Thursday, July 30, 2009

How Clean is Your Cow?

What we're talking about here is whether or not your cow that provides you with milk, cheese, yogurt, and a host of other products has been dosed with Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST. This is a genetically engineered hormone injected into cows to increase milk production by a mere 8-17 percent. The Monsanto Corporation manufactures the product, which is sold under the trade name Posilac. While 8 to 17 percent in increased production may not seem like a lot, for dairy producers this equals big profit increases. The big question is- what is it costing you, the consumer? The FDA approved rBGH in 1993 but scientists all along had questions how a bovine hormone could affect humans consuming products made by animals injected with it. The concerns were great enough that the European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia all have banned the use of the hormone in their homelands. If that's not enough to raise your eyebrows, consider this. Codex Alimentarius, the U.N. body that sets food safety standards, has refused to approve the safety of rBGH three times.

Scientists are concerned because rBGH causes certain harm to livestock injected with it. Logically, if it harms the cows, it is likely it can harm us too. Injections of rBGH increase another hormone, called IGF-1, in the cow and the cow’s milk. Studies indicate that IGF-1 survives digestion. Over production of IGF-1 in humans is linked with increased rates of colon, breast, and prostate cancer. What is not clear is if rBGH given to cows significantly increases
IGF-1 in humans.
There is great evidence that rBGH makes for not a happy cow. Use of rBGH on dairy cows increases the rate of mastitis, a bacterial udder infection, by 25%. If you have ever been a nursing mother with this condition you know the pain a mastitis can cause all too well. We'll spare you the details of the photographs showing this condition, but suffice it to say, infectious pus has no place in your milk. And dairy farmers milk right through the infection while shooting yet more drugs into the cows in the form of antibiotics.

What is important to realize is that not every dairy farmer uses rBGH. About 54% of large herds consisting of 500 animals or more, 32% of medium herds, and only 8% of small herds are known to use the hormone. Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream makers in Vermont has long been opposed to rBGH refusing to use dairy products produced in this manner. They have this to say. “We think its use is a step in the wrong direction toward a synthetic, chemically-intensive, factory-produced food supply.” So yes, you really can eat your Cherry Garcia guilt free. The people of the State of Maine had such an adverse opinion of the practice of using rBGH that the state hardly sells any dairy products produced this way.

So what's a milk lover to do?
Purchase dairy products that are labeled “rBGH-free,” “rBST-free,” or “organic.” Tell your local supermarket, favorite dairy brand, and school district that you want dairy products that were not made with rBGH. Children, infants, and pregnant women should be especially careful when eating dairy products to be sure their dairy is hormone free. Little bodies are more susceptible to hormones as they are developing. Kids and milk, ice cream, and American Cheese go together hand in hand- just make certain their cow is clean.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

On the Origins of the Special Brew


Even then, no evidence exists verifying the knowledge of roasting beans until well into the fifteenth century. It is supposed that until then, the coffee bean was treated like a possibly toxic food source, inducing strong stimulating hallucinations. This didn't stop mountain side goats from eating them, or animals of the high plains, which is possibly how man first recognized the bean as edible. For the true coffee aficionado, this concept seems difficult to grasp. For many, a morning without the fragrant aroma of brewing coffee beans would be a sad morning indeed. A true coffee lover drinks coffee for the taste of the bean, not the kick of the caffeine.

The Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia is where the coffee plant originated. Its name there is "bunn" or "bunna". A quick look at a world map with the areas of coffee production highlighted reveals a curious fact- all the regions of coffee cultivation occur close to or very near the Equator. Once the Ethiopian treasure was discovered, coffee production quickly spread to all areas where the climate was suitable for growing. These first growers included Arabs, Indians, and European peoples.

It is the Italians, however, that really brought forth coffee into the world as we know it. They first coined the word "caffe" in the late sixteenth century, and in the last century, the zealous businessman Howard Schultz copied the concept of the Italian Barista giving the United States a Starbucks on every available corner. Love them or hate them, Starbucks has millions of coffee drinking clients. Back to the word origins of coffee, the Turkish word "kahve", from the Arabic "qahwa", a modified form of "qahhwat al-bun" or wine of the bean is where it all started. Islam religion does not favor the use of alcohol as a beverage and coffee became a suitable alternative to wine.

