The Refreshing Summer Drink of British Monarchs and “Ministers “

The recent royal wedding, silly spectacle that it may have been, inspired me to grab an envelope out of the recycling and scratch a little list on the back.

” The British Aristocracy, Pro& Con ,” I titled it. To balance out the defects such as–to choice a couple from a long list–their limitless confidence that whatever harebrained ideas they have are naturally better than the carefully considered opinions of experts and professionals, their fondness for shooting animals, and their delight in taking countries that don’t belong to them, I was able to find a few good traits. They have amusing names, for instance. Plus the objective is foolishly brave in battle, display excellent ways and decorum while doing all the bad things on the Con list, and have a knack for coming up with fiction and freshening summer drinks.

Consider, as an example of that last trait in action, the Badminton Cup. In 1837, when the 18 -year-old Princess Alexandra Victoria rose to the British throne, it was the custom of British gentlemen to drink themselves silly after dinner( and on just about every other social occasion) on strong Punch in one form or another or fortified wine. The queen didn’t like that and induced her displeasure known. Since she commanded the respect of her people–decorum has its advantages–the gents listened.

This doesn’t mean that they quit drinking entirely. But they surely lightened up. Punch, based on rum, brandy, whisky, gin or arrack, was out. The “Cup” was in–as Benjamin Disraeli described its various types in 1845,” incomprehensible concoctions bearing aristocratic names; mystic combinations of French wines and German[ i.e ., seltzer] waters, flavoured with slices of Portugal fruit, and cooled with clumps of American ice .” If they weren’t based on wine, it was cider or beer.

Now, this sort of bait-and-switch has been known to drive the dedicated social drinker into paroxysms of rage. No doubt the Punch-sodden oldsters were pig-biting mad when they proved up at some shindig where they could reasonably expect there would be strong drink to help ease all the damned awkwardness of dealing with other people and were handed something so low-strength they would have to drink a gallon of it before their cravats began to loosen.

But days change and people adapt if they must–in those guys’ lawsuit, largely by learning to drink that gallon( where Punch had been had participated in little two-ounce glasses, the preferred receptacle for Cup was a tankard ).

The ruler of the Cup race was Badminton Cup, named not after the game, but rather after the place video games was named after. Badminton House, you ensure, was the seat of the Dukes of Beaufort, a palatial edifice deep in the southern Cotswolds. It was apparently there that, sometime between the end of 1835, when Henry Somerset became the Duke of Beaufort upon the death of his father, and 1843, when the drink first stimulated it into publish, claret–which is to say Bordeaux wine–was introduced to soda water, sugar, ice and a couple of other trimmings. It is unclear whether the new Duke himself attained that introduction or it was made by an underling under his supervision. No matter–he instantly presumed the credit for it( another one of those traits ). By 1843, the mixture was being served at fancy London gambling clubs.( Disraeli placed it at Crockford’s, the fanciest of them all .) By the end of the 1850 s, it was considered to be the English gentleman’s drink par excellence–indeed, it was, as one peripatetic gent explained to an American hotelkeeper, the entails by which one could” distinguish between the real Englishman , nobleman and gentleman ,” and the” mere English adventurer .” If the Brit in question declined an offer of Badminton or didn’t know what it was,” then he was certainly no peer .”

Like any popular mixed drink, Badminton had its differences. Everyone more or less agreed that it contained a bottle of wine, a bottle of soda( back then, 10 ounces ), a little sugar, and some ice. Some stiffened it with a splash of sherry, port or even brandy. Many liked a sprig or two of the herb borage in it.( When, during the Crimean War, the British troops set up an encampment near the Bulgarian village of Devnya, they found the area abounding in” a fragrant herb having a pretty pink-lilac flower “; they ignored it until some” practical botanist”( a gent , no doubt) identified it as borage.” The great discovery ran through the tents like a panic ,” wrote a correspondent to Bell’s Life in London.” With the country wine, sugar, and spices, flavoured with the new discovery,’ Badminton’ was constructed and disposed of to an unheard-of magnitude .”

Other botanicals included lemon verbena( occasionally ), lemon salve( often) and cucumber peel( very often, as it was supposed to taste much like borage ). Lemon juice and/ or lemon peel also make their appearances, as do orange peel and nutmeg. Sometimes a splashing of liqueur, such as maraschino or orange curacao, received its route into the mixture.

If you add the herbs, it’s best to pull them out after ten or fifteen minutes, or they will come to predominate. Of course, if you build your badminton properly and serve it in tankards, the question will be moot, as by then those herbs will be sitting in an empty jug.

Badminton may be a simple drink, but it is indeed damned refreshing, and you can quaff it with gusto without losing your decorum. And Lord know, in times like these, you need that.

Badminton

1 750 -ml bottle Dry red wine

2 oz White sugar

2 sprigs Borage, if you can find it, or the peel of 1 medium cucumber( also, see above about balm or verbena ).

