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Thursday, June 13, 2024

AI - Love It Or Hate It

I know people who are fearful about AI, and understandably so, it seemingly came in like a big wave, I say seemingly because it wasn't unexpected if you were paying attention, it's been here for a while, but it's now part of nearly everything we see, especially online and on our computers, tablets and smart phones.

I made the decision that I can't stop AI by ignoring it, fearing it, or not using it. It is a tool, and like most tools, it's quite neutral, neither good or bad, it's all in the hands and minds that use it that it works for good or evil. For me, I'm going to use it, I'm using it to co-create, to write, to make graphics, to answer questions that I would have gone to Google to ask. I played around with a few different AI sites, right now my two favorites are 
and

The first one above I use for creating graphics and images, the link takes you to my profile where you can see the images I co-created.

The second link, is the infamous ChatGPT, I began playing around with that a few months ago, the free level is good for writing, I decided to try out their paid tier, that one does even better with writing and it also lets you work with graphics. Using Playground I got pretty good with prompts to make graphics, so I took what I knew and brought that to ChatGPT. Sometimes I come out with something I'm happy with, sometimes not so much. 

Typically I start out with a description of what I am looking for, I try to be as descriptive as possible, then from there you can tweak the prompts to get closer and closer to what you are looking for. 

Here is an example of something I played with earlier tonight, I slightly changed and added to each iteration:

Me: A photograph of an old man walking in the rain making eye contact with the viewer in a mid-shot view.

ChatGPT: A photograph of an old man walking in the rain, captured in a mid-shot view. He is making direct eye contact with the viewer, creating a sense of connection. The rain softly blurs the background, highlighting the man. He wears a weathered hat and a long coat, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face. The expression on his face is thoughtful and slightly melancholic, and his eyes convey a sense of wisdom and experience. The muted colors and soft lighting add to the emotional depth of the scene.

For some reason it decided to rewrite my prompt instead of giving me a picture, so I copied that prompt and asked again.

Me: A photograph of an old man walking in the rain, captured in a mid-shot view. He is making direct eye contact with the viewer, creating a sense of connection. The rain softly blurs the background, highlighting the man. He wears a weathered hat and a long coat, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face. The expression on his face is thoughtful and slightly melancholic, and his eyes convey a sense of wisdom and experience. The muted colors and soft lighting add to the emotional depth of the scene.

ChatGPT: Here is the photograph of the old man walking in the rain, making eye contact with the viewer. The scene captures the thoughtful and melancholic expression, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face, adding to the emotional depth.

Me: A photograph of an old man walking in the rain, captured in a mid-shot view. He is making direct eye contact with the viewer, he has fierce piercing blue eyes, creating a sense of connection. He has the slightest upturn of a smile. The rain softly blurs the background, highlighting the man. He wears a weathered hat and a long coat, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face. The expression on his face is thoughtful and slightly melancholic, and his eyes convey a sense of wisdom and experience. The muted colors and soft lighting add to the emotional depth of the scene.



ChatGPT: Here is the photograph of the old man walking in the rain, making eye contact with the viewer. The scene captures the thoughtful and melancholic expression, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face, adding to the emotional depth.

Me: A photograph of an old man walking in the rain, captured in a mid-shot view. He is walking away and looking back over his shoulder at the camera, head slightly tilted down to allow the rain drops to fall from the front of the brim of his hat, one eyebrow is slightly raised. He is making direct eye contact with the viewer, he has fierce piercing blue eyes, creating a sense of connection. He has the slightest upturn of a smile. The rain softly blurs the background, highlighting the man. He wears a weathered hat and a long coat, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face. The expression on his face is thoughtful and slightly melancholic, and his eyes convey a sense of wisdom and experience. The muted colors and soft lighting add to the emotional depth of the scene.

ChatGPT: Here is the photograph of the old man walking in the rain, looking back over his shoulder and making direct eye contact with the viewer. The scene captures his fierce piercing blue eyes and a slight upturn of a smile, with a thoughtful and slightly melancholic expression. The rain softly blurs the background, highlighting the emotional depth of the moment.

Me: A photograph of an old man walking in the rain, captured in a mid-shot view. He is walking away and looking back over his shoulder at the camera, head slightly tilted down to allow the rain drops to fall from the front of the brim of his hat, one eyebrow is slightly raised. He is making direct eye contact with the viewer, he has fierce piercing blue eyes, creating a sense of connection. He has the slightest upturn of a smile. The rain softly blurs the background, highlighting the man. He wears a weathered hat and a long coat, with raindrops visible on his clothes and face. The expression on his face is thoughtful and slightly melancholic, and his eyes convey a sense of wisdom and experience. The muted colors and soft lighting add to the emotional depth of the scene.

ChatGPT: Here is the photograph of the old man walking in the rain, looking back over his shoulder with his head slightly tilted down, allowing raindrops to fall from the front of his hat's brim. One eyebrow is slightly raised, and he makes direct eye contact with fierce piercing blue eyes, creating a sense of connection. The slight upturn of his smile, thoughtful and slightly melancholic expression, and the rain-blurred background add to the emotional depth of the scene.


Which picture do you like best? I slightly changed or added to each iteration, the last one I left the prompt the same to see what it would do differently, sometimes if you don't like what it did, you can request a new picture using the same prompt.

