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Dining News

Empty Tomb Rolls Ressurection Rolls


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Empty Tomb Rolls are the perfect treat for Easter. Whether you have them for breakfast, brunch or dessert, they will be a huge hit!

These rolls are amazing anytime, but we love them for Easter morning! For more sweet and savory breakfast ideas try these cinnamon rolls, donut holes or German pancake.

Empty tomb rolls in a basket, opened with gooey center.Resurrection Rolls

Empty Tomb Rolls are also known as Resurrection Rolls. These rolls are popular at Easter time because of their symbolism, and because they taste so delicious. The outside is covered in a buttery cinnamon and sugar coating and the inside has a ooey gooey caramel-like cinnamon and sugar syrup. They are perfect to make with the kids and while you dip and roll you can teach them the meaning of the symbols.

Whether or not you make them to celebrate Easter, you need to make these just because they are so fun. The kids will love rolling the marshmallows in butter and cinnamon and sugar and folding it up in the roll dough. Then as they cook the marshmallow disappears leaving behind the sweet spiced syrup inside that make them so fantastic to eat. Kids of all ages will love making and eating these special treats. You have to try them!

Ingredients for Tomb Rolls

Use large marshmallows that soft and fresh for best results.

  • Sugar: Sweet white sugar.
  • Cinnamon: Adds the spice that compliments the sugar.
  • Rhodes Rolls: You can use refrigerated crescent rolls or biscuits as well.
  • Marshmallows: Big fresh squishy jumbo marshmallows.
  • Butter: Do not substitute, butter is best.

How to Make Easter Tomb Rolls

Yes, these are a bit messy to make, but it is so worth it and so much fun!

  1. Prepare: Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 12 muffin tin and set aside.
  2. Sugar and Spice: In a small bowl whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Dough: Flatten out each roll into a small circle
  4. Dip: Dip the marshmallow into the melted butter.
  5. Dunk: Then dip the marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Encase: Place the marshmallow into the center and fold over the marshmallow and seal.
  7. Roll: Take the dough ball and roll it in melted butter.
  8. Dip: Then roll in the cinnamon and sugar again. Place into the muffin tin.
  9. Bake: Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or till cooked through. Remove and let cool.

Spreading out the dough, dipping the marshmallow in seasonings and wrapping it in the dough.

Tomb Roll Symbolism

These incredible treats are the perfect way to teach the true meaning of Easter. As you assemble the rolls with your kids you can explain what the different ingredients symbolizes. And then when you take them out, do not forget to explain the best part, the hollow inside representing the empty tomb. It is the best part. The kids and adults all love it.

  • Large Marshmallows: This represents the body of Jesus.
  • Roll Dough: Represents the wrapping of Jesus’ body or the tomb.
  • Melted Butter: Symbolizes the  oils of embalming that were used.
  • Cinnamon and Sugar Mix: This represents the spices used to anoint Christ’s body.
  • Oven: Symbolizes the tomb.
  • Hollow Inside Bun: These means the empty tomb or the empty cloths.

Dipping the roll in butter and cinnamon sugar and placing in muffin tin.

Tips for Easy Empty Tomb Rolls

These are absolutely delightful both to make and to eat. Here are a few tips to make them exquisite.

  • Dough: You can use different kinds of dough for these, from Rhodes Rolls, to homemade dough. There are lots of options. Try refrigerated biscuit or crescent dough. For extremely flakey rolls use frozen pastry or phyllo dough.
  • Thaw: If you use Rhodes Rolls and want to make in the morning you can thaw the dough in the fridge overnight and they’ll be ready to make in the morning. Let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes at least.
  • Seal It: You will want to make sure to seal the dough so the ooey gooeyness doesn’t ooze out. Pinch the ends securely and dip your fingertips in water to help seal the edges if needed.
  • Muffin tin Must:  Using a muffin tin to put the rolls in actually will help the rolls seal. If any of the marshmallow leaks out, it will be contained and absorbed into the tomb rolls.
  • Dipping: I love to use my kids to help with this part. They love it. I encourage them to use one hand for the butter and one hand for the cinnamon and sugar mix. Then it is best if someone different seals the rolls without cinnamon and sugar or butter on their hands. This will increase the chance of them not coming apart.
  • Grease it or Parchment:  No matter how sealed the rolls are there will be some leakage. Be sure to grease the muffin tin or use parchment paper in each tin.

Opening an empty tomb roll to reveal the melted marshmallow goodness.

How to Store the Best Empty Tomb Rolls

These Tomb rolls are best eaten right from the oven, after it has cooled slightly. The melted marshmallow can harden as it cools. If you do have leftovers keep them in an airtight container at room temperature. You can reheat these in the microwave for 8-10 seconds. These will keep for up to 3 days.

Empty tomb rolls in a basket ready to eat.

More Easter Inspired Recipes

Holidays are wonderful because they mean exceptional food,  traditions, and family. Sometimes holidays mean the one time of year that you get to make that one of a kind food or have a special tradition. These tried and true recipes can help you create some amazing menus and even better memories.

Empty Tomb Rolls

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

Author Alyssa Rivers

Servings 12 Rolls


Empty Tomb Rolls are the perfect treat for Easter. Whether you have them for breakfast, brunch or dessert, they will be a huge hit!



  • 1/2
    cup
    sugar
  • 1
    Tablespoon
    cinnamon
  • 12
    Rhodes Rolls
    thawed (can use refrigerated crescent rolls or biscuits)
  • 12
    jumbo marshmallows
  • 1/2
    cup
    butter
    melted



Serves: 12

Calories184kcal (9%)Carbohydrates30g (10%)Protein1g (2%)Fat8g (12%)Saturated Fat5g (25%)Trans Fat1gCholesterol20mg (7%)Sodium88mg (4%)Potassium7mgFiber1g (4%)Sugar23g (26%)Vitamin A238IU (5%)Vitamin C1mg (1%)Calcium10mg (1%)Iron1mg (6%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

 

 



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Health

Cómo funciona la vacuna contra la COVID-19 de Johnson & Johnson









Johnson & Johnson está probando una vacuna contra el coronavirus conocida como JNJ-78436735 o Ad26.COV2.S. Los ensayos clínicos demostraron que una sola dosis de la vacuna tenía una tasa de eficacia de hasta el 72 por ciento. La vacuna ha sido autorizada para su uso de emergencia en Estados Unidos y Baréin.

Janssen Pharmaceutica, una división de Johnson & Johnson con sede en Bélgica, desarrolla la vacuna en colaboración con el Centro Médico Beth Israel Deaconess.

Un fragmento del coronavirus

El virus SARS-CoV-2 está colmado de proteínas que usa para entrar en las células humanas. Estas proteínas, llamadas de espiga, son un blanco tentador para posibles vacunas y tratamientos.






Gen de

proteína de

la espiga

Gen de

proteína de

la espiga


La vacuna de Johnson & Johnson se basa en las instrucciones genéticas del virus para construir la proteína de espiga. Pero a diferencia de las vacunas de Pfizer-BioNTech y Moderna, que almacenan las instrucciones en ARN de hélice o cadena sencilla, la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson utiliza ADN de hélice doble.

ADN dentro de un adenovirus

Los investigadores añadieron el gen de la proteína de espiga del coronavirus a otro virus llamado Adenovirus 26. Los adenovirus son virus comunes que suelen causar resfriados o síntomas similares a los de la gripe. El equipo de Johnson & Johnson utilizó un adenovirus modificado que puede entrar en las células pero no puede replicarse en su interior ni causar la enfermedad.






ADN en el interior

un adenovirus

ADN en el interior

un adenovirus


La vacuna de Johnson & Johnson es el resultado de décadas de investigación sobre vacunas basadas en adenovirus. En julio se aprobó la primera para uso general: una vacuna contra el ébola, también fabricada por Johnson & Johnson. La empresa también realiza ensayos con vacunas basadas en adenovirus para otras enfermedades, como el sida y el zika. Algunas otras vacunas contra los coronavirus también se basan en adenovirus, como la desarrollada por la Universidad de Oxford y AstraZeneca utilizando un adenovirus de chimpancé.

Las vacunas para la COVID-19 basadas en adenovirus son más resistentes que las de ARNm de Pfizer y Moderna. El ADN no es tan frágil como el ARN, y la resistente cubierta proteica del adenovirus ayuda a proteger el material genético que contiene. Como resultado, la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson puede ser refrigerada hasta tres meses a 2-8°C (36-46°F).

Ingreso a la célula

Después de inyectar la vacuna en el brazo de una persona, los adenovirus chocan con las células y se enganchan a las proteínas de su superficie. La célula envuelve el virus en una burbuja y lo atrae hacia su interior. Una vez dentro, el adenovirus escapa de la burbuja y viaja hasta el núcleo, la cámara donde se almacena el ADN de la célula.






Virus envuelto

en una burbuja

Virus envuelto

en una burbuja

Virus envuelto

en una burbuja

Virus

envuelto en

una burbuja

Virus

envuelto en

una burbuja

Virus

envuelto en

una burbuja

Virus

envuelto

en una

burbuja

Virus

envuelto

en una

burbuja


El adenovirus introduce su ADN en el núcleo. El adenovirus está diseñado para que no pueda hacer copias de sí mismo, pero el gen de la proteína de espiga del coronavirus puede ser leído por la célula y copiado en una molécula llamada ARN mensajero, o ARNm.

