GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Temperatures are expected to remain well into the 30sC for the next few days, and one of the things to remember is we all need to drink more.
The heat wave has prompted the Swiss finance ministry to remind employers of the impact on the workplace.
Seco also has a series of common sense tips for all of us:
- The best beverages when it’s hot out are cool water, lightly sparkling mineral water, herbal infusions, fruit teas and diluted fruit juices.
- Normal consumption, depending on weight, should be 1.8 to 2.5 litres of water a day. During a heat wave, if you work in an office you should drink an extra litre.
- The worst thirst-quenchers are milk-based and energy drinks, as well as smoothies.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks, which increase your water loss.
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – Environmental group WWF would like to see us stop wasting 75 percent of the electricity we use to hard-boil some 900 million eggs every year. The group doesn’t comment on our consumption of 100 hard-boiled eggs each, but it does says we could prepare them more efficiently.
The group asked Salt (Swiss Alpine Laboratories for Testing Energy Efficiency) to test and compare several methods. Their results (left to right in the graph):
1) egg cookers, which use little water and turn off once the eggs are cooked;
2) eggs cooked in two-fingers depth of water, lid on and heat turned off as soon as the eggs come to a boil; eggs are left for 20 minutes
3) same as number 2 but on a vitroceramic stove
4) vitroceramic stove using a lot of water and no lid
5) non-votroceramic, a lot of water, no lid
6) induction heat, a lot of water, no lid.
WWF says that unfortunately, most cookbooks still advice people to do it the old-fashioned and energy-inefficient way.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – This is the day when hearts will wave at us from every corner and chocolates and flowers be pressed in front of us, mainly in the name of romance. But take a minute to think about your heart, the real one that is beating away and acting as a motor to keep the rest of you moving.
The Swiss Heart Association publishes three excellent books, available in French and German, that make an excellent gift for anyone who needs to give more thought to a healthy heart. Frankly, that is most of us and we would all benefit from having these excellent reference plus recipe books on our shelves. I decided to be kind to myself and have a heart checkup yesterday; waiting in the doctor’s office gave me the opportunity to have a good look at these three books and I can heartily recommend them.
Price for each: CHF28.90, plus shipping and handling, order online or print out their form and fax/mail it. The shop also has a few other fine gifts, such as wine and oil, a pedometer.
“La cuisine pour le coeur. Pauvre en sel – riche en épices”
62 recipes, 144 pages
Switzerland is making an official effort to reduce the amount of salt we consume, but it’s up to each of us individually to learn how to cut back without losing out on flavour in our cooking. The guide to using spices and herbs is one of the best I’ve seen, with a number of practical tips , such as when to use balsamic vinegar to replace salt (a tiny bit when cooking meat) or how to ensure you have basil year-round. It explains why you should be using sea salt instead of commercial table salt and why one of the worst things you can buy is packaged dry soup mixes.
“La cuisine pour le coeur – avec un test de risque”
116 recipes, 192 pages
Wonderful recipes, plus practical medical advice on how to lead a healthier life in terms of your heart, plus a risk test for heart attacks, strokes and other vascular medical problems.
“La cuisine pour le coeur – les bonnes huiles et graisses”
75 recipes with nutritional values noted, 158 pages
Taking its cue from Mediterranean cuisine, the book offers guidance on selecting the right ingredients to get the balance you need, with foods that help you reduce fats and cholesterol coupled with useful tips on balancing eating and the amount of daily exercise you need to stay healthy. This is a great source of information about good for you oils.
LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – I came home from a wine/food pairing tasting evening at the Chateau d’Ouchy that was exceptional in every respect, only to go to bed wondering if I should really have enjoyed the crisp, scrumptious pork skin as much as I did (photo to be added Sunday).
Yes! yes! yes! is the answer, according to Ron Silver, the owner of Bubby’s restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, or so reports National Public Radio in the US. NPR published an article that has to be read, if only for love of the title, “Who Killed Lard?” Silver put on a one-night-only “Lard Exoneration Dinner”, writes NPR, and his effort alone must just bring back the magic of great fat.
If you’re skeptical, read it as a financial history story, since it’s part of NPR’s money section.
I love to bake pies and on just a few occasions I have had lard on hand, and all those old cookbooks that swear by lard crusts are right. Great stuff, makes light crusts with just the right amount of crisp, that melt in your mouth.
Once on a cold winter’s night in the west of Ireland I was riding my bicycle down a lonely country road when the neighbours invited me in. They insisted I have dinner with them, knowing I was living alone in tight circumstances. To my chagrin they fried up two pork chops with terrific strips of fat, then stood and watched expectantly while I sat and ate. Their circumstances weren’t much better than mine and I knew their cow was illegally grazing on my landlady’s land and they were keen to butter me up, so to speak.
