Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Water for the Win

Recently I have begun an every day routine of spending at least 20 minutes swimming laps in the pool.

I have my reasons. (There are always reasons....)
1.  I cannot imagine watching the Summer Olympics this year from my vantage point of being as old as (if not older) than many of the parents who will doubtless be featured in variations of those "up close and personal"athlete's stories, unless I am doing something, anything, that qualifies as active.

2.  Swimming is the one form of exercise I can enjoy outside right now without sweating.

3.  Once I pass a certain totally-made-up-in-my-head number of days pursuing this activity?  I will feel absolutely justified, if not obligated, to share that I'm swimming every day with everybody I speak to for a time span of over three minutes.  (Random folks I know who might be reading here?  Consider yourselves duly warned...).

I might even begin bringing it up with telemarketers rather than simply hanging up.
    Telemarketer:  May I please speak with AustinAgrodolce?

    Me:  Speaking

    Tmarketer:  How are you this evening?

    Me:  Pretty good, actually

    Tmarketer:  That's great.  I'm calling tonight on behalf of...

    Me: (interrupting) Say!  Do you exercise regularly?

    Tmarketer:  Um, I'm calling tonight to talk to you about....

    Me:  Because I've been swimming laps every day now for a while? And I'm really getting into it.

    Tmarketer:  Yes, well, I'm calling....

    Me: (Interrupting again)  I could probably help you get started with an exercise program all your own if you have a few minutes?

    Tmarketer:  ........

    Me:  Tell you what. Just give me your home phone number and I'll be happy to call you some night around dinner time, or maybe early on a weekend morning?  And we can talk about what YOU need to do to get back into shape.  I mean, sitting making phone calls all day can't be very good exercise, right?


By then if there is any justice in this world they'll have hung up on me, I can get back to watching the Olympics and peace will reign in all the land.  At least, all the land in my living room.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Something Blue

Something old, something new....
something borrowed.....

Ok.  So not literally blue.  At least not this go round.  "Something Blue" is rather the name for a new feature here on Austin Agrodolce.

I've consistently enjoyed several blogs that regularly feature photos with little to no verbiage attached.  I thought I'd give it a try here occasionally, sharing a photo without much if any exposition.

Introducing........ Something Blue.
Cirsium horridulum Michaux/Thistle seed heads gathered from Stonewall, Texas

Friday, June 22, 2012

Parse this

I'm a great fan of parsley these days.

I didn't used to think that way.  Parsley was represented in my thinking only as that annoying garnish found on every plate in every sit down restaurant.  If I bothered touching it at all, it was only to find some unobtrusive placement of the parsley away from my food, so I could concentrate on what I was eating.  And, whatever I was eating that day, parsley sure wasn't it.

Then I planted some in the garden to share with our son (he's a chef).  He doesn't have access to outdoor planting spaces, so it was easy enough to offer to grow it here.  He can drop by and pick however much he wants for his own use at home.  We were already co-hosting basil, thyme and jalapeƱo plants for our mutual use, so what was a little parsley between family?

It turns out parsley, once a good sized crown is established, is a really attractive plant. It is as green as they get, barely wilts in the heat, tolerates most of what any Austin winter dishes out, and is never a water hog. Even in August.

As I began to use fresh-from-the-garden parsley in various recipes (rather than ignoring it as an ingredient altogether), I began to discover parsley does indeed have something to offer as part of the flavor profile of various dishes.  Fresh parsley is an addition I have come to appreciate, especially in home preparation of ranch dressing and chicken stock.

And, as is typically the case, I am not alone in my admiration.  Yesterday as I was trimming out the yellowed leaves from underneath the crown, I ran across three fellow parsley fans.
Papilio polyxenes, also known as black swallowtail caterpillars, were busily eating, bulking up for their pupation.

In years past I'd admired these stylish guys  feasting on well established fennel plants.  It turns out these caterpillars are particular fans of the carrot family, laying eggs on dill, fennel, and.....yup, parsley.
I was growing the parsley to share after all but we have loads of fennel and not so much parsley.  I decided to try to carefully move the feasting cats from one preferred plant to another.

As gentle as I tried to be, I did not get away with my transfer efforts without alarming the caterpillars enough to provoke the evertion of a forked gland called an osmeterium, which supposedly emits a foul smell to put off predators.
Ha!  Though I am no predator, when it comes to tolerating foul smells?  Caterpillars, if they could google humans, would soon come to understand no woman who has been involved in the care and laundry of a teenaged male, will be easily shoved aside by foul smells.