2 oz Cream sherry or port( optional, but recommended)

2 oz Brandy, maraschino or orange curacao( optional, but also recommended, merely not quite so strongly)

Glass: Beer mugs or wine

DIRECTIONS 😛 TAGEND

Pour a half-cup or so of the wine into a 2-quart pitcher, add the sugar and stir. Add the rest of the wine, the fortified wines or spirits if desired, and the botanicals. Add a couple of healthy scoop of ice and the soda water. Stir and pour into wine glass or, to be truly aristocratic, beer mugs. Repeat as needed( it is better to construct several fresh batches than to make one large one ).

Read more: www.thedailybeast.com

Why is the US banning kratom, the virtually harmless herb? | Marc Lewis

It acts on opioid receptors, hence the panic. But since some heroin users take it to ease withdrawal, its proscription could have some very harmful effects indeed

Just this morning I got an email from a head store Id dropped into on my last trip-up to San Francisco. I didnt recall leaving my email address, but I surely recollected the shop, festooned with fascinating herbs in colorful packets, unfamiliar plants, water pipes like octopi, merging aesthetics with efficiency. Sunshine streaming through the windows and the smell of incense, barely noticeable but enchanting as always.

I was visiting the haunts of my hippy days, the famous intersection of Haight and Ashbury, and of course everything looked so much cleaner, more commercial, and, well, more legal, than it had back then. But what to buy? I dont ordinarily take medications anymore, legal or not, but I recognized the name kratom on several vividly coloured pockets on display behind the counter.

Kratom( Mitragyna speciosa) is sold as the crushed-up leaf of the kratom plant, grown in jungles throughout southeast Asia. You can build kratom tea or dissolve it in juice to experience its effects, and its become increasingly popular all over the Western world( though its been around for centuries ). You can buy it at head stores, hundreds of internet site, and now at kratom bars popping up in Los Angeles and other happening places. Patently some people enjoy this legal high.

Kratom was indeed the topic of the email, and the tone of the message was urgent 😛 TAGEND

Important Info Regarding the Future of Kratom

In case you havent heard, theres a very important growth regarding your access to this safe and unbelievably helpful herb!

And then:

On August 30 the DEA announced their intention to place Kratom on the Schedule I list of substances starting September 30.

You can read all about this remarkable decision by the drug police. Theres a tidy article in Forbes, theres plenties on YouTube, and the DEA sitesuccinctly states their rationale 😛 TAGEND

The Drug Enforcement Administration( DEA) today announced its intention to place the active materials in the kratom plant into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act in order to avoid an imminent hazard to public safety.

The first thing you should know is that Schedule I drugs most famously heroin, and somewhat embarrassingly marijuana and LSD call for the most severe controls and penalties.( Meth and cocaine are nearby on Schedule II ). So the kratom user may end up cell-mates with meth and heroin addicts.

The second issue is why? Whats the imminent hazard to public safety?

I wasnt well informed any hazard when I asked the pierced young woman behind the counter what type of kratom I should try. I had taken kratom with a friend in the Netherlands where I live. Here its fully legal and sold in stores, as it is in most( but not all) Western countries. Kratom happens to be illegal in Thailand, apparently because it undercuts the lucrative opium industry.

I hadnt felt much the first time Id taken kratom and wanted to give it another try. So I asked the young woman what she recommended and she brought out a menu card. Midnight Blue is the most relaxing, Sunrise is sort of stimulating but melloweds you out at the same day. Starshine just helps you feel … centered. Each mixture was touted to profer a somewhat different buzz. So I bought a couple of packs for about $20 and got a little … high?

High is a strong word for what kratom actually offers. This plant is just one of a listing of age-old plants and herbal extracts that stimulate people feel a little bit peppier, a bit happier, a bit more relaxed. A listing that includes St Johns Wort, ginseng, wild lettuce, coffee( yes, coffee ), kava, lavender, valerian, betel nut the list goes on and on. The term medicinal is sometimes employed. But high? That would be stretching it.

You can read all about kratom on the web, but perhaps one reason the DEA considers it an imminent hazard is because part of its effect comes from stimulating opioid receptors. You know, those receptors that get you smashed when you shoot heroin. Anything that induces opioid receptors and makes “youre feeling” pleasant must be very dangerous, so we shouldnt take any opportunities. In fact, lets ban alcohol( martinis owe much of their buzz to opioid receptors ), lets ban jogging( that notorious runners high a long, gale road to the trough ). And while were at it, lets ban breast milk, which helps newborns feel relaxed because it too induces opioid receptors.

But kratom is not an opiate. The molecule isnt even vaguely related to morphine or heroin. Its only an herb. Its impossible to overdose on kratom. Youre likely to get a headache if you take too much. The approximately 20 demises attributed to kratom in recent history are thought to be caused by other drugs: the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that commercial forms of kratom are sometimes laced with other compounds that have caused demises. And considering the 88, 000 deaths per year linked to alcohol and the 28, 000 overdose demises from opiates( heroin and analgesics) in the US alone, it seems someone isnt doing their math.

Is kratom addictive? Maybe a little. But not as much as coffee and cigarettes or Q-tips, tattoos, and Pokemon Go. And if you take it daily, guess what? It loses its effect.

