Vegan Grandma

Monday, April 16, 2007

Broccoli With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives And Some Interesting
Things About Broccoli

I haven't been faithful in posting lately because, although I have been retired for about 5 years, I'm very busy working at a temporary job until June so I can earn money to go to Switzerland this summer. I have always wanted to go to Switzerland, and now my son and my daughter are living there until December. I'm really excited about visiting them, seeing the Alps, and taking a train to Paris, as well.
Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, and on of the healthiest.

The following recipe was adapted from Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale, page 66.

Broccoli With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

1 large head of broccoli

1/4 cup vinaigrette dressing

2 tablespoons chopped, re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pitted, chopped Kalamata olives

Cut the florets from a large head of broccoli, and steam the florets (See below for instructions on steaming. Remember to not overcook). Toss with the sun-dried tomatoes and olives.

Some Interesting Things About Broccoli

When former United States President George H. W. Bush said that he did not like broccoli, a powerful broccoli agriculture lobby sent several tons of it to the White House. This broccoli was donated to the Capital Area Food Bank. Most people who say they do not like broccoli have eaten only over cooked broccoli. Properly cooked, broccoli ( see “Using Broccoli”, below) is delicious as well as being one of the healthiest foods you can eat. For optimal health, vegan M.D., Michael Greger ( ), recommends eating broccoli every day.

Broccoli contains a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. It is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, and soluble fiber. By weight, fresh, boiled and drained broccoli has 16 percent more vitamin C than an orange, and about as much calcium as milk. Broccoli is high in bioflavonoids and other antioxidants, and is one of the richest vegetables in iron and magnesium.

Broccoli is one of the major anti-cancer foods. It contains nitrogen compounds called indoles which studies indicate protect against certain forms of cancer. Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have indicated that people who eat lots of broccoli have fewer cancers of the colon, breast, cervix, lungs, prostate, esophagus, larynx, and bladder.

Broccoli is a cole crop, a member of the Cabbage family, and is related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.

Common varieties or broccoli are Calabrese (sprouting broccoli) and purple sprouting broccoli.

Broccoli is believed to be the first of the Cole crops to evolve from the wild species of kale or cabbage and was cultivated by the Romans. It has grown wild in the Mediterranean areas for hundreds of years. This vegetable was introduced in England in the early 16 th century known as “ Italian asparagus” or “sprout cauliflower”. Domestic broccoli is thought to date from the seventeenth or eighteenth century.

In the American colonies, Thomas Jefferson had wide circle of European correspondents, from whom he got packets of seeds for rare vegetables such as tomatoes. He noted the planting of broccoli at Monticello along with radishes, lettuce, and cauliflower on May 27, 1767.

Commercial cultivation of broccoli in the United States can be traced to the D'Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, immigrants from Messina, Italy, whose company planted broccoli in San Jose, California in 1922. A few crates were initially shipped to Boston, where there was a thriving Italian immigrant culture in the North End.

Varieties of Broccoli

Sprouting Broccoli- traditional broccoli, this is the most popular and most commonly found broccoli. It consists of dark green clusters of buds, known as florets, which grow on branching arms that connect to a thick leafy stalk. It is also referred to as Calabrese, after the Italian province of calabria, where it was first grown.

Purple Broccoli-Purple broccoli is very similar to sprouting broccoli except its florets have a purplish color to them and the heads of purple broccoli are typically smaller. Its taste is the same as sprouting broccoli.

Broccolini (also known as baby broccoli)-A cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. It has an appearance similar to asparagus, with smaller broccoli buds on top. Eaten raw, it is a tender, less fibrous stalk,and is crunchy and flavorful. This vegetable can be used in the same way as traditional broccoli, served in salads or as an appetizer with a dip. It is good in stir fried vegetable dishes, or sautéed in olive oil.

Broccoflower-This is a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. Its appearance is the same as a cauliflower except it is light green in color. It has a slightly sweeter taste than regular cauliflower when eaten raw and when cooked, its taste is similar to broccoli. It can be served or cooked in the same way you would regular cauliflower.

Chinese Broccoli- This has green clusters of flowering buds (florets), which grow on a thick leafy stalk. It is a variety of broccoli that is similar to regular broccoli, but milder in taste and grown on a longer stalk. The stalks and leaves are often cooked separately, cooking the stalks first, until tender and the leaves until wilted. It is good in salads, steam cooked as a side dish, as an ingredient in a vegetable stir-fry, or added to other cooked dishes. Chinese Broccoli is also known as Gai Lan, Gailan, Gai Laan, Gaii Lan, Gai Larn, Gai Lon, Gai Lum, Kai Lan, Kai Laarn, Kairan, Chinese kale, or white flowering broccoli.

Romanesco Broccoli -A cross between broccoli and cauliflower, this bright green vegetable grows in a head consisting of many small, spiral florets. Each floret forms a peak. It has a unique and delicate flavor. It is available in the fall, September to November.

Broccoli Sprouts-These are broccoli seeds that have germinated. Broccoli sprouts are good in salads and sandwiches. Broccoli sprouts can also be sautéed or stir-fried, but are very delicate and can only be heated for 20 to 30 seconds before wilting. Sprouts should be kept refrigerated for only a few days before they become wilted or too moist and slimy for use.

Buying Broccoli

Broccoli is available year round, but its flavor is best from late fall to early spring. Warm weather Broccoli is less tender, and lacks the flavor of Broccoli grown in cooler months.

Broccoli is usually sold in bunches weighing 1 ½ to 2 pounds. The crowns are also sold loose. 1 ½ pounds of broccoli will make 4 generous side dishes.

When selecting, look for thick heads of compact, tiny bud clusters (florets) that are evenly dark green (or with purplish tint) in color. Look for firm stalks and firm, tightly bunched heads. Yellow buds or open buds on the heads mean that the Broccoli is past its prime.
The broccoli should have a fresh aroma. A strong odor indicates that the broccoli is past its prime. Also, avoid heads that show signs of wilting of the florets or stalk or with soft slippery or slimy spots or brown spots on the florets or stems. Avoid broccoli with thick, woody stems.

If leaves are attached, they should have a good color, and not appear wilted.

Broccoli with darker tops and a purplish hue has the most beta carotene.

You can buy packaged broccoli slaw which can be used raw in salads, or in stir fries.

Storing Broccoli

Broccoli should be left unwashed when storing. Any water on the broccoli will encourage the growth of mold. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, leaving the bag open or use a perforated plastic bag. This will avoid excess moisture, which causes mold to grow. Store up to 5 days.

Broccoli is very sensitive to ethylene, which is a gas given off by some fruits and vegetables. The gas speeds up the ripening process so broccoli should not be stored with ethylene producing fruits and vegetables, such as, apples, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, mango, peaches, pears, tomato, and white sapote.

Storing cooked broccoli-Once cooked, broccoli can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days in a tightly covered container.

To freeze broccoli remove the leaves and peel the stalks. Cut into small length strips and blanch for 5 minutes. To blanch, drop it into a large pot of boiling salted water, and cook until the stems can be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, but before the green color starts to fade. Remove the broccoli from the pot, and spread the broccoli out on a plate or tray in a single layer to cool (do not plunge into ice water as you would do when blanching other vegetables). Frozen broccoli will keep for 10 to 12 months at 0 degrees F. Frozen broccoli has half the calcium as fresh, and slightly smaller amounts of iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

Using Broccoli

Broccoli can be eaten raw in salads or with dips, or it can be steamed and eaten as is, or served with various sauces.

The leafs, stalk and florets can be eaten raw or cooked. Cook leaves as you would chard or kale. Raw broccoli can be served with a dip or cut up and added to salads. When cooked, it can be eaten as a side dish, alone or topped with a sauce. It is also often added to other dishes, such as stir fries, pasta, quiches, or soups.

The broccoli florets have more beta carotene than the stalks.

