Columns

Stuffed Artichokes

By Barbara Beltrami

If they had a beauty contest for vegetables, I think the artichoke would win. It’s such a pretty veggie, so flower-like and mysterious with its closed leaves and well-hidden heart deep in its center. Actually a member of the thistle family, it is more specifically known as a globe artichoke and unfortunately is as difficult to find as it is to prepare, but well worth the effort ultimately.

A good artichoke feels heavy, its leaves are tightly closed and squeak when you squeeze it. Because it is such a special veggie, it can be steamed and eaten with a simple lemon and butter sauce; on the other hand, because it has such an interesting construction, it lends itself beautifully to a breadcrumb, garlic and olive oil stuffing in between the leaves. Or when in Rome or not in Rome, do as the Romans do and braise it in white wine, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and season it with a generous sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Prepping and Steaming an Artichoke

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

Juice of one whole lemon

4 globe artichokes

4 slices lemon

4 garlic cloves

1 fresh bay leaf

DIRECTIONS:

Fill a large bowl with cold water and lemon juice; as you prepare the artichokes as follows, place them in the lemon water to keep them from turning brown. With a kitchen scissor, cut off the thorny tips of the outer leaves. Using a serrated knife slice about 1 inch off the tip of the artichoke. Pull off any small leaves at the base near the stem. Cut off an inch or so at the bottom of the stem, and using a vegetable peeler, remove the tough outer skin.

Alternatively all but an inch or so of the stem can be removed and peeled and cooked separately. Gently prying the leaves open, run the artichoke under cold water. Set up a pot large pot with about 3 inches water and a steamer basket. Place the lemon, garlic and bay leaf in the water and bring it to a boil; stand the artichokes in the steamer basket, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until outer leaves can be easily pulled off. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature with melted butter or hollandaise sauce.

Eating an artichoke

Pull off a leaf; gripping it between your thumb and forefinger, dip it in butter or sauce.  Bite down on leaf and scrape away tender pulp with your front teeth. Discard leaf. Continue with each leaf until you get to the tender inner leaves with the purple tips; eat only the light-colored parts. With a spoon or knife, scrape out and discard the fuzzy inedible choke that covers the heart, which is the best part of all and well worth all that preliminary work. Cut the heart into quarters and dip it into the sauce. Enjoy.

Stuffed Artichokes

Stuffed Artichokes

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup unflavored breadcrumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, grated cheese, garlic, parsley, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. With the heel of your hand, press down on artichokes to force leaves to separate and open a little. Divide breadcrumb mixture into 4 equal portions and stuff each artichoke between leaves and in central cavity; drizzle with remaining olive oil.

Wrap each artichoke in aluminum foil, place in baking dish and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until browned and tender. Eat as in Eating an Artichoke but be sure to scrape away and discard fuzzy choke. Serve with rustic Italian bread and a tomato and mozzarella salad.

‘In my paintings, I attempt capture a strong sense of place and a distinct light source in hopes of creating an atmosphere that goes beyond the physical and into the emotional realm.’

  Celeste Mauro

By Irene Ruddock

Artist Celeste Mauro with ‘Regatta,’ acrylic/collage

Celeste Mauro, a Northport resident, has earned art degrees from Adelphi University and Parson’s School of Design. She has been an avid watercolorist for over 30 years, but that didn’t stop her from experimenting with collage and mixed media that have enhanced her work. Mauro was a member of The Firefly Artists Gallery in Northport. Two years ago, she and fellow local artist, Demerise Perricone, launched a new art gallery in Northport: Gallery Sixty Seven. I was able to catch up with this busy lady recently to talk about her art and her new adventure!   

What motivates you to start the creative process?

The patterns and motifs found in nature inspire me to create an image that evokes intuitive feelings or sentiments rather than a realistic painting.

You have been known for your work in watercolor. What is it about watercolor that attracts you?

The transparent quality of watercolor allows the work to have an inner glow, almost as though lit from behind. I enjoy working with acrylic paint and mediums that offer translucency. Plus they are the best adhesive for collage.

