June 2016

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Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 12.03.16A. Ten immunity killers which we should learn to avoid now, if we want to get through the next cold season healthily.
1) sugar [1] and artificial sweeteners [2];
2) processed carbs;
3) chemically altered and artificial fats;
4) lack of high quality protein;
5) man-made chemicals in other things than food; man-made sources of radiation;
6) pharmaceutical drugs;
7) lack of fresh air and physical activity; and lack of exposure to common microbes.
See http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/top-ten-immunity-killers-to-avoid/.
And to boost our immune system, we could do worse than eat – yes, really – animal fat and cholesterol. Raw egg yolk – a nice soft-boiled egg! – is excellent. As for vegetables, you can’t really beat onions and garlic [3].

B. Fast food: “I grew up on it and I’m still healthy – why make such a fuss?” Why indeed. Because fast food isn’t what it used to be! See [4].

C. Insects pollinate 80% of plant species, including most fruit and many vegetables. However, there is increasingly sparse foraging for them. Growing pollinator-friendly plants makes a difference. Years of selection for showy blooms, means many flowers have lost their attraction to pollinators, but there are plenty of traditional cottage garden plants which can help.
In summer flowers are in shorter supply than in spring, so then gardens can make their greatest contribution. If you only have room for a few, choose borage, lavenders and Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ – pretty and easy to grow. Plant in a sunny spot where you can enjoy watching the bees and insects. See also [5].

D. To prevent, or cope better with the following:
1) cardiovascular problems
2) high blood pressure
3) PMS
4) depression
5) osteoporosis
6) vision loss
There is a useful website: see [6]. For osteoporosis in particular, see also [7].

E. Children’s illness: why ‘do nothing’ can be the best approach. And for grown-ups too, maybe …. See [8].

F. And for what might just turn out to be a decent summer: watercress will replenish iron and calcium lost in sweat; nuts and seeds contain fatty acids, so your skin won’t dry out.


 

EAT:
veg: broad beans, beet, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, new potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, mangetout, peas, cauliflower, radish, spinach, spring onions, spring greens, watercress, kohlrabi, turnips, rhubarb, redcurrants, strawberries, gooseberries.
meat: lamb, wood pigeon [9].
fish: grey mullet, black bream, gurnard, pollock, whiting, mackerel, lobster, whelks, clams, cockles, coley, crabs, crayfish, flounder, grouper, gurnards, herring, megrim, scallops.

SOW:
beetroot, calabrese, lettuce, french beans, kale, carrots, cauliflower (mini only), salad onions, (sugar) peas, radish, kohlrabi, mooli, turnip, chicory, Florence fennel, courgettes and pumpkins.
Sow swede and sweetcorn in early June. If the soil is above 25°C, sow crisphead, cos or little Gem only.
Plant out: courgettes, cabbage, sprouting broccoli, sprouts, celery, celeriac, ridge cucumbers, runner/french beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, sweet corn.


RECIPES

*   It may be June and (nearly) summer, but fresh local greens are still quite thin on the ground. However, at www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/spring-greens you can find plenty of recipes for those precious (but boring?) spring greens.
*   There are also young turnips to be had: don’t peel them. Cut off the leaves and root. Chop into chunks and boil or steam for 20 minutes, or roast for about 45 minutes, depending on the size.
*   Rhubarb is another vegetable of which there is plenty. The Rhubarb Compendium tells you all, from rhubarb bars to rhubarb wine, and ‘things with rhubarb that defy simple categories’ …. www.rhubarbinfo.com/.

BROAD BEAN SOUP with GINGER and LEMON
300 g fresh broad beans (=1.1k unshelled),  2.5 cm grated ginger, 2 crushed cloves garlic, lemon juice, cream, black pepper.
Place broad beans in a pan with enough cold water to cover generously. Bring to the boil. Cook beans until tender, ab. 2 mins. Blend. If you like your soup very smooth, strain through a sieve. Add ginger, garlic, some lemon juice and cream. Season, gently reheat.

BRAISED LETTUCE WITH PEAS
4 Little Gem lettuces, 1 small onion, finely chopped, 400g (frozen) peas, 4 tbsp single cream or crème fraîche, small knob butter, 200ml water/stock
Fry onion gently until soft. Meanwhile, clean the lettuces and trim: cut in half lengthways through the base. Place them with the cut side on top of the onion and cook for half a minute, then turn over and do the same. Pour over the stock, lightly season. Put a lid on, turn the heat down and cook for 10 mins.
Lift the lettuces out and strain over a bowl. Add the liquid to the pan, raise the heat and boil until the juices have been reduced by half. Add cream/crème fraîche and peas. Boil until the peas are cooked. Arrange the lettuces in a dish and pour over the pea-and-cream sauce.
If you don’t mind how it looks, you can put the lettuces back into the pan with the peas to reheat them.
I added cashew nuts to the peas which was nice, but if they are salted, beware when you season.

