IS COGNITIVE DECLINE INEVITABLE?

My mind goes often to this non planet

If I knew where my mind was, I’d be able to find it. 
My mind goes to Pluto at the drop of a hat. 
What did I come into this room to get?
And where did I park my car?

As we age, we lose brain cells. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. My mother claimed we kids were responsible for the early grey in her hair and its white was the result of the loss of brain cells, which she attributed to our wild ways driving her crazy. Neurons in the brain do die every day, but the brain grows new ones into a person’s seventies. 

Previous research suggests cognitive decline doesn’t begin before the age of 60, but this view isn’t universally accepted by scientists, much less the common public. We all have met people who’ve quit growing intellectually in their 30’s, while some have flexible minds and continue to learn new ideas and adjust their previously held thoughts when new information is presented. Some people’s capacity for memory, reasoning and comprehension skills (cognitive function) can start to deteriorate from age 45. 

Happy Birthday—Don’t return the favor.

This is why 40 was once considered “over the hill,” but folks today think of 50 as that apex. When my brother decorated my desk with dead plants and black balloons for my 40th birthday, I’m sure he meant it with tongue in cheek. However he might have been also alluding to my well known “space ranger” wandering mind. I don’t think I had cognitive decline; rather mine was more imaginative daydreaming, also known as “not paying attention.”

When I was 60, I watched a program on dementia and cognitive decline. The difference between forgetfulness and cognitive decline is the first happens occasionally and the latter affects your daily living negatively. On my recent vacation I forgot to bring toothpaste. I bought a tube at the grocery store. Cognitive decline is when you forget how to brush your teeth, you get cavities, and don’t make dentist appointments anymore. Then you lose the teeth and get dentures. Most likely someone also has to remind you to use the bubble cleaner on them and rinse them before they go in your mouth again. 
Since understanding cognitive aging will be one of the challenges of this century, especially as life expectancy continues to rise, we have to ask, what can we do to for our whole health? 

As easy as popping a pill sounds, a large recent review of studies found no solid evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements have any effect in preventing cognitive decline or dementia. The whole internet is full of health claims for this and that supplement, drink, bar, or detox tonic. While B vitamins; beta carotene; vitamins C, D or E; zinc, copper or selenium may be needed in your diet for other reasons, none of these have proved effective in preventing cognitive decline. 

How can you prevent cognitive decline? Try this combination strategy:
Four steps can improve your mental skills, even as you age—
1. following a healthy diet, 
2. getting regular exercise, 
3. socializing, and 
4. challenging your brain.

The results of the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER), which is the latest and most impressive study, goes a step further by suggesting that if you follow all four practices, you may even reverse lost mental capacity. The FINGER study indicated those who did so not only kept cognitive skills from declining, it also improved their reasoning skills and speed in performing mental tasks.

The volunteers were randomly assigned to two groups. One set of participants—the study group—received personal nutritional counseling, exercise instruction from physical therapists, and cognitive training. They also underwent seven medical exams during the study period. They frequently met in groups for cooking classes, cognitive training, or exercise instruction. The other participants—the control group—had three medical exams, during which they received general health advice. Both groups were given mental function tests again at the end of the study.

Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and author of The Harvard Guide to Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease, says “Healthy lifestyle behaviors can benefit people of all ages. But to have the greatest impact on late-life mental function, get started early.” 

The FINGER study’s results should offer additional encouragement to pursue a healthy, active, engaged lifestyle with regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and challenging mental activities because these can help preserve your mental acuity. Moreover, the FINGER study reminds us it not only helps to combine these practices, but it also helps to enjoy them as we do them. 

This wasn’t a quick fix, either. The FINGER program lasted for two years and the participants stuck with it because they were enjoying themselves. They also had become friends with others in their training groups. Although the experiment was demanding, only 12% of participants dropped out. Plus, these folks worked at their exercise—attendance was over 85% at training sessions, which included three to five exercise sessions a week, as well as 10 to 12 sessions of nutrition counseling and 144 cognitive training sessions over two years.

If you’re having trouble making healthy changes, a cooking or exercise class may help you get started and open a new circle of friends. Volunteering as a tutor, joining a community choir, or working on a political campaign can offer new intellectual challenges and social engagement. The key to making lifestyle changes is in finding a way to enjoy making them—and that is often among a group of companions who are striving for the same goal. 