I could have gone on but I was happy enough with the final image. Of course, so far I have never had any AI come up with exactly what I pictured in my head, and no matter how many times I tweak the descriptive words, it just can't read my mind or see what I see, I do like that it rewords what I wrote to clarify what it thinks I want, often adding in details I didn't. Sometimes that works out well, other times not so much. I have also discovered that often if you keep trying to tweak something like this, especially if you have it pretty close, it will reach a point where it seems to grow tired of the game and the images will become worse instead of better. Some of the time, the images are spot on, and other times I wonder if the AI is having a bad day LOL.

At any rate, I am having fun with this for now. I am not afraid of it removing the creativity of the human touch in writing or art, honestly for me it's pretty easy to spot the AI generated things, I've been using it long enough to become familiar with the look and feel of its output. 

There are always those who believe that technology is inherently evil, I'm just old enough to remember my grandparent's generation being told that washing machines and the such are the Devil's tools, or at the very least it would allow women to have more time on their hands therefore the phrase "Idleness is the Devil's workshop..." was born, it was thought that computers and the internet would usher in evil, and it's true, it certainly has, in the hands of those who wish to use it for evil. It was once thought that going faster than a horse could run could cause internal injuries, referring to the automobile, and it was said that man would never fly, well both of those things were not true. 

I look at some technology with a suspicious side-eye. Again, it's less about the actual tech and more about the hands that wield it, their intent, what they do with it, or in other cases where they bury the tech because it would dig into the profits of the tech that is in use now. 

Love it or hate it, fear it or embrace it, AI is here to stay, I am using this tool, for my enjoyment, my education, to help with work and other things. 

What say you?


All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

1st World Problems...

Living in the rural wilds of far west Texas, we don't have many stores to choose from, at least not that are close by. We rely on Amazon and Sam's Club deliveries for much of what we want from stores. 



One of the things I discovered about Sam's Club is when I make an order, they try to cram everything into one box, I can appreciate that, as long as the box isn't the size of a small house! I remember once, I had to go pick up the package from our community center (don't even get me started on that issue!) a few miles away, it was late, dark, not a soul around. The box wasn't all that heavy, but it was too big for me to get a good grip on. I had to drag it from the community center to my truck, I barely got it into my truck. Once I got it home, I had to open the box and remove the contents to get it up to the SkyCastle. I do have a little red wagon (Radio Flyer!) that I use to tote things up from my truck to the house, it's a bit of a hike, uphill, over the bridge and everything. That box was too wide/big for the wagon.

I offered constructive criticism on their online form, I'm sure SOMEONE read it, but since my orders come from various different stores, I still can't be sure that my orders will be packed properly. Oh and there is also the issue of packing heavy things in with more fragile things with very little or no padding materials added, like the time they put 2 big bags of popped popcorn into a box with some heavy items, no padding, all loose... by the time the box got to me, I could smell popcorn through the box, one of the bags of popcorn had burst and was all inside of the packing box. 

I came up with a solution, it's not ideal, it's not very green either, but one does what one has to do to get by in this world. I now "strategically" order, instead of doing one large order, I break my orders up into what I'm sure will comfortably fit in a box that I can get my hands around AND lift, AND will not destroy other items in said box. 

This only seems to happen with Sam's Club deliveries; so yesterday, I made an order, and I saved part of the order to complete today. I honestly meant to complete the second part yesterday later in the day, but the day got away from me. Both orders were packaged and shipped today, one of them is a large package of Puffs facial tissues, I know they are lightweight but since they are large, if they packed them into the same box as all the rest of my order, it would be problematic for me when they arrived. 

I guess this is what they call 1st world problems. I am very grateful that I am able to get the deliveries that I do, I'm grateful that I have the resources to make these orders and have them delivered. And believe me, I give good comments on the surveys when things go right, I don't want to be the person who complains but doesn't give good feedback as well. 




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Healthy Chickpea Toll House Style Cookies - Take 2

As you may or may not know, my previous attempt at making healthier chocolate chip cookies were a bit of a fail. I ended up tossing the cookies I had made, it turned out to be the coconut flour that caused the problem. It gave them a sandy/gritty texture that just wasn't pleasant. 

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, I tried again, this time using ground oat flour and almond flour. I haven't tried baking them, yet, it's just been too hot to turn on the oven. On a side note, someday, I hope to set up an outdoor kitchen area on my breezeway so I can bake and cook without heating up the house.
Raw, last 3 LOL

A few nights ago, I made up another batch of "healthy" (or healthier) version of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough, I haven't tried baking them, yet... if you follow me you'll know that I made this previously with coconut flour and it turned out sandy/gritty feeling, both the raw form and in the baked form. I asked AI about this and it gave me some good suggestions. So last night I got to work making a new batch, this time I used oat flour (I ground my own oats) and finely ground almond flour, everything else was more or less the same. Well they turned out very tasty and the texture was spot on! So far I have only eaten the "raw" dough, it's perfectly safe as it only contains ingredients which can be eaten without cooking. I even gave PB a bite, he was OK with it until he found out what he was actually eating LOL.

Here is the "recipe", these are approximates, I'm mainly guestimating on the almond and oat flour, I added each one until the dough seemed to be the right texture, not too wet, not too dry. I suspect the total amounts of the dry ingredients would change based on how wet the chickpea puree came out, this one came out pretty wet.

