Georgia O’Keeffe, health food devotee: the pioneer of modernism’s favourite recipes

The American artist lived until she was 98 and a new volume of her favourite recipes might give some clues as to how

Georgia OKeeffe was an icon of the American art world: a pioneer of abstract modernism, with boldly innovative paints of flowers and bleached animal skulls. Lesser known is that her diet, too, was ahead of its period.

A new cookbook of OKeeffes personal recipes Dinner with Georgia OKeeffe: Recipes, Art and Landscape, by the Australian author Robyn Lea reveals she was a forerunner to todays organic, slow food movement, a health food follower who built her own yoghurt.

A hundred years ago, OKeeffes first solo exhibition opened in New York and, in 2014, her 1932 painting Jimson Weed/ White Flower No 1 set a record cost for a run by a female artist, selling at Sothebys for $44.4 m. With her art so highly coveted, it is unsurprising that an astute luxury publisher such as Assouline believes there is also a receptive market awaiting her recipes. But her lifestyle habits will be of interest to an audience beyond art aficionados since OKeeffe lived until the age of 98.

In photographs, OKeeffe appears unsmiling and stern-looking, garmented in a largely androgynous uniform of monochromes and striking silhouettes. She was often photographed by her husband and mentor, the photographer and gallerist Alfred Stieglitz but knowing what she liked to eat goes some route to humanise her beyond his powerful black and white images.

You various kinds of feel like youre reading people diary in a way, feeing the food they eat, because its quite a personal thing, Lea says. She actually was quite a force-out for this new way of thinking across so many levels, whether in art, food, dress and interiors.

The book is a companion piece of sorts to Leas 2015 volume, Dinner with Jackson Pollock, which featured the personal recipes of the celebrated modern painter. Lea believes it is natural that she should follow up her Pollock book with one on OKeeffe. If you think of the hero male icon and the hero female icon of the 20 th century in art in America, they are the two.

When Lea began conducting online research from her home in Melbourne, she knew nothing of OKeeffes feeing habits. It was four months later in March 2016 that she visited the Georgia OKeeffe Research Centre in New Mexico and discovered a trove of OKeeffes handwritten recipes, along with magazine trims and instructional handbooks for her yoghurt manufacturer and various kitchen accoutrements. What fascinated me was how the three elements of food, art and nature worked together both visually and philosophically in OKeeffes life, Lea says.

Georgia
Georgia OKeeffe with a canvas from her Pelvis Series, Red With Yellow in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1960. Photograph: Tony Vaccaro/ Getty Images

Stieglitz described his wife as quite a cook, loves experimenting is in everything she does, what she is as a painter[ sic ]. During summers with the Stieglitz family at Lake George in upstate New York, OKeeffe attained dinners so delicious that Stieglitz even joked about opening a eatery.

OKeeffe had been raised on a farm in Wisconsin, and induced the first of many journeys to northern New Mexico in the summer of 1929. The stark scenery had a profound influence on her art. From the mid-1 930 s, she began spending a lot more time in New Mexico, away from Stieglitz in New York. In 1940, she bought a home at Ghost Ranch , northwest of Santa Fe. At the end of 1945, she bought a second property only 25 km from the Ghost Ranch, a destroyed hacienda in the village of Abiqui. It was here that she ultimately grew her dreaming garden of fruit and vegetables. OKeeffe moved to Abiquiu permanently in 1949, three years after Stieglitzs death, and she remained in New Mexico until her death in 1986.

Leas book exposes the great lengths OKeeffe went to to procure superior quality raw ingredients. She requested walnuts, dates, wheat germ and brewers yeast from her sister Claudia, while goats milk was procured from neighbouring Franciscan priests. OKeeffe believed water had to already be simmering before corn was picked from the garden( to avoid loss of vitamins ); organic whole grains needed to be ground for homemade bread; and herbs were to be harvested from the garden and hung to dry. OKeeffe was also a follower of health beverages such as vitamin A cocktail, a vegetable juice, and Tigers Milk, a yogurt and fruit drink.

OKeeffe was passionate about sharing her nutritional knowledge with others and would make healthy smoothies for friends on neighbouring properties, insisting they drank them. Even her gardener, shed induce him have these smoothies saying, Youll live longer, youll be healthier, Lea says.

Fifty of her favourite recipes are included in Leas book, including brightly coloured vegetable soups( a creamy carrot soup adorns the cover-up) as well as bread and salads. Lea says she isnt sure whether the vivid colouring in OKeeffes recipes was motivated by her preoccupation with colour, or more because she only wanted things only cooked to the point where they were right to feed and not over simmered. But its hard not to conclude that the colours of such healthy dishes must have pleased the artist.

OKeeffe also believed that food could enhance artistic output. The volume contains an anecdote about OKeeffe quizzing the artist John Marin about what he feed for breakfast on the day he painted three runs admired by OKeeffe. She truly did believe that, if you feed something good for breakfast, that had the power to help your creative work, your expres, Lea says. While such thinking is common now, it was not in 1925.

It feels like a new discovery in a manner that is, that people are talking like that today, but it seems she was thinking that route before these ideas were scientifically proven.

Dinner with Georgia OKeeffe: Recipes, Art and Landscape will be launched in Australia at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on 5 July, to coincide with OKeeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Inducing Modernism, which opens at AGNSW on 1 July

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Should link between dementia and artificial sweeteners be taken with a pinch of salt?

How peoples capacity for forgetfulness and lies may have impacted on research tying stroke and dementia to diet drinks

They were supposed to be the healthy alternative to their sugar-rich siblings. But now lovers of diet colas and other low-calorie drinks have been hit by news that will radically undermine those credentials: a counterintuitive analyse suggesting a link to stroke and dementia.

The study in the publication Stroke may cause a rethink among the persons worried about obesity, diabetes or a possible early heart attack from sugar-rich beverages who have been considering making a change. It comes to the alarming conclusion that people polishing off one can a day of artificially sweetened drink are nearly three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia.

Its a shocking conclusion. But the first reason to intermission is that the study determined no such hazard in people who drank standard sugary lemonades and colas.

There is little previous evidence with regard to dementia, which is why the researchers were looking at it, but the link between sugar and stroke is very well known. Too much sugar raises the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks and stroke. Its altogether a bad thing, which is why the World Health Organisation is telling us all to cut down. So “whats going on” in this study?

The evidence it analyses is pulled from the well-respected Framingham Heart Study a cohort of more than 5,000 people in Massachusetts, US, whose diets and lifestyles have been monitored for nearly 50 years, with the main objective of used to identify more about heart disease. Along the route, researchers have looked at other health outcomes.

What they are up against is people capability for forgetfulness and lies. This is the case with every analyze into the food we eat except for those rare ones, almost impossible to do today, which have in effect incarcerated their subjects and controlled every sip and mouthful they took.Researchers understand this and to continue efforts to take account of it, but it is difficult.

There are several possible other reasons why an increased stroke hazard was associated with diet drinkings and not sugary drinks. One is what is called reversal causality. People who come to realise that they are ill and have a high risk of a stroke then switch their behaviour by choosing diet drinks long after sugary beverages have helped cause the problem.

When it came to dementia, the link with diet drinks that researchers ensure disappeared once they took specific aspects of the health of the people in the study into account. When the researchers accounted for other determining factor for Alzheimers, such as risk genes, diabetes, heart disease, cholesterol levels and weight, this significant association was lost, suggesting that these drinks are not the whole story, said Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimers Research UK.