PERSIAN LAMB TAGINE serves 4-6
1kg stewing lamb/mutton in 7cm chunks, 250g stoned dates, 2 diced onions, 20g butter, sea salt, 2 tsp ground black pepper, 1tsp turmeric, 2 tsp cinnamon, 15g fresh ginger, (flat-leaf parsley, mint)
Sauté onions till soft and light brown. Add meat, spices, ginger: then 700ml water, stir. Bring to the boil and let bubble uncovered for 30 secs. Cover and simmer slowly for 1½ hr. Halve dates and add, simmer uncovered for 30-45 mins or till meat tender and sauce sticky. Serve with parsley and mint.

SPICY BROAD BEAN OMELETTE
3 tblsp olive oil, 1 large sliced (red) onion, 150g thinly sliced waxy potatoes, 200g podded broad beans, 6 eggs, ¾ tsp cumin, ½ tsp turmeric, cayenne pepper, plenty of fresh chopped coriander and chopped mint, 30g grated mature cheese, salt, pepper
Slice potatoes and onion. Sauté potatoes for 10 mins in half the oil, add onion, cook for 10 more mins, stirring occasionally. Place beans in a bowl, cover with boiling water for 10 mins, drain. Whisk eggs, add cumin, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, mint, cheese, ¼ tsp salt, pepper. Stir in onion, potato and beans. Add remaining oil to frying pan: when hot, add egg mix, and stir immediately. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring quite often, until the egg is almost set. Use a fork to gently release sides from the pan. Turn by placing an inverted plate over the pan. Finish cooking for 1-2 mins. You can use cooked potatoes instead of raw ones, and shorten the frying time accordingly.

CREAMY CHEESEY SPINACH  
500g spinach, 40g butter, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 75g full-flavour cheese, nutmeg, 50ml double cream
Cook spinach for 3 mins until wilted. Tip into colander and squeeze to remove water. Melt butter, add garlic and cook for 2-3 mins until soft, but not coloured. Add spinach and nutmeg. Season; stir in cream and cheese and cook for 1 min until melted. Serve with boiled potatoes.

HEARTY LETTUCE SALAD    
3 Little Gem, 50g lightly toasted almonds, 7 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp cider vinegar, 1 crushed garlic clove, parsley, dill.
Though the recipe is meant for the barbecue, the lettuce can easily be cooked briefly in a lightly oiled frying pan.
Prepare and light the barbecue. Chop the almonds and mix in a bowl with the garlic, parsley, dill, 6 tbsp of the oil, vinegar and plenty of seasoning. Cut each lettuce into quarters and brush the cut sides with the remaining oil. Once the barbecue is hot, lightly cook the lettuce wedges, turning them from one cut side to the other, until lightly seared. Transfer to a serving plate and spoon over the dressing.

SQUEAKY BUBBLE with PEAS 
Leftover cooked spring greens (or other cabbage), leftover mash, onion, chopped bacon, peas
Fry onion and bacon till nearly done, add mash and greens, fry till brown underneath. Meanwhile cook peas. Turn the squeaky bubble so that the other side can brown too. Have with the peas.

BRAISED PEAS with LETTUCE and ONIONS, serves 2-3 as a side.
240ml shelled peas, handful of shredded lettuce leaves, 1 onion, large knob of butter, 1 tsp olive oil, 60ml liquid, sea salt, white pepper, a bit of lemon juice, dill or mint
Melt butter with oil, add sliced onion and cook till soft before adding the peas. Stir, about 1-2 min. Add lettuce, stir to combine. Then add liquid and seasoning, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 2-3 min. Uncover, let simmer to reduce for just a while, before removing from heat. Add dill or mint and lemon juice.

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Next month: food and mood.

[1] But how to avoid sugar? See http://thegoodhuman.com/eliminate-sugar/.
[2] http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1834079
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17329/the-connection-between-artificial-sweeteners-autoimmune-disease.html
[3] http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/top-10-immune-system-boosters/
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/best-vegetables-boosting-immunity/
To get the most health benefits out of your onions or garlic, see http://therightnutritionplan.com/2011/06/hidden-health-benefits-of-garlic-and-onions/.
[4] www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/fast-food-they-dont-make-it-like-they-used-to/?utm_source=The+Healthy+Home+Economist+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8c7c561f29-May%27s+biggest+posts%21&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_16f182b2c8-8c7c561f29-64521005
[5] www.bbka.org.uk/learn/gardening_for_bees
https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/pdf/conservation-and-biodiversity/wildlife/rhs-perfect-for-pollinators-garden-plants
[6] www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/wellbeing/features/eat_to_beat_6_common_problems/1/
[7] http://www.health-and-natural-healing.com/osteoporosis-diet.html
[8] www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-do-nothing-approach-to-illness-your-ticket-to-wellness/
[9] Wood pigeons can be roasted whole. Lightly brown with melted butter and cook for ab. one hour at 200°C. Serve with roasted red onions and roast potatoes.
For other pigeon recipes, see for instance http://suite101.com/a/two-braised-pigeon-recipes-a143585, http://www.cookitsimply.com/recipe-0010-0133k4.html, www.gametoeat.co.uk/pigeon-recipes/saute-of-pigeon-breast-with-root-vegetables, and www.theskintfoodie.com/pot-roast-pigeon.html.

 

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