Chickpea Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough
1 15.5 oz can chickpeas, drained (I used Goyoa brand)
1.5 cups almond flour
1.5 cups oat flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 plump fresh Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 t vanilla extract
dash of Celtic salt
6 oz of milk chocolate chips (Hershey's brand)
First, take 3-4 pitted Medjool dates, pour boiling water over them in a bowl and allow to plump up. Next pulverize your oats until they are powdered. Once your dates are plump, drain off most of the water and puree until smooth (I used a Magic Bullet blender). Drain a can of chickpeas (but save the liquid for other uses!), puree the chickpeas until smooth. Pour this into a large bowl to finish mixing. Add the other wet ingredients and mix. Add the oat flour and almond flour alternately, about 1/2 cup at a time, mix, continue adding and mixing until you get a dough that looks like a regular cookie dough, the more of the oat and almond flour you add, the stiffer the dough will be. I add a few shakes of a good salt (I prefer Celtic sea salt, you use what you have). Next add your chocolate chips, measure with your heart, I had a half of a 12 oz bag so that's what I added. Mix until all the chips are incorporated. Now you can eat the cookie dough with a spoon, or roll into balls and eat, or you can bake them. Store any left over in the refrigerator. I'm not sure just yet if I'm going to try baking mine, if I do I'll probably add a bit of baking powder, or not... I'd bake them at 350 degrees F for about 12-15 minutes.

Here are the approximate nutritional values:
Chickpeas (1 can, 15.5 oz, drained)
Calories: 269
Protein: 14.5g
Fat: 4.3g
Carbohydrates: 45g
Fiber: 12.5g
Vitamins and minerals: Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc
Almond Flour (1.5 cups)
Calories: 960
Protein: 36g
Fat: 84g
Carbohydrates: 36g
Fiber: 12g
Vitamins and minerals: Vitamin E, Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium
Oat Flour (1.5 cups)
Calories: 612
Protein: 18g
Fat: 9g
Carbohydrates: 102g
Fiber: 12g
Vitamins and minerals: Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B5
Maple Syrup (1/4 cup)
Calories: 216
Protein: 0g
Fat: 0g
Carbohydrates: 56g
Fiber: 0g
Vitamins and minerals: Manganese, Zinc, Calcium, Potassium, Iron
Medjool Dates (3, pitted)
Calories: 199
Protein: 1.5g
Fat: 0.3g
Carbohydrates: 53g
Fiber: 5g
Vitamins and minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Iron
Vanilla Extract (1/4 t)
Negligible nutritional value
Celtic Salt (dash)
Negligible nutritional value
Milk Chocolate Chips (6 oz, Hershey's brand)
Calories: 840
Protein: 9g
Fat: 48g
Carbohydrates: 108g
Fiber: 6g
Vitamins and minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium
Now, let's combine these values to get the approximate nutritional values for the entire recipe.
Total Nutritional Values
Calories
Chickpeas: 269
Almond Flour: 960
Oat Flour: 612
Maple Syrup: 216
Medjool Dates: 199
Milk Chocolate Chips: 840
Total Calories: 3096
Protein
Chickpeas: 14.5g
Almond Flour: 36g
Oat Flour: 18g
Medjool Dates: 1.5g
Milk Chocolate Chips: 9g
Total Protein: 79g
Fat
Chickpeas: 4.3g
Almond Flour: 84g
Oat Flour: 9g
Medjool Dates: 0.3g
Milk Chocolate Chips: 48g
Total Fat: 145.6g
Carbohydrates
Chickpeas: 45g
Almond Flour: 36g
Oat Flour: 102g
Maple Syrup: 56g
Medjool Dates: 53g
Milk Chocolate Chips: 108g
Total Carbohydrates: 400g
Fiber
Chickpeas: 12.5g
Almond Flour: 12g
Oat Flour: 12g
Medjool Dates: 5g
Milk Chocolate Chips: 6g
Total Fiber: 47.5g
Vitamins and Minerals (not exhaustive but key ones)
Folate: High from chickpeas
Iron: High from chickpeas, almond flour, oat flour, maple syrup, and chocolate chips
Magnesium: High from chickpeas, almond flour, oat flour, and dates
Phosphorus: High from chickpeas and almond flour
Potassium: High from chickpeas, almond flour, dates, and maple syrup
Zinc: High from chickpeas, almond flour, oat flour, and maple syrup
Vitamin E: High from almond flour
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): High from oat flour
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): High from oat flour
Calcium: Moderate from almond flour and milk chocolate chips
Manganese: High from maple syrup
Per Serving (assuming 12 servings)
Calories: ~258
Protein: ~6.6g
Fat: ~12.1g
Carbohydrates: ~33.3g
Fiber: ~4g




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, June 3, 2024

Chickpea Cookies and ChatGPT (short version)

Hey everyone, I understand that not everyone wants to read lengthy, wordy posts, so I shortened my previous post about my chickpea Toll House cookies experiment. Enjoy!

Hey everyone! Hope you're doing well! Today, I’m sharing a healthy and tasty post about my journey to eat healthier. I've been an avid label reader since my son Josh was young. Over the years, I’ve realized that many processed foods, even the so-called healthy ones, contain undesirable ingredients.

I'm working on cutting out sugar, especially cookies, which are my weakness. While I typically avoid store-bought cookies, I sometimes buy Mexican wafer cookies for PB, they have less junk. I love dipping cookies in my after-dinner coffee, but I often end up eating half a package!

