Category: Recipes

Monday morning reminiscence of Italy over breakfast

Click to enlarge source

A gentle rain, this morning. One of the delights of monsoon season, sometimes, in high desert country. Sunrise shining through the rain. Felt and smelled like nothing but my Italian grandparents’ farm in New York state – or Tuscany, which never got so cold in the winter.

My notes about a morning in Bivigliano are over at my friend Om Malik’s personal blog. The link is behind the photo above, taken in his vacation, the R&R he’s still immersed in – in Tuscany.

And Monday breakfast often depends on leftovers. I ate just a tad extra of my wife’s pork stew, yesterday; so no meat in the most important meal of the day – yet. Only my second cup of coffee with a touch of cinnamon in the brew, dark roast and strong as usual.

I’d baked a couple of long slender loaves of Italian bread, last week, instead of the usual boule. A quarter whole wheat, three-quarters unbleached white flour per usual. I turned one into broccoli bread the way the maestro did it at the Grand Bakery in my old Fairhaven neighborhood. I stuffed the loaf with steamed broccoli, minced garlic lightly sauteed in e.v. olive oil, dried red chile fragments.

The two heels of that loaf remained from the weekend. So, I split them, leaving a little broccoli in each piece. Toasted them till the sharp edges of the bread were just turning brown. Rubbed the stiff crust with a clove of garlic and brushed each surface with more of my favorite Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, and just a few grains of Malden sea salt.

Sat down with my coffee and Paul Desmond on Pandora streaming. “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright”.

The rain should stop, soon. Sheila’s a true New Mexico dog and won’t come outside for a walk with me until it does.

Offer vegetables early, often, to toddlers and healthy eating becomes a habit

Broccoli is still my favorite – steamed then sauteed in olive oil and garlic

Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two, suggests a University of Leeds study.

Even fussy eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times, it found.

The research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children aged between four and 38 months from the UK, France and Denmark…One in five cleared their plates while 40% learned to like artichoke.

The study also dispelled the popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked in order for children to eat them…During the study, each child was given between five and 10 servings of at least 100g of artichoke puree…The puree was either served straight, or sweetened with added sugar, or vegetable oil was mixed into the puree to add energy.

The researchers found there was little difference in the amount eaten over time between those who were fed the basic puree and those who had the sweetened one, suggesting that making vegetables sweeter does not encourage children to eat more…

Overall, they did find that younger children ate more artichoke than older children in the study…Prof Marion Hetherington, study author from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds, said this was because children become picky and wary at a certain age.

“If they are under two they will eat new vegetables because they tend to be willing and open to new experiences…After 24 months, children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods – even those they previously liked…”

Prof Hetherington said her research, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE and funded by the EU, offered some valuable guidance to parents who want to encourage healthy diets in their children.

“If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often…Even if your child is fussy or does not like veggies, our study shows that five to 10 exposures will do the trick.”

There’s part of the skill. Parents have to know better before they can teach their children to eat better, healthier diets. Cripes, just reading this reminds me of what my mom did. She tried my sister and me on a range of green veggies and – in addition to traditional Italian salads – she simply let us choose which of the several veg she offered during those earliest years – as long as we chose one or more to be our own.

It meant she always was left with preparing twice as many choices for a meal – because damned if my sister and I would choose the same thing. We wouldn’t even pick the same ice cream for a treat walking home from our Friday night treat at the neighborhood movie house.

Whey beneficially affects diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in obese adults Eat cheese!

Gervais, cheese, wine

New evidence shores up findings that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes. The study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.

Lars O. Dragsted, Kjeld Hermansen and colleagues point out that obesity continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, about 35 percent of adults and about 17 percent of children are obese, a condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. One risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people who are obese is high levels of fat in their blood after meals. But recent research has found that these levels partly depend on the kind of protein included in the meal. Studies have suggested that whey protein can lower the amount of fat and increase insulin, which clears glucose in the blood, keeping sugar levels where they’re supposed to be. But the details on whey’s effects were still vague, so the team took a closer look.

They gave volunteers who were obese and non-diabetic the same meal of soup and bread plus one kind of protein, either from whey, gluten, casein (another milk protein) or cod. The scientists found that the meal supplemented with whey caused the subjects’ stomachs to empty slower than the others’. These subjects also had lower levels of fatty acids in their blood after meals but higher amounts of the specific types of amino acids that boost insulin levels.

No doubt there will be both more specific – and broader – schemes of research following on from this work. If anything, this speaks directly to the Mediterranean Diet once again. I would especially recommend boiled milk cheeses like mozzarella, scamorze and ricotta.

But, those are just my Italian genes speaking. :)

Don’t throw out sprouting garlic — it has heart-healthy antioxidants

“Sprouted” garlic — old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots emerging from the cloves — is considered to be past its prime and usually ends up in the garbage can. But scientists are reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that this type of garlic has even more heart-healthy antioxidant activity than its fresher counterparts.

