Blueberry Almond Protein Bars

Here’s another of my attempts in creating a tasty and nutritious protein bar.

4 eggs
1/2 cup water
6 tbs blue agave syrup
2 scoops vanilla protein powderblueberry almond protein bars
4 cups oats
1 cup almond meal
1 cup flax meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 tbs flax seeds
4 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz blueberries
6 oz almonds

 Preheat oven to 350o.  Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.  Combine the wet ingredients and mix well.  Add dry ingredients and mix.  Spray mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Pour mixture in.  Bake for 17 minutes or until muffins are firm.   Makes 20.

If you’ve tried any of the bars recipes, which do you prefer?

Cranberry Almond Protein Bars

I was looking for a protein bar recipe.  My criteria for the bar:  low carbohydrates and good taste.  This was pretty successful.

3/8 cup water
4 eggs
¼ cup lemon jCranberry Almond Protein Barsuice
zest of one lemon
6 tbs Blue Agave syrup
2 tbs vanilla
4 cups oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup almond meal
1 cup flax seed
2 tbs sunflower seeds
4 tbs cranberries
½ cup almonds
3 scoops protein powder

Combine wet ingredients.  Add dry ingredients.  Cook at 350o for 17 minutes.  Cut into bars while warm.

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Over the years I’ve made a lot of pumpkin pies.  Like most folks, I buy the can of pumpkin and mostly follow the recipe on the can.  As I’ve usually been making multiple pies, I’ve bought the large can from Libby’s that makes two pies.  In their recipe you add 1 ½ cups of sugar and 2 cans of condensed milk. The change I’ve found successful is using one can of regular condensed milk and one can of sweetened condensed milk.

Shopping at Costco the other day, I saw they’re now carrying Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkorganic pumpkinin.  They were selling the cans that made one pie – although you still had to buy six cans – it is Costco after all.   Their recipe was slightly different; you don’t add sugar but you do use sweetened condensed milk.  I’m anxious to see how it turns out.

What is the secret sauce in your pumpkin pie recipe?

The Everything Store

I just finished The Everything Store, the history of Amazon.com by Brad Stone (@bradstone).  51N7s0z8kXL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_I pre-ordered the book around 6 weeks ago when I heard Brad Stone moderate a panel discussion on the future of retailing at a GeekWire event in Seattle.

Stone asked interesting and thought-provoking questions of the panelists.  I thought his book on Amazon might be an interesting topic given the company’s role in creating the internet experience we all have today.  I didn’t think reading the book would be the “popular thing to do.”  I don’t do a good job of following the herd.

Well, the book certainly didn’t disappoint.  There was plenty of information on Jeff Bezos’ single-minded focus on the customer experience as he established and lead Amazon from the garage roots to the corporate leadership role it has today.  A number of stories weren’t flattering of Bezos; he seems to have a bit of a temper and uses and leaves by the wayside both employees and corporate partners.

Still, the book also has a number of asides showing the amazing vision Bezos had in leading Amazon while also growing as a person. While I’m certainly happy that I never worked at Amazon, I’m equally certain that we’d have a much less vibrant and impactful internet if Bezos hadn’t been the leader of Amazon.  And I don’t think that would have made us better.

Back to my comment on reading this book being the “popular thing to do.”  When I started this article, the book was #59 on Amazon’s list of best sellers.  As I’m finishing, the book is now #57.  As I’ve said, I enjoyed the book.  But how much of the bump is due to Bezos’ wife MacKenzie and former Amazon executive Rick Dalzell panning the book on the Amazon website because of technical inaccuracies.  They point to incorrect dates, or missing information to call into validity everything in the book.  Interestingly, Dalzell still gave the book 3 stars out of 5.

Personally, I didn’t read the book expecting it to be the definitive guide to Amazon.com.  There’s a lot more left to write in that story.  I wanted to experience the flavor of the man and the company he’s lead into such a position of prominence.  In that, the book was very successful.