Even though I may be periodically deluded into thinking I am out working in our beds alone?  The garden is always an occupied space.  What is food for us is always also food for others.  Sharing the bounty is simply par for the course.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What a difference....

24 little hours can make.

We'd kept an eye out on these plumeria buds for a couple of weeks.  My hope was that since these are plants especially dear to the Hub, we might get our first blooms of the year on Father's Day.

Alas, it was not to be.  Plants have their own timing and designated holidays are not on whatever passes for their calendar.
The shot above is how they looked yesterday, and then.....

The original plant was a gift from a co-worker to the Hub years ago.   The Momma plant was dormant, looked like something that had broken off a walking stick, but we were assured with a little support, it would pop into high gear once the season was appropriate.

And so it did.  Since that time the Hub has carefully tended and repotted until now we have a mini-grove of personally propagated potted plumeria plants (try saying that 3 times fast!).

We admire the plumeria's broad leaves displayed umbrella style at the tops of the branches.  Their presence in our garden beds powerfully evokes memories of family trips taken to Hawaii in summers past.

But what we love most about plumeria are their showy blooms. Clearly, we are not alone.

Look closely at the photo above, and you'll see we were not the only ones tracking the progress of these flowers.  The blooms had been open for barely a couple of hours before two spiders had set up shop waiting to prey upon unwary visitors.   (I think they are crab spiders.  But.  Blah blah blah, I stink at identification, you know the drill...).

Though the blooms weren't open in time for Father's Day, I have no way of knowing if the bloom's appearance is on schedule for the crab spiders.  In the garden, it would seem everybody has their own agenda.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chopped, The Garden Episode

Shhhhhhh..........  This is all very hush-hush.  Super top secret.  I know you won't tell anybody what you are about to read, because it would spoil the surprise, but I have come up with absolutely, positively the P E R F E C T basket ingredient list to stump the most resourceful chefs on the Food Network cooking/reality show, CHOPPED.

If you have never watched the show, 4 chefs show up and cook a series of dishes based upon 4 ingredients provided in 4 identical baskets.  Each round the chef responsible for the least successful dish is chopped/sent home, until after the dessert round when a winner for the day is announced.

What makes this show slightly different from other televised "chefs judge other chefs" challenges is the quirky combination of ingredients on offer in each round's basket.

There is typically something unusual on offer which must be used in some way, no matter how superficially inappropriate it might seem for a particular course, or in combination with the other ingredients in the basket.  It might be a really obscure ingredient, such as lime pickle, or simply something that works against expectations for a course, like fruit ring cereal in the appetizer round.

If you are a fan of the show (we are), and have ever found yourself wondering aloud "so, what WOULD I prepare out of a basket containing haddock, garlic scapes, matzoh crackers and blueberry gummy bears?" then read on....

Some of the best CHOPPED episodes have themes, and "my" episode would be one of those.  It would be called something along the lines of "Home Groan", and each basket would feature a typical day's harvest from our garden.

That's right.  Our garden.  That will be all the hook needed, because, look at this y'all:
What you are seeing is the representative bounty of a day in the life of our garden this year.  Stunning, isn't it?  Can't you just hear CHOPPED host Ted Allen describing the contents?  "Chefs, in your baskets today you will find; a strawberry, a cherry tomato, a serrano pepper, and (insert dramatic pause here)........coriander seeds!".

I don't care what sort of pantry hookup you've got or culinary training either one, try making anything at all out of this motley assortment, other than a slightly bent plate garnish.  No, I'll wait.  Go ahead...try!

Or in other words, face the precise challenge every person cooking for a household does every evening when it comes time to prepare dinner.  Because reality television is only the faintest echo of reality in this instance.

Every night there are folks looking at what they've gotten from their gardens in combination with what's already on hand and then making something great out to eat out of that all as quickly as can be done, to be consumed/judged by a panel of instant critics (aka their family).   They do it day in and day out, with no camera time, no prizes to be awarded, and little to no acclaim even when they get it right.  

If their judges don't approve, these chefs don't get thrown out, but rather are brought back in less than a day's span to take a deep breath and try it all over again.   It may seem a kinder process but honestly, there are days when I wished I could be chopped and sent off to pack my knives and go.  Instead I head straight into syndication, with the inevitable boredom that re-runs inspire.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In other news...

