Columns

Photo from Pixabay

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

For my family and me, the pandemic-triggered life change started almost exactly 10 months ago, on March 13. How different is the life we lead now from the one we led way back in March? Comparing answers to the same questions then and now can offer a perspective on the time that’s passed and our current position.

Question: What do we do?

March 2020: Shut businesses down, encourage people to stay home and track everything. Talk about where we are “on the curve” and hope that we can “flatten the curve” and reach the other side, allowing us to return to the lives and habits we used to know.

January 2021: Try to keep infection rates down and take measured chances in public places, while hoping officials allow schools, restaurants and other businesses to remain open.

Question: What do we eat?

March 2020: Pick up take out food whenever we can. Go to the grocery store and cook. Baking rapidly became a release and relief for parents and children, who enjoyed the sweet smell of the house and the familiar, reassuring and restorative taste of cookies and cakes.

January 2021: In some places, we can eat indoors. Many people still order take out or cook their own food.

Question: What do we do with our children?

March 2020: Overburdened parents, who are conducting zoom calls, conference calls and staring for hours at computer screens, face the reality of needing to educate their children in subjects they either forgot or never learned.

January 2021: Many students continue to go to school, even as the threat of closing, particularly in hot spots, continues.

Question: What do we do for exercise?

March 2020: People take to the streets, order exercise equipment or circle the inside or outside of their house countless times, hoping to break free from their blinking, beeping and demanding electronic devices.

January 2021: Gyms have reopened, with some people heading to fitness centers and others continuing their own version of counting the number of times they’ve circled the neighborhood, with and without their dogs.

Question: What can we do about work?

March 2020: Many businesses close, asking employees to work from home.

January 2021: Many businesses are trying to stay open, even as others have continued to ask their employees to work from home, where they can talk on computer screens in mismatched outfits, with nice blouses and shirts on top and gym shorts or pajamas.

Question: What can we plan for?

March 2020: We cancel weddings, parties, family gatherings and all manner of events that involve crowds.

January 2021: We have learned not to make plans that are set in stone, because the calendar has become stone intolerant. We make plans and contingency plans.

Question: What do we do for entertainment?

March 2020: We secretly binge watch TV shows, although we don’t share our indulgences.

January 2021: After we ask how everyone is doing, we regularly interject questions about the latest TV shows or movies.

Question: What do we notice in the supermarkets?

March 2020: Toilet paper and paper towels are hard to find.

January 2021: Toilet paper and paper towels are generally available, but we may only be allowed to buy two packages. The cost of paper goods and other items seems to have risen.

Question: Do we let our children play sports?

March 2020: Almost every league in every sport shut down, following the lead of professional teams.

January 2021: Youth leagues have restarted.

Question: What’s a cause for optimism?

March 2020: We believe in flattening the curve.

January 2021: The vaccine offers hope for a return to a life we used to know.

Stock photo
Leah Dunaief

By Leah S. Dunaief

It may have been the start of a new year last week, but life certainly hasn’t calmed down much. We are witnessing history in the making. Demonstrators who had traveled from all over the United States to Washington, D.C. last Wednesday turned from listening to President Trump rage to marching on the Capitol. Once there, many broke into the building and caused vandalism, chaos and death. Thanks to instantaneous news flashes, we heard it and saw it happen, and now we are living through the consequences.

One of the consequences is bans of certain accounts by social media, led by Twitter and Facebook. Is that censorship? Is that an assault on our Freedom of Speech enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution?

A simple way to offer an answer is to take you into the world in which community newspapers and media operate. As you know, we are the ones who report on the news closest to our daily lives, the events and issues that concern us here in the villages and towns where we live, send our children to school and most of us work. We report comprehensively on local people, local politicians and local businesses that would otherwise be overlooked by the bigger dailies and networks. We are the watchdogs on behalf of the local citizenry.

Here are the rules by which we must publish:

While we print opinions as well as facts, opinions must be clearly labelled as such and are usually confined to two or three pages specifically designated for Letters to the Editor and Editorials. We also publish pieces called “Your Turn,” or “Our Turn,” again as opinion or analysis. Everyone has a right to their opinion, and the publisher has a right to its policies about those articles and letters. Our policy is to publish opinions in as balanced a way as we are sent submissions, subject to libel and good taste.