You can find the Kindle version of the book The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Best Buy Embracing Showrooming?

I saw an interesting television commercial from Best Buy over the weekend billing themselves as “Your Ultimate Holiday Showroom.”

Have they seen their fate?  Are they recognizing that consumers have been using them as Amazon’s technology demo floor for awhile now?  Are they acknowledging that a neighborhood store doesn’t guarantee loyalty?  Consumers may come into their store to “kick the tires” on the latest gadget only to go home and purchase the product online.

Low Price Guarantee

One things for sure, adding a low price guarantee to the commercial and their web site reinforces that they understand price is always part of the equation.  Will they now take this to the next level and give consumers the in-store tools to show them they’re getting a good price?  Or, will the price guarantee be painful to enforce both for the store personnel and the consumers?

I don’t believe they need to be the absolute lowest price.  There is, after all some value in the instant gratification of taking the product home with you right away.  But that premium isn’t going to be as high as they’ve envisioned it in the past.

This is a nice step for Best Buy.  It will be interesting to see how it continues.

What can Best Buy do in their stores to help you make the purchase?

Artisan Feta Cheese Recipe

River Valley CheeseA little over a year ago I took my first cheese-making class from River Valley Cheese.  They teach regular classes in smaller settings and larger classes through Groupon.

The first class I took covered Feta and Parmesan.  While my later attempts to make Parmesan have been spotty, making Feta cheese has become a regular activity.  It’s an easy cheese to make and you customize each batch with the herbs you add.

First the ingredients:

  • 1 gallon pasteurized milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon mesophilic direct set culture
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid rennet
Heat the milk to 86 F.  You can do this over low heat or by filling your sink full of hot water.  I use the latter method.  I put the milk in a metal bowl and surround it with hot water.  The tap water will be about 120 F.  It will take about 30 minutes to get the milk to 86.  When it’s at 86, add the mesophilic culture.

 

You need to hold the milk around 86, so sometime soon you’ll need to remove a little cold water and add more hot water.

 

Let the mesophilic culture work in the milk for 30 minutes and then add the rennet.  It’s real important to not add too much rennet.  With 1/2 teaspoon you’ll get cheese;  more than that you’ll have a solid.

 

After the rennet is in the milk for 30 minutes, you’ll see the curds have formed.  Cut the curds into 1/2″ cubes.  I use a chopsick or knife to cut length and width.  Let the curds sit for 10 minutes.

 

Now you’re going to separate the curds and whey.  I use butter muslin in a colander on top of a bowl.  Scoop the curds into the butter muslin and let the whey drain through the colander into the bowl.  Once all the curds are in the butter muslin, you’ll let it set for several hours to drain off the whey.  Remove the curds from the butter muslin and salt to taste.  At this stage, you can also add herbs of your choice.  I will usually add dill, but have used a variety at times.

Kindle First

Kindle FirstAmazon has added a new feature to their Amazon Prime program — Kindle First.

This will give Prime members access to books a month before they are publicly available.  Early is good, but the best part is you get to choose one book for free.  The free book doesn’t count against your Kindle Lending Library book-a-month allotment.  It’s just a new book that you get to keep.

The benefits to the customer are obvious.  It’s a free book.  I didn’t need to do anything different.  Just select a book.  I can read it on any Kindle or Kindle reading app.

For Amazon, there are also some great benefits:

  • The selection of books isn’t vast (there are 4 on the docket for November).
  • They are all books published by Amazon so they’re promoting their own work.
  • it further reinforces the value of the Amazon Prime program, and Prime members are very loyal Amazon customers.

Time will tell whether I can always find a compelling book among those available.  And I don’t know whether there will always be 4 books and whether they will always be Amazon-published.  But, I think this is a nice start.  What do you think?

 

Affordable Care Act – Yeah Obamacare

Gallup has been doing a lot of polling on the Affordable Care Act.  No surprise; alongside the budget, it is one of the more talked about happenings in Washington.

