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Who or what are 'Squigs?' Click here to find out.
Posted by: tonysdad
It’s true.  Roger Ebert, the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, once awarded me a dime for winning a cartoon-captioning contest, but only after disparaging my character first.  (But to be fair, he did apologize afterward.)

I’ve always enjoyed reading Mr. Ebert’s reviews, and, except for a couple of egregious exceptions, have found his taste in movies to match mine.  And I enjoy his writing style in general, so I have naturally been a regular reader of his blog.

Back in July of 2009, the blog contained a discussion of the cartoon captioning contests held by The New Yorker.  Mr. Ebert invited his readers to submit a caption for the current competition and offered a shiny new dime as the prize.  I put what I thought was the obvious punch line in the blog’s comments, signed it “John B.” and then promptly forgot about it.

The following August, I visited Mr. Ebert’s blog and was surprised to see that the discussion was about...me.  Apparently my caption had been voted the funniest by the other readers of the blog (which was nice), but then the conversation took a bit of a dark turn.  It seems that there was another “John B.” who posted regularly to the comments section, but he said the winning caption did not come from him.  So who was this other “John B?”  An impostor?  And didn’t his entry bear a similarity to another cartoon caption on the Internet?  So he’s some sort of plagiarizing impostor! By the time I arrived at the party, the pitchforks were being handed out and the tar was being heated, which is not the time you want to find out that you are the subject of discussion.

To be fair, there were some commenters on the blog who came to my defense.  They pointed out that there were many John Bs in the world and that similarity does not necessarily mean plagiarism.

Unfortunately, the original version of Roger Ebert’s blog entry does not exist any more.  Once I had introduced myself and explained the situation, Mr. Ebert amended the original post and was all-in-all very gracious.  I even got my dime.

So why am I telling you all this?  Well, I know there is some interest out there in what it was like to go to the White House, who we met, and what we saw.  And I will write that all down and share it with you eventually, but things are busy on my end, and I may not get to it for a bit.  For now I thought I would just share a quick anecdote with you, and let you know that more is on the way.

2010-Sep-20: Thank's, Jo!

Category: Site Information
Posted by: tonysdad
Jo (“Supernanny”) Frost has an excellent website filled with plenty of child care advice and information.  And this month her eNewsletter has a nice shout out to Tony’s Plate.  (We enjoyed the eNewsletter so much, we became regular subscribers.)
Category: Life with Type 1
Posted by: tonysdad
Look, I’ve never asked you for anything, right? OK, I may have asked you to vote for me in that competition, but this is important.  The Dayton JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes is coming up on October 2nd, and Tony’s Team is gearing up for our second outing.

Now the Walk, aside from being a show of support for the JDRF, is a major fund-raising event for research into juvenile diabetes.  These are the people who are funding the research that is going to make type 1 diabetes one of those diseases that people used to get in the olden days.

But before I give you the link where you can make a donation, I would like to make you a special offer.  Any donation to the JDRF is appreciated, but if you could find a way to part with a donation of $100 or more, we would like to send you a Tony’s Team t-shirt.

Take a look at that art.  That’s 100% the work of the up-and-coming Illustrator of Broadway, Justin “Squigs” Robertson.  And the styling, a slightly-retro ringer tee is—I have been assured by the Council of Cool Kids—kicky and stylish.

To get your t-shirt, here is what you need to do:
  1. Go to Tony’s donation page on the JDRF website.
  2. Click the [Donate to This Walker] button.
  3. Fill out your Personal and Billing Information for your $100+ donation.
  4. Important: We here at TonysPlate.com will not see your Personal or Billing information, so you need to enter the address where you would like your t-shirt sent and the shirt size you would like to receive in the box at the bottom of the form.  (Shirts are 100% cotton and are available in Mens Small through 3XL and in Ladies Small through XL.  For more information, including sizing charts, click here for Mens shirts, and here for Ladies.)
  5. Equally Important: You probably will want to check the box labeled “Do not display my name or personal message on this walker’s webpage.”
  6. Click the [Continue] button to continue, and if everything looks correct on the confirmation page, click the [Confirm Information] button.
  7. This next step takes a little longer: Wait until we have a chance to make and mail you your shirt.  (I’m thinking late October or early November.)
  8. Relax in the comfort of knowing that we here at TonysPlate.com will not rent, sell or give away your contact information.  We only need it so we can send you your shirt.