Libel rules are more straightforward than good taste, which is, of course, subjective. But here is the bottom line: publishers have the final say in what they publish because they are private, not governmental enterprises. Freedom of Speech, which specifically prohibits censorship by the government, does not apply to us. Decisions made by private businesses on what to publish are not First Amendment issues. And those decisions may reflect any number of concerns that may affect the company: financial considerations, the environment in which the publisher operates and whether the publication is an avowed partisan or an independent one.

We, for example, are an independent news media company, supporting neither major party unilaterally but rather our own sense of merit.

We are responsible for the accuracy of the facts in our stories. Do we sometimes err? Of course. When we make a mistake, our policy is to print a correction in the same place that we ran the error, even if that’s on the front page. When we run ads, by the way, we are also responsible for the facts in them — although not the advertiser’s opinions, which still are subject to considerations of libel and good taste. And when we run political ads, we must print who paid for the ad in the ad itself. When it is a group under a generic name rather than an individual, we must have on file the names of the executive officers of that group and those must be subject to review by any member of the public.

Do we have the legal right to refuse an ad or an opinion or a misstatement of facts? As a private company, we do. Further, just as it is against the law to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is none because that is not protected free speech, we have the civic responsibility to vet misstatements and untruths. And while we consider our papers safety valves for community members to let off steam with their strongly held opinions, we do not publish just to add fuel to a fire.

Twitter and Facebook and the rest who consider themselves publishers of news and not just telephone companies also have a responsibility to the public.

That, of course, raises another issue. Do we want so much power in the hands of a few high tech moguls, whose messages instantly circle the world? Or should they, like us, be subject to regulatory control?

Dean

MEET DEAN!

This week’s shelter pet is Dean, a large statured cat that was found as a stray and brought to the Smithtown Animal Shelter. Estimated to be around 2 years young, he is loving and outgoing with people and other cats.  He is a complete love!

Dean does have chronic discharge from his eyes that needs to be wiped away regularly, but he enjoys the attention and never gives you a hard time about it. He is otherwise completely healthy! He comes neutered, up to date on his vaccines and microchipped.

If you are interested in meeting Dean, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with him in the Meet and Greet Room.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Shelter operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

Mia!

MEET MIA!

This week’s shelter pet is Mia, a loving and energetic two year-old Pit/Lab Mix currently waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter for her furever home.

Equal parts goofy and affectionate, Mia came to the shelter as a stray after being hit by a car and fortunately sustaining only minor injuries. She loves to whip around her rope toys and chase after balls and thinks she is a lap dog and will crawl in your lap and shower you with kisses.

Mia was a yard dog, so she is protective of her space when it comes to strangers, and she will require a home that can properly introduce her to new people. Once she meets a new friend, she loves them unconditionally. Mia would be best as the only pet in the home. She comes spayed, up to date on her vaccines and microchipped.

If you are interested in meeting Mia, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with her in a domestic setting, which includes a Meet and Greet Room, the dog runs, and a Dog Walk trail. Family Pet Meet and Greets and at home interactions are also welcome and an integral part of the adoption process.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Shelter operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

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Motor. Photo courtesy of Smithtown Animal Shelter

MEET MATTY, MOTOR AND SID!

Shy cats need love too! 

This week’s shelter pets are, from top, Matty, Motor and Sid, 1-year-old cats at the Smithtown Animal Shelter that are overlooked time and again because they are shy. 

All 3 grew up in the shelter and watched their more outgoing siblings get happy homes. They may take time to let you in, but when they do, they are loving, playful and sweet. These three boys are buds but not bonded. They’d love to be homed together, but will adjust if they aren’t. 

Shy cats need quiet homes with patience and lots of love to give but  they are worth it! The trio come spayed, microchipped and is up to date on their vaccines.

If you are interested in meeting  Matty, Motor and Sid, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with them.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Shelter operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

Statins may be overprescribed for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Stock photo
Do primary prevention benefits outweigh the risks?

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Statins were first approved in the U.S. over 30 years ago. Today, they are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. Yet, many in the medical community still disagree about who should be taking a statin and for what purpose; some believe that more patients should be on this class of drugs, while others think it is overprescribed. This is one of the most polarizing issues in medicine — probably rightly so.

The biggest debate is over primary prevention with statins. Primary prevention is treating people with high cholesterol and/or inflammation who may be at risk for a cardiovascular event, such as a stroke or heart attack. Currently, recommendations of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association do not align with those of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is currently reviewing its own recommendations because of data updates.