Can you explain what collage is and how it enhances your work in watercolor and acrylic?

The word “collage” is derived from the French verb “coller” that means to glue. As a watercolorist, texture had to be “implied” through the use of various techniques. Working with acrylic paint, I can create actual texture by affixing unusual papers or materials to the canvas or by working with various textural acrylic mediums and sometimes “found-object” printing.

I alternate media and layer paint or printing over collage … then collage over that. The free-form shapes of torn paper add a sense of abstraction; the brushwork adds detail and the printing adds an element of surprise.

I see on your website, www.celestemauro.com, that you have a category called Back Stories. Can you explain what that is?

Many people are curious as to how artwork is created. This section provides the step-by-step process, shown with photos, which takes the mystery out of the process.

What did you learn from being a member of The Firefly Artists Gallery that has helped you in setting up Gallery Sixty Seven?

That experience has proved to be invaluable! Any artist who steps outside the comfort zone of their studio and into the retail business of selling art has much to learn! Establishing a professional identity, framing, pricing, marketing, salesmanship, doing commissions, creating reproductions, understanding “sale-ability” and handling finances are some of the skills needed.

Can you tell us about your new adventure? 

Gallery Sixty Seven, located at 67 Main St. in Northport, is a gallery as well as studio space, which makes it unique. Now as the owner and a Northport resident, I especially love that people from the community feel free to drop by to observe art being created or to browse the works in the gallery. Gallery Sixty Seven has a strong “Northport” feel to it! As local artists, we are inspired by the natural beauty of local sites and our clients appreciate that.

How did you choose the artists for your new gallery?

As a small gallery, we can represent but a handful of artists. All of the artists in the gallery have a distinctive style that sets them apart and yet their different styles play beautifully off one another. As lifelong artists, they each have a body of work that exemplifies their unique personal perspective. I also look for professionalism and a cooperative spirit in each artist.

Do you offer workshops? 

Yes! The gallery is looking to expand its offering of workshops since they were so successful last year. The instructors are the gallery artists who are experienced art teachers; our limited studio space allows for lots of personal attention … a winning combination. Our website, www.gallerysixtyseven.com, will provide information about our artists workshops, etc.

What exhibits are coming up?

Currently, we are showcasing large-format paintings in our BIG Show, which runs through the end of April. One special feature of this show is that there are “thumbnail” photos of all the paintings hanging in residential settings. This helps people to visualize how the work might look in their home! Everyone is welcome to visit Gallery Sixty Seven anytime!

Photo by Elyse Sutton

Gap Inc. announced plans last week to close 230 of its namesake brand stores over the next two years as it works to restructure. Gap will close about 130 Gap stores, or more than half of the fleet slated for closure, in 2019.

Among those affected will be the Gap in Port Jefferson, located at 100 Arden Place, which will close on April 25 after 27 years in business.

The retailer will split into two publicly traded companies: Old Navy and a yet-to-be named company that will include the Gap brand, Banana Republic, Intermix and leisure labels Athleta and Hill City.

In a statement Gap said its remaining store fleet will be a “more appropriate foundation” for future growth.

From left, Michael Tessler and best friend Jonathan Rabeno check out the sights and sounds of Hollywood. Photo from Michael Tessler

By Michael Tessler

Michael Tessler

Adulting is hard. This is a fact the universe likes to remind me of time and time again. Just when you think you’ve mastered it … BAM! you discover that you can’t buy a used, off-brand Roomba online and expect it to work for more than a week (it is now a glorified doorstop that makes me look way more successful than I am). 

Seriously though, every time I begin to feel comfortable adulting, I receive an absurd reminder that I am totally unequipped to cope with the actual stresses of figuring out what the heck an IRS 1095-A form is.

In the chaos of this transition, there are some victories. Both of my apartment’s fire alarms are incredibly sensitive and wail at the slightest inkling that I’m frying up turkey bacon. Using my adulting skills (and The Force) I’ve repurposed my replica Luke Skywalker lightsaber and have placed it in the living room so we can easily shut off the fire alarm, which would otherwise require a ladder. These small victories keep me going until the existential dread kicks in … this moment may be the nearest I will ever get to being an actual Jedi, but it is better than nothing.