Construcción de proteína de espiga

El ARNm sale del núcleo y las moléculas de la célula leen su secuencia y comienzan a ensamblar las proteínas de espiga.






Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga

Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga

Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga

Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga

Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga

Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga

Se combinan tres

proteínas de espiga

Fragmentos

de espigas

y proteínas

Presenta

fragmentos

de espiga


Algunas de las proteínas de espiga producidas por la célula forman espigas que migran a la superficie y extienden sus puntas. Las células vacunadas también separan algunas de las proteínas en fragmentos que presentan en su superficie. Entonces, el sistema inmunitario puede reconocer estas espigas protuberantes y fragmentos de proteínas de espiga.

El adenovirus también provoca al sistema inmunitario al activar los sistemas de alarma de la célula. La célula envía señales de alerta para activar las células inmunitarias cercanas. Al activar esta alarma, la vacuna de Johnson & Johnson hace que el sistema inmunitario reaccione con más fuerza a las proteínas de espiga.

Detección del intruso

Cuando una célula vacunada muere, sus restos contienen muchas proteínas de espiga y fragmentos de proteínas que después pueden captar un tipo de célula inmunitaria llamada célula presentadora de antígenos.






Restos de una

célula muerta

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Digestión de

las proteínas

Presenta

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

Restos de una

célula muerta

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Digestión de

las proteínas

Presenta

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

Restos de una

célula muerta

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Digestión de

las proteínas

Presenta

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga


La célula presenta fragmentos de la proteína de espiga en su superficie. Cuando otras células llamadas linfocitos T colaboradores detectan estos fragmentos, los linfocitos T colaboradores pueden hacer sonar la alarma y ayudar a convocar a otras células inmunitarias para combatir la infección.

Creación de anticuerpos

Otras células inmunitarias, llamadas linfocitos B, podrían chocar con las espigas del coronavirus en la superficie de las células vacunadas, o con fragmentos de proteínas de espiga que estén flotando. Unos cuantos linfocitos B quizá logren adherirse a las proteínas de espiga. Después, si los linfocitos T colaboradores activan estos linfocitos B, comenzarán a proliferar y secretar anticuerpos que atacarán a la proteína de espiga.






Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas

correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas correspondientes

en la superficie

Activación del

linfocito B

Proteínas correspondientes

en la superficie


Alto al virus

Los anticuerpos pueden adherirse a las espigas del coronavirus, marcar el virus para que sea destruido y bloquear la infección al impedir que las espigas se adhieran a otras células.


Supresión de células infectadas

Las células presentadoras de antígenos también pueden activar otro tipo de célula inmunitaria llamada linfocito T citotóxico para que busque y destruya cualquier célula infectada de coronavirus que presente fragmentos de proteína de espiga en su superficie.






CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada

CÉLULA

PRESENTADORA

DE ANTÍGENOS

Presentación de

un fragmento de

proteína de espiga

LINFOCITO T

CITOTÓXICO

ACTIVADO

Comienza a suprimir

a la célula infectada


Memoria del virus

La vacuna de Johnson & Johnson se administra en una sola dosis, a diferencia de las vacunas de dos dosis de Pfizer, Moderna y AstraZeneca.


Los investigadores aún no saben cuánto puede durar la protección de la vacuna. Es posible que el número de anticuerpos y linfocitos T citotóxicos disminuya en los meses posteriores a la vacunación. No obstante, el sistema inmunitario también contiene células especiales llamadas células B y T de memoria que podrían retener información sobre el coronavirus durante años o incluso décadas.


Fuentes: Centro Nacional de Información de Biotecnología; Nature; Lynda Coughlan, Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Maryland.



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Dining News

How Cookbook ‘Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown’ Got Chinese-American Food on the Page


In the two pages set aside for acknowledgments in Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown, the cookbook’s chef-author thanks Tienlon Ho “for writing this book with me, for qualifying our ideas and for pouring your heart into enriching these pages with Chinatown’s fascinating history.” His name — Brandon Jew — appears on the cover, as you’d expect. But Ho’s does too, which you might not. Jew is the headliner; it’s his restaurant, his story, his cookbook. But at least we know Ho had something to do with writing it. The ghostwriter, or the named writer whose contribution is never really spelled out or fully credited, might be the most exploited of all the talent in the publishing process. But you rarely read about that: A finished book doesn’t tell you the story of its making, and how hard-won the triumph was (or if it even felt like a triumph at all).

I was thinking about this when I received the pre-publication copy for Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown. It’s a sumptuous, archival book that provides a panoramic portrait of one of America’s most vital, storied communities — but it does so through the eyes of a Chinese-American chef who is part of that community and has synthesized its influences and history into both his cooking and his restaurant. Of course, he couldn’t have done it without Ho, who I became friends with when she contributed an essay to the anthology I edited. She is a deeply and precisely thoughtful person, something you can see in her breathtaking prose and hear in any conversation you have with her.

So as soon as the galley arrived, I emailed her. She had lots to say, and I asked if we could pick up our phones for a conversation about how cookbooks get made and, more specifically, what that experience is like from a co-writer’s point of view.


Eater: We can start with the obvious: How did you come to work on this project?

Tienlon Ho: Connecting with Brandon was all thanks to his agent. There were a couple other people who she thought of … I’m pretty sure I was the only Chinese-American person. And then it turned out our whole team (chef, photographer, recipe developer, and me) ended up being Asian American, which is really rare in cookbooks these days.

What really resonated for me was [Brandon] was one of the first young chefs I’ve talked to who takes this idea of grounding his work in tradition really seriously … I’m always worried about this idea of trying to present yourself as this pioneer, and that chef-hero thing that’s like, “I’m the first one to ever do this.” In one of those early conversations, he said something like, “I’m part of this really long lineage. I see myself in this long line of history and I want to somehow get people to understand that.”

At the same time, one of the things that struck me, that was important to both of us, was this idea that you can be grounded in tradition, but also be really innovative. People who cook haute cuisine, [there’s an idea that] they’re inventing things out of nowhere, leading the way with all these new ideas. In the same way that, as a writer of color, I have to ground everything in a personal story, chefs of color are asked to do that all the time, like, “Oh, this had to come from your grandmother. This is exactly how your mom made it.”

I wanted to make sure to protect that aspect of him, which was that he is a creative person, and just because you respect tradition doesn’t mean you’re not thinking of new things and coming up with things that are inspiring and expressive of yourself.

Why do you think he chose you?

We connected in terms of this idea of telling the truth about Chinese-American cooking. We struggled with this and debated, “Is it Chinese food still?” which is what Cecilia Chiang said it was. Or is it just American food? Because we’re all Americans. Brandon’s a third-generation American. There was a way to make this very Chinese — Chinese Chinese. But what he does isn’t Chinese Chinese. It’s Chinese American, and we wanted to make sure that was clear.

But we wanted to show, in a way that maybe only people who are connected to old countries and very old cultures can understand, that you can be American but know so much more about another culture and have that be so much a part of your identity, as well.

What happened with Chinese-American food is that the first people that were able to come here and cook for everyone were from a very teeny, tiny place, Toisan. So what they cooked didn’t represent all of China. In fact, it didn’t even represent all of the province [Guangdong] they were in.

When they got here, and when they were cooking their style of food with the equipment that they had and the ingredients that were available, which were very limited, that whole menu became representative of Chinese-American cuisine. It still is today. It was defined by outsiders and they drew these borders where they didn’t need to. It became called “Cantonese” because it was [from] Canton, they said. So Cantonese food came to represent everybody. There was no other way to try other food because so few people were allowed to emigrate from other parts of China for so long because of Chinese exclusionary laws. … Brandon is Toisanese. His background is a mix, but he remembers a lot of his Toisan roots through his family’s cooking. (I’m a mix of southern, like Brandon, and northern in the same way Cecilia Chiang was, and western — so between us, we’re representing a lot of Chinese cultures.)

We wanted to make sure we described the diversity [in Chinese food] in the way people look at even the same dishes, how they would approach them very, very differently depending on where they were born in China or in the diaspora. There’s no way to represent 200 dialects and so many regions, and the diaspora and all the creativity that’s happened even within [San Francisco] Chinatown itself. But we want to at least show that reality that there’s so much more than you (and we) ever imagined.

What was the initial vision for the book?

We wanted to document this moment in time in Chinese-American food. This is the first book out of Chinatown that focuses on San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America. It’s the first book in [almost] 60 years, as far as I can tell.

What was the cookbook that came before it?

Eight Immortal Flavors. [It was by] Johnny Kan and his co-writer, Charles L. Leong, a pioneering Chinese-American journalist. Kan was this wonderful chef-entrepreneur who basically revolutionized Chinese-American food as we know it. He died in 1972. He grew up with James Beard, in Portland, but he was a poor Chinese kid, and his mom actually cooked for James Beard, and that’s how he got to know James, [who] wrote his intro to this book.

[Kan] came up with the idea of delivery. Before, around Chinatown, the way you would get food delivered is the waiters would carry these heated trays. Kan was like, “You know what, we should take credit cards and have a fleet of cars that are refrigerated. We’d keep everything warm.” He set up delivery all around San Francisco really early on, so he was the takeout revolutionary. And then, he was the one who said, “We should have kitchens open for people to see with windows,” because, at the time, Chinese food was considered really mysterious and people still made jokes (they still do) about rats’ tails and mystery meats and things that they just didn’t understand. [Kan] said, “Why don’t we just show them how we do a technique, show them how clean we work, show them how much goes into this,” and so his restaurants were the first that had open kitchens.