And please note:

  • All the money from your donation goes to the JDRF.  We here at TonysPlate.com will not be making money from these t-shirts, quite the opposite.
  • And because we are paying for the shirts and shipping from our own pocket, this run of shirts will have to be a limited edition, probably no more than 150 will be made.  If we get close to the limit, we will post something in this blog.
  • Shipping limited to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Offer ends 11:59PM ET on Sunday, October 10th.
Category: Site Information
Posted by: tonysdad
The USDA is holding a competition for schools to come up with “Recipes for Healthy Kids.”  And for this competition, Tony’s Plate is helping out.

I’m eager to see what kinds of recipes come out of this competition.  Finding healthy recipes that kids will enjoy is a tricky task.  Hooray for crowdsourcing!
Category: Life with Type 1
Posted by: tonysdad
Tony had a low enough blood glucose at 9:00pm last night to get a double snack & juice. Still low enough at 9:30 to get another snack & juice.

I know the poking and testing is not fun. But getting three slices of banana bread and staying up an hour later than bedtime has got to be worth something.
Category: Recipes
Posted by: tonysdad
Hey, didja ever see this video?  In it, the beauteous Heidi Blickenstaff makes a reference to “Aunt Susan’s Bananapants Banana Bread.”  And ever since the video dropped, people have been asking where and when they can get the recipe.  Well the answer is here and now.

Let’s take a look at the label on that recipe.  (We’re speaking figuratively here, not literally.)  The corner is peeling up, and underneath the label that says “Aunt Susan’s Bananapants Banana Bread” is another that reads “Mom’s Banana Bread.”  And under that is another label, too faded to read after forty or fifty years.  So this recipe did not originate with Susan, and it probably didn’t even originate with Mom.  For all we know, Grandma was making this as a young girl in the wilds of Ontario, Canada.  Well, that’s the way it is with recipes; if you are lucky, you can inherit one from someone who has worked out the kinks.

We’ll start by launching straight into the recipe, but please stick with us afterward.  We’ll also be discussing how our Mom would have made the recipe back in the ‘70s, variants on the basic recipe and the nutritional aspects.

 Mom’s
Aunt  Susan’s  Bananapants Banana  Bread
 ^ 
Beat together
     3 ripe bananas (1-1/2 cups)
     1 large egg
     1/4 cup oil or butter

Mix together
     1-1/2 cup flour
     2-1/2 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp baking soda
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/2 cup sugar
     1 cup oatmeal

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, just until blended.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees in a greased loaf pan
or 25 minutes in muffin tins.



Now let’s say you were to jump into your TARDIS for a quick jaunt back to the 1970s to watch our Mom make a loaf of banana bread.  The first thing you might notice is that she prefers to avoid dirtying dishes unnecessarily, so she doesn’t get out any mixing bowls.  The dry ingredients for the banana bread go directly into a greased loaf pan.  The wet ingredients go into a blender jar.  The wet ingredients, once blenderized, are combined with the dry ingredients directly in the loaf pan just before baking. Quick and efficient.

Another thing you might notice is that there is no butter to be found.  There might be liquid vegetable oil, but maybe not.  What you would find is margarine, probably Blue Bonnet brand in a reusable cereal bowl.  These days, margarine is looked down upon as an inferior cousin of butter.  But having grown up on the stuff, we can enjoy the flavor of margarine-laced baked goods fondly.  And the flavor doesn’t seem inferior or superior to items made with butter, just different.

