Gluten-Free Diabetic Friendly Brownies

Black Bean Brownies

I admit it… It has been ages since I have updated any kind of blog.   There have been a lot of things (very positive) going on in my life since my last post on here.  I won’t even attempt to catch you up on everything, though you probably already know some since my followers tend to be just friends and family.

One of the most positive of those things is the reason behind this post. Back in July of 2010, Lisa moved back to Knoxville to continue her education. I knew I wanted to get to know her better this time around. I’ll spare the details for now (you can ask me privately if you want to know), but we struck up a great friendship that has developed into a serious dating relationship. Now for a little background… Lisa was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was a child.  She has also been eating a GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) diet that focuses on eating natural foods.  It has had really good results for her.  Of course, I am a little biased when I say she’s HOT, but others have noticed a “glow” about her and the diet probably has a bit to do with it. While I haven’t completely cut out gluten from my diet, I have significantly reduced it and can say that I can feel a difference. I know several friends that have pledged to do Gluten-Free January. Thus I want to share this recipe for them. This is just a recipe I modified from another I found on the internet to make it more diabetic friendly.

This is a really easy recipe to make.  They taste pretty good and are a more healthy alternative to regular brownies. It takes about 5 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake.  I get most all my groceries from Earth Fare or the natural selection area at Kroger, in case you are wondering where you can find these items.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.
Rinse and drain the black beans and put them in a blender with the eggs, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla, agave, and salt.
Blend until the batter is nice and smooth.
Mix in the crushed walnuts and pour into an 8″x8″ pan.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Yield: 16 brownies

Black Bean Brownies

Cades Cove Loop Road Closed… But for How Long?

A deer jam occurs when motorists on the Cades Cove Loop road stop in the middle of the road instead of using one of the numerous pull off areas available.

I have noticed that over the past few days one of the keywords that is still driving people to this blog is Cades Cove.  Living in East Tennessee, I am very fortunate to live so close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Cades Cove, a very popular spot in the Smokys, was slated to have the loop road resurfaced from March 1 – May 21, 2010.  Trails affected by this closure are Abrams Falls, Cooper Road, Gregory Bald, Gregory Ridge, Hannah Mountain, Indian Grave, and Rabbit Creek trails. The campground, the campground store, the picnic area, and the horseback riding stables will remain open, though bicycle rentals will not be available. (The store and stables don’t open until April 1st.) The last time Cades Cove Loop road was repaved was 1978… over 30 years ago.  It is in bad need of repair and truthfully needs to be wider and marked better for pull over spots. You can read more about the scheduled work at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cades-cove-road-improvement.htm.

This work was to be completed under a Highway Trust Fund.  Today was supposed to be the first day the road was completely closed to traffic so workers could being work on it.  However, there is a funding shortfall as a result of KY Senator Jim Bunning who blocked legislation last week that included the Highway Trust Fund.  Thus, there was an ordered furlough today of over 2,000 federal employees… including the federal inspectors that are overseeing the Cades Cove Loop repaving. No inspectors… no work can be done. So while today was supposed to be the first full day of work on the Cades Cove Loop road, the work has stopped and the road remains closed.  I just gotta wonder how long this funding issue will keep the road closed.  Hopefully we don’t have another Road to Nowhere brewing. Cades Cove is just too popular to be left closed.  In the meantime, enjoy this nice picture of a deer and the traffic that goes along with it.

EDIT: The bill passed the next day and work resumed on March 3. Hopefully the work can still be completed by May 21, 2010 if not sooner.

A deer jam occurs when motorists on the Cades Cove Loop road stop in the middle of the road instead of using one of the numerous pull off areas available.
A deer jam occurs when motorists on the Cades Cove Loop road stop in the middle of the road instead of using one of the numerous pull off areas available.

