Nothing says "I love you," at least in my Polish-American family, quite like the sharing of a thin, flat, tasteless wafer called an oplatek at Christmas.
We're not alone. Before sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner, many families with roots in Poland and other Eastern European countries will take part in this tradition, which has roots dating back hundreds of years.
Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 9:00 am
It's high season for pie-making. And when we came upon this touching story about a bunch of women gathering to bake fresh apple pies for the people of Newtown, Conn., it warmed our hearts here at The Salt. Truly.
Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am
Nobody really wants to think about economics, the famously dismal science, while sitting down at a table loaded with love and calories. Like it or not, though, supply and demand drive food production and set the price of dinner.
So, in a season of feasts, what are the business stories on your holiday menu?
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm
Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?
Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 11:37 am
Salt is one of those dangerously tasty substances. We add the magical crystals of sodium chloride to almost everything that we cook or bake, and according to many public health experts, we add too much.
They want us to cut back, to lower our risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Yet when you really start looking for ways to do this, you run into a paradox and a scientific puzzle.
First, the paradox. Too much salt may kill us, but our bodies need some of it to survive.
Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 9:04 am
Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs.
That's the word from the Dutch, who are doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. Reduce greenhouse gases? Check. Produce more edible protein while using less land than more traditional livestock? Check.
Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:34 am
Though my grandmother Georgette was born in the United States, she is half Belgian (Flemish) and half French. On top of the cabinets in her blue kitchen you'll find a little Dutch village of porcelain houses. Above the sink are miniature figures of the Statue of Liberty, Manneken Pis and the Eiffel Tower — representations of her three nationalities. In her Delft cookie jar you'll find speculaas (also called speculoos) — the Dutch windmill-shaped gingersnap-like cookie traditionally eaten on St. Nicholas Day.
Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:39 am
My family's holiday traditions are simple but consistent: Wake up Christmas morning, drink lots of coffee, eat a good breakfast, and wish each other happy happy. If the weather is nice, we postpone the present opening and pile into the car to head directly to the beach for a walk — a sunny December day along the Northern California coast is something to celebrate. Later, we cook a delicious dinner and sit around the table with a fire glowing in the fireplace nearby.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 11:11 am
It's hard to eat just one potato chip. The salt, the fat, the crunch — no wonder we mindlessly munch away, especially if we're parked in front of the TV.
So is there something better for children to snack on in the afternoon, especially if we're looking to limit their calories? It turns out that the combination of cheese and raw veggies like broccoli, carrots and sliced peppers may be the best option from both a nutrient standpoint and a satiety one.
Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:50 pm
The world isn't going to end next Friday, but Dec. 21, 2012, has come to be known as the Mayan apocalypse because that's when the Mayan calendar ends. As scientists have told us repeatedly, the end of the calendar year was actually a time for celebration and renewal — the equivalent of an ancient New Year's Eve. So breweries around the country have decided to celebrate with — what else? — beer.
Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:02 pm
Though we hear about them every holiday season in that famous song, chestnuts – whether roasting on an open fire or otherwise – have been noticeably absent from many American tables for decades, thanks to a deadly fungus that decimated the species near half a century ago. But a small army of determined growers have been on a seemingly quixotic quest to put chestnuts back on the American table, and they're just starting to see results.