Venice being the source of new ideas that it is really helped to introduce coffee to the rest of Europe in the seventeenth century when it began importing vast quantities from North Africa, Egypt, and the rest of the East. The coffee bean finally made its way into America when France colonized the West Indies. The French were responsible for creating many of the enormous coffee plantations in the islands still found today. Sadly, much of the labor in these plantations were done by the hands and strong backs of slaves.

Today it is nearly impossible to get really freshly roasted coffee unless you do one of three things. You can roast the green beans yourself, have newly roasted beans overnighted, or, if you are lucky, walk into a nearby roaster and procure today's batch. It is said that many people do not know the true flavor of coffee because so many of us are forced to make our morning brew with stale beans. Not to mention that so many of us like our coffees flavored to the point of obliterating all actual taste of the bean itself. So here's a challenge for you. Find a local roaster and obtain some newly roasted coffee- nothing added. What you will discover is something akin to eating very good chocolate. A succession of flavors, some of which are very suttle, will awaken your tastebuds. And you will have a true appreciation for this little bean of wonder.
Note: Like the above print of the girl holding a mug? We do. It can be found by calling (250) 564-6103 or email

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is It That Time Already?

It hardly seems possible, but here we are just weeks before some children will be venturing back to the classroom. While some parents may be grateful for the break and glad to hear those school bells ring, others know the casual schedule that means summertime is winding down. Let's face it, mornings before school can be hair raising. We worry about being late, having all the children's things in order, and breakfast on the table- or at least in their hands as they run out the door. Breakfast is so important to young minds, all minds as a matter of fact, but for school children who must maintain concentration until lunchtime it is imperative that good nutrition start first thing in the morning. With this in mind, we want to share with you one of our favorite breakfast treats. This recipe packs a whopping 470 calories per serving with only 2.5 grams of saturated fat out 22 grams total fat. This means your young ones will have energy to burn during the class sessions which helps kids concentrate better. Ten grams of protein and 57 grams of carbohydrates (7 grams dietary fiber and 16 grams sugar) further fuel the brain with no cholesterol. There's 200 milligrams of salt which is on par with a regular bowl of cereal.
Almond Nutmeg Granola
Six Servings

Any dried fruit can be used in this delicious recipe. Dried apricots, cranberries, or raisins are especially good choices as are blueberries and apples. It is equally good eaten out of hand as a snack as it is covered in cold milk in a bowl.
Here's what you'll need:
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3 tablespoons oat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1/3 cup high oleic sunflower oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the oats, flour, and almonds in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together maple syrup or honey, oil, almond extract, nutmeg, and salt. Add to the oat mixture stirring well to coat.
Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for one hour, stirring occasionally to break up clumps. Allow granola to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
Everyone in your house will love this morning treat and you can feel great knowing they won't feel hungry before lunchtime.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Two Barrels Double the Fun


Fairly easy to make, and excessively inexpensive, this double barrel rolling smoker was created in just a few hours of time. The barrels were on hand, as was the cast off rolling cart, and everything else was found at a wood stove shop. Quite a bit of welding is necessary, as is a little creative imagination, but what a conversation piece this little smoker is. The first barrel is welded to the cart, and each barrel is connected via the two short stovepipes that deliver smoke into the upper chamber. A single stovepipe with a cap releases the smoke at the top. We cut a simple door in the side of the bottom barrel through which sweet smelling hardwood can be loaded. The barrel plug is left in place in order to control the amount of air entering the fire chamber below- simply pull it off to increase airflow and therefore create a more intense fire. Watch your temperature gauge that has been neatly welded in place on the top barrel, and replace the plug when your heat is correct. We were amazed at how much control we had over the heat in this smoker, and how consistent the temperature remained. A large door was cut into the top barrel and a handle welded in place. We used heavy duty industrial grate flooring as our grill tray and welded pins in place to hold it steady. A nice hardwood shelf sits below the door to hold all the necessary supplies and provide a work surface for important tasks- like cutting cheese to sit atop newly smoked sausages coming off the grill. It is extremely important to use wood stove paint to finish off your smoker because the heat generated inside is substantial. Two dampers sit inside the connecting stovepipes to give us that precise heat control we mentioned earlier. If you click on the top photo and enlarge the image you can see their black decorative handles.

