Look Into the Eyes Of the Sun

Holy crap! Cheeseburgers ate your memory!

LONDON (Reuters) – Mice fed junk food for nine months showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease, a Swedish researcher said on Friday.

The findings, which come from a series of published papers by a researcher at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, show how a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.

If this study was commissioned by the Lutefisk Growers Association to get us to eat that mess, they can just forget it.

“On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain,” Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, who led the study, said in a statement.

“We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors … can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer’s.”

Alzheimer’s disease is incurable and is the most common form of dementia among older people. It affects the regions of the brain involving thought, memory and language.

If only I knew what we were talking about. Hey, does anyone smell french fries?

While the most advanced drugs have focused on removing clumps of beta amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brain, researchers are also now looking at therapies to address the toxic tangles caused by an abnormal build-up of the protein tau.

In her research, Akterin focused on a gene variant called apoE4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The gene is involved in the transport of cholesterol.

Bacon macrames brains? That lends new meaning to the phrase, “I’m feeling crafty.”

She studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the effect of the variant gene in humans, and which were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months – meals representing the nutritional content of fast food.

…After which the mice guest-judged on Iron Chef America.

These mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage, Akterin said.

“All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer’s can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public,” she said.

The report concluded: Subsequently, the mice demanded fois gras but immediately forgot and locked themselves in the bathroom.

Fortunately, grocery stores now sell really good veggie and lentil burgers, to improve your recollection.

Slide Down And Have An Escape

Happy Thanksgiving. People talk about their wacky family traditions, football, that time Cousin Elmer burnt down the garage deep frying a turkey – I don’t know. About ten years ago, I decided Thanksgiving is much more betterer spent at home and quiet because drunk drivers, screaming children and What Am I Eating? do not make me thankful. So. Pete’s gone out for bagels. Conscious of my inexplicable good fortune, I’m going to get up and pat down a big bird. Then I’m going to defend it with my life from three professionally curious cats. It’s quirky but what’s a little violence on a day based on it and food, eh? But there is one Thanksgiving ritual we can all, great or small, appreciate: a bath.

In the next picture, Panky is properly sauced.

Only What You Need From It

I’m having trouble thinking the funny thoughts. Let’s change the subject.

It’s cold, it’s dark and we’re saving our pennies for holiday treats. We’re all filled with festive ennui – unless that’s just me and I’m projecting. You’re probably just fine. Stop laughing! I’ll let you in on a secret: I can’t actually cook. Getting dinner on the table is not the same thing, but even doesn’t seem like it’d disqualify me from getting a show on Food Network. Apropos of nothing, this is my favorite breakfast, coincidentally a fine dinner, lunch or afternoon snack. The recipe is imprecise, and you should make it the way you like it because it will be more deliciouser for you. Prepare this at night and breakfast is waiting when you get up.

1 big ass eggplant or two, peeled and cubed

If you’re about to argue you can’t do that: shove it! You can so!

2 or 3 zucchinis, chopped into big chunks
1 ginormous onion or two smaller ones or a red one or some shallots
3 or 4 bell peppers, colorful like a rainbow, cut into hunks
1 mess o’ garlic cloves, peeled
1 honkin’ can of whole tomatoes, or two if you’re going for quantity
1 teeny can of tomato paste
olive oil
1 or two bay leaves
sea salt
ground pepper
white wine, if the spirit moves you


plain yogurt or ricotta

Some of these sound like ingredients of a very familiar concoction and why not? Whatever! Let’s pick a pot: it’s got to be big enough to hold most of that junk on your grocery list with plenty of room for error. What error? How about you don’t pick a big enough pot and your breakfast takes a year to cook? Right, so: big pot, more surface area. Heat it up, pour in enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan, toss in your garlic and stir. Don’t let that burn. It will not be tasty. After a few minutes, the garlic will look different, so you should add onions. Stir, stir, stir. Add the eggplant. Stir, stir, stir. Sense a theme developing? By now you’re wondering if you should add more oil. I don’t know. I can’t see your humongous pot. But you shouldn’t worry, because the next step is to create an empty space on the bottom of the humongous pot, spoon in the tomato paste and mix it with some more oil, let that sit a minute, then mess everything around together, adding canned tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, herbs, salt and pepper because they are delicious. Add wine, if you use wine. You can use dried herbs and add them now or use fresh and add them closer to the end, but never, ever be shy about tossing in basil. It’s good for you! Let this come to a boil, reduce to a healthy simmer, stirring occasionally.

