Smorgasbord Health – Christmas Cook From Scratch – Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Cranberries #bittersweet


Here is another of our posts where I share the nutritional benefits of an ingredient and Carol Taylor incorporates it in a delicious recipe.

Next week Carol will be back to share some of her creations from her Thai kitchen offering you some alternative delicacies to eat over the festive season.

This week… ..Cranberries – a bitter berry which has a long history in medicinal terms and is still used today in certain over the counter preparations.

Cranberries have a documented medicinal history and were used by the Native American Indians as a nutritious addition to their diet normally sweetened with honey as of course the berries are very tart. The Indians also used the berries in poultices for wounds as they recognised the antibacterial and antibiotic effect of the fruit even if they could not scientifically prove these properties. Colonists, who had been introduced to the berry, exported it home to England at the beginning of the 18th century.

Modern research into the therapeutic properties of the cranberry is not one sided and there is usually a commercial reason behind all the debate! However, I have used cranberries for over 20 years personally, with family and clients, and certainly have found that there is  some truth to its health properties. Cranberries act like your own defence team to repel opportunistic invaders who are intent on stealing your health.

Most of us, before the 80’s, restricted cranberries in our diet to Christmas and the odd time we had turkey at other times in the year. Then came the very welcome news that for those of us, who suffered from attacks of bacterial cystitis, drinking the juice of these tart little red berries could bring relief. In fact drinking cranberry (although disputed in some scientific areas) can help prevent attacks of this painful condition. Cranberries contain a unique component in which is technically termed High molecular weight non-dialysable material or NDM for short. NDM prevents bacteria from clumping and damaging soft tissue in various parts of the body including the urinary tract. It is common for many over the counter cystitis treatments to contain cranberry combined with alkaline elements to reduce the build-up of acid.

Emerging evidence shows that this fruit is a lot more versatile than we thought and there are now several very good reasons to include cranberries on a daily basis in your diet.

Cranberry the antioxidant

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to many diseases – from cardiovascular to cancer.

The free-radicals cause cells to oxidise and die. The major damage is done to our DNA, which results in mutations and death of the cells. Our body does produce anti-oxidants and enzymes that can repair this damage if we eat healthily. However, as we get older so do our cells and it becomes harder to repair them and they die. This is ageing! In our brains when cells are damaged beyond repair you are susceptible to loss of co-ordination and memory and in extreme cases dementia.

To prevent this we need a diet that is very high in anti-oxidants, which work through the body immobilising free radicals and preventing damage. Cranberries contain one of the highest levels of anti-oxidants of most fruit and vegetables and that is why drinking at least one glass per day can provide you with enough of these defensive players to protect your brain.

Artery health

In the same way, flavonoids in Cranberries function as very potent antioxidants and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is when the arteries become clogged and narrowed restricting blood flow to the heart. The most common cause is a build-up of LDL (Low-Density lipoproteins or lousy cholesterol) oxidising and causing plaque to cling to the walls of the arteries narrowing and hardening them. This can lead to angina, blood clots and heart attacks.

Cranberries contain the flavonoids and also polyphenol compounds that have been shown to help prevent the LDL from oxidising and therefore forming the dangerous plaque that leads to arterial disease.

Dental health – another good reason to drink cranberry juice.

One would think that drinking cranberry juice with its natural sugars would have a harmful effect on the teeth but in fact the reverse is true. Cranberries actually help prevent dental problems.

A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that the unique component in cranberry juice that I mentioned earlier, NDM not only prevents bacteria attaching itself to soft tissue but to the harder substances such as enamel too.

Hundreds of different types of bacteria in the mouth clump together and attach themselves to the teeth and gums and over time harden causing cavities and gum disease. This film on the teeth becomes resistant to saliva, which would normally remove bacteria from the mouth and also our normal oral hygiene routines such as brushing. One of the most resistant bacteria in the mouth is Streptococcus and in tests indications showed that Cranberry mouthwash reduced the presence of this in the mouth significantly.

