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St. Patrick's Day: Irish cookbook recipes come to life in Manhattan 

Darina Allen's rutabaga and bacon soup with parsley oil from her new "Simply Delicious" cookbook. (Kyle Books, $27.99)Who hasn't paged through a cookbook and wished for dishes from its pages to magically appear without her or his own effort?


It happened just ahead of St. Patrick's Day for about three dozen food writers and editors who stepped away from their own test kitchens earlier this week to watch -- and taste -- as three of Ireland's top chefs presented their recipes.    


While Noel McMeel, executive chef of Lough Erne Resort in Northern Ireland, was the only one not promoting a new cookbook, his 2013 volume, “Irish Pantry,” has been recognized by Gourmand International as one of the world's best cookbooks.


Bringing recipes from new cookbooks to life were Darina Allen, co-founder of Ireland's celebrated Ballymaloe Cookery School with its 100-acre organic farm, and Clodagh McKenna, a food-world darling

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Amaryllis grown in water since 2014 prepares for another bloom season

Water-grown amaryllis blooms for fourth year.

Thank goodness for date stamps on photos. I would probably not have a good handle on the bloom cycle of my pet amaryllis, Leafy, without them.

At left is a photo of Leafy taken last year on April 28. While the flower structure wasn't perfect, who could find fault with a bulb that managed to push out TWO large flowers afer having grown so long -- since the winter of 2014 -- in water alone?

Leafy is an amazing bulb that has, surprisingly, managed to send up a new flower stalk this year (see below) after having been able to produce only one leaf after it bloomed last year.

Most of its energy went into recovery and replacing its entire root system after I made the mistake of feeding it a tiny bit of Miracle-Gro fertilizer after the flowers

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Ask Dr. Barb: How to have the marijuana talk with teens 

Dr. Barbara RosenbergDear Dr. Barb: I am concerned about the prospect of legalized marijuana. Throughout my young life, I avoided it because it was considered a “gateway drug” that could lead to stronger drugs. I’m told that marijuana is not addictive, but I know people who seem to need to smoke it every day. I have never tried it, but I have actually had people tell me that marijuana can have health benefits. My concern is that legal weed will encourage younger people to try it and use it as a form of escape instead of dealing with their problems. I know some people use it for physical pain, but my concern is those who will use it to dull the emotional pain that signals a need to get psychological help or make life changes. Am I just a square who is out of touch with recent science? I would appreciate your insights on ways to talk with my children about a substance that was previously illegal now entering the mainstream.

Dear Reader: I definitely understand your concerns about legalization of marijuana for recreational use by adults. Marijuana is now more potent than it was decades ago, and there are high-risk derivatives being made for use with the popular vaping devices.

The chemical changes in today’s marijuana pose serious risks to adolescent development. There is evidence that regular marijuana use during teen years can potentially damage cognitive processing and memory functions, resulting in a lower IQ.

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Water-grown amaryllis ready to bloom a fifth season with challenges

The roots of my amaryllis Leafy after fertilizer shock in a July 30, 2018 photo.There are so many reasons that I have failed to post an update on Leafy until now.


Somewhere, there is a picture of Leafy in bloom last year, but I never posted it because an SUV crashed into my car and totaled it at about the same time.

Anyway, the good news is that the crash didn't kill me, and the fertilizer didn't kill Leafy.

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Happy Valentine's Day: What's happening to the flowers?

Where have all the flowers gone?

All of my loved ones know that the best way to make me happy is to take me with them to pick out my flowers for Valentine's Day or birthdays or whenever.

Since arranging flowers is a hobby of mine, I always want something different to play with. And not everyone knows what flowers would please someone picky like me who is always looking at all sorts of them. I routinely visit florist friends, even when I don't plan to buy, just to talk with them about what's in their cases.

For years, Wegmans stores in many parts of New Jersey were my favorite place to shop for flowers. Wegmans would routinely have unexpected varieties. About 10 years ago, I would buy flowers every week, and I discovered safflowers at Wegmans in Woodbridge. Who knew that a name  associated with salad oil is also related to a gorgeous flower? The flowers and plump buds with soft, thistle-like tops, dried to a paper-bag brown on tall stems. I still have them, and I have not seen any anywhere since.

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