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Articles in "Island Epicure"

Whether you are a student, a teacher, or a parent of students, this is the season for turning on your brain and fast forwarding to full efficiency. you surely already know that a good breakfast in your belly boosts your brain into a higher gear than it’s probably been all summer.

You have probably heard or read of the Paleo or caveman diet. Heck, you may even already be on it. It’s theory is that we will thrive if we’ll eat as our remote ancestors did. Enough with all this GMO and Genetically Engineered food. Down with forbidding meat, or fats. Enough with all the sugar, MSG, and other chemical additives. Faugh to packaged foods. Cavemen were omnivorous.

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.

In England, not celebrated for great cuisine, we were served a simple potato salad consisting of pieces of cooked potato and mayonnaise. In Germany, the potato “salad” arrived at our table piping hot and doused with bacon drippings and vinegar.

The info for today’s Island Epicure column comes courtesy of Brad Lemley’s Alternative Health article in Laissez Faire Letter. It’s too valuable to keep to myself. Many of us beg off on buying organic because they are more expensive. Actually, some foods can be bought, and eaten, from the non-organic list because they are never sprayed with the deadly insecticide glyphosate, main ingredient of Round Up. 

A quiche presents an appealing appearance, aroma, and taste for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s equally delicious and nutritious served hot or cold. But when the weather turns hot and you don’t care to turn on your oven, you can forget the crust, and make an augmented Danish omelet instead.

In June’s untraditionally hot weather, fruits grow riper fast in the fruit bowl, and anything left on the counter spoils promptly. But how can you tell whether to keep something or throw it away? Store cooked food in glass, labeled and dated, in the refrigerator. It will still be flavorful, nutritious, and safe for 4 days.

That is a question answered by the weather. Is it too hot to cook? We eat raw vegetable or fruit salads or bean salad accompanied by a plate of cold cuts and a sturdy whole grain bread, or a bean salad. Is it too cool not to cook? There we have more choices. We cook whatever we like or whatever the fridge or freezer yields.

Some days even back in April were too hot to think without raising a sweat. It looks like we’ll have a few true scorchers this summer, too, the sort of days when you just want to graze out of the refrigerator and freezer. You serve make-it-yourself sandwiches and iced tea for supper, simply putting out a platter of cold cuts and sliced tomatoes on lettuce and a plate of whatever bread you have on hand

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.