An interesting question in the poll is how individuals assess the future impact of the legislation.  Taking statistical significance into account, there is very little change in the responses since the poll in June of this year.

But there’s still a few interesting observations:

1)    People think it will have only a modest positive impact on their own situation (22% – 25%), but feel the positive impact on the US will be greater (34% – 36%).

2)    The percentage of people who think the legislation will make things worse for them has declined 8 points since June (42% to 34%).

Trend: Americans' Assessments of Future Impact of the Affordable Care Act

Have people taken a closer look at their own situation and feel less anxiety over the legislation?  At the same time, does the greater uncertainty of the country at large account for their being on polar opposite ends of the approval spectrum?

You can see greater reporting on the poll here.

Another interesting observation is the overall view of the Affordable Care Act.  Since December, 2012, the band has been fairly tight, with never more than an 8% difference between those disapproving of the legislation and those approving of the legislation.  The gap has narrowed recently with those disapproving only slightly in the lead.

Trend: Americans' Views of the Affordable Care Act

Neither poll question seems to raise a lot of concern over the uneven implementation of the online registration systems.  Perhaps people inherently knew the online signup systems would be a little buggy.

What do you think?

The Big Exit

There were a number of great stories at GeekWire Startup Day (#GWStartupday), but none like that of Dave Cotter, CEO of SquareHub.

Dave Cotter,  CEO of SquareHub

Dave Cotter,
CEO of SquareHub

His talk was titled “The Big Exit.”  Given the venue and the audience it might be about selling your startup or perhaps closing the door because there just wasn’t enough traction. Or perhaps it was a tale of making it through an IPO.

Actually the title didn’t refer to any of those.  It meant the exit all of us have.  Death.

It wasn’t a Halloween tale full of ghosts and goblins — although it sounded like some of Dave’s former colleagues might live in that world.  It was about a man in the prime of a life filled with work in the fast-paced tech industry suffering a stroke.

In the hospital he was surrounded by thoughts.  I’m sure he had people with him some of the time — he’s too engaging a character to be completely alone.  But the wife, who was now an ex-wife, and the three daughters he admitted to not knowing all that well, really made him think.

He started a change.  He made a list of the 10 people who meant the most to him in this life.  And he vowed to pay them back, not in wild, extravagant, meaningless ways.  But to pay them back with the simple things of contact, recognition, surprises and understanding.

When we each make our own list, and I’m sure you’re thinking about it now, you need to make sure you add your own name.   You need to be part of whats most meaningful in your life to enjoy and share the full benefit.

Check out SquareHub, his new gig.  It’s an application made for friends and families to connect.

The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

“It’s not the meek that will inherit the earth, it’s the geek.”

AboutJay

Governor Jay Inslee

That was part of the message as Washington Governor Jay Inslee addressed the GeekWire Startup Day gathering on October 25th.  In a talk that started slow — yeah 9:30 in the morning seemed a little early for many in the startup crowd — the Governor showed his understanding and appreciation of the technology industry.

The Governor recalled Washington’s history with airplanes and software and offered that innovation is really the stock in trade for the state.  One of the relatively new industries, gaming, has 70% of total industry revenue in the state.

One key initiative was in making government data more accessible to the public.  He highlighted Socrata a Seattle company focused on democratizing access to public data.

The Governor also has some key technology policy initiatives he will be pursuing:

  • Tax credit for startup companies
  • Research and Development tax credits
  • Increasing focus on colleges and universities spinning off research to private enterprise
  • Creating an index on the efficiency of government regulations
  • Increasing the number of students graduating with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) degrees

Finally, he challenged the audience with a bigger issue; the cumulative effect of our carbon choices.  We’ve consumed vast stores of carbon fuels in a relatively short period of time.  What technology and innovation can we bring to these challenges to improve our future?