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Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa

We blog about this recipe here.

Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa

Food & Wine’s cookbook Best of the Best, published in 2015, included this recipe – which just happens to come from our daughter, Sara, and the Tacolicious cookbook.  We’ve already given you the corn salsa recipe (a stand-alone version) – but add it to this Sopa de Lima and you get one of our favorite summer dishes.  Hands down.  And it makes brilliant use of those garden fresh tomatoes which you got at the Farmers’ Market – or grew yourself.  For an even-quicker version use rotisserie chicken from the market and prepared chicken broth.
  • 1 1/2 c fresh corn kernels (2 ears)
  • 1 1/2 c diced tomato
  • 1/2 c chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 c finely diced red onion
  • 1 T finely chopped seeded jalapeno (optional – or to taste)
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 c chicken broth
  • 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano – or regular dried oregano
  • Steamed white rice, crumbled queso fresco (optional), diced avocado for serving
  • wedges of lime for serving
In a medium bowl, toss the corn with the tomato, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and 1 T of the lime juice.  Season the corn salsa with the salt and pepper and let stand for about 20 minutes.
In a large pot, bring the stock to a boil.  Add the chicken thighs and simmer over moderate heat until cooked through – about 15 minutes.  Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let cool.  Shred the chicken.
Add the oregano and the remaining 3 T of lime juice to the soup and stir in the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle the soup over the rice and garnish with the corn salsa, queso fresco and avocado.  Serve with lime wedges.
Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

 

 

Deep Six your B6?

Wow. There’s been a bunch of bad news lately – and I’m not talking politics or climate change or Ukraine. This bad news has been about taking supplements. Vitamin D3, Vitamin B6, and Fish Oil supplements have all gotten some bad press in the last few months.

Andy and I have been religiously taking Vitamin D3 for several years, partly because it was recommended by Andy’s doctor and partly because we like the idea of strengthening our bones. But in July the New England Journal of Medicine published a government-funded study of Vitamin D supplements and frequency of fractures; it involved over 25,000 participants. The result? “Vitamin D3 supplementation did not result in a significantly lower risk of fractures than placebo among generally healthy midlife and older adults.” This is a big deal, since, according to an article in the NYTimes about the research, millions of Americans take vitamin D supplements and labs do more than 10 million vitamin D tests each year; the Times article states that an editorial published along with the paper offers some blunt advice to these millions of Vitamin D-takers: STOP.

These are like candy. How can we possibly STOP?

Earlier this month, The Atlantic published an article entitled “Fish Oil Is Good! No, Bad! No, Good! No, Wait …”

While The Atlantic article is focused on problematic research involving a fish-oil-based heart drug, called Vascepa, Pieter Cohen, a professor at Harvard Medical School made the comment that…we’ve known for years that fish-oil supplements have virtually no benefits for your average, healthy person. He goes on to say…that hasn’t stopped tens of millions of Americans from popping the pills every day. Clifford Rosen, a professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, added “People just love to take supplements. It’s religiosity … It’s magical thinking.”

Wynn and Oakley, our dogs, have very shiny, healthy fur. Can we attribute it to this fish oil we give them daily?

The final blow to our supplement intake came in an August 2 NYTimes article which focuses on Vitamin B6. Though we don’t hear as much about B6 as we do about other vitamins, according to WebMd – This hard-working vitamin holds many big jobs. It affects your mood, appetite, sleep, and thinking. You need it to fight off infections, turn food into energy, and help your blood carry oxygen to all corners of your body. While it’s actually rare to run low, you really can’t afford to do so.

A recent British study, though small in size, shows that high amounts of B6 might make us feel less anxious. Andy’s 13-year-old self might have benefitted from that. Who would have thought a camping trip to the High Sierras could cause overwhelming stress? See today’s Andy’s Corner.

Pine Creek to Piute Pass hike in the Sierras

Here’s the bad news – and the good news – about Vitamin B6: As with the other essential vitamins, the body cannot produce B6 on its own, so you can get it only from foods or supplements. But here’s the caveat: most of us don’t need B6 supplements. Most healthy adults get more than enough vitamin B6 from their diets alone, says Dr. Katherine Tucker, a nutritional epidemiologist at UMass Lowell. “It’s widely available in whole foods,” she said, like tuna, salmon, fortified cereals, chickpeas, poultry, dark leafy greens, bananas, oranges, cantaloupe and nuts.