Our first run on this little smoker
cooked up sausages, barbecue chicken, and barbecue ribs. It was a veritable feast. We also roasted ears of sweet corn that had been soaked in water still in their husks. Brown sugar maple syrup baked beans with thick slices of bacon finished it all off, followed by new cantaloupes and watermelon from the garden.
Cleaning time is a snap. All the fats from cooking drip to the bottom of the barrel, as do the bits from scrubbing the grate with a wire brush, and can be neatly swept out. While all this was going on, one of our guests hopped atop our old Ford tractor attached to a mower and groomed nearly all the grass surrounding the house. That, my friends, you can't beat with a stick.

Guest Blogger Kristin Smith lives on an eleven acre farm in the Ohio River Valley and looks forward to Chef Greg Shapiro coming into town every year for the Country Living Fair.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Your Local Harvest

Local Harvest at is just one of the tools Tastebuds really
believes in. When we need a locally raised free range hog for our barbecue, finding one is just a click away. Anyone in the United States may log on to their website, enter their zip code, and pull up local farmers who are registered with Local Harvest. Easy to decipher color coding tells you what the farm's main focus is, whether it be a general farm, farmer's market, restaurant, or grocery. It's a great resource for traveling too, as you can plug in your destination, and within seconds find those places you wish to visit to buy local foods, flowers, and even livestock. Reviews are included on the site, but as with anything on the web, keep an open mind as anyone with a keyboard can post their opinions.

In Local Harvest's own words, they say "The best organic food is what's grown closest to you. Use our website to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies." There have been numerous recent studies that suggest that buying local may in fact be even more important to the environment than buying organic if that food has had to be shipped from a long distance. The benefit of organic can be overshadowed by the carbon footprint of shipping the produce to your local retailer. Compound that with the lack of enforcing certain organic standards outside of the United States and it is easy to see why trusting your local grower may be the way to go. The site also offers up links to harvest Blogs which can be a very good source of information, not to mention a glimpse into a very uplifting way of life that so many farmers have managed to create on their farms.

Local Harvest has this to say about buying from your local producer.
"People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. It is fresher than anything in the supermarket and that means it is tastier and more nutritious. It is also good for your local economy--buying directly from family farmers helps them stay in business." Truer words were perhaps never spoken. In a world of mass wholesalers, it is becoming increasing more difficult for small farms to survive. They cannot afford a large advertising budget, and without sites such as Local Harvest, you may never even be given the opportunity to know that they exist. There have been numerous times that I have logged on to the site looking for something specific only to find that a farm was less than a twenty minute drive away.

Holidays are wonderful times to discover your local farm. From farm raised organic pumpkins to a free range turkey for Thanksgiving, a special outing to your local acres can be an exciting family adventure. You may discover new varieties of vegetables or rare breeds of animals because a lot of these farms are much more interested in quality crops and flocks than they are interested in quantity and economy of price.

Nearly two million farms are in production in the United Sates. Roughly eighty percent of these are small farms, and a great number of these are family owned. More and more of these farmers are now selling their products directly to the public as they see the price on larger markets continue to fall. They accomplish this direct selling through CSA programs, Farmers' Markets, Food Coops, U-picks, farm stands, and other direct marketing channels. Little argument can be made that large scale conventional agriculture is harming our soils and our water, and therefore not a good thing for our communities. By buying direct from a family farm you can help put a stop to this unhealthy trend.
If more of us would buy organic produce from our local farmers, it would go a long way towards working to maintain a healthy environment, a colorful community, and a strong and sustainable local economy for ourselves and our children to thrive in.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not By Rice Alone

