darkoshi: (Default)

I changed my browser homepage (which is a self-coded HTML file) to have this background color: #ff0080. I'd describe it as fluorescent reddish pink. It's so beautiful, especially with my links in contrasting yellow, and a browser theme in a complementary color. Having nearly the whole screen be that color has much more of a visual impact, compared to this small paragraph.


I discovered that it is much easier to pull out small tree saplings using a pair of pliers, rather than only my gloved hands. But my hands got the same achy, because instead of pulling out all the easy ones like last time, I was pulling out harder ones.

With bigger pliers, maybe I could even pull out some of the ones with bigger trunks/roots... say up to nickel-sized? Maybe there's even a special tool for that.

I spend so much of my free time doing yard work, and it feels very pointless. Other than the work it requires, it's nice to have a yard and trees and flowers, etc. But if I didn't have dogs, I'd seriously reconsider living in a place where I have to take care of a yard.


Little Secrets : dark chocolate candies with a sugar-shell coating. Yummy like M&M's, which I haven't had since becoming vegan. I hadn't remembered how nice it is to feel the crispy crunch of a thin sugar shell between my teeth. The packaging doesn't mention it, but the sea salted peanut, classic dark, and raspberry flavors seem to be vegan based on the ingredients. Some of the others include milk. Ahh.. their FAQ says they don't label them as vegan because the sugar was produced with a non-vegan refining process (ie., bone char filtered).

darkoshi: (Default)
I got my taxes done.

I made a pie with a chocolate filling. It's somewhat gooey, not what I was expecting from the photo on the box. But it's actually good, even though it also tastes oddly like it contains grape syrup mixed in with the chocolate. Based on the ingredients list, I can't imagine why. It contains alkalized cocoa, and the link I posted before indicates that the non-alkalized sort is the kind that's more likely to taste "fruity".

I also made some Waldmeister Goetterspeise which is a German jello with a unique flavor not found in the U.S. My aunt used to make it for me as a kid (with vanilla sauce on top!), and I still like it. The flavor isn't as intense as I remembered though.

I trimmed my hair a bit. It was tickling the back of my neck too much a few days ago. My torso gets itchy sometimes. When I scratch, the skin gets pinkish red, and small itchy bumps, widely scattered, appear. When I stop scratching, it goes away. I haven't figured out a cause. It's been happening for a few years now. (Of course, having written "torso" there, now a few spots on my arms and legs started itching.)

I'm over my cold, but still have a lot of phlegm. That always used to be the one of the worst parts of a cold, the weeks and weeks of snot that would only slowly diminish back to normal levels. So I did neti today for the first time in possibly 5 years. I stopped using neti around then, after reading warnings against doing neti with unsterile tap water. Well, I used tap water today, like I used to. Anything else is too much trouble. But after reading the warnings again, I may forgo the whole thing for another 5 years.

I used LJSec to delete my old protected posts from LJ, as that was something that had been on my to-do list for a while. There may not be much point in having done it, but at least it is off my list now. First, I did another import of all entries & comments from LJ over to DW, as well as a few backups of both my LJ and DW (with LJArchive), to make sure I wouldn't lose anything. The only problem with LJArchive is that imported comments don't show up with the user's LJ name like it does on the Dreamwidth pages, but rather with a generic ext_#### ID. If I have time someday, I'd like to see if I can update the utility to fix that.

A few weeks ago, I cancelled my Netflix subscription, as I was using it so rarely. Qiao has another Netflix account anyway, which I can use when I want to. He also has an Amazon Prime account for watching videos.

Last week at work, I was able to find the cause of another problem, and fix it. Well, I probably fixed more than one problem, but the last one is the one I remember. It gives me such a rush, a good feeling, being able to discover what obscure thing is making the code not work right and how to fix it, when I still don't even understand what half of the rest of the code is meant to do. I was thinking, I've been working on this same general code base, though it has undergone many transfigurations, for the past 22 years. I could spend my whole *life* working on it, and I still wouldn't understand it all, especially because it is constantly being changed. That made me think for a moment that maybe I should leave this job, just so that *whole life* part wouldn't come true. Eh. But whatever, this code or some other code, what difference. Hmm. Coming up on the end of the quarter. Wonder if they will have layoffs.
darkoshi: (Default)
AAFP: Tension-Type Headache

Patients with chronic tension-type headache should limit their use of analgesics to two times weekly to prevent the development of chronic daily headache. If the patient requires analgesic medication more frequently, adjunctive headache medications can be initiated.