Fist Annual CSC Solid Rock

So tonight the First Annual Christian Student Center Solid Rock show finally took place.  It was originally scheduled for two weeks ago, but was postponed because of the wintry mix storm that hit that weekend.  This show was a fund raiser for the CSC’s Spring Break trip to Jacksonville, TX to do work at Elijah’s Retreat.  Unfortunately, I do not have any photos from it because tonight I relinquished the role of church photographer and took on my role as rhythm guitarist; a role I don’t often get to do at Laurel Church of Christ. I think after all was said and done, a little over $3,000 was raised. The show was similar to a talent show.  The talent included sword fighting, rubik’s cube solving, musical acts, and poem recitation among others.

I was part of the house band called “The What” aka “The Mark Smith Band”.  Mark Smith was on keys and vocals, Len Causey on vocals and acoustic guitar, John Truan on lead guitar, I was on rhythm guitar, Jason Payton on drums, Anna Caroline Causey on backing vocals, and Becca Payton on backing vocals.  We started out the show with a Motown classic “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” and lead immediately to another Motown classic “Baby I Need Your Lovin'”.  Halfway through the show we did another set of songs that consisted of “Boondocks” and “Sweet Home Alabama”.  Unfortunately during this set the G-string of John’s guitar got de-tuned one and half steps so those songs sounded kinda rough sounding until he got the string tuned back up.  To close out the show we did “Born to Be Wild” and “Twist and Shout”.  “Twist and Shout” turned out to be really funny because a lot of the kids got up on the mini-stage and started twisting.

It was a fun night that raised a bit of money, but I am glad it is out of the way.  We had been preparing for it for several weeks.  As usual I keep a pretty busy schedule.  Finding time to practice was the hardest part.  We recorded it, so I might be able to get a hold of the recording and put up some videos, but I’m not sure about that.

Strobing Basketball

Full galleries for the games below are located at:
Webb School of Knoxville vs Farragut High School (January 25, 2010)
West High School vs Knoxville Catholic High School (January 26, 2010)

OK, I’ve had a few people ask me about strobing basketball and I haven’t updated this blog in ages, so I thought I’d show a couple of sample setups with some sample images. Real quickly here is what is involved in each setup.  The typical setup is a Canon 1D Mark III with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS attached and a Canon 1D Mark II with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L attached.

Setup 1: Studio Strobes

Elinchrom BX500Ri x2 or alternatively you can buy the To Go Kit which includes 2 lights, 2 light stands, 2 softboxes, as well as a Skyport Transmitter.
Elinchrom Wide Angle Reflector x2
PocketWizard FlexTT5 x2 (These aren’t needed, but I use a Two Camera setup and since I already have them, I use them.  You could get another Skyport Transmitter instead if you wanted to use two cameras and don’t want to switch transmitters back and forth.)
PocketWizardMini TT1
Manfrotto Super Clamp x2 (You could use light stands, but they tend to get in the way and you’ll need to make sure they don’t get knocked over by somebody on accident.)
Extension Cords and Gaffer’s Tape
Miniphone to Miniphone Cable (Only needed if using the PocketWizards)

Setup 2: Speedlites

PocketWizard FlexTT5 x2
PocketWizardMini TT1
Canon CP-E4 Battery Pack x2 (You can do without them, but they really do help to speed up recycling of the flashes.)
Canon 580EX II Speedlite x2 (I actually use a 580EXII and 550EX.)
Manfrotto Super Clamp x2 (You could use light stands, but they tend to get in the way and you’ll need to make sure they don’t get knocked over by somebody on accident.)
Universal Umbrella Bracket with Swivel Mount x2

Ok the first setup, is the setup I used Monday night at Farragut High School. I had an Elinchrom BX 500 Ri on each side of one half of the court and was bouncing of the ceiling. The biggest advantage to this setup in the power and action stopping capability of these lights.  The biggest disadvantage is the time it takes to setup and take down and having to wait for the lights to recycle. This setup allows me to shoot ISO 400, 1/250th, and between f/2.8 and f/4.5 depending on the location of the player.  The first image you see shows the placement of the strobes and the second image is how one of them is mounted.  I bounce them off the ceiling and have the pointed towards the center of the court.  I have experimented with having the strobes at different power settings (full, 3/4, and 1/2) and have found that bouncing at full power gives the best results.  Even at full power, these lights have a recycle time around 1.5 seconds, which is still pretty decent.

