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Stories written by symnspolo

KITCHEN SHRINK: ‘The Goddess’ serves up heavenly Mediterranean meals

Cemile Coopersmith grew up in Izmir, Turkey, along the Aegean Sea, eating healthful and sumptuous meals made with love by her mother and grandma.

They feasted on fruits and veggies grown by her father in their orchards and gardens, eggs laid by their free roaming chickens, and fish caught that afternoon in pristine waters and grilled the same evening.

Peculiar pesto had a problematic pine nut

The pungent perfume at the produce aisle pulled me in, and I couldn’t resist the beautiful plant, abundant with fragrant green leaves. Basil.

KITCHEN SHRINK: Racetrack watering holes keep whistles wet

Racing season opens at the legendary Del Mar racetrack on July 21. In honor of the sport of kings, I’d like to help you navigate your way through the shoals of signature libations to keep you invigorated and to ease the pain (if you’re losing). And for the fun of it, some tidbits about what the athletes (nags and jockeys) imbibe to whet their whistles. I’ll drink to that!

KITCHEN SHRINK: Going crazy for coconuts

Everyone knows what a coconut looks like — a hairy brown sphere that needs a sledgehammer to crack open exposing firm white “meat” and watery milk; they smell it on beaches as many sunscreens are infused with its sweet essence; they eat it in traditional Thai dishes, cakes or cookies; or drink it in pina coladas. But does anybody know the truth about this often maligned and misunderstood seed? So would the real coconut please stand up (fall down or roll over)!

Organic pioneer sprouts wisdom in new book

Pioneer organic gardener Jay North has been plotting the path to sustainable agriculture for almost four decades at a time when “organic gardening” was a hippie term for homegrown cannabis crops; when “green” was a synonym for a naïve person or a patch of well-manicured grass on a golf course; and when “carbon footprint” was a term plucked from a Ray Bradbury novel.

A salute to corn on the cob on the grill on the Fourth

Americans will be celebrating the country’s largest secular holiday this weekend (the 234th anniversary of America’s divorce from Great Britain) with outdoor barbecues, picnics, parades and pyrotechnic displays.

For my July Fourth contribution, I’m going to dish up some folklore, creative holiday suggestions, and recipes that are also healthful alternatives to the traditional angioplasty-beckoning fare, plus a presidential food quiz.

The inaugural July Fourth shindig at the White House took place in 1801, while Independence Day wasn’t declared an official holiday until 1941. Today, Americans wolf down Costco-quantities of baked beans, coleslaw, potato and other salads doing the backstroke in a pool of mayonnaise, and about 150 million dogs on the holiday, a comparable number of burgers, and thousands of pounds of pork butts, ribs and steak.

Chill out with summer soups that nourish and refresh

While winter soups are comforting and healing — such as a steamy bowl of chicken and matzo ball, mushroom barley, or mulligatawny — chilled summer soups to me are a refreshing bliss. They also evoke fond memories and some zany blasts from my past. Let me share with you some chilled soup stories, folklore and divine recipes.

The first time I tasted chilled soup, I thought it was both weird and wonderful. When summer rolled around, my beloved Russian grandma prepared her traditional chilled beet borscht with boiled red-skinned potatoes and a dollop of fresh sour cream. To me, it was like red liquid candy, but most importantly, to paraphrase Marie Barone from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “It was made with love.”

Those fabulous fruits of summer — part 2

Last week, I let the Golden Girls of summer shine (peaches, nectarines, apricots and mangoes) while this week’s picks are the hardy fruits that REAL men like to eat.

A plum job

Plums are actually first cousins to peaches and cherries, coming in designer shades ranging from sapphire blue and purple to amber and red.

Loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins A, B, C and E (along with a host of minerals from calcium to selenium), plums are a powerhouse of anti-
oxidants that cleanse the blood and have been linked to such marvels as preventing macular degeneration, cancerous growths, and improving blood circulation.

Whip up a plum compote with tart apples and ginger, a chilled plum soup, lamb roast in a plum and herb sauce, almond chicken with a plum and orange drizzle, plum dumplings, rum-poached plums with a dollop of crème fresh — or eat them straight-up, crunchy, cold out of the fridge.

Those fabulous fruits of summer – Part 1

Here’s a primer on The Golden Girls of Summer — peaches, nectarines, apricots and mangoes. Next week will feature round two of nature’s seasonal gems, plus a quiz for your amusement.

Mangoes. This time of year, domestic mangoes are available from parts of Florida, Hawaii and California. This juicy, exotic super fruit (high in iron; beta-carotene; vitamins C, B6, E and A; along with potassium and copper) has been attributed to jump-starting the libido, unclogging pores and taming acne for a “peaches-and-cream complexion” when applied as a facial mask, warding off heart disease and cancer with its antioxidant properties, and calming arthritis and other anti-inflammatory conditions.

Concoct a mango-tango smoothie, a mango salsa or chutney as a topping for grilled wild-caught halibut or salmon, a freshwater shrimp and mango cocktail, a warm crisp or slice a whole ripe fruit and top it with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a splash of mango liqueur.

I’m mellow yellow, crazy for Meyer lemons

The scent pulls me in from the doorway to the produce aisle — past the melons, past the apples, even past the cherries, straight to the fragrant Meyer lemons. Its glabrous, delicate skin — the hue of freshly whipped egg yolks, a sizzling Caribbean sunset or the soft belly of a baby canary — comes from its fine breeding. The Meyer is the hybrid of a common lemon and a mandarin, exuding a sweet and savory perfume resembling a blend of honey and sage. Sustainable foodie and chef Alice Waters and Martha Stewart put the Meyer lemon on the gourmet radar screen, and now I’d like to share my love of the Meyer lemon — my main culinary squeeze with some folklore, facts and tips about getting the most out of this remarkable citrus while it is still in season.

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