31 May 2007

How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table

It's sadly obvious when I go to the local Pathmark for basic household goods and see people shopping the "fresh" produce, that most consumers don't care or don't know what fresh, wholesome, and ripe produce should look and feel like. Most of the blame, is on the supermarket for selling fruit and vegetables that should not have made it to market in the first place -- and then charging top dollar for it. Produce Pete doesn't know his produce. Often, for just a few pennies more, a shopper can find much better produce at a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, or even better, a greenmarket or local farmer. And then maybe, they're going to use that poor excuse for produce for mulch and not consumption.

Just published, "How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table ", by Russ Parsons, is a guide to food selection. From Jessica's Biscuit, a synopsis:

" Critics greeted Russ Parsons’ first book, How to Read a French Fry, with raves. The New York Times praised it for its “affable voice and intellectual clarity”; Julia Child lauded it for its “deep factual information.”

Now in How to Pick a Peach, Parsons takes on one of the hottest food topics today. Good cooking starts with the right ingredients, and nowhere is that more true than with produce. Should we refrigerate that peach? How do we cook that artichoke? And what are those different varieties of pears? Most of us aren’t sure.

Parsons helps the cook sort through the produce in the market by illuminating the issues surrounding it, revealing intriguing facts about vegetables and fruits in individual profiles about them, and providing instructions on how to choose, store, and prepare these items. Whether explaining why basil, citrus, tomatoes, and potatoes should never be refrigerated, describing how Dutch farmers revolutionized the tomato business in America, exploring organic farming and its effect on flavor, or giving tips on how to recognize a ripe melon, How to Pick a Peach is Parsons at his peak."

How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table
by Russ Parsons
Hardcover - 416 pages
Published: April 2007
ISBN: 0618463488
Houghton Mifflin, Inc.

The book is available online from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

30 May 2007

Katz's Deli

Photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times


There are old, often beautiful, sometimes not quite so physically attractive, but all nostalgic, New York eating establishments that should be experienced, as much as The Empire State Building, Macy's or MoMa should be visited: The Oyster Bar in Grand Central, Peter Luger's or Nathan's Famous in Brooklyn, or Sylvia's in Harlem. And of course, Katz's. In our latest "review" of well-known and favorite restaurants/deli:

"To revel in its pastrami sandwich, one of the best in the land, with an eye-popping stack of brined beef that’s juicy, smoky, rapturous. To glory in the intricate ritual of the place: the taking of a ticket at the door; the lining-up in front of one of the servers who carves that beef by hand; the tasting of the thick, ridged slices the server gives us as the sandwich is being built; the nodding when we’re asked if we want pickles, because of course we want pickles."

Again rumors of its demise. "Go, Eat, You Never Know", by Frank Bruni in today's Dining and Wine section of The New York Times, reviews the menu, and attempts to dispel those rumors, again.

***

If you follow the links at NewYorkFirstCo., you can order pastrami, corned beef, and more from Katz's and other New York eateries.

24 May 2007

Popcorn

This was going to be a simple blog on a simple (I thought), common foodstuff (I thought, again): Popcorn. On looking for information on the subject, Wikipedia again proves to be the best source, though rather lenghthy. Did you know, Long Island produces more popcorn than any other region in the U.S.? Popcorn is easier to eat, than to explain where it comes from and why it "pops":

"Popcorn or Popping Corn is a type of maize which explodes from the kernel and puffs up when heated. Special varieties are grown to give improved popping yield. Some wild types will pop, but the cultivated strain is Zea mays subsp. mays, which is a special kind of flint corn. Popcorn was first formally developed by Native Americans thousands of years ago...

...Ears and kernels of an early corn variety capable of being popped were found in 1948 in an archaeological dig in a New Mexico rock shelter known as "Bat Cave". These finds are widely reported as being the oldest ears of popcorn ever found; such reports often say they are dated to be 4000–5000 years old, or more. The actual facts about the Bat Cave corn are less clear...

...As with all cereal grains, each kernel of popcorn contains a certain amount of moisture in its starchy endosperm. Unlike most other grains, the outer hull, or pericarp, of the popcorn kernel is both strong and impervious to moisture, and the starch inside consists almost entirely of a hard, dense type.

