride one of these days, once I get the idea in my head I can't let it go until I've done it.


To balloon is to levitate above the ground, drifting silently as if in a dream. With its beginnings in 18th-century France, the endeavour has changed little since. You are still completely at the whims of the wind.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Edible Place Cards: delicious and pretty

I am planning a party. I have been living in my little condo for almost 5 years and I have yet to have a party. First reason was, my roommate didn't want one. Then when he moved out, I just never got around to it.

Well, now I'm trying to get around to it. I'm looking for inspiration. I am a creative, happy to home-make kind of girl. I put lots of effort into the things I do because I want people to feel special; appreciated. As I get older and busier, I don't always have 2 months to give to planning and creating so easy is what I like. 

That is what is so special about this find for Edible Place Cards:

Remember that old Betty Crocker jingle inviting consumers to “bake someone happy”? Well, your guests are guaranteed to approach your next breakfast, brunch or lunch party with big smiles on their faces when they encounter their names emblazoned in ... dough.

To make the kind of edible place card shown here, simply insert some basic choux dough (the light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, beignets and eclairs) into a pastry bag, pipe out the names of each guest in script and bake them all on a non-stick pan for no more than 10 minutes. (Take the nameplates out of the oven when they’re golden, not brown.)

After letting them cool – you can bake them the night before – set them on each plate as you would a place holder. Guests, at the risk of spoiling their appetites, may be tempted to take a bite immediately; the pastry can also saved for dipping into après-meal coffee or espresso. 

Amazing! I love it!

Vinyl Cafe Christmas

Let me tell you a story...

Stuart McLean presale started today. I got my usual 2nd row, center tickets. 1st row is too close for everyone. This is such a special tradition for me. I am so excited. The last two years we've seen Matt Andersen as a musical guest, he's amazing but to be honest. I'm a little tired of him. I want to see someone else. He was at Folk Fest this year and I didn't see him once. It was time for the rest of the world to discover him, I was off to discover other things. This year, we have Hawksley Workman, a musical talent I never would have chosen on my own to see. He's good, talented and the producers at the CBC do such a brilliant job showcasing wonder Canadian acts. I always comes away from it with a new artist or two under my belt and a deeper love for the ones I already enjoy.

There is something magical about the Stuart McLean Christmas Concert. It has been a family tradition since the year he started doing the series. To me, Stuart symbolises everything that Christmas is and should be. Warmth, family, kindness and gratitude. The stories he spins refreshes my image of the family I plan to have when I marry. The relationship I will fall into with the man I love. I wouldn't miss this night for the world. Last year, when I was so sick, shaking and clutching on to my mothers hands, it was Stuart that took me out of my head. The year before that, a blizzardy wintry day that I was sent home early from work because it was so bad out. We made it up to see Stuart and he walked around and greeted all his fans. He gave me the best hug of the year. The year before that, I was moved by the sweet, harmonizing voices of Dala and the lead singer from Salt and Poe Girl. Happy to be sitting along side my family and my best friend.

I couldn't think of a better way to start my Christmas off right. A Christmas Tradition that I will never give up till the day that I (or Stuart) dies.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Walk with a Girl Under an Umbrella

Dear Mr. Smith,

How do two people walk under an umbrella without being bonked on the head or poked in the eye?
I have known people to avoid umbrellas altogether for fear of blindness. This phobia has ruined many a potential romantic walk in the rain. Here's the proper technique: The gentleman confidently opens the umbrella and positions himself on the outer (street) side of the sidewalk. This way he protects the lady from the splashing of passing cars. He holds the umbrella in his inside hand (i.e. the hand closest to the lady) in a central position, so that it covers both partners.

He must hold it so high that it never touches the lady's head, even if she is taller than he. This is an unnatural and tiring position, and it is for this reason that the gentleman must brave it. He must not flag; he must not allow the umbrella to descend on her hair. The lady takes the gentleman's (umbrella-holding) arm. See how the umbrella draws them together? When they stop walking and turn to each other, in the damp bubble of black cloth, it is time to kiss.


As a woman who values manners in a man, I am always impressed with one who knows how to handle me. Though independent, I am never expecting when it comes to a mans attentivness. I do however like one who just knows what to do and does it with confidence. Otherwise, I just step up and make sure the pair of us are taken care of.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Mr. Layton

c/o the Globe and Mail, Jack Layton and wife.  May 2011

Dear Mr. Layton,

Although I am not an NDP supporter I was always encouraged and proud of you and your ideals. You dedicated your life to fighting for the betterment of all and not just a few. Equity, compassion and humanity. That was what you stood for, that was what the young votes resonated with. You fought hard both professionally and personally. You made life proud. Mr. Layton, you were a great statesman and you are an inspiration.