Thanks to Facebook and other social media videos, I've discovered cooks who use healthy ingredients to recreate unhealthy foods. Inspired, I decided to make Toll House-style chocolate chip cookies with better ingredients. Here's my recipe (more my experiment, no real measurements this time, maybe later):

- **Ingredients:**
  - 1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed, save the juice!)
  - Coconut flour
  - 5 pitted dates (softened in boiling water)
  - Maple syrup
  - Coconut oil
  - Aquafaba (chickpea liquid)
  - Baking powder
  - Chocolate chips

- **Instructions:**
  1. Blend drained and rinsed chickpeas into a fine mass.
  2. Pulverize dates with a bit of hot water.
  3. Mix chickpeas, dates, coconut flour, maple syrup, and salt.
  4. Add coconut oil and aquafaba for moisture.
  5. Separate dough for 2 cookies, add baking powder and chocolate chips.
  6. Bake at 350°F for 12-20 minutes.

Initially, the cookies were crumbly. Adding an egg improved the texture. I plan to use oat flour and more eggs next time. I also forgot the vanilla extract. I sought advice from ChatGPT.

ChatGPT suggested the following tips to reduce crumbliness:
1. Increase binding agents (extra egg or aquafaba).
2. Add moisture-retaining ingredients (applesauce or Greek yogurt).
3. Use different flours (almond or oat flour).
4. Add a small amount of starch (cornstarch or tapioca starch).
5. Chill the dough before baking.
6. Adjust temperature (lower) and baking time (longer).

I found that chickpeas make a great base for cookies, providing a healthier alternative to traditional ingredients. Despite my dislike for whole chickpeas, they work wonderfully in this recipe.

Have you tried baking with coconut flour or chickpeas? How did it turn out for you?

Thanks for visiting!
Wretha

Original, more wordy version of this post can be found here:
https://www.wretha.com/2024/06/chickpea-cookies-and-chatgpt.html


All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Chickpea Cookies and ChatGPT

Hey, hope everyone is doing well! It's time for a happy post, and it's healthy too (that's a bonus!). So I have been working on eating healthier for quite some time now, I am a rabid label reader, it's a habit I took up back when my son was very young (remember that Josh???). I kept it up over the years, one thing I notice currently is that most processed foods, no matter what they are, tend to have garbage in them. I'm not even referring to so-called "junk foods"; I mean even the healthy choices, if you read the labels, will often contain at least one ingredient that I am opposed to putting in my body.

Now, I'm not a health nut by any means, this is definitely a work in progress and will be something I continually work on for the rest of my life. I am currently working on cutting out sugar, specifically things like cookies, a definite weakness I have. I am quite able to walk past the cookie aisle in the store with no problem, all I have to do is pick up the package and read the label, it's not hard to put the package back on the shelf. BUT, I am not opposed to making my own cookies, and occasionally I buy these Mexican wafer cookies for PB, they contain "less" junk than many commercial cookies, so I have been willing to buy them for PB, the problem is I like to drink coffee after dinner a couple of times a week, I treat it as a dessert and love dipping cookies in it. If I steal, uh borrow, oh who am I kidding, I'll eat half a package of those cookies without batting an eye.

Along comes Facebook short videos, and all the other social sites with short videos, they have figured out I love watching cooks who use healthy ingredients to make what would otherwise be unhealthy foods, they bring in alternative flours (coconut, oat, almond...), if IF IF IF I am going to use an "alternative" sweetener, it's going to be natural and non-toxic, so things like raw honey, dates, maple syrup... it turns out that you can make cookies with these ingredients and they look so tasty. 

I've been hankering for Toll House style chocolate chip cookie, but with better ingredients. So I opened a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans, but honestly I prefer the word chickpeas LOL), I drained and reserved the liquid (called aquafaba), I rinsed and drained the chickpeas and placed them in a Magic-bullet blender and ground the chickpeas. I didn't make a paste, but nearly, it was a finely finely finely minced chopped mass of chickpeas, I put that into a large bowl. Next I poured in some ground coconut flour. Sorry I don't have a recipe, I just added each ingredient, mixing until it looked right and moved to the next ingredient, that's just how I roll...

Wait, before I did that to the chickpeas, I needed to soften up some pitted dates, I added about 5 pitted dates to a bowl and poured some boiling water to cover, I allowed that to sit while I worked on the chickpeas. I used the Magic-bullet with a tiny bit of the hot water to pulverize the dates, then I added that to the ground chickpeas, mixed and added the coconut flour. I also added a bloop of maple syrup. I tasted at each addition to make sure everything was sweet enough but not too sweet. I sprinkled in some Celtic salt, actually quite a bit, it really needed that to keep from being too bland. Oh puff, I just remembered what I forgot, I should have added a small bloop of vanilla extract, that would have make it better... oh well, next time.

I knew I'd need something to make it moister, I added a few spoons of coconut oil and some of the aquafaba. I was hoping the aquafaba would add some structure, like adding an egg. I wasn't opposed to adding an egg but I was thinking I might make this safely edible without cooking, like eating raw cookie dough without the salmonella surprise lottery. Well, honestly I didn't care for the texture in its raw form, so I moved on from that idea, for now...