As the kernel is heated past the boiling point, water in the kernel turns to superheated, pressurized steam, contained within the moisture-proof hull. Under these conditions, the starch inside the kernel gelatinizes, softening and becoming pliable. The pressure continues to increase until the breaking point of the hull is reached: a pressure of about 135 psi, or 9.1 atmospheres.[3] at a temperature of 175 °C. The hull ruptures rapidly, causing a sudden drop in pressure inside the kernel and a corresponding rapid expansion of the steam, which expands the starch and proteins of the endosperm into an airy foam. As the foam rapidly cools, the starch and protein polymers set into the familiar crispy puff...

...Popping results are sensitive to the rate at which the kernels are heated. If heated too quickly, the steam in the outer layers of the kernel can reach high pressures and rupture the hull before the starch in the center of the kernel can fully gelatinize, leading to partially popped kernels with hard centers. Heating too slowly leads to entirely unpopped kernels: the tip of the kernel, where it attached to the cob, is not entirely moisture-proof, and when heated slowly, the steam can leak out the tip fast enough to keep the pressure from rising sufficiently to break the hull and cause the pop.

Producers and sellers of popcorn consider two major factors in evaluating the quality of popcorn: what percentage of the kernels will pop, and how much each popped kernel expands. Expansion is an important factor to both the consumer and vendor. For the consumer, larger pieces of popcorn tend to be more tender and are associated with higher quality. For the grower, distributor, and vendor, expansion is closely correlated with profit: vendors such as theaters buy popcorn by weight and sell it by volume. For both these reasons, higher-expansion popcorn fetches a higher profit per unit weight...

...Popcorn is usually served salted or sweetened. In North America, it is traditionally served salted. It is a popular snack in cinemas, where it has been served since 1912. Although small quantities can be popped in a kettle in a home kitchen, commercial sale of freshly popped popcorn is done with the help of specially designed popcorn machines, which were originally invented in Chicago, Illinois by Charles Cretors in 1885.

Charles Cretors invented and introduced the first patented steam driven popcorn machine that popped corn in oil. Previously, vendors popped corn by holding a wire basket over an open flame. At best, the result was a hot, dry, unevenly cooked confection. The Cretors machine popped corn in a mixture of one-third clarified butter, two-thirds lard and salt. This mixture could withstand the 450 degree temperature needed to pop corn and it did without producing much smoke. A fire under a boiler created steam that drove a small engine; that engine drove the gears, shaft, and agitator that stirred the corn and also powered the attention-attracting clown – the Tosty Rosty Man. A wire connected to the top of the cooking pan allowed the operator to disengage the drive mechanism, lift the cover and dump popped corn into the storage bin beneath. Exhaust from the steam engine was piped to a hollow pan below the corn storage bin and kept freshly popped corn warm – uniformly for the first time ever.

In 1893, Charles Cretors successfully introduced his popcorn popper at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition...

...Air popped popcorn is naturally high in fiber, low in calories and fat, contains no sodium, and is sugar free, which makes it an attractive snack for those who want to avoid these substances. The actual fat, sugar, and sodium content depends on the preparation method.

Popcorn is included on the list of foods that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not serving to children under four, because of the risk of choking.:

From the popcorn.org:

""Old Maids" is a term for kernels that fail to pop and are often found at the bottom of the popcorn bowl. They can, however, be rejuvenated. The water in kernels is what causes popcorn to pop, so all you need to do is re-hydrate the dried kernels.

David Woodside, author of What Makes Popcorn Pop? suggests filling "a one-quart jar three-quarters full of popcorn and adding one tablespoon of water. Cover the jar with an airtight lid and give it a few good shakes every few minutes until the popcorn has absorbed all the water. Store the jar in a cool place."

Woodside says in two or three days you can test-pop a batch of kernels. If you still get old maids, add a few more drops of water to the jar, shake it, and let it sit for a few more days."

All manner of popcorn, and some popcorn machines are available online at ThePopcornFactory. Organic popcorn is available online at ShopNatural.

And why not visit the Wyandot Popcorn Museum if you're a popcorn fanatic.

23 May 2007

Poutine revisited

Photo: Evan Sung for The New York Times


We have an update to our March 2006 blog on Poutine. Appearing in today's "Dining and Wine" section of The New York Times, "A Staple From Quebec, Embarrassing but Adored", by Kate Sekules, it brings attention to a dish very few people have tried, especially if you are watching your weight, or are slightly health-conscious. Messsy, greasy, calorie-laden. Delicious. Not for everyday consumption:

"A gloppy, caloric layering of French fries, fresh cheese curds (a byproduct of Cheddar making) and gravy, poutine goes deep into the Quebequois psyche. Somehow, Quebec’s rural roots, its split identity (Acadian farmers or Gallic gourmets?) and its earthy sense of humor are all embodied by its unofficial dish."