I grew up thinking you didn’t eat strips of fat even though I always tried to sneak some because I loved it, cooked tender and crispy. But the look on my hosts faces when it appeared I was going to leave the fat uneaten convinced me I’d better do something.
“Do you eat this bit?” I asked politely
“Isn’t that the bit you don’t want to miss!” said the missus.
They rubbed their hands with delight, having shared their best treat, as I diplomatically wolfed down the strip of fat.
I make no apologies and can only say that although I have a few kilos to lose and don’t get enough exercise I just had a heart checkup and was told I have the heart of an athlete.
Go figure. Must be something good in all that sinful fat over the years.
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The Swiss Federal Health Office in November 2011 released a report on Swiss sodium (salt) consumption, suggesting that Swiss consumers should reduce their intake by half. A study done by the Bern University of Applied Sciences, as part of the government’s continuing programme to find ways to reduce salt in processed foods, has shown that this can be done while maintaining quality.
Their work is part of Switzerland’s Salt Strategy 2008-2012, which calls for average salt intake to be reduced by up to 16 percent (4 percent a year over the four years) to 8 g per day by the end of this year. The long-term goal is for a maximum intake of 5 g per day, in line with WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations.
In November, Bern noted that “processed foods such as bread, cheese, sausage and other meat products, soups and ready meals are major hidden sources of salt. Efforts are therefore being made, in close collaboration with the food industry and researchers, to investigate how salt levels in processed foods and in the catering sector can be reduced over the longer term without adversely affecting taste.”
The Bern study, run at the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences in Zollikofen, has shown that processed foods account for about 34 percent of salt intake and bread and pasta for 21 percent.
Swissinfo 26 January 2012 carries a good background story on Switzerland’s use of salt in food and how it is changing.
BERN, SWITZERLAND – Galmac apples, which kick off the Swiss apple season, have been around since 1986 but the unusual Swiss summer weather of 2011 is causing them to ripen a full two weeks earlier than usual, just in time for the 1 August national holiday.
The apples, native to Switzerland, are a cross between Jerseymac and Gala and were developed by the Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil ACW federal research station to meet Swiss growing conditions and market needs.
This is the first year they are widely available throughout Switzerland in time for the national holiday.
The apples are sweet but crisp and juicy and 200 tons of them are hitting the market this week. Some, for consumers lucky enough to find them, have a white cross on them.
The trees are increasingly replacing Summerreds, with 35 hectares planted nationally by 2015, says the federal agriculture department. The apples were designed to provide an early apple that is not as acidic as most on the market, in order to give Swiss consumers a local product. Most apples are on the market in August are imported.
We just had visitors, one of whom is vegetarian, so we prepared lentils with cumin and garden pumpkin risotto. What I realized only the next morning is that she is doesn’t eat fish, eggs or dairy products, and the risotto had cream. Our family cooking is not meat-centred, but like many non-vegetarians we have to think hard to conjure up a vegan meal, which lops out our easy alternatives, such as cheese and egg dishes. I wish that two nights ago I had known about Lavidalocavore’s writer LeeN, who is doing a series called Vegan cooking for non-vegans: countdown to Thanksgiving. Mouth-watering recipes and since there are 18 of them so far, this will stretch well past Thanksgiving day.
And if, like me, you are not sure what cranberry beans are, food writer Jennifer Jeffrey posts some lovely photos of them on her blog. Hint: they are speckled, and think of the colour cranberry.
Fresh cranberries, by the way, are now on sale at supermarkets in Switzerland, but they will soon disappear: they are sold as accompaniments for game dishes, so the season is mid-October to mid-November. I always buy a couple bags in advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the two times I like to include them on the menu, and I freeze them. They thaw in 10 minutes if you put them in a big strainer.
Nearly 20 years ago I went to a lecture on healthy diets that was mostly interesting and good, but when the speaker suddenly got passionate about the dangers of licking your yogurt lids (“and you’d be surprised at how many people do it!” she said), several of us thought she was going too far with the health approach.
Now it seems she might have been on to something. Toronto researchers say the wrappers are designed to keep fast food grease away from our clothes and hands is contaminating the food, and traces have been found in human blood, reports Environment News Service.
“In this study we clearly demonstrate that the current use of PAPs in food contact applications does result in human exposure to PFCAs, including PFOA,” Scott Mabury, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of Toronto, is quoted as saying, and the US Agency for Toxic Substances reports that high levels of PFOA in blood have been associated with changes in sex hormones and cholesterol.
Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, and just hand me the greasy thing, please, no wrapper included!