Lentil Recipes – The First Mess

Attention readers: I take no credit for these recipes and I do not get compensated for highlighting this or any other blogger’s work on my site. This is another Giant Electronic Sticky Note that serves as a reminder to try these recipes because I love lentils.

Here’s the link: https://thefirstmess.com/2021/10/08/lentil-recipes/

Laura Wright is a vegan cookbook author and blogger based in the Niagara region of southern Ontario, Canada. She just posted a link to 25+ of her lentil recipes which can be accessed at https://thefirstmess.com/. I have linked to Laura’s earlier collections 25 Vegan Soup Recipes – the First Mess and 25 Vegan Chickpea Recipes – The First Mess. Oops I almost forgot about 20 Sweet Potato Recipes – The First Mess too.

I’m at the age where I need more Giant Electronic Sticky Notes to remember stuff. I need reminders and other mental prompts to tell me I own Laura’s cookbook and need to fix some of her recipes. This post makes four Giant Electronic Sticky Note reminders to myself to expand my vegan and vegetarian meals beyond my world famous Wheat Germ Veggie Burgers.

Which reminds me. I should post my latest Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew experiment. (If my chickpea stew is not a link that means I’ve not posted it yet).

Junior’s Quick Stop — a short story

By Ran Walker – My wife doesn’t trust gas station fried chicken, but, dammit, I do. In fact, I rank it among the best food in town, including those fancy chains, where they keep laying off the spices and seasonings every year. I tell her that they lovingly marinate those breasts, before gently battering them and […]

Junior’s Quick Stop —

Follow the link to read the entire short story. It’s a short read.

Attention Coffee Addicts

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coffee bean prices have doubled in the past year and may double again – what’s going on?
September 30, 2021
Author: Jonathan Morris Professor of History, University of Hertfordshire

International Coffee Day feels very different this year. Introduced by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) on October 1 2015 to raise awareness of the product and the challenges faced by producers, the day has usually focused on how low prices paid for unroasted beans barely cover farmers’ costs – let alone support their families.

Not this year, though. In the past 12 months, the C price – the benchmark price for commodity-grade Arabica coffee on the New York International Commodity Exchange – has risen from US$1.07 (£0.80) per pound (454g) to around US$1.95. Back in July, it touched US$2.08.

Nearly all contracts for coffee delivery are benchmarked against the C price, with the result that prices for green Arabica (unroasted beans) have risen by over 80% during the past year. Those for Robusta coffee – a cheaper, less palatable alternative – have risen over 30%. And there is every chance that these prices will rise higher in the coming months. We may be on the verge of a major price correction that shifts the market upwards for years to come.
Why coffee got expensive

The principal reason for surging prices is a series of environmental events in Brazil. By far the world’s leading coffee producer, Brazil accounts for around 35% of global harvest. The volume of production regularly fluctuates between “on” and “off” years, and usually this is not sufficient to greatly affect prices because producers mitigate their risks through stock management and hedging prices using the coffee futures market.

However, yields in 2021 are likely to be dramatically lower. This is due to a combination of a severe drought earlier in the season, which reduced the numbers of coffee cherries, and recent intense frosts that might further damage the fruit and even the trees. The Brazilian authorities are projecting the lowest Arabica harvest for 12 years.

The history of coffee has been characterised by extreme price volatility. Periods of excessive supplies have progressively driven down prices until a catastrophic event – either environmental or political – results in a correction.

During the 1930s, a combination of bumper harvests and weak consumer demand in the depression era led to a massive supply glut. To reduce excess stock, Brazil resorted to dumping coffee at sea and also converting it into locomotive fuel. At the other extreme, many coffee trees were killed in 1975 when Brazil was struck by a series of “black” frosts. This led to a 60% fall in output in the following harvest, and prices trebling between 1975 and 1977.

In 1962, the ICO introduced producer quotas to try and keep prices buoyant in the face of such highs and lows. This was supported by the United States to avoid communism spreading from Cuba to mainland Latin America, but it was abandoned on American insistence after 1989. This led to an over-supply and ultimately a coffee crisis at the end of the century in which the C price remained under US$1.00 for four straight years. It had tended to trade between about US$1.00 and US$2.00 per pound, and the price crash saw many producers going hungry.

The price only recovered when a coffee leaf rust infected a significant portion of Central American and Colombian production. The bitter irony of the coffee market is that prices for producers only improve when many of them suffer unsustainable losses.

The Robusta problem

Coffee prices fell in the latter part of the 2010s primarily as a result of the expansion of global production. Most notable was Vietnam, which is now the world’s second largest coffee producer and accounts for around 18% of total global production. As much as 95% of Vietnamese output is Robusta.

Robusta was actually first used for coffee cultivation because of an environmental catastrophe, when east Asia’s coffee production was virtually wiped out by coffee leaf rust during the late 19th century. In more recent times, procedures for “cleaning” Robusta to reduce off-flavours have improved to the point that roasters increasingly resort to raising its proportion within a blend. This is particularly done when targeting markets which are primarily driven by price, such as instant coffee.

