Humitas or Steamed fresh Corn Cakes

Published November 14, 2016 by teacher dahl

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Humitas are savory steamed fresh corn cakes made from a mixture of freshly ground corn, onion, garlic, cheese, eggs, and cream, which is placed inside corn husks and steamed. Humitas are hard to translate, if you’ve ever had an humita you know what it is, but to describe them to someone who’s never had them before is a little bit complicated. I guess you could compare them to fresh corn and cheese tamales (and explaining the difference between a tamal from Ecuador and tamal from Mexico is a completely different story).

Humitas are made using fresh corn, which is ground with other ingredients and then stuffed in a fresh corn husk and steamed. In Ecuador, humitas are very popular in the Sierra or Highland region, especially in cities like Loja, Cuenca or Quito, and they are typically eaten for breakfast or with the afternoon coffee.

Recipe for Humitas or steamed fresh corn cakes
Recipe for humitas or savory steamed fresh corn cakes made from a mixture of freshly ground corn, onion, garlic, cheese, eggs, and cream, which is placed inside corn husks and steamed.
Ingredients
6-7 fresh ears of corn, with husks
3 cups grated or crumbled cheese, mozzarella or a fresh farmers cheese
1 cup diced white onions, about ½ large onion
1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
About 1 cup corn meal
¼ cup of heavy cream
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
To serve:
Aji de tomate de arbol or tree tomato hot sauce

Instructions
Remove the husks from the corn; try to keep each husk intact, the large ones will be used as wrappers for the humitas and the smaller ones will be broken into long strips to tie around the humitas.
To help make the corn husks more pliable place them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes, then drain the water and save the husks until ready to use.

humita-1

Remove the silky hairs from the corn and use a knife to cut the corn kernels from the cob, if you don’t have a steamer save the cobs to use as a steamer.
Place the corn kernels, 1 cup of cheese, diced onions, crushed garlic, ground coriander, corn meal, cream, eggs, and salt in the food processor, mix until the corn is pureed.
In large deep pot place about 2 ½ cups of water and a steamer, the water should be just below the steamer, if you don’t have a steamer arrange the cobs on the bottom of the pan instead and cover them with some of the leftover husks.

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To fill each humita (see detailed instructions on filling above as well as pictures), use 2 of the large corn husks per humita, place them on top of each other, fold the left side of the husks, then fold the top half over the bottom half, this creates a semi-pocket, fill it with a spoonful of the mixture (how much mixture will depend on the size of the husks, the larger the husks the more filling you can add) and stuff some of theremaining cheese in the middle, now fold over the right side of the husk and tighten it up a little bit, use the thin strips to tie around the wrapper and keep it closed.

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Place the humitas in the pot on top of the steamer, I like to keep them slightly inclined with the open end on top. Place any leftover husks on top and cover well.
Place the pot on the stove over high heat until you hear the water boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 35-40 minutes, the cooked humitas will be slightly firm to firm when they are done.

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Serve warm with aji de tomate de arbol or tree tomato hot sauce.

Notes
For the slightly more sophisticated variation of humitas, this version separates the eggs and beats the whites.
Ingredients:
Same as the previous humita recipe, with the following changes:
Add 4 tbs butter, elted
Approximately 1 ¼ cups corn meal (instead of 1 cup)
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated (instead of 2 eggs)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
½ tsp salt (instead of 1 tsp salt)

more-sophisticated

Instructions: Same as above, except add only the egg yolks to the food processor mix. Also add the melted butter, baking powder and sugar to the mix in the food processor. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and incorporate the whites into the corn mix. Follow instructions above to assemble the humitas.

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Humita making process: How to fill and close the corn husks

The whole process of filling the humita mixture into the corn husks can be a little bit confusing until you get the hang of it. This is another part that people do differently depending on how they were taught.

Use the corn husk to create a wrapper for the humitas, the larger ones will be used to make the wrapper and you can use pieces of the smaller husks to tie around the wrappers to keep them sealed. The bigger the husks the better, of course you’ll get to a point where the bigger ones are all gone or most of them will be small to start, so in that case I use 2 husks and place them on top of each other oppositely, i.e. top part of second husk should be placed on top the bottom part of the first husk, and not directly on top, on the side, the idea is to create a wrapper so you want to use both husk to overlap to increase the width.

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Next you can place a spoonful of the mixture in the wider part of the husks (upper or lower) and some cheese in the middle, and then close it or you can finish or semi-finish the husk wrapper and then stuff it with the corn mixture.

final-frame-humitas

To close the wrapper, fold the left side over the mixture (or where the mixture will be placed), then fold the other half of the husk over – I like to stuff them at this point -, and then fold the right side, if you don’t have any mixture in it you will see that this creates a small pocket that you can then fill with a spoonful of corn mixture, some cheese and some more mixture.