Most physicians agree that statins have their place in secondary prevention — treating patients who have had a stroke or heart attack already or who have coronary artery disease.

We will examine benefits and risks for the patient population that could take statins for primary prevention. On one side are those who point to statins’ benefits: reduced cancer risk, improved quality of life and lowered glaucoma risk. On the other, we have those who note statins’ side effects: increased diabetes risk, fatigue and cataracts, to name a few. Let’s look at some of the evidence.

Effect on cancer

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine involved 300,000 Danish participants and investigated 13 cancers. It showed that statin users may have a 15 percent decreased risk of death from cancer (1). As you can imagine, this news was greeted with excitement.

However, there were major limitations with the study. First, researchers did not control for smoking, which we know is a large contributor to cancer. Second, it was unknown which of the statin-using population might have received conventional cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy. Third, the dose of statins did not correlate to risk reduction. In fact, those who took 1 to 75 percent of prescribed statin levels showed more benefit in terms of cancer mortality risk than those who took more. We need a better-designed trial to determine whether there really is an effect.

Another study, a meta-analysis of 13 observational studies, showed that statins may play a role in reducing the risk of esophageal cancer. This is important, since esophageal cancer, especially adenocarcinoma that develops from Barrett’s esophagus, is on the rise. The results showed a 28 percent risk reduction in this type of cancer. The authors of the study surmise that statins may have a protective effect (2).

Although there is an association, these results need to be confirmed with randomized controlled trials. Aspirin has about the same 30 percent reduction in colorectal cancer, yet is not recommended solely for this use because of side effects.

Eye diseases: mixed results

In two common eye diseases, glaucoma and cataracts, statins have vastly different results. In one study, statins were shown to decrease the risk of glaucoma by five percent over one year and nine percent over two years (3). It is encouraging that the longer the duration of statin use, the greater the positive effect on preventing glaucoma.

Statins also help to slow glaucoma progression in patients suspected of having early-stage disease at about the same rate. This was a retrospective study analyzing statin use with patients at risk for open-angle glaucoma. We need prospective (forward-looking) studies. With cataracts, it is a completely different story. Statins increase the risk of cataracts by over 50 percent, as shown in the Waterloo Eye Study (4). Statins exacerbate the risk of cataracts in an already high-risk group, diabetes patients.

Quality of life and longevity: a mixed bag

In a meta-analysis involving 11 randomized controlled trials, statins did not reduce the risk of all-cause mortality in moderate to high-risk primary prevention participants (5). This study analysis involved over 65,000 participants with high cholesterol and at significant risk for heart disease.

However, in this same study, participants at high risk of coronary heart disease saw a substantial improvement in their quality of life with statins. In other words, the risk of a nonfatal heart attack was reduced by more than half and nonfatal strokes by almost half, avoiding the potentially disabling effects of these events.

Fatigue effect

Some of my patients who are on statins ask if statins can cause fatigue. A randomized controlled trial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reinforces the idea that statins increase the possibility of fatigue (6).

Women, especially, complained of lower energy levels, both overall and on exertion, when they were blindly assigned to a statin-taking group. The trial had three groups: two that took statins, simvastatin 20 mg and pravastatin 40 mg; and a placebo group. The participants were at least 20 years old and had LDL (bad) cholesterol of 115 to 190 mg/dl, with less than 100 mg/dl considered ideal.

In conclusion, some individuals who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease may need a statin, but with the evidence presented, it is more likely that statins are overprescribed in primary prevention. Evidence of the best results points to lifestyle modification, with or without statins, and all patients with elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol should make changes that include a nutrient-dense diet and a reduction in fat intake, as well as exercise.

References:

(1) N Engl J Med 2012;367:1792-1802. (2) Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Jun; 11(6):620–629. (3) Ophthalmology 2012;119(10):2074-2081. (4) Optom Vis Sci 2012;89:1165-1171. (5) Arch Intern Med 2010;170(12):1024-1031. (6) Arch Intern Med 2012;172(15):1180-1182.

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com. 

Michael Schatz and Aspyn Palatnick. Photo by Lauryl Palatnick

By Daniel Dunaief

Michael Schatz, Adjunct Associate Professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, saw some similarities to his own life when he met the then 14-year old Aspyn Palatnick.

Palatnick, who was a student at Cold Spring Harbor High School, had been developing games for the iPhone. When he was that age, Schatz, who is also a Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Computer Science and Biology at Johns Hopkins University, stayed up late into the evening programming his home computer and building new software systems.