Before using, broccoli should be washed in a good organic cleaner. Better yet, buy organic broccoli. More than 50 pesticides can be used on broccoli, and 70 percent of these pesticides cannot be detected after harvesting.

To get the grit out of the heads, dunk the heads in cold water and swish around for a few minutes. Rinse well.

Before starting to prepare the broccoli, rinse the head thoroughly in cold water and remove any wilted or damaged leaves. After the broccoli has been cut up as shown below, soak it in salt water or vinegar water to help force any insects out that are lodged within the florets.

If you are using only the florets, cut high on the stem so the head separates into individual florets.

If the stalk is going to be used, cut off the tough bottom end. Then trim the stalk off, leaving about 3 inches below the florets.

Peel the tough outer layer from the stalk using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut the stalk into quarters lengthwise. Holding the quartered strips together, cut the stalk crosswise to the desired size.

Finish trimming the broccoli by cutting each floret off the head, leaving a little stalk on each cluster. If the individual florets are fairly large, they can be sliced in half lengthwise to make smaller pieces.

Cooking Broccoli

Broccoli can be cooked using several methods. Some common methods are steaming, boiling, sauteing, and stir frying. Broccoli should be cooked until they are tender-crisp. The stalks take longer to cook so, when cooking broccoli pieces, the stalk pieces should be started a few minutes before the florets.

To prevent cooked broccoli from developing a sulfurous taste and odor, do not overcook. If steaming, only partially cover the broccoli, and if boiling, don’t cover at all. This lets the broccoli’s natural sulfur compounds escape. Place a piece of bread on top of broccoli when cooking to absorb some of the odor, or put a few chunks of bread into the water. Never cook broccoli in an aluminum pan, because this will make the odor worse.

To prevent cooked broccoli from cooking even more, drain immediately and rinse with cold water.

Steaming Broccoli

Add enough water to the pot so that it is below the bottom of the steamer basket when it is placed in the pot. Bring the water to a full boil using a high heat. Place stalk pieces in the steamer basket and place the basket in the pot over the boiling water, making sure no water is coming up through the holes in the steamer. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add floret pieces, cover, and steam for an additional 5 minutes or until pieces are tender-crisp..
Remove steamer basket from pot and prepare broccoli for serving.

Boiling Broccoli

Broccoli should be boiled for only 30 seconds if you want to keeps the keep the green color. Always add vegetables to the boiling, salted water , never start in cold water, or color and nutrients will be lost. Do not cover the pan when boiling broccoli, so that the natural sulfur compounds can escape. You can place a piece of bread on top of broccoli when cooking to absorb some of the odor

If cooking both the florets and stalks, the larger pieces will require additional cooking time. To speed up this cooking time, slit the stalks lengthwise up to the florets.

Do not overcook broccoli. Overcooking will cause it to break apart, lose its color, diminish its taste, and will cause the lose of many nutrients.

To make the flavor of broccoli more exciting, add lemon juice, flavored vinegar, or seasonings, such as basil, dill, caraway seed, oregano, tarragon, and thyme. Do not add acids ,such as lemon juice or vinegar, to the cooking water until after the broccoli is cooked, because acids will turn the broccoli grayish-green.

For a delicious side dish, cover cooked broccoli with a vegan cheese sauce and brown under the broiler.

Peeling the fibrous outer layer of the broccoli's stalk makes it easier to digest.

One pound of broccoli equals 2 cups cut up. One 10 oz. frozen package equals 1 1/2 cups chopped.

To use the stems after you have cut off the florets, peel the stems and cut them into coins or batons to use in stir-fries or as a raw vegetable for dipping. Broccoli stems have a delicious, delicate flavor.

To revive limp, raw broccoli, trim ½ inch from the base of the stalk and set the head in a glass of cold water in the refrigerator over night.

To cook limp broccoli, steam-boil in a shallow pan of water adding a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar per cup of cooking water.

When sauteing or stir-frying, it is a good idea to blanch (see below) the broccoli first so it is partially cooked ahead of time. This will allow the broccoli to be cooked the proper amount when sauteed or stir-fried with other ingredients that are faster cooking, and it will improve the color and flavor of the broccoli.

To brighten the color of broccoli, blanch or quick cook over high heat.
To blanch, drop a small amount of broccoli into a large pot of boiling salted water (adding a large amount of broccoli will cool the water too much) , and cook until the stems can be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, but before the green color starts to fade. Remove the broccoli from the pot, and spread the broccoli out on a plate or tray in a single layer to cool (do not plunge into ice water as you would do when blanching other vegetables).

If adding broccoli to a cold salad, first blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes and then immediately rinse with cold water. Blanching for a short period of time will bring out the flavor of the broccoli and brightens its color.

If you overcook broccoli, chop it fine, toss it with rice and seasonings, or sprinkle over baked potatoes and sprinkle with vegan cheese.

Broccoli with vinaigrette- cut florets from a large head of broccoli. Blanch or steam broccoli florets, and toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. If serving cold, cool the blanched florets before tossing with vinaigrette.

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison, published by Broadway Books, New York

The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition. How to Buy, Store, and Prepare Every Variety of Fresh Food, by Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the Editors of the University of California at Berkeley WELLNESS LETTER, published by Rebus, New York, 1992

Grandmother's Food Secrets, by Dr. Myles H. Bader, published by Mylette Enterprises, LLC, Las Vegas NV 89102

World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jeffrey, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York

Foods that Harm, Foods That Heal, an A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating, Published by the Readers Digest Association, Inc., 1997

The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Edited by Susan Westmoreland, Food Director, Good housekeeping, published by Hearst Books, New York, 2001

The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Some Interesting Things About Apples

I love apples! They make delicious low-calorie snacks (about 80 calories in a medium apple), are a good source of fiber, and are versatile.

Some History and Legends

The apple, which is a member of the rose family, is thought to have originated in an area between the Caspian and the Black Sea. The apple is one of the oldest fruits eaten by humans. Archeologists have found evidence that humans have been eating apples since at least 6500 B.C. Apples were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans.

The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Irish folklore claims that if an apple is peeled into one continuous ribbon and thrown behind a woman's shoulder, it will land in the shape of the future husband's initials.

In Ancient Greece, a man throwing an apple to a woman was a proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted .

In the United States, Denmark and Sweden, a polished apple is a traditional gift for a teacher. This stemmed from the fact that teachers during the 16th to 18th centuries were poorly paid, so parents would compensate the teacher by providing food. As apples were a very common crop, teachers would often be given baskets of apples by students.

Some Apple Facts

Apples float because 25 percent of an apple's volume is air. This makes possible, apple-bobbing, which is popular at Halloween parties.

Apples give off more ethylene gas that most other fruits (except green tomatoes), and will cause many other fruits and vegetables to ripen faster.

Research indicates that the fragrance of apple-spice (such as mulled cider or baked apple) has a calming effect on people.

Apple seeds contain cyanide, but the poison is incased in the hard seed which is not broken down in the body. It is excreted intact. If a seed or two do split, the amount of poison is so small that it is not harmful. A large amount would need to be chewed to have any toxic effect

Apples should be washed well before eating because they may have pesticide residues. Peel the apples if they have been waxed (although the peel has most of the fiber and antioxidants). Buy organic apples when you can.

Apples are a good tooth-cleaner and good for stimulating the gums.
Apples are fat, sodium, and cholesterol free.


A medium apples is about 80 calories.

Apples are not the best source of vitamins, but they are a great source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. One apple has five grams of fiber.

Apples do provide a little vitamin C (8 mg-13 % of the RDA), and a little beta carotene and boron.

Two-thirds of the fiber and lots of antioxidants are found in the peel.

It is a good idea to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content. Most of an apple's fragrance cells are also concentrated in the skin and as they ripen, the skin cells develop more aroma and flavor.

