Author Archive

Kidney Stew, I Am My Mother’s Son!

July 8, 2012

Kidney Stew

I like Kidney Stew because my mother liked Kidney Stew. My brother and sister hated it and when we were poor under fed kids which was the last time I was underfed in my life until I adapted my new lifestyle of portion controlled meals, this was the only meal where I actually got enough meat to eat.

Seems, my sister and brother hated kidneys so bad that I could trade one piece of carrot or one potato for a couple of pieces of their kidneys. So I ended up with all their meat and still retained some of my potatoes and carrots. When I mention that I still make kidney stew, and have actually ordered kidneys in mustard sauce as an appetizer, it just confirmed to them that I am still nuts. Well, Mom lived to be 93 years old with her mind still functioning so she must have been doing something right with her diet.

The recipe is a standard stew recipe with a few adaptations to make allow for cooking in my coffeepot. The single biggest one being to stew the kidneys n olive oil and rum for a couple of hours to tenderize them and avoid that rubbery texture you can get when you cook kidneys too fast at high temperatures.

Ingredients:

1 T Butter
1 T flour

2 Potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
2 Carrots coined
1 tsp salt
6 cups water

1 pound kidneys (trim off all the fat and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 T crushed garlic or 3 cloves minced
1 onion rough cut
1 oz Rum
2 T olive oil
2 stalks of celery cut into small pieces
1 bay leaf
1 beef bullion cube
12 oz of water

Method:

1. Let the butter come to room temperature then mix in the flour until a smooth paste. Let sit at room temperature until needed.

2. Wash then peal the potatoes or not, it’s your choice. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces.

3. Wash then slice carrots into coined pieces.

4. Add carrots and potatoes to coffeepot with salt and pass about 6-8 cups of clean water through the coffeemaker.

5. When done, cover with foil and cook covered for about 2 hours until soft.

6. While waiting, all of the fat has to be cut off the kidneys prior to cooking. This is a tedious process so go slowly until you get the knack of it. Cut the kidneys into bite sized pieces

7. When done drain the potatoes and carrots and set aside.

8. Add the kidneys,onions, garlic, olive oil, rum, bay and celery to the pot.

9. Cook covered for 2-4 hours, until tender.

10. Add bullion to the pot and then pass the 12 ounces of water through the coffeemaker.

12. When water is done steaming mix it into the flour and water mixture in the bowl until you get a smooth gravy.

13. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pot and return the gravy to the coffeepot. Cook covered for a couple more hours.

If you like kidneys, you will love kidney stew. If you have never tried it, they are very inexpensive to cook and you just may like them. They are in the same texture and flavor range as beef liver. For me, they also bring back fond memories of my Mother.

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Is Over Eating a Cure for Chronic Pain?

July 2, 2012

Subjective Pain Measurement Scale

For the past 16 days, I monitored everything I ate with regards to my pain level. Anyone suffering from either chronic pain, back pain or specific joint pain has been introduced to the concept of the happy face pain scale and the one I am most familiar with was the scale that runs from one to ten. Of course this is a very subjective measurement but then pain is a subjective concept. What bothers you, may not bother me at all.

I started exploring the concept of the Inflammation Factor Diet when my pain level was consistently an eight last winter and it was starting to damage my sense of humor. The first thing I found when trying to work with Inflammation Factors was that some of the food ratings were counter intuitive with tomato products bouncing all over the place between good and bad and Turkey and chicken legs being inflammatory but chicken breast being good. All this was just too much for me to remember until I discovered my list of five spices that fight inflammation. Using the five spices in combination and at normal amounts, almost guarantees that your Inflammation factor will be positive by over 1000. Of course, I took some days and nights off from spicy food to grill outside so my daily Inflammation Factor from Nutritiondata.self.com wandered between negative 246 and a positive 2327 when I totaled all the foods I ate for the day.