Meeting Palatnick eight years ago was a “really special happenstance,” Schatz said. He was “super impressed” with his would-be young apprentice.

When he first met Schatz, Palatnick explained in an email that he “realized early on that he would be an invaluable mentor across research, computer science, and innovation.”

Palatnick was looking for the opportunity to apply some of the skills he had developed in making about 10 iPhone games, including a turtle racing game, to real-world problems.

Knowing that Palatnick had no formal training in computer science or genetics, Schatz spent the first several years at the white board, teaching him core ideas and algorithms.

“I was teaching him out of graduate student lecture notes,” Schatz said.

Schatz and Palatnick, who graduated with a bachelors and master’s from the University of Pennsylvania and works at Facebook, have produced a device which they liken to a “tricorder” from Star Trek. Using a smart phone or other portable technology, the free app they created called iGenomics is a mobile genome sequence analyzer.

The iPhone app complements sequencing devices Oxford Nanopore manufactures. A mobile genetic sequencer not only could help ecologists in the field who are studying the genetic codes for a wide range of organisms, but it could also be used in areas like public health to study the specific gene sequences of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

In a paper published in GigaScience, Schatz and Palatnick describe how to use iGenomics to study flu genomes extracted from patients. They also have a tutorial on how to use iGenomics for COVID-19 research.

While developing the mobile sequencing device wasn’t the primary focus of Schatz’s work, he said he and others across numerous departments at Johns Hopkins University spent considerable time on it this summer, as an increasing number of people around the world contracted the virus.

“It very rapidly became how I was spending the majority of my time,” said Schatz.

Palatnick is pleased with the finished product.

“We’ve made DNA sequence analysis portable for the first time,” he explained in an email.

Palatnick said the app had to use the same algorithms as traditional genomics software running on supercomputers to ensure that iGenomics was accurate and practical. Building algorithms capable of rendering DNA alignments and mutations as users tapped, scrolled and pinched the views presented a technical hurdle, Palatnick wrote.

While Schatz is optimistic about the vaccinations that health care workers are now receiving, he said a mass vaccination program introduces new pressure on the virus.

“We and everyone else are watching with great interest to see if [the vaccinations] cause the virus to mutate,” Schatz said. “That’s the big fear.”

Working with the sequences from Nanopore technology, iGenomics can compare the entire genome to known problematic sequences quickly. Users need to get the data off the Oxford Nanopore device and onto the app. They can do that using email, from Dropbox or the web. 

In prior viral outbreaks, epidemiologists traveled with heavier equipment to places like West Africa to monitor the genome of Ebola or to South and Central America to study the Zika virus genome.

“There’s clearly a strong need to have this capability,” Schatz said.

Another iGenomics feature is that it allows users to airdrop any information to people, even when they don’t have internet access.

Schatz urged users to ensure that they use a cloud-based system with strong privacy policies before considering such approaches, particularly with proprietary data or information for which privacy is critical.

As for COVID-19, people with the disease have shown enough viral mutations that researchers can say whether the strain originated in Europe or China.

“It’s kind of like spelling mistakes,” Schatz said. “There are enough spelling mistakes where [researchers] could know where it came from.”

Palatnick described iGenomics as an “impactful” tool because the app has increased the population of people who can explore the genome from institutional researchers to anyone with an iPhone or iPad.

In the bigger picture, Schatz is broadly interested in learning how the genome creates differences.

“It’s important to understand these messages for the foods we eat, the fuels we use, the medicines we take,” Schatz said. “The next frontier is all about interpretation. One of the most powerful techniques is comparing one genome to another.”

Schatz seeks out collaborators in a range of fields and at numerous institutions, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Schatz and W. Richard McCombie, Professor at CSHL, are studying the genomes of living fossils. These are species that haven’t evolved much over millions of years. They are focusing on ancient trees in Australia that have, more or less, the same genetic make up they did 100 million years ago.

As for Palatnick, Schatz described his former intern and tricorder creating partner as a “superstar in every way.” Schatz said it takes considerable fortitude in science, in part because it takes years to go from an initial idea on a napkin to something real.

Down the road, Schatz wouldn’t be surprised if Palatnick took what he learned and developed and contributed to the founding of the next Twitter or Facebook.

“He has that kind of personality,” Schatz said.