Except for fiber and a small amount of iron, most of the nutrients are lost when apples are dried. Sulfur dioxide is often added to dried apples which can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

One medium 2-1/2 inch apple, fresh, raw, with skin contains:

81 calories , 21 grams carbohydrate , 4 grams dietary fibe, 10 mg calcium, 10 mg phosphorus, .25 mg iron, no sodium, 159 mg potassium, 8mg vitamin C, 13 IU vitamin A, 4 mcg folate.

The nutritional value of apples will vary slightly depending on the variety and size.
Source: USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory

Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer.

Some research suggests that A group of chemicals in apples could protect the brain from the type of damage that triggers such neurodegenerative diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinsonism.

Pesticide contamination can be a problem, but is mostly found on the outside of fruits and vegetables. Washing or peeling may reduce pesticide intake but peeling will also reduce the beneficial nutrients.

Apple consumption can help remove trapped food and clean between the teeth, but the malic acid contained within the fruit is also capable of eroding tooth enamel over time, and through excess consumption

Apple varieties

7500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world. Apple varieties differ in size, texture, and taste. The color of the outside of an apple may be green, yellow, or various shades of red. Some apples are spotted. Apple colors also vary on the inside. The flesh may be yellow, white, or cream-colored. Apple flavors differ from sweet, to tart, to bitter. Textures also vary from soft and mushy, to firm and crunchy.

Different varieties are best for different purposes. Some apples, like the Empire, are sweet and are good eaten raw. Other apple varieties are better for cooking. The Rome Beauty, for example, is often used for baking and not eaten fresh because it has a firm, acidic flesh, and tough, smooth skin.

Many species of apple grown today are the result of breeding different species together. The Fugi, for example, Japan’s most popular apple, was produced by breeding the American Delicious with the Ralls Janet of Virginia.

The apple variety, Delicious, is the most widely grown in the United States.

The five most popular apples in the United States are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith.

Here are some characteristics of some popular varieties of apples.

Arkansas Black has a deep red, almost black skin. It is rock hard, sweet and tart .Arkansas Black is a long storage apple.

Baldwin apples are crisp and juicy. They are good for baking and eating raw.

Braeburn apples are crisp and aromatic. They have a moderately tart flavor. Braeburn color varies from greenish-gold with red sections to nearly solid red. They keep their shape well when they are baked. Braeburn’s blend of sweetness and tartness is just right for snacks and salads. They are also good in applesauce and for freezing.

Cortland apples have a deep purplish-red skin and are fragrant and tangy. The flesh is white. They have a thin skin. Cortland apples are great for salads because they resist browning due to their high vitamin C content. They are also good for eating raw, for baking (they keep their shape well when baked), and for applesauce.

Empire apples are the result of a cross between the McIntosh and the Red Delicious apple. They have a thick, deep red skin, and a sweet-tart taste. They are good for eating raw.

Fuji apples have a spicy, crisp sweetness and firm flesh making them excellent for eating raw. They are also good for baking or applesauce. They store well. Fuji flavor improves in storage. Fuji skin color varies from yellow-green with red highlights to very red. It was bred from a cross between Red Delicious and Ralls Janet varieties in Japan.

Gala apples are small, heart-shaped with yellow-orange skin and red striping. They are sweet, slightly spicy, and crisp, with a tender skin. Gala apples are just the right size for snacking and are great in salads. They hold their shape well when baked.

Golden Delicious apples are yellow-green with speckles. They should not be dark green. They are full and round and have firm, crisp white flesh that is sweet and juicy. This all-purpose apple is good for eating raw, cooking , baking, and for pies. They retain their shape and rich, mellow flavor when baked or cooked. The skin is so tender and thin that it doesn't require peeling for most recipes. Golden Delicious is very good in fresh salads and freezes well. These apples keep for three or four months in a very cool location, but spoil quickly at room temperature. They have a high vitamin C content, so they resist browning.

Granny Smith apples are light green (they shouldn’t be intensely green), and medium-sized. They are tart and crisp. They are good when baked, sauteed, made into apple butter, apple crisp, or pies.

Jonagold is a blend of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. They are yellow, and bell shaped, with a tart, sweet flavor and a very crisp flesh. Jonagold is good both for eating raw and for cooking in pies, cobblers, and applesauce

Jonathan apples are generally small to medium in size and dark to bright red. Their flesh is yellowish-white, occasionally with red veins and they are crisp, tender, juicy, aromatic and moderately tart. They become mealy very quickly. They keep their shape well when baked. Jonathan apples are an all-purpose apple for cooking, baking or eating raw.

McIntosh apples are red with spots of green, and are squat and round. They are mildly sweet, smooth, and soft. They bruise easily and become mealy easily. Keep them cold and eat them as soon as possible. They are best for eating raw. The skin is tough and hard to peel. They are not recommended for baking or for pies because they fall apart easily, but can be used for applesauce.

Mutsu apples, also called Crispin, are sweet, firm and crisp, with a fairly coarse texture They store well. Mutsu apples are good for sauce, pies and fresh eating.

Red Delicious apples are red and bell shaped with five distinct bumps on the blossom end of each fruit. This sweet, crisp, juicy, low-acid apple is good when eaten raw but is not a good choice for cooking. They get soft and mealy quickly, and should be kept very cold. They will store for up to 12 months if kept cold, but will spoil quickly at room temperature.

Rome apples are deep red, large, and round, with a mild sweet-tart flavor. They are firm, dense, smooth, and slightly juicy. They can get soft and mealy, so they should be kept very cold. They are good eaten raw, or for baking, pies, and apple crisp. The mild flavor gets richer when baked or sauteed.

Winesap apples are firm and have a deep purple-red color, and a flat top. They taste spicy and tart, with a slightly fermented, winey flavor. Winesap apples are good for cooking, for salads, and for eating raw. They are especially good for apple butter. They often used in making cider.

Buying Apples

Choose apples with a bright and sparkly color. Look for firm flesh and smooth skin free of blemishes and bruises. The scent should be fresh.

Choose a variety that will work well in the recipe. Some apples hold their shape well when baked, so they are good for baked apples and pies. Others fall apart easily when cooked, so they are good for making applesauce. Other apple varieties are good for eating raw. See Apples For Specific Use, below.

Storing Apples

Store unripe apples at room temperature until they are ready to eat. Keep ripe, ready to eat apples in the refrigerator ideally at 36 to 38 degrees to stop the ripening process. When refrigerated, apples will stay fresh for 2 to 4 weeks. They will keep longer in the refrigerator if they don’t touch each other.

Apples may also be stored in sawdust in a barrel, in a cool dry place. Make sure the apples don’t touch each other. Check them often. Remove any decayed apples. One rotten apple can indeed spoil the whole barrel!

Keep apples away from strong-smelling foods like onions. Apples absorb odors easily.

Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they were refrigerated

Using Apples

Apples can be canned, juiced, and optionally fermented to produce apple juice, cider, vinegar, and pectin. Distilled apple cider produces the applejack and Calvados. There is apple wine. They make a popular lunch box fruit as well.

Apples are great for desserts, such as apple pie, apple crumble, apple crisp and apple cake. They are often eaten baked or stewed, and they can also be dried and eaten or re-constituted (soaked in water, alcohol or some other liquid) for later use. Pureed apples are generally known as apple sauce. Apples are also made into apple butter and apple jelly.

In the UK, a toffee apple is a traditional confection made by coating an apple in hot toffee and allowing it to cool. In the US there are candy apples (coated in a hard shell of crystalized sugar syrup), and caramel apples, coated with cooled caramel.

Apples are eaten with honey at the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a sweet new year.

Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.

A bushel of apples weights about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce.

It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

Apples are delicious, easy to carry for snacking, low in calories, a natural mouth freshener, and they are still very inexpensive.

