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Nourishing Food for New Beginnings

Jan 03, 2018 02:25PM ● By Lesley Stiles

Detox to Begin the New Year

By Lesley Stiles

New beginnings are hope -- hope for the future of our families, our world, and ourselves. Promises are made as we waddle, bleary-eyed, into January, still a bit hung over from our self-imposed annual December madness. We have hope as stress, sugar, and alcohol slowly retreat from our blood stream. Greening hillsides and little white blossoms emerge from the earth, embracing our hope with us, willing us to be happy now that the holidays are past and beckoning us to join them in bringing in the new year. We will abide, we will exercise, we will cut the sugar, and, best of all, we will feel privileged indeed to have several amazing farmers’ markets from which to procure our new health.

A very dry December may leave us shaking in our shoes due to drought worries, but January is supposed to be wet and wild, so we will keep our fingers crossed for lots of rain. Meanwhile, that winter garden is probably pretty much dormant, other than a few stalks of bold baby cauliflower or broccoli curiously emerging to see what’s going on, but the greens should be lush and ready to eat. As soon as you pick chard and kales, it seems they bolt right back up for more green, luscious nutrition to detox veins and arteries.

Most of the luscious citrus that decorates farmers’ market tables are crosses between cousins. Gold Nugget tangerines have seductively married Wilking tangerines to Kincy mandarins. Owning deep orange, bumpy skin that peels easily while boasting seedless status, they are stunningly tasty. Nuggets are usually found with leaves and stems decoratively attached, which is known internationally for the power to promote happiness and good luck. Virtuously exciting, Golden Nuggets are best devoured out of hand, savored with eyes closed, and appreciated for their utter willingness to have their skins zipped off so easily while offering a whopping 50% weight in sweet juice.  Complexly peppery, they blend marvelously well with arugula and fresh chevre, tossed lightly with olive oil and rice vinegar.

Morning combinations of several spellbinding varieties of the vitamin C-rich family, coupled with kiwi and lavishly draped with creamy yogurt and chopped local almonds, is like being given Shakespeare for breakfast. Compote warm segments of Golden Nuggets with blood oranges, chopped fresh mint, and late harvest Riesling, and then luxuriously blanket with pound cake. Lightly caramelize sliced fennel and green garlic in olive oil, add Golden Nugget filets, hit with white wine and chicken stock, and reduce by half. Toss in several fat prawns or scallops and let braise for a minute or two. Feel the sun come out as your pan volume declines.

Thrown into a spinach salad with crumbled feta and toasted walnuts, they raise a winter repast deliciously high. Create a tapenade by chopping Greek olives, garlic, oregano, olive oil, and orange peel, and swank up sautéed chicken breasts with wild rice pilaf. Smother cod filets with segments, grated peel, and thinly sliced scarlet carrots, lube up with olive oil, and roast to golden in a hot oven. Slide a segment or two into chilled vodka before sinking your pearly whites into voluptuous chocolate-dipped Satsuma mandarin slices. Life imitates art.

Get out and walk, rain or shine -- and just for goodwill, throw some weight bearing moves in there too. Most importantly, appreciate life, and appreciate those you love as well as the person you are screaming at on the freeway. Everyone has something going on that you don’t know about. Don’t take it all so personally, and hug more. Happy New Year!

Barley and Winter Vegetable Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1 whole small or ½ big butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 ribs of celery, sliced
2 Japanese eggplants, if they are still at the market, halved and sliced
4 cups of stock
1½ cups of barley
Chopped fresh oregano and parsley to your taste (mine would be 2 large tablespoons each)
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large heavy pan and sauté the onions and garlic for 4 minutes on medium heat. Add the rest of the vegetables and the barley and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the barley is cooked and the stew is thick, about 30 minutes. Add the herbs and season to taste.


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