The researchers point to it themselves: We are unable to determine whether artificially sweetened soft drink intake increased the risk of incident dementia through diabetes mellitus or whether people with diabetes mellitus were simply more likely to devour diet liquors, they write. But they call for more research and others will support them in that.

Artificial sweeteners have been viewed with mistrust by a lot of consumers for many years and not entirely deservedly. They are not natural, in the way that sugar is natural, being grown from beet or cane. Some of the hostility comes from those who worry about ingesting man-made chemicals. But while some artificial flavourings have been shown to carry health risks, examines have failed to find similar problems with artificial sweeteners.

Aspartame has been extremely controversial since its approval for utilize by several European countries in the 1980 s, says NHS Choices. In 1996, a study connected it to an increase in brain tumours. However, the study had very few scientific basis and later analyzes showed that aspartame was in fact safe to devour, says the NHS.

Large analyses have also been carried out to look at whether the sweetener increased cancer dangers, and gave it a clean bill of health. The European Food Safety Authority said in 2013 it was safe even for pregnant women and children, except for anyone with a rare genetic condition called phenylketonuria.

Dumping aspartame from its low calorie bestseller did not give PepsiCo the halo impact it hoped. In 2015, it announced it was taking the sweetener some people love to dislike out of Diet Pepsi and replacing it with sucralose. A year later, when it became clear Coca Cola would not follow suit and that fans favor their drink the style it used to be, it did a U-turn and set aspartame back in.

There have been huge efforts to develop artificial sweeteners that will taste as good as sugar and be acceptable to the doubters. Stevia, a plant extract, is marketed as a natural sweetener to the increasingly sceptical health-conscious.

Now it is not just drinks. Public Health England is putting pressure on food companies to cut 20% of sugar from their products by 2020. That will probably mean smaller chocolate bars, where artificial sweeteners merely wont deliver the same savour. But they will be part of the answer in other foods.

Sweeteners such as sucralose, which is 650 periods sweeter than sugar, have long been in breakfast cereals and salad dressings, while saccharin is in store-bought cakes, despite a scare over bladder cancer which caused the Canadian government to ban it as an additive in 1977. It lifted the ban in 2014. The safety debate will go on, but artificial sweeteners are likely to play a bigger part in our diet as the squeeze on sugar ramps up.

There are those, however, who suppose artificial sweeteners will never be the answer to obesity and the diseases that follow in its wake. The problem, in their view, is our sweet tooth and the answer is to reduce our liking for sweetness. So they want to see the gradual reduction of the amount of sugar in our drinkings and our food and snacks without it.

It worked with salt, says Cash, the campaign for action on salt and health, which did much to bring down the salt levels in our food without our noticing it. The same should be possible for sugar. But not if artificial replaces are used to keep our food and drinks tasting just as sweet as they did before.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette recipes

A spanakopita-like filo pie with courgette instead of the usual spinach, and shaved raw courgettes that add bite to a seasonal salad

I associate courgettes with summer vacations in Greece, where the pale-skinned, pear-shaped range are sold by the roadside and served in every taverna. Luckily, there are as many ways and means to cook courgettes as there are courgettes in Greece, and each has a different consequence: maximise courgettes’ freshness by serving them raw, marinated, pickled or grilled; or roast or slow-cook for a creamier outcome. This spanakopita-like filo tart, in which I swap the usual spinach for courgette, is a nod to happy summers in the Mediterranean sun.

Courgette and herb filo pie( pictured above)

I’ve added cheddar to what is otherwise a straightforward Greek pie, because I find it ties everything together nicely, but feel free to employ another cheese, if you prefer.

Prep 12 min
Cook 1 hr 50 min
Serves 4

1kg courgettes ( about 6 ), trimmed and grated
Salt and black pepper
20 g dill , roughly chopped
20 g tarragon leaves , roughly chopped
20 g parsley leaves , approximately chopped
4-6 spring onions , thinly sliced( 60 g)
2 eggs , beaten
150 g feta , roughly crumbled
80 g mature cheddar , coarsely grated
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp lemon zest , finely grated
40 ml olive oil
175 g filo pastry ( ie, 7 39 cm x 30 cm sheets)
1/2 tsp nigella seeds

Heat the oven to 170 C/ 335 F/ gas 3. Mix the grated courgettes and two teaspoons of salt in a large bowl, then tip into a sieve and leave to drainage for 30 minutes.

Wrap the courgettes in batches in a clean tea towel and wring tightly, to extract as much liquid as possible – you should end up with about 520 g courgette flesh. Transfer to a large bowl and add the herbs, onions, eggs, both cheese, chilli, lemon zest, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper.

Line the base of a 23 cm spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper and softly grease the sides with petroleum. Lay a sheet of filo over the base, allowing the excess to hang over the sides of the tin, and brush with petroleum. Top with another piece of filo, rotating it slightly so the excess hangs at a different slant, brush with petroleum, then recur three more times, until you have used up five sheets in all. Set the courgette filling in the centre of the pie and even it out with a spoon. Brush another piece of filo with oil, fold it in half horizontally and lay it over the filling, tucking in any excess around the fill. Brush with petroleum, then recur with the last sheet of filo, angling it to cover any exposed filling. Fold over the overhanging filo, crinkling it up to leave a crumpled top, brush with more petroleum and sprinkle with the nigella seeds.

Transfer the tin to an oven tray and bake for 50 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the outer ring of the tin, and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Herby courgettes and peas with semolina porridge

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghi’s herby courgettes and peas with semolina porridge. Photo: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This is a standalone vegetarian main course that I return to time and again. The semolina porridge is like runny polenta, merely a little creamier. You can replace it with rice or mashed potato, if you like.

Prep 15 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4-6

50 g unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves , peeled and thinly sliced
1.2 kg big courgettes ( ie, about 6-7 ), trimmed, cut in half lengthways, then thinly sliced widthways
Salt and black pepper
200 g frozen peas , defrosted
25 g basil leaves , roughly shredded
15 g tarragon leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50 g pine nuts , gently toasted
1 tbsp olive oil , to serve

For the semolina porridge
600 g whole milk
180 g semolina
100 g pecorino , finely shaved

Put the butter in a large saute pan for which you have a lid, and put it on a medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and fry for a minute or two, until it starts to brown.

Add the courgettes, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for five minutes, stirring often, until the courgettes start to soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low, covering and leave to cook for five minutes. Stir in the peas and warm through for a minute, until the peas are cooked, then take off the heat, stir in the herbs and lemon zest, and set aside while you make the porridge.

Put the milk and 600 ml water in a medium saucepan, and add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Bring to a simmer on a medium-high hot, then add the semolina and whisk continuously for three to four minutes, until smooth and thick, like porridge. Turn off the hot and stir in 80 g of the pecorino.

Divide the porridge between shallow bowl and top with the courgettes and peas. Finish with the pine nuts, a sprinkling of the remaining pecorino and a drizzle of oil.

Courgette, thyme and walnut salad

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette, thyme and walnut salad. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This needs to be dished up the moment its induced, before the courgettes start’ sobbing’ and losing their freshness, so don’t let it sit around for too long. It goes well with meat from the grill or alongside a bunch of meze.