Ive induced the DEAs announcement sound silly, even stupid. There they go again, banning whatever bothers them until voters in Colorado or somewhere start to object. But theres a awfully tragic outcome to be expected if kratom is banned. Because kratom attaches to opioid receptors, its an ideal route for heroin addicts to get off heroin with minimal withdrawal symptoms a harmless, herbal methadone replace. This folk-wisdom is splashed all over the net and freely shared among drug users. If kratom is banned in the US, many heroin addicts who want to quit will go back to heroin instead, and many, many more people will die.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Identity theft ring pay money breast implant, tummy tuck, police tell | Fox News

Terilyn Riggins. ( Fox 35)

When some central Florida girls wanted plastic surgery they couldn’t afford, police say they turned to a 28 -year-old woman who use stolen IDs to cover the expenses.

Orlando police Detective Todd Herb tells the Orlando Sentinel that Terilyn Riggins ran the crime ring, scamming more than $50,000 worth of breast implant, tummy tucks or dental run. She was arrested March 29. It’s not clear whether she has a lawyer.

Herb says they’ve apprehended 14 women and identified at least 12 steal victims.

Police say the women were either friends of Riggins or gratified her in jail. Some paid her a small fee. Others offered services such as doing her hair or cooking for her in exchange for surgeries.

Officials say it was a full-time job for Riggins to set up the fraudulent accounts.

Read more: www.foxnews.com

Anna Jones’s homemade ricotta recipe and three things to cook with it | The modern cook

Its easy to construct your own ricotta from scratch. Its ideal for a gentle herb and citrus dip, as the main attraction on a tray of honey-baked figs, or stirred through a plate of spicy spaghetti with chard, garlic and herbs

There is so much to love about ricotta. First up, its clean, fresh cloud-like milkiness many of us think of it as a spring-time thing, but in fact, it works brilliantly as a very much partner for the roots and roasteds and punchier flavours well be feeing for the next few months. Next, its versatility in baking and desserts; to fill ravioli or spoon over warm vegetables. Best of all, though, is that its made from something that would otherwise be wasted. The ricotta that you buy in the shops is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process. Whey that has been drained off the cheese curds is reheated to build ricotta hence its Italian name, which means recooked.

My recipe involves gently heating whole milk, then adding vinegar to foster little curds to form, which are then gathered and strained to form the softest and most gentle of the cheeses. Ive tried lemon juice, but vinegar somehow makes more ricotta. The sum of vinegar is key, too little and the curds wont form properly; too much and the end result will taste like a chip store. Because this recipe is so simple there is nowhere to hide, so use the best milk that you can afford( the best ricotta Ive tasted was attained in Italy using raw, unpasteurised milk, but thats not as widely available in the UK ).

Some recipes need a certain type of ricotta. The form you can buy in most supermarkets can be very soft, more mascarpone-like in texture than the firmer, strained ricotta I got used to working with when I cooked in Italy. Thats why I started attaining my own and Id urge you to try too its not as difficult as you might think. If thats a step too far though, you can induce the recipes below with supermarket ricotta. If you do, then leave it in a sieve to drain excess liquid for a few hours, or ideally overnight, so its a little firmer. If youre luck enough to live near an Italian deli, most sell a good strained ricotta.

As well as a recipe for homemade ricotta, I have included three of my favourite simple ways to eat it. Aside from these almost any pasta would benefit from a little ricotta stirred through it, any flapjack or waffle will sit happily next to a spoonful, and most fruit will team up well with a clean white helping drizzled with a little honey.

straining The type of ricotta available in most supermarkets can be very soft. Strained ricotta is firmer, and much closer to what is available in Italy. Photograph: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Homemade ricotta

How long you hang your ricotta for will be dependent on how you want to use it. To cook your ricotta whole or to use it to fill pasta you want something firm, so no moisture seeps out during cooking. For other recipes, such as the pasta or the whipped ricotta below, you could get away with a less firm texture, so hanging it for just a few hours would suffice.

Makes about 300 g
2 litres whole milk
A pinch of sea salt
40ml distilled white vinegar

1 Pour the milk into a large pan, add a pinch of ocean salt and put over a medium heat. Allow the milk to heat up slowly, stirring from time to time.

2 When it is almost coming to the simmer when steam and small bubbles begin to appear on the surface( if you have a kitchen thermometer it should be 82 C-8 5C) remove from the hot, add the vinegar and stir gently. You will see curds starting to form. Continue to stir for 1 minute or so.

3 Cover with a clean cloth and allow it to sit for a couple of hours. Once the ricotta has rested, line a colander with a large piece of damp muslin and put this over a larger bowl or pan.

4 Spoon the ricotta into the colander and allow it to drain for an hour or so, or overnight depending on your desired firmness( see note above ). To test whether the cheese is ready, gently lift the muslin up by the corners and twisting lightly the liquid should be somewhat milky in colour. The ricotta is now ready. Transfer to a container, seal and store in the fridge and use within 3 days.

