Video: Cooking Beef Slices with An Electric Iron for Lunch in the Office

Watch video at You Tube (2:24 minutes) . . . . .

Advertisements

Jamie Oliver’s Pork Belly Roast with Crunchy Crackling and Gravy

Ingredients

1.3 kg piece of higher-welfare pork belly
15 g fennel seeds
100 ml olive oil
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 bulb of garlic
2 onions
1/2 bunch of fresh thyme
1 bottle of white wine
75 g plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature.
  2. Using a Stanley knife, score the skin down to the meat (try not to cut the meat), making the cuts very close together.
  3. Bash the fennel seeds and a good pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar to a powder.
  4. Tip the oil over the top of the scored skin, then sprinkle over the fennel mixture, and rub all over so that everything gets into the scores and down into the meat.
  5. Roughly chop the carrots and celery, then throw these into a roasting tray. Break the garlic bulb up into unpeeled cloves, peel and chop the onions into large wedges, then toss into the tray with the thyme sprigs.
  6. Put the seasoned pork belly on top of the vegetables in the tray, then roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skin starts to bubble and turn golden brown.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C/325°F, and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes. When the time’s up, carefully open the oven door and pour in three-quarters of the wine. Cook for 1 further hour.
  8. Remove the meat carefully from the oven and test to see if it pulls apart easily. If not, cook for a little longer. Allow the meat to rest while you make the gravy.
  9. Put the tray of roasted vegetables directly onto your hob over a medium heat add, add the flour, then stir together until thick. Cook for 1 minute then add in the remaining wine – if you sauce is too thick add a splash more wine or water.
  10. Using a potato masher, mash up the vegetables until you have a delicious thick-looking sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on a low heat, season to taste, then strain through a sieve into a jug.
  11. Remove the crackling from the top of the belly and break up into pieces, pull the pork belly apart, and serve with the jug of gravy on the side, and a selection of seasonal vegetables.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Jamie Oliver

In Pictures: Sushi Donuts

Good Sleep Does Get Tougher With Age

Amy Norton wrote . . . . .

Most people see their sleep habits shift as they age, but a new review suggests that some seniors lose the ability to get deep, restorative rest.

And that can come with health consequences, said review author Bryce Mander, a sleep researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

Sleep “fragmentation” has been linked to a number of medical conditions, including depression and dementia, Mander said. People with fragmented sleep wake up multiple times during the night, and miss out on the deep stages of sleep.

It is true that medical conditions, or the treatments for them, can cause sleep problems, according to Mander.

But poor sleep can also contribute to disease, he added.

Take dementia, for example. Research suggests there is a “bi-directional” link between sleep disruptions and the dementia process, said Joe Winer, another Berkeley researcher who worked on the review.

That is, dementia often causes sleep problems; poor sleep, in turn, may speed declines in memory and other mental skills. According to Winer, animal research suggests that deep sleep helps “clear” the brain of the amyloid-beta proteins that build up in people with dementia.

So there may be a “vicious cycle,” Winer said, where dementia and poor sleep feed each other.

Similar vicious cycles may be at work with other diseases, too, Mander said. He also stressed, though, that some shifts in sleep habits may be perfectly normal.

Older people are famously prone to being “early to bed, early to rise.” They may also sleep a little less than they used to in their younger days. And that may be fine, the researchers said.

“We don’t want to create a panic that if you’re sleeping a little less than you used to, you’re going to develop dementia,” Mander said.

But, he added, it is important to recognize sleep as one of the lifestyle factors critical to good health — right along with exercise and a healthy diet.

In fact, Mander noted, one reason that regular exercise keeps us healthy is that it can support better-quality sleep.

“Why do some people age more ‘successfully’ than others?” he said. “We think sleep is one of the factors.”

Dr. Sanjeev Kothare, a sleep specialist who was not involved in the study, said poor sleep “clearly” has health consequences.

Sleep apnea is a good example, said Kothare, of the NYU Langone Comprehensive Epilepsy-Sleep Center, in New York City.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes repeated stops and starts in breathing during the night, and it’s linked to major diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Research also suggests it can hasten declines in memory and thinking.

Dr. Phyllis Zee is chief of sleep medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. She said sleep quality is more important than “duration.”

So if older people are sleeping a little less than they used to — or wake up once at night then quickly fall back asleep — that’s probably not a red flag, according to Zee.

But, she said, older adults should talk to their doctor if they routinely sleep less than six hours a night, or lack long “consolidated” blocks of sleep.

In some cases, Zee said, sleep apnea may be to blame.

In other cases, people may need lifestyle adjustments that can improve their sleep. The good news, Zee said, is that “behavioral and environmental changes are powerful.”

