A BOOK RECOMMENDATION

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THE JUNGLE EFFECT by Daphne Miller, M.D.

 

 
 
      I am recommending another “must read” for anyone interested in healthy eating. Dr. Miller’s premise is that there are “cold spots” in the world where certain diseases are non-existent and that this is due to the indigenous diets of the local population. She travels to Cameroon which is a cold spot for bowel trouble and to Copper Canyon Mexico which is a cold spot for diabetes. Crete in Greece is a cold spot for heart disease and Okinawa Japan is the cold spot for prostate and breast cancer. And she also reveals how Iceland, the darkest country in the world, is the cold spot for depression. Dr. Miller is meticulous as she proves the connection between diet and health. She takes her reader on a fact finding journey to nutritionists, epidemiologists, elders from that culture, doctors, and other specialists who provide her with the pieces to the puzzle.
 
    Once in a while we find a book that we don’t want to finish because each page is so captivating. This is “that book” for me.   Each chapter begins with a personal story of a patient who is struggling with a health issue which was non-existent in the lineage of that person one or two generations earlier. Dr. Miller then takes the reader through her thinking process as she makes the case that diet is the major factor in disease prevention. By the end of the chapter she has made a convincing argument and provides a step by step prescription for how the reader can adopt the essential dietary features of that culture. The book ends with a section of authentic recipes from each cold spot region. 
 
Along the way are several side excursions that offer fascinating information:  
 
  • Toxins in fish and which ones to avoid,
  • Glycemic indices of potatoes and how much the index varies depending on the type of potato and how it is prepared;
  • Unraveling the mystery of the soy beans and breast cancer connection
  • The importance of caloric restriction which turns out to be one of the essential rules of the Okinawans. They have a saying: “Hara Hachi Bu” which translates to: “Eat until you are eight parts full”.
  • When to buy organic food, and
  • The health benefits of eating local foods.
 
There are many such side bars of extremely well articulated explanations, some of which sort out confusing and controversial dietary theories.
 
This book is well written, terrifically interesting and applicable to anyone who eats food. If you liked Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen, you will love this book as well. He, by the way, endorses “The Jungle Effect” on the front cover of the book.
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BOOK RECOMMENDATION

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My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Pruh’homme
 
 
     Many of us older gourmands grew up watching Julia Child teach us about how to cook and enjoy French cuisine. She was a class act: wise and so knowledgeable, cheerful and full of quirky energy that made her such an endearing personality. This is her memoir dictated through a series of interviews with her nephew Alex Prud’homme. 
 
    Her personality comes through so distinctly that I can really picture her vividly as she recalls her life from the time she first arrived in France in 1948. For Julia it was “love at first sight” when this sheltered, young woman with a WASP background first set her eyes (and her taste buds) on Paris. She loved the people, the culture, and particularly the food and the wine. This is her story, told in her voice and written by Paul after her death August 13th, 2004 two days before her 92nd birthday. 
     I truly feasted on this book. It is a “must read” for anyone who grew up with Julia or who has used her many cookbooks; or even people who never heard of her, but love good food. It was she that introduced us to the first successful television cooking program. Julia Child was the pioneer and inspiration for all those chef TV personalities who followed. Her passion for great food and cooking inspired many of the amateur and professional chefs of today.
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I’m back with More Abundance Recipes: EGGPLANT

 

ENJOYING BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES IN THE GALAPAGOS

Sorry I haven’t been posting. I was traveling in the Galapagos with my son. It was a peak travel experience that I highly recommend.
 
But now that I’m back I want to share some great ideas for CROP ABUNDANCE: Corn, Eggplant and Cucumber recipes. These easy, quick ways to use up lots of vegetables are winners that I make every summer.
 
 
 

  Continue Reading…

WILD MUSHROOM FORAGING

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     Mushroom heaven!  It was my good fortune to be escorted by my friend Carl to a forest bursting with an abundance of fungi.  Carl was able to identify each mushroom by its Latin name and sometimes its old Latin name and by its common name.  And we came back laden with treasures to savor later that evening.  Abby made his exquisite chanterelles risotto and I put together savory wild mushroom filo turnovers. Some excellent Chianti, and salad and what a feast we had.  That night I dried several pounds of Boletes and the house was perfumed by the wonderful musty odor of dry mushrooms. I loved it but other members of the family were not as appreciative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Carl had gathered many times this amount but we arranged these beautiful specimans to pose for this picture. 

