CHARD RHAPSODY

Chard Rhapsody is an unusual toast with braised chard and herb tofu. The pyrotechnically coloured stalks and leaves of Swiss Chard are high in Vitamin K, A, C and magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium. Chard reminds me not only of my childhood in Italy but also of the way such vitamins and minerals are crucial in maintaining hormonal balance. I think I am walking in a march with a big group of friends of all sexes where we shout joyfully, “Women, let’s eat chard!” I feel a deep connection with the menopausal whale species mentioned when praising toasts with avocados in the previous post. Women -and whales- are terribly important for physical and mental health of their sons and daughters. I think of my youth in the mighty eighties, when toasts were very rudimentary: white bread from a plastic package, processed cheese and a slice of ham. We had it as an afternoon snack. Chard was hated by nearly everyone, a vegetable that only adults enjoyed. Now it is all different and for the better. I like to recall those times by re-creating their psychedelic picture of pinks, yellows, reds, purple and green, on top of which a sprinkling of cubic tofu stars is the white and proteic substance this toast was lacking from. Let’s drain and coat the tofu with herbs before launching it in the dark of the oven.

https://toastsandthoughts.wordpress.com/2018/11/11/hearts-avocados-and-whales/

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BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY DI BIETA IN PADELLA SU TOAST

Le mamme ci chiamavano dalla finestra mentre ci azzuffavamo in cortile e noi salivamo le scale di corsa e sudati, dove ci aspettava in cucina o un ciambellone fatto in casa con la variante di pane e nutella (per chi amava il dolce), o tristemente, se ci piaceva di più il salato, uno squallido toast fatto con pane in cassetta, sottilette e un corpo estraneo “cotto” di colore rosaceo. In sottofondo c’erano i Queen, che ci gasavano ancora di più e ci invogliavano a mangiarne due. A volte per cena c’era la bieta, che forse odiavamo, ma poi si cambia, e siamo diventati adoratori di verdure. Nella famiglia “Beta vulgaris” ci sono anche i cugini spinaci, che ci venivano imboccati da Braccio di Ferro ma non vantano gli stessi colori psichedelici della nostra adolescenza anni ottanta! In vena di rapsodie colorate e musicali, un po’ di luce alla bieta! Al languor di proteine accorriamo con cubetti di tofu alle erbe.

I Queen li ascoltiamo ancora sorridendo, ma i toast li abbiamo reinventati in un piacere raffinato, saporito e meno crudele.

HEARTS, AVOCADOS AND WHALES

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When tension builds up between us and someone we truly love, often because of each other’s row of expectations, the clear, rightful trio of mind, action and communication tries to escape from the next Pompeii’s lava force with the devising of something clever and neutral, not to say edible.

Here we set to make an avocado toast that is “our avocado toast” in the midst of thousands identical ones. No, this is not a philosophical clone or a replica, just one new element in the freedom of healthy food for busy days.

Peacefully me and my daughter mixed a little extra virgin olive oil with lemon juice and salt. We had separate bowls so as not to clash with each other’s hands and spoons and get nervous. Then we brushed the avocado slices she had already cut before. She said cutting slices so thin was relaxing. Lastly we placed them on top of medium thick slices of a spelt and sunflower bloomer.

It was a fat concentrate full of flavour and never mind the calories: our heart needs it! Added the sesame seeds for decoration (we had a full jar), still more fat and more heart.

This is not something I would eat more than once or twice a week and not because I wouldn’t like to be hearty every day! The soul of this blog is indeed to conceive as many combinations of fruit, vegetables, seeds and so on to put on toasts as can be imagined.

I heard someone comparing avocados with Moby Dick, because like Melville’s white whale they are now everywhere and have become the obsession of so many people owning a fridge.

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The other day, as we were looking at magazines while sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, an article about whales on the last “Focus” issue grabbed my attention as it was in line with the mother-daughter theme, and with avocados as a consequence.

I copy it below in full, hoping someone might find it interesting reading it.

BELUGA WHALES AND NARWHALS GO THROUGH MENOPAUSE.

Menopause is rare in the animal kingdom. While many species may be less likely to reproduce as they near the end of their life, until now only three animals were known to have an “evolved strategy” where females have a significant post-reproductive lifespan: humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales. But now researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of York have added two more toothed whale species to that list: belugas and narwhals.

The team studied dead whales from 16 species and found dormant ovaries in older beluga and narwhals females, indicating that they had gone through the menopause. The findings suggest that these species are likely to have social structures that involve female beluga whales and narwhals living among a greater number of close relatives as they age.

For menopause to make sense in evolutionary terms, a species needs both a reason to stop reproducing and a reason to live on afterwards,” says Dr Sam Ellis, of the University of Exeter. “In killer whales, the reason to stop [reproducing]comes because both male and female offspring stay with their mothers for life, so as a female ages her group contains more of her children and grandchildren. This increasing relatedness means that, if she keeps having young, they’re competing with their own direct descendants for resources such as food. The reason to continue living is that older females can be of great benefit to their offspring and grand-offspring.

For example, their knowledge of where to find food helps the group as a whole survive.”

Studies of ancestral human remains suggests they have similar social structures, which may explain why menopause has evolved in our own species, the researchers say. “Looking at other species like these toothed whales can help us establish how this unusual reproductive strategy has evolved,” says Prof Darren Croft, also of the University of Exeter.

I thank you for dropping by and wish you would have a look at my first post here:

https://toastsandthoughts.wordpress.com/2018/11/05/the-journey-begins/

Singing and grating

As this blog is at its first words when winter is approaching and Christmas rehersals are on the way, the sound of music is sometimes dictating unconsciously how I am going to introduce this creation of mine named “Toasts and Thoughts”.

The voice is making an effort not to stray off tune when “chestnuts roast on an open fire” as the head wanders and hovers above all everyday worries to make our nutrition healthy, cruelty free and affordable with the least effort possible. I am not a kitchen lady. I would rather spend free time reading, writing, playing music and twisting myself into animal shapes than taking the agony of standing for hours by that white worktop to cram a medley of out-of-times or modern day killings in baking trays. The myriad vegs, fruits and cereals can make life bright. Still singing of flying turkeys and reindeers, the feeling of “toughts toasting on an open mind” was the original archetype for this project.

Here it starts with the first open toast with chickpeas, fresh ginger, turmeric, tomatoes and chilli on wholemeal seeded bread slices.
I asked ginger and turmeric to warm up body and brain, as I learned to appreciate all seasons positively, but I am still very little resistant to cold. If the spices are kept in the freezer they stay fresh for months, let’s say the whole winter. I grated a lot of them for a long time, which secured as much time to think while grating (that otherwise can be boring). Toasting bread to top with imaginative combinations of veg, even leftovers sometimes, opens to new worlds of happy, blissful homemade lunches for days big with singing but still busy with all other chores’ mishmash.

If I wanted to abbreviate the making of this toast I’d have to use powder turmeric and ginger, then I would miss out on the immunising power of the spices and the taste would be completely different. Also, less time to think and sing that Christmas song.

Thank you for joining me!

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