Whipped herb and lemon ricotta

Quick and super-light, this blend of herbs and ricotta is ideal for dipping. I use baby veggies, but thumbs of good toast or crackers would work too.

Serves 4
450g fresh ricotta
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed or grated
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint foliages, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus a good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

To serve
Baby carrots, beetroots and radishes, cut into sticks

1 Put your ricotta into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then beat it with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. You can do this with an electric mixer if you want it genuinely cloud-like.

2 Now stir in the garlic, herbs, zest and olive oil. Taste for balance and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, adding a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit more of whatever you think it needs.

3 Serve in the middle of the table with your choice of veg or toast for dipping.

4 Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.

Honey ricotta with baked figs

This is a faintly sweet take over ricotta that could be served as a dessert or a quick lunch, piled on top of toasted bread with some bitter foliages to counter the very slight sweetness.

Honey Any leftovers can be spread on warm toast the next day. Photo: Matt Russell for the Guardian

Serves 4-6
250g ricotta
1 tbsp of runny honey
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 orange, zested, juice reserved
6 figs
50g almonds

1 Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

2 Turn the ricotta out of its packet on to the lined tray, then drizzle it with honey. Grate over the orange zest and scatter the vanilla seeds on top.

3 Halve the figs and arrange them around the ricotta. Squeeze over the juice of the orange and a bit more honey then put into the oven to cook for 20 minutes.

4 Meanwhile, roughly chop the almonds. Scatter them over the baking tray and roast for the last 5 minutes.

5 Serve straight from the oven in the middle of the table.

Spaghetti with chard, garlic, chilli and ricotta

One of the fastest pastas I know( the sauce is cooked in the time it takes for the pasta to turning al dente) and for my money one of the nicest.

Serves 4
400g spaghetti
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
12 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
400g chard, rinsed foliages shredded and stems finely sliced
Grated zest and juice of 1 big unwaxed lemon( plus an extra lemon for juice, if needed)
Salt and black pepper
150g of ricotta
Parmesan or pecorino( optional)

1 Put a large pan of simmering water on to simmer and add a couple of generous pinches of salt. Once the water is at a rolling simmer, add your pasta and cook in agreement with the packet instructions or until only al dente.

2 Meanwhile, hot a good drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic, chilli and rosemary. Fry for a minute or so, until the garlic is starting to colour, then add the chard stalks and sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Add the leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 34 minutes, or until the leaves have wilted a little.

3 Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of cooking water. Add a splash of the pasta water to the greens and mixture well. Grate over the zest of the lemon and squeeze over the juice. Take off the hot and taste for seasoning. Crumble over the ricotta and stir it though. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like, a wispy grating of parmesan or pecorino.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and writer of A Modern Way to Eatand
A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Nato must improve defences against a ‘more aggressive’ Russia, says chief

Secretary general Jens Stoltenberg tells alliance must revamp its approach dedicated Russias new military capabilities

Nato must improve its defensive the capacities and willingness to act in the wake of increasingly aggressive and unpredictable actions by Russia, the head of the transatlantic alliance said in a German newspaper interview published on Sunday.

The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said he expected the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other Nato leaders to revamp their approach at the next Nato summit this summer, given a risk that Russia could gradually dedicate more weight to nuclear weapon in its dogma, exerts and new military capabilities.

” I believe Chancellor Merkel and her colleagues will face new decisions at the Nato summit in July in Brussels. We must be alert and resolute ,” Stoltenberg was quoted saying by Welt am Sonntag.

The Nato leader last week accused Russia of trying to destabilise the west with new nuclear weapon, cyber assaults and covert action, including the poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter in the British township of Salisbury.

” We can always do more and must reflect on that now. Salisbury follows, by all appearances, a pattern we’ve observed for some years- Russia is becoming more unpredictable and more aggressive ,” he said.

Russia denies any participation and says it is the US-led transatlantic alliance that is a risk to peace in Europe.

” Russia must not miscalculate ,” Stoltenberg told the newspaper.” We are always ready to respond when an friend is attacked militarily. We want believable deterrence. We don’t want any war. Our goal is de-escalation .”

Timeline

Poisoned umbrellas and polonium: Russian-linked UK deaths

September 1978

Georgi Markov

In one of the most chilling episodes of the cold war, the Bulgarian dissident was poisoned with a specially adapted umbrella on Waterloo Bridge. As he waited for a bus, Markov felt a sharp prick in his leg. The opposition activist, who was an irritant to the communist government of Bulgaria, succumbed 3 days later. A deadly pellet containing ricin was found in his scalp. His unknown assassin is thought to have been from the secret services in Bulgaria.

November 2006

Alexander Litvinenko

The fatal poisoning of the former FSB officer sparked an international incident. Litvinenko fell ill after drinking tea laced with radioactive polonium. He fulfilled his killers in a bar of the Millennium hotel in Mayfair. The pair were Andrei Lugovoi- a former KGB officer turned industrialist, who is now a deputy in Russia’s state Duma- and Dmitry Kovtun, a childhood friend of Lugovoi’s from a Soviet military household. Putin denied all involvement and refused to extradite either of the killers.