Cleveland Clinic: Tension-Type Headaches

There is no single cause for tension-type headaches. This type of headache syndrome is not a trait that runs in families. In some people, tension-type headaches are associated with tightened muscles in the back of the neck and scalp. This muscle tension may be exacerbated by:

Inadequate rest
Poor posture
Emotional or mental stress, including depression

Tension-type headaches can be triggered by some type of environmental or internal stress.

Cleveland Clinic: Rebound Headaches
The overuse or misuse of analgesic medications — exceeding labeling instructions (such as taking the medications three or more days per week) or not following your physician's advice — can cause you to "rebound" into another headache.
Analgesic overuse appears to interfere with the brain centers that regulate the flow of pain messages to the nervous system, worsening headache pain.

This rebound syndrome is especially dangerous if your medication contains caffeine, which is often included in many medications to speed up the reaction of the other ingredients. While it can be beneficial, caffeine in medications, combined with consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, or chocolate) from other sources, makes you more vulnerable to a rebound headache.
While small amounts of these medications per week may be safe (and effective), at some point, the continued medication use leads to the development of low-grade headaches that just will not go away.

Mayo Clinic: Rebound Headaches - Risk Factors
Your risk increases if you use combination analgesics, ergotamine or triptans 10 or more days a month or simple analgesics more than 15 days a month — especially if this regular use continues for three or more months.

Does Caffeine Cause or Cure Headaches? - On its own, it can alleviate some headache pain. It also causes pain relief medication to be absorbed better and faster. It can result in caffeine withdrawal headaches and rebound headaches.

How Much Caffeine is in Chocolate? - has a chart comparing dark chocolate's chocolate percentage (43 - 100%) versus caffeine content.

1 oz of 70% chocolate, which isn't unusual for me to eat, has about 40mg caffeine. That's similar to the caffeine content of a can of regular cola or a bottle of iced tea. A cup of coffee can have 100mg or more.

chocolate stash

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 06:43 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Thanks to my own propensity to buy chocolate, plus Christmas/birthday/Valentine's gifts:

Those 5 big tubs were full at Christmas. But at least I haven't been the only person eating them.
darkoshi: (Default)
(This expands upon some comments I left on another journal.)

[personal profile] andrewducker posted a link about how American chocolate tastes terrible compared to other chocolate. The linked discussion turned out to be about how Hershey's milk chocolate has a slight sour/rancid flavor which Americans are accustomed to, but which Europeans tend to dislike.

As I'm now vegan, I haven't had Hershey's or other milk chocolates in so long that I barely remember what they taste like compared to dark chocolates. As an American kid growing up in Germany, though, I ate all kinds. The few milk chocolates that I miss (Toblerone, aerated chocolate, etc.) don't include Hershey's, but I was still surprised that some people feel it has a sour/vomit flavor. I don't remember that at all.

The difference that I have noticed (in regards to dark chocolate), and which I had actually expected the article to be about, is that German/European chocolate tends to be much more smooth and silky than American chocolate. Not in every case, certainly (there are so many different brands, and in some cases the texture deteriorates due to bad storage), but that is my overall impression.

andrewhickey pointed out that differences in chocolate texture may be due to the amount (or lack of) cocoa butter content. And that Hershey's has replaced the cocoa butter in some of their products with other cheaper vegetable fats.

The dark chocolates I eat are true chocolate, though, with cocoa butter as the only fat*. They are categorized by the amount of chocolate, eg. 64%, 70%. I wasn't certain whether the ratio of non-cocoa butter solids to cocoa butter is always constant - whether 2 different bars which list the same percent of chocolate would always have the same percent of cocoa butter or not. More on this further below.

*Many dark chocolates nowadays also include "butter oil" as an ingredient, but as I'm vegan, I haven't tried them.