At this point, I had a base mixture that looked a lot like the Toll House cookie dough, minus the chocolate chips, those would come later. I wanted to test out 1 or 2 cookies, cooking them and seeing what needed to be added to make it better. So I separated enough "dough" to make 2 cookies; I added some floof powder (baking powder) and a few chocolate chips, preheated my oven, and rolled 2 cookie balls; I flattened them, thinking they wouldn't flatten during cooking (I was right). I cooked them for 12 minutes, they didn't seem done, I kept adding 2-3 minutes a couple of times, then removed them from the oven. I ate them while still warm. They were OK, not the best cookies I've ever made or eaten. The biggest problem was they were crumbly, not exactly dry, but didn't hold together, they were almost "sandy" in texture. 

Next, I broke an egg into a separate bowl, whisked it, and used just a little of that in another batch of 2 cookies; I noticed that batch came out much better. The texture was getting better. I noticed that I needed to bake these for around 20 minutes. They didn't really "brown" or crisp up, they stayed soft and still had a bit of a "sandy" texture. But they were definitely getting better. So I committed to the egg, adding it to the rest of the entire batch, along with floof powder and the chocolate chips. 

I made one small tray of cookies, and then on the final batch of cookie dough, I added a few spoons of cocoa powder to give it an even bigger chocolate hit. The final outcome was that they are pretty decent cookies, better than just OK, good enough that I want to continue with this experiment. I know that having chickpeas as the main ingredient makes them much, much healthier than the traditional Toll House cookies. 

I needed to figure out what makes traditional Toll House cookies hold together. Normally I would go to Google to ask such questions, but lately I have been playing with ChatGPT, I'm even paying the $20 a month to get the extra sauce from them (It's been soooooo worth it to me!). I decided to ask ChatGPT a series of questions and find out what it has to say about this. Here is the chat I had with it:

ME: What makes toll house cookies hold together?

ChatGPT: Toll House cookies, like most cookies, hold together due to the combination of ingredients and the chemical reactions that occur during baking. Here are the key factors:

1. **Flour**: Provides structure through gluten formation when mixed with liquid.

2. **Eggs**: Act as a binding agent and add moisture, which helps in holding the ingredients together.

3. **Sugar**: Caramelizes during baking, adding to the cookie's structure.

4. **Butter**: Contributes to the cookie's texture and helps bind the ingredients.

5. **Leavening agents**: Baking soda or baking powder creates air pockets that help the cookies rise and maintain their shape.

The right balance and combination of these ingredients ensure that Toll House cookies have the desired consistency and stay intact. 


ME: I made Toll House style cookies using a can of chickpeas, drained then ground fine. I added some unsweetened coconut flour. For sweetness I added dates that had been soaked in boiling water for a bit, then drained and ground, I also added maple syrup for sweetness. I added a beaten egg, some salt and baking powder, a little coconut oil, and enough of the aquafaba liquid from the can of chickpeas to make a moist batter that held together. I added some chocolate chips. I baked them,, they needed extra baking time compared to regular Toll House cookies, they came out tasty but the cookies seemed crumbly. What can I add or do different to make them have a better texture?

ChatGPT: To improve the texture and reduce crumbliness in your chickpea-based Toll House style cookies, you can try the following adjustments:

1. **Increase Binding Agents**: Consider adding an extra egg or more aquafaba. Eggs and aquafaba both help to bind the ingredients together.

2. **Add a Moisture-Retaining Ingredient**: Try adding a tablespoon or two of a moisture-retaining ingredient like applesauce, mashed banana, or even Greek yogurt. These can help add moisture and improve texture.

3. **Use a Different Flour**: Coconut flour tends to be more absorbent and can make baked goods crumbly. You might want to try a different gluten-free flour like almond flour, oat flour, or a gluten-free baking blend.

4. **Add a Small Amount of Starch**: Incorporating a tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch can help give the cookies a better structure and hold them together.

5. **Chill the Dough**: Letting the dough chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before baking can help the cookies hold together better during baking.

6. **Adjust Baking Time and Temperature**: Since your cookies needed extra baking time, consider baking at a slightly lower temperature for a longer period. This can help them bake more evenly and reduce crumbliness.

Try one or more of these adjustments to see how they affect the texture of your cookies.


ME: Next time I'll replace half of the coconut flour with oat flour, will that help?

ChatGPT: Yes, replacing half of the coconut flour with oat flour should help improve the texture of your cookies. Oat flour is less absorbent than coconut flour and has a higher protein content, which can provide better structure and moisture retention, making your cookies less crumbly. This substitution should result in a more cohesive and less dry cookie.


ME: How healthy is the recipe I used (without the oat flour) compared to traditional Toll House cookies?


ChatGPT: Your chickpea-based Toll House style cookies are generally healthier than traditional Toll House cookies in several ways:


1. **Lower in Refined Sugars**: By using dates and maple syrup as sweeteners, you're avoiding refined sugars, which have a higher glycemic index and can lead to blood sugar spikes.

2. **Higher in Fiber**: Chickpeas and dates provide a good amount of dietary fiber, which can aid in digestion and help you feel full longer.

3. **More Protein**: Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein, which can be beneficial for muscle repair and growth.

4. **Healthier Fats**: Using coconut oil instead of butter introduces medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can be a more easily digestible form of fat. However, the health benefits of coconut oil vs. butter can vary depending on the overall dietary context.

5. **Nutrient Density**: Chickpeas, dates, and aquafaba offer additional vitamins and minerals not typically found in traditional cookies, such as iron, potassium, and magnesium.

6. **Lower in Saturated Fat**: Your recipe likely has less saturated fat compared to the traditional recipe which uses butter.