Cranberry juice and peptic ulcers

Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori) bacteria can have a painful and devastating impact on the health of your stomach and also its ability to process the food that you eat.

A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. They are quite common and one of the main causes is bacterial infection and the chief culprit is H.Pylori. It is not certain how people contract H.Pylori but it is believed that 20% of people under 40 and half of the population over 60 are infected with it.

H.Pylori weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining causing a sore or ulcer. H.Pylori is able to survive in stomach acid because it secretes enzymes that neutralise the acid. Once in the safety of the mucous lining the bacteria’s spiral shape allows it to burrow into the lining.

H.Pylori has also been associated with stomach cancer, acid reflux and gastritis. Finding a natural way to prevent H.Pylori from completing its mission is therefore a very prime research topic. As in dental health and in the urinary tract, the NDM prevents the H.Pylori from attaching itself to the lining of the stomach therefore preventing an ulcer developing.

Other benefits of cranberries

Emerging research is indicating that the benefits of cranberries are even more far reaching with research into its anti-viral properties in the treatment of infections such as herpes and the prevention of kidney infections and kidney stones. What is extremely interesting is the cranberries ability to inhibit the growth of common food related pathogens including Listeria and E.Coli 0157:H7. This antibiotic effect of cranberries was recognised centuries ago by the American Indians and it is a pity that we are only just catching up with these enlightened people.

By far the best way to get your daily fix of cranberries is fresh, mixed with other fruit or juiced. You can also include in many savoury dishes and to give you some idea of how versatile this fruit is, I am going to hand you over to  Carol Taylor who is going to share some of her recipes from her series Fruity Friday

Hi everyone and thanks for joining us for another festive post, and next week I will be back with some alternative recipes for you to try for Christmas…

First some versatile Cranberry Sauce for not just turkey but some richer meats too.

Ingredients

• 3 cups or 12 oz of cranberries.
• The juice of 2 large Oranges.
• A cup of sugar.
• 1 stick of cinnamon.

Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to the boil and turn down so it is still a rolling boil and cook for 10 mins if ( using) frozen berries or 20 minutes if using fresh cranberries as they will take a bit longer to pop.

Store in a sealed container.

Camembert Puffs:

These little puffs don’t take long to make so if I need a quick snack if visitors pop in around sundowner time then these don’t take long. I always keep a little box of already cut puff pastry squares which I can just pop in the oven and I always have a container of cranberry as we like it in a sandwich if we have cold chicken or pork and it is lovely with hot meat or pork schnitzels which I just top with some cream cheese and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

• I pack of frozen Puff Pastry, thawed.
• 125 gm(4 oz) of Camembert Cheese.
• 100gm Cranberry Sauce.
• 1 sprig of thyme…leaves picked.
• 1 large egg, beaten.

To Make:

Line 2 baking tins with baking parchment.

Roll out puff pastry and cut into bite-sized squares ( 3cm)

Put onto baking trays making sure you space well apart. Brush top with beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins.

Put into pre-heated oven 180 or gas mark 6. Cook for approx 10 minutes or until golden brown. Slice Camembert into equal sized pieces and put one in the centre of each pastry square. Top with a tsp of cranberry sauce. Put back into the oven until cheese has melted.

Garnish with Thyme.

Enjoy!

This next recipe is one I use if I am rolling and stuffing a piece of Pork and I have stuffed chicken breasts as well using the same stuffing.

Apple and Cranberry Pork.

Rub for the Pork Loin ingredients

• 4 lbs Pork Loin,
• Bacon ( enough to cover Pork Loin)
• Salt & Pepper to taste,
• 1 tablespoon Olive Oil,
• 2 finely chopped Garlic Cloves,
• 1 tablespoon chopped Thyme,
• 1 tablespoon chopped Rosemary…

Stuffing for Pork Loin:

• Half cup Vinegar,
• 1/4 teaspoon salt,
• 2 small diced red onions,
• Olive oil as required,
• 1/2 bottle Lager Beer,
• 3/4 cup Brown sugar,
• 1 teaspoon Cinnamon,
• 1 tbsp chopped ginger,
• 2/3 cup dried cranberries,
• 1 teaspoon Mustard Seed,
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves,
• 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper,
• 4 peeled and chopped Granny Smith Apples.

