Gadget: Kitchen Knife

The Bolo Rolling Knife

Cutting and Chopping

Optional Blade for Meat Tenderizing

Baked Oyster with Shrimp, Mushroom and Parmesan Cheese


Kosher salt
2 tbsp butter
3 scallions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
4 large mushrooms, finelychopped
1-1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely chopped cooked shelled shrimp
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tbsp dry sherry
large pinch of black pepper
large pinch of cayenne
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch of salt
16 oysters on the half shell


5 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp dry bread crumbs
1/4 tsp salt
large pinch of cayenne
large pinch of black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Pour the Kosher salt about 1/2 inch deep into a large roasting pan, or several pans, large enough to hold all the oyster in one layer, and put in the oven. The salt keeps the oysters from tipping over, and will help keep them warm after they come out of the oven.
  3. Melt the butter in a skillet over a moderate heat. Saute the scallions, garlic, parsley and mushrooms until the vegetables are limp, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir until blended. Add the cream and stir until blended. Add the shrimp, egg yolk, sherry, black pepper, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce and salt and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens, 5-6 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, make the crumb topping mixture. Combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt, cayenne and pepper.
  5. Put 1 oyster on each half shell and spoon some shrimp sauce over each oyster. Top each with the crumb mixture. Nestle the oysters in hot salt. Bake in the oven until the topping is golden, 12-15 minutes.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Source: Fish and Shellfish

A Brief History Of Christmas Tea

Whitney Blair Wyckoff wrote . . . . . .

Christmas is a time for coming together with family and loved ones. Some 200 years ago, it was also a time to get stinking drunk in public.

“I guess [the way] Christmas used to be celebrated, you’d just get drunk,” says University of California, Santa Barbara historian Erika Rappaport. Indeed, Christmas was one of the few times during the year that working-class men had off, and many would use it to blow their wages drinking and gambling at the pub, she says. It was not uncommon to see women storming into bars with frying pans raised to drag home their inebriated husbands — and what was left of their paychecks.

Enter the temperance movement. In the 1830s, crusaders against public drunkenness set their sights on Christmas. “They wanted to make it more of a family affair,” Rappaport says.

So these teetotalers decided to, well, make it a tea holiday. Members of the movement in both the U.S. and the U.K. would hold massive tea parties, often on Christmas Eve, in halls festooned with pine tree boughs and fruit. As many as 4,000 working and middle-class attendees would drink tea at long tables, while listening to a sermon or the testimony of reformed alcoholics preaching the virtues of an alcohol-free life.

“How in the world did they heat enough water to make the tea?” Rappaport laughs.

Rappaport, who has written about temperance tea parties, says they set the stage for afternoon tea — a kind of fancy-schmancy snack time that became popular with the elite in England around the same time. Legend has it that the Duchess of Bedford popularized the tradition when she started inviting her gal pals to her room for refreshments between lunch and dinner. Large hotels in the U.S. and especially in the U.K. also took to the trend, and began offering elegant afternoon tea service in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In the past few decades, the afternoon tea tradition has come full circle: Hotels on both sides of the pond have been resurrecting the public Christmas tea — as an antidote not to seasonal raucousness but to seasonal stress.

The biggest change from the usual afternoon tea service is the food, says Jason Deville, executive assistant manager for food and beverage at the 150-year-old Willard InterContinental hotel in Washington, D.C.

“It’s more of a focus on holiday flavors,” he says, “a lot of cinnamons, a lot of nutmeg, a lot of changes for the desserts” that come loaded on three-tiered trays. The traditional finger sandwiches also get kicked up a notch — with fillings like caviar, foie gras and smoked salmon. It’s a far more lavish spread than the bread and butter that would have been offered at a temperance tea.

The Willard, one of D.C.’s most opulent hotels, began offering Christmas tea in 2006. Deville says the recent tradition recalls a time when stylish ladies would wander down the hotel’s main hallway, Peacock Alley, to shop, be seen and, presumably, drink tea. The hotel now uses that space for its tea service.