Apples for Specific Use


Red Delicious
Golden Delicious
Stayman Winesap


Golden Delicious
Yellow Transparent
Grimes Golden
Stayman Winesap
Rome Beauty


Grimes Golden
Rome Beauty
Yellow Transparent
Golden Delicious
Stayman Winesap


Golden Delicious
Stayman Winesap
Rome Beauty
Grimes Golden
Stayman Winesap


Golden Delicious
Stayman Winesap
Red Delicious
Grimes Golden


Yellow Transparent


Northern Spy

If you prefer a chunky applesauce, add the sugar before cooking the apples. For a smooth applesauce, add the sugar after the apples are cooked and mashed.

To prevent raw, cut apples from darkening, dip them in a fruit juice (lemon, orange, grapefruit, or pineapple) before adding other ingredients.

If the cut apples are to be baked (in a pie, maybe, or in an apple cobbles), there is no need to take precautions against browning, because the cooking will reverse the browning.

To peel an apple, use a vegetable peeler. A knife cuts off too much flesh. Remove the stem, hold the peeler at the stem end and begin turning the apple into the blade of the peeler. Angle the peeler at about 60 degrees so that each rotation spirals you towards the other end of the apple.

Apples are easier to peel if scalding water is poured on them just before peeling.

To core an apple while keeping the apple whole, use a corer. If you don’t have a corer, carefully push a small paring knife down through the top of the apple, a bit off-center from the core and cut around the core. (I have not mastered this. The apple breaks in half when I try it).

You can peel and core large amounts of apples quickly with a peeling-slicing device available in kitchen supply stores.

To core an apple for baked apples, use a melon baller, and don’t cut all the way through to the bottom.

To freeze apples, peel, core, and cut into wedges. Toss the wedges in lemon juice and then toss the apple wedges in sugar. Spread on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Put the apple wedges into ziplock freezer bags and keep in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If apples become slightly overripe, chop them and soak them in apple cider or apple juice in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. You can also peel and cut slightly overripe apples and add them to muffin or pancake batter.

Bruised or brown parts of an apple are safe to eat.

Good flavorings for apples include cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cardamon (use only a little, cardomon is strong), ground ginger (can be combined with cardamon), ground allspice, pumpkin pie spice, or grated citrus zest (lemon, lime, or orange).

The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition. How to Buy, Store, and Prepare Every Variety of Fresh Food, by Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the Editors of the University of California at Berkeley WELLNESS LETTER, published by Rebus, New York, 1992

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal, an A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating, Published by the Readers Digest Association, Inc., 1997

The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Edited by Susan Westmoreland, Food Director, Good housekeeping, published by Hearst Books, New York, 2001

Grandmother's Food Secrets, by Dr. Myles H. Bader, published by Mylette Enterprises, LLC, Las Vegas NV 89102

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Salads and Salad Greens

I really love salads, especially when I can use greens fresh from my garden. I'll have to wait a few months for that, but luckily greens are available in the markets all year.

The term "salad" usually refers to a cold or room temperature dish consisting of a variety of chopped or sliced ingredients, usually including at least one raw vegetable or fruit, most often lettuce. Often it is served with a dressing.

A salad may be served before or after the main dish as a separate course, as a main course in itself, or as a side dish. Some salads can also be used as fillings for sandwiches.

Salad is an ancient dish that derives its name from "salum", the Latin word for salt.

The garden lettuce, popular in salads, is thought to be a selected form of the bitter-leaved wild species (Lactuca serriola) found throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have been the first to cultivate it.

During the Middle Ages, salads included many ingredients that would be considered "gourmet" today, such as lovage, Burnet, and sorrel.

Some types of lettuce and other salad greens contain high amounts of beta carotene, folate, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium, but the amounts vary from one variety to another. In general, those with the darkest green leaves or other deeply colored leaves have the most beta carotene, antioxidants and vitamin C. Romaine and Boston lettuce have three times as much vitamin C and much more beta carotene than iceberg lettuce. Greens as arugula, chicory, escarole, mache (corn salad), and watercress are all more nutritious that lettuce. The bitter-tasting greens are often the most nutritious.

Types of Salad Greens


Lettuces are mild salad greens that are served fresh, either in salads or as garnishes. There are four main categories of lettuce: crisphead lettuce, with leaves that grow in a dense "head," Loose leaf lettuce, with loosely gathered leaves, butterhead lettuce, with tender leaves that form a soft head, and romaine lettuce, with closely packed leaves in an elongated head. There is also a cultivar (cultivated variety) of lettuce, known as stem lettuce, also called celtuce, asparagus lettuce and Chinese lettuce.

Butterhead lettuce:

Butterhead lettuces, sometimes referred to as cabbage lettuce, include varieties such as Boston and Bibb lettuce. The leaves are thin and soft with a silky, almost buttery feel. They have a sweet, mild flavor with less prominent veins than iceberg. Butterhead lettuces are "loose" head lettuces.

Bibb lettuce is also called limestone lettuce. This butterhead lettuce has delicate, loose leaves and lots of flavor. Bibb lettuce has a head the size of a naval orange and slightly elongated. The small, stiffly curled leaves have mild, faintly bitter taste, and a tender crunch. Bibb lettuce is relatively scarce and expensive in most markets.

Boston lettuce is a type of butterhead lettuce, with soft, tender leaves. It goes well in salads and sandwiches, or the leaves can be used as a bed for other dishes.

Crisphead Lettuce:

Crisphead lettuces are the crunchy ones. Iceberg is the most popular variety. Other varieties of Crispheads include Avoncrisp, Malika, Premier Great Lakes, Saladin, and Webb's Wonderful.

Iceberg lettuce, also called head lettuce, cabbage lettuce or crisphead lettuce, is a favorite American lettuce because of crunch it brings to salads and it keeps well, but it's short on flavor and nutrients. Iceberg lettuce has a bland taste and a wet texture.

Looseleaf lettuce:

Looseleaf lettuces are sometimes called "cutting", "bunching", or "curled" lettuces because they do not form a head. The leaves grow in loose bunches on a stalk.

Loose leaf lettuce comes in many varieties. Some have small, flat leaves, some have crinkly, red, green or golden leaves. They have delicate, fresh flavors, and tender textures.

Some varieties are: Oak leaf, Grand Rapids (crinkled pale green leaves with bronze-green to crimson edges), Ruby (crinkled and pale green with deep red tints), Salad Bowl (one of the first leaf lettuces, having masses of green, deeply lobed leaves that are crisp but tender), and the elongated Deer Tongue. Their flavors range from mild to sweet to woody. The Italian varieties Lollo Rosso (red lollo) and Lollo Biondo (green lollo) taste pleasantly strong and nutty and a little bitter.

Oakleaf lettuce has crunchy stems and tender leaves. There are red and green varieties.

Red leaf and green leaf lettuces are the most common leaf lettuces, and both have curly, ruffled leaves.

Mache ,also called corn salad, lamb's lettuce, lamb's tongue, field lettuce, field salad, or fetticus has tender leaves and a very mild flavor. It is sold in small bunches. The leaves are a good source of beta carotene, Vitamin C, and folate. The leaves are a bright green and rounded with a slightly nutty taste, and is usually eaten raw as a salad green. Mache is highly perishable, and is often referred to as lamb's lettuce or field salad. The leaves have a silky, almost velvety feel, mild taste and are usually sold with their roots attached. This specialty lettuce is relatively difficult to find, and therefore on the expensive side.

Romaine lettuce:

Romaine, also called Cos lettuce, has long, spear-shaped , dark green, upright outer leaves and often a white central spine. The center leaves become smaller and more yellow. The outer leaves are sturdy, while the inner leaves, are more tender. Romaine lettuce grows upright to a height of about sixteen inches and has elongated leaves with rounded tips. Romaine is crunchy. The flavor is pleasantly nutty, with a touch of bitterness.

This type of lettuce has a good shelf life in the refrigerator.

Green romaine is the most common variety, but you can sometimes find the more tender red romaine.

Romaine has a strong texture which stands up to cooking better than any other lettuce, and because of its curly leaves, it requires extra washing.

