Cinnamon orange chicken

3-4 lb chicken pieces
12 oz. orange juice
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
salt and pepper to taste
generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon (Saigon cinnamon* if available)

1 tsp. corn starch
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained

Place chicken in slow cooker and pour orange juice over it. Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon and stir in. Cover and cook on med. for 1/2 hr., then low for 4-6 hours or until chicken is tender. Remove about a cup of sauce and combine it with the corn starch, mixing well and removing any lumps. Return the sauce-corn starch mixture to the pot and stir in. Add mandarin oranges, turn pot to high, and cook for half an hour.

Serve sauce over chicken pieces, or pick chicken off bones, stir into the sauce, and serve over rice or pasta.

From: Dana Huffman.

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*Saigon cinnamon is a particularly strong cinnamon found in specialty stores. Adapt the type and quantity of cinnamon to your taste, but I think this recipe is pretty bland without enough cinnamon to thoroughly coat most of the top.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Tangerines, mandarins, satsumas, clementines

native to: southeastern China
in season: winter

Tangerines are the US term for what Europe calls mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata, of the Rutaceae family). Mandarins were once imported to the US via North Africa and picked up the name from the city of Tangiers, the residents of which are also called Tangerines. However, when a modern store labels something as a “tangerine,” it is probably a Fairchild or Darby mandarin orange, having seeds and a slightly tougher peel. “Satsuma” is the Japanese word for mandarins, now associated with a seedless variety having a leathery skin. These are most often canned, since they’re tender and don’t ship well. Clementines, often marketed as “Cuties” or “Sweeties,” are sweet, nearly seedless, and the easiest to peel. Some sources say clementines are a cross between mandarins and regular oranges, while others just list them as a cultivar of mandarins.

Remember those arils the pomegranate discussion mentioned a couple of weeks ago? Well, tangerine sections are also arils. Tangerine seeds are safe to eat, but unpleasantly bitter.

Like oranges, tangerines are low in calories and of course have no fat or cholesterol. They have even more flavonoid anti-oxidants than oranges and provide plenty of vitamins A and, of course, C. They’re also a good source of fiber and provide calcium, potassium, magnesium, and other minerals. Research is also finding phyto-chemicals and other compounds that protect against cancer, arthritis, obesity, and heart disease in citrus fruits.

Pesticides are widely used on citrus crops, so you should wash conventionally-grown fruits before peeling to keep the gunk off your hands. Beyond that, it’s not a big concern if you’re only eating the insides, but stick to organic fruits if you’re planning to use the peel: candied peel, tangerine peel tea, zest….

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for tangerines
a comparison of different varieties of mandarins
mandarins and other citrus fruits at Nutrition and You
oranges and tangerines compared at LiveStrong.com
The Fruit Pages

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Fesenjan (Pomegranate Chicken)

Serves: 3-4

1 large yellow onion, diced
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses*
1 1/2 cups walnut halves, toasted and chopped to a fine meal in a food processor or blender
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (substitute garbanzos and/or extra walnuts for a vegetarian version)
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
2 Tbsp honey or agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch each cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper

For serving:
Serve over rice or, for a low-carb version, cauliflower. Garnish with fresh pomegranate arils and parsley if desired.

Cook onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil over high heat until soft, stirring occasionally. In a separate pan, cook the chicken in a little olive oil over medium heat (do this in two batches unless using a very large pan). Once browned, add to the onions. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add pomegranate molasses, honey, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and walnuts. Simmer for 15-25 minutes, until desired thickness is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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*I’m told pomegranate molasses can sometimes be found at the Olympia Food Co-op; a middle eastern market is the best bet, though. If you have a source of real pomegrante juice that isn’t mostly sugar water, you can always try making your own.
(another recipe at food.com)
(another recipe at Food Network)

Adapted from: The Minimalist Baker

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Pomegranates

native to: the Middle East or northern India
in season: winter

Pomegranates are technically berries even though the skin and pith are inedible. The seeds and their little pulp sacks, called arils, are the edible part and the source of pomegranate juice. They contain two unique nutrients, both named for the pomegranate, Punica granatum. Punicalagins are powerful antioxidants contained in pomegranate juice and peel and are good for the heart and blood vessels. Punicic acid, also known as pomegranate seed oil, is a fatty acid found in the arils. Pomegranate juice is used against chronic inflammation and may protect against prostate and breast cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, cholesterol problems, atherosclerosis, bacterial and fungal infections, gum disease, poor memory, and even erectile dysfunction. Pomegranates are rich in nitrates that help athletic performance by enhancing blood flow. They also contain phytochemicals that can improve depression and help build bone mass. They contain lots of vitamin C and also pantothenic acid (B5), which can reduce muscle cramps and the insulin resistance of diabetes.

“Pomegranate” means “seeded apple” and they have been used to symbolize health, abundance, and fertility. The internet suggests seeding them underwater to reduce the splatter of the juice, but there’s something very traditional and comfortable about picking the arils one by one from a slice as you eat them and watch a Christmas movie or play Yatsee. The seeds within are edible but not everyone likes them. It should also be noted that the tannins and acids in pomegranates can upset dogs’ stomachs, so this is a good snack to keep to yourself.

Read more:
label-style nutrition information for raw pomegranates
Dr. Fuhrman
mercola.com

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.

Sweet potato slow-cooker casserole

2 lb. sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed*; or 2 cans (16 oz. each) canned sweet potatoes/yams, drained and mashed
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup dry sherry
6 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
dash cayenne pepper
4 eggs

Beat sweet potatoes, milk, sherry, and butter until smooth. Add lemon peel, nutmeg, cayenne, and eggs; beat well. Pour into greased slow-cooker; cover and cook on high 1 hour, then on low 3-4 hours.

Makes about 2 qts.

Adapted from Rival Crock-Pot cooking. Golden Press, c1975. ISBN: 030749263X

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*If using leftover mashed sweet potatoes, estimate the amounts of butter and milk or orange juice already used and subtract from amounts of butter and milk to be added.

Versión en español: this post is also available in Spanish
Esperanta traduko: this post is also available in Esperanto, because Dana is a language geek.