My trip to and from Devine was wonderful. Not a whole lot of traffic either going or coming home, and the only weather was a rain shower part of the way on Tuesday afternoon, when I was a little over half-way into my trip.
Getting to see my bunco friends after a year and a half was wonderful, as was getting to meet a new member. While I was there, I got to see five of my great-grandchildren, including one of them that I hadn’t seen in over two years, because she lives out of state. As usual, it was a “oh my, how you’ve grown” moment! All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I enjoyed myself immensely.
When I first mentioned wanting to do an article on celery to my family, my son told me that if anyone knew something about celery, it was me because I used it in everything and made them eat it. Some members of my family dislike celery intensely; others like it and still others merely tolerate it. I am a person who likes celery, be it in a tossed salad, or one of the spreads we use to make sandwiches, or eating celery sticks with dip. As a child growing up, I liked to take part of a celery rib, put some salt in my hand and munch on the celery dipped in the salt, later, I learned to like it stuffed, usually with shredded cheese mixed with a little mayonnaise and maybe some pimiento added to it for color. It is common to use celery when you are making chicken broth or a beef stock for soup, as well as using it in many other dishes.
In going to Google and typing in ‘celery’ I found there were over 11M sites just under the word celery, with an additional 10 million more in recipes. Needless to say, I just used a couple of sites and still have more information than is needed. Also when I went back to Google to find out where celery is grown there were 82 sites with information on that! My information is from Google: Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, AgMRC (Agriculture Marketing Center), Juicing-for-Health.com, and the Food Reference Website.
Celery belongs to the same family, Umbelliferae, that carrots, fennel, parsley and dill belong to. It grows to a height of 12-16 inches, composed of leaf-topped stalks arranged in a conical shape and joined at a common base. We usually use the stalks and leaves, but the seeds can also be used for seasoning, especially when fresh celery is unavailable. Celery seeds ground with salt making celery salt is used as a seasoning in drinks, on the Chicago-style hot dog and in the Old Bay Seasoning that is used in cooking seafood.
Celery is believed to have been cultivated for medicinal purposes as early as 850 B.C. During ancient times, celery seed was used by Ayurvedic physicians to treat conditions ranging from colds to liver and spleen ailments. In 30AD the use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus.
Celery was considered a holy plant in the classical period of Greece and was worn by winners of the Nemean Games that were conducted every two years, starting in 537. In later Olympic games, bay leaves were used the same way. The Italians domesticated celery as a vegetable as early as the 17th century.
The celery we find in our grocery stores is the Paschal variety, which is the familiar green, other places use a variety that is blanched by mounding dirt around it as it grows so that it is white.
In the United States, celery is grown in California, Florida, Eastern North Carolina, Michigan, Texas and Ohio.
Believe it or not, celery is very good for you, not only does it have very few calories, (in fact, it is commonly said to have negative calories, due to the fact that it takes more calories to chew celery than are calories in it), the leaves are high in vitamin A, and the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C and celery is also rich in potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and lots of essential amino acids.
Celery’s health benefits include the lowering of blood pressure, has at least eight families of anti-cancer compounds, and the phytochemical coumarins in celery help prevent the formation and development of the colon and stomach cancers. Celery juice replaces lost electrolytes and rehydrates the body with minerals lost during workouts, helps to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, helps cool the body during hot weather if two or three glass per day are drank between meals, and the potassium and sodium in it acts as a diuretic helping to regulate body fluid. The polyacetylene in celery helps with the relieve inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, asthma and bronchitis. And, according to this article drinking celery juice every day for a week will significantly help lower blood pressure. It also suggests choosing green celery when possible for its chlorophyll.
Three vegetables, celery, onions and bell peppers are considered the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cooking. Celery, along with onions and carrots are the three vegetables that make up the French mirepoix that is used as a base for sauces and soups.
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 to 3 pounds round steak (I like to use a small chuck roast, that is cut about 1½” thick)
3 or 4 ribs of celery cut into ¼” diagonal slices
1 onion, cut in half and then sliced
1 green bell pepper cut into strips
1 cup water or beef broth
2 cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper as desired
Season meat with salt and pepper. Place oil in heavy skillet and heat; add meat and brown well on both sides. Put meat in crock pot and add vegetables on top of meat. Put 1 cup water or beef broth into skillet used to brown meat, cook and stir until all the bits are loosened from the pan. Pour this over the meat and vegetables and then add the crushed tomatoes to the crock pot. Turn crock pot on high in the morning and it will be ready for supper that night.
1 can Spam
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup pickle relish (dill is best, but can use sweet or the new sweet/dill)
1 tablespoon diced pimientos
2 or 3 finely sliced green onions (if desired)
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
Use a coarse grater and shred the Spam. Add the remaining ingredients, using enough mayonnaise to moisten. This makes great sandwiches, or tastes good with crackers.