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Saturday, April 05, 2003

metabolic syndrome

this is the new name for a combination of being overweight, having high blood pressure, eating a poor diet, not exercising -- all the things that have been proven to eventually lead to heart disease and/or diabetes. many americans -- sometimes even children and teens -- appear to have it.

so i was interested to read that one of the several lifestyle changes those with this syndrome could make as part of the plan to prevent serious illness is a vigorous yoga practice. apparently endocrinologist reza yavari of yale incorporates it in his intensive program to combat this growing problem.

posted by fortune | 7:03 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Friday, April 04, 2003


long-time readers know that i keep writing about the world price depression known as the "coffee crisis." naturally in situations like this, development organzations, both governmental and non, step in to offer assistance and write endless reports.

the united states developmental organization, usaid, has been fairly active in attempting to help coffee-producing countries, esp. in latin america. they have ponied up some funding, but are mostly focused on marketing and trade assistance it seems.

today we have an interesting speech on the subject from a usaid official. what's of note about this, to my mind, is the nice explanation of how the coffee crisis began and what the big picture is now. . .snooze alert: you have to skim through about 12 graphs of blah-blah-blah before you get to the pertinent coffee info. . .

i know the coffee trade organization i now belong to, the scaa, has been active with usaid in its efforts.

ok, enough of that -- how about coffee news we can really use? a nice coffee overview with good instructions on how to brew properly. this is the number one fault i find with most coffee: it's either too strong or too weak.

and usually, it's also been allowed to boil into tar from sitting too long on a hotplate. . .so read this and repeat after me: two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water.

posted by fortune | 7:40 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Thursday, April 03, 2003

it gets better. . .

now that our favorite chocolate-fiend yogi, spacemonk, and his wife have managed to block the kiddies and hoard the nutella for themselves, i guess it's time to break the news -- good as nutella is, it does get better.

of course true fanatics will insist i first mention the major european competitors before running to the high end, such as the dutch white-and-dark chocolate hazelnut swirl made by duo penotti (or here) or the belgian nirvana.

perhaps the best-known premium chocolate brand offering decadent spreads is neuhaus. but there's also the lesser known mulhaupt and beussent lachelle.

for those who prefer a partially organic spread with a variety of nut butters, there's cocoa dream or the organic cocoa anke kruse.

and of course, for those with limited access to all these brands, you can always make your own version, which is simplicity itself. use other nuts besides hazelnuts, if you prefer.

naturally i encourage you to use the highest quality chocolate you can get your hands on. however, do note that at a certain point you may run into spreadability issues -- the advantages of using good chocolate chips, callets, or feves, is that when cool they will be easier to spread than purer chocolate products.

but hey, go for it: experiment! you could always microwave the stuff to warm it slightly or plop it on hot toast. the truly decadent naturally will pair it with home-made marshmallow creme (or here).

don't blame me when the family comes to tense times over these treats. . .

posted by fortune | 4:35 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

maybe i'm amazed

long-time readers may recall that i occasionally gripe about the number of guys i still run into who find yoga "sissy."

but maybe this is just a new york phenom: i mean, when yoga teachers in amarillo, tx. say that 25% of their classes are now men, the yoga world has changed. . .

on another note, i'm tickled pink to have introduced our pal spacemonk to nutella. he bought a jar and reports that his wife -- an intelligent person who instantly understood what only 1 jar of nutella for 2 people really means -- threatened him with a spoon when he attempted to encroach upon this scarce resource.

thus monk learns a universal fact: women can be driven to turn on even their loved ones for chocolate. . .

posted by fortune | 4:13 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

can't remember the last time i saw one. . .

struck while reading this article comparing a challah loaf made by hand and another made by bread machine: bread machines were hot items a few years ago, i can't say that i've seen one in a long while. i think they've all become boat anchors. . .

handmade artisan bread is the order of the day, even in places we don't normally associate as big bread locations, like taipei, where handmade, authentic german bread is slowly making converts outside of german ex-pat circles. . .

and while we're on this topic, mr. right is saved -- the pizza flour has finally arrived.

posted by fortune | 4:19 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Monday, March 31, 2003

cafe au lait & nutella

and a big round of applause for the head of the i.c.o., nestor osorio. he's realized that to solve the world price depression known as the coffee crisis, we have to stimulate demand as well as work on means to lower supply through regulation of quality standards and farmer support.

the fact is, people just don't drink coffee like they used to: consumption has been on the decline for decades. people tired of the low quality coffee they found in restaurants and in the canned supermarket brands sought alternatives, which were readily found in heavily marketed soft drinks and green tea.

starbucks and their chain competitors, for all their faults, have helped bring a new generation to coffee, and for that we coffee lovers should be grateful. however, we have to move to the next step: showing people that there is better coffee than starbucks. a lot better.

but taking a hint from soda marketers -- many of which have vending machines in schools -- osorio has an interesting plan: serve french-style cafe au lait to older schoolchildren. "why not introduce coffee in school lunches so that children as young as 12 can have cafe au lait?" he sensibly brainstorms.

oh yeah: cafe au lait and nutella. this should definitely be served in public schools. it would seriously improve life there, i have no doubt. . .esp. if you let the teens choose between regular and new orleans style. . .mmm, with beignets!

posted by fortune | 3:05 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Sunday, March 30, 2003

pizza crisis day two

the flour did not arrive. and thus we here at bccy faced a profound crisis: mr. right wanted his pizza!

instead, i offered a dish from the beloved kuhn rikon pressure cooker, a little southwestern thing i call carne apodaca, after a house i used to love on apodaca hill in santa fe. serve with sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole, and whole-wheat flour tortillas.

if you plan to make this, you can soak the dry beans and posole (a.k.a. hominy) overnight -- but i understand most people are too busy on the weekends to really plan. hey, use canned, i won't judge you! so ok, you don't have to make your own tortillas, either!

2 lbs. pork butt, cubed
1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked or 1 can pinto beans (i like to use organic beans, personally)
1 cup dried posole, soaked or 1 can posole (i can't find organic posole anywhere)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
15 oz. can organic tomatoes
3 medium organic zucchini
3 ears fresh corn, shaved or 1 pkg. frozen organic corn
1 large green pepper, diced
2 cups water or stock
3 - 6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed, to taste
2 teaspoons - 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin, preferably freshly toasted in a skillet and then ground yourself
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon mexican oregano (worth seeking out, big difference, esp. with the posole)
1 - 2 teaspoons dried sage
2 large bay leaves
1 teaspoon -1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon -1 tablespoon new mexican mild chimayo chile powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

in the kuhn rikon, saute the onions in the oil about 5-6 mins. until golden. saute the pork until no pink shows, about 3 mins. add the chili, 1/2 the cumin, the bay leaves, the bell pepper, the stock or water, and the dried beans and hominy, if using.

cook at high pressure 10 mins. let the pressure come down naturally for 5-10 mins. remove the lid, replace the pot on the stove. check to make sure the beans are done; the posole should be soft, but have a little chew at the center. if they're not done, simmer until the beans are right.

add all the remaining ingredients -- if you're using canned beans and posole, add them now -- except for the corn, if you're using frozen, and the fresh cilantro. simmer for about 6 mins. until the zucchini is just still a little crisp, then add the frozen corn. you want the corn and zucchini to be a little crisp for a contrast of texture. stir half the cilantro into the dish just before serving, and taste to see if you want more salt, more cumin, more chile, etc. sprinkle the rest of the cilantro over the top just before serving as a garnish.

all done. yummy! the pork is tender enough to cut with a spoon. . .

posted by fortune | 7:12 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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