If Mom is going to add anything to the banana bread batter, it is likely to be black walnuts.  Black walnuts have a hearty, almost unpleasant flavor when eaten by themselves, but they make an excellent counterpoint to something that is sweet.  Mom would sit on the concrete steps outside our house and shell her own black walnuts with a claw hammer, wearing leather work gloves to keep the walnut rinds from staining her hands.  Sure, you can use English walnuts or pecans instead, but it isn’t quite the same.  Mom would never put chocolate chips in a banana bread, though; not one of her favorite ingredients.  But it is an option.

Speaking of options, you could leave out the bananas altogether.  That one and a half cups of bananas could just as well be shredded carrots, sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed butternut squash, apple butter or even thick apple sauce.  The trick is that you may have to increase the sugar to compensate for the fact that these replacement ingredients will not be bringing as much sweetness to the party as the well-ripened bananas would.  Here’s a trick: Add your sugar to your wet ingredients (but before you have added any raw eggs) and give it a taste to see if think it is sweet enough.

Oh, and just so you know, different substitutes for bananas will probably have different moisture content, and that affects baking time.  As always with quick breads of this type you will want to make sure a toothpick, skewer or butter knife dipped into the middle comes out clean.

We have preloaded the banana bread recipe into the Tony’s Plate Calculator so you can take a look at the nutrition and play around with the recipe.  You will notice that some of the ingredients do not have their rows checked off.  This is so you can see out what would happen if you made some substitutions in the recipe.  For example, you could get the nutrition of a squash-bread recipe by unchecking the row with bananas, checking the row with butternut squash and increasing the the amount of sugar.  Or replace the granulated sugar with brown sugar.  Or make the bread with 3/4 cup white flour and 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour.  Add some spices or raisins to the mix.  Only you will know what you might like.  Be creative.

2010-Aug-15: Thank You

Category: Site Information
Posted by: tonysdad
I would like to thank everyone who voted for the Tony’s Plate Calculator in the Apps for Healthy Kids competition.  And that thanks extends to everyone who blogged, tweeted and wrote on my behalf.  The show of support was overwhelming.

It was especially gratifying the way my family rallied behind me.  Everyone did what they could.  Susan, of course, could (and did) do the most, but she wasn’t alone.  My other sisters, my niece, my parents, my wife and sons all did their part and brought in the votes.

Other major supporters include the fans and Broadway cast of [title of show], the Broadway community in general, Jo Frost (The Supernanny!), Tony’s Cub Scout Pack, the Dayton chapter of the JDRF, the grant writing office at the University of Miami, and the readers of the Dayton Daily News.  I apologize if I have left anyone out.

Of course it is not all over yet.  When the voting closed, we had close to a 200-vote lead, and I am sure those votes are being audited right now.  But I think we are in a good position; we continually told people to be honest in their voting, and I know we were never as desperate or frustrated as our competition.

By the way, I would have put this out yesterday, but after the voting closed I crashed hard.  My blood pressure came down, the adrenaline wore off, and I relaxed for the first time in a week.  I even took a nap and got to bed early, which for me only happens when I am truly exhausted.  Like Susan, I am no longer going to bed with the thought “what else could I be doing?”  For better or worse, this chapter is over.

2010-Aug-15: Tweet ♪

Category: Site Information
Posted by: tonysdad
Hey, four more Twitter followers yesterday!  That brings our total up to...um...four Twitter followers!
Category: Recipes
Posted by: tonysdad
This blog entry is in reference to the pancake recipe I posted earlier. Sorry it has taken me so long to get out. Please believe me when I say that recent days have been eventful and action-packed. Some day that narrative will be written, but for now, let’s talk pancakes.


I have loaded the pancake recipe into the Tony’s Plate Calculator and set it to be open to everyone. Click here to view the recipe. To create a recipe like this, we start by going to the Tony’s Plate Calculator. Then, because we are interested in the carbohydrate content of the food, we select the “click to create a new nutrient-data recipe” link. That gives you a blank recipe that will draw its food items from the USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.