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
10 g thyme sprigs
1 lemon – peel finely shaved into 6 strips( avoid the bitternes white pith ), then juiced, to get 2 tbsp
1 garlic clove , smashed with the flat side of a knife
600 g courgettes ( a mixture of green and yellow looks great, if you can find both ), trimmed and shaved into long, thin ribbons with a potato peeler or mandoline
60 g walnut halves , roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
15 g basil , roughly shredded

Put the oil, thyme, lemon peel and garlic in a small saucepan on a low hot and leave to infuse for eight minutes, until the petroleum becomes aromatic and the garlic, lemon and thyme start to colour. Take off the heat, leave to cool, then strain the petroleum into a large bowl. Pick the foliages off the sprigs and add to the oil; discard the sprigs, lemon and garlic.

Put the courgettes, walnuts, lemon juice, a third of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper into the oil, then massage the courgettes for a minute or so- they will break up a little- then stir in the basil and serve at once.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Fresh thinking: Trine Hahnemann’s Danish cuisine recipes

While still based in tradition, Danish cuisine has embraced new flavours, foreign ingredients and a lighter touch, says Trine Hahnemann

We Danes have stopped thinking about the snack as revolving around meat and potatoes. More things are eaten raw than my grandmother would have imagined.

While my cook is quite different from my grandmothers it is still deeply rooted in tradition, but I use stronger flavours, more spices, more fresh herbs, different techniques. I grew up with cauliflower boiled to death or in a gratin with white sauce. Now I serve it in endless styles: raw, fried in butter, as a pure with chilli.

Inspiration from around the world has entered modern Danish cooking, and texture and combinings have changed. It is lighter, a bit more complex in flavor, but without giving in on seasonality and still recognising the benefits of maintaining things simple.

Spelt tart with spinach, Jerusalem artichokes and feta

This tart is ideal for everyday cooking and not that hard to induce. Its also perfect for guests, as it can be made the day before, then heated up to serve. Serves 4-6.

For the pastry:
plain flour 100 g, plus extra for dusting
wholegrain spelt flour 100 g
ocean salt 1 tsp
butter, chopped 75 g
skyr( quark) or fromage frais 75 g

For the filling:
Jerusalem artichokes 200 g
olive oil 2 tbsp
garlic cloves, chopped 2
spinach 500 g
eggs, beaten 5
full-fat crme frache 100 ml
feta cheese 200 g, crumbled
freshly grated nutmeg 1 tsp
sea salt 1 tsp
freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp

Begin with the pastry. Mix both flours with the salt in a large bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips. Mix in the skyr( quark) or fromage frais. Knead the dough softly with your hands just until the ingredients are combined.( Alternatively, pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor, adding a little water if the dough does not come together .)

Roll the dough out on a floured surface and butter a tart tin or dish, about 28 cm in diameter. Use the pastry to line the tart tin, then refrigerate for one hour. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and pour in baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then remove the cooking beans and parchment and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the fill. Peel the artichokes and cut them into 1.5 cm chunks. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the artichokes and saut for 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic and let it cook for about five minutes; take off the hot. If employing fresh spinach, rinse in cold water, then place in a separate saucepan over a medium hot and allow it to wilt. When it is just wilted, drain really well in a sieve.

Put the beat eggs, crme frache, feta, nutmeg and salt and pepper into a large bowl and mixture well with a wooden spoon. Fold in the drained spinach and Jerusalem artichokes. Pour the mixture into the pastry suit, return it to the oven and cook for 3035 minutes, or until the fill has defined but retains a slight wobble. Serve right away with a nice salad.

Cauliflower, prawns and dill

Cauliflower,
Raw deal: cauliflower, prawns and dill. Photo: Columbus Leth

When I was growing up we ate cauliflower raw with a dip. It has inspired this great-tasting salad. Serves 4-6

small cauliflower 1
radishes 10
cooked peeled prawns 200 g

For the dressing:
chopped dill 6 tbsp
chopped chives 6 tbsp
Greek yogurt 150 ml
grated unwaxed lemon zest 1 tbsp
lemon juice 1-2 tbsp
ocean salt
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cauliflower into thin slices, rinse well in cold water then drain in a colander. Slice the radishes. Mix all the garmenting ingredients together, with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the cauliflower slices, radishes and prawns together in a big mixing bowl, then mix in the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper and perhaps a little more lemon juice for acidity. Leave for 10 minutes then season again and serve.

Warm butternut squash with almonds and herbs

Orange
Watercress topped: warm butternut squash with almonds and herbs. Photograph: Columbus Leth

I had a dish similar to this one in Seoul, Korea, and this is my Scandi autumn version for the time of year when pumpkins start to be harvested. Serves 4.

butternut squash, unpeeled 1
extra-virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
watercress, to decorate

For the herb topping:
spring onions 2
green chilli, chopped 1
chopped parsley 3 tbsp
chopped mint 3 tbsp
garlic clove 1, grated
lemon juice 1-2 tbsp
butter 2 tbsp
almonds 100 g, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways, scrape out all the seeds, then cut each squash half into slice from the shorter side. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, toss with the olive oil and some salt and pepper and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, stimulate the herb topping. Thinly slice the spring onions. Mix the chilli, chopped herbs, garlic and lemon juice together and set aside. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the almonds and spring onions and cook until browned. Take off the heat and keep warm.

Transfer the cooked butternut squash slice to a serving dish, stir the herb mixture into the brown buttered almonds and spring onions, then spoon on top of the butternut squash. Finish by decorating with watercress.

Winter apple layer cake

Nuts
Apple support: wintertime apple layer cake. Photograph: Columbus Leth

This a classic Danish recipe. The cream is partly inspired by my favourite Danish author, Karen Blixen. Serves 8.

For the apple sauce:
Bramley apples 600 g
caster sugar 40 g
lemon juice 1 tsp

For the layers:
soft butter 175 g
caster sugar 175 g
egg 1
plain flour 175 g
ground cinnamon 3 tsp
ground cardamom 2 tsp

For the cream:
hazelnuts 100 g
doubled cream 400 ml
single cream 100 ml
icing sugar 2 tsp

Peel and dice the apples and set them into a pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Let them simmer for 15 -2 0 minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 200 C/ gas mark 6. Draw a 20 cm circle using a pencil on 7 sheets of cooking parchment. Turn these over and arrange on as many baking sheets as necessary to fit( you may have to bake these in batches ).

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffies, then beat in the egg. Mix the flour and spices together and fold into the creamed concoction. Utilizing a spatula, spread the mixture as evenly as is practicable inside each visible circle on the pieces of baking parchment.

Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until the edges start to take on some colour. Set aside to cool on the sheets of parchment on a wire rack. While the layers are cooling, roast the hazelnuts. Spread them out on a baking sheet and roasted in the oven, then wrap them in a clean tea towel and give them a good scratch, so the scalps come off. Roughly chop them. Whip both creams with the icing sugar and stir in two-thirds of the hazelnuts.

Assemble the cake immediately before serve. Place a crisp layer on a serving plate and add some apple sauce, then add another crisp layer, then some cream. Recur this layer pattern twice, then add the last crisp layer and some apple sauce on top. Sprinkle the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top and serve right away.

Scandinavian Comfort Food: Espousing the Art of Hygge by Trine Hahnemann is published by Quadrille at 25. To order a transcript for 20.50, go to bookshop.theguardian.com

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Fool’s gold: what fish petroleum is doing to our health and countries around the world

Omega-3 is one of our favourite supplements but a huge new survey has received it has little or no benefit. How did it become a $30 bn business?

