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Articles in "Island Epicure"

This column is for Cynthia, and for anybody else who needs meals that take a minimum of prep time, and not too many ingredients. For the vegans and vegetarians among us, I suggest pasta with beans in a red sauce.

The pumpkin, pie of this year’s Thanksgiving feast a recent invention of mine that dodges several family members’ allergies, comes with very little lactose and no gluten. No more eating the pumpkin-and-spice flavored filling and throwing away the crust.

On days when the rain pours and the wind roars, it warms the cockles of my culinary heart to be able to resort to my well-stocked pantry when it’s time to cook a meal.

You will, of course, thriftily buy a pumpkin that’s as edible as decorative. Within a few days after Halloween, peel it, chunk it, steam it, or cook it in enough water to prevent burning, puree in food processor or blender, and then try one of both of these recipes.

Chocolate, of course. Who doesn’t love it? Choose cocoa, for a temporary boost to your brains’ seratonin, the happiness chemical. It won’t give you lasting happiness, but it will—for a little while—make you smarter.

I’ve just invented a new cookie recipe that my son pronounced, "Superb!" Here it is, below. It contains no cane sugar nor corn syrup product nor gluten, just great flavor and nutrition. You may want to clip it and glue or tape it into the back of your copy of my book, Wholegrain and Gluten Free, available at Minglement.

For years we’ve heard that we should not eat eggs, or at least should toss out the yolks and make our omelets with whites only. White omelets? If I ever make one, it will be as a curiosity, not with the expectation of high-quality nourishment. The first Island Epicure column I ever wrote featured an imaginary conversation with a hen. She explained that an egg contains every nutrient needed to create new life.

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.