“I think, in a sense, they were trying to re-create that Old World feeling of the hotel and go back to some of its roots,” Deville says.

The Christmas tea tradition seems to have found fans among harried Americans looking for respite from the holiday hustle. Deville says it’s the busiest time for the Willard’s tea service. And the same is true at the luxurious Drake Hotel in Chicago, which longtime staff swear has been serving Christmas-themed teas “since at least the ’70s,” according to Lynda Simonetti, the Drake’s marketing and PR manager.

“For holiday tea, we literally have thousands of people. Just on Saturday, we had 800,” she says.

Both Deville and Simonetti say many Christmas tea guests are families — moms and daughters, aunts and grandmothers. Simonetti says: “People are trying to make memories.”

That’s certainly the case for sisters Ginger Apyar and Jane Hopson, who’ve made Christmas tea at the Willard a family tradition. “You know, you just want some refinement,” Hopson says.

Last Wednesday, Hopson boarded a 6:15 a.m. flight from Chicago to meet her sister in D.C. for their holiday tea ritual. She had a ticket to return home only 12 hours later. It’s a long way for a short trip. But to Hopson, it’s worth it.

“We don’t see each other that often,” she said, after sipping black tea and nibbling a pumpkin-spice scone under the evergreen-adorned sconces of the Willard’s Peacock Alley. “And it’s a nice thing to do as a Christmas tradition.”

It’s a connection between Christmas, tea and family that would have pleased the temperance crusaders — though they surely would have winced at the champagne the sisters enjoyed with their scones.

Source: npr

Exercise Eases Hot Flashes During Menopause

Exercise can reduce the amount and intensity of hot flashes experienced during menopause, according to a study published today in The Journal of Physiology.

Exercise that makes you hot, sweaty and fitter reduced the severity of hot flashes by minimising the symptoms that occur during a hot flash, such as the amount of sweating and elevations in skin, as well as blood flow in the brain. In contrast, the women who remained sedentary reported very little differences in hot flash severity.

Hot flashes are the most common symptom experienced during a woman’s menopause. The physiology of hot flashes remains partly unknown, although they have been linked to raised blood lipids and potentially insulin resistance, which could be risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.

To measure the characteristics of hot flashes and impact of exercise, researchers recruited 21 healthy symptomatic post-menopausal women, of which 14 undertook a gym-based exercise programme for four months while another group formed a control group and carried on with their life as normal.

Participants completed a self-assessment questionnaire about the frequency and intensity of their hot flashes. To get a physiological hot flash assessment, the researchers placed the women in a hot water suit to induce a hot flash and then recorded their physiological reactions, including sweating and skin and brain blood flow, which match the descriptions of sweating, flashing and faintness on the usual self-report hot flash questionnaire. The women in the exercise group exercised in the gym on a treadmill, bike, rower and cross trainer so they increased their breathing and blood flow and sweated but were still able to talk. They progressed from three 30-minute sessions a week to five 45-minute sessions a week.After 4 months, they measured the number and severity of hot flashes again using the same measurements.

In addition, researchers found that hot flashes significantly increased heart rate, skin blood flow and sweating, but reduced mean arterial pressure and blood flow in the brain.

Dr Jones from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University and lead investigator of the study commented,

‘Previous studies have only investigated if post-menopausal women could improve the number and severity of hot flashes using a questionnaire which described symptoms. We have provided direct evidence that the physiological reactions during a hot flash can be improved with regular exercise that makes you fitter. This information can now be used to promote exercise as a treatment in the management of menopausal hot flashes.

Source: The Physiological Society

In Pictures: Luxurious Christmas Trees

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Claridge’s, London

The Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris

The Hotel del Coronado, San Diego

The Victoria & Albert Museum, London

The American Museum of Natural History, New York

Le Royal Monceau – Raffles, Paris

The Designers’ Christmas Trees, Paris

Source: Bloomberg

Today’s Comic