Lots of love,


"If I have tried to bring anything to federal politics, it is the idea that hope and optimism should be at their heart. We can look after each other better than we do today"

RIP Jack Layton
July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Food from England

My parents are home today, I dropped the car back off at their house tonight. I had asked for my parents to bring back sweets and such from England (the land of sweets!) and they sure did!

I got a giant bag of Monster Munch, I can't believe it. It's disgusting but actually really tasty. I love the Roast Beef Flavor. I know, how wrong is that statement? Mmmm...

I also got Battenburg Cake-- one of my all time favorites. Mmmm...

I also told my mum to surprise me with sweets and they picked me up some gummy stuff from the airport. Tasty tasty stuff. As well ( I know, I feel so spoilt! Totally made my day!), I got some note cards and envelopes (I love sending thank-you cards when I receive gifts and such) and this super soft, fuzzy zip up. I am beyond delighted!!

Nice way to tie up the day if I do say so myself.

I also talked to my Dad about my pending business. My game plan is in the right place so it sounds like once I am confident that my cookies are ready, I can get started. Exciting!

The Dark Mark-et

This doesn't have anything to do with Harry Potter or with a Dark Market. It's actually a dark pool. Goldman Sachs announced it will bring its “dark pool” stock market system SIGMA X to Canada, allowing investors to anonymously buy and sell stocks on the TSX. Stop the press, who is that? Vicki Vale! The Dark Knight? No, it’s only the Dark Pool, but fingers crossed Christian Bale will somehow be involved. Actually no, he's kind of a creep. Actually, he might be perfect for the job because this doesn't sit 100% with me. My investments are pretty solid and since they are long term I am not overly concerned with a volatile market but the idea of anonymity. That concerns me. But then the unknown is concerning.

I've been reading too much Yahoo news today. I should stop that.

Never Thought I'd See The Day When...

Gold and Platinum reach parity. Working in the jewelry industry a rule of thumb for goldsmiths and designers was "Platinum is double the price of gold"... It's what I told everyone when they were trying to decide what metal to pick (amongst the other pros and cons of the metals-- no I won't babble on about this kind of stuff even though I love too).

This is no longer the case. Gold has surged above $1800 an ounce and now.. Venezula wants it's gold back. Sorry, no more gold for you, it’s ours and we’re taking it back!

oh my.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Laying in bed, fully dressed. Talking about life.

Next Door

This place had amazing cherry pie. It wasn't the canned stuff but REAL
cherries. I ate second lunch here before going on my own self guided
wine tour.


I'm pretty proud of my collection. Now I just need some place to put it all.

Android vs. iPhone

Thanks to our friends at Hunch, we now know that Android users are 10% more likely to be men. We know that iOS users are 50% more likely to have been on the Internet before 1992. We know who is more likely to prefer General Tso’s Chicken over Pad Thai. It may not be the most important demographic data, but it’s definitely interesting.

I'm an iPhone user and looking at all my friends, most of the girls that I know have iPhones. The ones that don't have Blackberries. All the boys that I know have Androids expect one guy who has a Blackberry but that's just because work pays for his phone.

I am between 18-34
I'm not rich or an american express card holder
I like to save my money so I can spend it.
I didn't use the internet until I 1996
I don't back up my computer (but I should)
and I was a life time Mac user until I got my own computer. A PC
I let telemarkerts finish thier speal
I just learnt how to text and driver yesterday (won't be making a habit of that)
I have digital sounds and beeps as alerts. I don't like musical ringtones for myself.
I would rather watch Planet Earth
I like all the movies on both sides
I love the book 1984
I eat Rice Crispies and Crispx
I would rather snack on yogurt and ginger snaps
I would rather eat Pad Thai and Tapas
I like pineapple, strawberry and raspberry
I LOVE salted caramel. Mmmmm and Lemon. And Mint Chocolate Chip.
I prefer Malbec
I like art deco and art nevou
I prefer dance, opera and classical play

What are you?

Article from Hutch

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I've never had trouble accepting people & their quirks. Two cups of
tea, 6 tea bags between the two of them-- all for one person.

And that's just half of the story.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where I Am

I am finally where I should be.

Food Trucks

When I got back to my condo at 10:00pm, there was a surprise waiting
for me in my back alley...