Let’s Cook!

Cut a pocket through one end of the tenderloin. Don’t slice through the other end. Season in and out properly with salt and pepper.

Mix together the ingredients for the rub and when mixed rub into the pork loin , cover and put in the fridge for an hour.

While the Pork is absorbing all those lovely flavours prepare the stuffing mix.

Finely chop the Red Onions and cook in Olive oil until soft. Add Apples and ginger, stir and cook for 5 mins.Add remainder of ingredients stir to combine and simmer gently until mixture thickens and reduces. Cool slightly before stuffing the loin.

Stuffing the Loin was quite messy the first time I made this. I tried a plastic sauce bottle which was ok..but now I use an icing bag which is much easier and quicker.

Stuff loin and then cover with bacon slices.Put tin foil on top as bacon cooks very quickly and remove foil about ten mins from end cooking to brown bacon. Rest loin for 10 mins before carving.

Once rested, carve and serve we made the gravy from the meat juices and pork stock and it was lovely. Served with vegetables and crispy roast potatoes..mmmm.

My thanks to Carol for donating her cranberry recipes for us today and to finish off… a holiday cranberry cocktail…courtesy of An Appetizing Life Lisa Marie Todd who I think might have tested a couple of glasses during the process..love it..

Now you are all set… thanks for dropping and please feel free to share.

©Sally Cronin- Carol Taylor 2017

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:  https://www.amazon.com/Phuket-Island-Writers-Anthology-Stories-ebook/dp/B00RU5IYNS

You can find out more about Carol and catch up with her Food and Cookery Column HERE

Connect to Carol via her blog and enjoy posts on healthy eating, conservation, waste management, travel and amazing recipes: https://carolcooks2.com/

Next week Carol will be back to share some of her creations from her Thai kitchen offering you some alternative delicacies to eat over the festive season.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Christmas – The Third Day of Christmas with guests Jennie Fitzkee and Lisa Thomson


On the Christmas before we left for Cape Town and aged eight I was in a bit of a quandary. I had searched the house top to bottom looking for my Christmas presents including the in the basement which was officially out of bounds, unless I was with my sister listening to her record player which had been banished from my father’s earshot.

I had found my five year old brother’s present which I have to say being a tomboy I was more than envious of. It was a red cowboy hat, waistcoat and holster with a silver six shooter… I knew who the weakest link in the family was and I applied pressure daily to find out what my gift was… Eventually the week before the big day he partially cracked and announced heatedly that it had ‘four wheels and you pushed it’.

You will probably gather that a dolly pram was not exactly what I had in mind. But I was a properly brought up child, and whilst I was more excited by the books that I received, I showed appropriate gratitude for said pram, which held a blonde haired replica of what my mother considered to be the perfect child……

It took me 24 hours, but I was was wearing the holster, gun and cowboy hat which I borrowed from the end of my brother’s bed while he slept. Sadly…. when we left a few months later for South Africa the pram had to be left behind and of course by the time we got back two years later I was a teenager and it was gifted to another.

Time for a little music and here is Bing Crosby with the classic I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

Time to look at how Christmas is celebrated around the world and you can read more via Why Christmas.

Today a look at Egypt where around 15% of the population are christian and celebrate Christmas. They are far more serious about advent than we are here, with a 43 day period of abstinence from all animal products. It is 43 days because they don’t celebrate Christmas until January 7th as in Russia, Ethiopia and Serbia.

There is a special service on Christmas Eve that sometimes go on until the early morning. Having been so good before Christmas, families go to town for their Christmas dinner with a favourite being ‘Fata’ a lamb stew containing bread, rice and garlic.

A great many other Egyptians also celebrate Christmas, but in the commercial sense with most supermarkets selling traditional foods and hotels and restaurants hosting special festivities.