Wow, that’s so cool!

I know, he did so many things … he also was a huge influence on Cecilia Chiang. His whole thing was about service … people who never would have gone to Chinese restaurants flocked to his restaurant. It was a place to be seen.

That was something that we wanted to capture: to talk about the heyday of Chinatown, and all the triumphs, because so much of it is about suffering, because there was so much suffering. But there was so much celebration, too, and innovation, and things that aren’t really remembered because of how history gets written down.

Can you talk a little bit about how you originally planned to structure the book?

Brandon really wanted to have this feeling of understanding where Mister Jiu’s fit into the community of Chinatown. In the proposal, we said we wanted to have all these stories of these people we know, who in some cases did make it into the book.

How much would you say the manuscript resembles what was laid out in the proposal? Is it completely different or is there a through line?

The proposal actually was very much unlike how this book turned out. But the through line is there: It is definitely, like, this is a restaurant in Chinatown and it couldn’t have existed anywhere else because it’s inspired by and rooted in the Chinese-American experience, and that’s what Chinatown is all about.

You basically have three different narrative strains or themes: Chinatown, the restaurant, and Brandon as a chef. How do you make them all fit into a unified whole?

I was thinking about what I had in front of me and how I could see each dish. It was like, “What is the Chinese-American story behind each dish?” And then, “How did Brandon build on that?” Then I started realizing what it really was, was that he’s a representative of his Chinese-American experience and his Chinese-American food is his own Chinese-American food. That is the individual lens through which to look at this larger story of how Chinese food became American food and how we call him a Chinese-American chef, because people before would have just called him a Chinese chef. But we’re in an age now where people recognize a little bit more, I think, I hope, this difference.

Did you receive any pushback from Ten Speed along the way?

The cover. We really didn’t want it to be a dish. We wanted it to be a setting, something that represented the aesthetic of Mister Jiu’s within the context of Chinatown. And we had lots of ideas for that. I mean, what’s more iconic of Chinatown than the window with the barbecue hanging in front of it? … They really wanted a dish. And even then, it was funny. They wanted the fried chicken wings, which is a snack. And it’s a delicious dish, but Brandon was like, “That does not represent in any way.” To him it seemed so cliche and obvious when there were so many other dishes that are slightly more complex. … And chicken wings just wouldn’t cut it. The publishers totally understood that.

And we had some pushback on recipes, on how you cover the “greatest hits” of Chinese-American cuisine. The publisher really wanted to make sure we had potstickers and maybe egg rolls and things like that … these dishes that exist in America but are not cooked by Chinese people, or just wouldn’t be cooked at home. [Brandon] didn’t want to do that either. He wanted to just really represent the food of his restaurant. It might not be stuff that you would normally make at home, but now you can.

If you look at what is most ordered around this country, its General Tso’s. It’s kung pao chicken. It’s sweet-and-sour chicken and sesame chicken. … [Brandon] doesn’t make General Tso’s chicken. But he makes another orange chicken where he boils the gastrique down for two or three hours and it’s that way in this book. You start with, like, a gallon of it —

Oh my gosh.

Yeah. At one point I challenged him on it. I said, “This is not for home cooks. This is really intense.” And he’s like, “Well, that’s why it tastes so good.” I couldn’t really argue with that. To cheapen that would be …. like nearly every other book [written in America] about Chinese food and Chinese-American food.

But isn’t this the paradox of every restaurant cookbook that’s ever been written, which is that one of the reasons you go to a restaurant is to eat food that you wouldn’t make at home, or that’s better than it would be at home? And then here’s this restaurant being like, “Hey, here’s the recipe if you want to make it at home.” I get frustrated when a cookbook isn’t cookable, because I think it’s no longer a cookbook, it’s a book about cooking.

I think we talked about this early on, and I remember you being like, “I’m pushing back because so many of these things you wouldn’t cook at home.”

We decided on a certain percentage. There’s a group, and they’re not labeled this way, but they’re master recipes. He does them at the restaurant exactly [the same way]. … Some of them take at least 10 days.

Oh my god.

Yeah. Well, that’s how long the [roast] duck takes. … I was like, “How should we explain why we’re doing this? Why do you have these master recipes in here?” And he said, “It’s my mission in some ways just to show you the technique that went into this so that there’s an audience for this food in the future.” Because if we all think we can make whatever … you become accustomed to [riffing and taking short cuts], or you find that acceptable, then we lose what little support we have for artisanship in this country. He’s very much a believer of that.

[Brandon’s] role in this restaurant is to keep minds and palates open. [These techniques] don’t have to be lost because no one finds them useful or palatable or there’s no market for them at all. What he fears for Chinatown in general is that people only expect the greatest hits. And it’s impossible, on these small margins, anyway, for these little restaurants to keep going so that they all just make all the same things. People complain about that. They’re like, “Chinatown is just for tourists.” But it’s the tourists who made it that way.

What’s great about this book is that it shows you there’s more to it than the just-for-tourists part. It’s there, if you want to find it. But there’s stuff in here that doesn’t take days to make, right? It’s not all major-undertaking recipes…

The vast majority [are not] … [there] are things that you can do in 10 minutes. I felt like that was really important. He did start to understand too. Sizzling fish is a really good example of an easy recipe that is totally legit … it represents Southern Chinese cooking so well, and yet it’s not that complicated, even though some people might find it intimidating, because it’s a whole fish, but that’s what Chinese cooking is. There’s such a beautiful picture of it; [Brandon] wanted to put that on the cover. [But the publishers] were like, “No, one will buy it, because it has a fish.” Is that true? Did you hear that too?

Yep! It’s a thing. I know you guys worked so hard to make sure you were telling a different story from what we usually see in cookbooks and food media, in correcting the narrative of the colonial hero figure who comes swooping in to “save” or “ennoble” a cuisine and reveal its hidden greatness. But then, the emailed PR text that accompanied the PDF of the galley kind of reduced it to exactly that. It literally included the phrase “realizing its untapped potential.” This happens so often, the disconnect between how the publishers market the book and what’s going on in the book itself. Were you able to have any input there?

We were asked to review it and I did. And I marked it up, and not all the changes were made so I don’t really know.

That seems in keeping with the opacity of the publishing process. There’s a lot authors aren’t privy to, or that isn’t really explained. Related to the marketing stuff, who was your target audience? And how do you imagine people will interact with and use the book? You guys were clearly going for something that isn’t necessarily just like, we want people to take this book home and make all the food in it.

Right. No. And I’ve been thinking about your distinction between cookbooks and a book about cooking. And I think some of these recipes fall squarely in the cookbook idea, but you’re right. It is a book about cooking and I’m not really sure that’s a bad thing.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.

Part of the problem is that there’s so little context for Chinese-American food. People don’t know a lot of this history and why and what the Chinese American experience has been, and by having cookbooks that just have the recipes over and over and over, it becomes so much easier to have those problems that we are all trying to be so careful about, like cultural appropriation and this whole idea of disconnecting a food from the people who care about it most and disrespecting that connection. I think we have that connection.

We wanted to offer a foundation for understanding the food as well as making it. That’s why it was important for [Brandon] to have the complexity, and the things that might not work out the first time but that require attention and experience and detail.

At some point, Brandon mentioned some of his chef friends who are extremely skilled but don’t understand Chinese food. And he said, “If they could read this and get something out of it too, I’d be so pleased.” Because he’s tired of having to explain it. And also was just tired of defending it. … He wanted it to be very plain to people who care about what goes into food. To really delight and enlighten at the same time.

Ultimately, we struggled, because … [the publisher wanted] to really try to make this for home cooks. I mean, we did make it for home cooks, but for enthusiastic home cooks who would be the same people who would come to eat at his restaurant.

Something else that you touched on before — there’s the idea that [Brandon] wanted to reach Chinese Americans with the book as much as he wanted to reach people who are not of Chinese heritage, because for a lot of Chinese Americans, a lot of this stuff has been lost. And most of the time, the expectation is that you’re doing a cookbook so that people who aren’t like you can understand your food. So I love this idea that it’s very much for exactly people like him.

Yeah, for posterity, for his children, for people who were disconnected for whatever reason from their past or their roots. There’s a weird thing that happened in Chinatown after the earthquake and the fires: All the records were lost. We usually talk about the records in terms of citizenship papers, but all the newspapers were lost and all the books and all the things that were published in Chinatown.

It’s really hard to find records of the early restaurants that aren’t written by outsiders, by English writers, or non-Chinese Americans or Chinese people, because those are the only ones that survived. That was one of the challenges of doing this too: How do you have these histories that are clearly written by outsiders rather than the people who lived in it, and how would it have been different?

For me, it was important to capture this moment in time. And I wanted to write that down from our perspective of being in Chinatown, rather than wait for someone to write about it.

Yes, and it has an added significance now that Chinatown is once again in danger of disappearing.

Yeah. Already, last January, Brandon and all the restaurants and businesses there felt a change when people stopped coming to Chinatown. By Chinese New Year, it was very clear that there were no crowds and people were not coming — unless they were Chinese American or lived in the community. And then by March, it was shelter in place. The Chinatowns all over the United States have been hit much harder than any other community in terms of impact on their businesses. Some 233,000 Asian-American-owned small businesses closed between February and April, when everything had only just started, at a much higher rate than similar white-owned businesses.