Fresh vegetables and Chicken breast in Olive oil

We all make a choice in our lives. If we want good health, but don’t want to give up our television programs, we either need to pick an exercise time outside of our favorite TV shows, or hit a gym with screens. For instance, I still eat fried chicken, but only on my vacation. I eat uncured bacon on Saturdays rather than every day, and pancakes once a month. I haven’t given up my favorite foods, but I’ve put a limit on the most unhealthy ones out of respect for my body. This gives me some room for when I feel the need to self medicate with two scoops of ice cream, as when my computer died last month and I had to replace it. Making a big decision is definitely an ice cream moment for me, but I don’t need it every day anymore. 

One of my goals at Cornie’s Kitchen is to learn new skills and information to benefit the majority of persons in our world today: half of Americans and 30% of the world’s population are obese or overweight, and the cardiovascular diseases associated with obesity are increasing worldwide also. Since our children are also impacted by this health risk, we have to change our way of looking at food, exercise, time, stress, life, work, and our means of balancing the competing and complex needs in our world. 

If I can’t wave a magic wand over you, say a magic spell, or cast a potion of power over you, then at least I can help you burn through a few brain cells. They’ll grow back. Grey hair is a sign of power and wisdom.  

Joy and Peace, 

Cornie 

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Spicy Sweet Nut and Seed Mix

Cold and grey weather in December makes me want to bake in the kitchen. I must have my mother’s DNA for sure, since some of my fondest memories are of her up to her elbows into a giant mixing bowl as she stirred together the various candied fruits and nuts for the fruit cake cookies and loaves she produced in mass quantities every Christmas.

This recipe also had a significant amount of cheap whiskey in it, so when I was preaching in small towns in Arkansas, I usually let one of the ladies of the church know of my need. “Don’t you worry,” they’d tell me, “we’ll make sure this gets covered.”

A few days later I’d be invited over to this kind lady’s home for lunch. She’d have a Christmas gift for me. Inside the colorful bag would be a small flagon, double wrapped in a brown paper bag. “You don’t have to tell anyone where you got it. That’s a secret, just between you and me.”

I’d nod and smile. Christmas has always been time for secrets. My parents would hide presents up in the attic until we got big enough to pull the rope for the hidden stairs. Then they hid the gifts in the trunk of my daddy’s black Pontiac. I never knew why we weren’t able to find the keys. When we were truly old, my folks managed to keep the Christmas secrets by gift wrapping the presents at the store before we came home from school.

One of the mysteries of Christmas I discovered along the way was Santa could write as elegantly as my daddy, but I never told anyone else. After all, I had two younger siblings and I wouldn’t want to spoil his visits for them! This recipe makes a Spicy Sweet Nut and Seed Mix for snacks. You can vary it infinitely and even use it as a base for a Chocolate Bark recipe. It’s great for a share party.

Fresh out of the oven!

Ingredients

4 cups unsalted, roasted whole nuts (almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts)

1 cup seeds (I used pumpkin, quinoa, and sunflower)

1/4 cup agave

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 Tbs brandy

227 grams chocolate chips (1 cup)

1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)

1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

Red pepper flakes from three chili peppers

Step 1

Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the nuts and seeds.

Step 2

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine agave, butter, red-pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon salt. Microwave until the butter has melted, about 30-40 seconds. (Alternatively, you can melt the mixture in a small saucepan on the stove.)

Step 3

Pour the butter mix over the nuts and seeds, and stir until well coated. Dump onto the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. You want the nut mix spread out as much as possible.

Step 4

Bake, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are tacky and look and smell toasted, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle over the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and all of the turbinado or dark brown sugar. Let cool on the baking sheet, then transfer to a bowl and serve (or transfer to an airtight container, where they’ll keep for up to 4 days).

Nutrition information for 1 serving (24 total servings)

Kroger Star Trek Fantasy

I remember the first time I used a computer. Yes, I belong to the predigital age, an era when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people lived in caves. Maybe it wasn’t that long ago in the hoary past, but I do still own a black body Nikon camera with 35 mm film. I take seriously my antique credentials and flaunt them. You’d be surprised how many folks today have never seen a “real camera,” since they only have one on their phone.

