Fennel Bulb, photo by PH Morton
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Fennel is related to the carrot family and indigenous to the Mediterranean but they are now grown in many parts of the world.
It is a perennial herb with yellow flowers. It is very aromatic.
Fennel is very versatile. The bulbs, see above, foliage (leaves) and seeds are widely used in culinary around the world.
The bulb is delicious drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and then baked in the oven. It is sweet tasting, perfect starter or as a side dish with roast meat or even baked fish dishes.
Click here for the baked fennel bulb.
Persimmon, photo by PH Morton
Persimmon (Sharon Fruit)
Fruit Bowl, photo by PH Morton
Our fruit bowl is getting more adventures. Early this new year, we have custard apple, passion fruit, mangoes, kiwi, several types of citrus fruits such as lemon, lime orange, grapefruit and nectarine.
We also have persimmon, which is apparently also called Sharon fruit. Its scientific name is Diospyros Kaki. This fruit is often seedless and sweet. It can be eaten as a whole fruit; there is no need to peel it (but you can of course, if you wanted to.)
Sharon fruit can be eaten fresh, or cooked (in a pie) and even preserved.
Its orange colouring shouts richness in beta carotene and it is actually is a good source.
Pioppi Diet, Secret to Living Longer?
What is a Pioppi Diet?
Apparently there is a small village in Italy called Pioppi, where the average life span of a man is 89 and some lived to a hundred. In this village, the ails of old age like dementia and diabetes are practically unheard of.
It is also interesting to note that American physiologist, Ancel Keys, who first authored the Mediterranean Diet, which by the way is now protected by UNESCO under the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, stayed in Pioppi for 28 years. He left this beloved village at age 100 and died soon after at age 101.
It is being claimed that adhering to the Pioppi Diet can regulate the insulin and help to lose excess fat, thus lowering the risk of contracting many types of diseases and illnesses.
Guidelines for the Pioppi Diets in a nutshell:
These are the Dos:
- Eat plenty of fibrous vegetables and whole fruits.
- Keep eating red meat. (I like)
- Eat a handful of tree nuts everyday. (like coconut?!!!, probably not, perhaps like almonds, walnuts, chestnuts but not peanut as it is legume)
- Walk for at least half an hour a day.
- Fast for 24 hours each week. (Nooooooooo)
- Eat three meals a day. Sup until you are full.
- Enjoy a glass of red wine.
- Do breathing exercises four times a day.
- Sleep seven hours a night.
- Have at least 2 tablespoonful of extra-virgin olive oil a day.
These are the Don’ts:
- Do not eat added sugars, including fruit juice, honey and syrup.
- Do not use seed oils, such as rapeseed, sunflower and soya bean oil.
- Do not eat refined carbs such as in bread, pasta, noodles, cakes and biscuits (kill me now!)
- Do not sit still for more than 45 minutes at a time. Get moving!
Photo by Haragayato of Tokyo, Japan
If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.
And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus. Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region. They are also often called ubod.
Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.
Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely. As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves. The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.
They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.
Kangkong, photo by JMorton
Kangkong (Water Spinach)
I love kangkong, or water spinach as its English given name.
Kangkong is a green leafy aquatic vegetables which is rich in vitamins and nutrients. They have a long slender leaves attached to a hollow tube stem which is crunchy or there is bite to it. Yummy
They usually grow in anything watery plot, in fields, swamp, lakes, river or even in bogs.
I remember that they grew near a dyke in the middle of your rice field when we were still living in Marag.
Kangkong can grow rather vigorously and needed a good trim to prevent them overpowering the water surface. Good thing they are so delicious.
I remember going into the waist-high water in our field to gather the kangkong sprout. I almost had a near panic attack after a carabao leech decided to attached itself to my stomach. It took ages to remove it and it seems the more you pull at it the longer it gets. That still gives me nightmare to date.
My father did smoke whenever he plowed the field. He would use the burning ember of the cigarette to unhook any pesky leech.
Oops, back to kangkong, they are delicious in sinigang as were as blanch and made into a salad.
Tomatoes, Photo by PH Morton for Globalgranary.org
Skin A Tomato
There are some recipes that require skinless tomatoes. Below is a process of how to remove the skin off tomatoes.
By the way, did you know that a cooked tomato is better than a raw tomato? Apparently tomatoes are a good source of lycopene which is an antioxidant. The lycopene in tomatoes increases as they are heated/cooked.
How to Skin a Tomato:
Put the tomatoes in a large heatproof bowl or basin.
Pour in boiling water over the tomatoes. They should be completely covered with water.
Leave to soak for 3-4 minutes.
Pour out the hot water. Now pour in cold water and leave for 30 seconds to a minute.
Using a sharp knife, break the skin and then start peeling using your hands.
Gabi, photo by JMORTON
TARO, PHOTO BY JMORTON
Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )
At the back of our house in Marag, plenty of gabi or taro used to grow. They grew next to our well (bubon) where the vicinity always has water.
Gabi growing profusely in our backyard was a Godsend. It was a ready source for a vegetarian viand. Thank goodness we also had a constant supply of coconuts which goes deliciously with taro.
As children, we were told to treat gabi with respect. Eaten raw the leaves and stalks can be poisonous as they contain oxalic acid. The sap that comes out when the stalks and leaves are torn can cause itch.
Labanos, photo by JMorton
Daikon Radish (Labanos)
Daikon radish or known as labanos in the Philippines may look strange to non-Asian consumers but this long pale tuber is delicious cooked using many recipes or serve raw in salad.Ho
They are now readily available in supermarkets.
When buying, choose one or those which are firm and with smooth skin.
Below are some recipes which daikon can be used for.
Pineapple Juice @ Manila Hotel, photo by JMorton
One of the most delicious juices around is the pineapple juice. It is even more ambrosial if it is made from fresh pineapples.
The taste is only one factor in why one should be drinking pineapple juice. There are a few good reasons why one should. A glass of fresh pinya juice is full of goodness, it is packed with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. I heard it is also a dieter’s friend.
The best way to consume pineapple juice is to have it fresh and therefore making it at home is ideal and we have got just the quickest recipe here.
Pineapple Juice Recipe
1 ripe pineapple
1 cup water
1 cup ice cubes
Method of preparation:
Ensure that the pineapple is ripe for it to be really sweet tasting 🙂 otherwise you might have to add a teaspoon or two of sugar to the recipe.
Peel the hard outer skin, as well as removing the little eyes (read the legend of the pineapple here), then cut into chunks.
Put the pineapple chunks into a food processor, together with the ice cubes. Pour in the water as well.
Blend until smooth and frothy.
Pour in into tall glasses and share the joy.