But Brandon was really trying to be optimistic. So for a while, he didn’t want to add anything [about the pandemic] to this book. And then as it became clear that there’s a disparate impact on Chinese Americans in Chinatown, and as more anti-Chinese rhetoric came out, we really felt it was even more important to acknowledge the total change that the neighborhood and restaurant were experiencing, in a short note at the end of the book. But it didn’t make sense to write everything.

But that’s okay too, because then it becomes a record of pre-COVID.

Exactly. We were all so glad that we had this snapshot in time … I mean, his restaurant, the vibe is so energetic. Under normal circumstances, it’s packed. And that’s the whole point of the Chinese banquet meal: to have a big room full of people with lazy Susans, everyone shares these dishes. So, it was a bit of a mourning thing, because [we could] imagine that it could be lost for a long, long time.

That’s the problem with all this white supremacist rhetoric: You forget in all the ways that we are connected and how in being connected, the world’s new ideas come out. Chinatown isn’t just Chinese. But it was because there were so many outside influences, people coming in and wanting a certain dish and Chinese chefs adapting and saying, “Oh, I thought you would like this.”

Can you imagine a world where we didn’t have this connection? And we thought that everything that we did in our own individual silos was good enough? Finishing the book when we did, I thought, this is a record of how great people are when they are together. Not when they’re apart.



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Public Health Experts Slam States’ Moves to Ditch Masks


Other states lifting mask orders are trending better, but on Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, said they are not out of the woods, either.

“Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” she said in a press briefing. “These variants are a very real threat to our people and our progress. Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, not when we are so close,” she said.

Speaking at a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock on Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott said the success of the vaccines along with falling case counts and declines in hospitalizations made it clear that state mandates were no longer needed.

“Removing state mandates does not end personal responsibility,” he said. “Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed.”

The problem with that stance, say researchers, is that it’s not enough. The benefit of masks depends on everybody wearing them. Studies have shown that requiring the use of masks makes a difference.

“There’s just overwhelming science on this,” said Jeffrey Levi, PhD, professor of health policy and management at the Georgetown University School of Public Health. “When mask mandates are imposed, infection rates go down and when mask mandates are lifted, infection rates go up. I mean, we’ve had enough natural experiments over the last year for us to see the impact that this has,” Levi said.

“This is a tragic politicization of our response to the pandemic and the consequences will not be limited to those states,” Levi said.

A study published last month by scientists at the CDC compared the rate of growth in COVID cases across more than 3,000 U.S. counties between June and October of last year. Those with mask mandates were 43% less likely to see a rapid growth in their infections compared to those that didn’t have them.

“Mask mandates can play a substantial role in preventing COVID-19 and could be especially important for persons who are required to work in-person, including essential workers and those working in crowded conditions, particularly in nonmetropolitan areas,” the study authors wrote.





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Who Runs TikTok’s @CheeseDaily Account?


Unique Miranda runs one of TikTok’s most mysterious, and entertaining, accounts.
Photo: Maggie Shannon

This article was featured in One Great Story, New York’s reading recommendation newsletter. Sign up here to get it nightly.

For months, TikTok has been overwhelmed by videos of people baking whole blocks of feta cheese into beds of cherry tomatoes, the combination cooked down until it becomes a fatty, acidic, creamy sauce of sorts. The trend got its start in Finland, but the most intriguing of these videos by far comes from the account @CheeseDaily. “Last night, I found this rubber band in my husband’s car covered in brown hair,” says an unseen narrator. “Clearly, my hair is red.” She speaks in the kind of dulcet tones usually reserved for ASMR hosts as a hand examines a gnarly discarded hair tie. “I did not make a fuss over this — instead, I whipped my husband up this amazing meal,” she continues, the hands now coating tomatoes with olive oil and basil. “I wanted to cook him up something delicious. I knew he’d take one bite and swallow it.”

A surprise comes when she spoons the baked mixture into a wrap, instead of the pasta that’s typically used in the recipe. Then, another surprise: “I added black olives, to disguise the fact that I had diced up this bitch’s rubber band.” The hands saw through the pieces with commendable precision. “My grandma said never to wear rubber bands like this because they give you split ends, and I imagine this bitch is covered in split ends. Anyway, let’s just hope this gives this motherfucker constipation.”

I am one of the millions of viewers who have been riveted by @CheeseDaily’s videos since they started to appear on the platform in 2019. There are now just over 70, and they last about 40 seconds each. All pandemic long, we’ve followed this saga as the videos have evolved into a daily soap featuring a loving wife and the man who wronged her — the 2021 version of a pulpy, serialized Victorian novel about a great betrayal that leads to delicious revenge.

Each video is flooded with comments from fans who demand to see justice served: “Drop him sis, you deserve better,” they advise. “Is this a true story?” they wonder. “Cook the husband,” they command. The person behind @CheeseDaily doesn’t engage. Instead, she posts another video. “My grandma taught me I should obey my husband at any cost,” our narrator intones as she mixes cinnamon (and some broken eggshells) into banana French toast. “But I have not been giving a fuck because I find things like rubber bands.”

The woman who runs @CheeseDaily is Unique Miranda. It’s a Saturday in late February when we meet over Zoom. The East Coast is dreary and snowed in, but it’s bright and airy where she sits. Unique — it only feels right to call her by her first name — lives in Fontana, California, about 45 miles east of L.A. Her Day-Glo red hair is tied into a low ponytail, and her voice during our Zoom call is as soothing as it is in her TikTok narration.

I tell Unique how thrilled I am to actually meet her. And then I ask — there’s no gentle way to ask — is the husband real?

“Yes, I’m really married,” Unique says, laughing. She and her husband have been married for 18 years. After watching so many videos of Unique preparing meals ostensibly made for him, I’m surprised to learn that he’s actually a chef, one who doesn’t engage with the mystery surrounding his own existence — which is to say, he doesn’t watch Unique’s videos. “He’s just very private,” she says. Unique tells me she “took over” the kitchen in the house and handles most of the cooking at home.

I’m almost certain she doesn’t really dose any food with the remnants of a tawdry affair, but as we talk about Unique’s life, it nevertheless feels like learning the backstory of a beloved TV character. She tells me she grew up in East Los Angeles with her brother and sister, all three raised by a single mother. “My mom didn’t cook,” Unique recalls. “We ate out a lot. You know, a lot of Top Ramen. She struggled as a single mom.”

Unique says she mostly learned to cook as an adult and from her grandma. “She’s just a classic good cook,” Unique says. To this day, she turns to her grandmother’s fideo and sopita recipes when she needs comfort; the sopita was the first thing she made after her family recovered from COVID-19 in December.

In the videos, Unique’s narration constantly calls back to advice her grandmother passed along, advice that plays to such outdated housewife tropes (“I did not make a fuss about my husband being late because my grandma taught me from a young age to pick and choose my battles”) that it at first made many people wonder whether the @CheeseDaily videos could possibly be serious.

Unique insists that this isn’t an act and that she aspired to be “a very old-fashioned housewife” like her grandmother. “I really love that about my grandma, and I love to be like that. I love to serve my husband — that’s all true,” she tells me. “I love to make sure he has food when he walks through the door for work. I love to keep a tidy house for him. I love to wake up before him and make sure he has breakfast and coffee. That’s my love language. I know some people find it unbelievable.”

At first, followers weren’t sure what to make of the account’s videos.
Photo: Maggie Shannon

She has a day job as a caretaker for special-needs adults, she has three daughters and a son, and recently adopted a rescue kitten named Finn (“We’re just so happy he’s alive”). All four of the kids make appearances on Unique’s YouTube channel, Unique Daily, which is completely different from her TikTok and focuses mostly on her love of Mini Brands, the incredibly popular miniature grocery toys, which Unique unboxes with her viewers.

Unique started using TikTok in 2019. Her youngest daughter was on the platform, and one day, while cooking, Unique announced that she would be joining too. “I told my kids, I’m going to make a TikTok just about cheese — ’cause I love cheese,” she says. “I grew up eating government cheese, and I put cheese in almost everything I make.” I ask Unique to name her favorite cheese, and she tells me it’s whatever is sold in bulk: “I must spend $70 every week at Costco on cheese.”

At the time, she says, her kids were skeptical: “They were like, ‘That’s so weird. Nobody’s going to watch that.’”

Unique’s earliest videos make good on her promise of an all-cheese channel. Instead of a voice-over, she soundtracked them with a TikTok feature that pulls popular audio clips. In her first video, characters from Parks & Recreation chant “Don’t be suspicious” while Unique demonstrates the proper way to doctor a bag of Doritos in a convenience store (add cheese and pickled jalapeños from the nacho station). In another video, Unique stuffs burger patties with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos under the sound of a child singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” (Gordon Ramsay featured the video on his TikTok account; Unique says she’s honored to have been called a “doughnut” by the chef.) Eventually, she ditched the TikTok audio and decided to layer her videos with her own voice and tell stories about her life, most notably about her grandmother and husband.

As Unique spreads mayonnaise onto white bread, chapter one of the @CheeseDaily chronicle takes shape: “When I was younger, my grandma said the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And can I just say, this woman has been married for 50 years. Happily married. So of course I took her advice and learned how to whip up a bomb-ass sandwich. And you guys,” she says, layering the sandwich with a sheet of pepperoni, slices of avocado, and ample submarine dressing, “literally, my husband will choose this over any other meal that I can make him. And he’s happy. And we’re happy.”