7. **Gluten-Free**: Your recipe, using coconut and chickpea flours, is naturally gluten-free, which is beneficial for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

However, it’s important to note that while your recipe is healthier in many ways, it still contains sugars (even though they are natural) and fats, so they should still be consumed in moderation. Overall, your chickpea-based cookies provide a more nutrient-dense and lower glycemic alternative to traditional Toll House cookies.


ME: 


 This is how they turned out, I also added cocoa powder to the last batch.


ChatGPT: They look delicious! The addition of cocoa powder to the last batch adds a nice variety. Considering the ingredients and methods you used, the cookies have a great appearance. For the next experiment with oat flour, you might find the texture to be improved and less crumbly.

Given their current look, you might want to:

1. **Add More Binding**: As mentioned before, a bit more egg or aquafaba might help.

2. **Consider Moisture Content**: Adding a bit more coconut oil or a moisture-retaining ingredient like applesauce or Greek yogurt could also help.

Your approach to making these cookies healthier is commendable. Keep experimenting, and you're likely to find the perfect balance! 


So, that was my conversation with ChatGPT, I was even able to add a photo, it's amazing that it can recognize what is in photos. For the record, the chocolate chocolate chip ones were the best of this batch, it made it less "sandy" or crumbly. I do intend to replace approximately half of the coconut flour with ground oats (oat flour); I think that will improve the texture greatly. I'll also add 2 eggs to the mix. Believe it or not, chickpeas as a base in cookies turn out pretty good, I don't even like chickpeas by themselves, I love hummus and other things MADE with chickpeas, but honestly I just don't care to eat chickpeas in their whole state, I think it's the texture I dislike. 

The cookies turned out tasting like cookies, not like chickpeas. The coconut flour did add a tiny bit of coconut flavor, it's not overwhelming though. The biggest issue was the texture, presumably from using coconut flour, so exchanging half of that for oat flour should help the texture be better, and adding a second egg to the entire batch will also help the texture. And I must remember to include some vanilla extract, I have some really good vanilla paste from Sam's Club. 

The coconut flour is on clearance at my local small-town grocery store; they do have a small section of healthy alternative flours, but they tend to be very expensive. I came in one day to find the coconut flour was on clearance but no price label, I grabbed half of what they had ( I didn't want to be greedy) and found the price to be extremely good. The following week, when I went back, all the rest of the bags of coconut flour were still there, so I snagged all the rest of them. I gave many of the bags away to my friends, the rest of the bags I needed to figure out what to do with them. This is a good thing IMHO. 

Have you tried coconut flour? If so, what did you do with it? Were you happy with the outcome? What about using chickpeas in cookies or something like this? 



All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, May 13, 2024

Lost another good one...

I just learned a bit of sad news (more melancholy), I found out that John Wells, of the Field Lab persuasion (https://thefieldlab.blogspot.com/) passed away from pancreatic cancer early in this year. I originally learned about John about the time we were going off-grid back at the tail end of 2007, we heard an interview on Marfa Public Radio about this transplanted New Yorker going off-grid down in Terlingua Texas, quite a bit south of us. I looked him up, we connected immediately but for various reasons, we never met face to face. I enjoyed following him on his blog, I'm sure he read my blog (I like to think so). We followed each other on FaceBook as well.

Even though we shared a lot of the same ideas, living off-grid, being conservative, our religious beliefs,  and some of our politics, but one thing we didn't have the same mindset on was medical/health things. He considered many of my ideas on "alternative" medicine to be conspiracy theories. Sadly that caused enough of a rift between us that we both stopped following each other as closely as we had before, thus the reason why I'm just now learning about his passing. 

This has made me (again) wonder about why people who are diagnosed with cancer tend to die so quickly after the diagnosis, certainly not everyone across the board, but enough that it sticks with me. I am utilizing some of what John would consider conspiracy theories to up my health, I am very much opposed to going to see doctors "just because", if I have a condition that requires medical intervention that I can't do myself, such as a broken bone, a serious infection, things like that, I'll go see a doctor. But for everyday health-related stuff, especially things that I consider proactive, things like eating better, moving more, taking supplements (good ones, not the garbage they sell in many stores that just gives you expensive pee), doing the things that are going to improve my gut health and immune system, you better believe I'm doing all of that and more. I also stopped using things topically that are not good for my body, things like antiperspirants, I changed to deodorants then went to natural deodorants, I don't use anything that contains fluoride, I am super careful about what ingredients I'm applying to my body, your skin is one of your largest organs and anything you apply to your skin will be absorbed and "ingested" by your body.

I don't write much about these things, just touching on them here and there, mainly because I don't wish to have any extra attention placed on myself by the "powers that be". I also don't want to send someone down a road that would be not as good for them as it was for me, we are all different and honestly, it's not hard to research once you are willing to see beyond the filter of Google, the FDA and other alphabet agencies who don't have our best interest at heart. It's sad that artificial sweeteners (think sucralose, aspartame...) are considered good yet raw milk is considered bad and even illegal by the powers that be, just think about that for a minute.

This just confirms my feelings about doubling down on some of the things (I can't write about) that I am doing to counteract the things that happen as we age, I know I can't live forever, but I want the life I have left to be as good as it can be. 

Well, I'll end this here, and wish a good RIP to John Wells of the Field Lab, I have no doubt as to where your eternal soul went/is going. 







