Video: Fake Food, Real Art: Crafting Display Delicacies

In Japan, it’s customary for restaurants to display their offerings inside their front windows. Think restaurant window shopping. The displays come from one city only: Gujo. This ancient town is the epicenter of artificial food. The people who make the displays are real artists, but the “food” they create is not.

Watch video at You Tube (2:21 minutes) . . . .

French-style Vegan Pancakes with Chard


1 bunch spring onions, green and white parts separated and chopped
5 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
3/4 teaspoon sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste


2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch chard, leaves and stems separated, stems sliced thin, leaves chopped coarsely
generous pinch of crushed chili flakes
1 teaspoon vinegar, such as sherry or red wine
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 450 F, positioning a rack five or so inches beneath the broiler.
  2. In a small or medium-sized bowl, combine the chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper, and two tablespoons of the olive oil, and stir or whisk until it forms a smooth batter (a few small lumps are okay). Allow the batter to sit for at least 20 minutes, and up to 12 hours.
  3. Turn heat to medium under a heavy-bottomed, oven-proof skillet, preferably cast iron. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, the white part of the onions, and the cumin. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft. Add the onion greens and cook until they wilt, which won’t take long. Remove from heat, put the onions in a small bowl, and wipe out the skillet.
  4. Place the skillet in the heating oven, so it gets good and hot.
  5. When the oven has come to temperature and the skillet is hot, remove it with a pot holder, and add the final two tablespoons of olive oil to the hot pan. Swirl it all around the pan so that the entire bottom and an inch or so of the sides are coated.
  6. Add the reserved cooked green onions to the batter and give it a final stir, then gently pour the batter into the hot pan, swirling to even it out, and return to the oven, setting the timer for 15 minutes.
  7. To cook the chard, set heat to medium-low under another heavy-bottomed skillet and heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and the chili flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds (taking care not to let it brown). Add the chopped stems, stir, and let them cook for a minute or two, covered.
  8. Add the chopped chard greens and the salt, stir, and let cook, covered, until the chard is wilted and tender. Remove the lid and let it cook for a minute to get rid of any excess liquid. Add a dash of vinegar to taste, stir, and set aside.
  9. Check the socca after 15-20 minutes, it will likely be set at the edges but pale on top. Put the broiler on high and give it a couple minutes under close watch, until it is crisp and golden brown.
  10. Slice the socca into wedges and serve topped with chard and a little grated cheese.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Mother Jones

In Pictures: Vegan Pizza

University Scientists Make Plant-based Vitamin B12 Breakthrough

Sandy Fleming wrote . . . . . . .

Scientists have made a significant discovery about how the vitamin content of some plants can be improved to make vegetarian and vegan diets more complete.

Vitamin B12 (known as cobalamin) is an essential dietary component but vegetarians are more prone to B12 deficiency as plants neither make nor require this nutrient.

But now a team, led by Professor Martin Warren at the University’s School of Biosciences, has proved that common garden cress can indeed take up cobalamin.

The amount of B12 absorbed by garden cress is dependent on the amount present in the growth medium, and the Kent team was able to confirm B12 uptake by showing that the nutrient ends up in the leaf.

The observation that certain plants are able to absorb B12 is important as such nutrient-enriched plants could help overcome dietary limitations in countries such as India, which have a high proportion of vegetarians and may be significant as a way to address the global challenge of providing a nutrient-complete vegetarian diet, a valuable development as the world becomes increasingly meat-free due to population expansion.

The Kent scientists worked with biology teachers and year 11 and 12 pupils at Sir Roger Manwood’s School in Sandwich to investigate the detection and measurement of B12 in garden cress.

The pupils grew garden cress containing increasing concentrations of vitamin B12. After seven days growth, the leaves from the seedlings were removed, washed and analysed.

The seedlings were found to absorb cobalamin from the growth medium and to store it in their leaves. To confirm this initial observation, the scientists at Kent then made a type of vitamin B12 that emits fluorescent light when activated by a laser. This fluorescent B12 was fed to the plants and it was found to accumulate within a specialised part of the leaf cell called a vacuole, providing definitive evidence that some plants can absorb and transport cobalamin.

Vitamin B12 is unique among the vitamins because it is made only by certain bacteria and therefore has to undergo a journey to make its way into more complex multi-cellular organisms. The research described in the paper highlights how this journey can be followed using the fluorescent B12 molecules, which can also be used to help understand why some people are more prone to B12 deficiency.

The discovery also has implications for combating some parasitic infections. Not only did the researchers demonstrate that some plants can absorb vitamin B12, they were also able to use the same technique to follow the movement of fluorescent B12 molecules into worms. These results demonstrate that this is a powerful model to learn about how B12 is absorbed and, as worms must use a different absorption system to mammalian systems, there is the possibility of exploiting this difference to try and treat worm-based parasites such as hook worms.

The research is now published in the journal Cell Chemical Biology.

Source: University of Kent

Read also:

Good news for vegetarians – plants can be made to absorb B12 . . . . .

Fight with Spouse May Worsen Chronic Pain, Other Symptoms

Katie Bohn wrote . . . . . . .

A fight with a spouse may end in hurt feelings, but for those with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes, those arguments may have physical repercussions as well, according to researchers.

They found that in two groups of older individuals — one group with arthritis and one with diabetes — the patients who felt more tension with their spouse also reported worse symptoms on those days.

“It was exciting that we were able to see this association in two different data sets — two groups of people with two different diseases,” said Lynn Martire, professor of human development and family studies, Penn State Center for Healthy Aging. “The findings gave us insight into how marriage might affect health, which is important for people dealing with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes.”

Martire said it’s important to learn more about how and why symptoms of chronic disease worsen. People with osteoarthritis in their knees who experience greater pain become disabled quicker, and people with diabetes that isn’t controlled have a greater risk for developing complications.

The researchers said that while previous research has shown a connection between satisfying marriages and better health, both physically and psychologically, there’s been a lack of research into how day-to-day experiences impact those with chronic illness.

“We study chronic illnesses, which usually involve daily symptoms or fluctuations in symptoms,” Martire said. “Other studies have looked at the quality of someone’s marriage right now. But we wanted to drill down and examine how positive or negative interactions with your spouse affect your health from day to day.”

Data from two groups of participants were used for the study. One group was comprised of 145 patients with osteoarthritis in the knee and their spouses. The other included 129 patients with type 2 diabetes and their spouses.

Participants in both groups kept daily diaries about their mood, how severe their symptoms were, and whether their interactions with their spouse were positive or negative. The participants in the arthritis and diabetes groups kept their diaries for 22 and 24 days, respectively.

The researchers found that within both groups of participants, patients were in a worse mood on days when they felt more tension than usual with their spouse, which in turn led to greater pain or severity of symptoms.

Additionally, the researchers found that within the group with arthritis, the severity of the patient’s pain also had an effect on tensions with their spouse the following day. When they had greater pain, they were in a worse mood and had greater tension with their partner the next day.

“This almost starts to suggest a cycle where your marital interactions are more tense, you feel like your symptoms are more severe, and the next day you have more marital tension again,” Martire said. “We didn’t find this effect in the participants with diabetes, which may just be due to differences in the two diseases.”

Martire said the results — recently published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine — could potentially help create interventions targeted at helping couples with chronic diseases.

“We usually focus on illness-specific communications, but looking at tension in a marriage isn’t tied to the disease, it’s not a symptom of the disease itself,” Martire said. “It’s a measure you can get from any couple. It suggests to me that looking beyond the illness, to improve the overall quality of the relationship might have some impact on health.”

Source: The Pennsylvania State University

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