The omega-3 industry is in a twisting. Again. Last week, Cochrane, an organisation that compiles and assesses medical research for the public, released a meta-analysis- a study of studies- to determine whether or not omega-3 pills, one of the world’s most popular dietary supplements, reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. After comparing 79 trials involving 112,059 people, the researchers could find” little or no change to danger of cardiovascular events, coronary heart demises, coronary heart disease events, stroke or heart irregularities “.

I can’t say that I was especially surprised. Over the past 15 years, more than 20 surveys have shown a similar absence of effect. But what does surprise me is how we continue to look at the world of fish and seafood through the amber lens of a fish petroleum capsule. Omega-3s do something in our bodies- and probably something important. But without the larger context of the marine organisms that contain them, omega-3s get lost in the noise of human metabolism and modern marketing.

The confusion develops in part from the historical luggage of fish oil and the $30 bn( PS23bn) industry associated with omega-3 extraction. Once upon a time, fish oil solved a major human health problem. But it had nothing to do with coronary heart disease. During the Industrial Revolution, a disease became increasingly prevalent throughout northern Europe: rickets. Malnourished children in sunlight-poor urban slums often aimed up bowlegged by adolescence. Researchers eventually pieced the puzzle together and concluded that the disease is a result of a deficiency in vitamin D, which the body naturally generates in the presence of sunlight. And, as it turned out, vitamin D is stored in high sums within the liver of codfish.

A Norwegian pharmacist named Peter Moller confiscated upon this finding( and many other anecdotal stories about the curative properties of cod-liver oil ). Using a patented chemical process, he arrived at a product that, he announced to the world,” didn’t taste fishy “. Moller and his advertising squad then launched a campaign to institutionalise the regular employ of cod-liver petroleum, regardless of whether you were at risk of rickets or not. The campaign was a success: a spoonful a day became common practice. Moller built his company into an international presence and died in 1869 with 70 cod-liver petroleum steam mills to his name, churning out 5,000 barrels of the stuff a year. By the time omega-3s started to be a focus of medical research, there was already a rosy impression around fish oil.

In the early 1970 s, the chemist Hans Olaf Bang read in a Danish periodical that there were extremely low incidences of cardiovascular disease in Inuit communities of Greenland. He and his assistant, Jorn Dyerberg, travelled to Uummannaq on the north-west coast of Greenland to investigate. At the time of the expedition, Bang didn’t quite know what he wanted to test for. They probed and palpated 130 local people, measured height and weight, and came home with a lot of blood.

” We had these 130 precious samples of blood ,” Dyerberg told me in his laboratory in Copenhagen recently. They estimated that in 20 years, the traditional Inuit diet would have changed to the western diet, and Dyerberg recollects Bang saying: “‘ There will never be anyone who can do this again, so let’s do whatever we can !’ And we decided to do fatty acid analysis .”

The result of their analysis was a hypothesis that is an exemplary” association examine “. In an association analyse, multiple factors are logged and a hypothesis of correlation is drawn from the findings. In the case of the Bang and Dyerberg Inuit study, they found that: 1) Inuit people in Greenland had a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and blood lipid levels of omega-3s much higher than their western contemporaries. 2) Inuit people also had, according to public health records, markedly lower rates of coronary heart disease. They hypothesised that therefore 3) omega-3s might reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

This was backed up by further laboratory analyses that did demonstrate, in vitro, that omega-3s were involved in anti-inflammatory reactions. But- and this is a big but- while correlations abound for omega-3s and heart disease, the real trouble has always been in proving causation. That is where this latest round of studies comes in.

The Cochrane study and the others that preceded it have one thing in common: they are meta-analyses of” randomised control trials”( RCTs ). That is, trials where patients are given a supplement at random and tracked over time against another set of patients given a placebo. Most statisticians consider these trials to be the very top of the evidence pyramid. But it is these studies that have at times proven troublesome for Omega World. Each day RCTs come to illuminated that display little or no effect, Omega World tends to blend its counterargument with proof from association surveys because, as a recent industry reply to the Cochrane report put it,” it’s all connected “.

When it then turns to the RCTs, the industry, as would be expected, looks for different explanations as to why positive health outcomes weren’t reported. In the explosion of RCTs preceding Cochrane, the Omega World line was that these most recent trials did not show benefits because things such as statins, stents and other forms of cardiovascular intervention masked the anti-inflammatory effect of fish petroleum pills; earlier RCTs had shown a fairly significant effect, but none of those treatments existed at the time of those trials.

The industry also, and I believe rightly, pointed out that surveys often failed to look at omega-3 blood lipid levels before and after supplementation. In other terms, it’s not really a fair trial if you don’t know where the patients started with respect to the omega-3 levels in their blood. If we only measure impact without looking at omega-3 levels in the blood at the outset, aren’t we doing the dietary equivalent of testing how far a auto can drive without checking how much petrol is in the tank at the start?

With Cochrane, the latest industry debate is that the study’s authors cut out a number of different forms of cardiac ailments, thus skewing the stats. In particular, it notes that Cochrane failed to include” sudden cardiac death” and” sudden cardiac mortality” in its listing of outcomes. Since almost half of all patients first report heart disease to their doctors by abruptly falling dead, this is not an insignificant exclusion.

But the fact that the industry’s debates shift with each new, damning meta-analysis gives you intermission. What is going on? Is there an international conspiracy to discredit omega-3s? Or does Omega World keep moving the goalposts? When I posed this question to Ellen Schutt, the executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, probably the world’s most prominent omega-3 advocacy organisation, she made it seem as if the problem didn’t even exist.” As a matter of fact, we track media sentiment … and have found many more positive omega-3 tales than negative, in general. Of course, the negative stories are the ones that catch people’s attention. As we both know, negative tales are much more interesting and the media is definitely guilty of sensationalist’ clickbait’ headlines such as:’ Omega-3s don’t work .'”

As sympathetic as I am to the trials of Omega World, as analyzes continue to poke holes in aspects of the omega-3 cardiovascular argument, I can’t help supposing there is something else going on. Because, while the fish petroleum supplement business is a big deal, it is also a sheen on the surface of a much deeper pond. Long before omega-3 supplements became popular, an industry developed that used the same omega-3-rich animals not for medication, but for an odd array of agricultural and industrial purposes.

Ultimately, it was this so-called ” reduction industry” that created the oily-fish extraction system that now devours millions of tonnes of marine wildlife every year. Today, one in every four kilograms of fish capture is reduced into oil and snack and used for agriculture, land animal husbandry and, most recently, fish farming, AKA aquaculture.

The reduction industry has appeared in different forms under different ownership over centuries of human history. In the 18 th century, it targeted whales, reducing northern hemisphere cetacean populations into isolated pockets of endangered species in order to attain lamp oil and lubricants. In the 19 th and early 20 th centuries, it shifted to the southern hemisphere, reducing 390,000 of the 400,000 great whales that once wandered the Southern Ocean to margarine, nitroglycerine and other ” marine ingredients “.

In the latter half of the 20 th century, it changed again and targeted small, oily fish such as anchovies, sardines and herring. In the late 1940 s and early 1950 s, the largest reduction operation in human history started off the shores of the Peru in pursuit of the Peruvian anchoveta. The Peruvian anchoveta is by far the largest single species catch by tonnage in the world, some years comprising as much as 10% of all fish caught. And although Peruvian anchoveta are as delicious as any anchovy on Earth, an industry-influenced Peruvian statute dictates that more than 95% of the catch must go to the reduction industry.

Each decade brings a different used only for all those anchovies. In the 1940 s, they were used for fertiliser. In the 50 s and 60 s, chicken feed. In the 70 s, pet food and pig feed. In the 80 s and 90 s, aquafeed for salmon and other carnivorous fish. And now, the most upper-class product of the reduction industry: dietary supplements.