All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Switching to Starlink: A Game-Changer for Rural Internet Access

Living in the remote, mountainous regions of far west Texas presents its own set of challenges, not least among them being reliable internet access. Those of us out here are mostly cut off from the world, with cell phone coverage so sparse that I've resorted to a booster just to catch a whiff of a signal. My local internet provider, though a lifeline, often leaves me disconnected, especially during the late hours of the day or, frustratingly, on weekends—sometimes knocking out service for several days.

For anyone living in the sticks, the options are slim and fraught with compromises. Satellite services like Hughesnet and Viasat are available but their data throttling tactics—where your speed is choked to a crawl once you hit a data cap—means the connection is barely usable after a short while. As someone who devours data, this setup just isn’t feasible, and waiting for installation can take months since providers prioritize areas with multiple service requests.

Enter Starlink, a beacon of hope. The decision to switch wasn’t made lightly; abandoning a local business is tough when you’re committed to supporting the community. But with my work-from-home needs escalating and another rainy season on the horizon threatening more outages, reliability had to take precedence. Hearing about the increasing shift of local customers to Starlink only solidified my decision—better to switch before being left in the lurch by a retracting local enterprise.

The transition to Starlink isn’t without its costs, both financially and emotionally. It’s a pricey investment upfront, and although I missed out on the recently introduced discounts for refurbished units, the potential for steady, fast connectivity is worth the price. Tomorrow, my Starlink kit arrives, and it’s set to go up on the fourth-story observation tower of the SkyCastle—my home. The high vantage point should provide an unobstructed view of the sky, maximizing connection stability.

I'm keen to hear from others who've made the switch. Are you satisfied with Starlink? How does it compare to other local options? Is the service meeting your needs? 

For those still on the fence about upgrading their rural internet setup, consider how pivotal a stable connection is to modern living—from everyday communications to professional obligations. Starlink isn’t just another service provider; for many of us, it’s a lifeline, transforming the way we connect from the wild fringes of society.

All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 8, 2024

Friday, it's time to do stuff!

Things to do today...

First thing was to wake up early enough to attend a Zoom meeting from the company I'm part of. Next had to feed the puppies, well they aren't exactly puppies, Mr Pups is 12 and Sweet Pea is 8 according to the vet. I have to sneak in their antibiotics before giving them breakfast so they will actually eat it. Next was to feed hubby, since it's the end of the week, all the fun to eat convenience foods have been eaten already, I'm also just out of a lot of things in my pantry and fridge, so I had to improvise. Not a problem usually, but I had the makings for dirty rice, a dish that PB traditionally doesn't think he likes... he ate some recently and has decided it's pretty good, so I made another batch today, still need to work on the recipe, and since I don't want to test it myself (I fast everyday and don't eat until after 3 at the earliest), I had to rely on PB's description of what it was missing, I'll give it a go later today and see for myself.

Now for the rest of the day, I'm going over to a friend's house to "service" her composting toilet, yeah I know, but that's what friends are for. She hurt her knee and isn't able to do the dirty job, so I am doing it. It's honestly not that big of a deal, I'm more "worried" about digging a hole in our rocky ground out here, cleaning out the poo and rinsing it isn't a problem... I'll hang out with my friends after that. At some point today, maybe before I leave to go to my friend's, I'll grab my new vacuum and hit the floor, I almost hate to do it right now, the pups are sleeping so soundly... if they don't wake up while I'm getting ready to leave, I may wait until I get home.
How is your Friday going?




All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Fresh water kefir grains instructions


FIRST FERMENT

Large glass container, 1 quart or larger, wide mouth preferred
Non metal strainer and stirring utensils 
Coffee filters or cheesecloth or other clean breathable cloth to cover the lid
Rubber bands to hold it in place

1 qt water, room temperature 
1/4 cup sugar (white, brown, raw.. No honey! No artificial sweeteners!)
1/4 cup kefir grains

Optional
1 t unsulphured molasses 
------------------------
1 pinch sea salt
OR
1 pinch baking soda

-------------------------------------

Dissolve sugar and any of the optional ingredients in water, it doesn't have to be completely dissolved. Pour into your glass jar, make sure it's at room temperature, cold is OK but hot will kill your kefir. Add the kefir to the water. Cover with a coffee filter (or other clean cloth) secure with a rubber band.

Note the date (I write it on the side of my jar) and place wherever you want as long as it's room temperature, you can cover the jar with a towel if you want, kefir work best in the dark.

The warmer it is, the faster the kefir ferments, in summer it could be completed in 24 hours, in cooler temps it could take 3-4 days. Taste your kefir water after 24 hours, when it's complete it will have a yeasty, almost vinegar smell and taste, it should be very slightly sweet. If it's still very sweet, let it go another day, up to 4 days. If it's not sweet at all, you are at risk of starving your kefir, don't let it go too long. The water will also become bubbly. 



SECOND FERMENT

Gather some glass bottles with good lids, make sure these will withstand carbonation pressures. Strain out your kefir grains, pouring the kefir water into a container that is easy to pour (a large glass or plastic measuring cup with a spout). Pour your fermented kefir water into the bottles leaving enough space to add 1/4 the volume of fruit juice and/or fruit AND still leave a couple of inches of head space in the bottle. 

Cap tightly and let sit at room temperature for a day, up to three days. The warmer the air, the faster the ferment. You will start to see bubbles on top, that is a good thing. The longer you let it sit at room temperature, the fizzier it will get. Don't let it go too long without checking and burping the bottle, it can explode if too much pressure builds up.