Romaine is the most nutritious of the lettuces and a good source of folate, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and potassium. Leaves with the darkest green will have more nutrients than the paler ones. Paler leaves are mostly traces of fiber and water rather than nutrients.

Stem Lettuce:

Stem Lettuce is also known as celtuce, asparagus lettuce and Chinese lettuce. The name "celtuce", a combination of "celery" and "lettuce" is given because of its shape, and not because it is a cross between them. Stem Lettuce is a cultivar (cultivated variety) of lettuce grown for its romaine-like foliage and thick, edible stems. The stem grows 6 to 8 inches long and about 1½ inches in diameter.

The stems can be cooked like broccoli and taste like a cross between a mild summer squash and an artichoke. The leaves can be used for salad. Although it has little nutritional value, this lettuce does make a good addition to any fresh salad.

This lettuce is excellent raw or cooked lightly in a stir fry. Young leaves can be cooked as greens.

Other Types of Salad Greens:


Arugula, also called rocket, tira, Italian cress, rugola, rugula, roquette, and rucola, looks a little like dandelion greens and watercress. It has a strong, slightly bitter, peppery flavor when raw, and milder peppery flavor when cooked. Use arugula with a mixture of milder salad greens including romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, and mache (corn salad) and a light oil and vinegar dressing. Arugula is great in fruit salads as well as green salads.

Arugula has a high beta-carotene and vitamin C content, and since it is a cruciferous vegetable, it may have cancer prevention properties.

Look for bunches with small to medium bright green leaves, in the 2" to 3" range, as these typically taste the best.

Baby spinach

Baby spinach has small oval, light jade-colored leaves on slender stems, often with roots attached. Unlike mature spinach, the ribs are not prominent. Baby spinach tastes mild, somewhat like grass when raw, and sweeter when cooked.

Belgian endive

Belgian endive, also called French endive, witloof, witloof chicory , chicory (in Britain), Belgium chicory, blanching chicory, Dutch chicory, green-leaved blanching chicory, and chicon, is related to chicory.

Belgian endive has a silken, crunchy texture, and a slightly bitter taste. It has light cream-colored, spear shaped heads with twinges of purple on edges and tips of leaves.. The leaves are often used to make hors d'oeuvres, but they can also be chopped and added to salads, or braised to make an exquisite (and expensive) side dish.

Belgian endive is low on nutrients.

Mixed with other greens, one head of Belgian endive is enough for 4 people.

This green adds spark to tossed salads. Add cut or torn leaves just before serving, because this green discolors quickly. Choose heads that feel firm and show no signs of drying or shriveling. belgian endive is also delicious when cooked.


Chicory, also called, curly endive, chicory endive, curly chicory, frisee, and frise is a wild-looking plant with long, whitish ribbed leaves fringed with feathery, spiky points of green. The outer leaves are somewhat bitter, and the pale inner leaves are more tender and mild. Don't confuse this with Belgian endive, which the British call chicory and the French call endive (very confusing!). You can use this crisp, bitter green in salads or cook it as a side dish.


Collards have long, wide (about eight by five inches at the widest point), firm green leaves with prominent rib in center. This green tastes strong and bitter. Use sparingly, finely chopped, to season other greens. If they are to be used in salads, buy tender, light-green collards.

Collards are high in vitamin A

When buying collards, look for four to eight-leaf bunches that are deep green in color and plump. Avoid those that have turned yellow or look shriveled, wilted, and brown around the edges. They are past their prime and have lost most of their nutritive value.

Purchase about a pound of fresh collards for 2 or 3 servings.

To store collards, put the greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator where they will keep for several days at 32 degrees F. ( 0 degrees C). When they begin to turn yellow, cut away those portions and use the rest quickly. Yellow collards have lost most of their food value.

Winter harvested collards are delicately sweet and are good in salads. The ribs, as well, are sweet and crunchy. Be sure to include them in the salad along with the leaves. Chop collards into bite size pieces and combine them with romaine and loose leaf lettuces for a salad that offers plenty of nutrition.

You can use collard leaves in a wraps with finely diced vegetables and sprouts, or make a chopped collard salad with fresh corn cut off the cob, chopped tomatoes, chopped sweet onions, raw pistachios, and salt-cured olives.

Curly Cress

Curly Cress, also called garden cress and pepper grass, is a peppery green that is related to broccoli, cabbage, mustard and radish. It is great in salads, sandwiches, and soups, and garnishes. Curly cress is highly perishable, so try to use it as soon as possible after you buy it.

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens have a somewhat bitter flavor. Older dandelion greens should be cooked. Younger ones, harvested in the spring before they flower, are less bitter and can be served raw as a salad green. Use only a few in a salad.

Dandelion greens are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and the antioxidant lutein.


Escarole , also called Batavian endive, Batavia, or scarole, has sturdy leaves and a slightly bitter flavor. Young escarole leaves are tender enough to add to salads, otherwise escarole is best cooked as a side dish or used in soups. Only the pale inner heart is used for salads.


Mizuna, also called Japanese greens, and spider mustard, has tender leaves and a pleasant, peppery flavor.


Radicchio, also called red chicory, red-leafed chicory, red Italian chicory and chioggia, has a cabbage-like texture, and a bitter taste. The most common variety, radicchio rosso is round, while the treviso radicchio is elongated.

Because of it’s bitterness, use only a small amount in a salad. It tastes good and looks nice when combined with other salad greens.

Radicchio will remain fresh for two to three weeks if kept in closed plastic container in the refrigerator.

Radicchio is good cut in half lengthwise, and brushed with extra virgin olive oil, and grilled until soft and beginning to brown. You can also use the leaves as a base for hors d'oeuvres, or saute them for a side dish.


Sorrel, sometimes called sourgrass, has large, pointed, dark green leaves and a pungent, citrusy flavor. It is hard to find in markets in U.S. markets. Europeans use sorrel as flavoring for cream sauces and as vegetable in its own right. my daughter-in-law, who comes from the Republic of Georgia, made a delicious sorrel soup for me with sorrel from my garden.

Use sorrel sparingly in salads. You can also cook it asyou would cook spinach.


Spinach adds color, texture and flavor to salads, but use only small, tender leaves in salads.

Wash spinach to remove any grit.

When buying loose spinach, look for young plants with small leaves and thin smooth stems. As spinach gets larger and more mature, it becomes tougher and stringier. When buying spinach in plastic bags, do not buy if there are signs of softness or sliminess, or yellow leaves visible through the bag.

Frozen spinach is good for stuffings and sauces.

Defrost spinach at room temperature, or thaw by steaming slowly in a few spoonfuls of water in a covered pot. Let it cool and squeeze with hands until it is as dry as you can make it. Chop with a knife. A 10-ounce package of frozen spinach should yield about ½ cup after squeezing and chopping.

To rescue gritty cooked spinach, drop spinach into a kettle of rapidly boiling salted water, return to boil, and let boil hard for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat, and let the spinach stand undisturbed in the water for 2 minutes. Gently skim the spinach from the surface of the water with a strainer. Most of the grit will have sunk to the bottom of the pot.


Mesclun, also called spring salad mix,, field greens, or spring mix, a mix of a variety of young salad greens. Commercial mixes usually include arugula, mizuna, tat soi, frisee, oakleaf, red chard, radicchio, mustard greens, and radicchio.

Tat Soi

Tat soi, also called spoon cabbage, has a spoon-like shape and a peppery flavor. I grew this in my garden last spring, and it was delicious.


Trefoil is named for the three leaves that sprout from each stem. It has a crunchy texture and an aromatic flavor. It's great in salads or as a garnish in soups.


Watercress grows in bunches and has a mustard-like, peppery bite. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. It is a popular garnish in salads and sandwiches.

Use watercress alone or mix it with milder greens. It can be added to potato soup, used as a base for cream soup, used it stir fries or cooked like spinach.