And it is not just Peruvian anchoveta that are reduced into fish dinner and oil. All told, the reduction industry removes from the ocean 20 m-2 5m tonnes annually- the equivalent of the combined weight of the population of the United States. The omega-3 industry argues that some vendors are turning to much more sustainable alternatives, such as algae-based omega-3s and fish petroleum reclaimed from recycled byproducts.

Nevertheless, the reduction industry processions on into new territory. Most recently, it has begun targeting Antarctic krill, the keystone prey species of the entire Antarctic ecosystem. Two years ago, when I asked the then chief executive of the largest krill extractor in the world why it had launched a $200 m fishing operation in the Southern Ocean to take food out of the mouths of whales, he noted that krill oil is a “phospholipid” and building it much more “bioavailable” means that consumers can take a much smaller pill. Why was this important? Customers who chose krill oil over fish petroleum would be much less likely to suffer the horrors of a fishy burp.

Amid all the conflicting reports, there is one bit of data that glistens out: fish and seafood can bring considerable health and environmental benefits. Fish, in addition to providing us with omega-3s, delivers protein with far fewer calories than meat: 100 g of salmon contains 139 calories and 23 g of protein. By comparing, 100 g of beef contains 210 calories and 20 g of protein.

Harvesting wild fish from well-managed stocks requires a fraction of the carbon as farming terrestrial livestock. Similarly, fish agriculture puts a lesser burden on the Earth in terms of carbon and freshwater use than pretty much any form of terrestrial animal husbandry. We could attain the farming of fish even more carbon- and resource-efficient if we used alternative ingredients for fish food based on algae and food waste. And if you consider growing” filter feeders” such as mussels, clams and oysters, the benefits are even more extreme. These bivalves don’t have to be fed anything, and make water cleaner even as they grow fatter. They provide protein 30 times more efficiently than cattle.

Is the epidemiological proof for fish-eating better than simply taking a fish oil pill? Again, we are stuck with the problem of correlation versus causation. It is very difficult to feed person a fish in such a manner that they don’t know they are eating a fish. Hence an RCT of seafood-eating hasn’t really ever been done. Most of the studies around seafood are association analyses. And, while one such analyze associated feeing fish twice a week with a possible reduction in mortality of 55, 000 lives a year, we don’t know what a fish-eater does with the rest of their life beyond feeing fish.

But what we do know is this: the omega-3 industry and the reduction industry that bred it removes fish from the water in a way that doesn’t put protein on our plates- it merely puts pills in our cupboards. Is this the way we want to continue to do business with the planet?

Paul Greenberg is the author of The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet ( Penguin Press ).

* The subheading of this article was revised on 25 July 2018 to clarify that it was for heart health or strokes that the study observed omega-3 had little or no benefit.

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Nigel Slater’s lemongrass recipes

Its one of the most subtle and delicious aromatics, says Nigel Slater. Use it in soup, and save some for pudding, too

At the bottom of the fridge is a little plastic box of aromatics: a hand of ginger, an smorgasbord of red and orange chillies, a tuber of galangal and a tight bundle of lemongrass stems. This is the box of tricks that comes out when I make pho or any sort of coconut milk curry or soup( the lemongrass neatly cuts the fattiness of the coconut ). Today it comes out for a classic and a curiosity.

I buy lemongrass from Chinatown if I’m passing through, because the stalks are more plump there, the layers of tightly packed leaves softer and greener. They are also cheaper than elsewhere. But what really matters is the freshness of the husks. So many around are dry and lack the highly aromatic quality that attains them worth buying. The bottled ones, by the route, are as good as useless.

Lemon verbena, a herb I use for tea and that grows extravagantly if your plant is protected against the frost, is a better substitute for lemongrass than lemon. It has something of the effervescence of the stalks. Lemongrass, like lime leaves, suffers from freezing, bottling and drying. The basic citrus flavor remains, but the real magic, the addictive essence- its heart and soul if you like- is lost.

The idea of flavouring creme caramel with vanilla or coconut is easy to get to grips with, but I have always had doubts about flavouring the milk itself. But an infusion of lemongrass run wonderfully this week, producing a mildly citrus note that is flattered rather than overwhelmed by the thin layer of caramel that lies on top. The herb added a refreshing note that appealed at the end of dinner, though I should probably admit to scoffing one at breakfast, too, in lieu of my usual yogurt. But then, what kind of a world is it when we can’t have pudding for breakfast?

Prawn and lemongrass soup

Serves 4
prawns 16, large and raw
shallots 400 g, small
groundnut petroleum 4 tbsp
lemongrass stalks 3
ginger 50 g
water 1.5 litres
carrots 150 g
sugar snap peas 150 g
coriander a handful
nam pla( fish sauce) 1 tbsp

Peel the prawns, defining the shells to one side. Return the prawns to the fridge. Peel half the shallots then roughly chop them. Warm half the petroleum in a deep pan then add the shallots and fry them until they are soft and pale gold.

Split the stalks of lemongrass lengthways, discarding the tough, outer leaves, then bash them hard with a heavy weight, such as a rolling pin, to splinter them. Add the shattered stalks to the shallots. Peel the ginger, cut it into coins about as thick as a PS2 piece, and add them to the shallots. Continue cooking over a low heat.

Add the reserved prawn shells to the pot. Pour the water into the pan and bring to the simmer. Lower the heat, then leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Peel the remaining shallots, cut them in half, then open into individual layers. Peel the carrots, cut into thin slicings then into short matchsticks. Warm the remaining groundnut petroleum in a large pan, then cook the shallots until golden.

Cut the sugar snap peas into thin strips. Add the reserved prawns and cook them for three minutes on each side. Strain the broth through a sieve into the shallots and prawns. Add the carrots and sugar snaps and season with the fish sauce, then cook for a minute or two before tearing the coriander leaves and adding them to the soup.

Lemongrass creme caramel

Mellow
Mellow amber: lemongrass creme caramel. Photo: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Shred the lemongrass finely, into paper-thin discs, so it gives up as much flavour as possible to the milk. The custards are cooked when the mixture is gently firm but will still quiver when shaken. Makes 4.

For the caramel:
caster sugar 125 g

For the custard:
creamy milk 500 ml
lemongrass 3 large stalks
egg yolks 4
eggs 2
caster sugar 80 g

Pour the milk into a saucepan. Finely slice the lemongrass then add to the milk and bring to the boil. Be obtained from the heat, covering with a eyelid and set aside for 20 minutes to infuse.

Make the caramel by putting the sugar into a small pan then pouring over enough water to simply cover it. Place the pan over a moderate hot and leave to simmer, watching carefully, until walnut brown.

Set the oven at 150 C/ gas mark 2. Pour the caramel into 4 china ramekins, twisting each one from side to side until the base of the dish is covered with a fine layer.

Put the kettle on to simmer. Induce the custard: beat together the egg yolks, eggs and 80 g of caster sugar. Strain the infused milk through a sieve into a large jug to remove the pieces of lemongrass. Pour the milk over the eggs and sugar and stir together. Pour or ladle the concoction into the caramel-lined dishes. Lower them into a roasting tin then place on the middle shelf of the oven. Pour enough simmering water from the kettle to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake the custards for 40 minutes until they are just set. They should quiver when gently shaken. Remove and leave to cool, then chill for at least 2 hours. To turn out, run a palette knife around the edge, place a small plate on top and turn the plate and ramekin over. Shake securely and let the custard slide out.