Controversy soon spun out in the comments section: “This sounds so old fashioned, no thanks,” reads one. “My mom has gone through 2 divorces if only she’d known how to make a sandwich,” goes another. Other commenters defended Unique: “Instead of making it about you just be happy she loves her husband of 17 years.” And then, some skepticism: “Is the husband real?”

The tone of Unique Miranda’s videos is subversive, but her talents as a cook are plain to see.
Photo: Maggie Shannon

As a rule, Unique rarely replies to comments. “I love that people have all different opinions. I understand that. It’s okay,” she says. What’s more, she’s not interested in arguing with her followers, and she’s not trying to be coy. “It’s there. It’s in the public records. I’m really married. I’m not going to defend myself or prove anything. I’m never going to do that.”

As her popularity grew, Unique doubled down on the theme of domestic bliss. “Today, my only goal was to please my husband,” she says in a video featuring pulled-pork sandwiches. “It was a very special day because he received his PlayStation 5.”

Even though Unique doesn’t reply directly to her followers, the dramatic progression of her videos makes it feel as if she’s having a conversation with us. Even as @CheeseDaily blurs fact and fiction, the warm monotone of Unique’s voice is a poker face. She riles us up as she discusses her husband’s rules and her daily chores; she placates us with shots of perfect birria and breakfast sandwiches that bleed egg yolk. Other creators grow their audiences through wide-eyed, earnest enthusiasm; the appeal of @CheeseDaily is its gentle subversion of followers’ expectations, of algorithmic timelines that favor fleeting trends, and of TikTok in general. Yes, you can watch Unique make a textbook example of TikTok’s viral tortilla creations, but instead of a pop-music soundtrack, she will tell you a story about setting an ex’s car on fire.

Recent videos have begun to suggest marital trouble. In one, the voice-over describes a false eyelash found in the laundry: “I knew it wasn’t mine because I’m not allowed to wear false eyelashes.” So it gets cooked into a grilled cheese. In another, a pair of pink panties she found is chopped up and rolled into a carne asada burrito: “I would never wear panties like this because they are just so tacky. And cheap. I imagine this bitch was itching in them.” The video ends abruptly: “Hopefully, he chokes.”

The panty video has been viewed 28 million times, and the drama has resonated with followers — sample comments: “I AM LOVING THIS NEW PLOT OMG.”; “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!” but Unique doesn’t consider herself a storyteller. (“I’ve never thought about that,” she says.) I ask about the shifting, ever-more-sinister tone of her videos, the chopped-up rubber band, the pink panties. The characters aren’t fictional. Are the stories real? And if they are, are they cathartic?

Unique’s videos have veered into a David Lynchian look at the darker side of marriage.
Photo: Maggie Shannon

Unique smiles. “Everything I talk about I’ve been through at some point in my life,” she says. “Yeah. I’ve had it tough at times, you know? But I don’t think I have it tough anymore. Like, I’m good.”

She talks about her toughest time in a YouTube video posted three and a half years ago called “My Baby Died Inside Me One Day Before Her Due Date.” In it, Unique sits on a park bench. It’s overcast and breezy. She lifts her blue pendant to the camera’s frame; her late daughter’s ashes are inside. “I get to carry her everywhere with me,” she says, before explaining how her doctor told her and her husband that the baby had no heartbeat. She describes how she got rushed to the hospital in an ambulance without sirens. Once there, she says, “They took me to a room where people are giving birth. Babies are crying all around you. Women are screaming from giving birth. And here I am, taking five different ultrasounds, with a baby who has no heartbeat in me. I think that was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.”

The hospital cleared the room for Unique and her husband. She pushed three times: “I held her. My husband held her. We stayed with her until her little lips dried.”

Unique made the video, she says, to connect with and help families experiencing the same kind of loss. “You’re going to smile again, and it’s going to be real,” she says. “Because when you’re in it, you don’t feel like that. You feel like you’re going to — you don’t want to live anymore, just because it hurts so much.”

She returns to the earlier question of catharsis. She doesn’t see the TikTok videos as that, exactly. The pain she went through makes her impervious to other pain. Forget the rubber bands, the eyelashes, the chopped-up underwear. “After I lost my baby,” she says, “I just see things differently now. Things that used to affect me before don’t affect me anymore. Does that make sense?”

Over Zoom, Unique has agreed to show me how she makes a sandwich, and her kitchen counter is arrayed with the fixings. She takes out two slices of wheat bread with oats baked onto the crust. “I always go with bread that’s fancy on top,” she explains. She applies a fine layer of mayo to each one.

A great sandwich, you see, is about layering. After the mayo, you layer on the cheese. You fold each slice of meat over itself, deli-style; laying it flat takes away from the volume and texture of the sandwich. Unique then lays down a blanket of pepperoni. “I don’t want a bite of just pepperoni, so I take my time with that,” she explains. Next, she adds the briny elements: olives and peperoncini go on one side, followed by pickles.

Careful layering is key. Maggie Shannon.

Careful layering is key. Maggie Shannon.

“I don’t have a specific brand,” she says. “I get what’s on sale. That’s how I shop. Whatever’s on sale, we can make it work.” She adds tomato, bell-pepper rings, and spinach. She shakes a bottle of submarine dressing and applies it artfully to the halves of her sandwich. “This will take your sandwich to a whole other level,” she advises.

She adds Mom Cave spices in the flavor Queen’s Dressing, which feels fitting. Little jars from the brand feature prominently in many of her videos, so much so that at first I thought the entire account might be some kind of social-marketing gimmick. Unique assures me that’s not the case; she just likes the product.

When she says this, she sounds as she always does — unremittingly earnest. I think that’s what has kept me so fascinated. Even when the drama is opaque, she is transparent. Her videos aren’t a pitch for a Netflix show or a brand trying to adopt the language of the internet to sell frozen food. They are by a woman working through real emotions and misgivings, then turning those feelings into something messy and new and fascinating.

With Finn slinked around her ankle — “He thinks I’m his mom” — Unique cuts the sandwich in half, and I want to reach across the laptop screen and take a bite. Instead, I wonder if she’s going to give it to her husband. If she does, I’m sure, for once, that she doesn’t actually hope this motherfucker chokes on it.

Unique’s YouTube account is a more earnest social diary with a focus on popular Mini Brands toys.
Photo: Maggie Shannon



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Answers To Questions About Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 Vaccine : Shots


A medical worker at South Shore University Hospital gets ready to administer the newly available Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Bay Shore, N.Y., Wednesday. Clinical research found it to be 85% effective in preventing severe disease four weeks after vaccination, and it has demonstrated promising indications of protection against a couple of concerning variants of the coronavirus.

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A medical worker at South Shore University Hospital gets ready to administer the newly available Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Bay Shore, N.Y., Wednesday. Clinical research found it to be 85% effective in preventing severe disease four weeks after vaccination, and it has demonstrated promising indications of protection against a couple of concerning variants of the coronavirus.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

This week, health care providers began administering the first doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. — the third vaccine authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to help stop the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s welcome news in a country that still faces high levels of circulating virus in most regions, and a demand for vaccine that still far outstrips supply.

The J&J vaccine has some significant advantages, health officials say. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, it can be stored for up to three months at regular refrigerator temperatures, so it’s easier to distribute to more places. And you’re fully vaccinated after just one dose — a welcome convenience for many recipients who dread the two-shot regimen of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor at George Washington University, says that’s a big plus for the J&J vaccine.

“If there are individuals who may not like needles, who may have concerns about returning for a second shot, who may not want the inconvenience of scheduling a second appointment, or who may be concerned that there isn’t enough supply of the vaccine at the moment for a second shot — for those individuals, that convenience of being done [after one dose], fully vaccinated, is really important,” Wen says.

Still, the J&J vaccine is a little different from the others. Here’s what you need to know.

How does the Johnson & Johnson vaccine work?

The J&J shot is based on a different technology than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Those use mRNA, or messenger RNA, to deliver bits of genetic code to cells. This code serves as a sort of instruction sheet — telling cells how to make a harmless piece of the spike protein that sticks out of the surface of the coronavirus. The immune system then learns to recognize the spike protein and fight it.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by contrast, is what’s known as a viral vector vaccine — the same technology that’s been proven safe and effective in creating an Ebola vaccine and others currently in the works. Basically, Johnson & Johnson started with an adenovirus, which causes the common cold, and inactivated it so it can’t make anybody sick. They then used this harmless cold virus to deliver the genetic blueprint of the protein spike to cells, so the immune system will learn to recognize that spike when it runs into the coronavirus.

To be clear, the J&J vaccine “can’t give you the cold virus, and it definitely cannot give you COVID,” says Dr. Cassandra Pierre, an infectious disease specialist and acting hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center.

Who should get the J&J vaccine?

The vaccine is authorized for people age 18 and older.

How long does it take for protection to kick in?

With all three vaccines, immunity builds over a few weeks after immunization. Data from Johnson & Johnson show that most vaccinated trial participants had a robust immune response 15 days after getting the shot, with significant protection reached by day 29.

Will I be as well protected against getting super sick with COVID-19 if I get the J&J shot as if I get a two-dose version from Pfizer or Moderna?

“When we look at the thing we probably care about most — making sure that we don’t end up in the ICU or dying — the efficacy of the three vaccines is virtually identical,” says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

The perception that some vaccines may be better than others has to do with the topline numbers from efficacy studies. The mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna were both found to be about 95% effective against preventing symptomatic COVID-19 after the second dose. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, by contrast, was found to be 66% protective against moderate and severe disease overall worldwide, and 72% protective against such cases in the U.S.