Changing the film on the steps of the Acropolis in Athens, I happened to draw a crowd. You’d think they would be more interested in a building from 2,500 years ago than in a tool from 50 years ago, but technology moves so quickly today, many had never seen a film camera. The tourists saw two archaic sights in one site that day.

My first experience with a computer was as a teacher when I had to input the class grades. Finding the ON button was my first challenge, but after twenty minutes, I discovered it hidden on the back. “If they want us to use it, why not make it easy to turn on?” Perhaps only those with secret gnostic wisdom are allowed access to this strange machine, but we didn’t have the internet of things yet. Openness wasn’t a theme.

Once inside, my 1982 brain could easily make the data entry to fill in the blanks of student names and grades. This was just typing in another format. I took typing in high school because I would need it in college and in business later on.

Over the years, I’ve learned the computer skills for word processing, spreadsheets, blogs, page making, newsletters, bookkeeping, and photoshop. If I needed a new skill, I went out and acquired it. Most of the time, I downloaded the program and began working in it. I learned as I went. Taking a class was too slow or not available. The online tutorial was good enough for me.

I happen to be an early adopter of media because I have confidence in my learning abilities. Since I was a teacher, I teach myself. I figure I can’t mess it up. And if I do, it’s not the end of the world. Besides, I practice frequent “saving.” This means I’m always able to revert to a prior good version of my work. (What? You don’t do this? Maybe you should! You can learn something from us old dinosaurs.)

My local Kroger now has the new Scan Bag Go system. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and came back for a second go round. I found it easier this time, perhaps because I’d had some practice. Also, my store had been rearranged on my first visit, so I had to travel every aisle to find my usual items.

On my second visit I cut 30 minutes off my original time. I usually take an hour to 90 minutes because I chat with folks. I’m not a task focused shopper as some are. I tend to socialize and offer help to people I meet. It’s part of who I am, and anytime I can help add to the well-being of our community, I’m glad to do it.

The little ray gun is fun to zap the bar codes of the foods I put into my grocery cart. I have my Star Trek fantasy as I put my phaser on stun and immobilize the vegetables before I take them over to the weigh scale. When I shoot the bar code, the scanner tells me to put the broccoli on the scale, it determines the weight and price, asks if I want to pay this amount for it, and I click YES. Then I weigh the next fruit or vegetable the same way. I engage the engines of my starship and take off for another part of the galaxy or my local Kroger.

I have friends who will not ever use this system, since they think real people will lose jobs. The checkout clerks I talked to think they can be used for higher and better purposes, such as pulling groceries for people’s click list orders, helping people in store, stocking, and customer service. My friends who won’t use it are mostly people who don’t like technology or aren’t familiar with technology. They’re also middle aged or older. Younger people see the writing on the wall–they know they need to train for flexibility and change in the world to come.

In the last 40 years computers have changed our lives so much. Once we waited until the newspaper landed on our front porches to hear the news. Now we know in minutes when Twitter blows up with someone’s rant or a school shooting happens. While news can happen instantly, we cannot process it immediately. Our lives cannot heal from the trauma of the pain to which we’re exposed daily.

As we age, one of our tasks is keeping our brains limber by learning new skills. Neuroplasticity is the scientific term used to describe the process of maintaining, repairing, and creating new neural connections in the brain. Keeping to the same old path is a recipe for losing our minds, or dementia. If we want to live with a positive attitude, with our minds intact, adopting new technology as it comes down the pike is one way to train our brains for keeping a healthy outlook on life, even if we cling to our old fashioned cameras.

Christmas Baking for Emotional Eaters

I’m in Christmas cooking mode for the holidays in Cornie’s Kitchen for the month of December. Some of my favorite people who stop by for a visit might be drawn by some wonderful and enticing smells emanating from the door of my cozy condo home.

My mother was always baking at Christmas time, as was her mother before her. I never was in my great grandmother’s home at Christmas, or I was too young to recall her traditions. I do know she had an old cast iron wood fired stove. She must have had some skills to keep an even temperature for baking her homemade breads and cookies.