So go ahead and deep six your B6 vitamin pills. And then stock up on…chickpeas! The recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 is 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams. One cup of canned chickpeas provides 1.1 milligrams of vitamin B6, while three ounces of roasted chicken breast only supplies 0.5 milligrams.

True confession: we like Goya chickpeas better – but can’t bring ourselves to buy them for political reasons
Home-cooked chickpeas are super delicious

We’ve got some great summery recipes with chickpeas – and even an easy back-to-school chickpea curry recipe for those of you whose young’uns are headed that way. When you get tired of chickpeas, check out the other vitamin B6-loaded and d-lish BigLittleMeals recipes we’ve listed below.

And before I share today’s nut-filled, B6-rich new recipe, I just have to show you the supplement my mother made me take as a kid. I’ve searched for years to try to find out more about what it was, and I finally found this photo – with its content listed. I always wondered whether the “Co” in “Cofron” meant it secretly had cocaine :). But no, it was made from copper and fresh liver! No wonder I hid every time my mother pulled out that dreaded bottle – filled with its dark, nasty, livery-colored, yucky liquid – to cure me of whatever ailment I might have.

So here’s to the end of summer with its bounty of locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables – to the demise of Cofron – AND to foods loaded with vitamin B6! Enjoy.

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Hydroponic (wink wink) Gardening

Help me out here. I grew up before “weed” was everywhere and (well…almost) universally accepted. The only weed I knew was what I was instructed by my mother to pull out of our big Colorado vegetable garden.

My kind of weed: spotted spurge (BTW it’s a euphorbia and its sap can irritate your skin)

Well, that’s not quite true. It may have taken me a while, but I did figure out at some point that John Denver may have been singing about more than just happiness or getting high on booze when he croons “friends around the campfire and everybody’s high.” It’s not surprising that LoDo in Denver has a dispensary called Rocky Mountain High. How apropos. And what a way to remember John Denver! (Fact Checker: John reportedly denied that he referenced pot-smoking in his lyrics.)

Andy, who despises garden weeding, is focusing on weed in today’s Andy’s Corner. He wants this to be a “joint” effort.

My problem is this: I’m kind of intrigued with hydroponic gardening, but when I search for information about it, I wonder if the search results refer (wink wink) to growing marijuana. How can I learn more about hydroponic gardening and be sure I’m learning about something that’s intended for plants like tomatoes and cucumbers – and not weed?

For example, couldn’t a naive researcher (like me) mistake GreenEntrepreneur.com, WayofLeaf.com, HighTimes.com, PotGuide.com, GrowersSupply.com, or TheWeedScene.com for references to the thrill and challenges of gardening? 🙂

My interest in this all was piqued by an article in the NYTimes (we’ve downloaded it here for you, in case you can’t see it at the website) – “No Soil. No Growing Seasons. Just Add Water and Technology.” It’s a look at hydroponic gardening and all of the benefits it may have, as climate-change becomes reality. It’s definitely worth a read.

Hydroponic tomato-growing

What especially caught my attention were these two sentences in the Times’ article: the CEO of Bowery, the largest hydroponic company in the U.S., said “his farms are 100 times as productive as traditional ones and use 95 percent less water. Other companies claim they can grow as much food on a single acre as a traditional farm can grow on 390.”

No chemicals, pesticides, or GMOs; vine-ripened, Appalachia grown. Sounds good? That’s from App Harvest’s web page about their vegetables raised by large-scale hydroponic “gardening.”
AppHarvest’s enormous plant – in Appalachia. One of the appeals is that hydroponically-grown produce can be produced anywhere and so does not have to travel long distances to the market.

I don’t think I’ll be growing my tomatoes hydroponically next summer. Until I have the opportunity to taste and compare hydroponically-grown produce with “earth-grown” produce, I’ll remain skeptical. Chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the chichi restaurant and farm in New York’s Hudson Valley, states that “truly delicious food can only come from the earth.” That may be true, but what if? What if hydroponics is our only viable choice?

I’ve learned to be accepting of weed. Now maybe I need to be accepting of hydroponics.

Produce from our earthy Glen Ellen garden

No matter where your tomatoes are coming from – your backyard or the farmers’ market – here are links to some of our favorite recipes for those tomatoes. For our most favorite lunch ever – try the bacon and tomato taco. It’s SO good! Or use your fresh, earth-grown tomatoes in soups, on toast, in a puff pastry tart, on a burger, and, of course, in salads. Enjoy them while you can.