I've been eying these day lilies for weeks, watching as the buds formed.  They kept getting bigger and more colored until I could barely stand the wait any longer.  At first I'd hoped they would be around for GBBD on the 15th.  Then I didn't care, I only wanted them to BLOOM, dang it!  I wanted to SEE!!

I'd been forced to transplant them last year from where they'd gotten crowded out by ground covers run amok.  They'd already suffered being transplanted from front to back, after the deer proved themselves untrustworthy around the buds.

All that moving around in combination with drought and heat meant no blooms last year.   That made two years running I had day lily plants with no lilies to show for it. Impatient as I am I was quite ready to support any kind of bloom display this go-round.  And I did not wait in vain.  Ta daaaa!  Day Lilies!
The Jewels of Opar are more reliable bloomers.  Even when transplanted way past my usual "no-move" deadline of May 15th, they simply buckled down, put out a new crown of leaves and shot bloom spikes up towards the sun.
I find the tiny blossoms that then form even tinier berries in an assortment of colors, hard to capture in photos.  I promise you, the jewel tones of the berries (their name source I'm guessing) against the chartreuse color of the leaves is a stunner.  And they tend to self propagate in an area when left alone long enough, which is a trait I find especially endearing.
Yes, I'm cheap too.  Cheap and impatient.  Are you keeping track of this?  I can't do all your work for you, you know.
Other favorites of mine are the flowers on the 4 o'clocks (Mirabilis jalapa, or Pride/Marvel of Peru).  I realize they are considered weeds by most folk hereabouts, but I'd rather think of them as very pliable filler flowers.

The 4 o'clocks leaf out early and bloom prolifically until it gets too hot and dry, at which point I feel free to chop the plant tops off for a potential second showing later in the season. They reseed themselves abundantly but are so easy to pull out I never fret about them spreading where I don't want them.  I mean, look closely at that bloom...is it not delightful with those curly filaments?  I have white ones and pink ones both but the pinks are somewhat hardier and more prolific bloomers.  Yep, that difference between the two accurately predicts I like the white ones better as they are mysteriously trickier to get established.

Last but not least, a shot of my daughter's cat making sweet kitty face love with her shoes after she was out working in the garden.  Well, that's confusing.  Let me try again.  My daughter was out working in the garden, not her cat.  At least, not her cat.....yet.

If I already had cats trained to work out in the garden I'd be telling you all about that for darn sure.  That is while I wasn't busy counting my piles of money made off the "Your Cat Can Garden, Too" Feline Gardener Training Sessions.

Who wouldn't want a cat who would thoughtfully weed in between bouts of chasing off squirrels?  Nobody wouldn't, that's who.

Considering the need I'll be filling, the income generated by cats trained to garden and deer trained to eat nut grass (another work in progress) is bound to be substantial.  Once that starts rolling in, there'll be little else to do in my fantasy future other than counting then back stroking, through piles of my well gotten gains.

At these earliest conditioning stages, the cat's response to exposure to the gardening process looks something like this.  

So far, so good.  Gosh, I love science.  Have a lovely rest of your week!

Monday, June 11, 2012

This one's for you, Joan Marie

blogger friend of mine has her gorgeous daughter heading off to college in the fall.

This is her first go-round with the emptying nest process, so she is understandably a bit shell shocked considering all the hits involved.

Aside from tuition and fees there are all the costs involved in setting a kidlet up in their own space. Dorm or apartment either one - each venue requires at least one shopping trip and potentially more.

As I discovered along the way with my own kids, at some point the roles of Mom and Dad are reduced to half Sherpa/half remote wallet.
  xkcd has nothing to worry about from me! (I'm so clearly NOT a hitherto unrecognized cartoonist)
Then there is the energy expended in packing and moving and unpacking again, all done while the college bound one is doing their best to be SO cool, y'all.  As soon as her parents and family are out of the way she'll be, like, so sophisticated and mature you guys.  But while the family is inconveniently still hanging around, especially if they are overheard expressing enthusiasm for anything at all?

If there is not any evidence of eye rolling or sigh heaving either one, I'll eat my book of parenting union rules.  Unsalted.

Mostly there is the tension inherent in the implicit understanding that once the parent-cats are away?  Every college mouse is ready to play....