One of my earliest childhood memories at Christmas time is my mother in her bathrobe racing out of the little wood frame home in which we lived before my youngest brother was born. She was holding the foil wrapped fruitcakes in her hands and shouting for my daddy, who was backing up the brand new shining brown Pontiac as he was headed off to work.

Over the years, the fruit cake became cookies with candied fruits and brandy, for they knew more people to “gift” at Christmas time. Everyone needs a little something to know you care about them, now and then.

A homemade treat is the best, for you can expend your energies and anxieties in the working of the ingredients. As you smell and touch the different items which go into the treat, the part of your need to consume is already being sated by these sensations.

As you mix by hand—and I’m old school, I don’t use a blender or processor—you use up calories. If we are PWO (persons with obesity) we need to use all the energy we can. Also, doing this by hand gives us an immediate and direct connection with the food we’re making. We’ll feel the textures, the densities, and the thickness or thinness of our product. We’ll have a “feel for it.”

Could you make this quicker if you used electric tools? Yes. Would you lose the meditative opportunity to become “one with the food?” Also yes. I also think you’d be tempted to eat much more of the food if made more quickly, for slow food sates the emotional needs we have which cause us to overeat beyond what is necessary. As we wait for the the appropriate smell to waft from the oven, or the timer to go off to let us know the candy has chilled in the icebox, we can clean up the kitchen or have a little time to put our feet up with a cup of our kitchen’s best. Or maybe both. We shouldn’t work too hard after all.

When the goodies are ready, we divide them up, but there’s alway a few irregular ones, a little too imperfect to gift away. These will eat just as good, even if they don’t look so good. For quality control reasons, at Cornie’s Kitchen, I eat the broken ones, always remembering portion control. After cooking and cleaning, I find I don’t need all that many. If we know the effort our food takes, this might be the best argument for portion control yet.

Let’s cook more often, and take out less. We could practice “Life by Fork” instead of “Death by Fork.”

Love, Cornie

PUT THE FROZEN TURKEY IN THE ICEBOX NOW

Today is Sunday. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Yep, we’re on a marathon dash toward the great family feast. The matriarch of the family always hosts this grand dinner where I come from. When I was a child, we ate at two groaning tables, since both Mom and Dad had parents living in town. Later on, The dinner duties passed to our home as the older generation went to their eternal home.

I can remember Mother often underestimated the size of the turkey, or she was chasing us kids around in a vain attempt to organize our school, sport, hobby, and social lives. It never happened, since we all had too many activities and interests for all our ducks to ever get in a row. Adding a turkey to the row was most likely a lost cause. Most Wednesday mornings would find her flooding the still crystallized turkey with cold water in a freshly cleaned sink.

This water bath would go on until we went to school. I never knew what she did with it while I was away from home. I guess that belongs to the secret wisdom now lost to the Mysteries of the Past. I do know when I was a young wife, I used to call her every November to ask, “How do you cook the turkey in the paper sack again?”

Every year she would reply, “You ninny, I never cook the turkey in a paper bag! That’s toxic!” I’m certain I have the memory of her rubbing the bird down with oil, wrestling it into a giant grocery sack, and tying the opening with string. “You don’t? Well, how do I cook it again?” Yes, I did own a cookbook, but I’d rather talk to my Mother. Having the turkey cooked the traditional way, as my family always has cooked it, was important, especially if we weren’t together.

Today, as our generations are more separated, as takeout and convenience foods become more common, and as industrial and processed foods are more predominant in family food plans, many people may choose to eat out for Thanksgiving. For those who don’t have an older or more experienced cook in the family to call for help, be glad for those of us who have a calling to pass on this “secret, gnostic knowledge, known only to a few.”

If your frozen turkey is the average 15 pound bird, it should go into the refrigerator today. I used an online calculator to determine how long to defrost safely in the ice box. It takes 3 days and 18 hours.

Don’t defrost on the kitchen counter due to salmonella poisoning danger, since the outside will be warmer than the frozen interior. Likewise, trying to rush it under water won’t work, since the inside won’t get completely defrosted. Then it won’t fully cook, or the outer bird will get over cooked and dry.

