August 8, 2020

Romanesco Broccoli

I am now a big fan of the chartreuse-colored vegetable called Romanesco Broccoli, a cross between cauliflower and the green stuff Bush #1 did not like. I first encountered this cruciferous vegetable at Whole Foods where the distinctive fractal shape drew my eye.

The dictionary calls the shape of the head a logarithmic spiral. Romanesco Broccoli is no recent hybrid; it’s been grown by the Italians since the 16th century. Whatever it is, Romanesco is a most beautifully architectural vegetable.

The taste is slightly different than either broccoli or cauliflower with a crunchy, delicate nutty flavor. I have tried it raw with dips or steamed it as a side dish; both are delicious. Buon Appetito!

N95 Masks vs. other respirator face masks

I got into a discussion about respirator face masks with bass player Jim Cox and had to do a little layman’s research to better understand what’s what. Health authorities are allowed to recommend foreign masks during health and manufacturing emergencies. The 95 or 99 number refers to the mask’s ability to filter out 95 or 99 percent of viral particles.

Here are some of the respirator face mask models with their region of origin:
N95/N99 – United States
FFP2/FFP3 – Europe
KN95 – China
Special 1st – Korea
P95 – Mexico
P2/P3 – Australia
DS/DL2/DL3 – Japan
I love “buying American,” but could not find any US-made N95s or N99s, so I went with the Chinese-made KN95 purchased online. Thus far, I have been happy with them.

Happy hunting for these masks, especially if you will be in an indoor setting with other people. Outdoors, the pleated paper masks seem to be fine. Homemade or purchased reusable masks are a whole different story. Regardless, the eyes have it.

Organic Hibiscus Tea Bags

Just a short note about FGO Organic Hibiscus Tea Bags.

I am always looking for herbal teas that have real flavor without caffeine. FGO boasts being eco-conscious, their product being raw from Egypt. Even the brown paper package containing 100 tea bags seems good for the environment.

The sweet and tart tea made with hibiscus flowers is purported to support digestive health, lower blood pressure and combat chronic inflammation. I drink this delightful tea because it also tastes good.

Truffle Ketchup and Peppery Radish Sprouts

My palate has become a little bored with my very basic cooking, so I have been seeking out some food enhancements. One of my newest discoveries, thanks to chef Carla Hall, is Truffle Hunter Black Truffle Ketchup. A 7-ounce jar of this wonderful stuff arrived in time for a Memorial Day barbecue. Truffle Ketchup has the tart taste of tomatoes with a kick of smoky truffles. I can’t wait to try it with sweet potato fries or hot dogs.

I ordered Truffle Hunter Black Truffle Ketchup from Amazon, but you can go directly to the Truffle Hunter web site which offers other Black Truffle flavored items such as Crisps, Cheddar Cheese, Tagliatelle Pasta and Butter.

Another food item that has added some zing to salads and sandwiches are radish sprouts. My plastic container sports the name Hometown Acres’ Peppery Radish Blend and was purchased in the refrigerated case at a local Chicago produce store, but your locality may have a similar product. Radish sprouts supposedly have up to 40 times the nutrients of fully-grown adult radishes. Funny to think of food from infancy to adulthood, but there you have it.

Based in Carpenterville, IL, Hometown Acres grows a variety of micro greens as sprouts from seedlings. I have previously purchased their crunchy Pea Shoots when I have needed a departure from lettuce and spinach. Hometown Acres also produces Sunflower Shoots and Hemp Microgreens which I look forward to trying.

Hometown Acres does not bill its products as organic, but they use no pesticides, insecticides or herbicides. The products are distributed locally so they are literally delivered hours after harvest.

The web site is a hoot with pithy quotes, nutritional info, musings on the food industry and an invitation to contact Farmer John from the web site.

The tag line under the product title says “Crazy Healthy, Crazy Local, Crazy Fresh.” My kind of company. If you are in the Chicago area, ask for Hometown Acres by name. If you live elsewhere, perhaps you can ask your local produce store to stock locally sourced micro greens.

Cara Cotton Gloves

I have been seeing discarded plastic medical gloves on sidewalks and in gutters. Wanting to come up with a hand-covering that is reusable and more organic, I purchased white cotton gloves in a package of 24. I use them once and then throw them in with the other white laundry items. Hot water, bleach and soap is purported to clean and sterilize them.

The gloves come in all different sizes and you don’t necessarily have to buy them in bulk, but if you have multiples, you are less tempted to reuse them after out-of-home use.

People may see your white-gloved hands and think you are a mime, but we just may start a current day fashion trend.

Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Breathing exercises are not for everyone, but if you are having trouble calming your nervous system or suffer from insomnia, here is a technique worth trying.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the noted alternative medical doctor, based his relaxing 4-7-8 breathing technique on the ancient yoga practice called pranayama. It may be done sitting, standing or prone. It is particularly useful to create a state receptive to sleep.

Here are some basic pointers in commencing a daily breathing routine:

1. First, let your lips part. Make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth.

2. Next, close your lips, inhaling silently through your nose as you count to four in your head.

3. Then, for seven seconds, hold your breath (the most critical part of the exercise).

4. Make another whooshing exhale from your mouth for eight seconds.

5. You can do the breathing sequence up to 4 times per session.

6. You may work up to doing the 4 breath sequence up to 8 times, spaced throughout the day.