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One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes

Published November 11, 2016 by teacher dahl

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This pasta dinner is a game changer: You use just enough liquid to cook the pasta–no colander needed. Recipe adapted from our sister publication Southern Living.
Yield: Serves 4 (serving size: about 2 cups pasta mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese)
Total time: 29 Minutes

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
8 ounces whole-grain spaghetti or linguine (such as Barilla)
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounce fresh spinach
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

Preparation
1. Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat.
2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion starts to brown.
3. Add tomatoes, stock, oregano, and pasta, in that order. Bring to a boil.
4. Stir to submerge noodles in liquid.
5. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 7 minutes or until pasta is almost done.
6. Uncover; stir in salt.
7. Add spinach in batches, stirring until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.
8. Sprinkle with cheese.
Riff: Use fresh grape tomatoes instead, and add fresh herbs.
Riff: Swap out spaghetti for any short pasta shape, such as elbow macaroni, rotini, or shells.
Riff: Try adding chopped skinless, boneless chicken thighs, ground beef, or ground turkey for a heartier dish.

myrecipes.com

 

Normal for Women to Experience Sexual Decline Around Menopause

Published November 5, 2016 by teacher dahl

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New research suggests that menopause is linked to a reduction in sexual function for most women, although race/ethnicity does play a factor in the magnitude of the decline.
Investigators from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center discovered women experience a notable decline in sexual function about 20 months before and one year after their last menstrual period, and that decrease continues, though at a somewhat slower rate, over the following five years.
The study, published ahead of print in the online issue of Menopause: The Journal of the North American Menopause Society, also found that various factors that frequently co-occur with menopause have less direct influence on declining sexual function than menopause itself.

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“Sexual functioning in women declines with age, and there has been much debate about how much this is due to menopause, aging, or other physical, psychological or social factors,” said the study’s lead author, Nancy Avis, Ph.D.
“Our findings support that menopause has a negative effect on sexual functioning in many women.”
Additionally, the study found that women who have a hysterectomy before the onset of menopause do not experience a marked decline in sexual function immediately before undergoing the procedure but do so afterward, for as long as five years.
The researchers based their findings on information collected from 1,390 participants in the federally funded Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), which began in 1996.
These women, who were between the ages of 42 and 52 at the time of enrollment in the study and who had a known date of final menstrual period during their participation, responded to questionnaires dealing with various aspects of sexual function — including desire, arousal, satisfaction, and pain — between one and seven times over the course of the study.
The researchers analyzed 5,798 of these self-assessments (4,932 from the 1,164 women in the natural menopause group and 866 from the 226 women in the hysterectomy group) and tracked the changes in the respondents’ scores on the sexual-function questionnaires. They correlated the scores relative to either their final menstrual period among women who experienced a natural menopause or the hysterectomy.
Notably, in the natural menopause group, the researchers found that race/ethnicity played a major role in the decline of sexual function. They discovered African-American women experiencing a significantly smaller decline and women of Japanese descent experiencing a much greater decline when compared with white women.
“Sexual functioning is an important component of women’s lives. More than 75 percent of the middle-aged women in the SWAN study reported that sex was moderately to extremely important to them when the study began,” Avis said.
“It is important for women and their health care providers to understand all the factors that may impact women’s experience of sex in relation to both the natural menopausal transition and hysterectomy, and we hope our findings will contribute to better understanding in this area.”

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Chickenpox in Adults and Teenagers

Published October 18, 2016 by teacher dahl

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Chickenpox causes spots (a rash) and can make you feel unwell. Symptoms tend to be worse in adults than in children. Treatments can ease the symptoms until the illness goes. An antiviral drug may limit the severity of the illness if the drug is started within 24 hours of the rash first starting. Full recovery is usual. Serious complications are rare, but are more common in adults than in children. They are more likely to occur in pregnant women and in people with a poor immune system, such as those on chemotherapy. If you are pregnant and have not had chickenpox (or been immunised) and come into contact with a person with chickenpox – see your doctor urgently, as treatment may prevent chickenpox from developing.

What is chickenpox?

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chickenpox blisters

Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The immune system makes proteins called antibodies during the infection. These fight the virus and then provide lifelong protection against it (immunity). Therefore, it is uncommon to have more than one bout of chickenpox in a lifetime.

Most people have chickenpox as a child. Most children get chickenpox before the age of 10. About 9 in 10 people have had it by the age of 15. It is uncommon for adults to have chickenpox.

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

Symptoms are usually more severe in adults than in children. Expect to have a few uncomfortable days.

  • High temperature (fever), aches and headache often start a day or so before a rash appears.
  • Spots (a rash). Spots appear in crops. The spots develop into small blisters and are itchy. They can be anywhere on the body and sometimes also in the mouth. Several crops may develop over several days. Some people are covered in spots; others have only a few.
  • Loss of appetite, tiredness and feeling sick are common.
  • The fever and generally feeling unwell can last several days. The blisters gradually dry up and scab. They slowly fade over a week or so, but may take 2-3 weeks to go completely.

What is the treatment for chickenpox? 