But you can’t really compare those numbers head to head, says Pierre, because “these were different trials in different places at different times,” and the strains of the coronavirus running around were likely somewhat different. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was tested more recently, including in South Africa and Brazil, at a time when more contagious variants of the coronavirus were widely circulating in those countries. The Moderna and Pfizer clinical studies, meanwhile, were started earlier, before such variants had become widespread.

Given those differences, Bibbins-Domingo says “the number you should probably compare is 85%” — that’s how effective the J & J vaccine was found to be at preventing severe disease four weeks after immunization.

Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, agrees that the J&J vaccine seems to be “terrific” at saving lives. He tells NPR he’s advising his family members to take whichever vaccine comes their way first.

Which vaccine offers the best protection against the worrisome coronavirus variants?

We can’t compare the vaccines head to head on this question, Pierre says, because the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines haven’t been subjected to rigorous clinical trials in places where these variants are widespread. But we can say that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine performs well against the variants first detected in Brazil and South Africa, because it was tested in both countries at a time when the variants were already rampant there. And in both countries, the J&J vaccine was still shown to be highly effective against severe disease, according to an analysis posted by the FDA.

“What we see is that we still have good efficacy with this vaccine regardless — even in these areas where the variants were highly prevalent,” Pierre says. “And I think that’s really a fire-tested way to say that this particular vaccine is unequivocally good.” She notes that preliminary data also suggest the J&J vaccine might offer protection against asymptomatic infection.

Why shouldn’t I just hold out for the vaccine with the highest efficacy rate?

Get whichever vaccine you can as soon as you’re eligible, Pierre, Jha and other infectious disease experts urge. The longer you go unvaccinated, the longer you’re at risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection that potentially could kill you.

“I view it as a race against time,” Pierre says, based on the data and her own experience with her mom. Pierre scrambled to schedule an immunization appointment for her mother as soon as the older woman became eligible. But before she could get immunized, she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Pierre’s mom recovered from that infection, but more than 500,000 other Americans have not been so fortunate.

Any particular safety or efficacy concerns that people with underlying conditions should worry about with the J&J vaccine?

The CDC says any of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. can be given to people with underlying medical conditions, as long as they don’t have contraindications, such as a history of severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine or any of its components.

Medical specialists who care for people with diabetes, cancer, coronary artery disease or other conditions that put them at increased risk of severe disease if they get COVID-19 are encouraging their patients to get vaccinated.

The guidance for anyone pregnant or breastfeeding is more nuanced: The CDC and groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say all three vaccines should be made available to those who are pregnant, but they leave the choice about whether to get vaccinated up to each individual. That’s because pregnant people were excluded from the initial clinical trials for all three vaccines, so there’s no firm direct evidence yet on how the vaccine will perform in this group.

That said, taking into account work with other vaccines and animal data, the CDC says that “based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to the pregnant person or fetus.” Meanwhile, getting COVID-19 can pose a significant risk: Research from the past year has shown that those who are pregnant are at higher risk of a severe case of the disease if they get infected.

Pfizer has recently started a large trial of its vaccine among those who are pregnant, and J & J says it also has plans for such a trial, so more direct evidence about efficacy in that group is on the way.

Though it’s not yet known whether the COVID-19 vaccines will be as effective among patients who are immunocompromised as they are in other people, the vaccines are safe for that group, and “it is recommended that people who are immunocompromised can get this vaccine,” says Dr. Kathleen Mullane of the University of Chicago School of Medicine. She’s an expert in the treatment of infections in immunocompromised patients — such as organ transplant recipients — and served as an investigator in clinical trials for both the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

Mullane advises that no matter which COVID-19 vaccine an immunocompromised patient signs up for, they should talk to their doctor ahead of time. There’s a chance their doctor may adjust the patient’s usual medication or treatment schedule ahead of the shot in order to boost the vaccine’s effectiveness. Your own medical team knows your situation best, and is your best guide in this case, Mullane says.

What kind of side effects should I expect with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

Just as with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the most common side effects are pain and redness at the site of injection, chills, headaches, nausea, body aches, fatigue and fever for a day or two. But many people who get these vaccines don’t experience any side effects. If you do feel achy or feverish after the shot, it’s fine to take a painkiller like Tylenol or ibuprofen, but don’t take it beforehand — that might blunt the immune response, Pierre says.

Side effects tend to be more common in young people because they have more robust immune systems, so it’s just a sign that the vaccine is doing its job, Bibbins-Domingo notes. If you don’t experience side effects, don’t worry either, she says — there are plenty of vaccines “where the most you might feel is a little bit sore at the injection site.”

As with any of the COVID-19 vaccines, there is a remote chance that you could experience a severe allergic reaction, according to the FDA; this would most likely occur within a few minutes to an hour after getting the shot. That’s why vaccinators ask people to stick around for 15 or 30 minutes after getting the shot so they can be monitored and treated if that extremely rare event happens.

But all the experts NPR spoke with say the bottom line is that all three vaccines the FDA has authorized for used against COVID-19 are safe and highly effective. “I would choose any of the three,” Pierre says, “because I know that they will work and they will protect me and they will protect my family.”

As Wen says, “We also want to put an end to this pandemic as soon as we can. And that means getting some level of immunity into as many people as possible and as quickly as possible.”

NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin contributed reporting to this story.



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Central Texas Farmers Share the Impact of the Texas Winter Storm


The historic freeze, electrical-grid failure, and loss of water in Central Texas had devastating effects for farmers. While some people may think of the winter storm as a threat that has passed, farmers are still dealing with its effects — one farm was out of power for two weeks. From dead plants to frozen livestock to busted irrigation systems, local farmers suffered significant losses and are hastily trying to revitalize damaged crops.

Still, Central Texas farmers are resilient and optimistic. While losses were significant, many farmers expect to have enough time to replant to make up for their losses. Eater asked six Central Texas farmers to share how the freeze affected their farms, in their words.

The farmers also shared additional ways to help their businesses. Pre-purchasing boxes of vegetables from community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs provides essential cash flow to the farms to help them rebuild.


Dead cauliflower at Johnson’s Backyard Garden
Scott David Gordan

Ada Broussard, CSA and marketing manager, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Garfield, Texas

“We lost a large majority of our crops in the field. All the greens (collards, kale, chard, herbs, lettuces), as well as brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, mustards, kohlrabi, romanesco) are looking especially dead. Our carrots, which were insulated by the soil, might come out okay. Our onion crop may recover. We were about a week behind planting half of our potatoes — had we been ‘on schedule,’ we would probably have had 100 percent loss.

“We are grateful that all of the transplants we had in our greenhouse survived. Our employees moved thousands of transplants from our greenhouse into our warehouse and office in the days before the storm. We triple-covered the rest of the transplants that wouldn’t fit in the office/warehouses, and everything looks perfect.

“Our farm has been hit by several tornadoes and floods and droves of very hungry hogs that have inflicted some serious crop damage, but this is certainly the most pervasive crop damage we’ve ever experienced. In addition to crop loss, there was some damage done to our irrigation systems. Despite all this, we are feeling very determined and resilient to figure it out and plant on. We are no stranger to the variability inherent in vegetable farming, and over our 17-year history operating a farm, we have become well-versed at how to adapt, pivot, and get creative. Things could have been worse, and we are very grateful that all of our employees and farm family are healthy and able to help us with the recovery.

“We will be able to replant. We will have to get creative in these coming weeks on ways to keep all of our 80 full-time employees busy. The vegetables that usually drive the labor at the farm (picking, washing, packing, delivering) won’t be available in the usual quantities we need to provide all these jobs, but we are committed to keeping everyone employed. Before the storm, we were also able to harvest a lot of our ‘root’ or ‘storage’ crops like daikon radishes, turnips, carrots, and bulk beets. Luckily, we did not lose power at our barn where these were tucked away in the cooler (they would have frozen otherwise), so we’re hoping that these bulk crops will keep things going, to some degree.

“I have been blown away at the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from the community. So many of our CSA members are calling to check on us, sending us letters and cards, and upgrading their subscriptions. Several CSA members have also simply offered to buy our crew lunch. The community has been overwhelmingly helpful, and also eager to help more.”

Johnson’s Backyard Garden is selling transplants of its vegetables at the farm every Saturday through April (or until transplants run out). It also offers a CSA, CSA gift certificates, and farmers market bucks to spend at a participating farmers market.


Becky Hume, owner and operator, VRDNT Farm, Bastrop, Texas

“The storm wiped out all my mature crops. Some very young crops will bounce back, but I am left with a steep revenue drop for a month or two. Honestly, I have barely slowed down to process everything. During the storm, I was hustling to keep what I could alive. Now, I’m just slamming plants and seeds in the ground as fast as I can.

“My business is only a year and a half old, so I haven’t experienced anything like this before. That being said, I’ve been working in agriculture in Central Texas since 2015 and I’ve never seen such an extreme weather impact so far. Since I am only a year and a half in, I don’t have much of a safety net in place. A total revenue loss or one to two months of revenue loss was not something I was planning for.

“I am already replanting. Thankfully, it is early in the season so I still have a shot to make up for some lost ground.”

VRDNT Farms is preselling CSA boxes for when vegetables are ready this spring.