March 2012

German Gorbuntsov

The exiled Russian banker survived an endeavor on his life as he got out of a taxi in east London. He was shot four times with a silenced handgun. He had been involved in a bitter dispute with two former business partners.

November 2012

Alexander Perepilichnyy

The businessman collapsed while operating near his home in Surrey. Tracings of a chemical that can be found in the poison plant gelsemium were later found in his stomach. Before his death, Perepilichnyy was helping a specialist investment firm uncover a $230 m Russian money-laundering operation, a pre-inquest hearing was tell. Hermitage Capital Management claimed that Perepilichnyy could have been deliberately killed for helping it uncover the scam involving Russian officials. He may have feed a popular Russian dish containing the herb sorrel on the day of his death, which could have been poisoned.

March 2013

Boris Berezovsky

The exiled billionaire was find hanged in an apparent suicide after he had expended more than decade waging a high-profile media battle against his one-time protege Putin. A coroner recorded an open verdict after hearing conflicting expert proof about the style he died. A pathologist who conducted a postmortem examination on the businessman’s body said he could not rule in murder.

December 2014

Scot Young

An associate of Berezovsky whom he helped to launder money, he was procured impaled on railings after he fell from a fourth-floor flat in central London. A coroner ruled that there was insufficient evidence of suicide. But Young, who was sent to prison in January 2013 for repeatedly refusing to disclose his finances during a divorce row, told his partner he was going to jump out of the window moments before he was found.

Thank you for your feedback.

Stoltenberg said hybrid warfare could be added to the agenda of the next Nato-Russia council, a forum that brings together Nato ambassadors and Russia’s top envoy to the alliance, despite the suspension of joint workouts and peacekeeping operations.

” Hybrid warfare is a possible topic for the Nato-Russia council. We are now drawing up the next meeting, so I don’t want to say too much ,” he told the newspaper, referring to increased use of” hybrid tactics” such as soldiers without insignia.

” It’s important that we sit together at the table and speak to each other ,” he told, recommending Russia to abide by nuclear arms control treaties.

Stoltenberg listed as proof of Russia’s threat its 2014 annexation of Crimea, is supportive of separatists in Ukraine, military presence in Moldova and Georgia, meddling in western elections and involvement in the war in Syria.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Proper nutrition vital for race day – messenger-inquirer

Proper nutrition vital for race day
messenger-inquirer
As we learn more about nutrition and what foods are good fuel for our bodies, we are enlightened to find that less processed foods and more whole foods are easily digested and absorbed within the gut lining, providing actual nutrients and energy to the

Read more: www.messenger-inquirer.com

36 of the Handiest Gadgets on Amazon

Make your life style easier with these super handy contraptions!

We hope you find these handy products as awesome as we do. Just an FYI: 22 Words is a participant in the Amazon affiliate program, and may receive a share of marketings from links on this page .

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Anna Jones’ spring herb and yoghurt soup recipe | The modern cook

The modern cook: Wake up sleepy palates with this fresh herb soup or a crisp salad fortified with sorrel, roasted radish and lentil

The daffodils have been( and are almost gone) and the branches are heavy with flower: spring is here. In the kitchen, signs of winter are fading, although the greener things that spring will bring are still some style away. For render, its a no men land the hungry gap, as its often called.

Right now, soft herbs, wispy and green, fill my kitchen. From savoury flat-leaf parsley to the green tartness of the first sorrel, these first-of-the-year soft herbs, Im sure, are here to wake up our palates, lifting us out of the rhythm of wintertime cook and readying us for the fresh flavours and simple dishes that lie ahead.

I buy herbs once a week or so when they look good at the stores, and keep them alongside the milk bottles in the door of my fridge, standing in glasses with some cold water at the bottom like cut blooms. This doubles their lifespan( theyll maintain for about a week ), and their grassy fragrance is wafted around the room each time I open the fridge a casual reminder of their presence, which means they make their way into more of my cook than they might otherwise …

Herbs have been peppering everything I cook over the past few weeks: topping bright springtime stew, taking centre stage in soft herb omelettes, crowning gently spiced pilaf, and in pestos that sit under a golden slick of petroleum in the fridge.

Ive been buying bunches of sorrel an underused herb, likely because it can be hard to get hold of. If you can search it out, its lemony liveliness constructs your mouth water like no other food I know: if there was ever a herb to get us “re ready for” springtime, this is it. I love it in salads, cooked under eggs and wilted on toast. This week, I use it with lentils and radishes to make a pretty salad with some crispy-edged lentils.

Four soft, green herbs make an appearance in todays herb soup dill, tarragon, coriander and parsley but genuinely any combining of your favourites would work. This soup bridges the gap so perfectly: sunlight and optimistic in flavour with lemon and herbs, but backed up with butterbeans and yoghurt.

All herbs get their flavours from the essential petroleums within them, but fundamentally differ from each other in strength and structure. Softer herbs like coriander or basil often add more flavour when added at the end of a dish, whereas more traditional British herbs rosemary, sage, thyme, bay add more when theyre used during the cook. Whether or not you follow one of todays recipes, keep this in mind if and when you decide to infuse a meal with herbal notes. Springtimes soft herbs need little( or nothing) by way of cooking to do their very best in a meal.

