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Articles in "Island Epicure"

Nutrition buffs tell us we should eat fatty fish at least twice a week for the Omega 3 fats. You get them in salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and walnuts. We used to be told to eat fish on Fridays. But why wait? It’s good any day. This quick easy dish is similar to the Pad Thai you know and love, but juicy with coconut milk and whipped together with albacore tuna. It’s pretty enough to serve to company, and delicious.

By now the hottest weather of the year should be behind us. Down here near the water where I live, it’s already cool enough to begin baking again. If it isn’t yet at your house, it soon will be. You’ll be glad you clipped and saved today’s gluten-free banana bread recipe. It’s whole-grain, potassium-rich and deliciously sweet yet low on the glycemic index.

I do love lamb. It is expensive, but a couple of shoulder chops or lamb steaks can be made to go a long way, cutting the per-serving cost of a lamb entrée to a less budget-bashing amount.

Really hot weather is so unusual here in the Puget Sound region, and especially on Vashon and other islands in the sound, that it really wipes us out. Few of us have air conditioned kitchens. The recipes below require little or no cooking. They taste great cold and supply needed moisture for our sweat-dehydrated bodies.

What did the signers of the Declaration of Independence have for their dinner on the day they signed that important document we still celebrate every 4th of July? Did they spend so much time discussing Tom Jefferson’s words telling old England that her thirteen American colonies wanted their independence that they only paused for a quick cold collation?

A quick curry supplies fuel for summer activities without heating up the kitchen and the cook while preparing it. The theory in Thailand and in the warmest provinces in China is that a spicy dish that makes you sweat has the net effect of helping you stay reasonably cool. If that doesn’t work, follow it with chilled watermelon.

One of my true-love’s favorite vegetables is the lowly cabbage. He’s happy with plain old green cabbage chopped in fairly large bite-size pieces and simmered with salt and plenty of black pepper. Sometimes we vary it sprinkling in a little turmeric to give it an enticing golden color. Even that little bit of turmeric should aid our aging memories somewhat.

Food prices, always escalating, have made our household virtually vegan. As a nutritionist, I recognize that this makes our diet both thrifty and healthy as long as we take our vitamins to make sure of Vitamin B12.

If you were to draw your personal food pyramid, what would the bottom layer, the one with the foods you eat the most of, have on it? My five-layer pyramid would be constructed like this:

Seven superfoods that taste good and keep you healthy are beans, peas, broccoli, eggs, blueberries, oatmeal, walnuts, and yogurt. To come people, broccoli tastes bitter.

Tea is the worldwide beverage of choice, next to plain water--black tea, oolong tea, green tea, white tea, and herb tea. Teatime can mean anything from a simple cup of tea to a mini-meal with cake and sandwiches, or the elaborate Japanese tea ceremony in which every gesture is prescribed by a ritual centuries old. We drank it in Japan as powdered green tea, scarcely diluted with water, a strong, bitter drink sipped through tea candy.

Clam digging, anyone? We have one more month with an R in it between now and September. Before digging, be sure to call the Red Tide hotline, 800-562-5632. You could check on the internet, but websites are not always up to date.

St. Patrick probably ate his soda bread with butter and bogberry or blueberry jam, and drank mint tea with it. Ireland is too cool for wheat, but the Irish of St Pat’s time had oats and could have grown barley. Caraway plants grow pretty far north, so I believe the Irish recipes that contain their seeds are probably ancient.

Let the March winds blow. Let the usual Northwest gray skies and rain prevail outdoors. Somewhere the sun is shining. Let us close the curtains, turn on some New Orleans jazz music, and get ready for some southern cooking. The aroma of Jambalaya or Shrimp Purlieu will have us smacking our lips, and a wave of happy anticipation will wash all the blues from our hearts.

Traditional winter menus of Rumania rely on root vegetables and such meats as pork and goat. Trust me, goat meat is very good. It can resemble venison or lamb, depending on what the goat has been eating. But today’s main dish recipe features beef, more readily available in our meat departments than goat and less expensive than lamb.

Winter doldrums can numb your brain, make it perform as if chained. Buds opening into new, oxygen-producing leaves help to unchain it. It’s invigorating to get outdoors and breathe early-spring air, especially when the sun shines. So does giving your brain the fuel it needs. Choline is a prime nourisher of neurotransmitters.

Keep moving, then. Our bodies were made for motion, not for sitting in front of a computer or TV screen for hours at a time. What you eat matters a lot, too. Choose raw or lightly cooked vegetables, and fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits instead of canned. Choose fruits for your desserts. Consider red berries and blueberries. They’re anti-cancer food, as well as anti-inflammatory.

Do you hope for smooth, clear, wrinkle-free skin all your life, or at least past middle age? Forget costly face creams. Save the money you might have spent on Botox. Although a lot of time in the sun will weather our skins, what we eat and drink matter, too. Some foods foster skin wrinkles. Some slow it down. The two lists below come via Dr. Jonathan V. Wright’s newsletter, Nutrition and Healing. He got them from a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

All over the Island, thoughts of Christmas cookies dance in our heads. Gingerbread men prance across kitchen counters. But some of us are loathe to fill our bodies with sugar, wheat, and fat, knowing that we will suffer later if we indulge too freely. To some, chocolate is kryptonite. A reader has challenged me to provide for her a Christmas cookie free of gluten and chocolate.

My reissued little book, Beans, Rice, and Pastas, is available at Suzanna Leigh’s studio this weekend and next. The studio is called HiLaDi, Number 29 on the Studio Tour Map. The name is Kwakiutl and means something like "everything just as it should be."

This column will reach you a bit too late for presenting ideas for stuffing a turkey, but just in time for ideas on what to do about the leftover meaty carcass.

First, I pick off all the meat bits the Thanksgiving feasters left on it. I freeze them in plastic packets. Then I break the remaining meaty skeleton into at least two or three plastic freezer bags full of turkey parts.

At a recent dinner party at Suzanna Leigh’s house, she served the most delicious Tennessee Cornpone I’ve tasted in years. The difference: She spiced the beans and included whole kernels in the cornpone. Together cornmeal and beans give you complete protein. 

In our household, we enjoy an occasional beef tenderloin or a helping of wild king or coho salmon, but we’ve come to feel that if we don’t have beans of one kind or another sometime during each day, we have not eaten well.

Brown rice and beans complement each other’s proteins to provide all the necessary nutrition of a whole protein. Beans help your cells to replicate themselves when their necessary aptosis (read ‘death’)

It’s that time of year again. I’m hearing about cases of the flu and the season for it goes on right through the winter. You don’t have to succumb, though. Maybe you had your flu shot and feel secure. But the virus can mutate. Also, the virus that comes around may not be the one the health authorities were expecting and made the shots for preventing.  

Besides, some of us are allergic to the eggs, rabbit blood, or horse blood in which the anti-flu serum is cultured. The shot could make us sicker than the flu itself. Even if that doesn’t apply to you, both Dr. Jonathan V. Wright of Renton and Nan Fuchs, Ph.D., in their health newsletters, inform us that flu shots are not that effective in people over 65.