Cloth covered hoops crushed by snow

The collapsed hoop house at Urban Roots
Urban Roots [Official]

Montana Stovall, farm manager at Urban Roots, Austin, Texas

“As far as crops go, we are still assessing that damage. We lost all of our kale, collards, rosemary, and the lemongrass was hit hard. The leafy parts of the alliums are dead, but some of the bulbs are still viable underneath. The wind blew back the frost blanket in some areas, exposing our salad mix, but luckily a good portion of that stayed protected.

“We feel incredibly grateful for a committed crew of volunteers. Just as the cold was about to set in, volunteers installed frost blankets, moved flats of transplants into the temperature-controlled cooler, and helped winterize the irrigation system. Still, we ended up with some structural damage to our hoop house, which completely collapsed under the weight of the ice.

“The farm has experienced some losses on par with or worse than this one in years past. For example, the farm has flooded not once but twice in a year, which meant damage from the rain and from the pests that inevitably show up in warm, wet conditions. Any loss is tough, but we are grateful knowing it could have been worse.

“Right now, we’re just sticking with our crop plan. We have cleared out any loss and will pick back up on planting. We had a good supply of seeds, so we’ve already seeded more flats that will be planted soon.”

Urban Roots is always looking for volunteers, and accepts donations (including through Amplify Austin on March 4-5).


Kale covered in snow

Frozen kale at Steelbow Farms
Steelbow Farms [Official]

Rows of wilted green kale

Wilted kale crops at Steelbow Farms
Steelbow Farms [Official]

Finegan Ferreboeuf & Jason Gold, farmers and owners at Steelbow Farms, Austin, Texas

“Going into the storm, we were expecting a total crop loss in the field. After the snow melted and the ice thawed, we were pleasantly surprised that a lot of our crops pulled through. That said, there was a substantial amount of crop loss — around 30 percent — and we had to suspend sales and pause the weekly veggie box subscription.

“We are young farmers, and have only been running our own business for four years, but we have never experienced a loss this substantial. In order to make up for lost income, we are feverishly planting and we are planning on upping production for the spring and summer. The good thing about growing food in Central Texas is that we have a large window for most crop production. The good thing about farming is there is always another season, another chance.”

Steelbow Farms offers a vegetable box program, which will be back up and running again in early or mid-March.


Dorsey Barger, co-owner, Hausbar Farms, Austin, Texas

“It will be a long time before we recover emotionally from the challenges and trauma of 77 hours without electricity and the desperate need to keep over 200 animals alive. We thought that the whole garden would be a pile of mush. But amid the brown and mushy and frost-bitten dead, there are pockets of vibrant life.

“While we don’t have a vast variety of herbs and vegetables, we do have enough to stay in business.

“I’m not sure why our farm was spared to such an extent. Is it because we don’t till the ground, don’t spew gas from motorized equipment, don’t use any pest control at any time in our garden, feed with our own compost tea? I don’t know, honestly. But I feel like the love we give our earth came back to us in a miraculous way.”

Hausbar runs a farm-to-neighbor store program where people can purchase produce and eggs directly from the farm.


Katherine Tanner, co-owner, Hat and Heart Farm, Fredericksburg, Texas

“We’re feeling hopeful and exhausted. We lost roughly 80 percent of our field crops and roughly 25 percent of our greenhouse crop. Our alliums (onions and garlic) took a hit, but will make a comeback with irrigation.

“As I write this we are on day 13 without power. Without power, we have no water. We finally secured a small generator for our well pump that serves the livestock and greenhouse. A large generator arrived from North Dakota last night that’s powerful enough to run the big well pump in the field. Our county was hard hit and crews from all over the state are helping to restore power here. There are many downed poles and lines yet to fix.

“Before the generators, we hauled water in tanks and buckets from town to the farm (on icy, snowy, tree limb blocked roads), and manually hauled water for the animals. During the freezing temperatures, we broke ice on tanks multiple times a day and ultimately resorted to melting snow with propane burners — and then finally gave the hens snow when propane became scarce. We only lost four birds out of 700 and did not lose a single goat. Our tractor’s hydraulics froze, so we moved bales of hay by sliding them across the ice with a chain.

“We were supposed to have about 90 newborn goats and 500 week-old chicks on the farm last week. But the billie goat got out of his pen many months ago, moving our kidding time up two months earlier than planned. Because of that one loose gate, all of our kids were older and stronger during the winter storms. We also delayed ordering chicks. We would’ve had 500 week-old chicks in a house with no heat lamps and frozen water. In those conditions it might have been a total loss of life. But it wasn’t, because things didn’t go as planned.

“As we look to put the pieces back together, we decided to accelerate our egg production and order more chicks ASAP to start making back our losses — only to learn the USPS has placed a shipping embargo on all live animals through the mail for the last two weeks. Many of our hatcheries have been in a state of turmoil. So many people throughout the state and throughout the country are going through their own version of chaos. Purely Poultry in Wisconsin moved mountains for us and we getting us chicks in two weeks (instead of two to three months).

“Our family has been farming near Fredericksburg for 166 years, and has seen many historic weather events over the generations. Since we have been farming full time as Hat & Heart Farm, this has been our first and hardest setback due to natural events. What makes this more significant is how many small and large farmers all across the region have been affected by this storm. A hail storm is usually localized, pests are typically focused in a specific area, and we learn how to work within drought conditions around here, but this storm was widespread and we were not prepared for it.

“We absolutely will replant. We are starting seeds by hand-watering from a portable water tank to replace the loss. We’ve already started reseeding beets, more carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, three kinds of turnips, along with quick-turnaround things like radishes and microgreens. We plan to grow more after this than we ever have before to ultimately make up for the losses. We expect to start getting back to ‘normal’ around the beginning of May. The hardest part is making sure we can keep all of our employees on through the next two months of replanting and farming. This is when we need them most but when we have very little cash flow to support that effort.”

Hat and Heart Farm recommends donating to Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Farmer’s Relief Fund, or donating directly on its website. The farm is also looking for a camper or travel trailer to move into during the replant/rebuild.


Fields covered in snow with a dog looking over them

Boggy Creek Farm’s fields covered in snow
Boggy Creek Farm [Official]

Carol Ann Sayle and Tracy Gibson Geyer, stewards of Boggy Creek Farm, Austin, Texas

“We are actually feeling pretty grateful at this point despite the fact that power was out for 80 hours and then water, as pipes started to break. Our team did an amazing job of covering what we could. We didn’t have enough row cover, so we prioritized and covered a variety of crops.

“Some things fared remarkably well, like our napa cabbage, baby kales, and other brassicas. The spinach, leeks, onions, cilantro, carrots, and beets look like they will be okay. Things in our hoop houses like lettuces and flowers did well too. The hens all survived and we only lost only about 25 percent of our seedlings. We are planting new starts into the field and hoop houses already. In two weeks, we will begin to plant out seedlings of eggplant and tomatoes and peppers.

“This is a hit, but we will climb out of it. We did not lose a crumb of our soil and the failed crops, like the five to six beds of various pea varieties on the brink of harvest, will be tucked under the tarps as cover crops to nourish the soil. After all, we are a regenerative, no-till farm. Farmers know to expect these random losses and must always do what they can to minimize them and be ready to hit the ground running; that’s what we plan to do.

Long line of people with a dog observing

Line at Boggy Creek Farms
Boggy Creek Farm [Official]

“In 2011, we lost virtually everything to the heat and drought. Okra and eggplant shriveled up and died, but we replanted and had a successful fall crop.

“Tracy was stuck at home in South Austin worrying about her mom, Carol Ann, the crops, the greenhouse babies, the old pipes, and my sweet hens. Tracy was comforted knowing that our greenhouse had a propane heater and that Carol Ann was carrying out boiling water to the hens’ water troughs multiple times a day. During the brunt of the weather crisis, our field manager, Monica, walked 45 minutes to and from the farm a few times a day to check on the greenhouse propane tanks, pipes, chickens, and Carol Ann, keeping her stocked with firewood.

“On Saturday, 63 of 120 transactions were new customers. I love this photo [seen to the right] of Buddy the dog and the atypical long line to the farmstand on Saturday morning. It gives an idea of how essential local farms and markets are when the ‘sh#t hits the fan’ and large food systems are unable to serve the community.”

Boggy Creek Farm offers gift certificates and sells produce on-site on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

4008 River Rd, Cedar Creek, TX

3210 Govalle Ave, Austin, TX 78702





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Coronavirus testing is down because people want vaccines, don’t want to quarantine



“It’s crazy how fast and far the drop in testing has been,” said Clemens Hong, a physician leading the county’s testing efforts. “It’s worrisome.”

The average number of tests being conducted every day in America has plummeted by 33.6 percent since January, according to the Covid Tracking Project. That statistic that has many experts deeply concerned because it comes just as America’s recent decrease in infections and deaths is stalling at a worrisome high level. Testing is a key tool to stopping coronavirus transmission. Without it, the virus has the potential to spread unchecked.

Some of those declines can be attributed to the overall improvement of the pandemic in the United States. With decreased cases and less transmission, fewer people have been experiencing symptoms. But there are other factors at play as the U.S. pandemic now drags on for a year: Getting tested is time-consuming. Some people also do not want to quarantine or miss work because of a pending or positive test, according to testing coordinators and experts.

Only a small fraction of the U.S. population — about 54 million people — has been vaccinated. Until more people receive their shots, testing remains one of the country’s main tools for stopping the chain of transmission.