As a salute of sorts to all the mommies and daddies living out their summer with college bound kiddos?  This glimpse of days to come from xkcd.com 2:

Concept, check! Execution....well....

Did I really buy these "chips" just because of their ingredient list?
Maybe....  I mean, just look at it!  Have you ever seen anything more earnest than this?
I'll admit it - when I spotted these in the store I laughed out loud a little.
I simply had to buy a bag if only to encourage such a commercial effort.

Unfortunately, the texture was too thick for 3 out of 3 local tasters and the flavor was a bit bean forward for me.  That was a stand alone taste test, I'll try them with hummus as suggested and see if the combination  is a winning one.  (I don't think hummus atop the platform will do the work that is needed to be done, but will be quick to update if I'm wrong.)

I think part of the problem is their nomenclature.  I read "chip" as a descriptor and think "thin and crisp".  These are neither.  They aren't exactly flaky like a cracker either.  These Falafel chips are actually a lot closer to a fried corn tortilla in texture and crunch.

So, yeah.  I bought these for the concept and will probably end up putting them out on the feeder designated for our resident evil zombie squirrels.

They'll have to bring their own hummus, though.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


We (meaning mostly me) have been excited for weeks as a nesting pair of wrens chose a spot close to our front door to set up house.
In years past I've played door chicken with wrens nesting in a bag hanging beside the door of my car in our garage, discouraged wrens wanting to build in the bumper of a car that was seemingly going nowhere most of the time, and wrangled wren fledglings off a back deck area where they were in danger of being trampled upon by a very "interested" labrador retriever.

This year the wrens actually chose a bird house as a nest home.  Go figure.
The baby birds are now big enough to see without disturbing the house.  This means I am obligated to check on them at intervals ranging from about every 4 hours to every 15 minutes, depending upon my mood, my occasional "need" to go out the front door, and my ability to secure a willing "go-see" partner.
The wren parents feel free to fuss a bit at me, which they are obviously capable of doing with their mouths full, but they do not seem especially freaked out by our comings and goings.  Even the babies apparently get bored when my shadow does not materialize into another beak offering them goodies to eat.
In other critter news, I surrendered to the squirrels and set up a feeding station specifically for them, in hopes they'd be too satiated to tinker with our cages set around tomatoes and strawberries. 
I do wonder if I'm not simply reinforcing the idea that everything in our yard is set out just for their eating/playing pleasure, but so far, so good.  The squirrels are happy with the easy gets, and the tomatoes and strawberries are getting a second chance to mature on the plants.  

Friday, June 8, 2012


Cool, calm and collected, that is the ideal for the modern woman, yes?

Well, one out of three ain't too bad.  When it comes to "collected"  I have quite a bit going on.  I'm not sure where or when it started, but somehow I got the idea that once I had two of anything, it was imperative to get a third and officially begin a "collection".  

Take these for example.  Souvenir place plates.  These specimens, hung on the walls around my laundry room, help lighten the slightly murdery mood that can develop as a side effect of forced drudgery.
The laundry room art display keeps the plates safely out of line of sight of less sentimental/more critical eyes in the house.  At the same time, they serve as reminders of days long ago when I would get a special allowance from my parents as part of our family vacation trips.
My Mom encouraged the practice because she wanted me to learn how to budget and save.  Truth be told I usually got back home after a vacation trip with most of that "special" money still burning away in whatever passed for my pockets those days.
My Dad encouraged the souvenir fund process because it ensured I was a more enthusiastic ally in his quest to stop at every "World's Biggest Ball of String" or "Davy Crockett's Cabin" road side attraction along the way.

Was I interested in said string or reconstructed cabin?  Nope, not in the least, but every one of these places either was itself entirely comprised of, or at least prominently featured a Gift Shop as part of the touristy fun.

As a child, I was all about Gift Shops and Museum Stores.  I speculate I single handedly kept several Taiwanese companies profitable during most of the late 60's.
Not that I needed another tiny photo album, coin purse or teensy cast iron skillet to bolster my sense of innocent wonder, but when said items featured the stamped or painted rendition of some place we had just visited as a family?  The instant nostalgia was often too much to pass by.  
What I was not able to buy during all those years were the omnipresent souvenir place plates.  As a child, I was forced to stick to shopping the smaller items with their matching price points.   And although I carefully eyed them at each stop, the souvenir plates I truly coveted were big ticket items, scaled for folks with deeper pockets (and potentially as yet undeveloped ironic tendencies).
Ostensibly ignoring announcements about how much longer I had to shop from my parents, I would let the pressure mount as I carefully balanced my desire to buy myself something wonderful that I was already holding in my hand, against the wish to have however much money that something wonderful cost stay right in my pocket, banked against some future better purchase at our next unscheduled stop.