The cross stitch above is perfect for Thanksgiving week. If you go to Facebook and look for my Cornie’s Kitchen Page, I have a Post for a list of things to do for Thanksgiving. After the rush is over, you can have your nervous breakdown, if you think you still deserve it. Or you might be so organized, you sail through it. My advice is to do half of what you think is important. Most people think the people and the togetherness make the best memories, not the baking, the cleaning, the polishing, or the froo-frooing. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and save room for pie!

Love, Cornie

Go Big or Go Home

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I meet the best people. 

I always meet the most interesting people in my local Kroger, especially on senior discount day. My younger friends say, “Never go on senior day–there’s too many old people! You’ll never get out of there and they drive down the center of the aisles.”

I just laugh. I live in a tourist and retirement community, so I’m used to folks with strange driving habits. No one here knows where they’re going, or they might be under the influence, since they’re away to play. Driving defensively is always a good choice in our neck of the woods. Besides, some of these older people are lonely, have difficulty making decisions, or just need human interaction. I consider my grocery day an opportunity to raise the general good mood of my community. After all, we have enough people across the globe who rattle sabers and stir up the dystopian pots boiling on the back of our communal cook stoves to make us want to shoo those cooks out of our collective kitchens as soon as possible, but I digress.

I was out getting some new grub, since I’d been laid up with bronchitis. I was feeling better due to antibiotics and rest. I kept bumping to this wonderfully dressed older gentleman as we passed each other up and down the canned food, coffee, and snack aisles. Finally I had to get his photo and find out more about him. Of course, in the great southern tit for tat, I shared my story too. He’s a grandfather from New York down to visit the children and grands. I like his style, for sure, and he’s used to posing for artists in his colorful fashion. I noticed him right away, since he didn’t dress like anyone from around here.

When we try to eat better as a way to improve our health, to lose weight, to lower our blood sugar or blood pressure, or just to put some discipline into our otherwise chaotic lives, we have to ask, “What does eating better look like?” We know it doesn’t like what has been “usual and customary for our neighborhood,” so we have to look for something “out of the ordinary.”

Food companies make health claims all day long some of which sound good, but are just blather. A bread marked 100% WHEAT isn’t the same as 100% WHOLE WHEAT. Also a 100% GRAIN BREAD may not have many WHOLE GRAINS in it! It just has many different ground up or milled grains in the recipe. To be a whole grain, the entire kernel has to be included. For instance, white rice is what results when the brown outer covering of the grain gets removed. This is why brown rice has more fiber and fills you up longer. You also get a larger portion size to eat. I personally go for larger portion sizes! Always go big or go home! It’s a RULE!

Another health claim is fiber. Yes we all want more fiber, because regular people are happy people. This is why I can shop on senior day and laugh. One way to get your fiber is with whole grains. The other way is with cellulose or sawdust. Yes, the FDA does let a certain amount of finely pulverized and sterilized sawdust into certain foods to keep them from caking and clumping (Parmesan cheese) and to add fiber. If you shop on a slow poke day, you have time to go with the flow and you can read the ingredients. If you’re in a hurry, use the “square inches of coverage” test: fewer words means fewer ingredients and less processing usually. Many words covering a vast space means you should leave this item on the shelf. If you can’t read the print within a magnifying glass, step away from the box! Run!

I found two 100% whole wheat tortilla brands, but one had cellulose in it. The one I took home was Mission 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas because I always ate that brand when I lived in Texas. It began in Mexico and has been around since 1949. It’s authentic. We don’t mess with a good thing in Texas, and we like our Pace piquante sauce too, because it’s still Texas made, according to a 1947 recipe.

Of course, at Cornie’s Kitchen, I go for the HOT sauce. If you’re going to have a taco or a tortilla, you should always “GO BIG OR GO HOME!” Plus, a little goes a long way and really clears out your sinuses. This is also a really good wake up greeting on scrambled eggs in the morning or on chicken/beef tacos at night

Even this heritage brand had “cellulose gum” in it, since it prevents caking and clumping, binds water, improves texture, thickens, emulsifies, and is used as a filler. Grated cheese, breads, diet foods, frozen dinners, sauces, salad dressings often include cellulose.

