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The asterisk-shaped spice star anise is the seed of an evergreen tree, grown mainly in China and Vietnam.Its sweet smell makes it a standout spice in Asian braised meat and vegetable dishes, and it’s a signature component of the better-known Chinese “five-spice” mixture.Indian cooks work star anise into some garam masala formulas, and it’s also sometimes used in mi…

Polly Van Doren of WKBW-TV started as news director at Channel 7 about two months ago. She brings 31 years of experience to the ABC affiliate.As news director, Van Doren will set the tone of coverage at Channel 7, deciding what news to cover and how it will be presented. Van Doren comes to Buffalo determined to raise Eyewitness News from the ratings bottom.She has shown he…

John Kennedy Kane is living his dream as ringmaster for the Big Apple Circus. It’s a role he prepared for as a child, when he would stage circus acts in the basement of his South Buffalo home. In fact, his childhood memories form the basis for a one-man show he wrote and performs. It’s called “Life in the Basement.”A 1979 graduate of Bishop Timon High School, Kane …

John Updike’s death from lung cancer in January 2009 hit Julian Barnes in a way that seems to me well-nigh universal: “I thought we had him for another 10 years.” And too, there was in Barnes “a feeling of disappointment that Stockholm had never given him the nod.”We find Barnes’ emblematic rue in his Updike essay in “Through the Window: Seventeen Essays and …

My mother had some homey expressions. If she went to the home of a woman wealthier than her (which was most women), she would say, “She has nice things.” When there was a wedding shower for a younger women, she would say, “She’s setting up housekeeping.” Conversely, an older woman moving out of her home was “breaking up housekeeping.”My mother broke up housek…

At our house Thanksgiving is the first day that the dining room table has been set – I mean really set – in months.As I have been coached through the years, this is something I always do the day or night before any holiday to save time for cooking, baking and unexpected kitchen calamities the next day. The pumpkin pies may flop but the table is set.This year I was remi…

A Christmas tree evokes memories, whether joyful, bittersweet, wistful or nostalgic for people and times gone by. Christians (and many other people) usually have a tree as the centerpiece that represents the season. The tradition as we know it has ancient roots, but first came to America from Germany, with many variations also imported from England, Sweden and other countr…

Most teenagers have hobbies outside of school, but 16-year-old Joshua Fraass is one of the few who has managed to turn his passion into profit.Joshua, a junior at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, has been interested in art and design since he was young, and over the past few years has started to make home and décor items to sell at local craft shows. He is currently p…

As the middle of five siblings, Shandra Spicer grew up watching her mother cook for their family of seven.Besides things like bacon and eggs for the kids, Sandra Roberson took care of the black bass, perch and catfish her husband Willie Roberson Sr. brought home from fishing excursions. “Dad would bring it home and she would fillet it and fry it up for us,” said Spicer…

Parsnips are a quintessential cold weather vegetable. They look like carrots but are white and somewhat sweeter, characteristically starchy with a hint of citrus.Like many of the tastiest foodstuffs, parsnips were once a staple among the poor in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. When the potato came from the New World and disseminated throughout the Continent, parsnips fell o…

The only time the small, reddish, mixed-breed dog named Teddy wears a leash these days is to go for walks with his new owner, Ann Murphy of North Tonawanda. That’s a big change for Teddy, who spent the first 21 months of his life tethered by a cable to a ramshackle box outside a house in rural Ohio. “It took a village to save this one little dog from Harrison County, O…

By Dr. Howard LeWine / Harvard Health Letters

and

Harvard Health Letters

Mon, Nov 19, 2012

Red meat isn’t just a type of food – it’s a deep-rooted part of our culture. Many of us were raised at a time when no dinner was complete without a hearty portion of meat and potatoes. Every July 4th, we fill our grills with hot dogs and hamburgers, and from November through New Year’s, meat is often the centerpiece of holiday meals.Though we may love the taste of …

If you’re serving cocktails at your holiday party or gathering, and one of your guests gets into an accident driving drunk, you could be held responsible.There are easy ways to limit your risk and create a safer environment for your friends and family. The Insurance Information Institute, an insurance group, has these tips:• Check how much coverage your homeowners poli…

Are you ready for Black Friday?While the traditional start to the holiday shopping season is pushing into Thanksgiving this year, with stores like Sears, Walmart and Target launching their door-buster specials on Thursday, savvy shoppers can snag deals even sooner. And with the inevitable crunch of shoppers crowding store aisles and limited supplies of some of the sweetest…