Except for a few foods like beer and candy, most foods seem to have a greater impact on the following day’s pain levels especially since I ate my primary meal at night and this had my higher spice loading. As a scientist, I am familiar with multiple linear regression and so I checked the values of pain for both the current day and the following day with calories, protein, Inflammation Factor and Carbohydrates as the dependent variables.

The results were incredible but not what I expected. First these variables correlated much better for the following day’s pain so there is a delay factor for eating and adsorbing all of the food value. The effect of protein and carbohydrates were minuscule and ignoring them did not change the correlation coefficient significantly. This was actually surprising because there is an awful lot published about high protein diets being important in fighting chronic pain. Over my 16 day period, I ate a fairly decent low calorie diet which was well balanced and averaged about 95 grams of protein per day (range, 54 to131) and about double that for carbohydrates, 187 grams (range, 133 to 307). The highest carbohydrate day came from a modest sugar candy binge.

Two variables were able to explain about 75% of the reduction on low pain days. It appears that in my body pain is a continuous state of affairs and that increasing my Inflammation Factor in a positive way is accompanied by a slight decrease in pain. Since I already like, cook and eat spicy foods, it would seem that my primordial instinct was already at work protecting me. The totally unexpected and even dangerous result is that there is a five times greater impact from the calories I consume. So eating more has a therapeutic effect on reducing pain.

Since I had my disc replacement surgery, I have been cussing my doctors for messing up my back and causing me a severe increase in pain which occurred the winter after my operation. It would now appear that I caused my own increase in pain by greatly reducing the calories I consumed each day to lose weight.

What had not occurred to me, was the pain got more sever as I ate fewer calories and dropped from obese to overweight to near normal in weight. It got so bad I complained to my daughter and her only comment was does it hurt when I walked? Yes! Does it hurt when I don’t walk? Yes!. Then stick to the diet, stop complaining and keep walking. Her logic was that being lighter and physically fit had to be a lot easier on my joints, than than being obese.

It seems the opposite is true: overeating helps mitigate chronic pain.

Go figure, another counter intuitive result but this one could have dangerous consequences if I give up on a pain free diet and revert to overeating as I had in the past.

Coffeepot Lasagna: Oxymoron or Good Eating?

June 23, 2012

Rolled Lasagna: Coffeepot Style

When my parents started getting older, it seemed that all they wanted to talk about was the weather and their grandchildren. Now the first topic is boring and there is not much I can do about it, but I must admit that I spend a lot of time talking to my children about their wonderful and sometimes not quite so wonderful children. I also spend a significant amount of time talking to my children about business, exercise (their’s and mine) and cooking.

My daughter discovered a recipe for rolled lasagna in early April and was concerned that it was not quite perfect. We talked about it and it sounded like something that could be done in my coffeepot but I didn’t get around to it until just before Memorial Day and have been too busy since then with my anti-inflammatory diet to worry about publishing new recipes.

However, I get two of my three Granddaughters for the first three weeks in August and this is another one of those fun meals that shouldn’t be possible to make. Even the name Coffeepot Lasagna sounds like an oxymoron. One of the most important things I learned with his meal is that you can cook the whole box of lasagna noodles and the ones that you don’t use can be frozen between layers of wax-paper and are perfectly fine for another day.

Naturally, my daughter and I never cook anything exactly the same way. She tends to be aware and adapt to the contemporary interpretations of old recipes and I tend to do it the old-fashioned way. It’s all good. When I cook, she loves it. When she cooks, I love it. The biggest difference in this recipe is that she included crumbled cooked sausage in her cheese mix for the filling, I sliced cooked meatballs and made it a layer on top of the filling. If I were including sausage, which I have in the past, I slice it and include it with the meatball slices or in a separate layer. Oh well, to each their own.

