Saturday, April 13, 2013

Pina Colada Cake and Aloha

During the ending months of the 2012 Presidential campaign, I got to the point where I hardly ever checked my FaceBook feed because of all the political misinformation and hate messages around. Thankfully that content has almost dried up these days. But what it has been replaced with lately is nearly as dangerous. I'm talking about recipes. Lots and lots of shared recipes, most of them for cakes or pies full of sugar, fat and everything else we shouldn't consume in mass quantities.

There is one, in particular, that piqued my interest and, since it is my husband's poker night tonight and lots of people will be here to eat the results, I decided to try the recipe for Pina Colada Cake. Here's how it turned out.

Scott and I ate the "photo" piece and it was very good. Reminded us of a pineapple tres leches cake. Here's the recipe I used and, as always, made a few adjustments, like adding rum. How can you have pina colada cake without rum? Also, the original instructions were to top with whipped cream and then cover with pineapple and coconut. I opted to put the pineapple and coconut into the sauce that gets poured over the warm cake, then cool it, add whipped cream and sprinkle toasted coconut on top. Hope it turns out as well for you as it did for me.

Pina Colada Cake
1 yellow cake mix (I always use Duncan Hines)
1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained
2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup shredded coconut
2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 cups whipped cream or whipped topping

Prepare cake according to directions on the box. Add 1/2 of the drained pineapple, 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla and 1 tablespoon rum. Bake in 9x13 pan until done.

While cake is baking, mix two cans of sweetened condensed milk with the remaining pineapple, 1/2 cup of coconut, 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla and 1 tablespoon rum. 

Remove cake from oven and let cool slightly. While still very warm, poke holes in the cake with a wooden skewer or fork. Pour milk mixture over cake and allow it to soak in completely. Cover and refrigerate at this point. Toast the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut until lightly browned and reserve. 

Just before serving, top the cake with whipped cream and sprinkle the toasted coconut on top. Invite a lot of people over to your house to share it because, if you don't, you'll end up eating the whole thing yourself. It's that good.  

This will be my last post for at about three weeks because tomorrow Scott and I are off to Hawaii. We'll stay a week in Honolulu with my niece, Marsha, seeing all Oahu has to offer. Then he and I board a cruise ship for a week of seeing the islands of Maui, Hawaii and Kauai. We'll return to Honolulu and spend another five days before coming home. I have never been to Hawaii so I'm hoping for a beautiful adventure. Hopefully I'll have lots of photos and great stories to tell you when I get back. 

Until then, thanks for stopping by today and Aloha!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I'm Still Thinking

In my last post I wrote that I was deep into though about a subject that I would be writing about soon. The truth is that I've been thinking about this subject for months and months, trying to get to the point where I could put my thoughts into words. I've struggled and don't think that it is going to get any easier, so here it goes. I want to talk about the political polarizing of our country.

I don't like what is happening to us and I've decided there is no simple answer for the causes. But I think a main contributor is fear and the individuals and organizations that take that fear, magnify and exploit it. Political bickering and opposition is part of the fabric of our nation. We hear historians, under the heading of "You Think It's Bad Today," tell us stories of brutal in-fighting in our past. Yes, I agree, it has always been bad. But what we have today that they didn't have even fifty years ago is the host of 24 hour "news" pundits pounding us from every corner. These stations have given a platform to entertainers who say whatever it takes to have high ratings, sell copies of books and keep the sensation-hungry American public tuning-in. And I say, "Shame on us," for letting it happen.

We fall prey to these manipulators, these experts at identifying our fears and anxieties, and believe what they have to say. Not because we know they are right, but because we believe they are right. What they have to say seems like it should be true because it agrees with our gut feelings. Well, unless you really work at it, your gut is ignorant, uninformed and falls right into their hands. Maybe I should say falls right into their wallets, because, as always, that's the bottom line. It is up to us to educate ourselves to be able to recognize when we're being manipulated.

I know our country is in a time of change and uncertainty. We are seeing the results of cultural, demographic, global and economic upheavals. Change creates anxiety and fear, the feelings that we are floundering and headed for doom. Some of these fears are real, but many are artificially exaggerated. Let me say here that, if you are one of the unemployed in our country who have struggled to find and keep a steady job, I completely understand your fears. Those fears are real. How you are going to keep your life and family going without income is in your face, every day. You cannot escape. But there are plenty of other people, the majority in fact, who are not in that boat. We are the ones I'm writing about. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that our lives have not significantly changed over the past decade, but we are afraid of the changes that may come. This is the fear that is exploited.

So how do we know the difference between real fears and irrational ones? Educate yourself. Easily said, I know. But since I've been thinking about this problem for months, I have also worked on my personal solution and want to share a few recommendations with you.

Read news from more than one source. I try to read the Associated Press and Reuters news files every day. These are sources most newspapers and networks use. More than any other, they will tell you the who, what, where and when of a news story. You can find them both on the internet and also listed as tabs on Yahoo! News main newsfeed. Free, no charge.

Know the difference between news and opinion, even when you are reading news. Look at the source of the story and be aware that it may be someone's personal viewpoint or opinion. This is particularly true on sites that compile news, like Yahoo! News. Unless it is under the AP or Reuters tabs, it may be more entertainment than news.

Don't rely on television for your only news source. They might be acceptable for local news, but the major networks have gotten really bad about fighting for ratings and have sacrificed integrity of content for entertainment value. I still watch the national network news (ABC, CBS, NBC), but I've tried to read what's going on before I hear what they have to say.

All "News Networks" are focused on entertaining you rather than informing you. That goes for CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, CNBC and any other. A recent Pew Media Study found that more than half of all news network content is opinion or entertainment based and not news. If you watch a show that flies under the banner of someone's name, i.e. Bill O'Reilly, Rachel Maddow, Rush Limbaugh, etc., be aware that they are there to entertain you and keep you coming back every day. You may like what they have to say, in fact, you are supposed to like what they have to say. Just be aware that it may not all be true. Their "news" is politically slanted and will always be. It's up to you to be able to recognize that slant.

Read The Constitution of the United States. Go ahead. I dare you. All of us need a refresher course on all ten of the Bill of Rights, not just number two. We need to know which duties belong to Congress and which to the President so that when each blames the other, we know who's lying.

Take a deep breath and calm down. When you hear something outrageous ask yourself, "Who benefits if I believe this?" If the answer is some politician, network news ratings, online subscription rates, product sponsor or TV preacher who will ask you to send in a donation, a light should go off in your head. Maybe you are being manipulated.

I could go on and on about this but I think you have the general idea. You can't complain about the "Stupid American Public" unless you are willing to make sure you are not one of them. I know that is harsh, but I agree with the "Be the change you want to see" group. It's up to you.

Above all, let's be kinder to one another. Show some compassion and empathy and resist the urge to judge others. Put yourself in their shoes. Understand your fears and where they come from; it will go a long way toward helping you calm them and keep them from ruling your mind. And just know that, in the long run, everything will be OK. If you are a Christian, you are supposed to believe that everything is in God's hands and all that happens is in His plan. So act that way. Oh, and quit posting political items on your Facebook page unless you have personally checked out whether or not it is true.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you'll be back.