At the same time, more transmissible variants of the virus are spreading and officials are repealing restrictions, making a spring resurgence of the virus possible.

“We have to remain vigilant,” Hong said. “We’ve seen what happens when we don’t and we really can’t drop our guard now.”

The country’s rolling daily average of tests conducted peaked on Jan. 15 at approximately 2,270,000 tests. Since then it has dipped as low as 1,290,000 on Feb. 21, probably affected by the winter storms. By Wednesday, the average had increased slightly to 1,510,000.

The storms that caused many to lose power and water in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana have also disrupted testing in many of those states, potentially contributing to the drop.

“Some of that is weather and power outages. It’s been so horrible, we’ve had many days where our outdoor testing sites were canceled,” said Richard Pescatore, chief physician for Delaware’s Division of Public Health. “But a lot of it is sheer fatigue. People think that because we have vaccines now, testing isn’t important. But that’s not true. We’re not in the end zone yet. We can’t be celebrating prematurely.”

Pescatore said he is growing increasingly worried about the coming months as students return to schools and colleges and people are tempted to gather with the warmer weather.

Testing coordinators in multiple states said they are seeing a growing reluctance among people to get tested. Many worry that the emergence and recent emphasis on how vaccines will eventually end the pandemic have caused people to forget the danger still present.

In Michigan, the number of tests conducted fell to about half the level in November. Several test providers in South Carolina began limiting the hours they offer testing. Prisma Health, a South Carolina nonprofit organization, recently said on Twitter that it would no longer operate community testing sites.

Delaware saw demand for testing soar during Thanksgiving and Christmas, with many people hoping for a negative result before visiting family, Pescatore said. Testing fell 30 percent in January and has fallen yet another 30 percent since, he said.

Some health departments — already underfunded and overworked — are struggling to maintain testing sites even as they try to scale up vaccinations. The Northwest Georgia Health District recently announced it was closing its test sites and would no longer offer free testing.

Despite the drastic drop in demand in Los Angeles County, officials there are adding more testing sites in the face of decreasing demand.

“We have to make it more convenient to get tested, so people can get tested as they go grocery shopping, walk to the park or take the subway,” said Hong, who is leading the effort.

With the pandemic beginning to shift more toward endgame scenarios, Hong and others said, officials have to change their strategy to remain effective.

“We were in a raging wildfire this winter, where you throw everything you have against it,” he said. “As we shift into this next phase of suppressing smaller pocket fires, it can get harder to make progress.”



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How to Make Michael Twitty’s Country Captain Recipe


Like The Cooking Gene before it, the newest book from historian Michael Twitty provides lessons on African-American culinary history in the South, and excitingly, its insights into the region’s food culture come through a laser focus on one ingredient: rice.

Rice: a Savor the South cookbook is the latest in UNC Press’s series of deep dives on single subjects essential to Southern cooking. “For many of us southerners, no other ingredient tastes this much like home,” Twitty writes in the book’s introduction. But rice is also global, and “bonds the Lower South with much of the rest of the planet, for whom a meal without rice is, frankly, not a meal at all.”

After tracing rice’s journey to the South through Asia and Africa, Twitty lays out 51 recipes for rice dishes from the South and around the world. In the “Deep Origins” section of the book, you’ll find recipes for African rice dishes like jollof, Liberian rice bread, and thiebou niebe, while the “Diverse Approaches” chapter features the Cuban rice and beans dish Moros y Cristianos, Sephardic pink rice, and a recipe for “unforgettable rice” from Mexican chef Pati Jinich, among others. Throughout the book, Twitty calls on chef friends like Jinich, as well as culinary experts; legends, including Edna Lewis and Princess Pamela; and family members for a collection that demonstrates that of all the Southern grains, rice, as Twitty puts it, is “without question the most versatile.”

From the “Southern Classics” section of the book, here is a recipe for country captain, a Southern curried chicken and rice dish. This version comes from Twitty’s “Alabama grandmother,” Hazel.

Country Captain à la Hazel

This is my Alabama grandmother’s recipe for country captain, a Southern curry-flavored rice dish popular in the Carolina Low Country and other parts of the Lower South. You can also taste the influence of West Africa, India, and Great Britain in the rural South all at once.

Makes 6–8 servings

Ingredients:

8 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken (thighs, legs, drumsticks, breasts cut in half)

For the chicken rub:
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kitchen Pepper (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the country captain:
3 cups basmati rice, washed and drained
1/4 cup canola oil or bacon fat
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped 1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
2 teaspoons Kitchen Pepper (see subrecipe below)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, with juice
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
4 cups no-salt-added vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
1 cup vegetable or canola oil, or 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil mixed with 1/2 cup bacon fat
1 cup all-purpose flour

For garnish (optional):
Carrot shavings
Chopped fresh parsley
Chopped tomatoes
Raisins
Sliced green onion
Slivered almonds
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions:

Step 1: Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and place it in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and seasonings and rub them all over the chicken, coating it well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours, or preferably overnight.

Step 2: When you’re ready to begin cooking, place the rice in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid and add enough water to cover the rice by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, covered, until the rice is fluffy and the liquid has evaporated, about 20-25 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and then replace the lid to keep it warm. Set aside.

Step 3: While the rice is cooking, in a large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onion has softened and become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, kitchen pepper, and salt, then add the crushed tomatoes with juice and the tomato paste. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add the stock and bring it to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Step 4: While the sauce cooks, prepare the seasoned chicken for frying. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. The oil is hot enough when it can brown a cube of bread. Place the flour in a shallow bowl, dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, shake off the excess, and place the piece of chicken on a plate. Working in batches to avoid over- crowding the pan, shallow-fry the chicken for about 4–5 minutes per side, until the chicken is golden brown on both sides. As you finish each piece of chicken, place it on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Step 5: Add the fried chicken to the pot of simmering sauce and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn the heat down to low. Cover and simmer for about 35 minutes to allow the chicken to finish cooking and the liquid to thicken into a stew. Turn off the heat and let the chicken rest for about 10-15 minutes. Serve with the rice and any or all of the suggested garnishes.


Kitchen Pepper

Kitchen pepper is an old-school spice mixture that was very popular in early American cooking, especially in the coastal South. While it takes its main cues from quatre épices, a spice mix of pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and ground ginger common in French cooking, it also helped to preserve both medieval and Silk Road flavors in southern foodways, as well as the flavors of West Africa, where indigenous and Middle Eastern spices had long influenced the cuisine. This is my take on this classic. It has the complexity of garam masala without quite the punch and heat.

Makes about 1⁄2 cup

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground mace
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months.

From RICE: a SAVOR THE SOUTH® cookbook by Michael W. Twitty. Copyright © 2021 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.org



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Her Eyelid Drooped and She Kept Getting Weaker. What Was Going On?


Three weeks later when she went back to see her doctor, the patient still hadn’t gotten the test. And now she had a new problem: Her mouth felt weak. Talking was hard; her voice was different. By the end of even a short conversation, her words were reduced to whispers. She couldn’t smile, and she couldn’t swallow. Sometimes when she was drinking water, it would come out of her nose rather than go down her throat. It was strange. And scary.

Chen wasn’t there, so she saw a colleague, Dr. Abhirami Janani Raveendran, who was also a trainee. Raveendran had never seen M.G. either but knew that it could affect the muscles of the mouth and throat. She urged the patient to get the blood test, and she sent Keung a note updating him about the patient’s disturbing new symptoms and the possible diagnosis.

When Keung saw the message, he was alarmed. He agreed that these symptoms made myasthenia gravis a likely diagnosis. And a dangerous one: Patients with M.G. can lose strength in the muscles of the throat and the diaphragm and become too fatigued to take a breath. He called the patient. Her voice, he noticed, was nasal and thin — signs of muscle weakness. She said she wasn’t having any trouble breathing, but Keung knew that could change. That’s why he told her to go to the hospital right away. He scared her. He meant to.

After the patient got Keung’s urgent call, her daughter drove her to the emergency department at Yale New Haven Hospital, and she was admitted to the step-down unit. This is the section for patients who are not quite sick enough to need the I.C.U. but might get to that point before long. Every few hours a technician came in to measure the strength of her breathing. If it got too low, she would have to go to the I.C.U. and maybe end up on a breathing machine.

Keung wasn’t certain that the patient had myasthenia. Her eyelid was always droopy, her vision always double. With M.G., he would expect those symptoms to worsen after using the muscle and improve after resting. And M.G. usually affected the muscles closest to the body. He would expect her shoulders to be weak, not her hands. Despite his uncertainty, he decided to start the treatment for M.G. He didn’t want to risk having her become even weaker. She was given high-dose steroids and intravenous immunoglobulins to suppress the parts of the immune system attacking the connection between her nerves and her muscles.

The next day Keung performed a test that would show whether the patient had M.G. In the repetitive-nerve-stimulation test, a tiny electrode is placed over the muscle, in this case the abductor digiti minimi, the muscle that moves the pinkie finger. A series of small (and uncomfortable) shocks is delivered in rapid sequence, each causing the muscle to contract. In someone with normal nerves and muscles, each identical shock will produce an identical muscle contraction. In this patient, though, the first shocks produced weak contractions and then they became even weaker. That drop-off is characteristic of M.G. The blood test that Chen had been urging her to get was done in the hospital. It was positive. She had myasthenia gravis.



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