Brandy. Photo from Pixabay

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Armagnac is a brandy distilled from wine and is often confused with its close cousin, Cognac. However, Armagnac’s taste is fuller and richer and is described as less “burning” and more mellow. Armagnac comes from the Gascony region in southwest France, 150 miles southeast of Bordeaux and 100 miles south of Cognac.

Armagnac has been distilled in Gascony since 1411, making it the world’s oldest brandy. In the mid-1600s the Dutch first exported it, and the aging of brandy in wooden barrels seems to have been practiced since 1730. In 1936 the Armagnac region was divided into three appellations: Haut-Armagnac, Bas-Armagnac, and Armagnac-Ténarèze. The best quality Armagnac comes from the Bas-Armagnac appellation, which produces over 55 percent of the region’s brandy.

Armagnac is produced principally from Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Baco Blanc grapes. The wine is distilled to produce a colorless brandy with a powerful bouquet and flavor described as “firewater.” Approximately 95 percent of the brandy undergoes only one distillation.

Armagnac is aged in black, tannic-rich, 400-liter oak barrels from the Monlezun forest of France in the Bas-Armagnac. However, wood from Limousin, Allier, and Tronçais forests are being used because Monlezun forests have dwindled.

After aging, the brandies of different appellations and ages are blended. Following blending, the strength of the Armagnac is reduced to 40 or 43 percent alcohol by distilled water. This is followed by adding caramel for color “adjustment” if needed. Armagnac is then kept in large barrels for additional months to allow for the curing or “marrying” of the blend.

Legislation states that a vintage date on the label of a bottle of Armagnac indicates year of harvest, not year of distillation.

Label designations

• VS or three-star. Minimum three years old

• VSOP or Napoléon. Minimum four years old

• XO or Hors d’Age. Minimum 10 years old

• XO Premium. Minimum 20 years old

• Vintage. Minimum 10 years old

Taste

Depending on the type and age, Armagnac can have aromas and flavors of flowers, caramel, toffee, cinnamon, coconut, hazelnuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit (apricot, orange, peach, plum, prune, raspberry), maple syrup, roses, spices, violets, and vanilla.

Serving Armagnac

Armagnac has traditionally been regarded as an after-dinner drink, but in some countries, it is served before or with a meal. Purists prefer to enjoy the older, finer Armagnac unmixed. Armagnac should be served in short tulip-shaped glasses tall enough to allow a reasonable aroma to build, yet small enough to be cradled in one’s hand.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR [email protected].

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

In case you haven’t noticed, the ongoing theme of my recent columns has been coping with and compensating for COVID restrictions while celebrating the holidays. So here I go again. I believe that whether you’re alone or with just your immediate family (and I do hope for your sake and everyone else’s that it won’t be more than that), you should make the holiday as merry as you can. 

A great way to do that for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner is to carry out the red and green theme in as many dishes as possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be festive. I’m thinking that spinach lasagna rollups might do the trick paired with a butter lettuce and arugula salad with bell pepper confetti and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Then for dessert, how about a parfait of pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream with fresh raspberry sauce? These are just a few ideas. Raid your refrigerator, shop early and come up with your own red and green Christmas dishes.

Spinach Lasagna Rollups

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped basil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the rollups:

Nonstick cooking spray

12 lasagna noodles (not no-boil)

One 16-ounce container ricotta cheese

Half a 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and all liquid squeezed out

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups(or more) tomato sauce to taste

1 cup shredded mozzarella

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan warm oil over medium heat; add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they become transparent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it releases its aroma, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons water and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F; coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain, then lay out in baking pan.

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of baking pan spread ricotta mixture evenly along each noodle, then top with a thin layer of tomato sauce and carefully roll up; place seam side down evenly in baking dish and spoon remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake until they are heated through, sauce is bubbly and mozzarella has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with arugula and butter lettuce salad.

Arugula and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 large bunch arugula, washed and stems removed

1head butter lettuce or Boston lettuce

6 radishes, cleaned and cut into matchstick-size strips

1/2 cup fresh or bottled pomegranate juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 to 3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Seeds from half a pomegranate

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula, lettuce and radishes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the pomegranate juice, vinegars, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and diced peppers. Serve immediately at room temperature with lasagna rollups.

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 1 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS: 

3/4 pound fresh raspberries, picked over

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

1/2 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries, sugar, water and lemon juice. Stirring frequently, cook until sugar dissolves, raspberries fall apart and sauce bubbles, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate or serve warm over pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream accompanied by Christmas cookies.