Half an hour later, you will check the doneness of the vegetables because I don’t know how big you cut them. Follow directions for the couscous you have. Most instant varieties involve boiling some water and a little oil, pouring in the couscous and removing the pan from the heat. It’s hardly even cooking. You can do that! Hell, if I can you can! Let it sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork. I like to add some butter, but we’re talking about you here. When the vegetables are cooked through and still chunky, they’re ready. It’s probably about 45 or 50 minutes, but time is relative and I am easily bored and foraging in your fridge.

You have made a big old stew. Does it need anything? Add that.

To serve: pour some eggplant goo into a container, spoon in a healthy portion of couscous, top with a splooshy dollop of cold plain yogurt or mild ricotta. If you are handy with those recyclable food containers, portion out three or four of them and breakfast is ready when you get up in the morning.

If you have extra stew, which I bet you do, it freezes fantastically. Don’t try freezing couscous, or do if you’re feeling experimental. What the hell, science is funny, but not necessarily delicious.

Its Taste So Try Another

Part 1.

Daria: Are you going to the bridal shower?
Tata: No.
Daria: Oh, come on.
Tata: No, and getting no-er.

Maybe a day later.

Auntie InExcelsisDeo: Are you coming to the bridal shower?
Tata: No.
Auntie I.: Are you coming to the wedding?
Tata: I am. My invitation finally arrived with my name mispelled, and that guy who cooked your dinner last Italian Christmas Eve is labeled “And Guest.”
Auntie I.: Well, sure. We can spell “guest.”

For about ten years, Auntie’s husband Uncle – Frank, if you must know – has vexed oncologists with his magical ability to both have cancer and not have cancer. This leads to mesmerizing dinner table conversations.

Tata: So…how’s Frank?
Auntie I.: He’s dying. Pass the broccoli.
Tata: He’s what? What do his doctors say?
Auntie I.: “Keep the season tickets. His team has a good chance at the playoffs next year.”
Tata: Next year? He’s dying, just not now? What, Frank’s cancer isn’t clear on the death concept?
Auntie I.: Watch your mouth! It might hear you and learn.

We were all working with the idea, however painfully familiar, that Frank’s cancer was acting like a stupid, inoperable pet until September, when minor surgery revealed Frank’s pet had outgrown the lapdog stage. Suddenly, everything changed. The hospital sent him home. The hospital called him back in. He refused treatment. He accepted treatment. Auntie and Frank’s son Tony was sent to Iraq with the understanding that if things got bad, Tony would come home. Deserving Design had come and gone and after a few weeks, no one had time to put food into the fridge and dishes into the cabinets until my sister Daria did it. Somewhere in the haze of September, my cousin Sandy decided that since she and her boyfriend had already bought a house and were going to get married someday anyhow, now was the time to get hitched. And so a wedding was planned and executed in just about two months, which in New Jersey must constitute some sort of land speed record.

The Saturday of the bridal shower came and went without me. Daria tried to sound patient.

Tata: So how was it?
Daria: What do you fucking care?
Tata: I don’t.
Daria: The food was very nice. You would have appreciated the vegetable sushi. It was very artistic, and I made chicken liver pate, which you did not eat, though I am absolutely certain you wanted to.

In other words: I snoozed, I losed. Stay tuned for the next installment of this story, where we play the executive travel version of Stop Touching Me.