***

Read the whole article at A Staple From Quebec, Embarrassing but Adored. Now if only someone would come up with a low-calorie version.......

17 May 2007

Wild Women in the Kitchen Recipe Book

A bit on our lighter side of this blog, this new "cookbook" has come to our attention: Wild Women in the Kitchen Recipe Book. Featured on The Breast Cancer Site , it's your chance to get what looks like a fun food-related publication, and do a good deed at the same time. With each Wild Women in the Kitchen Recipe Book purchased, The Breast Cancer Site will fund 1.0 % of a mammogram for each Wild Women in the Kitchen Recipe Book purchased.. Here's a bit more on the book:

"Fanny Farmer would probably faint in her fondue... but these Wild Women can take the heat -- and they're cooking up a storm! Be forewarned: bland is banned in this exuberant compendium featuring 101 passion-provoking recipes personally contributed and/or tested by Bay Area chefs Lynette Rohrer and Nicole Alper, both distinguished alumnae of the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

Part cookbook, part women's history Wild Women in the Kitchen dishes up a scrumptious smorgasbord of treats for the taste buds: spicy revelations about some of the world's most stimulating women and the meals that made them sizzle, and dozens of piquant quotations on the pleasures of the palate."

227 pages, paperback.
Book measures 7" sq. (17.8 cm).
Printed in the U.S.A on recycled paper.

Available online from The Breast Cancer Site.

16 May 2007

Hemp

I've just tried a new high fiber, low calorie, organic superfood. New for me anyway, and pretty tasty: Hemp. Used throughout the world in many applications, from food to clothing, its use in the U.S. is rather limited, though readily available, e.g., as a food supplement in health food stores and vitamin stores such as The Vitamin Shoppe. Wikipedia gives us a little background:

"Hemp (from Old English hænep, see cannabis (etymology)) is the common name for plants belonging to the genus Cannabis, although the term is often used to refer only to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial (non-drug) use. Licenses for hemp cultivation are issued in the European Union and Canada. In the United Kingdom, these licenses are issued by the Home Office under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. When grown for non-drug purposes hemp is often called industrial hemp, and a common product is fiber for use in a wide variety of products. Feral hemp or ditch weed is usually naturalized fiber or oilseed strains of Cannabis that have escaped from cultivation and are self-seeding.

Cannabis sativa L. subsp. sativa var. sativa is the variety grown for industrial use in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere, while C. sativa subsp. indica generally has poor fiber quality and is primarily used for production of recreational and medicinal drugs. A major difference lies in the amount of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, secreted in a resinous mixture by epidermal hairs called glandular trichomes; the strains of Cannabis approved for industrial hemp production in Europe and elsewhere produce only minute amounts of this psychoactive drug. Some botanists use a different taxonomic classification to circumscribe the various taxa within the Cannabis genus...

...Uses

Hemp is used for a wide variety of purposes, including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, clothing, and nutritional products. The oil from the fruits ("seeds") dries on exposure to air (similar to linseed oil) and is sometimes used in the manufacture of oil-based paints,in creams as a moisturising agent, or for cooking. Hemp seeds are often added to wild bird seed mix. In Europe and China, hemp fibers are increasingly being used to strengthen cement, and in other composite materials for many construction and manufacturing applications. Mercedes-Benz uses a "biocomposite" composed principally of hemp fiber for the manufacture of interior panels in some of its automobiles. Hemp cultivation in the United States is suppressed by laws supported by drug enforcement agencies, for fear that high THC plants will be grown amidst the low THC plants used for hemp production. Efforts are underway to change these laws, allowing American farmers to compete in the growing markets for this crop. As of 2006, China produces roughly 40% of the world's hemp fiber and has been producing much of the world's Cannabis crop throughout much of history.

