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Chile peppers bring both sweet and fiery zest to dishes — discover a fascinating and seemingly endless variety within the pages of this delightful book.Contrary to popular belief, a pepper does not need to make your eyes water or start a fire in your mouth to qualify as a chile. “Chile” is simply the common name for the fruit of the capsicum plant and chiles come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and flavors.

There are five major species of chile peppers and thousands of varieties, in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors. Even experts disagree about how many there actually are. So it is probably not surprising that the spelling for the word itself is somewhat problematic. Is it chili, chilli or chile? You are likely to come across all of those spellings if you are reading up on the topic.

This comprehensive book (which serves as both a reference and a cookbook) from bestselling author and expert researcher Judith Finlayson takes you through dozens of chiles and provides absorbing information on everything from the historical and geographic origins of chiles to information on the Scoville scale (which measures the hotness of a chile and was invented by Wilbur Scoville) to the health benefits of chiles and finally, 250 delicious and inventive recipes.

Full color throughout, this book takes inspiration from chiles and embraces them with an enthusiasm that maximizes their true flavor potential. From fiery Tex-Mex inspired meals to savory and sweet Thai dishes, this incredible collection of recipes is sure to make you a lover of all things chile.

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We Canadians are preparing for Thanksgiving

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We Canadians are preparing for Thanksgiving this week… A holiday we celebrate almost a month earlier than Americans because the frost comes earlier here
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First up? My cranberry sauce for the holiday turkey using port wine and orange juice. It’s delicious – but no match for this exquisite sauceboat from French artisans @astierdevillatte. I carried it back from Paris myself years ago after stumbling on their gorgeous shop on the Rue Saint Honore. GOOD NEWS: they recently opened an outpost on the Left Bank. (I accidentally found that one, too, while out walking last spring. Seems I’m programmed to find beautiful tableware.)

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Nippy Oyster and Bacon Dip With Crisp Potato Wedges

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This rich, creamy dip is very versatile. Spoon into a serving bowl and surround with a big platter of vegetables for dipping, such as blanched broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, or crispy potato wedges  If simplicity is the order of the day, open a bag of potato chips. Either way, this dip always earns rave reviews.

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beetjuice

Sunday health in a glass:

 

beetjuice

Sunday health in a glass: fresh pressed carrot, beet and ginger juice with a pinch of cayenne. Oh, yes

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Tuna Tapenade

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Known as Provençal caviar, tapenade is a flavorful mixture of capers, olives and anchovies, among other ingredients. Here, the addition of tuna lightens up the result. Serve this with carrot or celery sticks, sliced cucumber, crackers or Basic Crostini . It also makes a delicious filling for hard-cooked eggs.

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Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a perennial plant and an important forage crop. Valpolicella, Italy. Canon EOS 5D Mark II.  -focus on foreground-

Alfalfa

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a perennial plant and an important forage crop. Valpolicella, Italy. Canon EOS 5D Mark II. -focus on foreground-

 

Alfalfa has an impressive history as a “functional food”.  Centuries ago, the Arabs bestowed the name alfalfa, which means “the father of all foods” on this perennial legume because they recognized its superior nutritional qualities. In fact, they fed it to their legendary horses, in addition to using it as a medicinal herb.  Alfalfa is commonly used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat digestive disorders or to promote joint health, but in the western world today, alfalfa is mostly used as animal feed.
This is unfortunate for humans because the herb is a robust functional food that, among other benefits, has significant value as a general tonic. Alfalfa provide vitamins A, C, E and K, some B vitamins, and a smattering of minerals such as potassium and zinc.  It is also rich in phytonutrients, such as isoflavone flavonoids. Several studies suggest that it helps to keep cholesterol levels low and prevents atherosclerosis, among other cardiovascular benefits. 
Herbalists suggest brewing a tea of dried alfalfa leaves. Because it has a very mild flavor, another easy way to add valuable nutrients to your diet is to include a few spoonfuls when making stocks. Dried alfalfa leaves are available at well-stocked natural foods stores or from online vendors. Just check to make sure you are purchasing organically grown alfalfa as a genetically modified version is widely available.  And when adding alfalfa to liquid, make sure to use the dried leaves, not alfalfa sprouts, which have an entirely different nutritional profile. 
Greek yogurt sauce with cucumbers, dill and garlic, known as tarator or snezhanka in Bulgaria or zaziki in Turkey. Shallow DOF

Tzatziki

Greek yogurt sauce with cucumbers, dill and garlic, known as tarator or snezhanka in Bulgaria or zaziki in Turkey. Shallow DOF

This classic Greek condiment is a great dip with warm pita, or crudités. It also makes a great dipping sauce for souvlakis.

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