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BluesFreeBerries

Now that the Pandemic is/may be almost over (wishfully, possibly, hopefully), we can go back in our thoughts to Christmas 2020. At that time I couldn’t even mention the word “blue” – because it just brought tears. I know I certainly didn’t waltz around the house, belting out “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” along with Elvis Presley on our Sonos.

In fact, I don’t think I did much holiday singing – period. Andy and I and our daughter, Sara – just the three of us – celebrated the holiday together, trying awfully hard to act as if we were tough and didn’t mind how crazy and sad and lonely the day seemed. And how do you plan and cook and serve a festive holiday meal for three, when there should have been eight?

But now we are SO ready for some singing and dancing and cooking – and DINNER PARTIES!. Our son, Travis – who didn’t make it out here in December (our first Christmas in 47 years that we were not with him) – was just here, working from home/mom and dad’s for 2 weeks. It was delightful. And there was lots of singing to Willie Nelson’s Blue Skies. “Blue skies, smilin’ at me; nothin’ but blue skies do I see.”

Lots of blue sky as Andy and Travis bicycled together in Sonoma

While I was thinking about “blue” and thinking about our 1+ year of isolation, I remembered this photo our grandson Moss took of a tile mural on the Harvey Milk elementary school near their SF home. When Moss originally showed me the photo I was moved by the 2 different-colored hands, firmly shaking. Today I’m even more moved by the circle of folks of all colors, holding hands. The emotional impact of holding hands and being close together in a diverse (mask-free) group means more now than I could have ever imagined.

Tile on an outside wall at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th St in San Francisco

When you’re retired and have free time and love to cook (well, at least love to cook 90% of the time), it’s a joy to have someone new – and appreciative – to cook for. Travis’s visit gave me that chance.

And though I huffed and puffed about Ina Garten when she released her cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey – thinking that it’s so wrong for women to relish “cooking for their men,” I found myself thrilled to have created a teeny little, personal cookbook entitled Cooking for Travis. I relied on some of our favorite BigLittleMeals dishes – and cooked up a storm. So if you’re looking to celebrate vaccines and maskless faces, any of these will be a great recipe for your first dinner party. Maybe you can even hold hands before eating – and say (deep breathing), “THANKS.”

Pictures above show a few of our Cooking for Travis meals – the links below are for these recipes and several more that we fixed.

Turkey Chili
Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa
Roasted Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes
Sweet and Sour Fish
Mediterranean Grilled Chops
Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)
Greek Pastitsio
Zucchini and Mint Turkey Burgers with Sumac Sauce
Grilled Tri-Tip Steak with Ginger and Soy
Easy Carnitas

Andy, too, helped contribute to the cookbook for Travis. It’s impressive when a father can talk about what he cooks for his children. In addition to Andy’s 5:30 am prep work – Deb’s Granola put out, blueberries dished up and strawberries cut up, yogurt on the table – Andy did some tasty grilling and made some impressive breakfast dishes – biscuits, breakfast burritos, plattar and sour dough waffles, to name a few. The one thing Andy didn’t get around to making is Oyster Stew. He’s big on oysters at the moment, as you’ll see in today’s Andy’s Corner. And an Oyster Stew recipe is sure to be forthcoming.

As for BluesFreeBerries – or Blueberries, if you’re not just coming out of a pandemic – here are two new recipes to try. You need to seek out the best organic blueberries you can find – and not get discouraged if you bring home a few boxes that don’t live up to your expectations. In fact, I recommend keeping your best berries to eat fresh and unsugared with your granola, since blueberries are considered a “superfood”- good for your heart, your skin, your bones, you name it. Then use your not-amazing-but-still-good blueberries for baking.

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The Raggedy Awards – Year Three

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What else can one say?

Welcome to our third annual BigLIttleMeals Raggedy Awards.  Each year at this time Ann and I select our favorites from each other’s posts from the past year (see the entire list here).  This is never easy because we both have fragile egos, and to pass over a favorite post can cause hurt feelings.  But we are living in tough times and tough decisions are needed. So here it goes.

And now to the Presentation of Awards:

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Andy’s Picks

Andy’s pick for Ann’s BEST BLOG goes to: This Bowl So Dear

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Ann opens this blog with the above wonderful poem by Australia’s Michael Leunig.  Her blog is more than just about the comfort food we eat out of bowls; it is about social class and who we are (which is a plus to my sociological imagination).