Older people can improve their sleep by fitting physical and social activity into their daily routine, Zee said. At night, she suggested they make sure the bedroom temperature is comfortable and limit exposure to artificial light — especially the blue glow of computer and TV screens.

Zee also stressed the importance of getting enough daylight, in the morning and afternoon: That helps keep the body’s circadian rhythms (the sleep-wake cycle) on track.

But people should not wait until old age to care about sleep. According to Mander’s team, people often start losing the capacity for deep sleep in middle age, and that decline continues over the years.

What’s not clear yet, Mander said, is whether good sleep habits earlier in life help protect people from sleep problems in old age.

The review, which analyzed medical literature on the topic of sleep and aging, was published online in the journal Neuron.

Source: HealthDay

Dancing May Be Best for the Aging Brain

Gretchen Reynolds wrote . . . . . .

Could learning to dance the minuet or fandango help to protect our brains from aging?

A new study that compared the neurological effects of country dancing with those of walking and other activities suggests that there may be something unique about learning a social dance. The demands it places on the mind and body could make it unusually potent at slowing some of the changes inside our skulls that seem otherwise inevitable with aging.

Neuroscientists and those in middle age or beyond know that brains alter and slow as we grow older. Processing speed, which is a measure of how rapidly our brains can absorb, assess and respond to new information, seems to be particularly hard hit. Most people who are older than about 40 perform worse on tests of processing speed than those who are younger, with the effects accelerating as the decades pass.

Scientists suspect that this decline is due in large part to a concomitant fraying of our brain’s white matter, which is its wiring. White matter consists of specialized cells and their offshoots that pass messages between neurons and from one part of the brain to another. In young brains, these messages whip from neuron to neuron with boggling speed. But in older people, brain scans show, the white matter can be skimpier and less efficient. Messages stutter and slow.

Whether this age-related decline in white matter is inexorable, however, or might instead be changeable has been unclear.

So for the new study, which was published this month in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Illinois in Urbana and other schools decided to look at the effects of several different types of exercise on the wiring and the function of older people’s brains.

They began by recruiting 174 healthy people in their 60s and 70s with no signs of cognitive impairment. Most were sedentary, although some occasionally exercised.

Then they invited the men and women to a university lab for tests of their aerobic fitness and mental capacities, including processing speed and a brain scan with a sophisticated M.R.I. machine.

Finally, the researchers randomly divided the volunteers into several groups. One began a supervised program of brisk walking for an hour three times a week. Another started a regimen of supervised gentle stretching and balance training three times a week.

The last group was assigned to learn to dance. These men and women showed up to a studio three times a week for an hour and practiced increasingly intricate country-dance choreography, with the group shaping itself into fluid lines and squares and each person moving from partner to partner.

After six months, the volunteers returned to the lab to repeat the tests and the brain scans from the study’s start.

The differences now proved to be both promising and worrisome.

By and large, everyone’s brain showed some signs of what the scientists termed “degeneration” of the white matter. The changes were subtle, involving slight thinning of the size and number of connections between neurons.

But the effects were surprisingly widespread throughout people’s brains, given that only six months had elapsed since the first scans, said Agnieszka Burzynska, the study’s lead author and a professor of human development and neuroscience at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. (She was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois.)

The degeneration was especially noticeable in the oldest volunteers and those who had been the most sedentary before joining the study.

However, one group showed an actual improvement in the health of some of the white matter in their brains, compared to six months before. The dancers now had denser white matter in their fornix, a part of the brain involved with processing speed and memory.

It seems likely that the cognitive demands of the dancing, which required people to learn and master new choreography throughout the six months of the study, affected the biochemistry of the brain tissue in the fornix, Dr. Burzynska said, prompting increases in the thickness and quantity of the wiring there.

Interestingly, none of the changes in the volunteers’ white matter were obviously reflected in their cognitive performance. Almost everyone performed better now on thinking tests than at the study’s start, including tests of their processing speed, even if their white matter was skimpier.

These results indicate that there could be a time lag between when the brain changes structurally and when we start having trouble thinking and remembering, Dr. Burzynska said.

But, more encouraging, she said, they also suggest that engaging in “any activities involving moving and socializing,” as each of these group programs did, might perk up mental abilities in aging brains.

“The message is that we should try not to be sedentary,” she said. “The people who came into our study already exercising showed the least decline” in white matter health, she points out, and those who took up dancing showed white-matter gains.

Of course, this study was relatively short-term. Dr. Burzynska hopes in the future to study the brains of people engaging in different types of exercise over the course of several years.

But for now, she says the data provide another rationale for moving — and perhaps also learning to contra dance and sashay.

Source: The New York Times


Today’s Comic