Food

Hemp (the seed) may be grown also for food. The seeds are comparable to sunflower seeds, and can be used for baking, like sesame seeds. Products range from cereals to frozen waffles. A few companies produce value added hemp seed items that include the oils of the seed, whole hemp grain (which is sterilized as per international law), hulled hemp seed (the whole seed without the mineral rich outer shell), hemp flour, hemp cake (a by-product of pressing the seed for oil) and hemp protein powder. Hemp is also used in some organic cereals. Hemp seed can also be used to make a non-dairy "milk" somewhat similar to soy and nut milks, as well as non-dairy hemp "ice cream." Within the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) treats hemp as purely a non-food crop. Seed can and does appear on the UK market as a legal food product although cultivation licences are not available for this purpose. In North America, hemp seed food products are sold in small volume, typically in health food stores or by mail order.

Nutrition

30–35% of the weight of hempseed is oil containing 80% of the unsaturated essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic acid (LA, 55%) and Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA, 21–25%). These are not manufactured by the body and must be supplied by food. The proportions of linoleic acid and Alpha-linolenic acid in hempseed oil are perfectly balanced to meet human requirements for EFAs, including gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Unlike flax oil and others, hempseed oil can be used continuously without developing a deficiency or other imbalance of EFAs. Unfortunately the high unsaturated fat content of hemp oil means that it becomes rancid rapidly and necessitates storage in dark coloured bottles or chemical preservation. The high unsaturated fat content also makes the oil unsuitable for frying. This makes hemp oil difficult to transport or store and severely limits its potential on the food market, although some marketing potential exists as a nutritional supplement.

Hemp seed also contains 20% complete and highly-digestible protein, 1/3 as edestin protein and 2/3 as albumins. Its high quality Amino Acid composition is closer to "complete" sources of proteins (meat, milk, eggs) than all other oil seeds except soy.

The ALA contained in plant seed oils by itself is sufficient for nutrition, as the body is capable of converting it into other fatty acids. However, this conversion process is inefficient, and the broader spectrum of omega-3 fatty acids obtained from oily fish is easier for the body to immediately utilize."

A wide variety of products derived from hemp can be found online at ShopNatural and TheVitaminShoppe.

***

14 May 2007

Root Beer

What exactly is root beer? Everyone has probably tried it. But is the beer or a soda made from roots? Well, sometimes yes, but mostly no. For a bit more of an explanation, Wikipedia provides the following:

"Root beer is a beverage that comes in two forms, alcoholic and as a soft drink. The alcoholic version is made from a combination of vanilla, cherry tree bark, licorice root, sarsaparilla root, artificial sassafras root bark flavoring (the pure form is mildly carcinogenic), nutmeg, anise, and molasses among other ingredients.

The soft drink version of root beer is non-alcoholic and is generally made using root beer extract or other flavored syrups along with carbonated water. The soft drink version of root beer constitutes about 3% of the American soft drink market.

Many local brands of root beer exist, and homemade root beer is made from concentrate or (rarely) from actual roots. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic root beers have a thick and foamy head when poured...

...Ingredients may include allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper, ginger, wintergreen, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, pipsissewa, guaiacum, yellow dock, honey, clover, cinnamon, prickly ash bark, quillaia, and yucca.

Because of their pleasant flavor and medical properties some of the root beer ingredients have also occasionally been used in other products such as toothpaste, soap and medicine. This could explain why some people tasting root beer for the first time say that it reminds them of these products.

Due to the wide variety of ingredients possible the flavor of root beer is widely variable between brands, making it possible to determine which brand of root beer one is drinking solely by taste.

Root beer is very similar in taste to sarsaparilla, which may also be called root beer.

In Britain, there are several different root beers, which rose to prominence with the temperance movement in the 20th century. These include sarsaparilla, dandelion and burdock, and ginger beer. They were strongly flavored drinks that people could use as an alternative to alcoholic beverages, and there tended to be a strong local preference for one of these. Well into the 1960s, these outsold cola drinks...

...Root beer was a traditional beverage and herbal medicine. The beverage was often alcoholic, usually around 2%. As a medicine it was used for treating cough and mouth sores. Commercially prepared root beer was developed by Charles Elmer Hires on May 16, 1866. He presented root tea powder at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial exhibition. In 1893 he began selling bottled carbonated root beer. There was an upsurgence in the popularity of root beer in the United States during the period of prohibition in the early 20th century as local breweries resorted to brewing root beer since alcoholic beverages were outlawed."

And for the brand of root beer that everyone is familiar with, A&W, more from Wikipedia:

"A&W Root Beer is one of the major root beer franchises in the United States.

