Monday, December 24, 2012
Thursday, May 31, 2012
On this wet and cold day, it is amazing to think just how fantastic the tomato is. It is a fruit. Although our legal system has deemed it a vegetable. Now comes word that this fruit's genome has been decoded.
The tomato, whose genome has just now been decoded, turns out to be one well-endowed vegetable, possessing 31,760 genes. This rich legacy, possibly a reflection of the disaster that killed off the dinosaurs, is some 7,000 more than that of a person, and presents a complex puzzle to scientists who hope to understand its secrets.The tomato has also been called everything from sweet to tart, and even meaty. Is it any wonder that this fruit has been mischaracterized by mere mortals?
Monday, May 7, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Overnight low is back in the 30’s but it is never too early to plan ahead.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Right now, the sun is beaming here in Chicago and we've just set another record day for high temperatures. My car Indicated it was in the 80's today. All of the talk here has turned to the weather, so much so that you would think we were Brits, but we aren't.
Here are some of the weather-comments I've heard and seen:
I'm worried about a hard freeze.
I'm worried about global warming.
I'm too hot!
With comments like the one's above you would think we weren't the same folks who managed just fine during Snowpocalypse 2011.
Folks, the USDA hardiness zone changes make the odds of a freeze about as likely as the odds that I will win tomorrow's Megamillions $290 Million alone. Can it happen? Of course it can. But right now, stop fretting about this delightful, not the least bit frightful, weather and just plant already!
Monday, February 13, 2012
We had pancakes and eggs all weekend, and then my husband sent me this article today
about over-eating and memory loss.
Excessive calorie intake isn't only making us fat.
A new study from the Mayo Clinic found that people over 70 who ate higher-calorie diets had an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a stage of memory loss that often precedes dementia (via Time Healthland).
Researchers divided 1,233 participants—163 who had symptoms of MCI—aged 70 to 89 into three groups based on the amount of the calories they consumed each day.
The group who ate the highest amount of calories (between 2,143 to 6,000 calories per day) were twice as likely to have MCI compared to those who consumed the lowest amount of calories (between 600 to 1,526 per day).
“Not only did each category show differences, but we also saw a dose-response trend,” study author Dr. Yonas Geda told Loren Grush of FoxNews.com. “This means that if you keep increasing and increasing caloric intake, then the risk of developing MCI keeps increasing. So we looked at each category separately, and then we looked at [and observed] a trend overall.”
So we still have to eat and I love food too much to not have something delicious, but who says great tasting food can’t be good for you?
So I had an idea, that combined the delicious honeybell tangerines I shipped from FL, it’s the end of the citrus season there, pomegranate, just-shelled pistachios, and home-cured olives. But when I put those ingredients together, no ordinary salad dressing would do, a drop of rose water was essential.
8 c. of torn romaine
1 honeybell tangerine, peeled and chopped
¼ c of olives, pitted and chopped
1/3 c. of just-shelled pistachios, chopped
½ c of pomegranate arils
¼ c of thinly sliced red onion
5 ¾ T water
¼ t of rose water
¼ c. of EVOO
3T Champagne wine vinegar
2 t Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toss ingredients and then add 3 T. vinaigrette and serve.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Not too long ago, a food industry acquaintance said that, “I always wanted to change things”. She was talking about recipes and I don’t think she meant it as a compliment. Then I stumbled across a piece where another food industry acquaintance was quoted talking about being served fake ribs, this was several years ago and I will never be convinced that he wasn’t talking about me. It wasn’t complimentary either. Now I rarely serve meat analogs to folks anymore—food industry or not—because my husband loathes them, but I have nothing against them and find some of them quite tasty. Yes, even some of those that taste like meat that come from huge multinational conglomerates.
