Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Fragrant Farm Fresh Local Ginger

If you ever have the chance to buy fresh local ginger root-jump at it!  There is no better! The skin is thin, the flesh is tender and the taste is at it's best. I planned to candy some. When the grower told me local restaurateurs purchased several pounds, I asked what they were using it in. One burrito restaurant pickled the ginger. The other restaurant was a Thai establishment. I decided to give the pickled version a go, and I was not disappointed! I even canned a few jars when canning applesauce in the hot water bath method.

For the pickled version, I followed the recipe from the kitchin site.  (minus the optional radish) It is fantastic. In the photo above, I mixed it in the purple rice stir fry dish and also used it as a garnish.

Candied Fresh Ginger

1 cup

Peel ginger. Slice in 1/8th slices.
4 ounce fresh ginger

In a small saucepan, cover ginger in water.  Add sugar. 
1/3 cup sugar
Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary to keep ginger covered. Store in syrup in the refrigerator.

My favorite way of eating the ginger is to dice a slice and mix in my morning yogurt, with about 1/2 teaspoon of the syrup. This is to die for!

Of course it is delicious in desserts and muffins. For the cookies featured above, I used the Alaskan Molasses Cookie recipe from Cooking Light, substituting 3/4 cup sugar for the 1 1/4 cups and using my delicious fresh candied ginger in place of the ground. Yum-these are delicious too! 

I gave my water aerobics friend a piece of the fresh root and a small container of the candied. She ate a slice of the candied ginger outright. (Had to make your nostrils pucker!)

And I'll save a piece for when the kids are all here for Christmas. This was like an early present to me.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Cooking, Blogging, Respecting

It was something I did not consider: when I tried a new recipe-was I offending or appreciating the place of origin? Though my purchases at ethnic restaurants are limited, my exposure to such recipes in quantity food service was more. As a retail dietitian, I kept step with food trends and placement of popular foods on the cafeteria menu. In my now retired life, I plan my own menus around recipes in current magazines-many worldly choices. I tried to stick to the spice ingredients, with ongoing grocery lists of spices to purchase from the bulk food store. Yet my method of preparation might alter, based on my own lifestyle. More often, I did not want to buy a large container of a specific ingredient I may never use again.

Take for instance the Mediterranean Diet. I am a follower of daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Yet my daily consumption of olive oil falls well below the recommended amount of 4 tablespoons a day. When I first prepared the bean recipe pictured above, I only used a small amount of olive oil. Yet it was just as tasty using the larger amount required to comply with the Mediterranean guidelines.

This was one of many things I've learned through my work with Food and Nutrition Magazine and the Food and Nutrition Expo and Conference educational sessions.

  • Research and understand the meaning behind a dish. Interview people from that culture. It's important to preserve the history.  
  • Don't put quotes around the recipe name if you've changed it's original identity. It is appropriate to say that your recipe is adapted or inspired from a source.
  • Acknowledge changes made for a modified diet.
In my own blogging experiences, I avoided saying something was "healthier". Yet it is good to have a healthier appetite of borrowing from each other. 

We live in a community with people from different cultures. I enjoy talking to my farmers market friends and learn of the foods of their families, some from other countries.  The local chain grocery stores carry many ethnic products, to include a variety of cheeses and grains. Experimenting with these is rewarding. Exploring the international stores that evolve in our small city is fun. The owners are happy to share how they prepare unfamiliar ingredients.

Now to make the authentic Preston County Buckwheat Cakes. From our neighboring county, the authentic recipe features a thin batter that sours overnight. Our local farmer friends even grow the buckwheat!


Friday, November 8, 2019

Looking in Our Back Yards for Healthcare Waste

Dr. Marty Makary was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo 2019.  One of my goals after attending the educational sessions was to read current books (even those written by authors with a different perspective). While I worked in Healthcare for much of my 40 year career, I was a front-line manager who had nothing to do with patient billing. I, like all hospital employees, lived within the contracts and often changing policies set forth by administration. I certainly did not know enough to look at it through Dr. Makarys' perspective.

I knew that the Community Benefit report we kept daily by recording and costing foods donated to Salvation Army helped the hospital maintain its tax exempt status. Now, 5 years after retiring and 3 years after the cafeterias closing, the hospital system is opening clinics and buying hospitals everywhere. Has the tax exempt status changed?

Then there's Group Purchasing Organizations:  Some 80% of our dietary purchases were through Premier- one of the largest GPOs. Dr. Makary notes that GPOs got paid over 1/2 billion in "pay to play" fees in 2017. Remember the Safe Harbor Law we were required to know in the computer based learning programs ? Seems that in 1987 Congress allowed the GPO and Pharmacy Based Managers to receive kickbacks that inflate health care costs. This has never been repealed. Were the rebates we received as credits in our food budgets actually "kickbacks"? 

Other subjects in the book that touched home included his summation that the Workplace Wellness Industry is one run amok. I do remember taking an on-line course on blood pressure in hopes of getting a health insurance discount-and, yes-I felt I knew much more about diet and blood pressure than the course content. Were the annual wellness questionnaires we were encouraged to take an added "cost"?

"The Price We Pay" book only reaffirms the financial fear most of us have when it comes to health care. It's not the insurance, employer or the government paying for it-it's all of us. And we are being gouged. Heaven forbid we ever have to go "out of network" or be air lifted the the Emergency Room.

Dr. Makary ends with a few suggestions:
1) Know the price before getting a medical service.
2) Use on-line discounts (GoodRx, WeRx.org, Blink Health) for pharmaceuticals.

And to those working in Health Care-look in your own back yard to find waste.