We had been unusually busy with the business of life. So hard pressed for time were we that we were sneaking into one of our favorite chain restaurants and eating at the bar or quickly pulling in for take out. It was never that we were too tired to was the clean up we just could not seem to muster the energy for. And then there were those lobsters. How on Earth was it that a mid price chain restaurant was turning out those succulent white and fluffy lobster tails? No matter how many times we went and stuffed ourselves to the gills, each time they were perfection. Better than the Market Price lobster on the menu at both the most expensive steak house in town and the highest rate hotel. It was mind boggling. We implored our waitress on several occasions for their secret. Nothing concrete. Was it, in fact, a secret? Or was it that our waitress was simply a plate carrier and really didn't know. Finally, I could stand it no more. I faked getting lost going to the restroom and casually strolled by the kitchen. I'll be...they were taking the steaming lobster tails out of- a rice cooker. I was confounded. I'd had one at home the whole time. Our Cuisinart was certainly a well chosen wedding registry item- but I had no idea at the time how much I would come to love this little appliance. Appliance. I really have an aversion to the word. Takes up too much space, seldom used, too complicated. I got over my feelings for my rice cooker pretty quickly once I learned it could turn out perfect lobster. And then the magic began to happen. Sure, it cooks rice. It cooks rice perfect each time, too, and leaves behind no messy pan to wrangle with afterward. I started experimenting with this little rice cooker, and lo and behold, I began having a tough time finding something it couldn't do. Mind that I have the most basic of cookers- an eight cup two setting simple affair. Warm and cook are my only options. I cannot imagine what the fuzzy logic and induction cookers are capable of. It's that panel of many buttons that has kept me from upgrading. Both fuzzy logic and induction make a rice cooker capable of changing cooking time and temperature depending upon what is happening inside the pot. They literally act like a cook peering inside and make adjustments accordingly. Truly scary- but truly cool. Induction just takes it a step further with all over heating coils that surround the pan, rather than simple underneath cooking. A good eight cup rice cooker can be had from Cuisinart for eighty dollars. It may turn out to be worth its weight in gold. From scented rice to steamed vegetables to seafood- and the ability to add multiple ingredients just like a crock pot, the rice cooker can be a busy cook's best friend. I almost never steam with water preferring instead to use vegetable, chicken, or beef stock to impart all manner of flavor into the dish. An exception is when you are using a riser in the bottom of your pot for true steaming. Water is best because it will literally steam away into nothing- all that moisture going into the food. If you have trouble getting your family to the table (who doesn't?) in those busy moments before dinner, your little cooker keeps everything nice and warm. I should add it does so for hours, making a midnight raid on the night's meal all that more easy. One last praise is the benefit of taste. Boiling seems to suck the living breath from a lot of vegetables. Steaming preserves the flavor of everything you put into the cooker, and maintains the color quite wonderfully. There is perhaps nothing more depressing than putting a brilliantly green vegetable into a pot of boiling water and seeing the color drain right out of it. The cooker helps to keep your foods vibrant. I give a lot of these little wizards as gifts, accompanied by a basket of various foods that can be made using the cooker. Organic and pretty boxes of cous cous, orzo, and quinoa along with beautiful hardwood spatulas make a wonderful addition to any one's kitchen. Tuck in some spices and beautiful hand thrown rice or pasta bowls and the gift basket will rival all others. As a matter of fact, set your own basket full of tonight's dinner ingredients on the counter next to your cooker and the dinner time rush may just disappear.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

An Egg of Your Own

If you keep chickens, or just like chickens, you know the name because, well, when it comes to chickens, they are the go to hatchery. McMurray's have made Bantams and rare breeds almost a household name. Just take a wild guess where Martha gets her chicks sent from? You guessed correctly- McMurrays. Earlier this year Murray McMurray had a rare problem in the business world of today. He couldn't produce chicks fast enough. In fact, he had a six week back order for hens. There is good reason for this delay. Every one from your neighbor to your local farmer is buying chicks this year. Victory Gardens are not the only thing on the rise in self sufficiency- backyard chickens are gaining hefty speed. A lot of urban cities allow four chickens, which is more than enough to keep a household in good supply. There are different rules for every city but in general the chickens have to be kept a certain distance from the nearest neighbor, kept clean, and many do not allow roosters. Take it from one who lives near farms a plenty, roosters like to crow all day every day- not just at 6am. Luckily for us, roosters are not required to make a hen lay her eggs, and without those eggs getting fertilized, there's no more roosters to hatch in your group of four sisters. This is good for the squeamish, like me, who might have a problem ringing their cute little necks. Conjur up the scene of Ruby on Ida's front porch in Cold Mountain and you'll get the picture mighty quick. Hens lay about one egg per day, and whether your hen lays a white or brown egg, the inside is the same.

