Originally created 01/10/01

Small portions



Mothers' meals

The editors of Working Mother magazine, who specialize in dispensing advice on how to meet the demands of careers and families, have published a cookbook of the magazine's most popular recipes and timesaving tips. Included are recipes for 29-minute meals, suggestions for freezing meals and weekly dinner plans. Suggested price, $24.95.

Wasabi your teeth

Wasabi may do more than add a kick to sushi. The pungent green horseradish also could prevent tooth decay, according to findings presented at a recent scientific meeting sponsored in part by the American Chemical Society. Researchers from Japan found that chemicals in wasabi inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes dental decay.

Power up at home

If you can't work up the energy to go to a health-food store, you can now find energy bars in most grocery, drug, mass-merchandise and convenience stores. That's because energy bars have gone mainstream; nearly 10 percent of U.S. households purchase these power snacks, up from 5.9 percent in 1997, American Demographics magazine reports. Who's gobbling up all those vitamin-packed yummies? Energy bars are most popular among single men, upper-income professionals and households in large cities.

Salad days

The familiar lettuces - iceberg, butter, oakleaf, romaine and the rest - are strains of a single species, Lactuca sativa, which belongs to the same family as a number of flowers (daisy, marigold, chrysanthemum) and also tarragon and artichoke. Lettuce is one of the few plants so thoroughly domesticated it's not found in the wild. It's such a salad staple that in a number of languages, such as Polish, the word for lettuce is actually salata.

Soulful lawyer

Chicago lawyer Ralanda Webb's devotion to soul food has found an outlet in a Web site she operates with her cousins.

Attorney by day, soul chef by night. Sounds like it describes a new midseason replacement on television, but that's Ms. Webb's description of her life at the moment.

She is a personal-injury lawyer whose family has been in the restaurant business for generations. (Ms. Webb's mother opened her first restaurant, M&M Farms in Chicago, in 1949.) She decided to make soul food a presence on the Internet about a year ago, and last May Ms. Webb met Web with Soul Cooking: www.soulcooking.com .

"We felt it was something that was needed," she said. A soul food site "is something that the medium really lends itself to - sharing recipes among people. And we just thought it would be fun."

The attractive, easy-to-navigate site currently features a profile of chef John Meyer of B.J.'s Bakery and Market and tips and techniques related to soul-food cooking. It also offers about 60 recipes, including sweet potato pie, deep-fried chicken and red beans and rice. There's room for 500 recipes on the database, but Ms. Webb wants the majority to come from online visitors. The community-participation element is still a work in progress. Ms. Webb is especially eager to get soul-food dishes that are vegetarian, Creole-influenced and/or low-fat.

Mystery foods

The sushi bar remains an intimidating food frontier for a lot of folks. Even if you know your tako (octopus) from your tobiko (flying fish roe), a host of other mysteries remain.

You can ease your sushi anxiety with Squeamish About Sushi: And Other Food Adventures in Japan (Tuttle, $16.95), by Betty Reynolds. Colorfully illustrated, informative and fun, the book not only covers sushi fundamentals but also the basics of tempura, shabu-shabu (meats poached in broth), okonomiyaki (stuffed pancakes) and other Japanese specialties.

Kinder coffee

If you love coffee, but coffee doesn't love you, consider this: Johann Wulff's Considerate Coffee for sensitive stomachs is a gourmet blend of Guatemalan beans processed to eliminate the irritants that cause heartburn and stomach woes. Two-ounce sampler bags are $1.99. To order, call (888) 376-2777 or click on www.theconsideratecoffee.com

- From Wire Reports