Rolled Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 egg
4 oz shredded Mozzarella
handful fresh parsley minced

3 Lasagna noodles cooked as per box directions.

Method:

1. Cook all the noodles and freeze the ones you don’t use between sheets of wax paper.

2. Microwave one portion of frozen meatballs for the appropriate amount of time.

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Spread the Cheese Mix on the Lasagna Noodles

4. Spread the cheese mix on the noodles.

5. Place the sliced cooked meatballs on top of the noodles and dab a little sauce on top of everything.

6. Roll and spike with toothpick to hold.

7. Put a little sauce in bottom of coffeepot so nothing sticks.

Cooked Rolled Lasagna

8. Place meatballs inside and cook for two to four hours.

9. Enjoy

I haven’t made this in the three years since Dolores died but I am definite I will make it when my granddaughters are here. Truth be told, I forgot to dab the sauce on top of the cheese and meatball layer before rolling because it’s been too long, but that is the traditional way to do it.

Ah, I remember it well!

Everything from Soup to Nuts – Spicy Foods in the Old World and Asia

June 22, 2012

Italian Pumpkin Soup

When I used to visit Aunt Adel, she used to prepare a six course Italian meal described by her as “Everything from Soup to Nuts.” Now any one of the courses could have been a meal unto itself but if you were really Italian, which I was not, you learned to pace yourself, which I did not. 

I never much thought about the purpose of each course and why some foods were alleged to go together until I first started thinking about the Inflammation Factor and healthy anti-inflammatory spices. Now as I mentioned before on the post on pumpkin soup, the addition of a chicken breast and some carrots makes this a hearty meal and since pumpkin is still on sale, I decided to check it out and find out how healthy it was.

I went to the Nutritionaldata site to check for the calories, protein, carbohydrates and Inflammation Factor for each ingredient including a chicken breast and carrots. I added up the totals for everything in the pot and was amazed at how healthy this soup really is and how high the anti -inflammatory qualities are. The results have been divided in two to reflect that the pot holds enough food for two people or two meals.

Calories 319
Protein 46
Carbohydrates 30
Inflammation Factor 709

Now this is a very impressive balanced low calorie anti-inflammatory meal, just the type I wanted to experiment with on my detox. Since I never do anything half way, I added fresh grated ginger, hot pepper and celery and more than doubled the anti-inflammatory properties without altering the other values by much.

I begin to see the concept of “Soup to Nuts” when I checked the anti-inflammatory properties of Almonds which Aunt Adel traditionally served at the end of the meal and found out they also had a positive influence. The concept would appear to be that if the meal started with and ended with foods high in anti-inflammatory properties, you could indulge in whatever you liked in the middle courses.

Pinto bean Curry

This new knowledge got me to thinking about other old world foods so I checked on some Indian Recipes while searching for a vegan recipe. The pinto bean recipe was also an original Indian recipe and unmodified by me as I don’t know enough about Indian Foods to alter the spice blends, but “I know what I like.” Once again I was utterly amazed at how high the anti-inflammatory properties are.

Calories 586
Protein 19
Carbohydrates 82
Inflammation Factor 1141

I guess in the old days, the people of the world did not have the luxury of picking and choosing what they were going to eat and just ate whatever was available to survive. To compensate for what might be the ill effects of refined flour and white rice, they just added spices and balance to the meals and got on with their lives. In many of these cultures, people live longer than Americans despite drinking too much wine and eating refined grains and starches so, I guess spices could be important.

In my mind, the jury on anti-inflammatory foods is still out but I intend to monitor what I naturally eat for the next year and make my decision after I go through a winter where my level of aches and pains traditionally increases.

Spices and the Inflammation Factor

June 16, 2012

Spicy Fish and Baked Potato

I decided this week when I went on my occasional detox for 2 weeks and 2 days to not only drop all wine but to completely modify my diet to see if I could reduce my aches and pains. I know I like what I eat and I have settled on a fairly healthy diet of whole grains, potatoes with the skins on, vegetables, fruits and fish and chicken. I also like spicy food. There is a cute tool over at Nutrition Data, which allows you to track, carbs protein, calories and the total Inflammation Factor for the days consumption.