Spring herb and yoghurt soup( main picture)

Just about the perfect bowlful for this space between winter and spring. You can use any soft herbs here only make sure you balance a more neutral herb, such as parsley, with a stronger one such as tarragon( the most powerful the flavour the less of that herb you will need ). You require quite a gentle stock for this: if you are using cubes or powder then a cube or 1 tsp of powder will be plenty in 1 litre of water.

Serves 4
Olive oil, for frying
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
small bunch of dill, fronds and stubbles separated
small bunch of tarragon, foliages and stubbles separated
1 bunch coriander, leaves and stalks separated
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stubbles divided
400g tin butter beans, drained
1 litre vegetable stock( see note above)
4 tbsp plain yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and black pepper
Sumac, to serve

1 Heat 1 tbsp petroleum in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and fry for about five minutes, stirring from time to time, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spices, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until the pan reeks aromatic.

2 Roughly chop the herb stalks, then add them to the pan along with the butterbeans and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, or until the husks have softened.

3 Allow to cool a little, then whizz with a stick blender in the pan until you have a smooth soup. Add the yoghurt, most of the herb leaves( reserving a few for the top of the soup) and whizz again, until smooth.

4 Add the lemon juice and taste, adjusting the seasoning with more salt or pepper. Ladle the soup into bowl and top with a sprinkling of sumac and a few herb leaves.

Sorrel, roasted radish and crispy lentil salad

If you cant get hold of sorrel, scrunch a couple of handful of spinach along with the juice of a lemon, then approximately shred it and scatter over the top in place of the sorrel. It wont be quite as fairly, but it will still savor great.

Sorrel, Sorrels lemony liveliness builds your mouth water like no other food I know, tells Anna Jones. Photo: Issy Croker for the Guardian

Serves 4
400g radishes, washed
400g new potatoes, washed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tbsp honey
800g tinned puy lentils, drained in a sieve and dried on kitchen newspaper
50ml yoghurt
2 handfuls of sorrel foliages, rinsed and dried well( see above for an alternative)
Salt and black pepper

1 Set the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ gas mark 6. Halve the radishes and potatoes. Tumble them on to a roasting tray with 1 tbsp of olive oil, half the lemon juice, some salt and the honey.

2 In a separate roasting tray, mix the lentils with a generous pinch of sea salt, another 1 tbsp of olive oil and the zest from the lemon.

3 Put the tray with the radishes and potatoes into the oven for 30 minutes, dedicating a shake once or twice during the course of its cook time. With 15 minutes to run, put the tray with the lentils into the oven. Roast until they are crisp and beginning to blister; the radishes and potatoes should be soft and golden brown at the edges.

4 Meanwhile, stimulate the dressing by whisking the yoghurt with a little squeeze of the lemon and the olive oil. Season well with salt and black pepper, savour and add more lemon, if you like, then set aside.

5 Once the lentils and radishes are cooked, remove from the oven and mixture everything in rough layers on a large platter with the sorrel. Drizzle with the yoghurt dressing.

Anna Jones is a chef, novelist and author of A Modern Way to Eatand A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

Nigel Slater’s peppers recipes

Its easy to build peppers the centre of your supper. But the real starring of the show is always their cook juices, says Nigel Slater

I like peppers best when they are deep red or orange, and roasted until their flesh is sweet. Even more when they are soft enough to fall apart as you carefully remove their charred skin. Come to think of it, that is pretty much the only route I like them.

They are good to stuff( with basmati rice and vine fruit; feta and olives or garlic-spiked pork ragu flecked with lemon and juniper ). Their capability is generous, which is more than you can say for a courgette, where most of your stuffing falls into the cooking dish.

A dish of roast peppers is a useful thing to have in the fridge, kept luscious with a drizzle of olive oil and clingfilm. You can stuff them into soft pillows of focaccia and taleggio; fill them with goats cheese and folds of Iberico ham, or spread them with artichoke or olive paste and shredded basil, and roll them up.

At their best, they come with their cook juices. This is the treasure that must never be wasted: the mixture of olive oil, pepper juice and seasoning( salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, perhaps rosemary) that collects for the purposes of the peppers as they roast. It is simply gorgeous, as sweet as caramel with a deep, fruity note. Mix it with red wine or sherry vinegar to make it go further. Percolate it, like the precious balm it is, over your cooked peppers and anything you might serve with them.

Roast peppers, toasted almond pesto

Simply
Simply red: roasted peppers and toasted almond pesto. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Dont be seduced to skip the toasting of the almonds, it deepens their flavour immeasurably. The pesto will keep for three or four days in the fridge. If it solidifies, then let it come up to cool room temperature before serving. It makes a rather fine sandwich filling, too.

red pepper 3
garlic 4 cloves
olive oil 1 tbsp

For the pesto:
scalped almonds 100 g
garlic 1 small clove
basil 50 g
lemon juice 1 tbsp
white wine vinegar 1 tbsp
olive oil 75 ml, plus a little extra
parmesan 60 g, grated

Set the oven at 200 C/ gas mark 6. Wipe the peppers, cut them in half lengthways and remove any white cores. Place the peppers cut side down in a cook tin, together with the whole, unpeeled garlic, trickle with olive oil, then bake for a good 40 minutes, until they have softened and wrinkled. If their skins have blackened then all to the good.