During my ongoing efforts to embrace and tackle adulthood, I made a leap of faith by hosting not just one of my friends but three of them at the same time. In my mind, I was opening a sleepaway camp complete with preplanned activities, snack times and lots of sugar-free popsicles. When opening a sleepaway camp for your friends, be wary … they’ll probably want to actually do vacation things.

After you move across the country twice, it can be pretty difficult to maintain long-distance friendships. We as people tend to evolve and grow apart when placed far away from one another and/or while going through major life changes. Living in Los Angeles, work tends to get in the way of just about everything else. The extraordinary cost of living makes it hard to find time to take care of yourself let alone be there for others. Work, relationships, dreaded time zones … all can easily become excuses to disconnect. For me though, the greater the distance the more I begin to see which friendships matter and which don’t.

Best friends are the individuals you can go without seeing for months or even years and pick up right where you left off. They’re the ones who see your potential when you cannot. They know me better than I know myself. So thank you to my friends, the ones who have guided me on my path and inspired me through their own successes and comebacks. My friends are all pretty unique. Each occupies a special place in my heart. Their combined chemistry can be exhausting sometimes but also wildly entertaining (except if you’re our Uber driver in which case I’m so sorry).

Port Jefferson is just about as small as a small town can be. What’s most impressive about this community is, despite its smallness, the friendships made during the Port Jeff chapter of my life have proven to be the most lasting and most meaningful. I’m saying this because at present I’ve got three of my best friends in the world squeezed into my Hollywood apartment occupying an air mattress, my mattress and the couch, respectively. (So sorry to my roommate Andrew.) It’s not quite summer camp, but it sure is fun being back with the gang.

We’re about to head to Venice Beach. My best friend Jon and I have committed to wearing matching cat swimsuits. That should hopefully distract the rest of my friends from the $85 parking ticket they already got and the fact that I only own three blankets and there’s four people here. But hey, at least we’re together!

Catch Open Mike on a monthly basis in TBR News Media’s Arts & Lifestyles.

Stony Brook University Hospital plans to launch two mobile emergency room units in the spring designed to treat stroke patients.
Lifesaving service for the community

By Ernest J. Baptiste

Ernest Baptiste

According to a study in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, when a blood vessel supplying the brain is blocked, nearly two million brain cells are lost for each minute that passes, making stroke one of the most time-sensitive diagnoses in medicine. The faster blood flow can be restored to the brain, the more likely that a person will have a full recovery.

That said, Suffolk County residents now have one more reason to look to Stony Brook Medicine for the highest level of care for both ischemic stroke (when a clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain) and hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding within the brain tissue).   

This month we are launching Long Island’s first mobile stroke unit program — a revolutionary pre-hospital program designed to provide specialized, lifesaving care to people within the critical moments of stroke before they even get to the hospital.

While new to Long Island, mobile stroke units have successfully reduced stroke disability and have improved survival rates in other major metropolitan areas across the country. Stony Brook Medicine is collaborating with over 40 emergency medical service (EMS) agencies throughout Suffolk County to provide this lifesaving, time-sensitive care.

Each mobile stroke unit is a mobile emergency room with a full crew of first responders, brain imaging equipment and medications. The units also have telehealth capability to Stony Brook University Hospital, which allows our physicians at the hospital to communicate in real time with the crew and patient, and immediately check for a blocked vessel or bleeding in the brain. This helps to markedly accelerate the time needed to make an accurate stroke diagnosis.

The first responders onboard the mobile stroke unit can then begin administering time-sensitive, advanced stroke treatments while the person is en route to the nearest hospital that can provide them with the appropriate level of care. 

The units are in operation seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., which is the window of time when most stroke calls are received in Suffolk County.

One is strategically stationed at a base station located off of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 57. The other, which will be launched soon, will be stationed similarly off of Exit 68. These locations were chosen for easy east-west and north-south access. The team will take calls within a 10-mile radius of each base, which includes about 40 different communities.