You can use pretty much anything to flavor your kefir water, fruit (fresh, frozen or dried-unsulphured), fruit juice, ginger... If you want the end product to be a bit sweeter, you can add a pinch of sugar to the second ferment, it will ferment a little faster with the extra sugar. Also, the longer you ferment at room temperature, the more sour and fizzy it will get. 

Once it's at the flavor profile you want, place the bottles in the fridge and enjoy as you wish. This naturally fizzy beverage will be full of great probiotics. 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

As soon as you empty the kefir water from the first ferment, you can immediately start another batch. It's recommended to keep back a little of the first fermented water to act as a starter. Merely repeat the directions for the first ferment.

Chances are your kefir grains will have grown and multiplied, if they haven't multiplied too much you can keep the all together in your original jar to do the next batch, understand that with more kefir grains, the batch will ferment faster. You can also divide your kefir grains and either start another jar, or you can sell or gift your extra kefir grains.

You can also store your kefir grains in the fridge for up to a week if you need to, or you can dehydrate your kefir grains to use later. There are two different dehydration methods, both require you to rinse your kefir grains until they are translucent, you can spread them on a non-metal surface in a single layer and place in a very dry spot to dehydrate on their own
OR
You can use a dehydrator set on a super low temperature (too hot and you'll kill the kefir). Once dry you can store them in a jar until you are ready to use again. It will take a couple of times to fully activate your kefir grains from dry, just follow the first ferment steps above using a couple of tablespoons of the dried kefir.

You can add any extra kefir grains (fresh) to a smoothie, feed them to your pets, chickens, ducks, livestock, you can even put them in a compost pile

Some  like to add a few raisins to the first ferment, I personally prefer to go simple with my kefir grains, I don't want to risk contaminating them with anything that might be detrimental. If you want to experiment, wait until you have some extra kefir grains, then if you lose a batch, it's not your entire batch if kefir grains.

Remember, these are a living thing, they need to be fed and kept warm to survive and thrive. Keep your jars, bottles and anything else that touches the kefir grains and water clean. Don't use anything that could harm your kefir, metal, chlorine and fluoride in your water is not good, honey has antimicrobial properties that can harm kefir, never use artificial sweeteners, your kefir needs real sugar, the sugar is for the kefir grains, not for you, once your first ferment is complete, there is very little sugar left. Make sure any dried fruit does not contain sulfur additives. Too much heat will also kill your kefir.

Bottom line, the measurements above are approximations, not exact, don't worry, have fun, enjoy your tasty healthy science experiment.

If you accidentally let your ferments (first or second) go too long, no worries, the brew just becomes more sour, if you don't like the taste, you can use it to water plants, it's good for them too. 






All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, October 24, 2022

Kefir, second ferment

Well, I have exceeded my expectations with my kefir! I am so glad I purchased fresh kefir instead of dry, I'm sure I could have succeeded with the dry, but it would have taken me longer to get to the finished drink.

I think it took me an extra day at both ends, the first and second ferment, the reason being because the SkyCastle is on the cooler side, and cold temps slow down the activity of the kefir. I let the first ferment go for 4 days, I tasted it on days 2, 3 and 4. The point here is to get to a slight sour, yeasty, yet slightly sweet, it is complex. I watched so many YouTube videos, so many were tasting the first ferment, they described it so exquisitely, I wondered if I would be able to recognize when the first ferment was complete...
I had nothing to worry about, I was able to detect the flavor of a completed first ferment with no problems. I pulled out 3 bottles for the second ferment. 2 large Topo Chico bottles and one smaller bottle that originally contained a commercially available kefir water, the first one of its kind I tried.

I filled each bottle, leaving enough space to add juice, fruit and still enough head space for the carbonation to happen. I also started a second batch of kefir water, the kefir grains were apparently very happy, they had doubled in size and quantity. I was able to split off 2 batches to give away. 

I took the remaining kefir grains and started another batch. The first batch of water kefir that I drained went into the next bottles, I added grape juice to one, a mix of juice in another, and in the smaller bottle, I put in a couple of lemon slices. I capped them tightly and set aside for the second ferment.

It took about 3 days for the first bubbles to appear in the second ferment, by the 4th day, they were fizzy! I had been tasting them a little bit on each day, I placed the 2 larger bottles in the fridge, the smaller lemon flavored bottle didn't last long enough to be refrigerated.

I did notice the way the fermentation slowed in the cold and increased in the warmth, I had placed my second fermentation bottles near the wood stove, they really began to bubble vigorously. I didn't allow them to get too warm, I didn't want any accidents, explosions, or dead ferments. 


It turned out to be just enough, the end product was tasty, fizzy and all around fun to drink. I can't wait to have enough going to be able to drink as much as I wish. For now, I'll just keep working both ferments.

My second batch I added grape juice to one bottle, and apple cider to the second bottle, on the smaller bottle I stayed with the lemon slices. I expect to be able to start drinking those in a few days. 

If you live close by to me, ask me about getting a batch of kefir grains from me, otherwise, if you want to get the same ones I have, go here KEFIR LINK and order from Amazon, thanks!





All written text from this blog are copyrighted and owned by Wretha unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved, You may download or copy for your own personal enjoyment, but please do not distribute without written permission. You may post a portion of this (or any) message from this blog on another site as long as you include a link back to this site and the original message.

Wretha,

Thanks for visiting!