Jong-Sang Kim and colleagues note that people have used garlic for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Today, people still celebrate its healthful benefits. Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements is touted as a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease risk. It even may boost the immune system and help fight cancer. But those benefits are for fresh, raw garlic.

Sprouted garlic has received much less attention. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. Kim’s group reasoned that the same thing might be happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic. Other studies have shown that sprouted beans and grains have increased antioxidant activity, so the team set out to see if the same is true for garlic.

They found that garlic sprouted for five days had higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting that it also makes different substances. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage. “Therefore, sprouting may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic,” they conclude.

Our Celtic cousins in Basque country often take individual sprouted garlic cloves and replant them. When they’ve developed to comparable to a decent green onion they brush them with a wee bit of olive oil, char the outside on a hot grill and serve them with more oil seasoned with crushed garlic, red chiles, whatever your heart desires.

Yes, they are delicious. Served occasionally here at Lot 4.

Thanks, Mike

The future of breakfast printing technology

Breakfast lovers prepare to be amazed- everyone’s favorite breakfast food the pancake just got a technological upgrade. It’s called the PancakeBot, but it might as well be called the food printer we never knew we wanted so badly.

The Pancakebot works much like a 3D printer, drawing intricately designed pancakes out onto the skillet and making your dream of eating pancakes shaped like stuff come true!

This mealtime marvel was created by designer Miguel Valenzuela, who used LEGO blocks to create his initial prototype, which was subsequently replaced by “an acrylic body, an Arduino Mega, and two Adafruit Motor Shields as well as a few odds and ends like a vacuum pump for batter control.”

Coming soon to an IHOP near you [in your dreams].

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Three cheers for the Chicken Lady

A Florida woman has been taking advantage of a guarantee that the Publix grocery store chain makes to its customers and has scored herself more than 300 free rotisserie chickens in the last year.

Janet Feldman is able to use the “Publix Promise” policy to get the chickens for free because their actual weights don’t match their labels.

When the 57-year-old finds an underweight bird, she simply lets the store manager know and gets the chicken for free.

“I’m known as the Chicken Lady,” Feldman said…“I could pick them blindfolded. I haven’t paid for chicken in almost a year.”

She doesn’t actually eat the chickens herself and instead donates them to animal rescue organizations who feed them to hungry cats and dogs

Publix has pledged that they are going to fix the problem with the labels.

When I lived in a public housing project in Bridgeport, one year the nearest chain store that specialized in ripoff pricing in low income neighborhoods – did a deal at all their stores offering double your money back if your Thanksgiving turkey wasn’t the best you’d ever eaten.

Lots of happy folks in that project the day after Thanksgiving. We all enjoyed the birds we cooked; but, would you be surprised to find out they weren’t the very best anyone had ever prepared for the holiday?

Poop still pungent after 700 years — medieval latrine uncovered

It may not be the most glamorous of archaeological finds, but the discovery of 700-year-old stinking toilets has got experts excited.

Human excrement described as being in ‘excellent condition’ has been found at the 14th century site, which features a number of special purpose-built barrel latrines.

Amazingly, the medieval faeces inside them still smell pungent, despite having had centuries to mellow.

It is not yet known whether the two toilets were attached to a house or acted as a public lavatory.

It is hoped that the excrement will give scientists a better idea of what people ate in Denmark at the time and it is now being analysed by experts…

The find is especially useful to experts as the barrels were used for a different purpose before they were transformed into toilets…Markings on the wooden barrels include the owner’s details and reveal that some of them were used to transport goods, as well as to store fish.

Archaeologists also found three barrels stacked on top of one another that are thought to have been used as a basic well…They were tied together and packed with clay to make them waterproof, while a system of pipes at the bottom of the structure was also discovered.

Excavation of the site is continuing and it is now the largest excavation in an urban area in Danish history. Odense is the country’s third largest city.

One of the study objects most sought after by archaeologists I would bump into when I lived in the Navajo Nation were coprolites. A hifalutin word for fossilized people poop. Usually in a special spot in or near an Anasazi ruin.

You can learn a lot about folks from their poop. Unless they’re too anal and uptight – and explode.

Bat soup ban – part of fightback against deadly Ebola virus

Guinea has forbidden the sale and consumption of bats and warned against eating rats and monkeys as the country combats a spread of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever with a mortality rate of as much as 90 percent.

We discovered the vector agent of the Ebola virus is the bat,” said Remy Lamah, the country’s health minister, in an interview from the town of N’zerekore today. “We sent messages everywhere to announce the ban. People must even avoid consumption of rats and monkeys. They are very dangerous animals.”

In the west African nation, the Toma, Kissi and Guerze ethnic groups eat bats…So far at least 63 people are suspected to have died in Guinea’s first recorded outbreak of the disease.

“The Kissi community eats bats and the epidemic is making a lot of devastation,” Moriba Traore, an inhabitant of Gueckedou, said by telephone. “Families in villages lost eight or ten members and people are dying. We are afraid.”


Thanks, Mike