That was then.   Now I happily scan the shelves at thrift stores for cast off souvenir plates.  The time spent reminds me of minutes stretching into hours standing blissfully gazing into glass cases and slowly rotating wire racks in various gift shops along our vacation routes.

Now, when I am struggling Sisyphean style at getting dirt back out of things only to be reused and resullied, I can look around and thoroughly enjoy being haunted by the Ghosts of Gift Shops Past.

How about you?  Were you a gift shop devotee as a vacationing child?  Are you still subject to impulse buys while "on the road" that would never tempt you in a million years on a regular day?  Feel free to confess your best/worst buys in the comments section.   I like to think we're all friends here....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer time...

and the livin' is easy....

Or at least most of the recipes I am willing to tackle this time of the year are.
Easy, I mean.

Case in point?  This Strawberry Balsamic Dressing recipe from the Whole Foods recipe website.

Caveat:  I rarely shop at WF, but I do check their site for recipes using seasonal ingredients now and again.  I have a local market I frequent for emergency supplies and do all the rest of my food shopping at Wheatsville Co-op.

Because, that's why.
Whether you have thyme or strawberries either one growing in your garden currently, their flavors in combination hold pride of taste in this particular summertime offering, a no-oil dressing that is supposedly also "delicious as a dip for pear or apple wedges".   I have a pear rolling around here somewhere and will bravely taste test this assertion for you after we get the dressing organized.

But first, let's get our ingredients gathered and make some dressing.

The recipe calls for:
2/3 cups sliced fresh organic strawberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used whole grain)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients plus 1/4 cup water in a blender and blend until very smooth.
Makes about 1 cup / Serves 8
Store in the refrigerator if not using promptly.

The dressing is a cinch to make.  I'm not sure you need to get too invested in chopping your berries or shallot half since the blender will be doing plenty of that on your behalf.

The dressing's flavor is predominantly thyme, though I imagine that might vary according to how fresh your thyme leaves are. I picked my thyme sprigs right before making the dressing.  The final flavor balance will also reflect how ripe your strawberries are.  I used berries from the store, which means they were not nearly as sweet or juicy as home grown.  Still, delicious over all.

I put together a quick lunch salad of arugula and romaine, sprinkled with more sliced berries, crumbled goat cheese, toasted pecans and a little bit of left over grilled chicken.  See how pretty?  It tasted every bit as good as it looked.  (Did I lean over and not-so-daintily nibble a bite off the top while marching back into the house with my lunch after I snapped this shot?  Perhaps.....)
A final tasting note.  I tried the dressing as a dip for a ripe pear slice and honestly?  As much as I like the dressing AS dressing, I wasn't so crazy about it as a dip for fruit.  To me, ripe fruit is good enough all by its lonesome.  Maybe that disqualifies me as arbiter so feel free to dip away if that is what floats yer personal boat.

UPDATE:  After a couple of days in the refrigerator my dressing got a little thick.  I simply stirred it well and it was fine to use.  I'd even say the flavors were a bit better blended after having hung around together for a while.

18 cents a day

I've done this nearly every day for almost a year now, and sporadically for much much longer than that.

Today I simply had to double check.

The premise is so simple.  I visit a website.  I click on a button.

I get a thank you note as the screen shifts to show me advertisements from sponsoring corporations who purportedly donate funds to feed the world's hungry, just for the chance to show up in front of me on this page.

It is up to me whether I visit the corporate sites, or pay any attention to who is on that page, but these corporate sponsors apparently are willing to donate what amounts to about three cents for the chance to catch my eye, generate some goodwill, and potentially attract me as their customer.

Three cents donated for food to hungry people for less than three seconds of my time.

If I decide to click a few more times, I can do even more.

I know, it sounds too good to be true.  It sounds like a scam, a something-for-nothing scheme.  One of those tricks where you innocently try to do something wonderful and you end up with all your financial records and passwords downloaded to some Mob processing center.