Pretty much like most people, I eat what’s available and what I crave. I found my consumption of fruits and vegetables is fairly constant so my carbohydrate loading is 150 to 230 grams and I am not likely to change until next winter when fruit is less abundant. I intentionally eat a high protein diet as it is necessary to feed by brain and body for my manic lifestyle so that is not gonna change. The range is 73 to 127 because I like vegan foods once in awhile and that might actually be a little low. Hence, the only number I can focus on is the Inflammation Factor and I am doing pretty good at maximizing but prior to my detox, I was not consistent as I varied from about -300 which is bad to plus 2000.

The concept is that by avoiding foods that rise your Inflammation Factor level, your joints and body will ache less. This diet has not been well received because meats, dairy, fruits vegetables, whole grains and beans vary all over the place, sometimes in a counter intuitive fashion. The huge variation in my diet came not from what I ate but from the spices I used and this I found comforting.

In my heart I know that poor people will eat whatever is available on the prior list without being cave men or vegans and the biggest difference is that people in the poorer nations will use more spices. I tend too look at the foods we chose to eat  as those that heal us, those that are habits and those that are available. I believe that the use of spices and cooking evolved at about the same time and that spices were included in meals to solve some problem know by the Village Shaman.

I do suffer back pains and have suffered chronic pain in the past and the naturally chosen spices on my list seem to top the scale for positive Inflammation Factor and are allegedly helping me. So I did a search of Top Ten Spices for many nutritionists  and compiled a list of the 30 because there was little consensus in the area. After researching those spices and searching for the highest anti-inflammatory properties The following ones were the only ones that could counteract a day of bad eating with enough positive value to turn the whole day positive while using reasonable quantities.

Spice                             Quantity                          Inflammation Factor.

Fresh Ground Ginger    1 Tablespoon                             903
Hot Pepper                       1/2 tsp                                 740
Turmeric                       1 Teaspoon                              508
Crushed Garlic             1 Tablespoon                             500
Onion                             1 medium                               257

It amazed me that their was only one person, Dr. Jeremy Webster, had the most agreement with all the other experts and also got all five spices and herbs with the greatest anti-inflammatory properties correct. He had the best records of anyone for compiling a Top Ten List as most agreed with him in general more than they agreed with each other. Unfortunately, I already had these five items on my list of good stuff so got nothing else for my efforts except that Cinnamon with is almost neutral on the negative side for IF factor made everybody’s top ten list except mine. I rarely use it but I guess I’ll start.

Duck Rack and Fish placed on Grill with Baked Potatoes

The picture above is the setup for me grilling spicy fish on my duck rack because I forgot to show it last time and it is a easy way to grill fish fillets. The anti-inflammatory properties of the two Grilled Spicy Tilapia fillets is an incredible 1944 because I eat all the spices and always have. The first time I tried it because my daughter told me about a similar meal with fewer spices and I just liked the idea after adding a few more of my favorite spices.

I never knew that tasting good could be good for me, but I’m learning.

Grilled Spicy Fish and Grilled Bok Choy

June 15, 2012

Grilled Spicy Fish and Bok Choy

Seems my daughter called a few weeks ago with a recipe for Tandoori Salmon which she got from a magazine called Cooking Light which promised a whole bunch of recipes involving 5 ingredients and 15 minutes. This is one of those slick magazines by the checkout counter in grocery stores published by the people at Coastal Living and Southern Living. The spice list was basic involving Ginger, Turmeric and Cumin.

I laughed and told my daughter I was starting to like and become a fairly decent Indian cook and was sure I had never cooked Tandoori because I didn’t have all the spices and this was so basic that it probably bore no resemblance to real Tandoori. She said she was OK with that because there were limits to what her daughters would eat. I checked Tandoori and I was correct, I didn’t have the spices on hand to cook that style but I could bring this basic recipe up a notch with spices traditionally used in Tandoori cooking. As a matter of fact, these spices are fairly traditional in all Asian Cooking. I used the rub with tilapia which is a fairly bland fish but could see it working with much stronger fishes like tuna.