The Runner up for Ann’s BEST BLOG is Revisiting Jerusalem

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This blog is so Ann.  It combines cultural and culinary issues with music.  If you haven’t already picked it up, music is to Ann what water is to fish (I know, corny).  In fact, she is in the other room singing to herself as I type this.  Also, some of my favorite recipes are in this blog.

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Ann’s Picks.

Ann’s pick for THE BEST ANDY’S CORNER  goes to: Thomas the Tank Engine Goes to College .

Little did I suspect that my hours of playing Thomas the Tank Engine with our grandson Silas would some day pay off with his acceptance to UC Berkeley.  That’s stretching it a bit but both the little tank engine and Silas have unexpected strengths beneath their playful veneers.

The Runner up for THE BEST ANDY’S CORNER goes to: Spotted WHAT?.

Spotted Dick menu item circled

A canal boat trip in England with four grandparent-aged and two teen-aged passengers was spiced up with the discovery of a rather roguishly named dessert in a canal-side pub.  This Andy’s Corner was an especially appropriate companion piece to Ann’s blog Keep Your Pecker Up, a post that could easily have been selected as best in spite of its R rating.

The Raggedy for BEST VIDEO goes to:

Oakley’s Secret: A Tailless Dog’s Tale

One of the more enjoyable things I do for the blog is produce an occasional video presentation.  To assure complete transparency and objectivity in the selection of the best video, understand that Ann makes this selection.

In this exposé I dig deep into the psyche and quirky world of our beloved Australian Shepherd, Oakley.  This is not her first starring role in one of my videos, but after this you will never quite see her in the same light.

 

The Runner-up for BEST VIDEO goes to:  Air B&B for Birds

My interest in wildlife is well known in the documentary film world (see Where the Wild Things Are).  Air B&B is my first foray into filming the aquatic lives of non-aquatic birds.  Mainly, I did this to have some excuse to play Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.

 

The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Andy) goes to:  Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa with Ginger Scones being a VERY close runner-up.

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Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa, Andy’s top recipe pick

Picking out a favorite recipe is nearly impossible for me.  Each one we publish is a work of love which involves much testing, tasting, and at times, rejecting.   In this case we plundered the recipe from our daughter Sara.  It was published in The Best of Food and Wine, Vol 18, 2015.

The Raggedy for BEST RECIPE (according to Ann) goes to: Shakshuka – with Indian Butter Chicken being a VERY close runner-up.

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Ann wrote about Shakshuka just days after last year’s Raggedy Awards and claimed it was her current favorite recipe, “hands down.”  She even requested (and had) Shakshuka for her Mothers’ Day celebration which was just around the corner.  And now that Mother’s Day is upon us again, it is more than appropriate that she has officially named this as her favorite.

The Raggedy for OUR FAVORITE FOOD ITEM OF THE YEAR goes to:  Goya Canned Beans

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These are from our pantry

We hesitate to contradict the well-known food-writer, Mark Bittman, but we think there’s a distinct difference in the quality of Goya canned beans and all other brands.  And we like Goya far better.  The brand can be hard to find (we make special trips to get ours at the local Safeway), though Whole Foods claims it’s available in some stores.

If you want to know more about Goya, here’s a 2013 article from the WaPo:  How Goya brought ethnic food to white America.  A little further research indicates the Hispanic-family-owned Goya is now struggling with whether to be bought out.  Kind of hope they don’t sell.  “Big” seldom means “better” for consumers.

Our last award is the Raggedy for BEST LAGNIAPPE BLOG. This is a new category for our awards presentations.  This past year Ann wrote six Lagniappe Blogs.  These are short pieces offering just a little something extra as the spirit moves her.  In my opinion, her latest one was one of the most clever, and as far as we can tell, least understood of her efforts.  So I am awarding the Raggedy for the BEST LAGNIAPPE BLOG to Is There a Perfect Choice?

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Bidens ‘Blazing Glory’ – just what’s needed?

Although this piece is about flowers on one level, there is a deeper and more nuanced message lurking under the surface.  Once you begin to see the theme, the names of the various flowers she mentions make more sense. I recommend you reread this piece with an eye for the theme and see how many veiled references you can find.

Stay well and safe.

 

 

 

 

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