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

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette recipes

A spanakopita-like filo pie with courgette instead of the usual spinach, and shaved raw courgettes that add bite to a seasonal salad

I associate courgettes with summer vacations in Greece, where the pale-skinned, pear-shaped range are sold by the roadside and served in every taverna. Luckily, there are as many ways and means to cook courgettes as there are courgettes in Greece, and each has a different effect: maximise courgettes’ freshness by serving them raws, marinaded, pickled or grilled; or roast or slow-cook for a creamier outcome. This spanakopita-like filo tart, in which I swap the usual spinach for courgette, is a nod to happy summers in the Mediterranean sun.

Courgette and herb filo pie( pictured above)

I’ve added cheddar to what is otherwise a straightforward Greek pie, because I find it ties everything together nicely, but feel free to utilize another cheese, if you prefer.

Prep 12 min
Cook 1 hr 50 min
Serves 4

1kg courgettes ( about 6 ), trimmed and grated
Salt and black pepper
20 g dill , approximately chopped
20 g tarragon leaves , roughly chopped
20 g parsley leaves , approximately chopped
4-6 spring onions , thinly sliced( 60 g)
2 eggs , beaten
150 g feta , approximately crumbled
80 g mature cheddar , coarsely grated
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp lemon zest , finely grated
40 ml olive oil
175 g filo pastry ( ie, 7 39 cm x 30 cm sheets)
1/2 tsp nigella seeds

Heat the oven to 170 C/ 335 F/ gas 3. Mix the grated courgettes and two teaspoons of salt in a large bowl, then tip-off into a sieve and leave to drainage for 30 minutes.

Wrap the courgettes in batches in a clean tea towel and wring tightly, to extract as much liquid as is practicable – you are able to end up with about 520 g courgette flesh. Transfer to a large bowl and add the herbs, onions, eggs, both cheeses, chilli, lemon zest, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of black pepper.

Line the base of a 23 cm spring-form cake tin with greaseproof paper and gently grease the sides with petroleum. Lay a sheet of filo over the base, allowing the excess to hang over the sides of the tin, and brush with petroleum. Top with another piece of filo, rotating it somewhat so the excess hangs at a different slant, brush with oil, then recur three more days, until you have used up five sheets in all. Put the courgette filling in the centre of the tart and even it out with a spoon. Brush another piece of filo with oil, fold it in half horizontally and lay it over the fill, tucking in any excess all over the fill. Brush with petroleum, then recur with the last sheet of filo, angling it to cover any exposed fill. Fold over the overhanging filo, crinkling it up to leave a crumpled top, brush with more petroleum and sprinkle with the nigella seeds.

Transfer the tin to an oven tray and bake for 50 minutes. Take out of the oven, remove the outer ring of the tin, and cook for 15 minutes more, until golden and cooked through. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Herby courgettes and peas with semolina porridge

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghi’s herby courgettes and peas with semolina porridge. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This is a standalone vegetarian main course that I return to time and again. The semolina porridge is like runny polenta, merely a little creamier. You can substitute it with rice or mashed potato, if you like.

Prep 15 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4-6

50 g unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves , peeled and thinly sliced
1.2 kg large courgettes ( ie, about 6-7 ), trimmed, cut in half lengthways, then thinly sliced widthways
Salt and black pepper
200 g frozen peas , defrosted
25 g basil leaves , roughly shredded
15 g tarragon leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
50 g pine nuts , lightly toasted
1 tbsp olive oil , to serve

For the semolina porridge
600 g whole milk
180 g semolina
100 g pecorino , finely shaved

Put the butter in a large saute pan for which you have a eyelid, and put it on a medium-high hot. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and fry for another minute or two, until it starts to brown.

Add the courgettes, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for five minutes, stirring often, until the courgettes start to soften. Reduce the heat to medium-low, covering and leave to cook for five minutes. Stir in the peas and warm through for a minute, until the peas are cooked, then taken away from the hot, stir in the herbs and lemon zest, and set aside while you attain the porridge.

Put the milk and 600 ml water in a medium saucepan, and add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Bring to a boil on a medium-high hot, then add the semolina and whisk continuously for three to four minutes, until smooth and thick, like porridge. Turn off the heat and stir in 80 g of the pecorino.

Divide the porridge between shallow bowl and top with the courgettes and peas. Finish with the pine nuts, a sprinkling of the remaining pecorino and a drizzle of oil.

Courgette, thyme and walnut salad

Yotam
Yotam Ottolenghi’s courgette, thyme and walnut salad. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian

This needs to be dished up the moment its induced, before the courgettes start’ weeping’ and losing their freshness, so don’t let it sit around for too long. It goes well with meat from the grill or alongside a bunch of meze.

Prep 10 min
Cook 15 min
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
10 g thyme sprigs
1 lemon – peel finely shaved into 6 strips( avoid the bitternes white pith ), then juiced, to get 2 tbsp
1 garlic clove , smashed with the flat side of a knife
600 g courgettes ( a mix of green and yellow looks great, if you can find both ), trimmed and shaved into long, thin ribbons with a potato peeler or mandoline
60 g walnut halves , roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper
15 g basil , approximately shredded

Put the petroleum, thyme, lemon peel and garlic in a small saucepan on a low hot and leave to infuse for eight minutes, until the petroleum becomes aromatic and the garlic, lemon and thyme start to colour. Take off the hot, leave to cool, then strain the oil into a large bowl. Pick the foliages off the sprigs and add to the petroleum; discard the sprigs, lemon and garlic.

Put the courgettes, walnuts, lemon juice, a third of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper into the oil, then massage the courgettes for a minute or so- they will break up a little- then stir in the basil and serve at once.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Anna Jones’ springtime 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 run) and the branches are heavy with bud: springtime is here. In the kitchen, signs of wintertime are fading, although the greener things that spring will bring are still some way away. For create, its a no humen 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 cooking 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 shops, 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 flowers. This doubles their lifespan( theyll keep for about a week ), and their grassy fragrance is wafted all over the room each time I open the fridge a casual reminder of their presence, which means they make their style into more of my cooking than they might otherwise …

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

Ive been buying bunches of sorrel an underused herb, probably because it can be hard to get hold of. If you are able to search it out, its lemony liveliness builds your mouth water like no other food I know: if there was ever a herb to get us prepared for spring, 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 fairly salad with some crispy-edged lentils.

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

All herbs get their flavours from the essential oils within them, but basically 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 cooking. Whether or not you follow one of todays recipes, maintain this in intellect if and when you choose 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 painting)

Just about the perfect bowlful for this space between winter and spring. You can use any soft herbs here simply 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 need quite a gentle stock for this: “if youre using” cubes or powder then a cube or 1 tsp of powder will be plenty in 1 litre of water.

Serves 4
Olive petroleum, 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, leaves and stubbles divided
1 bunch coriander, leaves and stubbles divided
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks separated
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 oil in a large saucepan over a medium hot. Add the onion and celery and fry for about 5 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 smells 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 savour, 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 savour great.

Sorrel, Sorrels lemony liveliness stimulates your mouth water like no other food I know, says Anna Jones. Photograph: 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, cleaned 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 ocean salt, another 1 tbsp of olive oil and the zest from the lemon.

3 Set the tray with the radishes and potatoes into the oven for 30 minutes, giving a shake once or twice during the course of its roast day. With 15 minutes to run, set the tray with the lentils into the oven. Roast until they are crisps and beginning to blister; the radishes and potatoes should be soft and golden brown at the edges.