A&W was first brewed in June 1919, in Lodi, California by Roy Allen. Allen sold the nickel root beer at a roadside stand at a parade for returning World War I veterans. Along with partner Frank Wright, Allen began A&W Restaurants, giving the root beer its name as well as eventually selling other food. At some A&W Restaurants the root beer is still prepared fresh, thus accounting for the fact that the taste varies at each restaurant...

...A&W Root Beer is currently owned by Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages."

Unfortunately, A&W Root Beer is now contains high fructose corn syrup, and has lost its true, rich sugar taste.

11 May 2007

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia

The James Beard Awards were given this week, and quite a few of the food-related books we highlighted during this past year received awards. Read the article about the awards, at The New York Times, "New York Makes a Strong Showing at the James Beard Awards", by Florence Fabricant. One notable winner which we overlooked and would now like to highlight, is "Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia", by James Oseland. The book's description is courtesy of Jessica's Biscuit:

"Just when you thought you knew everything about Asian food, along comes James Oseland's Cradle of Flavor. Oseland has spent two decades exploring the foods of the Spice Islands. Few can introduce us to the birthplace of spice as he does. He brings us the Nyonya dishes of Singapore and Malaysia, the fiery specialties of West Sumatra, and the spicy-aromatic stews of Java. Oseland culled his recipes from twenty years of intimate contact with home cooks and diverse markets. He presents them here in easily made, accessible recipes, perfect for today's home cook. Included is a helpful glossary (illustrated in color in one of the picture sections) of all the ingredients you need to make the dishes and where and how to buy them. With Cradle of Flavor, fans of Javanese Satay, Singaporean Stir-Fried Noodles, and Indonesian curries can finally make them in their own kitchen."

Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
Hardcover
ISBN: 0393054772
Pub. Date: August 2006
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

Cradle of Flavor is available online at Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.

09 May 2007

Figs

My first real introduction to figs was when I was travelling as a student with a friend, and we somehow found ourselves in the middle of the isle of Majorca. Hot, tired, and thirsty, and sitting under some beautiful, lush trees, a very old woman came out of a stone farmhouse with a jug of wine, and some bread and cheese, which she gave to us. And she then proceeded to pick some things from the trees above us. Figs. Not the Fig Newton kind. Very cool figs; even in the hot day. And delicious. And I've never had any as good. She filled a whole large paper bag for us. The simplest meals, with the introduction to a new and memorable food lasts a lifetime. That little picnic under the fig trees was over 35 years ago.

And what exactly are figs, besides a tasty and nutritious fruit? First, from Wikipedia:

"Ficus is a genus of about 800 species of woody trees, shrubs and vines in the family Moraceae, native throughout the tropics with a few species extending into the warm temperate zone.

The genus includes one species, the Common Fig F. carica, that produces a commercial fruit called a fig; the fruit of many other species are edible though not widely consumed. Other examples of figs include the banyans and the Sacred Fig (Peepul or Bo) tree. Most species are evergreen, while those from temperate areas, and areas with a long dry season, are deciduous.

A fig "fruit" is derived from a specially adapted type of inflorescence (structural arrangement of flowers). What is commonly called the "fruit" of a fig is actually a specialized structure- or accessory fruit- called a syconium: an involuted (nearly closed) receptacle with many small flowers arranged on the inner surface. Thus the actual flowers of the fig are unseen unless the fig is cut open. The syconium often has a bulbous shape with a small opening (the ostiole) at the distal end that allows access by pollinators. The flowers are pollinated by very small wasps that crawl through the opening in search of a suitable place to reproduce (lay eggs). Without this pollinator service fig trees cannot reproduce by seed. In turn, the flowers provide a safe haven and nourishment for the next generation of wasps. Technically, a fig fruit would be one of many mature, seed-bearing flowers found inside one fig.

The genus Dorstenia, also in the fig family (Moraceae), exhibits similar tiny flowers arranged on a receptacle but in this case the receptacle is a more or less flat, open surface.

Most figs come in two sexes: hermaphrodite (called caprifigs from goats - Caprinae subfamily; as in fit for eating by goats; sometimes called "inedible") and female (the male flower parts fail to develop; produces the "edible" fig). Fig wasps grow in caprifigs but not in the other because the female trees' female flower part is too long for the wasp to successfully lay her eggs in them. Nonetheless, the wasp pollinates the flower with pollen from the fig it grew up in, so figs with developed seeds also contain dead fig wasps almost too tiny to see.