Orchids Forgive No One Just Yet

Yesterday, the blogosphere buzzed with this sign of the times story.

Some 691,000 children went hungry in America sometime in 2007, while close to one in eight Americans struggled to feed themselves adequately even before this year’s sharp economic downtown, the Agriculture Department reported Monday.

The department’s annual report on food security showed that during 2007 the number of children who suffered a substantial disruption in the amount of food they typically eat was more than 50 percent above the 430,000 in 2006 and the largest figure since 716,000 in 1998.

Overall, the 36.2 million adults and children who struggled with hunger during the year was up slightly from 35.5 million in 2006. That was 12.2 percent of Americans who didn’t have the money or assistance to get enough food to maintain active, healthy lives.

Almost a third of those, 11.9 million adults and children, went hungry at some point. That figure has grown by more than 40 percent since 2000. The government says these people suffered a substantial disruption in their food supply at some point and classifies them as having “very low food security.” Until the government rewrote its definitions two years ago, this group was described as having “food insecurity with hunger.”

The Bush administration’s response to hunger in America is to rewrite the definition. That, my dahhhhhlinks, is the banality of evil inhabiting a pin-striped suit. But wait, there’s more.

“There’s every reason to think the increases in the number of hungry people will be very, very large based on the increased demand we’re seeing this year at food stamp agencies, emergency kitchens, Women, Infants and Children clinics, really across the entire social service support structure,” said James Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, an anti-hunger group.

Weill said the figures show that economic growth during the first seven years of the Bush administration didn’t reach the poorest and hungriest people. “The people in the deepest poverty are suffering the most,” Weill said.

Before the internet, our neighbors starved quietly when the food bank ran out of supplies, but now we talk about what people don’t have and can’t get. The comments thread for this post is enlightening, as more and more net-connected people say the same thing: they’re broke, they can’t feed their kids, and they don’t know what to do.

I don’t have any answers to these questions, but I believe that we cannot postpone asking them anymore. Starving children do not routinely become well-adjusted adults in wealthy, indifferent America, and parents who cannot feed their children harden their hearts to pleas for patience. This isn’t going to go away. We have to do something about it now.

You Run Like A River That Runs

From the Pretty Bird Woman House: They need towels.

Hi everyone,

If you’re coming here looking for things to donate around the holidays, check out the right side of this blog for a complete list of ongoing donation needs for the shelter.

HOWEVER, since women are constantly coming and going, right now there is an urgent need for towels. So if you’re cleaning out your linen closet, or looking for something to buy, think TOWELS.

Word has it that Linens ‘N Things is going out of business and has cheap towels now…We’ve also had a Yahoo Groups member order them from Anna’s Linens.

Once again, thank you for all your support. This means the world to the women on the Standing Rock Reservation.

Posted by Betsy Campisi at 10:51 AM

Linens & Things is going out of business. Right now, everything is selling at a discount. I was planning to buy new towels for myself, but now I feel inspired! The address where you can mail donations is:

Pretty Bird Woman House
211 First Ave W.
McLaughlin, SD 57642

Scope out Linens & Things’ towels: they range in price between $2.39 and $11.99. Can you imagine, as Thanksgiving approaches? For less than $10, you can really help someone in need.

Please pass the news.

Und I Did

From the New York Times.

About Dick Cavett: The host of “The Dick Cavett Show” — which aired on ABC from 1968 to 1975 and on public television from 1977 to 1982 — Dick Cavett is also the coauthor of two books, “Cavett” (1974) and “Eye on Cavett” (1983). He has appeared on Broadway in “Otherwise Engaged” “Into the Woods” and as narrator in “The Rocky Horror Show,” and has made guest appearances in movies and on TV shows including “Forrest Gump” and “The Simpsons.” Mr. Cavett lives in New York City and Montauk, N.Y.

Apropos of nothing, I would totally pay anything to hear Dick Cavett shout, “HE WAS A LOW-DOWN, CHEAP LITTLE PUNK.”