4 Meanwhile, make 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 cook, writer and writer of A Modern Way to Eatand A Modern Way to Cook( Fourth Estate ); annajones.co.uk; @we_are_food

‘ I feel less stuffed after dinners- and less guilty ‘: why I stopped feeing meat

My journey towards vegetarianism started 30 years ago for practical reasons, but the more I eschew animal products the better I feel about everything

My experience of giving up meat has been a gradual process, starting about 30 years ago, when a vegetarian friend and her two little boys came to live with me and my daughter. For practical reasons, we ate less meat. Why bother to cook two dinners when you need only cook one? Anyway, we all loved macaroni cheese and baked potatoes, and the odd tuna bake, because fish seemed sort of halfway and my friend wasn’t a strict enforcer.

Back then, meat still featured heavily when my parents visited. After all, I did love meat. I had been brought up on it and my mother was a superb cook. Her stews and casseroles, oxtail and neck of lamb; her roasteds, turkey stuffing and chicken liver pate; her chicken soup and salt beef were delicious beyond words. There was something about meat-eating that my father determined admirable, too, especially in sons. He once sat at the table with the children, watching my friend’s three-year-old son eat a large sausage.” Look at that !” he said with pride and joy.” What a good son !” He failed to comment on my daughter’s equally impressive sausage-eating.

But my friend’s vegetarianism started me supposing. The only other serious vegetarian I had known was at school in the 50 s and she had bad acne and funny-smelling breath, which set me off. Here was someone with clear skin, odour-free, robust, amusing, charming- nothing like the mimsy, pallid, socks-sandals and bobble-hatted vegetarians of my earlier, ill-informed imagination. She didn’t like eating meat, but she also had good reasons for not doing so- some personal, but most ethical. So, I began to eat less. I knew already about the brutality of veal and foie gras production, so I never ate them. I knew pink meats- salamis and bacon- were carcinogenic. Now I found out much more.

Quick guide

Megafarms

What is a megafarm ?

There is no legal definition in the UK of a mega farm, but in the US concentrated animal feeding operations( CAFOs) are defined as those housing 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 animals or 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle. These are the biggest of the intensive farms, which in the UK need permits if they home more than 40,000 chickens, 2,000 swine or 750 breed sows. There are now 789 mega farms in the UK, and the number of intensive farms has risen by more than a quarter in six years, from 1,332 in 2011 to 1,674 last year.

Why are they controversial ?

Mega farms and intensive farms are controversial because they require maintaining tens of thousands of animals in a small space, which campaigners and independent experts say can hamper their ability to express natural behaviours, such as nesting. The animals are often kept indoors throughout their lives, though on some farms they are allowed access to outdoor areas at least part of the time. There are also concerns that animals on mega farms may be over-medicated, as if one gets sick the whole herd is generally required to be treated.

Why do some people believe we need them ?

Mega farms and intensive farms take up much less space than traditional farms, and they allow animals to be kept securely, away from predators and potential carriers of illnes, such as badgers. Their conditions are tightly controlled, permitting farmers to monitor the amount of daylight, water and feed for the animals, and if disease develops the livestock can be treated speedily. They are much cheaper to operate than traditional farms.

Thank you for your feedback.

Years afterwards, my mother moved in. By then, red meat was bad for her and her false choppers constructed it impossible to chew anyway, so we were down to chicken and fish. Then along came the internet, Facebook and Twitter, with an avalanche of horror narratives about intensive meat production: vast farms crammed with maimed animals, tormented kine, lambs and their mothers, chickens flung about and trampled, cruel and brutal abattoirs, the horse and dog meat trade, overuse of antibiotics, our resulting poor health and the wrecking of countries around the world. This torrent of grisly information made eating meat seem completely potty. The more you learn about meat-eating and agriculture, the easier it should be to give up. A teacher of animal husbandry tells me that, every year, by the time her students have considered lambing, the incubating and hatching of eggs and an animal’s complete life cycle, one-third of them have given up eating meat.

A
A beet and Feta cheese salad with parsley. Photo: Mizina/ Getty Images/ iStockphoto

But even with all my nasty new knowledge I still found it difficult. Most of all, despite it potentially causing cancer, I missed lovely, crunchy bacon. I tried soya bacon granules, but they didn’t work for me. I missed the texture of meat- something to chew. So, we still had turkey for Christmas and occasionally I eat meat when visiting friends, because they had cooked it. I pretended I was being polite, but really it only gave me an excuse to eat it again.

Unsurprisingly, a friend called me hypocritical when I ate her free-range roast chicken while whingeing about being a “vegetarian”; she pointed out that I fed my puppies meat, especially chicken. My argument was that you can’t have a vegetarian puppy. I knew some people who did and the poor thing had non-stop squitters, which didn’t seem fair.

Then, two years ago, I had a breakthrough. I kept feeing fish and shellfish, but there was no turkey at Christmas. We had nut roasted instead- and delicious it was, too- with all the trimmings, which are just as, if not more, tasty than turkey and a lower level of palaver to cook. Heaven knows why I had cling to this pointless tradition for so long. Now I felt that, at last, I was giving up meat properly and not is just so feeble. I am sure my digestive system has improved as a result, I am far less bad-tempered and I feel less stuffed up and knackered after dinners- and less guilty.

I have found that it is easier for a meat lover to devoted it up if you don’t dwell on what you are missing, but think of all the delicious alternatives. It might also assist not to ban meat perfectly from your diet for ever. There is nothing like something being strictly forbidden to induce you want it more. You can relapse. Sometimes, in a eatery, I have been desperate for liver and onions with mashed potatoes and I have eaten it a couple of times over the past few years. I am not proud of myself, but at the least I feed much, much less meat than I used to. Hardly a scrap.

It is now a comparative breeze to give up meat. We all know animals are sentient. There is not half as much sneering at vegetarians as there used to be. Famous, admired, personable and muscular vegetarians and sportspeople abound; the accessibility, assortment and quality of vegetarian food has increased tremendously. Decades ago, an English salad was lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with Heinz mayonnaise; we had never seen an avocado. Now we have olive oil and countless varieties of delicious dress and vegetables from everywhere on earth.

Our current favourite salads are: aubergine roasted in za’atar, olive and sunflower oil, salt, lots of pepper, with raw cherry tomatoes and mozzarella; grated celeriac and carrot, oil and cider vinegar, garlic, mustard and chopped tarragon; oranges with fennel; and mixed green leaves with sprinklings of toasted sunflower and sesame seeds or chopped and roasted almonds. And, since it is winter, there are a squillion soups you are able to induce with vegetables, adding beans for protein( forget Blazing Saddles ). Try a soup with haricot beans, celeriac, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley, rosemary and thyme, with some olive oil and lemon juice added at the end.

Before I even start on all the complex mixtures with sprinklings, there are 101 things you can do with my own favourite vegetable, the potato: bake, roast, rosti, latkes, layered and baked with cream, colcannon, bubble and squeak and, of course, chips. I construct them from red potatoes; I don’t want to brag, but they are exquisite.

I haven’t found many prepared vegetarian products that I am wild about, but you can make a passable bolognese with Quorn mince and some people can do wonders with tofu. Try it rolled in cornflower, salt and loadings of pepper and deep fried. I have found a pleasant, chewy mozzarella veggie burger, plus vegetable pies, quiches and pizzas. A local burger bar serves divine portobello mushroom burgers, which are tastier than the meat burger. Honestly. A friend tested them both.

