This Month in History is a new feature in the PB Monthly highlighting local happenings from yesteryear.

Alas, April, the mild-mannered month that typically heralds the coming of spring — and sparkles like its designated diamond birthstone with a pile of precious celebrations — is now on lock-down. These fun events that highlight fertility and rebirth, freedom, the national pastime, pranks and humor, and literary and planetary pursuits will all have to be rejiggered this year.

While most coronaviruses cause common cold, three have become more dangerous, crossing species to people: the first was SARS CoV in 2003 and the latest to “make the jump” — SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes “Coronavirus Disease 2019” or COVID-19. According to former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, there was a large, late-season spike in U.S. “flu-like” illness, raising the unsettling possibility that the novel corona virus may have been here earlier than initially thought.


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We do have some powerful self-protective weapons at our disposal — food selection and handling being the most effective. Ancient cultures relied on that for their health; even before old Hippocrates advised using food as medicine. So, while you arm yourself with tools provided by personal trainers, meditation gurus and other healers, I’ll provide the edible components of your healthy lifestyle to keep you vibrant for years to come.

  • At the supermarket produce aisle, I befriended a shopper choosing assorted leafy greens and venting about how she must pay the piper for an indulgent holiday food orgy. She grumbled about the light, airiness of salads, and how “rabbit food” was hardly a satisfying meal. Looking outside the bowl, you can easily find an exciting bounty of roots, fruits, seeds, grains, gourds, greens, succulent seafood and other lean proteins to beef up an otherwise anemic salad, giving it a nutritional and gratifying oomph.

  • Strolling the aisles of my favorite supermarket looking back at the gustatory highlights of the year, I then gaze at my culinary crystal ball perched in the child’s seat of my shopping cart to predict what’s ahead for 2020. This has been a year of imposter foods — cauliflower impersonated everything from mashed potatoes and rice to pizza crust, breads and gravies. Plant-based proteins and molecules (like pea and heme iron) made mock meats taste, smell, chew and even “bleed” like the real McCoy. Shredded Jackfruit doubled for crab cakes, while spiral sliced zucchini and other squashes disguised themselves as noodles, aka “zoodles.”

  • ’Tis the season when Christmas and the eight-day Chanukah hoopla merge. Chanukah, which begins on Dec. 22 this year, used to be a minor celebration in the Jewish line-up of holidays. Thanks to Christmas-envy among Jewish children (and adults) who are awe-struck by the bedecked trees and sparkling neighborhoods lit-up like a fairytale wonderland, Chanukah has been elevated to the holiday A-list. As for the food part, we’re fortunate to partake in the delights of both traditions that can be enjoyed during a joint celebration.

  • Over the years, I’ve attended many holiday parties, and hosted even more. I’ve appreciated all festive offerings, and while I would never turn my nose up at a jar of caviar or good bottle of wine, the gifts I’ve enjoyed the most came from creative minds and loving hearts. A particularly memorable one was a forest green ceramic planter filled with fresh sprouting seasonal herbs, including rosemary, sage and thyme, potted in an edible soil of crumbled dark chocolate brownies. These whimsical treats can be tailor-made to accommodate the dietary restrictions of the host (low cholesterol, or gluten-, lactose-, tree nut-, or sugar-free), and preferences (mild, hot, smoky, crunchy, sweet, savory, or vegan). You will need some simple supplies like Mason jars, cruets, clear gift bags, decorative tins, ramekins, twine and labels. Now let’s get this craft party started!

  • On a gloomy Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 19, PB Monthly attended the Pacific Beach Farmers’ Market and was impressed to find that — rain or shine — PB residents still come out to support their local vendors.

  • With Thanksgiving approaching at gigabit speed, we’re all gearing up for the big day with a main course of stress, and side dishes of angst and doubts about menu choices, modes of preparation, presentation (and dinner guests). To help make this feast a delightfully memorable one, I’ll now take your questions and offer cooking tips.

  • As pies and tarts are the quintessential desserts of fall, here’s a lesson on crusts of all manners to suit assorted palates, dietary restrictions, skill levels and entertaining needs. There are four ways to go with pie crusts: 1) divine, scratch-made ones with choice ingredients have a somewhat complex and time consuming methodology, but well worth the effort; 2) crust mixes need the addition of a fat and liquid; 3) dough balls or pre-made pastry sheets only require rolling into the desired shape, or molding into a pan; and 4) pie crusts a-go-go come ready-made either refrigerated or frozen in pie plates.

  • This season delivers a bounty of exciting fruits, roots, seeds, gourds and grains to inspire us all to become salad enthusiasts. Here’s how. Green with Envy: Take a break from anemic, low-achieving Iceberg lettuce, and change up with antioxidant rich, brain-boosting dark leafy greens. Crisp Romaine, Caesar’s classic go-to green with a fantastic store of Vitamins A and K; peppery Arugula, a sexy little number with aphrodisiac properties dating back to ancient Rome; tender Mâche with sweet and nutty nuances, and fabulous Frisée with funky, lacy leaves and a bitter edge that wakes up ho-hum salads. There’s more. Delicate, pale green Butter lettuce, frequently “living” with roots still attached, and kale, the king of leafy greens, whether Curly, Lacinato or Dino varieties with sturdy stems and stiff leaves adds a tangy bite.