Setup 1-1: Opposite end of the court showing the placement of the strobes.
Setup 1-1: Opposite end of the court showing the placement of the strobes.
Setup 1-2: How the strobe is mounted.
Setup 1-2: How the strobe is mounted.

In the next two examples (1-1 and 1-2) you can see that it does a good job of providing even lighting towards the middle of the court.  However, in example 1-3 you can see that the downfall to this setup is when getting players around the three-point line close to the baseline, their backs will be a little hot (backlighting) from the strobe closest to them.  Of course with the Skyport setup, I have 1 light in group one and 1 light in group 2.  I can fire both by setting the transmitter to All or I can fire an individual group.  Of course changing on the fly isn’t the most practical, but it’s an option if you need to get a shot of a particular player from the three point line near the baselines.

Example 1-1: Webb Lady Spartan Kelsey Brown gets around Farragut's Alex Newby and takes to the air for the layup.
Example 1-1: Webb Lady Spartan Kelsey Brown gets around Farragut's Alex Newby and takes to the air for the layup.
Example 1-2: Webb's Dwight Tarwater collides with Farragut's Landon Hunley while Webb's Donovan Whiteside attempts to block the shot.
Example 1-2: Webb's Dwight Tarwater collides with Farragut's Landon Hunley while Webb's Donovan Whiteside attempts to block the shot.
Example 1-3: Landon Hunley looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to.
Example 1-3: Landon Hunley looks for an open teammate to pass the ball to.

The second setup is the setup I used on Tuesday night at Catholic High School.  I had both setups with me, but opted to use the Speedlites.  The advantage to using Speedlites are in the fact that they are smaller, require less setup and take down time, and have faster recycle times.  The biggest disadvantage is  that there isn’t enough power to bounce them, so the shots are more direct and also more susceptible to hot spots from a strong back light.  Typically my shots where ISO 800, 1/250, and between f/2.8 and f/5.6 depending on the location of the player.  I also experimented with different power settings for the flashes, but since I am using the PocketWizard TT1/TT5 setup, I found that using E-TTL II with the camera using the Averaging algorithm (instead of Evaluative) and FEC set to +2/3 works the best.  Again I’ll follow the same examples as above.  The first two images will show the setup followed by three example shots.  Two will be near the basket and one from the three point line near the baseline.

Setup 2-1: Opposite end of the court showing the placement of the flashes.
Setup 2-1: Opposite end of the court showing the placement of the flashes.
Setup 2-2: How the flash is mounted.
Setup 2-2: How the flash is mounted.
Example 2-1: Bianca Andre drives the ball to the hoop.
Example 2-1: Bianca Andre drives the ball to the hoop.
Example 2-2: West's JuJuan Williams gets over top of Knoxville Catholic's Philip Stephens.
Example 2-2: West's JuJuan Williams gets over top of Knoxville Catholic's Philip Stephens.
Example 2-3: West's Moore puts up a 3 pointer.
Example 2-3: West's Moore puts up a 3 pointer.

When I originally started this post, I had planned to go back to Knoxville Catholic for their game against Webb on Friday night since my assignments were all earlier in the week and use my strobes so you could see a comparison of strobes vs speedlites in the same gym.  Well a line of snow and freezing rain storms came in, thus the game was canceled.  I do prefer to shoot with my strobes over speedlites, so I’d rather go back to Catholic and shoot strobes than to shoot at Farragut or any of the other schools I’ve shot at before and shoot Speedlites.  Webb vs Catholic is a big rivalry game too, so I’d rather go on one of the less crowded nights.  I’ll probably update this post when I make it back to KCHS.

Two Blogs Too Many

One blog is hard enough to maintain, but two or more and you’ve got to be crazy! Except, I haven’t really been maintaining them. It’s not even that I don’t have things to blog about… I just haven’t really made the time to sit and write the posts down. Over on my other blog, I’ve decided I’ll write a little bit about some of my more favorite images each month during my Photo-A-Day project. Here’s the post for January.