Pull off and discard larger stems which are tough and stringy. Watercress wilts quickly, so don’t trim more than an hour before serving.

It is not wise to pick watercress in the wild. Wild watercress may contain parasites and bacteria that may cause intestinal infections.

Be sure to wash commercial watercress thoroughly.

Watercress may cause cystitis in some people and its medicinal use is not advised for those who have a delicate stomach or suffer from acidosis or heartburn. Excessive or prolonged use can lead to kidney problems. Some doctors advise against its use during pregnancy.

Watercress contains substantial amounts of beta carotene, calcium, Vitamins A and C, and antioxidants .

Do not buy wilted watercress, and try to avoid bunches with yellow-tinged leaves. Watercress is available year round, although it flourishes during spring.

To store watercress, remove any yellow leaves and place the bunch of watercress, in a glass of water (as you would flowers) . Cover the bunch loosely with a plastic bag. It should keep for two to five days. Be sure to change the water daily. You may also toss an open bag of watercress in the crisper bin.

Before using, rinse the watercress under cool running water then place on towels and pat dry. Inspect each sprig as you pat it dry; tiny snails often cling to the undersides of leaves. Trim and discard any tough stems. The thinner stems are edible.

Raw watercress is good in first-course salads (drizzled with a simple vinaigrette of lemon and mustard and olive oil), or in sandwiches. Citrus goes well with watercress in salads.

Watercress is good stirred into already mashed potatoes or tossed with pasta and oil.

Watercress should be added to soups during the final minutes of cooking.

Winter Purslane

Winter purslane
, also called Cuban spinach, miner's lettuce, and claytonia ,resembles ordinary purslane, only the leaves and stems are smaller and more delicate.

Buying Salad Greens

Select lettuce that has a rich color and crisp, fresh-looking leaves. Lettuce should be fresh and crisp, with good color and no signs of yellowing, decay or slime, blemishes, wilting or rust spots. Look for lettuce with healthy outer leaves, as this is often the most nutritious part of the plant.

Select compact, iceberg lettuce heads with dark green outer leaves.

Look for medium sized heads of Romaine and other leaf lettuce with dark outer leaves that are tightly closed.

Check the sell-by date on packaged greens.

Do not by packaged greens if dark rims and bruises or signs of soggy wilted lettuce such as faded leaves and flattened ribs are visible. Choose packs containing leaves with vibrant colors .

Choose head lettuce by its weight rather than size. Heavy heads will be juicy and crunchy.

When buying loose leaf lettuce, buy the smallest plants. Larger ones are more bitter and tough. Reject plants with leaves that spring from a thick central core, indicating that the plant has "bolted", and will have an off taste

When buying romaine, buy small heads. Large ones have tough, dry, bitter outer leaves.

When buying Belgian endive, select heads with yellow tips; those with green tips are more bitter. Their peak season is the late fall and winter.

Storing Salad Greens

When you get your greens home, blot moisture from the leaves with a paper towel. Place them unwashed, in a plastic bag with holes in it, or in a large paper bag in the crisper of your refrigerator. Store for only two days. After two days, the greens will start to get slimy and smelly. Lettuce keeps crispier as close to 32 degrees as possible, but not below 32 degrees.

Lettuce will turn brown easily if stored close to most other fruits and vegetables due to the ethylene gas given off by many fruits and vegetables.

Iceberg lettuce will keep for 7 to 14 days, Romaine keeps for 6 to 10 days, and butterhead will keep for only 3 or 4 days.

Greens that are to be used within two to three days can be washed and dried before putting them in the refrigerator. Handle them gently so as not to bruise them. Store in a sealed plastic bag or container.

To slide bulky lettuce heads and bunches into plastic bags, turn the bag inside out over your hand, pick up the lettuce in that hand, and pull the bag right-side out over it.
Salad tips

Thump the core of lettuce briskly on the counter and the core will twist out easily.

A salad that accompanies the main course should be interesting, but not so substantial as to upstage the other dishes. Use separate dishes for the salad to keep the dressing from running into other dishes.

A green salad goes well with simple, hearty, informal courses. Green salads do not go as well with complex, delicate main dishes.

The slightly acidic taste of salad dressing and the moist, crunchy texture of salad greens do not go well with cooked vegetables or creamed foods.

Wine and salad do not go well together. The taste of wine is distorted by the flavors of salad greens and vinegar. Serve the salad as a separate course without wine.

A first or main course salad should be especially enticing and should contain in addition to greens and a few vegetables, at least one or two special ingredients such as marinated mushrooms, strips of vegan cheese, olives, etc. Arrange the greens in a bed on a large platter and place the other ingredients on top rather than tossing them together. Pass the salad at the table, and pass around two dressings-one a plain vinaigrette, and the other a creamy dressing.

A salad served after the main course should consist of only greens plus a vinaigrette dressing. Serve with bread or crackers and margarine and soft vegan "cheese".

Allow 6 to 8 cups of torn greens for four persons-one large or two small heads or bunches of greens.

Combine textures and flavors of various greens in a salad-mild with bitter or spicy, crisp with tender, deep green with pale or red. Combine mild greens (Boston or Bibb lettuce, for example) with bitter, pungent (dandelion or chickory-use sparingly), or dry (leaf lettuce) with juicy(endive or romaine), or soft delicate with harder crunchier(escarole).

To rescue wilted greens (that are not yet brown), soak for an hour or more in a large bowl filled with ice water.

To wash greens, place them in a sink or large bowl filled with cool water. Gently swish the greens around in the water. Allow the greens to stand in the water for several minutes so impurities can sink to the bottom. Skim the greens gently from the water with your hands, being careful not to crush or bruise them. If the water seems really dirty, repeat, using fresh water.
Greens must be dried thoroughly or the dressing won’t stick to the leaves.

To dry greens, a spinner is the best. Or the greens can be hand dried. Place greens convex side down in a single layer on a triple thickness of paper towels. Gently blot the leaves with more paper towels.

To dry greens in the refrigerator, put the washed greens in a salad bowl lined with a dish towel or several layers of paper towels and refrigerate for two to three hours. More hand drying may be necessary to complete the drying.

You can place the greens in a clean pillowcase, tie the pillowcase shut and put it in the washing machine on the fast spin cycle for no more that two minutes. I tried this, and it does work. Or, if you have a large amount of greens, place them in the pillow case, go outside, and swung the pillow case in circles. Your neighbors may wonder what you are doing, but this works.

Choosing a Salad Bowl

Glass bowls are attractive because they allow the salad to be seen through the bowl. Bowls made of other materials are good, too, but ever put a salad in a bowl made of unlined copper, aluminum, tin, or cast iron because the acid in the dressing will react with these metals and cause the salad to taste metallic. Wooden salad bowls begin to smell rancid eventually.

Use a bowl which is about half again larger that the volume of the salad greens, to allow room to toss the salad.

Torn greens are considered to be more pleasing to the eye that cut greens. To tear the greens, hold them gently between your finger tips and tear them as you would tear a piece of paper. Tear pieces about two inches across. Pieces larger than that are hard to put into your mouth.

If you are going to cut greens, use a sharp knife to prevent browning at the edges.

Allow about ½ cup of vinaigrette-type dressing or 3/4 cup or more of a creamy dressing for 8 cups of salad (4 servings).

To toss a salad , pour the dressing evenly over the top of the salad, then toss briefly upward as many times as necessary to evenly coat the greens. Never stir the salad as this will bruise the greens.

Serve the salad as soon as it is dressed, or the salt and vinegar will draw the moisture from the greens and they will become limp and soggy.

To save a salad with too much dressing, just toss in more greens.

To add color to your salad, toss in edible flowers such as nasturtium, violets, chive blossoms, or roses.

Salad Dressings

Most of the time, simple oil and vinegar dressings are best. A creamy dressing goes well with a main course salad that contains lots of extras.