Ernest J. Baptiste is chief executive officer of Stony Brook University Hospital.

The approved $175.5 billion 2019-20 New York State budget Monday brought some good and bad news for Long Islanders.

That bit of good news came in the form of up to $4 billion over five years for the Long Island Rail Road, making the possibility of improvements to the mass-transit system more promising than ever. However, we believe Long Islanders will need to keep an eye on these funds and make sure they are used for the improvements that mean the most to them.

From everyday commuters to city day-trippers, many can attest that a ride on the train is no picnic, and the transportation system is in desperate need of improvements. From overpacked train cars during rush hours to numerous delays, many Long Islanders opt to take their vehicles into the city instead of dealing with noisy, dirty trains.

A new congestion pricing program in Manhattan will enable LIRR to receive 10 percent of the revenue generated, which will allow funds to be used for capital improvement projects for trains and stations. The program, which will go into effect by 2021, will implement tolls for vehicles passing through Manhattan at 60th Street, with exclusions including FDR Drive, West Side Highway and Battery Park underpass.

While legislators have plenty of ideas for the LIRR, including more ADA compliant stations, electrified rails and more train cars — so when there is a problem with a car a replacement is available — this is the time for residents to speak up and let their concerns be heard. Not only do we urge our readers to notify their legislators with what they would like to see improved on the LIRR, we also appeal to the Metropolitan Transit Authority to hold public forums to allow passengers to air their grievances. With the amount of money being pumped into this, it cannot be squandered.

On the municipalities side of the budget, however, it’s not all good news. Long Island will see less in local aid and road repair funding. Multiple Brookhaven town officials have sent us opinions and letters about this loss. The town is losing $1.8 million in local aid and almost another $700,000 in road repair funding, a 15 percent decrease in its state highway aid.

The permanent 2 percent property tax cap, we hope will allow more Long Islanders to remain here, and not only survive but also thrive. However, it doesn’t compensate for the recent federal capping of SALT deductions, which has meant that many people were unable to claim their entire property tax on their federal taxes. Cost-of-living issues on Long Island are no joke, and while there is certainly a fair amount of political hand-wringing over budgets, more needs to be done on the state’s side to bring down the cost of living. The additional $1 billion in school aid helps, any loss in local funding does not.

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

appreciate the joy of vanity license plates. They are like small puzzles that allow me to ponder their meaning while I await two or three traffic lights so I can turn left.

Sometimes they are like good movies or artwork, allowing readers to come up with their own interpretation.

My wife and I will ask each other what the combination of letters and numbers mean, offering various guesses as if we were on a game show, trying to figure out whether the letters are a message or the celebration of a successful stock that made it possible for the person to buy that lovely car.

They can reveal a car owner’s passions, for skiing, golf or for a particular person. They can also suggest how someone got the car, where the person with the car came from or how many people are in a family.

Recently, I came to a traffic light and read a license plate that suggested a sad story. In an inconspicuous maroon car that I would have otherwise overlooked, the license plate had a message of animosity.

Wow, I thought. Who would advertise an identity linked to hatred? How sad that each time the person got in the car, the license plate reinforced his or her antipathy. What could have happened that made anger so much more important than any other message or than a random collection of letters and numbers?

Then again, maybe it’s the internet’s fault. Traveling along the internet superhighway, people can’t resist sharing their disdain for everyone and everything. Maybe the anger that follows us on roads and on the heavily trafficked internet world has converged, blending into one laser-like beam of focused enmity.

Then again, that’s probably a sociological cop-out. More likely, the car owner, whom I will call Joe, has a life-defining story he’s sharing through this license plate.

Joe may have loved someone deeply and for years. He made plans about where they’d live, how many kids they’d have, what they’d do on weekends and where they’d take this small joy mobile on vacations.

One day, however, she arrived at a prearranged dinner at a diner. She looked different. Her hair was longer and had been straightened. Instead of her worn North Face jacket, she was wearing a designer coat. Her purse, which Joe noticed when she placed it delicately on the table as if it were made of glass, had also changed.