When a caprifig ripens, another caprifig must be ready to be pollinated. Tropical figs bear continuously, enabling fruit-eating animals to survive the time between mast years. In temperate climes, wasps hibernate in figs, and there are distinct crops. Caprifigs have three crops per year; edible figs have two. The first of the two is small and is called breba; the breba figs are olynths. Some selections of edible figs do not require pollination at all, and will produce a crop of figs (albeit without fertile seeds) in the absence of caprifigs or fig wasps.

There is typically only one species of wasp capable of fertilizing the flowers of each species of fig, and therefore plantings of fig species outside of their native range results in effectively sterile individuals. For example, in Hawaii, some 60 species of figs have been introduced, but only four of the wasps that fertilize them have been introduced, so only four species of figs produce viable seeds there...

...Figs are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols. Figs and other dried fruit were measured for their antioxidant content. A 40 gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity. Figs also have higher quantities of fiber than any other dried or fresh fruit. This plant has featured in many books in which they are believed to have healing powers; whether this extends beyond fiction is debatable.:

And more from the whfoods.org:

"Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. California figs are available from June through September; some European varieties are available through autumn.

Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the Mulberry family. They are unique in that they have an opening, called the "ostiole" or "eye," which is not connected to the tree, but which helps the fruit's development by increasing its communication with the environment. Figs range dramatically in color and subtly in texture depending upon the variety. The majority of figs are dried, either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process, creating a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year...

...Health Benefits

Help Lower High Blood Pressure

Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Since many people not only do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but do consume high amounts of sodium as salt is frequently added to processed foods, they may be deficient in potassium. Low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially when coupled with a high intake of sodium, can lead to hypertension. In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study, one group ate servings of fruits and vegetables in place of snacks and sweets, and also ate low-fat dairy food. This diet delivered more potassium, magnesium and calcium. Another group ate a "usual" diet low in fruits and vegetables with a fat content like that found in the average American Diet. After eight weeks, the group that ate the enhanced diet lowered their blood pressure by an average of 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic).

A Sweet Way to Lose Weight

Figs are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber and fiber-rich foods may have a positive effect on weight management. In one study, women who increased their fiber intake with supplements significantly decreased their energy intake, yet their hunger and satiety scores did not change. Figs, like other high fiber foods, may be helpful in a weight management program..."

Please refer to the whfoods.org for more information.

Fresh figs are available in many supermarkets, but select them carefully. Dried organic figs are available online at ShopNatural.

03 May 2007

American Food Writing: An Anthology: With Classic Recipes

One of my favorite cookbooks over the years, for recipes, stories, facts and anecdotes, has been New York Cookbook, by Molly O'Neall. Packed with New York inspired recipes, facts and trivia, it is an invaluable reference. Now Molly O'Neall has edited a new food-inspired work: American Food Writing: An Anthology With Classic Recipes. Jessica's Biscuit describes the wonderful work:

"In a groundbreaking new anthology, celebrated food writer Molly O'Neill gathers the very best from over 250 years of American culinary history. This literary feast includes classic accounts of iconic American foods: Henry David Thoreau on the delights of watermelon; Herman Melville, with a mouth-watering chapter on clam chowder; H. L. Mencken on the hot dog; M.F.K. Fisher in praise of the oyster; Ralph Ellison on the irresistible appeal of baked yam; William Styron on Southern fried chicken. American writers abroad, like A. J. Liebling, Waverly Root, and Craig Claiborne, describe the revelations they found in foreign restaurants; travellers to America, including the legendary French gourmet J. A. Brillat-Savarin, discover such native delicacies as turkey, Virginia barbecue, and pumpkin pie. Great chefs and noted critics discuss their culinary philosophies and offer advice on the finer points of technique; home cooks recount disasters and triumphs. A host of eminent American writers, from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Walt Whitman to Thomas Wolfe, Willa Cather, and Langston Hughes, add their distinctive viewpoints to the mix."

American Food Writing: An Anthology: With Classic Recipes
Molly O'Neill (Editor)
ISBN: 1598530054
ISBN-13: 9781598530056
Format: Hardcover, 700pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)

Available from Jessica's Biscuit and Barnes and Noble.