If prices keep spiking now, using more Robusta in blends could prevent coffee from becoming too expensive for consumers. But this will be difficult to do, at least short-term, because of severe COVID restrictions in Vietnam. This has caused considerable disruptions both to transporting coffee from the central highlands to the export hub of Ho Chi Minh city, and then managing the onward shipping logistics. The same issues have arisen in many coffee-producing nations.

Consequently we have brokers battling to secure sufficient stocks, roasters contemplating how to pass on price rises to their business customers, and consumers facing the prospect of paying higher prices for household coffee products.

But will producers be the winners in this latest price surge? Those Brazilian agribusinesses that survive the immediate impact of the frosts surely will, as too the well-capitalised, medium-sized farms of Latin America.

What, though, of the smallholders and subsistence farmers who make up 95% of coffee farmers? For years, the ICO and its member states have presented these farmers as the victims of global market forces; now we will find out if these players are capable of delivering back to farmers the increased value their coffee is generating. If so, then International Coffee Day will indeed be something to celebrate.

Keep a Journal (not just about food)

“Keep a diary or journal. Record your reflections on your life experience in a journal. You will find this simple practice to be invaluable in your quest for wisdom.”

Warren Bennis (March 8, 1925 – July 31, 2014) was the distinguished professor of business administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He has advised several U.S. presidents and more than 150 CEOs. Bennis is author or coauthor of more than 20 books on leadership, change, and management.

The spirit of the writer is different from the spirits of other artists. Writers are quirkier. Maybe not as quirky as painters or the artist who builds things out of toothpicks. These artists qualify as top of the heap quirky. The spirit of the writer who has lost 200 pounds and kept (most of it) off for nearly 50 years also qualifies for top of the heap quirky. The Digital Truth Machine display showed 176 one week ago. So I went to my journal searching for the raw truth. Well, I found things like “the weather got hot back home in Oklahoma and there’s nothing like a really cold beer on a hot day…” Trouble in Paradise.

I didn’t realize just how many bad habits I allowed back into my life. My own words should have been enough to make me stop and change. But knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things… Before our Colorado trip I was 168.

7/18
Last night M&M’s and some chocolate drizzled popcorn. I woke up this morning tipping the scale at 170. I’m not sure how much longer I can cheat like this and not gain any weight but I’m sure enjoying whatever time I have before I need to start restricting certain foods and drinks.

8/19
Well maybe I need to hit the panic button. Last night I snacked, drank beer and managed to stay clear of ice cream. Surprisingly I am lighter this morning and I feel fairly thin despite my lack of willpower. After a year of stringent measures I lack the discipline to avoid beer. Again, if it’s not in the house it’s much easier to avoid consumption. Lesson learned, over and over again.

8/22
It’s been nearly three months since our Colorado vacation where I abandoned all self-discipline and started drinking beer again. I managed to put on three pounds last month while boasting that my weight hadn’t changed a month ago. I’m not close to hitting the panic button but we all know why I’m gaining weight.

8/23
I put on four pounds in less than a week.

On 9/11 I hit The Panic Button.

Let’s count how many Gary’s Rules for Weight Loss got ignored. Eat only when hungry. Portion control. Snack but not too much and only healthier foods. Beer, sugary and other things you shouldn’t have in the house got into the house. My journal and fading memory produced the following list of what I did to myself: dairy whole milk, full fat yogurt, beer, wine, Cheez-Its, peach cobbler, potato chips, beer, granola bars, M&M’s, cookies, cakes, brownies, beer, AND a half gallon of ice cream that was purchased for a Tiny Human visit that ultimately got consumed by the Big Human. I had stopped keeping a food journal. There might have been other food and drink that I’ve forgotten about.

Welcome to my world. I need to ensure the new suit I just bought for a wedding in November won’t require alterations.

Finally Feeling Normal

Monday I restarted a food diary. The recollection of my indiscipline over the past several months plus a recent online article on this topic reminded me of the effectiveness of writing down what you eat especially if you want to lose weight or maintain what was lost. Put simply I’ve been bad. Time once again to get better at what I need to do. Two months ago I wrote “I’m not sure how much longer I can cheat like this and not gain any weight but I’m sure enjoying whatever time I have before I need to start restricting certain foods and drinks”.

The scale read 176 a few days ago.

I hit The Panic Button.

At the present I am walking a tightrope between normal and overweight.

The struggle continues. But sometimes I plug in the old numbers to remind myself of the old me.

Keep a Journal/Food Diary

Journaling, it seems, is one of the most successful strategies for achieving long-term weight loss.[3-4] It increases a person’s awareness of what they’re eating and helps to unveil habits and patterns of eating. A Kaiser Permanente study with 1,700 participants found that those who kept food diaries six days a week lost twice as much as participants who didn’t journal.[5-6] Keeping a food journal also encourages us to take in fewer calories.[4-5]

Could Keeping a Food Journal Be the Missing Link to Finally Losing Weight? — https://nutritionstudies.org/could-keeping-a-food-journal-be-the-missing-link-to-finally-losing-weight/

I write in my journal nearly every day. I used to keep a food diary within my journal but somewhere along The Path I stopped.