Chocolate ingredients can be confusing. For the bars I currently have, the 1st item is alternately listed as "cocoa mass", "chocolate", "cocoa beans", or "chocolate liquor". The 2nd ingredient is sugar, and the 3rd is usually cocoa butter. From what I understand, "cocoa mass", "cocoa beans", and "chocolate liquor" are based on the full cocoa bean, so they would already include cocoa butter. So it seems that both the 1st and 3rd ingredients add to the chocolate's cocoa butter content.

When eating 2 different brands of dark chocolate with the same chocolate content, they will still often have a different texture. The better ones feel more creamy, silky, and rich, while the poorer ones feel more chalky and tend to leave a more bitter aftertaste. So this is why I have wondered if the processing makes a difference - perhaps the cocoa is not ground as finely, or not blended as well. However, chocolate that has been stored a long time also tends to get more chalky and brittle. So some of the difference could be also due to storage rather than the processing or the amount of cocoa butter.

This page: Finding the Flavor of Chocolate, indicates that chocolate flavor is also affected by the DNA of the cocoa bean itself, and that beans from different areas have different flavors.

This page gives more info on the varieties of cocoa beans (criollo, forestero, amelonado, trinitario, and nacional) grown in different regions.

It turns out that the ratio of cocoa butter to non-fat cocoa solids is *not* always constant, even given the same chocolate percentage.

Comments on this page say:
When the ingredients label says cocoa butter, it's referring to the cocoa butter that's added beyond what comes in with the cocoa beans (AKA cocoa, cocoa mass, chocolate liquor). But that cocoa is itself half cocoa butter already.
According to a recent article in Cook's Illustrated, the cocoa percentage refers to combined amount of cocoa solids and cocoa butter, so the proportions of each can vary among chocolates that have the same cocoa percentage.

This page says: Chocolate with added cocoa butter is correctly labeled in terms of its ‘% cacao’, and, any added cocoa butter is included in this percentage, since it is also a derivative of the cacao bean. That page also explains various chocolate terms.

This post says:
The percentage number on a bar's wrapper represents the bar's weight that actually comes from the cacao bean; that is, it's the bar's content of honest-to-goodness cacao bean components. Natural cacao beans contain 54 percent fat by weight; the other 46 percent, as with most seeds, is solid vegetable matter. Thus, the percentage number on the wrapper of a chocolate bar is the sum of its cacao fat (called cocoa butter in the United States) and its cacao solids.
Manufacturers often add some of the separated [cocoa] fat to their formulas for chocolate bars to adjust the smoothness and melting properties. Because this added cocoa butter changes the cacao's natural 54-to-46 ratio, it is listed separately as an additive in the list of ingredients. The percentage number on the wrapper includes this added fat.

(Other pages indicate that the 54-to-46 ratio is only an an approximation; the ratio varies depending on the variety of cocoa bean and the growing conditions.)

This page usefully explains how you can calculate the amount of cocoa butter content of a given chocolate bar.

But also, a comment on this page says: chocolate can have a fantastic texture without overloading the fat content with cocoa butter or vegetable oils or other "texture-enhancers." Particle size achieved through the grinding and refining has much to do with the finished texture.


Sunday, August 11th, 2013 01:51 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Note to self:

Chocolate truffles melt at lower temperatures than chocolate bars. At 81 to 83 degrees F, they will melt together into a puddle of goo. Always put them in the refrigerator right away.

However, if they do melt, all is not lost. Put the bag of goo into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, to firm it up some. Then use 2 small spoons to drop small mounds of the melted chocolate onto a baking pan lined with wax paper, and put it back in the refrigerator.

Note to self:

Based on past notes, the following may be good refrigerator settings. I'll need to further monitor the temperatures to make sure.

Keep the temperature control (in the refrigerator) between 3 and 4*.
Keep the air control (in the freezer) at a low value such as 1*, to ensure maximum cold air flow to the refrigerator section.

The freezer is good around 0 degrees F.
The refrigerator should preferably be between 32 and 40 degrees F.

* Setting the temp control to 4, and the air control to 2, keeps fridge at 38 degrees and freezer at -5 degrees F**.

