In February Jody and I and our two children Roxanne and Oliver, along with an old friend and great travelling companion, Bette Ann Harris, spent five days in Haiti. Jody, who visited last year, wanted to check out Partners in Health’s new hospital at Mirebalais as well as see a bit of Haiti beyond the medical facilities. BA, professor emerita of physical therapy at Massachusetts General Hospitals’s Institute of Health Professions, wanted to see the physical therapy program in action she designed with Andree LeRoy, PIH’s director of physical rehabilitation in Haiti. Oliver, Roxanne and I were along to have our eyes opened.
Oliver’s Chicken Stew, in a pressure cooker
After this week you might be forgiven for thinking that we’ve changed our name to Mastering the Art of French Carroting, or perhaps Babette’s Carrot.* The prominence of carrots in the last three posts was pure happenstance, answers to the question: What do we like to cook in the pressure cooker? Turns out carrots figure in a lot of what we like, including this week’s recipe, Oliver’s Chicken Stew.
Pressure Cooker Risotto with Kale Pesto
Something discordant this way comes. It happens in every kitchen, if you cook together long enough. Jody and I did a Dagwood and Blondie over today’s post, Risotto with Kale Pesto, made in a pressure cooker. My willingness to fudge things a bit for a weeknight dinner versus the cruel exactitude of a restaurant chef. As Jody not so delicately summed up our contretemps: “You’re the photographer. [Ouch!] I’m the chef, and my reputation is on the line.” Guess who got the broom in the back of the head?
Lamb Stew with Chickpeas, Preserved Lemon and Saffron
What would winter be without snow? (The Bahamas, that’s what.) Winter with snow is what made Currier and Ives famous, what gives New Englanders character, and what causes some people to regard year-round Maine residents as a bit dotty. I, for one, was happy to see the snow a couple of weeks ago. I want at least one weekend when walking down the sidewalk in front of my house resembles McMurdo Station, when everyone exercises the exquisite protocols that dictate who first steps aside, and who passes. This week’s recipe is what all of us hope to find when we come inside from shoveling, a dish that fills the air with aromas as good as a back rub, Lamb Stew with Chick Peas, Preserved Lemon and Saffron.
Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger
After the complexities of the Blue Zone, we thought some simple pressure-cooker* recipes would make a welcome change of pace. Fennel-Carrot Soup with Ginger is the first of 4 or 5 PC posts (vote with your comments!). If you don’t own a pressure cooker, no worries, all of the recipes work the old-fashioned way; they just take a little longer.
Sweet Potato Wontons with Cashew Sauce
Well, it had to end some day, our last taste of the Bue Zones: Sweet Potato Wontons with Cashew Sauce. Contrary to all of the clichés about Californians, in reading Dan Buettner’s description of Seventh Day Adventists in our final Blue Zone, in Loma Linda California, I was put in mind of the genial self-effacing mainstream Mormons of Jonathan Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven. They’re enthusiastic, they volunteer, they care about each other, always willing to pitch in and lend a hand. In short you’d be happy to have them living on your block. Except that they’d live way longer than you; actually, they live longer than just about anybody.
Casado – the Blue Zone lunch
We’re back on course to the next Blue Zone* – the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica! Casado – the married man’s lunch is our take on a Nicoyan central meal of the day, protein and salad along with a foundation of black beans and rice seasoned with a particular Costa Rican twist.
The Nicoya Peninisula is a 80-mile long thumb of land that juts into the Pacific from the northwest corner of Costa Rica. Among a certain type of backpacking tourist the peninsula is famous for its many beaches which ring the coastline. But the Blue Zone of the Nicoya Penisula does not include the coast – it is the interior, home of large national parks, still quite rural, and with many inhabitants living traditional lifestyles either as independent farmers or as sedentary agricultural workers finding employment on larger farms, and raising corn, beans, and other vegetables (including two forms of taro) in their own family plots. Until recently the Nicoya Peninsula was relatively isolated, reachable only by ferry until 2003, which saw the opening of the Taiwan Friendship Bridge.
At first glance the Nicoyan diet may not seem that remarkable–rice, beans and tortillas–along with a lot of fruit. But at 60 a Costa Rican man has about twice the chance of reaching 90 as one from the U.S., and this from a country whose medical budget is about 15% of that of the U.S. Nicoyans are some of the healthiest, most long-lived people on the planent. Say hello to Casado – beans and rice with all the fixings.
Thanks for the nominations
If you’ve been accompanying us on our cruise through the healthy eating habits of centenarians, never fear, we still have two more ports of call, but this week we’re between…
Okinawan Stir-Fry with Bitter Melon, Sweet Potatoes and Turmeric Poached Eggs
If you’ve been plaguing yourself with the question When, oh when, will I ever learn to cook bitter melon? then fret no more, relief is at hand, the stars finally have aligned for you this week. We’re offering our take on the Okinawan dish of Champuru, a Tofu Stir-Fry with Bitter Melon, Sweet Potatoes and Tumeric Poached Eggs. By the time you finish this recipe you’ll be a bitter melon whiz, and when people ask about that cool new flavor you’ve introduced into your stir fries you can say, Nothing, really, just a little goya. Oh, you might know it as bitter melon.
Welcome to our third post on from one of Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones*, the Japanese island of Okinawa.
Blue Zone Redux – Taro and Greens
If you tuned in last week, then you know our posts this month are inspired by Dan Buettner’s work on the Blue Zones,* specific regions of the world where people lead exceptionally long, active lives. But why live to 100 if you have to eat gruel to do it. Thankfully the cuisine of the Blue Zones is both simply and tasty. Last week we spotlighted a Sardinian Fava Bean and Almond Soup. This week our featured performer is a simple dish of Sautéed Taro and Greens, both staples of the Greek island of Ikaria. By coincidence or culinary karma BBC Radio broadcasted yet another story this morning on those frisky long-lived Ikarians. So get with the program! We’re all Ikarians on this bus.