I miss meat less and less, because I still have fish( often fried with the chips ). But once you are on this path, where do you stop? I feel I ought to take the next step, of giving up the fish and shellfish, which I also love. Last year, in the fish shop, I find a man holding up two live lobsters, asking how soon he should simmer them; could he keep them alive in water for a bit? There the latter are, waving their arms in the air, distressed, I presumed. So , no more lobster for me. I have learned that octopuses, the stars of Blue Planet II, are very intelligent and” may be able to see with their skin”, so no more of them, either. Veganism is probably the end of this road, but I don’t know whether I will make it.

Meanwhile, that three-year-old boy who eat the sausage never ate meat again. Those are his salad recipes above and he is now a strapping fellow. My daughter has given up meat and is considering veganism, along with increasing numbers of people. There were 542, 000 vegans in the UK in May 2016, up from 150,000 10 years before( a 360% rise ). Almost half of them are young, aged 15 to 34. On top of this, there are about 1. two million vegetarians( 1.8% of the UK population ).

So, I am really just going with the flow and hoping that the tide becomes stronger. In the first six months of 2017, 28% of Britons cut down on meat– a sensible move, seeing as it increases the health risks of obesity, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, form 2 diabetes, food poisoning( particularly from chicken) and premature death. Although the world will never stop feeing meat, perhaps more of us could, at the least, stop eating such huge amounts of it. Then we could all have longer, healthier, happier lives. I have just got to sort out the dog’s dinners.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Cannabis tourism in California- a women’s wellness retreat with puff love

At the Ganja Goddess Getaway, yes, there are yoga class and spiritual talks but the mother lode comes from the spliffs, edibles and pot-infused mocktails that aid the healing

Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan” Mary Jane Smokewear”, a woman with long, grey pigtails crawled towards me, offering a reach off a balloon suitcase inflated with marijuana vapours. I was sitting cross-legged under a Ganja Goddess Getaway-branded gazebo on a perfect California afternoon and it was the umpteenth period that day that a stranger had come over, unprompted, to share their weed.

The bag was just one route my fellow ganja goddesses were get high. Plates piled with spliffs, giant blunts, laced caramel-pecan candies and fruity mocktails enhanced with pot-infused tinctures also made the rounds. At one point, I was handed a wizard pipe packed with a “tiramisu”. Where a domestic goddess might use cream and ladyfingers, a ganja goddess get “baking” with alternating layers of green and hash.

This is a canna-holiday, California-style. After new laws permitting recreational marijuana use came into effect in the nation on 1 January, canna-visionaries wasted little time integrating their product into the region’s aspirational aesthetic. You can tour the “sun-grown”, ” craft” cannabis fields of the north’s Humboldt County while in Los Angeles marijuana chef Chris Sayegh plans to open the city’s first” high cuisine” cannabis restaurant( running name: Herb ).

‘Mama’
‘ Mama’ Sailene Ossman, one of the getaway’s co-founders serves a weed-laced sweet treat.

The women-only Ganja Goddess Getaway bills itself as a wellness retreat with a( herbal) difference. The retreat itself is in the woods near the coast at Pescadero, about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco. At the end of a long clay way, in a meadow surrounded by redwoods, I saw about 135 “goddesses” engaged in a rite of” puffed and pass “. Twentysomething daughters sporting cannabis-leaf-motif leggings shared bongs with middle-aged females dressed in loungewear. Others passed spliffs all over the hot tub, lined up for henna tattoos, or got cannabis oil massages. Two friends who had “followed” the pungent aromas all the way from Chile snored peacefully through a Laughter Yoga class.

The getaway’s five co-founders are a diverse mixture: Ceo Deidra Bagdasarian is also the entrepreneur behind award-winning cannabis confection company Bliss Edibles, while event co-ordinator Trish Demesmin was an administrator at Oakland’s cannabis business college, Oaksterdam, and is now chairwoman of a medical cannabis delivery company. “Mama” Sailene Ossman is the company’s head of public relations and attributes her nickname to” being famous for bringing the food and the weed”, while married couple Kelli Valentine and Ciera Lagges complete the quintet, the former as in-house filmmaker, the latter as chief creative policeman. Together, they all preach cannabis as a” meditative and spiritual” plant.

Bagdasarian’s vision for the getaway has changed since it launched in 2016( when merely women with a medical marijuana card could attend ).

” In the beginning, I just wanted it to be a good vacation, like a stoner-girl slumber party ,” she told me. Soon, however, she noticed the women were undergoing “transformational” experiences,” So I wanted to foster a space where women can use cannabis as a tool for self-improvement .”

Deidra
Deidra Bagdasarian, co-founder and CEO of Ganja Goddess Getaway

This constructs the retreat less a group slump in front of Netflix and more a series of wellness seminars wherein the crowd passes weed around while listening to talks with topics such as Give Plants A Chance. During this, Bagdasarian recounted the incapacity of Prozac to assuage her depression. She railed against accepted norms of big pharma, sugar and a culture of chemicals. But cannabis, Bagdasarian said, was a healer. Everyone was paying attention until a butterfly flapped into the gazebo, depicting an en masse, distracted “woooah”.

It’s true the women I gratified here weren’t simply in it for the laughters. They all talked about how cannabis had helped them with ailments and conditions, such as depression, nervousnes and insomnia. Many had travelled solo, from “non-legal” states including Nebraska, New Jersey, Georgia and Florida and they formed fast bonds, sharing in-jokes over breakfast and doing morning meditation together.

” No one’s judging ,” said a 35 -year-old from Sacramento, when I asked what the appeal was.” This is two days where I get to merely be myself and focus on me .” Like the majority of women I spoke to, she asked to remain anonymous, for fear of what her workplace, family and friends would think.

Ganja
‘ Organisers must also be dextrous around legalities: they can’t sell cannabis but they can give it away. Hence the getaway’s “all-inclusive” ticket, encompassing unlimited food and weed .’

A lot of Americans are in the “cannabis closet”, Bagdasarian said. But here, they can meet” their tribe “. And cannabis, she added, is a useful facilitator.” It lets you take your mask off. Women like being vulnerable and connecting. We give them a safe space where they can do that .”

“Safe”, however, is a relative word given the United States’ tangled cannabis statutes. In January, us attorney general Jeff Sessions announced he was dedicating federal prosecutors carte blanche to go after cannabis growers, marketers and users who are violating the nation’s rule of law. The shock memo eluded Obama-era policy to leave states that had legalised the medication alone. President Trump, however, recently promised to respect states’ rights on legal pot. More states are discussing” going recreational” this year, including Michigan, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Such ambiguity has stalled many California cities from writing regulations that would grant cannabis tourism a “green” illumination. It’s frustrating for Bagdasarian, who cites finding venues as her biggest challenge. Few places permit open intake and cannabis businesses are blocked from promoting themselves on social media. Ticket seller Eventbrite recently cut ties with the getaway, citing federal law.

For this reason, the getaway is limited to private retreat centres, where camping is the most practical accommodation. In Pescadero, attendees shared 12 -person bell tents or brought their own; there were also more comfy, though higher-priced alternatives, of a shared yurt with wood-burner and cots and dorm-style rooms in the main lodge. Organisers must also be dextrous around legalities: they can’t sell cannabis but they can give it away. Hence the getaway’s “all-inclusive” ticket, encompassing limitless food and weed.

Read more: www.theguardian.com