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July 5, 2012

Radishes are fascinating vegetables


Daily Star

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Recently, I was reading an article about radishes and was amazed at just how much there is to know about the number of varieties and the history behind them.

Who would have thought? Did you know there are only 19 calories in a cup of sliced radishes, but could you really eat a whole cup of them? Did you also know you can saute them or put them in soups and casseroles? It has never occurred to me to eat them other than raw. We all know of our beloved radish with the red skin and white interior. There's also the Daikon radish which has been available in stores for some time. It's very long and white, and is from Asia, a cross between a carrot and a turnip. Spanish radishes are white on the inside with black skin. Other radish varieties include those that are pink, white, purple, yellow and gray-black, and the only ones I've ever seen and eaten are the red globe and Daikon.

Historically, radishes were grown in ancient Greece, China and Egypt and their popularity spread to many different cultures. They were so revered in Greece that replicas of them were cast in gold. The Greek word for radish is "raphanus" which means "quickly appearing." That is so true in the spring when radishes are among the first things to sprout. Radishes have been used as a natural treatment to remedy whooping cough, arthritis, constipation, cancer, gastric problems and a host of other medical conditions. The hot flavor you taste when eating radishes comes from compounds in the plant called glucosinolates, the same ones in horseradish and mustard. So, the next time you eat a radish, know that you are tasting something with a long and colorful history. Wouldn't you love to see a real gold radish?

Summer Reading

Homicide detective Will Borders is assigned to find the killer of a Cincinnati police officer in "Powers of Arrest," a novel by Jon Talton. The murder is very similar to two on the nearby college campus, both of whom were students of nurse Cheryl Wilson. Will and Cheryl are friends and they decide to team up to apprehend the murderer. What they don't realize is that they'll uncover danger in the most unlikely spots.

Pastry chef Teeny Templeton witnesses a murder, and if that isn't bad enough, she discovers that her boyfriend, Coop, has been keeping secrets from her. When a 10 year-old girl shows up at her door who might just be Coop's daughter, things really heat up in "A Teeny Bit of Trouble." Author Michael Lee West's novel finds Teeny trying to gather DNA, outsmart a stalker, getting to the bottom of a pack of lies and more. It is full of moments that will have you laughing.

Tai Randolph is feeling the summer heat in Tina Whittle's novel "Darker Than Any Shadow." She is running her uncle's gun shop and trying to develop a relationship with Trey Seaver, a security agent. Her best friend, Rico, is competing in a national poetry contest. When a poet is murdered, Rico is the prime suspect and Tai must go to his defense. Both Rico and Trey want her off the case, but it seems that someone wants her on the case, because clues are being left for her to follow. Is she in danger?

Rushmore McKenzie retired from the St. Paul police force after becoming an unexpected millionaire. When the insurance company that paid his settlement shows up on his door, he is surprised. They want a favor. A very expensive jade has been stolen from the local art museum and the thief is willing to give it back, but only if Rushmore is the go-between. He agrees to help, but it rapidly becomes something much more complicated in the novel "Curse of the Jade Lily" by David Housewright. Several other people and agencies want the jade turned over to then, and it looks like this is going to be a deadly affair when one of the thieves is found murdered in a snow drift.

Sunday is the seventh daughter in a family where each daughter is named after a day of the week. She loves to write stories and it seems that whatever she writes comes true, so she tries to write about only things that have already happened. One day she meets an enchanted frog, and they talk about her stories and become friends. Upon parting one evening, she kisses him goodbye, not realizing her kiss turns him back into a prince in "Enchanted." This modern-day Cinderella tale is for teens and adults alike and is, in a word, enchanting. The author is Althea Kontis.

Library Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.

Marie Bruni is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Thursday. Her columns can be found online at www.thedailystar.com/librarycorner.