Unlike some people, I don’t own a lot of cookbooks. In fact, I only purchased three cook books last year, and one used birthday gift certificates from amazon.com. Instead, I get many of my ideas from magazines and newspapers. The problem for me is the same as it is for some folks who buy lots of cookbooks; I intend to get around to cooking that shiny new recipe and I just don’t do it. Last year, I culled several recipes from my binder that included recipes for poultry and seafood back when I ate them. I last ate poultry and seafood over 15 years ago. Additionally, in 2011 I had an unofficial rule to cook more of those recipes, post-culling, from periodicals, including blogs, and have no repeats because I had more than enough old recipes, to do no repeats for the entire year! This year, has gone well so far except Cook’s Illustrated’s Fluffy Scrambled Eggs and Blueberry Pancakes—we had fresh eggs—showed up two or three times last week. This week’s recipe was made for dinner the Monday before the Super Bowl and I couldn’t help but think of how I wanted to change it to make it even better—although I thought the original was exquisite. It was perfect to take to a last-minute-Super Bowl Party.
So here’s what we took to the Super Bowl Party as the “Vegetarian Option”, as my husband called it, and it held its own surrounded by chips, peanuts, salsas, guacamole, garlic bread, and three or four types of chicken wings. This dish is fast, easy, delicious, and chock-full of beans and cruciferous vegetables. The bonus is it is vegan!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Sometimes I wonder if I can win the lottery, today, like yesterday here in Chicago, it feels possible. The weather yesterday, registered 60 degrees here.
I have short-term good news for gardeners here in Chicago. It’s short term as in probably good for at least 50 years or something like that. The USDA has revised the hardiness zones.
The hardiness zones provide information based on the weather and climate. Specifically, it provides the annual average extreme minimum temperatures. For gardeners, it tells us how long are growing season will probably be. It is the time when the tender plants, like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, can be set out without worry about overnight low temperatures harming them.
Drum roll please, Chicago is now in zone 6a. That means the last expected frost date is April 15th, instead of last year’s May 15th. Yippee for us in summer 2012 and probably bad news for the polar bears, and Gaia.
From the USDA:
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) today released the new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), updating a useful tool for gardeners and researchers for the first time since 1990 with greater accuracy and detail. The new map—jointly developed by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU)PRISM Climate Group—is available online atwww.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov. ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of USDA.
For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a "find your zone by ZIP code" function. Static images of national, regional and state maps also have been included to ensure the map is readily accessible to those who lack broadband Internet access.
So what tender varieties are you putting outside in April?
Monday, January 30, 2012
I had to pull dinner from off the bench. We were supposed to have a meal of roasted vegetables because I'd been eyeing a recipe for months.
Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms were to be featured. But what happens when you don't plan your meals and coordinate that plan with your check of the produce at home and the list for shopping? Yep. You find yourself eyeing the River Valley Mushrooms at the farmers market for a very long time before you leave them on the table under the false belief that you have mushrooms at home.
You get ready to prep and realize your mushrooms aren’t fit to be fed to your worms and your sweet potato, you thought you had more than one, should be planted in the garden since it is sprouting.
Luckily, there is always garlic, olive oil, and pasta in your home. The last quarter of 2011, this was the fall back dish. Pasta Aglio e Olio is the new consistent player that always causes the Mister to be very happy and then ask me if I’m in court the next day. That's his way of saying the garlic is enough to cause all vampires to stay away. I respectfully disagree.
The brussel sprouts are fierce! A bit of wow from the cayenne and an unbelievable sweetness, that can’t possibly be explained by the kiss of maple syrup.
Hat tip to Martha Stewart and Cook’s Illustrated.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Today may feel like the first day of winter. The songbirds left earlier today after so many days filled with sun and warmth here in Chicago. It was so warm this morning, I couldn't believe the forecast for a big puffy coat of snow.
It doesn't matter. Spring arrives on March 20th.
The first seed catalog is here and I find myself lovingly touching the pictures. Thinking of what I’m going to choose for the garden at home, and what I want for the shared plots as well. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds' catalog makes me want to become a nightshade farmer. I just want lots of space, or a ton more Earthboxes filled with varieties of tomato, eggplant, and peppers.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
But what are most Americans really eating? A lot of cheese, sweets, and dense potatoes and grains.
The numbers that struck me the most? The 141 pounds of sweeteners (including 42 pounds of corn syrup a year), and 85 pounds of fats (think: butter) and oil we ate.