Well, according to extensive research (read:I just Googled it), the Hunger Site is a lot of things, but a trick or a scam or a scheme is apparently not one of them.

The Hunger Site, and the associated partner sites generating funds to protect endangered habitats, support programs to increase child literacy, provide free mammograms, support animal rescue organizations and promote child health, are ingenious partnerships capitalizing on the mechanism by which corporate sponsors will pay, just as they do for space on various other web sites, maybe even your blog among them, just for the opportunity to catch your eye.

In return for that chance, as you click on the buttons each day, sponsors send three cents to the site managers who distribute the proceeds in the form of grant monies to their charitable partners.  If you are a forgetful type like me, each of the sites is even set to send you a daily email reminder to click, with a link to the buttons for all six causes.

Just think of it.  You click six times, spending only a few seconds, and eighteen cents a day, times three hundred sixty-five days a year, yields $65.70 in corporate funding given to charity with laughably little effort.  Even if you miss a few days on vacation or whenever you are away from the internet, I am sure you could easily end up generating at least $50 annually.  Just for pointing and clicking, something I bet you typically do all day long.

$50 a year of corporate money going to make this world a better place.  Because you want it to.

No unsolicited return address stickers.  No hokey calendars or flimsy greeting cards.  No telephone calls at dinnertime or solicitation of any kind.  You visit at your convenience, from the comfort of your desk, once every day.

When I donate my own money I do so very carefully.  I investigate the organizations and see how they are rated, how much of my contribution goes towards work, how much goes for administration, etc.   According to GreaterGood, 100% of the corporate funds generated by visiting these pages go to their charitable partners.  So far, I simply can't come up with a down side.

How about you?  Ready to spend a few seconds to make the world a little better place?  Just....click!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The few....

The proud....

The Strawberries!
And yes, I do realize we'd need to have approximately five times as many plants going at a time in order to have enough ripe fruit to use for a recipe or whatever.  We are (read:I am) still getting caught up from the summer of No Walking.  By next year, I hope to have 3 more strawberry planters filled with productive plants, all installed inside a squirrel proof enclosure.

I'm hoping that is a little more attainable than, say, world peace, or an end to prejudice of all sorts.  Because at the moment, all three goals; world peace, the end of prejudice, and enough ripe strawberries to constitute a serving, well, all three goals are on the same "not happening this year" shelf.  Onward!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And what's with that ruler, anyway?

Are you eating Frankenfoods?  Are you sure?
According to Green America's May 2012  issue, the following nine foods are the most prevalent genetically modified food ingredients currently sitting (unlabeled, there are no requirements to warn) on your grocer's shelves.
The chart (9 Ingredients to Watch) shows how long the crop has been genetically modified, how widespread it is now (be seated while reading this category) and the real deal sealer, "What to watch for" that delineates which products may include a particular GMO along with what monikers and acronyms to be aware of.
What is your GMO IQ?  I was generally aware of the prevalence of GM soy and corn, I know a coalition of Maine potato farmers have been battling to keep GM potatoes from upending their small scale and organic operations, but papaya and Aspartame as GMO products were surprises to me.

Yes, Aspartame.  How can an artificial sweetener be a genetically modified product?  Taken from  GMO Compass, in their GMO Database section,
"Gene technology
A building block of aspartame, the amino acid phenylalanine, may be manufactured with the aid of genetically modified micro-organisms (escherichia coli). This process has been used industrially in the USA for many years. "

Well, ick, y'all.  I'm not typically tempted to use Aspartame sweetened products in the first place, but if I was?   That tidbit of information would seal the non-use deal.  And yeah, I can't wait to drop that into the conversation the first time I spot anybody sucking down a diet drink.  Because I am that kind of helpful.  All the time.

You're welcome.

Y'all be sure to check out the link and read about what may be lurking in your pantry unbeknownst.   Whether or not you change your shopping habits, if your memory for numbers is better than mine you at least now have some starling information to casually insert into your next chat about food.

On another topic, this raises the question: Did I post this just for the opportunity to legitimately use "unbeknownst"?  Maybe....  If my suspicions are accurate, there is an unconscious style editor, one who is apparently smitten with archaic language no less, lurking about just waiting for chances to use terms such as "thrice" or "languish".  I picture her wearing her hair up, librarian style, wire rimmed glasses in place and for some strange reason she is waving a ruler around.   Hmmmmm.