My Spicy Fish Rub

Ingredients

1 oz ginger grated about 2 Tablespoons
1 T crushed garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 T Lemon Juice

Method:

1. The Ginger was grated and the spices and lemon juice mixed in a bowl.

Coated Bottom of Fish and Spice Mix

2. The spice mix was coated on one side of the fish.

Fish on Duck Rack with Both Sides Coated

3. The fish was placed on a duck rack for Grilling with the spicy side down. I use the duck rack because I don’t have to flip the fish or move it until it is over a platter. This prevents fish in the coals.

4. The spice mix was coated on the other side.

The Grill is set up for Bok Choy (top) and the Fish (bottom)

5. The grill is set up with areas to grill the Bok Choy and grill the fish.

Grilled Bok Choy

Grilling Bok Choy is simple and another nice and easy way to eat it. The Bok Choy is cut in half in the long direction, placed in a bowl and drizzled and tossed with Olive Oil.

The fish is placed on the grill and cooked for about 10 minutes. The Bok Choy is tossed on the vegetable area (top of grill picture) and cooked covered. Every couple of minutes toss it like stir frying. When done remove from grill and serve.

Coffeepot Meatloaf!

June 7, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf and Coleslaw

I love meatloaf. It is one of the all-time great comfort food and every family makes it good and every institutions gets it wrong. I made meatloaf, my wife made meatloaf, my mother-in-law made meatloaf and my mother made meatloaf. It was all different and all good. When I was still eating a lot of beef and pork, I kept ground pork and ground beef around because the mixture makes a pleasant meatloaf. I tried making meatloaf in my coffeepot several times and was not satisfied with the results. It was either messy, stuck to the mold or just didn’t work out correctly. It seems you are never too old to learn from your children and this meal was made possible by learning from both my son and my daughter.

While visiting my son, He and my Granddaughter were making cupcakes and I was just amazed to see how well Silicon Cupcake molds worked. You use them as standalone molds on top of a cookie pan and the cupcakes cook and nothing sticks to the mold. I just knew that they would be perfect for coffeepot meatloaf and I got some. After cooking each mold holds a 4 ounce piece of meat loaf so this meal is for two portions. I must admit I ate two of them for dinner because it came out so well and snacked on the third. Oh well!

None of my previous recipes came out particularly well as they are all too moist and there is no way to cook off the extra moisture in a coffeepot. For this success, I turned to my daughter who is an excellent cook and for more traditional cooking methods, you might want to visit Dinner By Dagny. The key to my success was her recipe for turkey burgers which I adapted into turkey meatloaf. She is a big fan of ground turkey and there are two secretes to her success. First, purchase quality ground turkey not the cheapest house brand and also start with a good recipe.

Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients:

Meatloaf:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 T crushed garlic
1 handful of fresh Herbs (I used basil and parsley and minced the blend))
1/2 tsp Adobo or other seasoned salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper (I put peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and cracked them)
1 Tomato diced
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I grated the amount off a piece of frozen whole wheat bread)

4 oz tomato sauce to cover the meat. (I used leftover sauce)

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a bowl except the sauce.

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl except the sauce.

Mix all the ingredients together and stuff the cupcake molds.

2. Mix all the ingredients together and stuff the cupcake molds.

Place carefully in the coffeepot and cover with sauce.

3. Place carefully in the coffeepot and cover with sauce.

Cook covered with foil for over 4-8 hours.

4. Cook covered with foil for over 4-8 hours.

5. Take out of the molds and serve.

This was excellent meatloaf and a double success. The turkey meatloaf was excellent and the molds did their job.

Thank You Andy and Dagny!

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew!