** Air temperature. Would need different thermometers to measure food temperature.

tasty things

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 05:11 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Sweet Riot 70% Dark Chocolate bar with Kickin' Coconut - a nice smooth chocolate bar, not very sweet yet not bitter. I don't generally care much for chocolate-covered coconut bars, but this one has the coconut mixed in with the chocolate, and surprisingly, what I like best is the texture of the coconut in it. Especially good when eaten chilled.

World Market Limoncellino Sorrento-style Soda - refreshingly lemony, with 12% lemon juice. It reminds me of the Bitter-Lemon Schweppes I enjoyed drinking while on vacation when I was a kid. The ingredients don't include quinine, though. (Ingredients: carbonated water, lemon juice from concentrate, cane sugar, natural lemon flavor, citric acid, lemon peel extract, glycerol ester of wood rosin, vitamin C. Distributed by Cost Plus, Inc. Product of Italy.) Oddly, there's no mention of it on the World Market website.

Raw Vegan Blackberry Lemon Lavender Cheesecake (recipe and photos) - unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to taste this. But it looks SO GOOD! It even has little puffs of frosting/cream on the top! If this were for sale in a store, I'd surely buy it.
darkoshi: (Default)
An unopened bag of chocolate chips which I had placed in my fridge several weeks ago has expanded as if inflated with gas.

This has never before happened with any other bags of chocolate chips.

A can of soda water did however expand yesterday... I assume it got too cold and partially froze. Why would being too cold make a bag of chocolate expand, though?

The bag remains inflated even after having taken it out of the fridge. I shall open the bag to see what lies inside...

Looks like chocolate. Tastes like chocolate.

white chocolate

Sunday, January 16th, 2011 09:14 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
I made a double batch of this recipe. It took much longer for my cacao butter to melt in the microwave than the recipe suggested - more like 6 minutes. In addition to the powdered sugar, I stirred in an extra pack of vanilla sugar too.

It turned out all right. Not delicious, but okay. Having watched the hard cacao butter take such a long time to melt, and then having seen it all melted and oily, and then mixed with sugar and hardened again, it makes me think it must be rather unhealthy to eat. Maybe I shouldn't eat it.

These are the ingredients. The glass bowl contains the melted cacao butter.

This is the final product.

I had planned to use the mini silicone baking molds which I had last used a year ago for making chocolate peanut-butter cups. But I discovered that a white crystalline substance (mold on my molds?) was growing on them, so decided to use a glass pan instead.

A commenter named Lynn on this page had the problem of white crystals on their silicone bakeware too. I wonder what the crystals are, and why they grow.

money, money

Sunday, January 16th, 2011 12:46 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
In between 5 different stores, I spent $250 while grocery shopping yesterday! Thankfully, I can afford to spend that much, but the amount still shocks me. When I was a teenager, and my parent's total at the cash register came up to $100, I thought *that* was a lot.

Included were 2 containers of detergent (~$20), 24 rolls of toilet paper (~$20), and a bottle of B12 vitamins ($10). But that still leaves about $200 that I spent on food; food that will last me maybe 3 to 4 weeks, although some items last longer and some shorter.

If I were short on money, there are many items I would have not gotten, or gotten cheaper substitutes for.

However, I now have 2 magnificent mangos, 2 lovely lemons, 2 awesome avocadoes, colorful rainbow chard, green collards, a large cauliflower, a beautiful butternut squash, the makings for pizza, dark-chocolate covered pistachio nuts, cinnamon-vanilla almonds, and other good stuff.

Out of sheer curiosity, I got a bottle of coconut aminos, which is made from the sap of coconut tree blossoms, and is somewhat similar to soy sauce.

Last time I was grocery shopping, I bought some raw cacao butter. I'm going to try to melt it and make vegan white chocolate from it. I'm not aware of any stores here which sell vegan white chocolate.

The snow from last week still hasn't all melted yet.

