First the sweet: A pot of bright tomato-red-orange lilies appeared in one of our flower beds yesterday. It seems new, since the tag is still on it, and we plan to plant it. Our across-the-street neighbor denied any knowledge of it. Did someone receive the plant and give it to us because they assumed we'd give it a good home? Someone once told me of a Dutch Jew who had to leave a hiding place (all during the Nazi occupation, but you knew that) and walked through a neighborhood and rang the bell on a stranger's house. The Jew asked the stranger to hide him/her and the stranger did, but asked, Why did you pick my house? The Jewish person said: Because your roses look so well-tended. There is no real moral to this story because some horrible people have beautiful gardens. But still a nice story. *** Then the crunchy; farewell to crunchy, crispy, roasted, well-done, crackly and blackened. I've heard for years about the dangers of charred food. Now here's a new twist, today's Tribune tells us. If you cook high-carbohydrate food at high temperatures, a substance called acrylamide is formed. When rats eat it, they develop tumors and neurological problems. The Swedes have been concerned about this since 2002, when its food administration reported on high levels of acrylamide in high-carb foods, and a link between acrylamide and cancer in lab rats. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment tells us that it's possibly carcinogenic to humans. The bad news is that you can't just eschew french fries and go about your merry way. According to the Office and the FDA, reports the Trib, of 100,000 people who ingested coffee once every three days in their whole lives, one person would develop cancer from acrylamide. Pie, pizza, breads, popcorn and sweet potatoes are also culprits. So are potato chips. In 2005, the state of California sued chip makers Heinz, Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods Inc., and Lance Inc. for not having warning labels on their bags. A year ago, the companies settled out of court by paying $3 million in fines. They also pledged to cut down the amount of acrylamide in the next three years. The Trib advises: Think golden yellow instead of golden brown, pre-sock potatoes in water, don't store them in the fridge, trim bread crusts, toast lightly , and eat fewer processed foods and a balanced diet with lots of grains and fruits and vegetables. As always: be a vegan or vegan-ish, avoid processed foods. At least chocolate wasn't on the list.