Cellulose is a safe and inexpensive carbohydrate that comprises the woody parts and cell walls of plants. It is a type of dietary fiber found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and cereals. The cellulose added to processed foods usu­ally comes from wood pulp (saw dust) or cotton lint. It’s also a cheap way to boost the fiber content on food labels, but it isn’t as healthful as fiber that comes from natural foods, such as chicory.

Whole Wheat Tortilla Recipe:

This is delicious, healthy and an easy alternative to store bought tortillas. While they keep well in a zipper bag, in the refrigerator, making them in small batches fresh for a quick breakfast or lunch wrap is very easy.

Number of Servings: 6 large or 12 small

Ingredients:

1.5 Cups whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. shortening

1/2 Cup warm water

1/4 Tsp. salt

1 Tsp. Baking powder

Directions:

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening either with a pastry blender, a fork, or knife, or crumble by hand. Add water slowly, to form a non-sticky dough. Amount of water needed may vary due to humidity, etc so start slowly. Dough should be able to be handled without sticking to the hands. Knead just enough to combine and form a smooth dough. Break off 12 equal size portions and roll into balls. Cover and let rest at least 10 minutes.

After dough has rested, roll out into circles, approximately 8 inches. Dough should be fairly thin. You can make less tortillas and make them larger if you like. Heat griddle or cast iron pan to medium high heat. Put tortilla into pan and allow to cook until light brown specks appear. Flip tortilla and cook the other side the same way. It’s ok if bubbles appear, as these will go down when the tortilla cools. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

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Chicken Mushroom Tortillas

Carbohydrates             Protein                    Fat

Mission tortillas 2–         28 g                           6 g                  4 g

Chicken–4 oz                                                  26 g                 3 g

Mushrooms–1 cup            3 g                         2 g

Spinach 1 1/2 oz–              1.5g                        1 g

Cheddar cheese 1 oz–                                      7 g                 9.4 g

Sour cream 1 Tbs–                                         .5 g                  2.5 g

This was a very satisfying lunch because of the whole grains, protein, fiber, and the addition of some fat. I try to keep my carbohydrates at around 30 to 40 grams per meal. I just feel better, even if I don’t lose much weight quickly. I eat the whole food, not the low fat versions, since these usually are more salty and over processed than the originals. I figure it’s better to have less of something great, than more of something terrible (this opposite is the corollary of go big or go home!).

Next time you go shopping for the family groceries, check out the interesting characters in your local store. They might be the stocker, the greeter, or someone just visiting in town. You never know what bridge you might build, or whose day you might make.

For a discussion on the difference between whole wheat and whole grain, this is a good link:

http://time.com/4639314/the-case-against-whole-wheat-and-whole-grain-bread/

The Chemical dictionary: cellulose

https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/chemical-cuisine#hsh

Monday Coffee: Florida

Most folks in the workplace function better with their caffeine of choice. In Cornie’s Kitchen, the caffeinated beverage of the morning is a blend of caffeine and decaf coffee. I prefer to ease into awareness, rather than take a rocket ship ride to full alertness. Then again, I like to wake up early enough to give myself this extra time.

When I was young with a child at home, mornings were much more hectic. My caffeine was full strength and I had a big to go cup also ready for our dash out the door. We usually ate a toast or bagel in the car.

What happens to people’s need for their daily dose of caffeine and community when a hurricane hits town? If people have been hunkered down at home or in shelters, they’ll be itching to get out to see what’s left of their town, to support one another, and start the cleanup process.

That is a job for coffee, my friends!

To gauge Hurricane Irma’s impact on Miami, some won’t be watching just the weather; they’ll be tracking Cuban coffee consumption.

Cuban-style espresso, or cafecito, is a staple of daily life in Miami. Former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate says how fast Cuban coffee stands reopen may indicate how the city is faring.

Fugate led Florida’s emergency management division during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. At that time, he used the Waffle House restaurant chain as a gauge of the storm’s impact.

Waffle House is known for being open all the time. Thus, a closed restaurant was a very bad sign. There are no Waffle Houses in Miami, so Fugate suggested Cuban coffee as an alternative.

He says if Cuban coffee stands are closed, “it is bad.”

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/09/10/how-to-gauge-irmas-effect-on-miami-check-cuban-coffee-stands.html