May 30, 2012

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew

When my brother, Walt and sister-in-law, Marge, come to visit, almost anything can happen in my kitchen. The pantry may be rearranged so it takes me six months of using up hurricane supplies to find everything again or all my cabinets are rearranged and glasses put directly above the sink even though I never use glasses and drink the water from a bottle and coffee and tea from my mug. The reason of course is that “everybody does it their way” and this would make it easier for guests. Now the only frequent visitors are my daughter’s family and their daughter (my niece) and the last time everyone came, they complained they couldn’t find anything because it had all been moved.

Oh well, none of this is important and worth worrying about so I just ignore it. Besides, sometimes I even learn something new. Like Marge does, I usually buy chicken thighs on sale and skin and bone them myself and the same with chicken breasts. Marge likes to cook and Walter prefers food cooked exactly her way with exactly the ingredients they use at home. This means at the end of a visit I end up with weird stuff I never use full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors which end up getting dumped. Every now and then a good idea sneaks up on me by surprise.

One year, after they were gone, I pulled some frosted over chicken parts out of the freezer for my next days dinner and when I started preparing my evening meal, I found a bag full of skin and bones with almost no meat. Naturally, I avoided confrontation and called my niece to find out what the heck I was looking at and it seems she knew the answer and this time it was logical. This was how her mom stored all the chicken parts from deboned chicken thighs and breasts and also the carcase from a roasted chicken after it was finished carving. She uses it as a base for chicken soup.

I liked the idea but decided to carry it to the next level. Since many recipes that call for a quarter teaspoon of a pinch of some spice are difficult to scale down, I hold the sauce constant and cut back on the meat and vegetables to four to six ounces of meat instead of a pound. Some times I will use the sauce and turn a vegan meal into a chicken meal, other times I will just save the sauce and add it to the skin and bones container and freeze it.

If the sauce is really good, it is likely to be rebuilt into a second meal. If I don’t think it was perfect, I will add it to the container of skin and bones and freeze it. The container could be quite eclectic with Pot Liquor from Collard greens and smoked turkey, sauce leftover from vegan or chicken curry, standard giblet gravy or pan drippings from a roast turkey or chicken. Everything vegan, chicken or turkey goes into the container. I don’t include any vegetables as the get mushy – just the sauce gets added to the container.

I don’t worry too much about the mixture of flavors. I also add the liquid from canned beans when the liquid is not added to the recipe. It seems that our local stores pack 5 pieces of chicken to a tray in the meat counter. Recently as I tightened up on my portion control, I add the odd pieces of chicken to the pot as I know I only need two small legs or thighs and cooking that extra piece in a pack serves no useful purpose as leftovers but does help build the pot of soup.

Pretty much the stew featured above was made from various sauces, skin and bones with one thigh and one leg. After defrosting and cooking for a couple of hours I removed the skin and bones and discarded them leaving just the thigh and leg. I added a handful of parsley and celery from my garden and a can of garbanzos with the liquid and a half cup of barley and let it cook a couple more hours. Next, I added the potato and carrot and 12 ounces of water as the barley had adsorbed all of the stock and it needed to be thinned out to cook the carrots and potato.

Sometimes, I add dumplings and leave out the potato. If I have leftover peas or corn, it gets added to the pot. Depending on my mood and what I have, I could also substitute brown rice for barley.

There can be no  recipe for this chicken stew because;

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew is a lifestyle.

 

May 20, 2012

There are probably an infinite number of ways to combine the ingredients in an Italian Kitchen.

Dinner By Dagny

I got inspired by this week’s Iron Chef episode, where the secret ingredient was canned tuna.  I knew we had some canned tuna in the house and I figured that I would turn it into a puttanesca sauce.  I knew that it would work, and I had previously made sure that I had capers and anchovies in the house as staples.  I just need to swing by the store for some kalamata olives.

I was inspired by Rachael Ray’s Tuna Puttanesca, combined with Poppa John’s Puttanesca recipes. I combined recipes and threw some of my own influence in.

