History Before the 19th century, pepper was regarded as a luxury item for the upper classes. But as demand grew, cultivation spread, making it much more available and affordable. Today pepper is probably the most frequently used spice in the world, next to salt.
What They Are: Peppercorns are the fruit of the Piper nigrum, a flowering vine native to the Malabar Coast of India but now also grown in southern Asia, South America and Africa. What most people don't know is that black, white and green peppercorns are all produced by the same plant, but each type is harvested and handled differently.
• Black peppercorns are picked when not quite ripe (still green) then left in piles to ferment. After a few days, individual berries are spread out to dry in the sun until shrivelled and nearly black.
• White Peppercorns are made from fully ripened berries that are just about to turn red. After harvesting, they are soaked in water to soften and remove their outer skins (pericarp) and expose the grey seed beneath. These centres are dried and become white peppercorns.
• Green peppercorns are harvested while still immature, but because they decay quickly, fresh green peppercorns are rarely seen outside of their growing regions. For export, they are usually dried, freeze-dried or pickled in brine. Green peppercorns have a mild herbal flavour with a touch of spice and are commonly used in sauces, vinaigrettes, vegetables and rice. When dried, green peppercorns can be ground, crushed or rehydrated in warm liquid; green peppercorns in brine should be rinsed before using.
• Pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all but the dried berries of the South American pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius). Today most pink peppercorns, also known as baies roses, are grown on the French Isle of Reunion, off the coast of Madagascar. They have a mild, resinous flavour that adds a touch of colour and sweetness to sauces and decorative peppercorn blends.
How to Use: Both black and white peppercorns have a place in every kitchen. While black pepper has a biting flavour, suitable for seasoning an array of dishes, white pepper is more subtle in heat and most commonly used to season light-coloured soups and sauces. To retain the brightest flavour of both types, grind (or crush) them at the end of cooking or at the table.
• Peppermills are attractive for storing peppercorns at the table, and the grind size can be adjusted to suit the dish. When purchasing, choose a sturdy mill with metal blades. Mills should be cleaned to remove any buildup that may clog them.
• With a little elbow grease, mortars and pestles are useful for both fine ground pepper and large pieces of cracked pepper (used for coating meat or infusing sauces). Using a mortar and pestle means that peppercorns can be stored in an airtight container and kept fresh until ready to use.
Photography by Yvonne Duivenvoorden
Page 1 of 2 -- Find great recipes for pepper on page 2
At the market Peppercorns often take their names from their origins. Look for these varieties in specialty food stores or at online retailers.
Black Peppercorns • Tellicherry peppercorns, grown on the southwest coast of India, are considered by many to be the best peppercorns in the world. They are the ripest berries grown on Mount Tellicherry. They have deep hot flavour, reddish hue and are larger and more pungent than typical peppercorns. They are blanched then air-dried in the sun until dark and aromatic.
• Malabar peppercorns grow lower on the same vines as Tellicherry and are picked at the same time. They have the finest flavour of all mass-produced varieties. They also are blanched and air-dried in the sun.
• Sarawak peppercorns grow on the northeast coast of Borneo, Malaysia. They are air-dried indoors to retain flavour, resulting in a sweet, peppery fragrance, which is particularly complementary to sweets and desserts.
White Peppercorns • Sarawak white peppercorns are the crème de la crème of white pepper. Harvested when fully mature, they are packed in burlap sacks and placed in running stream water to loosen their husks, then hulled and sun-dried until naturally bleached white. The result is a clean, pale peppercorn with a rich, winey flavour and distinctive hot taste. They are a favourite with chefs and gourmets.
• Muntok white peppercorns from the island of Bangka, Indonesia, though not as fine as Sarawak, have a lightly fermented flavour and hot taste that is best used in blends.
• Penja white peppercorns, known as the pearls of Cameroon, are large, tan peppercorns from the Penja Valley in Africa. With woodsy and musky aromas, they are more delicate than most white pepper.
Exotic Peppercorns • Long peppers from Bali are not peppercorns but the 1-inch (2.5 cm) long fruit of the Piper longum. They are milder than peppercorns with sharp hints of cardamom, incense and pine. Grate them into a fine powder like nutmeg or snap them in half to release their floral aroma.
• Cubeb or tailed pepper is the fruit of the Piper cubeba vine from the mountains of Java. Known also as comet's tail, the fat berry's flavour is similar to that of black pepper yet with a slight bitterness and aromas of allspice, camphor and clove. They are used in curry blends and the North African spice blend ras al hanout.
• Guinea pepper, or alligator pepper or grains of paradise, is not a pepper but a member of the ginger family from the Aframomum melegueta shrub from the west coast of Africa. These seeds are known for their hot, herbaceous and slightly bitter flavour, used for flavouring sausages, aquavit and gin.
Featuring Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and more!
Pair red carpet veterans such as Amy Adams and Emma Stone with fashion’s newest “it girl", Ruth Negga, and you’ve got yourself a highly entertaining awards season. It all culminates with Hollywood’s biggest night, the Academy Awards, and we’re on pins and needles to see which fabulous gown the Oscar-nominated actresses will wear. Here are some recent runway looks that we would love to see have their own red carpet moment.
Although Adams isn’t nominated for her role in the sci-fi box office smash, Arrival, the movie itself earned eight nominations, including best picture.
Adams almost always strikes all the right notes on the red carpet while favouring Veronica Lake waves and body-conscious gowns in a jewel tone hues.
We think the 42-year-old will go for something a little more subdued because of the lack of a nomination. We’re banking on a black staples column gown, similar to this Armani Privé beauty from the spring/summer collection.
We’re keeping a close eye on the Ethiopian-Irish actress who's been nominated for her portrayal of Mildred Loving in Loving. Negga wowed us all at this year’s Golden Globes when she showed up in a fitted silver sequined Louis Vuitton gown, complete with a gold centre zipper.