 

     We ate samples of all these:  5 varieties of  Boletes (also known as Cèpes, Porcini or Steinpilze), 2 varieties of Chanterelles, several variety of Russula (including the lobster mushroom) and an Amanita Rubescence; one of the few edible Amanitas and my first taste of any amanita.  Carl is has assured us that he has never made any “mistakes”.  I would certainly not recommend that anyone eat wild mushrooms without the accompanying wisdom of a knowledgeable guide.  Sadly this past July a 61 year old woman died after picking some Amanita Bisporigera, also known as "Destroying Angels".  By the time she got to a hospital her liver had already been destroyed. 

 

     Wegmans does carry many varieties of wild mushrooms if you want to have your own feast without taking any risks.  The other day I found some excellent morels there.  Or you can buy many varieties dried.  Morels are actually better dried and then reconstituted.  And if you want to buy mushroom powder which, is usually made from Boletes, you can find this product at Regional Access.  Mushroom powder is a great addition to rich soups and stews.

    

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CROP ABUNDANCE RECIPES: ZUCCHINI

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  ZUCCHINI RECIPES

Well the time has come for us all to be managing “crop abundance”. I don’t want to call it “overabundance” or any other term with negative connotation. We need to be happy, delighted, thankful for this time of abundance! My friend Beth was being extremely generous with her bounty of zucchini. I happily obliged her generosity and made some of my favorite zucchini dishes tonight. 

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BERRY HARVEST TIME

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BERRY TIME HAS COME TO THE FINGERLAKES

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White and black mulberries, red currants and wild black raspberries

A wonderful bounty of fruits are ripening around the Fingerlakes.  Strawberries are winding down and only a few farms have open picking:  Indian Creek in Ithaca and Grisamore Farms in Locke.  Cherries  are ripe now and several farms are already picked out.  It wasn’t a great year for cherries and some orchards lost their crops.  Grisamore and Littletree Orchards in Newfield have cherries and I’m not sure if anyone else has them anymoreGrisamore and Indian Creek also have U-Pick raspberries. And Littletree has cultivated their black raspberries which are great picking right now. On our land we have ripe red currants, black and white mulberries and wild black raspberries (black caps).  Jam making is in full gear.

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ITHACA FARMERS MARKET

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Waid’s Honey and Candles

 

The Ithaca Farmers Market is in full swing! It’s a true feast for all the senses: beautiful kaleidoscopes of tulips and lilacs, wonderful sounds of laughter and music and exotic smells from all the world’s best street food. The competing aromas beckon you to their stalls, and you are left with grueling choices to make. The first vegetable crops are sold in wonderful displays: baby lettuce, spinach and other greens. Wineries and cheese makers, jam and honey vendors proudly display their wares and offer samples. And foods from Cuba, Tibet, Nepal, Greece, South America, Japan, India and China, Thailand and Laos are a representation of the feasting on hand for hungry customers. Everyone has their favorites and many vendors attract long lines of repeat customers. Over the years I have many favorites and I’ll touch on just a few here. Some of the newer offerings such as French crepes and Greek Gyros looked and smelled wonderful and are quickly attracting loyal followers. If I need to sustain my weekly craving for healthy gourmet food I’ll wait in line at Macro Mamas. There you don’t need to make a choice. They’ll sell you a platter with all their salads and hot items loaded together. Many people (and I am one of them) bring containers to bring home Macro Mamas for the rest of the week. It’s worth the visit just to feast your eyes on the huge bowls of salad and the mile high cakes and luscious desserts. My recommendation is to bring some friends and buy an assortment of goodies to be eaten in communal picnic style. That way you can sample a variety of cuisines.

 Here are some of the highlights to try:

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Asparagus and Chives

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                      HERALDING THE BEGINNING OF SPRING CROPS!!!!!

 

Our first crops are ready to harvest!  Last night I made my first asparagus and chive meal of the season.  They compliment each other beautifully and so we had to choose between chive and asparagus omelet or pasta with chives and asparagus.  Both are simple to prepare and because I also had some mushrooms on hand I chose the pasta dish and threw in some mushrooms.  I checked what pasta we had on hand.  Fresh pasta is the best, but since we didn’t have any in the fridge, I used the campanelle instead.  I quickly cooked the freshly picked and cut up asparagus in some olive oil and butter:  frying them, and then adding some water to steam them for a few minutes.  I put the cooked asparagus aside to cook up the mushrooms.  (I’m hoping to make the same dish next week with morels but haven’t found any yet).  While the pasta cooked, I added the mushrooms and asparagus together in the frying pan with some cream and salt and pepper, cooked it up quickly and then added the cooked pasta.  Add the chopped chives, toss it all with loads of parmesan, asiago or romano cheese and you’ve got the first meal cooked with fresh spring crops.  I can’t wait for the beginning of June when Full Plate Farm Collective will start offering their CSA shares!!!

