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Articles in "Island Epicure"

Today’s column is inspired by Steve Silha’s request for more Greek recipes. Some of the best dishes we ever tasted were those we ate in small Greek restaurants, the kind with only three tables and the cook working at the back of the room or in her adjacent kitchen.

Have you been enjoying supermarket satay? This is chicken, pork, or beef cooked on a stick in a Thai manner.  It’s inexpensive and cooks super fast. You can make satay at home either on an outdoor grill, and under your kitchen cook stove’s broiler.

The nettle plant is really your friend. It’s tasty and nutritious. When it stings you, it’s only trying to save its own life long enough to produce seeds and extend its genes through another nettle generation. So never strip a nettle patch completely.

I wanted to create something grandson James could carry to work that gives him carbs for energy, protein for staying power, and that stops off a lunch with  a feeling like getting a reward.

“You don’t go to Greece for the cooking,” someone told us. We believed them and prepared to rent a house with a stove and do our own cooking that long ago sabbatical winter. We’d looked on the map and observed that Crete is on the same latitude as San Diego, so we left our woolies at home. Those were the days when it snowed on Vashon Island and one winter it had got down to 15 degrees in January.

We spend so much time staring at brightly lit computer screens and TV that we need to put some conscious thought into how to take care of our vision. Good food can be a big part of that care.

Diabetes seems to be edging into epidemic status. Native Americans and people with African ancestors are the most at risk, but none of us is immune to that disease. People in my family are susceptible to it.  My mother and her grandmother had it.

Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, wrote the new book Brain Maker, published by Little, Brown and Company of the Hachette Book Group. The gist of his book is that good health, energy, upbeat mood, efficient brain, freedom from chronic diseases, and joy in living all stem from eating the foods your good gut bugs like and thrive on, and avoiding sugars, wheat and other junk that encourages the bad bugs.

Whenever we host a big family dinner, we cook much more food than the group can consume. There are leftovers for our house and for the batchelor/s at the gathering to take home. It’s best to put them in glass or ceramic containers, not plastic boxers.

The first column I wrote for this newspaper, ten years ago, gave readers a requested recipe for Pad Thai. It’s okay for people sensitive to wheat because it uses Thai rice noodles.

Cooking the traditional centerpiece of a Thanksgiving meal is easy; the directions come with the bird. But what do you do with the leftover carcass? There’s a lot of good meat on it, well worth the time to cut off that meat and transform it into a big pot pie, or a casserole.

You start with the leanest, cleanest, grass-raised beef. You can ask the butcher to grind a pound of round steak for you. Besides its yummy flavor, each low fat serving provides 20 grams of high quality protein, 3 mg Vitamin B12, 5 mg niacin( the happiness vitamin) and a smidgeon of B1, B2, and B6, also 258 mg of potassium.

Your Halloween pumpkin, if bought with future culinary uses in mind, can have a second life as Pumpkin Soup or Pumpkin Pie, or if there’s just a bit of pumpkin pulp leftover, you might create a Pumpkin Smoothie.

Recently, in one of the food-and-nutrition newsletters I get, I read that people who eat nuts live longer than those who don’t. It reminded me of the excellent oat and nut waffles my sister-in-law, Jean, makes. I watched her create the batter for them and jotted down the ingredients. Oats are full of fiber, and have no gluten. That’s a boon for the 12% of the population who are celiacs or who get headaches if they eat high-gluten foods.

Americans seen to have become much more conscientious about choosing foods for nutritive value as well as flavor whether eating out or at home. Even fast food places like McDonalds have added some genuinely healthy foods.

Diabetes has become epidemic in this country. It runs through my family, too.. If Americans could defeat diabetes, think how our medical expenses would go down, and our productivity increase!

Several issues ago, I began a series of home remedies for common ailments. To carry on with that series, here’s what I’m doing for an eye infection: It’s another application for my Magic Potion. I call it that because it works fast in most cases and can help for many health problems.

Pancakes are the quickbread I make most often. They’re perfect for a guest breakfast or a Sunday night supper. You can dress them up with real maple syrup, or more healthfully with yogurt and fresh fruit. Or bake them with fresh or frozen blueberries folded in just before baking. Added before the last minute, frozen berries tend to bleed blue juice, spoiling the beauty of our product.

As I write this, the July heat wave has passed and it actually rained for a few minutes this morning! But we all know we’ll experience more hot days and may be in the midst of a series of them when this hits print in early August. Cold meals that require little or no cooking please the cook and the family best on such truly hot days.

Chicken, though pricier that it used to be—what isn’t?—is still about the thriftiest meat you can eat. When I cooked chicken with green beans in curry sauce, extemporizing from what was in the freezer and the vegetable bin, the grandson who came to dinner, kept saying, “Mmm-mm, good!”

These are our salad days. You don’t have to be vegetarians or vegans to put cold, high protein, salad-based meals on your table.  A white bean salad even looks cool, whether you chill it before serving or not. This one is adapted from an Azerbaidzhani recipe in“Cooking from the Caucasus” by Sonia Uvezian. 

Of course, your best bet is to avoid burns in the first place. I keep hot pads in the kitchen drawer next to the stove, and know from experience to use them.

A faithful reader, my daughter Suzanna, plagued with a recurrent sinus infection, asked me to jot down all my home remedies, the secrets to why when everyone else is down with a cold, the flu, sinusitis, arthritis, or any other malady, do I remain basically healthy.

This is a dish I learned to make by peering over the shoulder of my then-young husband’s grandmother, born Jane Macbeath. She was Scotch, not Scottish. She wanted it clearly understood that she was a Highland Scot. “Scottish,” she told us, “are people who live near the English border.