We are now on Day three and in the traditional 12 days this would be 27th December and celebrates the life of St John the Apostle. John and his brother James were disciples of Jesus and John is probably the only one of the apostles who did not suffer a martyr’s death. He lived a relatively long life and is attributed as the author of several books in the New Testament.

The origins of the Twelve Days of Christmas will probably never really be clarified as several people lay claim to it. France is the likely suspect but it has been sung in various formats since about 1780 in England. I suspect that modern day pop stars would be delighted to have their songs still being chanted 240 years later.

As far as the song is concerned according to folklore the Three French Hens probably refer to a variety of chicken from France. There are a number breeds of chicken associated with France particular around the time of the origins of the song. These were the Crevecoeur, Houdans and the La Fleche. I also suspect that the elite of the day thought that using the term French Hen sounded more upmarket that chicken!

Time for my first guest…..

Time for my first guest who is the lovely pre-school teacher and Wedding dancer and singer Jennie Fitzkee. If you have not visited Jennie’s wonderful blog, please do and rediscover the joy of reading along with the children in her classroom. Here is the link to part one of a three part series on Language, Literacy and Storytelling

And if you are wondering about the Wedding dancer and singer bit.. then find out more and meet the Mermatrons

Here is what Jennie had to share about her most favourite Christmas gift ever

1989 was a year of very little money. It was also the year our son desperately wanted the GI Joe Aircraft Carrier for Christmas. Yes, desperately. Ninety nine dollars was the price tag, and that might as well have been nine million dollars. We couldn’t get him his dream. He understood, sort of. He never complained, yet we talked about that dream occasionally over the years.

When he became engaged to be married, we spent Christmas with her family. He unwrapped a huge package from her parents. And there it was, the GI Joe Aircraft Carrier. I don’t know who cried first, but there were many tears shed. Everyone watched in delight as this now grown man played with his beloved toy. Sometimes dreams do come true.

How lovely and what a moment.. I did manage to find a picture of a GI Joe Aircraft Carrier

I had a few ideas of what I could get Jennie as a gift for Christmas and eventually decided on a virtual invitation to join in with the next Mama Mia flashmob… location to be determined…courtesy of Youtube

 

Time for another recipe from Carol Taylor from one of our cook from scratch posts in recent weeks. Cranberries have long been associated with Christmas and usually in cranberry sauce to go with the turkey, however you might like to create a starter from these delicious ingredients. You can find other cranberry recipes Here

Camembert Puffs:

These little puffs don’t take long to make so if I need a quick snack if visitors pop in around sundowner time then these don’t take long. I always keep a little box of already cut puff pastry squares which I can just pop in the oven and I always have a container of cranberry as we like it in a sandwich if we have cold chicken or pork and it is lovely with hot meat or pork schnitzels which I just top with some cream cheese and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

• I pack of frozen Puff Pastry, thawed.
• 125 gm(4 oz) of Camembert Cheese.
• 100gm Cranberry Sauce.
• 1 sprig of thyme…leaves picked.
• 1 large egg, beaten.

To Make:

  1. Line 2 baking tins with baking parchment.
  2. Roll out puff pastry and cut into bite-sized squares ( 3cm)
  3. Put onto baking trays making sure you space well apart. Brush top with beaten egg. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins.
  4. Put into pre-heated oven 180 or gas mark 6. Cook for approx 10 minutes or until golden brown. Slice Camembert into equal sized pieces and put one in the centre of each pastry square. Top with a tsp of cranberry sauce. Put back into the oven until cheese has melted.
  5. Garnish with Thyme.

My next guest is Lisa Thomson whose passion for writing began during her divorce and has blossomed into more creative pursuit without losing that drive to help others. Her two self-help books, “The great Escape; A Girl’s Guide To Leaving a Marriage” and “A divorce Companion”, help economically-dependent women going through divorce. You can also find helpful posts on the subject on her blog 10 Reasons to watch the War of the Roses again…

“Hearts Unbroken-short stories”, is her first published fiction. Lisa resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Lisa shares her most favourite Christmas present ever….