The column on the left contains some items that we can fill in now and some we can’t. “Recipe Name?” That’s easy: Pancakes. “Total Quantity Name?” Well, there really isn’t a name for the total batch of pancakes we produce; we can leave it blank. “Piece Name?” That’s another easy one: pancake. The other items in the column, the “Total Recipe Quantities” and “Recipe Serving Size,” are things we likely don’t know yet, so we’ll save them for later.


The “Total Quantity Name” and “Piece Name” are actually labels for special measurements and are included for convenience. They let you express things like a serving size of “1/48 sheet cake” or a total quantity of “37 meatballs.” Putting names to these measurements can be useful if you want to use the product of one recipe as the ingredient of another. For example, you might want to use 3 pancakes from the Pancakes recipe into the recipe for your breakfast.


But let us turn our attention to the ingredients of our pancake recipe. You search for ingredients by entering search terms in the text field in the upper right corner and clicking the [Find Ingredient] button. When you locate the ingredient you want to add, fill in the quantity and use the drop-down box to select the unit of measurement, and click the [Add] button.


A note about one of the ingredients in this particular recipe: The USDA did not include tablespoons as one of the possible units of measurement for granulated sugar. You can measure your sugar in packets, teaspoons, cubes, cups or grams, but not tablespoons. I can think of a couple different ways to handle this. If you know that there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, then it’s easy enough to figure out that there are six teaspoons in two tablespoons and then specify “6 tsp” as the quantity. Another way to do it would be to measure your two tablespoons of sugar onto a scale set to grams and then enter the quantity as that number of grams.


If you examine the ingredients in the pancake recipe, you will notice that some of the quantities are specified as fractions, like the “1/2” teaspoon of table salt. The Tony’s Plate Calculator tries to be smart about numbers and will recognize “1-1/2”, “1 1/2” and “1.5” as one and a half.


But let us now skip ahead in time. Assume that we have located all of the pancake ingredients and added them to our recipe. What do we have then? Well, we have a recipe that we know will have about 1,735 Calories and about 234 grams of carbohydrate. And unless Tony becomes a lumberjack, he probably doesn’t need to eat that much. We have to be able to figure out the nutrition for a smaller portion of the entire batch.


Turn your attention back to the bottom of the column on the left where the “Total Recipe Quantities” and “Total Serving Size” are specified. By default, the total quantity is “1 entire batch,” but you can specify the total quantity in multiple ways. In the case of our pancakes, we can count the cooked pancakes to find that we have produced 16 roughly-equal pancakes. Or even better, we can put the pancakes on a scale—make sure to zero out the weight of the plate—to find out that we have produced 802 grams of pancakes.


Once we have identified the total quantities made, we can set a serving size that uses the same units. So if we tell the Calculator that we produced 16 pancakes, we can set the serving size to 3 pancakes. Or if we tell the Calculator that we produced 802 grams of pancakes, we can have a serving size of 153 grams of pancakes. The Tony’s Plate Calculator will then have enough information about what fraction of the whole is in a serving, and you will get the nutrition information you need.


Is it a little complicated? Maybe. But having the computer do the math beats sitting at the kitchen table trying to work it all out with a pencil, paper and a pocket calculator. At least the computer can have the answer before the pancakes get cold.

2010-Aug-04: This made my day

Category: Life with Type 1
Posted by: tonysdad
My Sister’s friend Alicia has a very sweet entry in her ‘Things You'll Learn To Love About Me’ blog.  She talks about dealing with her type 1 diabetes and has some very nice things to say about the Tony’s Plate Calculator.

Before the Apps competition ever came up, I was building Tony’s Plate precisely for people like Alicia. It's touching to be able to put a name and a face to someone you’ve helped.

   

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