Pretty little Bantams lay smaller eggs than their larger cousins. Rare breeds and Bantams can lay eggs in shades of blue and green which are truly beautiful to behold. Aracuanas are a good choice for their colored blue eggs. There are also increasing numbers of backyard ducks and geese, and quail, guinea, and pheasant. The reasons are the same. Those fresh eggs just cannot be beat, no pun intended. It only takes a glance at the difference in price of battery raised eggs and free range organic eggs to see why. The latter can be three times the price. A lot of people have the image of battery chickens in their mind and this is not an easy image to shake loose while crackling open your little morsel of goodness. So keeping your own layers seems like a good idea. They require daily care. Clean coops, feed and water, and a good place to scratch in the dirt, whether this be on a run attached to their house or a free for all in your garden beds. You'll also need to grab those eggs daily because once you have a broody hen she can be difficult to dissuade.

Hen houses have come full circle and have taken on a cottage industry trade in their own right. They are handmade to look like little houses, painted in cheerful colors, planted with flower boxes, and sometimes literally made the center of backyard attention. Or, for the poor souls where no chickens are allowed, they may be able to house their flock incognito in hen houses made to look like nothing but harmless garbage cans. See neighbor, that fence might just be there for a reason. Chickens have loads of personality and often run right out to greet their owners. Many chicken enthusiasts tell me they can spend hours just watching their feathered friends frolic about together. Some will even snuggle into a warm lap. Fresh eggs in the morning, always handy for baking, and coupled with a snuggle...I ask you, what is not to love?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When Less is More

I've been thinking about the beauty of walking out to the garden with a basket to gather up whatever has come into readiness that day, versus the sometimes overwhelming feeling of wandering about the grocers with endless choices of foods. What is available in the garden often dictates which direction dinner will flow that day. If it is not gardening season, I really have to have a plan. Meals can be a real stress factor for the person in a family doing the cooking. I often think that the decision of what to make- or how to do it- can turn someone who would make a great cook into someone who just dreads the whole kitchen setting. I am probably speaking from more experience on this topic than I would ever care to admit. With that being confessed, here's how I turned it around. When I began cooking for my family, I knew very little. I had gathered up some cookbooks, but these may have even detracted me further. There just wasn't all that much that seemed to be inspiring. What I was going to discover over the next two decades was that having four or five cookbooks you really love would do more than an entire library full. The trick was to find your cooking soul mates. I then decided to learn to make the things I really loved eating out. I also made a rule that I wouldn't try to educate myself during the stresses of the work week. I wanted to enjoy the experience so I made myself wait till the weekend, or even a Friday night, when I could be more relaxed. Being more relaxed means a few things. I never follow a recipe exactly. For one, it's not practical. You are almost certain to not have an ingredient, or some piece of equipment. But more important, if you just learn to copy a chef, you'll never really be a great cook. The trials and errors in cooking are where the real learning takes place. You learn different avenues of technique and you learn how different ingredients do, or do not, combine. Once I learned to master about five dishes I made the same things a lot. I broke down the ingredients into a list and downloaded a copy on my computer. I keep one of these printed out on my kitchen counter where I just simply circle it if I am running low or fresh out. These dishes change a bit to keep things interesting. For example, a homemade spaghetti dinner may graduate into a lemon and herb pasta dish during the summer. Some things become a ritual- like hand tossed pizzas every Friday night. But even the pizza turns into a Calzone if we're feeling the slightest bit tired of pizza. You don't even have to change the dough recipe. Since I make most everything from scratch, it is easy to experiment with ingredients and it makes cooking fun. I have found nearly without exception that cooking with whole foods is almost always preferred. Everything tastes better, and this is no lie- it fills you up faster. I think the reason is that fresh and whole foods are more nutritious. If you have ever grown your own peas, you know the true, clean, crisp taste of a newly shucked pea. Added to salads and pastas they bring the garden straight onto the table. Our new peas never hit a pot of boiling water- ever. Farmers Markets can be your best friends when learning to cook. They give you good reasons to try new types of produce. Last summer one of our farmers grew tiny purple potatoes that made an incredible color story with little red skinned potatoes. Nothing more than a quick boil with parsley and a pinch of salt was necessary for this dish. There have been very few times that I wasn't able to swap out a plain ingredient with a rarer, and much more interesting, cousin. Rarer cousins tend to have more flavor and need less seasoning and butter, or cream and sugar, as the case may be. The most important thing about mealtime is that it should be relaxing. At best, it should also involve the entire family. If you can teach your family to make certain parts of your daily meals at your side it can make a real difference as to how you view mealtimes. If I could change one aspect of every family's mealtimes it would be to banish the electronics. I would rather have my family eating straight out of the pots and pans around the kitchen island than around the television. Nothing is more of a conversation or taste buzz kill. So if you are feeling stressed about mealtimes, let's recap. Choose a few great cookbooks that you love and learn them slowly and learn them well. Make a master grocery list and keep it handy. Have a recipe but take a relaxed approach to learning it. Involve those you love and let them learn and appreciate your meals at your side. I'll be sharing some of our weekly favorites with all of you over the next weeks. What do you want to learn to make? We'll be glad to share everything we know.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Heat