Private Food Truck Party in my back yard. No lines, only food. Heaven.

Thank you Ox & Angela. xoxox


I'm back. That didn't take long, I feel good. Refreshed. We arrived
back in town at 8:30pm. We played musical cars & after I dropped R.
off at home I had to drive in the dark for the first time in my life.
By myself. I did it. I'm fully happy with myself.


A night spent confessing over really bad pasta & really good wine.


Wandering down familiar streets for the first time.

4 hours. 8 course. Opa!


Someone to guard over me.


Swimming within the fragrant air & the afternoon heat.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thoughts on Love

plato's symposium: aristophanes II

I've been exploring love, in my head, for the last 6 months. Maybe it's 7 now. I've contemplated my relationships for longer but love, I've let it be till this year.

I went through a thaw the last few years where I reconnected with myself and my heart. What I needed and wanted became more clear. I am thankful to have had a relationship that was very nurturing to my exploration. I needed my freedom and Independence and I also needed to see that I didn't want emotional unavailability in myself or a partner.

This year, I am completely unfrozen and open to everything. It's wonderful, I feel things with such intensity. The sadness, the happiness and everything in between. I'm connected to it all more so then I have ever been. With this new found capacity, I am exploring things scholastically as well. Philosophy, opinion, self help, judgment, chicklit... I've been devouring it all. Not only do I always pull from my own experiences but I also take with great weight, others and their paths. what has worked for them. I look at their regrets, their accomplishments and I try to learn from them as well. I like mistakes but, some can prevented.

I am reading a book that is dissecting marriage and commitment. It's gone into great depth about it, both the negative and the positive. I'm already half way through and I've already learnt so much. It's opened my eyes to the way ways I love and confirmed for me that its a good love. It's also renewed my interest in Plato's Symposium. I first became aware of eros when I started reading C. S. Lewis' The Four Loves and often reflect on it in my true life. And the other 3 loves and how they fit into relations.

There is so much I want to say but I'm not quite ready to go into any depth about it. Especially not today, my thoughts aren't as clear and articulate as I would like. Plus, I want to really take some time to hash out my thoughts. I guess my intention in writing about this is almost like an introduction to something that I plan to write in the future. It's something that has been on my mind as I go through life. As I look at the relationships I have with others and with myself. As I look at my capacity to love those around me and again, myself.

So with that, I give you love.

And you.

And you.

Yes, even you.


 picture borrowed from here

"Success: SETI array back on track!" By Phil Plait

I was pretty busy today at work so when a friend sent me an article about the Allen Telescope I slowly made the connection between that and some other articles I've been reading. Phil Plait threw it all together in a a nice, assessable way.

Here is the article below.

"Via Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log blog, I am very pleased to find out that the mothballed SETI telescope array will soon be operating again!

As I reported here a few of months ago, the SETI Allen Telescope Array had to be shut down due to a lack of funds. It costs roughly $2.5M per year to keep it running, and the funding agencies were pulling back. The folks at SETI decided to create a public fund drive called SETIstars, hoping to raise the $200,000 needed to kickstart the project again.

As of a few days ago, that goal was reached! I was happy to see that people such as Jodie Foster (who played SETI astronomer Ellie Arroway in the movie "Contact") and science fiction author Larry Niven were among people who had contributed, as well as Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders.
The $200k donated is enough to get things started again, but not enough to continue operations, so it looks like there will be more fund (and awareness) raising soon by SETI. I think this is a pretty interesting endeavor; SETI has long been a political and scientific target, but they are doing good work in a variety of fields of astronomy and biology (for example, I recently wrote about a new meteor shower discovered that indicates there’s a previously-unknown near-Earth comet out there — this was funded in part by SETI). I don’t know how sustainable direct public funding of scientific projects can be, but SETI is making a pretty good stab at it. I’ll be very curious to see how this pans out."


Hopefully Phil is not horrified to find me re-posting his article in a simple little blog like mine. I believe in awareness, I could really care less about celebrity gossip and find things like this far more interesting. It's a struggle to easily find stuff like this in daily media. So, in a way... as this blog is a reflection of my more public thoughts, this is just another thing that I find interesting.

Not sure if that makes sense.

I'm not smart, I don't pretend to be smart. My academic accomplishments are cherry picked and simple. But it's important that we make an effort to pay to more than just celebrity gossip which I actually never talk about in here. It's not something that really interests me. I admire their accomplishments and sometimes their beauty but the interest pretty much stops there. Anyway, I'm just ranting. GO SCIENCE!