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KEUKA WINE TRAIL EVENT

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Alsatian Tart, Ravine’s Wine Cellars

(From Keuka Lake Food and Wine Tour Event:  REVIEWED BELOW)

 

 

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                          Alsatian Tart, Ravine’s Wine Cellars
 
 
 

The pastry is a lazy girl’s version of Julia Child’s butter pastry recipe
 Crust:

1 and ¾ sticks unsalted butter, diced and frozen
2 cups flour
1 t salt
½ cup ice water (more if needed)

Mix flour & salt in a food processor, add frozen butter and pulse 3 times.  Add ice water and turn on processor for approx. 7 seconds or when dough comes together as a clump on the blade.  Remove and separate into 2 flat balls, working quickly so butter stays cold.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

Work quickly when rolling out the pastry so the butter stays cold and then put it back into the fridge until you are ready to fill it.

Filling:

3 cups chopped sweet onion
½ pound bacon, diced* see note
2 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup Swiss or gruyere cheese* see note
3 sprigs fresh thyme ( leaves only)
Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté onion until brown and sweet, season with s & p. and sauté bacon until crisp.  Let both cool and then sprinkle at the bottom of a tart pan.  Add grated cheese & thyme. Lastly, spoon on mixture of egg & cream seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme leaves.  Put into the oven immediately so the pastry stays cold until it hits the hot oven.  Bake at 450 degrees for appx. 20 mins.  It pairs nicely with Ravines Dry Riesling.  Lisa Hallgren, Ravines Wine CellarsCelia’s notes:

  • I used 6 slices of apple smoked bacon which I first cooked in strips, drained on a paper towel, and then cut into pieces. 
  • I used a fondue mix of gruyere and ementhaller which was already shredded.
  • I used a 9 inch removable rim tart pan and added ¼ cup of 1/ & ½ and some extra cheese to adequately fill the tart. You will have extra dough.
  • To make sure the bottom crust is cooked, place the pan on the bottom rack of the oven.
  • This tart is good, reheated the next day also. 

 

 

CHECK OUT THE WORLD TOUR OF FOOD AND WINE EVENT A

ON THE KEUKA WINE TRAIL 

Keuka Lake wineries are hosting a special “World Tour of Food and Wine” event for two weekends.  Last weekend we enjoyed the first round of this event and it was a great success.  If you missed it, you can still enjoy the same tour on the weekend of April 19th and 20th.  Nine wineries participate in this event and many have exceptional views of Keuka Lake which is probably the most picturesque of the winery lakes. 

 

  Continue Reading…

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ABBY’S WILD MUSHROOM LASAGNA RECIPE

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Many of us Ithaca old timers remember Abby’s, a restaurant in the Motor Vehicles Plaza that was run by Abby Nash from 1984 to 1990.   It was a sad day for Ithaca diners when Abby’s closed its doors because it was a consistently wonderful place to eat and we all had our favorites.  My favorite dish was Abby’s mushroom lasagna and I was lucky enough to run into Abby the other day. He was hosting a cooking demonstration of his mushroom lasagna.  This is the original recipe for his mushroom lasagna and it really is a delicacy.   It takes a lot of time to make and you need a pasta maker.  But it really is worth the effort.  Abby uses freshly grated parmesan, the highest quality he can find such as Reggiano.  If you want to truly appreciate the different grades of parmesan, set up a blind tasting.  My hands down favorite is the Reggiano. When selecting the variety of mushrooms,; the more exotic the types of mushroom, the better.  You can re-hydrate dry mushrooms such as porcini.  I also like to use porcini powder.  Morels, shitake, oyster, and chanterelles are a great mixture along with some regular brown mushrooms.     If you’ve never made homemade pasta with a pasta maker before, the important thing is not to have the dough be too wet.  Have flour on hand and when you put the sheets of dough through the pasta maker dust them first with flour if needed.  The dough should be smooth so if it gets rough or has holes or is sticky, it probably needs more flour.  Making pasta from scratch does take practice.  ABBY’S MUSHROOM LASAGNA  yield 6 med. servings  Continue Reading…

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