and makes me want to be wildly unfaithful to all the others. Martha Hall Foose has created such a cookbook with Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. Martha's credentials are impressive. She is the executive chef of the Viking Cooking School. She is a student of the famed pastry school Ecole Lenotre in France. She opened both the Bottletree Bakery and the Mockingbird Bakery in Mississippi. She was, in fact, born and raised in the Mississippi Delta. Martha Hall Foose, it can be safely said, has Southern cooking running in her blood, and she has brilliantly poured her knowledge into 248 pages of cooking bliss. When Martha spins a tale of how her Southern neighbors gather along the roadside for "mailbox happy hour" I knew I was in the company of someone special. What you find in Martha is The Real Deal- a woman comfortable enough in her Southern heritage to flip the mailbox lid down, set a pitcher of Mint Juleps on it, pass out the cups, and let the day fall where it may. Her recipes are annotated with local history and family heritage in a manner that makes you think you've pulled up a stool at her kitchen counter and you're hearing it from your Mother, or Granny, or Great Granny. The first thing I made from the cookbook was Martha's recipe for Sweet Tea. I couldn't help myself, as finding a source for authentic Sweet Tea can be like looking for the Holy Grail. Don't believe me? Try hers, and then you will understand that all Sweet Teas are not made equal.
As you flip through the book you will see titles like "Blackberry Limeade Amethyst Elixir". You will wonder if Mrs. Foose is on a quest to make you try everything in the cookbook without coming up for air. How can one resist an Amethyst Elixir? Just imagine Watermelon Salsa alongside chunky Guacamole the next time you're diving into a bag of tortilla chips. You find yourself saying the recipe titles out loud with a sense of wonder. Take, for example, Apricot Rice Salad. Apricots and rice are two ingredients that you just know will be amazing together and you wonder why you've never tasted this before. You'll still be marveling at this as you are running to the store for the ingredients to make it. You'll also be mulling about in your head the picture of the Tomato Soup, unlike any that you have seen before. One half of the bowl is chunky red, the other half chunky yellow-green. You think to yourself, I have been missing out. And you have. What this cookbook does above all else is make you think about your foods differently. It blends ingredients that you may not put together on your own, but once you learn of their compatibility, it feels like second nature. We were even a bit stunned to see the recipe for Curried Sweet Potato Soup. This is a place our Curry has not yet ventured and we cannot wait to go there. The education in Southern cooking gained from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea is difficult to measure. Take the recipe for Barq's Root Beer- Glazed Ham Amber Encasement. Sounds divine, but what you learn is this...root beer is a blend of sassafras roots and bark, dandelion, wild cherry, burdock, spruce, wintergreen, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and anise. A smokey ham encased in any one of these ingredients sounds incredible but together the ham is off the charts. Would a person ever think to make a root beer glaze for their ham? You will now. Foose has a variation of our Summer Squash Pancake we recently wrote about and like us, this recipe was developed after they had exhausted the squashes many other uses. We could go on and on about the merits of this cook book, but my copy just fell open to page 222. It reads, "Darkness on the Delta Cool Bittersweet Dessert" which Martha describes as a deep, dark-as-night fudgy dessert with bittersweet chocolate and Bourbon. So if you'll excuse me, I must go to the store NOW. It says it serves eight, but we'll just have to see about that.