Make the pesto: set the almonds in a shallow pan and softly brown them over a moderate hot, flinging them around the pan from time to time until they are golden and toasted. Dont let anything confuse you almonds can burn in seconds.

Put the nuts into the bowl of a food processor, then add the peeled clove of garlic and the basil leaves and their stalks. Process to a coarse paste, add the lemon juice and white wine vinegar, then blend in the olive oil, taking care not to reduce the mixture to a smooth paste.

Stir in the grated parmesan and set the paste aside, covered, in a cool place.

Remove the peppers from the oven and let them relax for a few minutes until cool enough to handle. Peel off and dispose the scalps( they should come away easily ). Squeeze the garlic from its scalp. Place the skinned peppers on a serving dish, dot with the roasted garlic.

Pour a little more oil into the roasting tin. Stir to mix with the roast juices, scraping up any deliciousness from the pan, then trickle over the peppers. Serve at room temperature, with a bowl of the toasted almond pesto, stirred at the last minute.

Lentils, peppers and gorgonzola

Serves 3-4
romano peppers 6
olive oil 2 tbsp
red onion 1, medium-sized
white wine vinegar 3 tbsp
lentils small and dark green, such as le Puy1 50 g
parsley a small bunch( 20 g)
gorgonzola 200 g

For the dressing:
basil 25 g
parsley 15 g
red chilli small and mild
shelled walnuts 50 g
olive oil 6 tbsp
lemon juice 3 tbsp

Heat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6. Place the whole peppers in a roast tin, add the olive oil and 2 tbsp of water and bake for 30 -4 0 minutes until they have collapsed and the skin is black in patches. Remove them from the oven.

Peel and finely slice the onion, set it in a small mixing bowl then cover with the vinegar and set aside for at least 40 minutes. Turn the onion over in the vinegar from time to time to ensure it is evenly marinated.

Boil the lentils in a pan of deep, lightly salted water for 20 -2 5 minutes until tender but with a little bite in their own homes. Drain them in a sieve, put in a bowl then add the drained onion to them.

Peel the skins off the peppers, reserving their roasting juices. Tear the peppers into long, wide strips and place on a serve plate. Add the juices to the lentils. Transgress the gorgonzola into bite-sized pieces and add to the lentils.

Roughly chop the parsley. If the foliages are small, I like to leave them whole. Stimulate the herb dres by putting the basil leaves and stems and parsley foliages into a food processor or blender, with the chilli( halved and seeds removed ), shelled walnuts, olive oil and a pinch of ocean salt, and processing to a coarse green paste. Taste the paste for seasoning and add salt and lemon juice as necessary.

Spoon the lentils and cheese on to the peppers, percolating over any garmenting from the bottom of the bowl. Place a spoonful of the herb garmenting on top.

Email Nigel at nigel.slater @observer. co.uk or follow him on Twitter @NigelSlater

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Kratom Proponents Take Their Fight To D.C. As Potential Federal Ban Looms

Dozens of advocates, consumers and vendors of the botanical narcotic kratom traveled to Washington , D.C ., last week, hoping to preserve access to an herb they say has improved and even saved lives.

The week of advocacy began last Tuesday with a rally outside the U.S. Capitol building and continued across three days of meetings with legislative aides. Participants took the opportunity to share their personal experiences with kratom and educate congressional staffers on issues around a federal it is proposed to ban the herbal supplement, a move that would criminalize a treatment that many users say they prefer over prescription drugs.

Organizers told many of the Hill staffers they met with had heard about kratom, a psychoactive herb derived from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree related to coffee, which hadn’t been the case during previous appointments. But they admitted it would be a constant battle to counter “misinformation” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has sought to portray kratom as a deadly opioid, even as many doctors and scientists say that likely isn’t true.

“Our goal is to educate in an effort to be proactive rather than reactive, ” a spokesperson for Kratom Community Grassroots, a nonprofit advocacy organisation, told HuffPost. “Many legislators are leaving office with new Representatives and staff taking their place. Educating will be an ongoing endeavor to increase awareness and preserve our access to kratom.”

The group told advocates specifically talked to congressional aides about the FDA’s recent utilize of a “misguided computational model” to categorize kratom as an “opioid, ” as well as controversy over the agency’s mandatory recall of kratom products following positive exams for salmonella.( Kratom Community Grassroots called the latter issue a “closed instance with no source identified.”)

They also challenged the FDA’s presentation of 44 deaths that it claims were associated with kratom. As HuffPost has reported, almost all of the cases cited by the agency involved the use of many different substances — as many as 9, according to one autopsy. One alleged kratom-associated demise involved an individual who was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest. Another succumbed by suicide.

