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Whidbey Recipes

"As I've mentioned from time to time, I feel it's part of my public duty as your food columnist to keep up with whatever new information is out regarding food and what we should or should not be eating. Personally, I've given up trying to change my eating habits every time some new study comes out with yet another finding about what we should be eating and why. After all, how many times have we all dashed out to buy the oat bran of the moment only to have further studies later prove we ate all that sawdust for little or nothing. Nevertheless, every new day brings some new yata-yata-yata about eating; some of it's funny and good humor for the column; some of it may, indeed, be helpful. I leave it to you to judge, but here comes some of what I've read since this new century began.*Guidelines for the aging athlete who wants to keep fit and increase stamina: 1) eat 8 fruits and vegetables per day; 2) drink at least 8 glasses of water per day; 3) eliminate excess calories 4) eat beans at least five (5!) times a week; 6) enjoy food.My comments: Just try eating 8 fruits and vegetables, along with a helping of beans and 8 glasses of water and see if you're even able to stay on the tennis court, golf course, ball field, etc. long enough to finish a game of anything. As for eliminating excess calories and enjoying food, isn't that what eating well is all about? Duh?*New Dutch research has given us more reasons to drink tea. Drinking one to two cups of regular black tea daily cut the risk of severe atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) 46% in older men and women; four cups of tea lowered risk 69%!My comment: There is so much data out now about the major health benefits of tea drinking, I think it's well worth serious consideration. But, with 8 glasses of water and 4 cups of tea....well, let's just say it's going to make tap dancing a real challenge.*A new Case Western Reserve University study showed that green-tea chemicals prevented the onset of arthritis in mice.My comment: Except for the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland, I've never heard of tea-drinking mice, but then, I've never heard of arthritic mice, either, so I don't know what to think about this one. Perhaps we could do two cups of black tea and two of green, but the study hasn't yet mentioned how much green tea one has to drink to keep Arthur-itis away. I'll keep track of this one, however, because I frequently find myself dancing with Arthur and I'd just as soon not.*Research shows that chocolate contains protein, calcium and antioxidants, which may prevent certain chronic diseases, including cancer and atherosclerosis, and may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. This particular article goes on to note that it's chocolate's feel good chemicals, including a marijuana-like substance as well as something called phenylethylamine, that give us that wonderful feeling of well-being when we eat chocolate.My comment: I love it! I only wonder why it took so long for researchers to get around to telling the world something I've known all my life - chocolate not only makes you feel good - CHOCOLATE IS HEALTH FOOD!RecipesThere are many, many recipes for the very old chocolate dessert called Pots de Creme; this one from Bon Appetit magazine is one of the best I've tried recently. For a cup of pure chocolate pleasure try it.Chocolate Pots de Creme6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (should have about 1 cup)1 large egg3/4 cup whipping creamIn a food processor or blender, whirl chocolate until finely chopped. Pour into a bowl. Add the egg to the food processor or blender.In a 2-cup glass measure, heat the whipping cream in a microwave oven at full power until cream boils.With processor or blender on high, add boiling cream to egg. Check temp. of mixture with an instant-read thermometer. If below 160 degrees, pour mixture back into the glass measuring cup and reheat in microwave at full power just until it reaches 160 degrees, stirring and checking it at 15-second intervals.Combine hot cream mixture and chopped chocolate in blender or processor, whirling until smooth (about 1 minute). Pour chocolate mixture into 4 or 5 ramekins (1/2-cup size). Chill until softly set (30 to 45 minutes).Note: If making ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day. For creamiest texture, let dessert stand at room temp. about 1/2 hour before eating. Serve topped with a small dollop of sweetened whipped cream and shavings of chocolate. PLEASE: Use the finest quality chocolate you can afford.And for another cup of chocolate luxury, make yourself and/or a loved one a realcup of hot chocolate, from scratch, not from a packet. The perfect feel-good drink on a chilly March evening.Cup of Luxury Cocoa2 cups milk1/2 cup heavy cream1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped1 t. vanillaIn a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine milk, cream and cocoa powder. Warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the cocoa. Add chopped chocolate and stir until it melts completely. Bring mixture to a simmer but don't boil. Return heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and stir in vanilla. Stir mixture to cool a bit, then pour into serving cups. Garnish with slightly sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of the cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.Another delicious version of a cup of healthy, good-for-you chocolate, from Dairy Management, Inc.:Spiced Hot Chocolate1 qt. low-fat chocolate milk4 cinnamon sticks4 whole allspice or 1/2 t. ground allspice1/8 t. ground nutmeg1/4 cup sugar6 oz. bittersweet chocolate chunks1 T. vanillaPour chocolate milk into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice and nutmeg, then remove from heat and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes.After the spices have steeped in the milk, reheat mixture on very how heat; add chocolate chunks, stirring occasionally until melted. Carefully pour hot chocolate mixture through a metal strainer to remove spices and finish by adding vanilla to the strained liquid. Pour into mugs and top off with whipped cream and a cinnamon stick, if desired."

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