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Articles in "Island Epicure"

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.

A reader asked for more Epicure columns that tell what foods help defeat different diseases. Okay, here’s a start.

We had a round of summer colds in September. Now—brace yourself—we’re heading into the winter cold and flu season. It lasts from October through March. But you don’t have to succumb. There are several nutritional tricks you can employ to nip a cold in the bud, snatch it from your body at first sniffle; better yet, instantly cure the sore throat that often heralds an approaching cold or influenza.

Shop weekly, not every day or two. Saves time, gas, and bother. Shop with your list in hand. Don’t let the store seduce you with its appealing displays into spending more than you intended.

The day before your weekly grocery shopping, take inventory of fridge, freezer, and pantry. Plan menus for the week ahead. With your cookbook at hand, make your shopping list of items needed to fill in the gaps in the recipes needed for your menus.

Lotus is a woman who really cooks from scratch. To make her favorite totally-gluten-free chocolate cake she begins in her garden. Making it starts about a year before she puts the in the oven. First, she has to prepare her garden soil. In September, she plants the seeds for her garbanzo beans. They winter over, she says, and come up in the spring.

A couple of Sundays ago, all my descendants except for the son who lives in China and one grandson who had to work, gathered to celebrate my birthday with shish-kabobs, watermelon, and birthday cake. A son-in-law whose birthday falls on the same day as mine helped blow out the candles, and be assured there were lots of them.

We seen the price of food escalate, especially, it seems, in the produce department. Our best defense: Cook Chinese. The folks in China are said to save 35% of their income. Plainly, they know how to make the most of everything. How do they do it? For one thing, few families own even one car.

Italian kids are tested at age six for sensitivity to gluten, and 12% of them are reported to test as positive. I wonder if the percentage is any different in the USA, and right here on Vashon Island. Wheat is the worst offender. Most of my descendants, like me, are much healthier avoiding wheat and avoiding or minimizing consumption of other foods with gluten in them.

 As food prices rise, we scale down on what we eat. Fresh salmon at $18 and up per pound--$4.40 per 4 oz. serving? No way. A can of canned wild red salmon at around $5 gives you the same Omega 3 fats and natural Vitamin D.

The joy of cooking this spring has been enhanced by my Chinese daughter-in-law’s eagerness to learn to cook American foods and her willingness to share her Yunnanese style recipes. A field trip to a Chinese market makes her day.

Fourteen people gathered for a meal at our extended table on the eve of the recent memorial service for my late husband. How could I cope with the throng, half of them vegetarians, with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of mouth-watering elegancy, bearing in mind that without his USAF-retired pay, household income will be slashed?