Character Sweets

Conan and Akai (コナンと赤井) Wagashi

Limited quantity of the sweets will be sold for a limited time period. The price is 258 yen (plus tax) each.

Strawberry Scones with Almonds


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1-1/4 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
1-1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (also called Sugar in the Raw)


1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
pinch of salt


  1. To make the scone, preheat the oven to 400° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flours with the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Stir in the 1-1/4 cups of buttermilk and carefully fold in the strawberries.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop the dough into 16 mounds on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the scones are golden and cooked through; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Let the scones cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  6. To make the topping, lower the oven temperature to 350°.
  7. Spread the almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar with the buttermilk, almond extract and salt. Cover and let the glaze stand at room temperature.
  9. Drizzle the scones with the glaze, then top with the almonds, pressing to help them adhere. Let dry for 10 minutes, then serve.

Makes 16 scones.

Source: Chef Breanne Varela

COVID-19: Will Social Distancing be the New Normal?

DeeDee Stiepan wrote . . . . . . . . .

As some states look toward relaxing restrictions and social distancing measures, such as stay-at-home orders, new projections suggest social distancing may need to continue through 2022. Researchers predict that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will return every winter, and that prolonged or intermittent social distancing strategies could limit the strain on health care systems.

Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic COVID-19 expert, predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will change many aspects of U.S. culture in the future, including the need to always practice social distancing measures.

“I think that’s going to become inevitable. I think we very well may become a culture, at least in the wintertime when there are so many respiratory viruses circulating, that we’ll be more like Asian cultures, where they more readily wear masks when outdoors. I think we’ll take more seriously in clinics and hospitals, and nursing homes, the respiratory diseases that circulate every year, and which lead to hospitalizations and deaths ― influenza being the exemplar,” says Dr. Poland, who is the director of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group.

He also sees this pandemic changing the future of health care delivery.

“There’s a lot we can do with telehealth, telemedicine. We don’t necessarily need to bring everybody in, expose them to some of the potential dangers of that, in order to advise them as to what the next course of treatment or the next diagnostic test may be.”

As work to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 continues, Dr. Poland hopes that this pandemic shines light on the importance of vaccines to prevent illness.

“As we develop vaccines against these respiratory diseases, I hope we’ll take vaccination more seriously. When you think about influenza, people over the age of 65 account for 90% of the deaths due to flu; yet, maybe we get 50%–60% of them to take the flu vaccine. This may energize the whole enterprise of vaccines as a way of preventing diseases,” says Dr. Poland.

Source: Mayo CLinic

Diet May Help Preserve Cognitive Function

According to a recent analysis of data from two major eye disease studies, adherence to the Mediterranean diet – high in vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil – correlates with higher cognitive function. Dietary factors also seem to play a role in slowing cognitive decline. Researchers at the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, led the analysis of data from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) and AREDS2. They published their results today in the Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We do not always pay attention to our diets. We need to explore how nutrition affects the brain and the eye” said Emily Chew, M.D., director of the NEI Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Applications and lead author of the studies.

The researchers examined the effects of nine components of the Mediterranean diet on cognition. The diet emphasizes consumption of whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and olive oil, as well as reduced consumption of red meat and alcohol.

AREDS and AREDS2 assessed over years the effect of vitamins on age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which damages the light-sensitive retina. AREDS included about 4,000 participants with and without AMD, and AREDS2 included about 4,000 participants with AMD. The researchers assessed AREDS and AREDS2 participants for diet at the start of the studies. The AREDS study tested participants’ cognitive function at five years, while AREDS2 tested cognitive function in participants at baseline and again two, four, and 10 years later. The researchers used standardized tests based on the Modified Mini-Mental State ExaminationThis link is external to and will open in a new browser window or tab. to evaluate cognitive function as well as other tests. They assessed diet with a questionnaire that asked participants their average consumption of each Mediterranean diet component over the previous year.

Participants with the greatest adherence to the Mediterranean diet had the lowest risk of cognitive impairment. High fish and vegetable consumption appeared to have the greatest protective effect. At 10 years, AREDS2 participants with the highest fish consumption had the slowest rate of cognitive decline.

The numerical differences in cognitive function scores between participants with the highest versus lowest adherence to a Mediterranean diet were relatively small, meaning that individuals likely won’t see a difference in daily function. But at a population level, the effects clearly show that cognition and neural health depend on diet.

The researchers also found that participants with the ApoE gene, which puts them at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease, on average had lower cognitive function scores and greater decline than those without the gene. The benefits of close adherence to a Mediterranean diet were similar for people with and without the ApoE gene, meaning that the effects of diet on cognition are independent of genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: National Eye Institute

Coronavirus Circulated in U.S. Weeks Earlier than Thought, Mistaken for Flu, Health Official Says

Sharon Bernstein and Kanishka Singh wrote . . . . . . . . .

The novel coronavirus circulated in January in California, weeks earlier than thought, and early deaths were likely mistaken for the flu, a county health official said on Wednesday.

A 57-year-old woman had died of COVID-19 on Feb. 6, far earlier than any other reported cases in the United States, said Sara Cody, the health officer in Santa Clara County, California.

It was previously thought that the first U.S. death from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, was in Washington state on Feb. 29.

News of the deaths in California could improve public health officials’ understanding of how the outbreak took hold in the United States.

Additional early deaths may also be discovered in California, further changing public health officials’ understanding of the virus’ progress. On Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he had asked medical examiners from all 58 counties in California to research deaths that might have been COVID-related back to December.

The California woman’s death and two other early cases – a 69-year-old man who died Feb. 17 and a 70-year-old man who died March 6 – were confirmed to have been COVID-19 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after it tested tissue samples.

The county had previously identified its first case of community transmission – infectious spread among people who had not been to China or other early hot spots – on Feb. 28, Cody said. But none of the three patients who died had traveled.

“What these deaths tell us is that we had community transmission probably to a significant degree, far earlier than we had known, and that indicates that the virus was probably introduced and circulating in our community far earlier than we had known,” Cody said.

Because the region was undergoing a bad flu season at the time, many cases may have been misclassified as influenza, she said.

The cases were likely “iceberg tips,” Cody said, indicating that many more people were also infected.

The three cases were discovered because the county medical examiner’s office was not satisfied that it had found the correct cause of death, Cody said. Because coronavirus tests were not available, they saved tissue samples, which they sent to the CDC.

The testing parameters at the time by the CDC restricted testing to individuals with a known travel history and who sought medical care for specific symptoms.

U.S. coronavirus deaths topped 46,000 on Wednesday, doubling in a little over a week and rising on Tuesday by a near-record amount in a single day, according to a Reuters tally.

The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at more than 830,000.

Source: Reuters

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