Ingredients

1 can tuna (I used albacore in water)

1 small onion

4 garlic cloves

3 anchovies

1/3 cup rum

12 small kalamata olives

1 tablespoon capers

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 1 ice cube frozen chili pepper slurry (~2 ounces)

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)

1 tablespoon parsley

Directions

View original post 163 more words

Fish is Brain Food – Fact or Fiction??

May 19, 2012


Salt Fish Marinara (Baccala alla Marinara)

My mother always said fish was brain food and ate a lot of fish. She snacked on sardines and tuna and loved any fish we caught and cooked it for herself if no one else wanted fish. She died at the age of 93 with her brain still functioning and her wit and wisdom intact. I eat a lot of Fish because I like it.

When I first started my lifestyle change, I went to a nutritionist who also supported the consumption of large amounts of fish and the use of a fish oil supplement for improved cardiovascular health and this was definitely not a problem for me. Now that I have been living my new life style for two and a half years I am satisfied with my weight and excercise program so I have started to focus on what I eat. Unfortunately, fish has a tendency to concentrate the highly toxic environmental pollutant methyl mercury. Methyl Mercury is so toxic that a few drops on the outside of a scientist’s protective rubber glove which was cleaned and disposed of instantly still caused death within five days by skin adsorption.

Around 2000, the FDA and EPA put out a joint advisory that women who wanted to get pregnant, were pregnant or lactating should stop eating fish. Many did and the results proved my mom knew what she was talking about. Seems that scientist found a benifit for children of women who ignored the warning and continued to consume ocean fish. Their children had advanced cognitive and motor skill development compared to the children of women who skipped fish in the diet. Moreover, resent research reports from the University of California at Berkley document that eating fish can play a positive role in mental health. Some interesting preliminary studies suggest that fish oil, usually in the form of supplements because they are easy to use in research, may be of some help in treating bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) and schizophrenia.

I never stopped eating fish as the probability of me being pregnant or lactating is remote and at least two (anchovies and tilapia) of the four fish that I regularly eat are low in mercury. I am not too worried about the high mercury level in ahi tuna as I can’t afford to eat it very often. The other fish I love has been worshiped in a bawdy calypso song by the Mighty Sparrow.

Saltfish,
Nothing in the world sweeter than
Saltfish
English, colloquial, Bajans
Saltfish,
It’s sweeter than meat
When you want to eat
All saltfish sweet

If you look up the health benefits of saltfish, people who are not familiar with cooking or eating this fish condemn it for it’s high salt content. If you check Mediterranean or Caribbean Recipes, you find the salt is extracted from the meat over 24 hours with multiple water washes and you sometimes have to add flavor to the pot because all the salt has been removed.

The meal pictured above was actually closer to my Perfect Puttanesca because after washing the saltfish, it had very little flavor. You don’t lose the protein or oil by soaking the fish just the salt. Since I was just starting the meal, I used the following ingredients to build more flavor.

Ingredients:

Tablespoon extra virgin Olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
1 large yellow onion -diced
Thin slice scotch bonnet hot pepper or crushed red pepper to taste
3-4 thin pieces of anchovies the size you get on pizza -diced
1 sprig basil with leaves
1 fresh bay leaf
T capers
Can of diced tomatoes.
4 to 6 ounces of well washed saltfish

Method:

1. The oil, garlic, onion, anchovies pepper, bay and basil are placed together in the coffee pot and and sautéed for about two hours
2. The capers are added to the pot along with the can of tomatoes. Stir and let cook 2-4 hours
3. About 1 hour before dinner, add the saltfish.
Serve with Pasta

A final thought is that all saltfish is not created equal. The three main variety of fish are Ling, Cod and Alaskan Pollock. Ling and Cod have high mercury levels so Alaskan Pollock is the preferred choice. Even at that, the recommended amount of Ling and Cod is no more than 12 ounces of fish per week I eat 4 to 6 ounces of saltfish about once a month so I guess it really wouldn’t matter which one I chose. Given that they are all available and all about the same price, I guess I’ll stick with Alaskan Pollock.