Low calorie oil and vinegar dressing: For each 2-cup serving of salad, sprinkle 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil over the salad, toss until the greens are well coated. Add drops of vinegar, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste, then toss again. Always add the oil first to a salad. If you add the vinegar first, the greens will become wet and the oil will not stick to them.

Vinaigrette Dressing
makes about ½ cup, enough to dress 2 quarts of salad to serve 4

a small clove garlic (Optional)
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 to 5 teaspoons vinegar
½ cup olive oil

If you are using garlic, peel the garlic, slice thinly into a 1 quart mixing bowl. Add the salt and mash to a smooth paste with a fork.

Add the garlic paste (or just the salt if you are not using the garlic), pepper, mustard, and 4 teaspoons of vinegar. Beat with a fork to blend. Beat in a little oil at a time. Beat until the oil and vinegar mix. Taste and add more vinegar and other seasonings if needed.

If you wish, strain to remove small pieces of garlic.

You may leave the dressing at room temperature for a few hours, covered with plastic wrap.

Add the dressing to the salad just before serving. If the oil and vinegar have separated, beat again with a fork to mix before adding the dressing to the salad.

For Italian dressing, after the oil has been added to the vinaigrette dressing, beat in 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled, and 2 tablespoons very finely minced red bell pepper.

Walnut oil makes a great dressing for bitter greens such as arugula, radicchio, and watercress.

To remove the rib from a leaf of lettuce, fold the leaf in half lengthwise down the center of the rib. Slice or pull the leaf along the edge of the rib, and lift the rib out.

To shred lettuce, remove the ribs and stack the leaves 3 or 4 high. Starting at a long side, roll the stack into a tight cylinders. Slice the roll crosswise. The slices will unravel into tight shreds.

Some Other Salad Ingredients
(There are many more, the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.)

Artichoke hearts can be added to a first or main course salad, but they are too assertive for a salad that accompanies a main dish. Always blot canned artichoke hearts with paper towels before using them.

Avocados add a delicious nut-like taste to salads. Do not cut avocados until just before serving because they discolor easily. Add to the top of an already tossed salad so that the slices remain whole and do not make the rest of the salad slimy.

Shredded cabbage added sparingly adds a pleasant crunch to the salad. Add just before serving because cabbage can develop a stale taste if it sits.

Carrots should be grated or very thinly sliced rather than added to salads in chunks. Chunks are hard to spear with a fork, and awkward to chew.

Celery is an aromatic vegetable and should be used sparingly in a salad. Chop very fine so it will cling to the other vegetables like an herb.

Cooked chickpeas and other legumes are best in first or main course salads. Canned chickpeas are best if drained, rinsed, and marinated for 2 to 24 hours in vinaigrette.

Croutons should be added to the salad at the very last moment before serving. Do not use on salads that are being served with rice, pasta, or potato dishes.

Dried cranberries are good sprinkled on salads.

Cucumbers are best when they are small farm types such as kirbys. If you are using large supermarket type cucumbers, peel them, cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and slice the halves into crescents.

should be used sparingly so as not to overwhelm the salad. It is best to use only a single herb in a salad. Fresh herbs are preferable to dry. Make sure the herb you are using in the salad goes well with the foods that will be served with or after the salad. Italian meals go well with a salad containing basil or oregano.

Sliced fresh mushrooms wilt and discolor quickly, so add them at the last minute. Marinated mushrooms are best in first and main course salads.

Roasted Nuts are great in salads.

Olives are salty and strong tasting, so they should be used sparingly in salads.

Sweet onions or sliced scallions go well in salads that are served with a simple main course.

Green bell peppers have a pronounced taste, so a small one, cut into rings or strips is enough for a salad to serve four.

Red bell peppers are mild and sweet, and can be added freely to salads.

Roasted and marinated red peppers can be served with or placed on top of salads. Blot roasted and marinated peppers with a paper towel before using.

Pickled hot peppers may be added to a salad as a garnish.

Radishes add a bite to salads. Slice them in very thin rounds.

Sprouts can be overwhelming in a salad, so use them sparingly. They wilt easily, so dress salads that contain sprouts at the very last moment.

Tomatoes are delicious in salads when they are in season. Whole cherry tomatoes are awkward to eat in salads.


Grandmother's Food Secrets, by Dr. Myles H. Bader, published by Mylette Enterprises, LLC, Las Vegas NV 89102

Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers

World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jeffrey, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal, an A to Z Guide to safe and healthy Eating, Published by the readers digest Association, Inc., 1997

The Kitchen Companion, by Polly Clingerman, published by the American Cooking Guild, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Master Recipes, a New Approach to the Fundamentals of Good Cooking, by Stephen Schmidt, published by Clearlight Publishers

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tomato Salad with Ginger

This recipe is from The Best Recipes in the World, by Mark Bittman, published by Broadway Books, New York, page 173. It comes from India. When I made it, I used only a pinch of chopped chile (I don't like food to be very hot), and I added chopped red onion.

Tomato Salad With Ginger
Makes 4 servings

3 large or 4 medium tomatoes

salt and black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

1 small fresh chile, such as Thai or jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and minced, or to taste.

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Core and slice the tomatoes. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Let them sit for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ginger with some more salt and pepper, the chili, and about 3 tablespoons lime juice.

Drain any liquid that has accumulated around the tomatoes. Dress the salad with the ginger-lime mixture. Taste and add more lime if necessary. Garnish with the chopped cilantro, then garnish and serve.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it." -Henry David Thoreau, "Chesuncook," The Maine Woods, 1848

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ginger/Garlic Chickpeas and Iome interesting Things About Ginger
It's been snowing all day. I love snow. There is a row of white pine trees in the yard that look beautiful covered with snow. my two cats are enjoying looking out of the window watching the snow fall. They seem to have settled into their new home, and they seem happy here.

The snow made me hungry for something hot and spicy. I made the following recipe for lunch, and really enjoyed it.

This recipe comes from The Essential Vegetarian Cook Book, by Diana Shaw, published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, page 360. She calls it "My Favorite Chickpeas". It’s one of my favorites, too.

My Favorite Chickpeas
Serves 4

2 teaspoons canola oil

4 garlic cloves, grated

3 tablespoons grated, peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup fresh or canned tomato puree

2 cups cooked chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, turn down the heat to low and add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Saute, stirring constantly, until everything is well combined and the mixture has a uniform color, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the tomato puree, turn the heat up to medium, and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chickpeas and bring to a simmer again. Cover, turn the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Let the chickpeas sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Some Interesting Things About Ginger

Though commonly referred to as a root, ginger is actually a tropical rhizome (botanical name Zingiber officinale), in the same family as turmeric and cardamom. It is native to Southern Asia and has long been a staple in Asian cuisines.

Ginger is popular in the Caribbean Islands, where it grows wild. Jamaican ginger is prized for its strong flavor. Jamaica provides most of the world's supply, followed by India, Africa and China.
Ginger can be grown in a flowerpot at home, but since it is a tropical plant, it must be brought indoors when the weather turns cool.

The Chinese were using ginger as long ago as the 6th century BC. Ginger was used by the ancient Romans, but almost disappeared in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Marco Polo's brought ginger back from the Far East, and it again became popular in Europe, becoming a much-coveted expensive spice.

It is thought that Queen Elizabeth I of England invented the Christmas treat, the gingerbread man.

Spanish settlers brought ginger to the New world in the 1500s.


Recent studies suggest that ginger can help reduce the inflamation of arthritis and lupus.

Ginger tea may relieve the chills and congestion of a cold. To make ginger tea, simmer one or two slices of fresh ginger root in water for 10 minutes. Add a pinch of cinnamon.

Sipping flat ginger ale or sucking candied ginger may help to relieve nausea due to motion sickness or morning sickness. Ginger is available in capsule form for this purpose.

Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices

Ginger is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Selenium, and a very good source of Manganese.