Treatments that may ease symptoms whilst your immune system deals with the virus include the following:

  • Having plenty to drink to avoid a lack of fluid in the body (dehydration).
  • Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease high temperature (fever), headaches, and aches and pains; note ibuprofen only for those over 12 years old.
  • Soothing creams (emollients) put on the spots (rash) may ease itching. Calamine lotion is the most used, although it is not known how effective it is.
  • Antihistamine tablets taken at bedtime may help you to sleep if itch is a problem at night. You can buy these at pharmacies, or get them on prescription.

CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY

Patient.info

Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products

Published October 6, 2016 by teacher dahl

mercury

Whatever your complexion, it’s important to use products that will help your skin and not damage it. But as you wade through the beauty aisles, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cautions that you should avoid skin creams, beauty and antiseptic soaps, and lotions that contain mercury.

How will you know if mercury’s in the cosmetic, especially one that’s marketed as “anti-aging” or “skin lightening”? Check the label. If the words “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury” are listed on the label, mercury’s in it—and you should stop using the product immediately.

The products are usually marketed as skin lighteners and anti-aging treatments that remove age spots, freckles, blemishes, and wrinkles. Adolescents may use these products as acne treatments.

Jason Humbert of FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs says these products usually are manufactured abroad and sold illegally in the United States, often in shops catering to the Latino, Asian, African, or Middle Eastern communities. They are promoted online on social media sites and sold through mobile apps. Consumers may also have bought them in another country and brought them back to the U.S. for personal use, he adds.

If the ingredients aren’t listed and there is no product label, don’t assume it’s fine. Federal law requires that ingredients be listed on the label of any cosmetic or nonprescription drug, so do not use a product that doesn’t have a label. In addition, don’t use drugs or cosmetics labeled in languages other than English unless English labeling is also provided. That’s also a sign that the product may be marketed illegally.
“Even though these products are often promoted as cosmetics, they also may be unapproved new drugs under the law,” says Linda Katz, M.D., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. FDA does not allow mercury in drugs or in cosmetics, except under very specific conditions where there are no other safe and effective preservatives available – conditions that these products do not meet.

Sellers and distributors who market mercury-containing skin whitening or lightening creams in the U.S. may be subject to enforcement action, including seizure of products, injunctions, and, in some situations, criminal prosecution.

Dangers of Mercury
Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences. The danger isn’t just to people who use mercury-containing products but also to their families, says Arthur Simone, M.D., a senior medical advisor at FDA.
“Your family might breathe mercury vapors released from these products. Your children might touch washcloths or towels that are contaminated with mercury. It could be as simple as touching someone’s cheek or face,” Simone says.
Some people – including pregnant women, nursing babies and young children – are especially vulnerable to mercury toxicity, he adds. Babies may be particularly sensitive to the harm mercury can cause to their developing brains and nervous systems. Newborns who nurse are vulnerable because mercury is passed into breast milk.

Signs and Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning
• irritability
• shyness
• tremors
• changes in vision or hearing
• memory problems
• depression
• numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth

Tracking Skin Products Containing Mercury
In the past few years, FDA and state health officials have discovered numerous products that contain mercury, and there have been cases in which people exposed to such products have had mercury poisoning or elevated levels of mercury in their bodies. FDA has an import alert in place that lets our field staff know that the agency has enough evidence or other information to refuse admission of shipments of mercury-containing skin products.
But this is only a partial solution, Humbert says.

“Many of these products are coming into the country through illegal channels,” he says. “That’s why it’s so important for consumers and sellers to know about the dangers of possible mercury poisoning associated with the use of these skin products.”

How to Protect Yourself

  • Thoroughly wash your hands and other parts of your body that have come in contact with products that contain mercury.
  • Contact your health care professional or a medical care clinic for advice. If you have questions, call your health care professional or the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222; it is open 24 hours a day.
  • Before throwing out a product that may contain mercury, seal it in a plastic bag or leak-proof container. Check with your local environmental, health, or solid waste agency for disposal instructions. Some communities have special collections or other options for disposing of hazardous household waste.

    Credit: fda.gov

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Published September 13, 2016 by teacher dahl

cheese-cake

Ingredients  :

  • Crust
    6 Tablespoons butter, melted
    1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
    1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Cheesecake
    24 oz cream cheese – room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    Pinch of salt
    1 tsp vanilla
    3 eggs
    ½ cup sour cream
    ½ cup peanut butter
  • Gananche
    2 cups heavy cream
    12 ounces semi sweet chocolate, use bars not chips
    Instructions
    Crust
    Combine all ingredients and press into a 9 inch springform pan.
    Bake 8 minutes at 350. Cool.
  • Cheesecake
    Beat cream cheese and the sugar until smooth.
    Add salt, vanilla, eggs and sour cream.
    Add peanut butter.
    Pour into the pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
    Let cool and chill overnight or 6 hours.
    My cheesecake had a HUGE crack-or 3-but no worries, the chocolate covers it and makes it look amazing when cut into!!!
  • Ganache
    Heat the cream in the microwave just until it bubbles.
    Have the chocolate broken up in a bowl and pour the cream over it.
    Let sit 2 minutes and then whisk smooth.
    Pour ganache over the cooled cheesecake and chill an additional 1-2 hours.
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