It was 1976 and I was in seventh grade. My best Christmas present ever was a brand new pair of skis, a ski jacket and proper ski pants!

The year before I had been enrolled in ski lessons along with my two brothers. It was exciting. It was thrilling to fly down the snow covered slopes! The only problem was, I hadn’t the proper jacket or pants to wear. We rented the equipment which was fine by me! But my warmest pants happened to be a pair of corduroy slacks. Unfortunately, they tore during one of my lessons. How embarrassing! For the next lesson I fixed them up by sewing them myself. I was 11 years old and not exactly proficient in my sewing skills, LOL. I was proud of myself though and wore them again. When another skier looked at my pants in the tow rope line up, and pointed at the stitching, she asked “Did you sew those yourself?” I must have blushed 50 shades of pink. “Yes,” I answered hesitantly. I’ve never been more mortified. Why on earth did I think I could sew and no one would notice?

Well, getting that brand new ski suit and skis was dreamy and the best Christmas present of my childhood, hands down! I did NOT say pants down…

Oh my, I do feel for Lisa, and one does hope that the skier in question got stuck on the ice on the ski lift for a very long time by her tongue……

So I headed off to ‘Youtube’ and I have secured an invitation to the next Freelance Nutcases Ski Expo – you will however have to provide your own health insurance.

A review for Hearts Unbroken.

Hearts Unbroken’ by Lisa Thomson is an anthology of short stories that tug at reader’s heart, as they talk about human emotions and relationships, some of them so fragile that they need a solo long drive to figure them out. Sarah’s marriage is a façade and she discovers it the day she decides to attend her family reunion without her husband who has no respect for her emotions and desires. He shrugs her off with an insensitive remark. No less poignant are the questions of Samantha who is too little to understand why her mommy is not coming home to tuck her in her bed.

Lisa excels in bringing out raw emotions without letting them melt into a melodrama. Her characters move on with their life despite heavy baggage of betrayal and internal strife. If Kora felt imprisoned within her own home, she had the courage to break free from the dazzling world of Jack, if Ava had rebuffed men to avoid an affair, she also knew how to calm her carnal desires. Grief stricken Rachel could rise to the occasion to save Alex. All these persons seem to be so familiar. They could be one of our friends, struggling with an unhappy marriage or a neighbor who doesn’t know how to deal with domestic abuse.

Lisa’s stories deal with these realistic problems in the most authentic manner, holding the reader’s interest till the end. If you wonder what good relationships are and how they can be nurtured, read this book. If men fail to appreciate the role of a woman in their homes and how much work is required to keep it blossoming, they would surely learn from Mack. I devoured this book within hours!

Time for a carol and one of the favourites of mine as a child….and sung by another great artist – Nat King Cole

You cannot leave the party without enjoying a festive drink… or two

Mulled wine is not the invention of early Christmas revellers as the Romans were heating red wine a long time before and no doubt other pagan cultures too. After all it is a delightful drink. They even spiced it up and it was the invading Roman soldiers who took it through Europe and into Britain and like their long straight roads that still exist today, they left behind their recipes for us to enjoy.

It has various levels of sobriety from non-alcoholic through to lethal. Concoctions abound with port and spirits being added liberally. Apart from Christmas it is also drunk extensively in ski resorts and there is usually a mobile aid station at the bottom of the slopes at the end of the day. I do not trust two short planks down a mountainside at 60 miles an hour but would of course force myself to await my husband after his black runs for an hour or so fortified with a couple of mugs of warmed wine.

In the Scandinavian countries and the Alps it is usually referred to as Glögg, or Gløgg the accent differing from place to place and dependent on inebriation.

Here is a lovely recipe that should be delightful on cold nights leading up to Christmas: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/235298/hot-mulled-wine/

Thank you for dropping in today and please let us know about your most memorable Christmas gift  in the comments… and if you could share that would be amazing.. thanks Sally.

My guests tomorrow are Olga Nunez Miret, Norah Colvin, and Amy Reade.. I hope you will join us.