Massive doses of ginger can depress the nervous system and cause heart irregularities.

Some people are allergic to ginger. This may take the form of flatulence, or it may take the form of a tightening in the throat necessitating uncontrollable burping to relieve the pressure.

Buying Ginger

Fresh ginger can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for ginger with a fresh, spicy fragrance. Fresh ginger should be firm and feel heavy. Choose the hardest, smoothest pieces you can find. Ginger becomes more wrinkled as it ages. Do not buy pieces that have mold. If the ginger is fresh, it will break with a clean snap.

Long length is a sign of maturity. Mature rhizomes will be hotter and more fibrous.

Forms of Ginger

Fresh Ginger

Fresh ginger is available in two forms: young and mature. Young roots, also called green or spring ginger, has a pale, thin skin that requires no peeling, is very tender and has a milder flavor. It can be grated, chopped, or julienned for use.

Mature ginger root has a tough skin that must be peeled away to get to the fibrous flesh and is usually grated, chopped or ground for use. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely potent and is often used as a spice in Chinese cuisine.

Dried Ginger

Dried ginger is available whole or in slices. It is usually soaked in liquid before using.

Pickled Ginger

Called gari or beni shoga in Japan, this form is pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually colored bright red or pink. It ca be added to relishes and condiments. It is a familiar accompaniment to sushi and is also eaten to refresh the breath. It is used raw on tofu or noodles.

Pickled ginger is available at Asian markets. It should be kept refrigerated in its container.

Preserved Ginger

Preserved ginger has been preserved in a sugar-salt mixture. It is usually used as a confection or added to desserts, and good with melons. preserved ginger is available at Asian markets.

Crystallized Ginger

Also known as candied ginger, crystallized ginger has been cooked in a sugar syrup until tender and then coated with granulated sugar. It is commonly used in desserts and can easily be made at home.

Ground Ginger

Also referred to as powdered ginger, ground ginger is available in standard supermarkets, and is used primarily in sweets and curry mixes. Do not substitute ground for fresh ginger in recipes, the flavors are different.

Ginger-garlic paste

Ginger-garlic paste is available in Asian markets.

Storing Ginger

Ginger should be stored in a cool dry place.

You can bury the unpeeled ginger in dry, sandy soil. Cover with well-pierced foil to provide ventilation. Store in a cool, dark place. Break off pieces, and re-bury the ginger . The ginger will continue to grow in the sand.

Fresh, unpeeled root should be wrapped in paper towels, placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated up to three weeks.

Peeled ginger root may be stored in Madeira, vodka, or Sherry wine in a glass container with a tight lid in the refrigerator for up to two months. Since the ginger will take on the flavor of the wine, do not, use ginger which has been stored in wine in dishes where a wine flavor is not desirable. You can use the ginger-flavored wine in stir-fry sauces or marinades (or you can drink it). Replace the wine in the jar as you use it.

To freeze ginger, place whole, unpeeled knobs of ginger in a zipper-lock freezer bag and place in the freezer. Frozen ginger will keep for 3 months. Slice or break off what you need, and return the rest to the freezer. Freezing ruptures the cells, and makes the ginger soft, but the flavor will not change. Do not freeze peeled or chopped ginger.

Dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark space in an airtight container.

Pickled and preserved ginger should be kept in their original containers in the refrigerator.

Store crystallized ginger in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to three months.

Using Ginger

Ginger is used extensively as a spice in cuisines throughout the world.

The fresh ginger root (or rhizome) is relatively mild. The flavor of the candied root is more concentrated. Powdered ginger is the hottest.

To slice ginger, Cut a thin slice crosswise from a knob of ginger. If peeled slices are called for, peel a section of the knob before slicing.

To sliver or dice ginger, cut the ginger into very thin slices. Stack the slices and cut into very fine strips for the slivers. To dice, cut the slivers crosswise into a fine dice.

To mince large amounts of ginger quickly, cut the ginger root into ½ inch chunks, place the chunks into a mini food chopper and mince in 2 to 3 minute pulses until it reaches the desired fineness.

To peel ginger, scrape the skin with the side of a spoon. Using a vegetable peeler often removes some of the flesh as well as the skin, and the flesh just below the skin is often the best tasting. There is no need to peel ginger that will be used in marinades or teas, or that is to be grated.

To grate ginger, grate on the finest part of the grater until the ginger turns to pulp. While grating, keep the piece to be grated attached to the larger piece. It’s easier to hold that way. Grate what you need, and return it to the refrigerator or freezer.

Oriental markets sell porcelain graters made for ginger. They have raised bumps instead of holes. Cut ginger across the fibers and rub the cut edge against the grater. If you cut ginger lengthwise and grate the long side, you will have stringy chunks.

To make ginger less fiery, soak grated ginger root in cold water for 10 minutes, squeeze dry and use.

To get juice from ginger, thaw a piece of frozen ginger root. It will be soft enough to squeeze with your fingers, or you can use a garlic press. You can also peel fresh ginger, cut it into chunks, shred it on a grater or puree it in a food processor. Then wrap the pureed ginger in cheese cloth, and squeeze out the juice.

Do not use ground ginger to replace fresh ginger. They have different flavors. Ground ginger works well in ginger bread, pumpkin pie, and other baked goods, and in curries with other Indian spices.

To use Crystalized or candied ginger, chop it and add generously to cookie dough, muffins, gingerbread (in addition to the ginger called for in the recipe), or other baked goods , or add candied ginger to braised or roasted root vegetables. If your recipe calls for sugar and candied ginger, the candied ginger can be chopped in a mini food processor with a bit of granulated sugar to prevent sticking. You can also chop candied ginger with a knife which has been sprayed with cooking spray or dipped in flour.

Cooking ginger makes the taste more subtle and less fiery. Added at the beginning of cooking a dish, ginger will give subtler flavor to the dish. Added near the end of cooking, ginger will deliver a more pungent taste.

For ginger lemonade, combine freshly grated ginger, lemon juice, sweetener, and water. Grated ginger is also good in fruit juices or iced tea.

Sprinkle grated ginger, sesame seeds and nori strips on top of rice.

Combine ginger, tamari, olive oil and garlic to make a salad dressing.

Add ginger and orange juice to pureed sweet potatoes.

Add grated ginger to baked apples.

Add freshly minced ginger to sauteed vegetables.

Ginger is used to flavor ginger ale, a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage, as well as the spicier beverage, ginger beer.

A ginger-flavored liqueur called Canton is produced in the Guangdong province of China.

Green ginger wine is a ginger flavoured wine produced in the United Kingdom by Crabbie's and Stone's and traditionally sold in a green glass bottle.

Ginger is also used as a spice added to hot coffee and tea.

In Myanmar, ginger is used in a salad dish called gyin-tho, which consists of shredded ginger preserved in oil, and a variety of nuts and seeds.

In traditional Korean kimchi, ginger is minced finely and added into the ingredients of the spicy paste just before the fermenting process. (Vegans, beware! Kimchi often contains anchovies.)

In south India, ginger is used in a candy called Inji-murappa ("ginger candy" from Tamil).

In South East Asia, the flower of a type of ginger is used in cooking. This unopened flower is known in the Malay language as Bunga Kantan, and is used in salads and also as garnish for sour-savory soups, like Assam Laksa.


1-inch piece is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon ground, 1 tablespoon grated or crystalized.


Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips, by David Joachim, published by Rodale

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal, an A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating, Published by the readers digest Association, Inc., 1997

The Kitchen Companion, by Polly Clingerman, published by the American Cooking Guild, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Here is a quote from Vegan Freak, Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, by Bob Torres and Jenna Torres, published by Tofu hound press, page 99 .

"-when you become vegan, you open yourself up to a new variety of foods that you probably never would have tried or explored had you not gone vegan. You start to realize that being a vegan is about abundance rather than a limited view about what makes a good dinner."