“Hey,” Joe offered. “You look so different. What’s up?”

“I am different,” she smiled behind lipstick someone else had clearly applied. When she refused the bread she usually wolfed down, Joe became nervous.

“What’s different?”

“I won the lottery. I’m thinking of changing everything about my old life.”

“How much did you win?” a suddenly excited Joe asked.

“How much is irrelevant. I’ve decided to give you a parting gift. I’m going to buy you a new car.”

Joe didn’t know what to say. A car wasn’t what he wanted or expected. Then again, he didn’t want to walk away empty handed.

When it came time to pick out a license plate, Joe wanted just the right way to express his frustration over what could have been. He tried options the DMV denied. Finally, he came up with a message that encapsulated a road not taken for his life and his car. Joe regularly drives past the home of the former love of his life, hoping she notices him and the message on his license plate: EVEIH8U.

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

friend mentioned an article he had seen that asked the question, “What’s the best restaurant if you’re over 50?” and proceeded to ask me the same question.

Now he well knows that I am over 50, and he also knows I eat in restaurants, sometimes for business and occasionally as a social event. In fact, as we have gotten older, my friends and I seem to do less cooking each year and more splurging on dinners out when we get together. So it was a relevant question in more ways than one. I don’t know what the article he was referring to concluded, but I can tell you what is important to me when I dine in a restaurant.

First and most critical is the food. It is certainly not the ambience or even the picturesque location. Those last are pleasant enough, but the quality and taste of the meal are most vital. I like food that I would describe as, for lack of a better term, clean. That means the ingredients should be allowed to speak for themselves and should not be buried under cheese or slathered on top with butter. Both of those can make food taste good, but unless the dish particularly calls for those ingredients, they should not drown the main offering.

I also like seasoning but again not with a heavy hand. To my mind, a heavily spiced meal knocks out my taste buds. But I know lots of people, even a couple of my sons, like their food “hot.” For me, it is fun to try and analyze what spice or combination of spices make the food so tasty. Sometimes I can tell; sometimes I have to beg the answer from the chef, and surprisingly the answer is usually forthcoming. And sometimes I bring along a dear friend, who is herself a celebrated chef, to sleuth out the mystery.

I don’t have a large capacity for food at one sitting, so I frequently bring home half the meal to eat the next day. That not only makes me feel economical but also not wasteful, and I especially like a meal that will still be tasty when it is reheated. Not all dishes are up to that challenge, but occasionally one, like chicken, will be even better after it has lolled around in its spices in my fridge for 24 hours.

When I go out to a restaurant with other people, I need to hear them when they speak. I also do not care to shout while I am chewing. That means it has to be reasonably quiet wherever we are eating. And unless the experience is deliberately family style, which can be fun, I don’t care to be stuffed into a crowd of diners. A moderate distance between tables is nice. So is a comfortable chair. I try not to be interested in the conversation at the next table — although there have been a few exceptions to which I will admit — and a little privacy is welcome. That also helps to keep the ambience low key. Ditto for the background music, if there is such. I am not looking to have my large intestine jitterbug during a meal.

Finally, it is pleasant to have a waiter or waitress who is not conspicuously weighed down by the problems of the world. Although I well understand that being a server in a restaurant is one of the hardest jobs, because pleasing so many different people with so many individual tastes has to be challenging, I prefer not having to deal with someone cranky or impatient. It is helpful when servers introduce themselves by name because it facilitates getting their attention and nicely personalizes the service in both directions. And I feel the tip ought not be an automatic percentage. That’s just a minimum. Exceptional service should be acknowledged in the one way that is most meaningful. That person after all is earning his or her bread, even as we are eating ours.

Fiber-rich foods, including whole grains, seeds and legumes, as well as some beverages, such as coffee and wine, contain measurable amounts of lignans. Stock photo
Lignans may reduce diabetes risk

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Type 2 diabetes is pervasive throughout the population, regardless of age. Yet, even with its prevalence, many myths persist about managing diabetes. Among these are: Fruit should be limited or avoided; soy has detrimental effects with diabetes; plant fiber provides too many carbohydrates; and bariatric surgery is an alternative to lifestyle changes.