Money, Money, Money - by patriciaet colette


(no subject)

Friday, July 16th, 2010 05:47 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Gah! I ate the whole chocolate turkey. What was I thinking? I wasn't thinking! That's what happens when you munch on something while doing something else.

vegan chocolates

Sunday, January 24th, 2010 07:18 pm
darkoshi: (Default)




Koppers Chocolate makes various chocolate "cordials" which seem to be vegan - these are round chocolate balls filled with liquid centers. This page indicates which of the varieties are non-dairy (need to scroll down to the section for Kopper's). The 2nd website listed above sells some of these varieties with free shipping. The chocolates can be found for cheaper on certain other websites, but the shipping charges need to be taken into account.
darkoshi: (Default)
The chocolate peanut butter cups turned out very goooooooooooooood. I made them partially based on this recipe, except for not measuring the ingredients, and not using the freezer. I also used silicone mini baking cup forms instead of paper muffin cups. Note: Don't remove the chocolate cups from the forms until they are filled, topped and cooled. Otherwise, the bottom chocolate shell may start melting from the warm peanut butter filling and the top layer of melted chocolate.

(no subject)

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 07:11 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
I've installed Windows 7 on my laptop, moved all my files from my desktop computer to the laptop, and finished installing/reinstalling most of my favorite programs. I'm now using the laptop as my main computer.


I am making some vegan chocolate peanut butter cups. I recently discovered how to make chocolate-covered goodies with melted chocolate. Previously I had a problem in that my chocolate didn't solidify at room temperature, and I thought there must be some difficult trick to it. But it turns out that my problem was only that I was adding margarine or soymilk into the melted chocolate (based on a recipe for a chocolate cake topping that I was using). I now discovered that when you don't add anything into the melted chocolate, then it solidifies. (d'oh!) So anyway, I've had this obsession with covering things in melted chocolate these last few weeks, and the peanut butter cups are my latest idea to try out.


I'm also somewhat obsessed/bothered by my electric power usage. I even debate each time whether or not to turn on the christmas lights in the window and on the christmas tree (which I put up the evening before christmas eve). I've been tracking my electric meter readings, and I've already used 530 kWh in the last 19 days. This month is likely to be my highest usage since I've moved here. We're keeping an electric oil-filled radiator turned on in the garage at night for Zorro, on those nights where it gets below 40 degrees outside. I'm on vacation for these 2 weeks, so I've had another radiator on almost constantly inside the house, both day and night. I don't keep it turned on high, but it apparently still uses up a lot of electricity. Now we've gotten another radiator which Qiao is using in his room, so that's even more usage... Sigh. And it's not even warm in here. It's still cold. I need to do my exercises... even though I'm on vacation, I still don't have enough time.

Hmmm. Maybe it would be cheaper to keep the whole-house heater (gas-powered) set to a higher temperature instead of using the radiators. I wonder.

Germany Trip

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 04:23 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
The first 2 days of the trip were a bit rainy/drizzly, but not enough to keep us inside. Overall, the weather in Germany was quite good.

The pay-phones all took coins so we didn't need to buy a phone-card to make calls (a few years ago I recall most of the pay-phones only took cards).

In Munich, we went up the one tower of the Frauenkirche, which has an observation area, giving a good view of the city.

In Berlin, we went up the television tower, which also had a good observation area.

We went and saw various things, and met with a friend and some family. Qiao bought souvenirs to take home as gifts; I bought mostly chocolate.

One vegan restaurant in Berlin had vegan white chocolate bars for sale (Bonvita Reismilch Tafel Weiss); I bought 2. (Yay! Vegan white chocolate!) That made up somewhat for them not having the (as advertised) vegan cheese-spaetzle available on that day.

There are so many flavors of chocolate bars for sale in Germany. Of the non-dairy ones I found, I bought the following flavors:
Sour Cherry
Dark Chocolate with Olive Oil
Green-tea Mango
Cherry-Tomato Salt

There was an intriguing "Absinthe Truffel" flavored bar, but unfortunately it had dairy in it.

On the plane-trip back, Qiao and me lost each other in the Atlanta Customs area. While waiting in the first line, picking up our luggage, and waiting in the next line, I was disheartened that we stood a good chance of missing our connecting flight since it was already past the time when it would normally be boarding. I hadn't realized until the flight back that we only had an hour and a half in Atlanta... normally one schedules the flights to allow more time to get thru customs.

