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Garlic does more than ward off evil

Garlic does more than ward off evil
Garlic does more than ward off evil
Suetta Tingler

This month, I decided to “raise the stakes” with a conversation about one of my favorite flavoring ingredients, garlic; always fresh, not the minced sold in jars. The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain said it right when he commented, “if you’re too lazy to peel fresh, you don’t deserve to eat garlic.”

More than 90% of all garlic consumed in the U.S. comes from Gilroy, Calif., the town famous for hosting its annual garlic festival where even the ice cream contains garlic.

This year’s garlic consumption soared due to the pandemic, making it necessary for growers to import the herb from Latin American countries until the California harvest came due in June.

Garlic is believed to have originated in the Russian Siberian area. Fortunately, we can now say this flowering perennial grows throughout much of the world. It belongs to the scientific family of lilies that includes onions, leeks, shallots and chives. Garlic and onions contain many of the same active ingredients that earn both high marks for not only their culinary, but medicinal benefits.

One Turkish legend tells the story of when Satan was cast from the Garden of Eden after the Fall, and how from Satan’s right footprint emerged onion while from his left print sprang garlic; two different footprints but both from the same fallen angel.

On the eerier side, in the Slavic region of Romania, people long ago believed garlic possessed powers to protect a person from the forces of demons, werewolves and vampires. Haven’t we all been captivated when reading about vampires, those legendary creatures with fangs who relished a good prowl in the night in hopes of getting a bite to drink?

October is the time of year when a vampire could possibly show up at your front door. To be on the safe side, it might not hurt to know how to protect yourself from these alley cats of the night. Here are a few tips that just might save your neck.

Can’t most of us recall the lavender face of Count von Count of Sesame Street fame who easily becomes obsessed with counting any and all things? Since vampires are known to get so involved with counting, try scattering small seeds like those of mustard, peppercorns or poppyseeds — rice works, too — around your house. The night-stalking vampires will become so involved with counting that they’ll lose interest in you or will keep counting until the sun comes up. Unable to flee from the light, they will meet their demise.

No seeds or rice? For safety sake, let bells ring and wind chimes clack loudly for such sounds are known to drive away vampires. Yet, still other means of defense include sprinkling holy water on a vampire or holding a cross or crucifix in front of it. One can also wear a string of garlic cloves around the neck or, better yet, drive a wooden stake straight through its heart to end a vampire’s thirst.

On a more realistic note, the health benefits of garlic have captivated for nearly 7,000 years. The Egyptians believed in garlic’s incredible healing powers over plagues as well as supernatural evils. The builders of the great pyramids were fed a daily diet of bread, water, radishes and garlic with the belief it was the garlic providing the necessary strength to endure. During the scourging days of Bubonic plague, Europeans consumed tremendous amounts of garlic cloves to protect against death. Yes, perhaps history is repeating itself during the current pandemic resulting in a garlic shortage.

Russian penicillin, Bronx vanilla, stinking rose or Italian perfume, garlic answers to many nicknames. During World War I, garlic juice was used as an antiseptic to treat wounds and, in World War II, the Russians crushed garlic as a substitute for penicillin when supplies of the drug became exhausted.

Garlic continues to be recognized as one of the healthiest foods one can include in their diet for it is believed to have the power to aid in boosting the human immune system.

Hints and tips:

Drink lemon juice, eat a few slices of lemon or eat fresh parsley to end bad garlic breath.

Get rid of garlic odor from fingers by placing fingers under cold running water while rubbing them with a stainless-steel object.

For maximum health benefits, mash fresh garlic and allow to sit for 10 minutes before cooking.

Store unpeeled garlic in a cool, dark and dry place away from other foods; never store in refrigerator.

There’s no need to remove the papery leaves of garlic when using a garlic press.

Food bite:

Chicago was named after garlic. Chicagaoua was the Native American word for “wild garlic” that grew along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

If you’re looking for some “bloody good” meals, then try “sinking your teeth” into the recipes that follow. “Bone” appetite.

This steak goes great with a side of cheesy grits.

BEER MARINATED GRILLED SKIRT STEAK

1 orange, thinly sliced with peel

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, halved and smashed

2-1/4 pounds skirt steak

Salt and black pepper

1 cup beer

1/2 cup soy sauce

In a wide, shallow glass baking dish, scatter half of orange slices, half of onion slices and half of garlic pieces on the bottom of dish. Sprinkle the steak all over with salt and pepper and put in dish on top of the orange and onion slices. Scatter remaining orange, onion and garlic over the steak and pour in the beer and soy sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the fridge. Remove the meat from marinade and discard. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.

ROASTED SHRIMP, BROCCOLI & WHITE BEANS

1 pound broccoli, florets and trimmed stalk

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 red chili, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup chicken broth

Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss broccoli with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast for 8 minutes. In a bowl, toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon zest, red chili and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Scatter over the partially cooked broccoli and roast until shrimp are opaque throughout and broccoli begins to crisp, 9 to 11 minutes. In a saucepan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic until garlic begins to toast. Add white beans, thyme and chicken broth; bring to a simmer. Roughly mash 1/3 of the beans to thicken slightly. Serve with the shrimp and broccoli.

Prepare this soup recipe in a Crock-pot for easy serving.

SMOKEY BLACK BEAN SOUP

1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth

1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (like Corona)

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Black pepper

1 medium red onion

1 pound dried black beans, rinsed

4 ounces Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced into half-moons

4 cloves garlic, smashed

1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced

Sour cream and fresh cilantro for garnish

In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine chicken broth, beer, tomatoes (with juice), cumin and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Finely chop 3/4 of onion and mix it into the slow cooker along with the beans, chorizo, garlic and jalapeño. Cook, covered, until the beans are tender, 8 to 9 hours on low or 5 to 6 hours on high. Using a hand-held immersion blender or a standard blender, puree half the soup in batches. Finely chop the rest of onion and serve on top of soup with sour cream and cilantro, if desired.

GARLICKY ITALIAN BREAD

2-1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

I teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1 large egg, beaten

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup whole milk

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup minced tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped basil

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8×4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oregano. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil and milk. Mix dry ingredients into wet, then fold in garlic, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil until well combined. Batter will be very thick. Transfer batter to loaf pan, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then cool the rest of the way on a rack.

GOOD FOOD, GOOD MEMORIES

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