All of these statements are false. Let’s look at the evidence.

Fruit

Fruit, whether whole fruit or fruit juice, has been thought of as taboo for those with diabetes. This is only partially true. Yes, fruit juice should be avoided because it does raise or spike glucose (sugar) levels. The same does not hold true for whole fruit. Studies have demonstrated that patients with diabetes don’t experience a spike in sugar levels whether they limit the number of fruits consumed or have an abundance of fruit (1). In another study, whole fruit was shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (2).

In yet another study, researchers looked at the impacts of different whole fruits on glucose levels. They found that berries reduced glucose levels the most, but even bananas and grapes reduced these levels (3). That’s right, bananas and grapes, two fruits people associate with spiking sugar levels and increasing carbohydrate load. The only fruit that seemed to have a mildly negative impact on sugars was cantaloupe.

Whole fruit is not synonymous with sugar. One of the reasons for the beneficial effect is the flavonoids, or plant micronutrients, but another is the fiber.

Fiber

In the Nurses’ Health Study and NHS II, two very large prospective observational studies, plant fiber was shown to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (4). Researchers looked at lignans, a type of plant fiber, specifically examining the metabolites enterodiol and enterolactone. They found that patients with type 2 diabetes have substantially lower levels of these metabolites in their urine, compared to the control group without diabetes. There was a linear, or direct, relationship between the amount of metabolites and the reduction in risk for diabetes. The authors encourage patients to eat more of a plant-based diet to get this benefit.

Foods with lignans include flaxseed; sesame seeds; cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower; and an assortment of fruits and grains (5). The researchers believe the effect is from antioxidant activity.

Soy and kidney function

In diabetes patients with nephropathy (kidney damage or disease), soy consumption showed improvements in kidney function (6). There were significant reductions in urinary creatinine levels and reductions of proteinuria (protein in the urine), both signs that the kidneys are beginning to function better.

This was a small, but randomized controlled trial over a four-year period with 41 participants. The control group’s diet consisted of 70 percent animal protein and 30 percent vegetable protein, while the treatment group’s consisted of 35 percent animal protein, 35 percent textured soy protein and 30 percent vegetable protein.

This is very important since diabetes patients are 20 to 40 times more likely to develop nephropathy than those without diabetes (7). It appears that soy protein may put substantially less stress on the kidneys than animal protein. However, those who have hypothyroidism should be cautious or avoid soy since it may suppress thyroid functioning.

Bariatric surgery

In recent years, bariatric surgery has grown in prevalence for treating severely obese (BMI>35 kg/m²) and obese (BMI >30 kg/m²) diabetes patients. In a meta-analysis of bariatric surgery involving 16 RCTs and observational studies, the procedure illustrated better results than conventional medicines over a 17-month follow-up period in treating HbA1C (three-month blood glucose measure), fasting blood glucose and weight loss (8). During this time period, 72 percent of those patients treated with bariatric surgery went into diabetes remission and had significant weight loss.

However, after 10 years without proper management involving lifestyle changes, only 36 percent remained in remission with diabetes, and a significant number regained weight. Thus, whether one chooses bariatric surgery or not, altering diet and exercise are critical to maintain long-term benefits.

There is still a lot to be learned with diabetes, but our understanding of how to manage lifestyle modifications, specifically diet, is becoming clearer. The take-home message is: focus on a plant-based diet focused on fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. And if you choose a medical approach, bariatric surgery is a viable option, but don’t forget that you need to make significant lifestyle changes to accompany the surgery.

References:

(1) Nutr J. 2013 Mar. 5;12:29. (2) Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Apr.;95:925-933. (3) BMJ online 2013 Aug. 29. (4) Diabetes Care. online 2014 Feb. 18. (5) Br J Nutr. 2005;93:393–402. (6) Diabetes Care. 2008;31:648-654. (7) N Engl J Med. 1993;328:1676–1685. (8) Obes Surg. 2014;24:437-455.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. 

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