Matt Kelley
Dozens of proponents, consumers and vendors of the botanical drug kratom gathered for a rally in Washington last week, ahead of three days of sessions with legislative aides.

The week’s events marked the latest chapter in a protracted battle over the legality of kratom. The federal government has appeared intent on enforcing a forbid, despite vocal opponent from proponents and other experts who say the move would heap additional misery on kratom users, many of whom suffer from serious medical conditions that they’ve been unable to effectively treat with more traditional medications.

Kratom products are sold in the U.S. as herbal supplements, meaning they’re subject to few federal regulations. Six countries have already banned kratom, employing many of the same arguments the federal government is now putting forth. Industry groups calculate there are between 3 to 5 million kratom users nationwide, who commonly take it in powder kind, often shall be as set out in capsules or brewed in tea. Users regularly tout kratom for its mood-enhancing qualities, as well its stimulant or sedative properties, who are capable of vary depending on the dose and strain.

But the federal government has seized primarily on kratom’s opioid-like impacts, following reports of the herbal drug’s growing popularity as an alternative to prescription painkillers, or a replacement therapy for most harmful opioids. Earlier this year, the FDA announced it had run a computer analysis showing that kratom was an “opioid, ” and that the agency could therefore “predict its biological function in the body.”

Researchers have called that computer model’s accuracy into question and argued that the “opioid” label is so broad and obvious that it’s meaningless. Compounds can interact with opioid receptors in a variety of ways, and not all of them involve the harmful side-effects that have made the opioid epidemic such a deadly and addictive problem today.

In fact, while kratom’s active ingredients — mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine — do appear to activate opioid receptors, initial analyses have found that they do so without triggering the sort of severe respiratory depression links with fatal opioid overdoses. Scientists and doctors have called for further research into kratom’s potential benefits and risks amid the broader search for safer painkillers.

Alissa Scheller
An assortment of kratom products, which are marketed in the U.S. as herbal supplements.

Nevertheless, in 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced plans to place kratom in Schedule I. Substances in Schedule I include heroin and other deadly synthetic opioids, and are considered to have no known medical benefit and a high possibilities for abuse. Following a month of intense public backlash from kratom proponents and members of Congress, the DEA decided to postpone the move.

But the FDA renewed talks of a kratom ban last year when it issued a public health advisory outlining concerns about the botanical drug’s “deadly risks” and possibilities for abuse and addiction. Because kratom hasn’t officially been approved for any medical purpose, the FDA has expressed concerns that people are using kratom to self-medicate for pain or opioid withdrawal symptoms, sometimes at the exhort of vendors who have attained misleading claims about the herb’s efficacy.

Amid this public campaign, the FDA has officially recommended that the DEA proceed with scheduling, legislative aides told kratom advocates last week. The DEA has hinted that a decision could come as early as this summer, but an agency representative declined to provide HuffPost with a more concrete timeline.

At the kick-off rally last Tuesday, kratom advocates from across the country explained what they’d stand to lose if the DEA pushings forward with the ban. Many recounted battles with chronic ache, which they’d spent years trying to treat with prescription painkillers. Some said they spiraled into opioid craving as a result. Others considered a diminished quality of life, as powerful narcotics plunged them into a cloud that made day-to-day activities difficult.

For many users, kratom had worked in ways that more conventional narcotics hadn’t. And that wasn’t merely the instance for chronic pain sufferers.

Sage Beam, a Virginia-based peer supporting expert, said she’d discovered kratom 18 months ago. She now considers it to be one of the many tools she can use to feel better and combat the depression and anxiety that once led her to endeavor suicide, she said.

“I like my life now, ” Beam said during a speech. “I like my friends. I like my family. And I don’t just like my life, I want my life.”

Matt Kelley
Kratom advocates hold up a sign at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol building last week.

After the rally, kratom advocates headed into the Capitol to meet with legislative aides. By the end of the week, they met with staff members of 26 House and Senate offices, according to Kratom Community Grassroots.

The feedback was mixed, said Melanie Victor, a volunteer who built the trip-up from Tennessee. Most of the aides were receptive to the concerns of kratom proponents, but in the end, unwilling or unable to offer assurances. A few dedicated a bleaker outlook, saying that if the FDA supported a prohibition, the DEA would most likely follow suit.

“They were pretty much letting us know that this isn’t looking too great, ” Victor told HuffPost. “This is probably going to be a pretty big fight.”

The stakes are high for Victor, who was introduced to kratom after having an unpleasant experience with the opioids she’d been prescribed following a string of surgeries to treat a near-fatal liver illnes, which she says was caused by another medication. Victor said she continues to take kratom, but not every day.

For other kratom users who are grappling with severe chronic pain and issues of opioid addiction, the consequences of a prohibit could be worse, said Victor. If the government takes away their preferred method of treatment, she predicts many will end up being forced to go back to the medications that caused them problems in the past.

That thought only drives Victor to work harder to keep kratom legal.

“Right now I think is crunch time, ” she told. “This is when we have to push.”

Read more: www.huffingtonpost.com