I had been flagged to go through the extra agricultural search section, and while I was waiting for Qiao to get through the previous checkpoint, the guards kept telling me to go onward to the agricultural area. So I reluctantly walked that way, and when I saw Qiao heading past, I yelled to him twice. He turned his head and I thought he saw me, but apparently he hadn't. When I exited the other end of the agricultural section, he was no longer to be found. I didn't know if he was still waiting for me back near the other side (the guards didn't seem amenable to anyone walking back that way) or if he had gone on ahead. After dithering about for a bit, I eventually went through the last security screening on my own, even more disheartened now.

When I checked the departure screens for our flight, it said "At gate". That meant it hadn't left yet! Maybe Qiao had gone on ahead, and we could still catch the plane! I started rushing toward the terminal and gate, running in some places, asking people to let me by on the escalator, hurrying past people... naturally, the gate was one which was all the way down at the end of the long terminal, huff-puff, puff... When I got there, I was relieved to hear Qiao call my name and to see him there. So we made it onto the flight; Qiao had got there only a few minutes before me and the flight personnel had told him if I didn't make it there in the next minute, the plane would be leaving without us.

Our checked baggage unfortunately didn't make it to our plane on time. It came on the next flight in.

In Berlin, the light-athletics (?) world-championships were going on. In the Berlin airport, we were sitting for a bit next to someone wearing a nice-looking African-style outfit. I decided to be friendly (good for me!) and asked him if he had been there for the championships. He said that yes, he was the president of the delegation from Burkina Faso and that he had attended some meetings, but had to go back now even though the competitions were still going on.

Flying in airplanes, the occasional turbulence scares me. It seems so easy for a part of the wing or some other important part on the exterior of the plane to break off... and falling from such a height... smashing into the ground... seems scary. I don't remember feeling this fear when I flew as a child.
darkoshi: (Default)
Good vegan chocolates (somewhat expensive, but delicious):


Some Asian/Oriental markets sell various kinds of "mochi" sweets. Mochi is a chewy substance made out of rice flour. The regular mochi sweets - flavored, and with various fillings - are ok, but I discovered one brand (Royal Family) which has chocolate-covered ones. The kind I bought includes chopped almonds and a sesame filling, and they are yummy! They are like chocolate-covered marshmallow confections. Vegan marshmallows are hard to find, and I haven't yet come across any vegan chocolate marshmallow confections, so this is a kind of treat I haven't had since becoming vegan. The mochi texture is thicker and less sweet than marshmallow, but similar enough to do the trick. I covered some other mochi sweets I had bought (with a taro filling) which were just so-so on their own, in chocolate, and they are now yummy too!


I thought I was going to have to buy new shoelaces, as some of my shoes' shoelaces are made out of slippery synthetic fibers which come undone too easily and which don't stay tied. But then I found a simple way of tying the shoelaces differently so that they stay tied better, and they can still be opened just by pulling on the ends like normal.

(no subject)

Saturday, February 24th, 2007 03:02 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Doing sit-ups is similar to swinging on a swing... you get into a rhythm... back and forth, back and forth; air rushes by your ears - swoosh - on the forward swing.


Are Greek pepperoncini peppers - the mild pickled ones that come in jars - roasted? I was looking for a brand without artificial preservatives, and found one in the health food store - the ingredients were only peppers, vinegar and salt, I believe. There were some black specks/crumbs in the bottom of the jar (similar to the black things in the bottom of the nearby jars of roasted red and yellow peppers), and I was wondering what the black stuff could be from?


I wrapped a metal chain belt twice around my neck and fastened it, this morning, so that one end was left hanging slightly down in the center. I wasn't wearing a shirt. When I looked in the mirror, I felt that I looked quite sexy.


I have 64 colorful balloons in my cube at work. They are pretty. And bouncy.


I saw a youngling hawk of some sort at work last week. The shadow of a big bird fluttered over the ground before me, as it flew from one tree-branch to another. I looked up, and saw it... a fluffy short-tailed thing... it peered curiously down at me, and I peered curiously up at it. And after a bit, it flew away.


Terra Nostra organic has come out with a vegan milk-chocolate style chocolate bar called "Ricemilk Choco". It has a sweet mild flavor, a nice change from the more intense dark chocolate bars I've gotten used to.