I’ve gained some weight.

I have started to track my food intake again.

A Study (funded by the Hass Avocado Board) Suggests Women Can Reduce Their Visceral Abdominal Fat by Eating an Avocado a Day – (this is not a joke)

Female participants who consumed an avocado a day as part of their meal had a reduction in visceral abdominal fat — the hard-to-target fat associated with higher risk — and experienced a reduction in the ratio of visceral fat to subcutaneous fat, indicating a redistribution of fat away from the organs. However, fat distribution in males did not change, and neither males nor females had improvements in glucose tolerance.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Avocados change belly fat distribution in women, controlled study finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 September 2021. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210907110702.htm.

I love reading about studies that demonstrate the positive health benefits of a particular product where the organization that funded the study has as its primary objective to increase sales of the product that was studied.

Grocery Store Bargains

With food inflation absolutely skyrocketing I decided to write a post about finding bargains. Yes, bargains in the grocery store. A little while ago I boasted about finding a dozen eggs for $0.89 and wrote Egg Salad (because you will be eating more eggs). Well eggs in my part of the world are no longer this cheap but you’ll never guess what I found at the store yesterday.

$0.49 a pound!

Even though The Boss is not a dark meat chicken person at this price she will be eating dark meat chicken for dinner. Besides, The Boss really likes Chicken Thighs with Spinach which I’ve made several times since discovering the how to video online. I just need to figure out some decent recipes for preparing drums.

The increasing domestic demand for thighs is incentivizing producers to keep chicken legs, which have historically been heavily exported overseas, in the US market. But since every bird has one drumstick for every thigh, it leaves more drumsticks in the market, often at bargain-basement prices.

Big Chicken’s Drumstick Dilemma — https://tastecooking.com/chicken-drumstick-dilemma-dark-meat-thigh/

My big old roasting pan came in handy. Cover the bottom with foil for easier clean up. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Artfully place the drums in the pan, coat with some olive oil, and add some herbs and spices. I used salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and thyme. Bake for 45-50 minutes flipping over once about halfway through. After removing from the oven let the drums sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

De-boned chicken drumsticks.

The picture represents about half of the drums. The other half got served with squash and rice on the side. There’s plenty of leftover chicken to top a green salad, make chicken salad, quesadillas, tacos, Ampaipitakwong Fried Rice (aka Pete’s) or just about any other dish that has cooked chicken in it. Like my One Rotisserie Chicken series except you get to cook the chicken.

One Rotisserie Chicken, 50 Meals – #1 Salad

One Rotisserie Chicken , 50 Meals – #2 Spinach Salad

One Rotisserire Chicken, 50 Meals – #3 Sour Cream Chicken Enchillada Casserole

I picked up two packages of drums. Not bad for two bucks.

Eat More Walnuts – the WAHA Study

“Regularly eating walnuts will lower your LDL cholesterol and improve the quality of LDL particles, rendering them less prone to enter the arterial wall and build up atherosclerosis, and this will occur without unwanted weight gain in spite of the high-fat — healthy vegetable fat, though — content of walnuts,” Emilio Ros, MD, PhD, senior author of the Walnuts and Healthy Aging (WAHA) study, said in an interview.

WAHA is a parallel-group, randomized, controlled trial that followed 636 patients over 2 years at centers in Loma Linda, Calif., and Barcelona. They were randomly assigned to either a walnut-free or walnut-supplemented diet, and every 2 months they were underwent nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and recorded their compliance, toleration, medication changes, and body weight.

Walnuts Lowered LDL Cholesterol in Healthy Seniors: WAHA Study – Medscape – Aug 30, 2021. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/957523?src=rss#vp_1

The study was funded by the California Walnut Commission.

But don’t let that stop you from eating walnuts.

Scientists Find Missing Link Between High-fat diet, Microbiota and Heart Disease (that many of us already know about)

The collaborating research teams found that a high-fat diet causes inflammation and damages intestinal epithelial cells in animal models. The high-fat diet impairs the function of energy-generating mitochondria, Byndloss explained, causing the intestinal cells to produce more oxygen and nitrate.

These factors, in turn, stimulate the growth of harmful Enterobacteriaceae microbes, such as E. coli, and boost bacterial production of a metabolite called TMA (trimethylamine). The liver converts TMA to TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide), which has been implicated in promoting atherosclerosis and increasing the relative risk for all-cause mortality in patients.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Study reveals missing link between high-fat diet, microbiota and heart disease.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210812145052.htm (accessed August 14, 2021).

OK so maybe I’ve exaggerated a wee bit about most of us having knowledge about TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide). If the news about TMAO is new to you I suggest visiting Dr. Michael Greger’s website www.nutritionfacts.org and start here: https://nutritionfacts.org/2020/09/29/updating-our-microbiome-software-and-hardware/