Want Some Bugs with That Cake? Saturday, Apr 23 2016 

The concept of red velvet cake escapes me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the flavors. But what’s wrong with chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting without dying the cake red?

Red velvet cake requires 2-4 tablespoons of red food coloring to transform the brown chocolate to red. And do you know what that red food coloring is made from? Bugs.

Red food colorants are typically made from chocineal, carmine, or carminic acid, all of which are made from crushed carcasses of a South and Central American insect known as the female dactylopious coccus. It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.

The Aztecs and Mayans produced the red dye for coloring fabrics as far back as the 15th century. It became popularly used in foods in recent times as a safer alternative to those found to be carcinogenic. Today FD&C Red Dye #40 is also used. This dye is not made from insects but rather coal.

Red food coloring is used in most red drinks and candies as well as red velvet cakes. Check the labels to know for sure.And enjoy those tasty treats.

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©2016, Mary K. Doyle

 

Spicy Pest Control Monday, Aug 6 2012 

You have the food, the guests, and the games, but who invited the ants? Summer fun typically includes unwelcome pests that enjoy the day right alongside you.

Pesticides are effective but also pose dangers to our health, so I consulted my old copy of Haley’s Hints by Graham and Rosemary Haley (3H Productions, Inc. 1995) and searched online to offer you some alternatives. I found several natural items that are said to be affective.

Following is a list of herbs, spices, and oils and the pest most annoyed by them. Give them a try, and let me know how they work for you. Sprinkle the spices and herbs around affected areas, in cupboards, point of entry, and the perimeter of your rooms. Or add a few drops of the oils and extracts to water and spray the areas.

Here’s the list beginning with the pest and then the remedy:

  • Ants: Sage, bay leaves, cloves, white or cayenne pepper, cinnamon, peppermint oil
  • Earwigs: Crushed bay leaves
  • Flies: Dish of molasses and black pepper, lavender oil
  • Meal worms: Fresh mint or mint flavored chewing gum
  • Mosquitoes: Oranges and onions
  • Mice: Peppermint extract, lavender oil

©Mary K. Doyle

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