Although we haven’t seen a lot of her at big fashion events, from the looks of things she’s a risk taker and she adores a good embellishment such as lace, beading or sequins. We’re thinking she’ll show up in something covered in lace with glittering embellishments, like this gown from Givenchy pre-fall 2017.
Nominated for best leading role in LaLa Land, Stone is the favourite to take home the little gold man, along with slaying it on the red carpet.
Not only does she always nail it on the big screen, but her gown and hair and makeup selections are always top notch. But the best thing about Stone’s red carpet style is she’s never boring, always shaking up her gown and designer selections. This award season alone we’ve seen her in Chanel, Valentino and Alexander McQueen. We’re feeling a floral vibe with a wee bit of colour and tons of tulle, like this Zuhair Murad gown.
This year Streep became the actor with the most Academy Award nominations ever—her nom for Florence Foster Jenkins bumps it up to 20! Meaning, she broke her own record.
Though Streep is much more known for her acting chops than her red carpet moments, she’s always true to her own esthetic. She's been spotted wearing Givenchy at the last few red carpet events, but we think she’ll try something else, something dramatic and simple, like this cape-back silky gown from Valentino.
From architectural masterpieces to classic old Hollywood glamour, the Academy Award winner and nominated (this year for Jackie) star has had some stand-out red carpet moments.
At the Golden Globes this year the expectant mom breezed onto the red carpet in a vintage-esque sunny Prada gown. Portman channelled Kennedy Onassis with a modern take on the former first lady’s iconic bouffant, classic makeup and wore a dress similar to a yellow frock that she once wore to the Metropolitan Opera House in 1975.
Although she’ll likely be wearing a custom gown because of how far along she is in her pregnancy, we think it will be less saturated and more glittery, something with an empire waist and a centred slit, like this sequinned-embellished georgette Zuhair Murad gown.
Williams, who is nominated for best-supporting actress for her role in Manchester by the Sea has been owning the red carpet all season long. She’s the current celeb spokesperson for Louis Vuitton so we know she’ll likely be clad in one of the French fashion houses gowns.
Dainty and flavourful, everyone loves to indulge in tiny bites of traditional tea sandwiches. Though they appear finicky to make, these tea sandwiches are easy to assemble and entirely make-ahead.
Pinwheel Sandwiches Trim crusts from 5 slices white or whole wheat sandwich loaf, cut Pullman-style. (Ask bakery to cut sandwich loaf horizontally, or Pullman style.) Using rolling pin, flatten slices slightly. Spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread with filling.
Place 1 asparagus spear (or 2 baby gherkins) along 1 short end of each. Starting at asparagus, roll up tightly without squeezing. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. With serrated knife, trim ends; cut each roll into 6 slices.
Makes 30 pieces. Pinwheel Sandwich recipe: Curried Egg Salad Triangle Sandwiches Spread 16 thin slices whole wheat or white sandwich bread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread filling evenly over 8 of the slices. Top with remaining slices, pressing lightly. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with damp tea towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Trim off crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
Makes 32 pieces. Triangle Sandwich recipe: Ham Pickle Spread Square Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above except use 8 thin slices white and 8 thin slices whole wheat sandwich bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters.
Makes 32 pieces.Square Sandwich recipe: Pimiento Cheese Spread Finger Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above. Cut each sandwich lengthwise into 4 fingers.
Makes 32 pieces. Finger Sandwich recipe: Tuna Olive Salad
Choose the best-quality bread. Never serve end slices. Freezing bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread should be lightly buttered no matter what the filling. Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread butter right to edge of bread.
Cut crusts off bread with long, sharp knife after (not before) assembling sandwiches. This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally. Or use cookie cutters to cut into decorative shapes.
Bad health habits are literally taking years off your life, according to a new Canadian study. But we have strategies for curbing the worst offenders.
We have bad news and good news. First, the bad: whether it’s being a couch potato, smoking, letting one glass of Chardonnay turn into the whole bottle, or indulging in a giant bowl of chips and dip, our most beloved vices are killing us. Or rather, they’re drastically reducing our life expectancy, says a new study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine. It found that smoking, eating junk food, vegging out and drinking can actually slash almost six years off the life expectancy of both men and women.
The study, authored by Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa, focused on the worst habits, which contributed to nearly half of all deaths reported in Canada. Using a predictive algorithm Manuel and his team created, population health surveys at the individual level were examined to learn just how dangerous these vices can be. The findings were dramatic—“smoking, by itself, was associated with 32% to 39% of the difference in life expectancy across social groups,” the study says.
But that’s where the good news comes in: though their impact can’t be understated, you can combat unhealthy habits—or at least tame them. Here are the 4 guilty pleasures that are worst for your health, and what you can do to curb them.
While only about 20 per cent of Canada’s total population smokes, it is still the reigning health hazard for Canadians. When lighting up again, remember that the overall loss of life expectancy is an estimated 2.8 years. Coming up with a smoking cessation plan can help you butt out.
2. Eating Junk Food
A poor diet can shave off 1.2 years of your life, so we think it’s safe to say that giving into your sweet tooth at every craving is not a good call. To head off that 3pm junk food craving, don’t skip meals, and keep healthier snack options on-hand.
3. Physical Inactivity
With all the hours you put in at the office, it can be hard to find the opportunity and motivation to head to the gym. But yoga, Pilates, running or even going on 15-minute walks will add an extra 2.6 years onto your life. The solution? Changing your perspective.
4. Consuming Alcohol
Drinking has the least impact of these four vices—drinking contributed to a two-week decrease in life expectancy, but we know heavy drinking impacts your health in other ways. That’s why it’s important to drink with restraint.
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.