Monday, June 26, 2006

Getting Your Vitamin C?

Interesting article in the current issue of Ode citing recent findings published in the British medical bulletin What Doctors Don't Tell You about the benefits of vitamin C in preventing and possibly curing heart disease. I remember when Linus Pauling's published recommendations for vitamin C were the rage back in the 70's. Research, backed by studies of 11,000 Americans, supports Pauling's findings that the people with the highest intake of vitamin C had the lowest incidence of heart disease. Findings like these obviously will present a real challenge to both the pharmaceutical companies with their plethora of cholesterol reducing drugs as well as to the food industry who have flooded the market with synthetically processed low-fat food intended as heart disease prevention.

As humans, we can neither produce nor store vitamin C so a daily dose is required either through our food source or as a supplement. Most of us find it difficult to eat our 5 - 8 servings of fruit and veggies a day and many of the ones we do eat are not necessarily high in vitamin C or because we've cooked them have lost most of their nutritional value. Using a supplement is a wise choice.

When I was a kid and visited my grandparents for a weekend or during summer vacation, my grandmother had a tendency to spoil me. Not only was I the first grandchild, offspring of her first born, but I made my appearance into this world on her birthday. That alone would have made me special to her but in addition, my mother died of tuberculosis when I was 18 months old and I lived with my paternal grandparents until my Dad remarried when I was about 3 years old. A lot of info to support the statement that I was spoiled.

Part of the spoiling was Gram making waffles for my breakfast. I remember how antsy I was as I waited for that first waffle to cook, watching for the escaping steam to stop seemed to take forever. I still grow impatient waiting for that first one to bake up golden and crisp. At my grandmother's house, my waffles were served with a generous slathering of soft butter, a sprinkle of sugar and then, instead of syrup or jam, my waffle, served in a soup plate, was doused in freshly squeezed orange juice. Gram didn't like the sweetness of syrup and wanted me to have the vitamin C from the oranges. She reasoned that I'd eat more if they weren't too sweet. Don't laugh, but I still eat my waffles with butter, sugar and orange juice. Had some the other day and as happens each time that succulent warm bite of waffle, with the tartness of the orange juice offset by the touch of sweetness from the sugar hits my tastebuds, I'm transported to my grandmother's kitchen and the warmth, security and love I felt as I sat at the table, impatiently waiting for the steam to stop.

I make a batch of sour cream waffles regularly. The recipe below makes four big fat Belgian waffles. When I make them, I eat one and cool the other three on a wire rack, cut them into quarters when cool, wrap them in waxed paper by serving size and then put them into a ziplock freezer bag. When I want waffles, I take a couple of quarters from the freezer and reheat them in the toaster. Believe me, these beat any you can buy in the freezer section of the market.

Sour Cream Waffles

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 TBS sugar

1 TBS baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sour cream

3 large eggs

Whisk the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the melted butter, milk, sour cream and eggs in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Whisk just until smooth, don't over mix. Cook in a heated waffle iron with lightly oiled grids.

Had a very entertaining week reading. Patricia Cornwell wrote a 15 part serial for the New York Times Magazine. I caught only a few episodes so was pleased to find the whole thing published in hard cover at the library. At Risk is a short fast read with an interesting plot twist. No Kay Scarpetta but authentic police procedurals and some interesting new characters.

I found Julia Glass's prize winning novel, Three Junes, a few years ago and have recommended it to many. Even read it twice. Ms Glass has a new novel out and it's equally enthralling. The Whole World Over reminds me of Maeve Binchy's work because of the in-depth treatment of a variety of characters, their problems and surprising interaction. As in Three Junes, Ms Glass weaves the histories and present circumstances of her cast of characters so deftly that the reader is constantly surprised to find the emerging pattern and the final canvas so neatly framed.

Rounding out my reading week, I really enjoyed Joseph Kanon's Alibi. The action takes place in Venice and the author uses the history of World War II, the breathtaking Venetian architecture and unique canal system to good advantage, giving this mystery story an intriguing background and moving the story forward with sympathetic characters caught in a web of deceit. Kanon's use of dialog to move the plot along rather than heavy descriptive narrative certainly makes the novel a fast and compelling read.

And I finally got around to watching Syriana. George Clooney continually amazes me with each new film he just gets better and better, doesn't he? While the acting talent in the film is highly commendable, it's the story, depicting a frightening reality of the precarious world in which we live, that should spur each of us to take an active part, regardless of how small, to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, to clean house in our government, to become watchdogs of big business, to become aware of the issues and take part in our world, starting at the community level, then the state level and finally being an influence on how our national leaders represent us. Are we a democracy? A government run by the people?

Until next time. . . Keep on cooking.

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