The Miracle of Fall
Crystalline blue skies and brilliant leaf colors or orange, gold, and red. These make autumn such a glorious time. And, they offer a great opportunity to learn about our natural world. The Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Illinois offers a list of links to all things about fall leaves at http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/fallcolor/education.html. Designed for parents, grandparents, and teachers, these sites provide a wide range of information and activities. Even without children to instruct, you'll have lots of fun learning from these, too.
The World's Healthiest Foods
It may seem a strange time of year to begin thinking about next year's garden, but for anyone whose mouth waters at the thought of home-grown vegetables and fruits, the food garden is never far from our thoughts. This winter will provide the ideal time to peruse The World's Healthiest Foods, by George Mateljan (World's Healthiest Foods, 2006, $39.95), as it provides an interesting perspective on foods and how to use them in the kitchen. At 880 pages, this is not a light read, and, oddly enough, it is not comprehensive, focusing as it does on 100 foods (it leaves out my beloved okra and blackberries, for instance, plus it also includes fish, poultry, and lean meats). What it does provide is a comprehensive nutrient analysis of the individual foods, reasoning for why each food should be a part of the healthiest way of eating, peak season, biochemical considerations, the best way to select, the best way to store, the best way to prepare, and the healthiest way of cooking. There are also additional quickly prepared serving suggestions. Although these cooking ideas are relatively simple, they provide healthy, flavorful inspiration that I've found particularly helpful this past summer.