Thursday, October 20, 2005
yesterday suddenly in the afternoon i bent over at the office to pick up
a paper, stood up, and realized a large black moon was obscuring the
vision in my left eye.
alas, dear readers, my left retina had detached, and as a result, i am
having emergency "scleral buckle" surgery.
the success rate for this ambulatory affair is 90%, and my doctor is
literally one of the best in world at this. so i should be quite fine,
and my sight will only be slightly diminished.
since those who know me understand that everyone in my family is as
blind as bats anyway, my glasses will only get a tad thicker!
but please send some yogic vibes my way today and tomorrow. i may not be
able to post much if at all until next monday.
until then, be sure to have chocolate for breakfast every day!
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
stan & wilma vs. central america
at first i thought i wouldn't write much about hurricane stan, because initial reports were that while its fury fell on the coffee-producing areas of mexico, guatemala and el salvador, the damage wasn't severe. for example, this article from last friday.
however, while the coffee itself wasn't always harmed, it is now appearing that the infrastructure -- roads, bridges -- in many coffee areas was. the coffee may be fine on the high slopes of atitlan, but how to ship it out?
this is not to deny that in some areas, old coffee plantations appear to have been washed away, and many lives lost. it's a tragedy, no doubt.
as the damage has been slowly assessed, it seems to be a little more than originally thought. certainly one of bccy's oldest greenie friends is still suffering stan-induced headaches.
flooding, and mudslides as a result of that flooding, do seem to be continuing. victims still need much aid.
it's particularly sad in guatemala, which has such a long history of suffering.
and now wilma comes churning by, with strong rains in a 15-mile radius, which could dump more flood water on central america as her edge passes by. how and if this will further affect coffee transport remains to be seen.
i'm thinking along these lines this morning as i very much enjoyed don schoenholt's fair-trade and organic atitlan shb from gillies in the vac pot.
brewed this way, it's a delicious snappy coffee. the dry grounds were nicely floral, and as i raised the the vac pot lid to give the wet grounds a little stir, a nice aroma of dried cherries wafted out.
alas, this didn't make it into the cup, which was predominantly dry toast and basmati rice. but that can be a yummy breakfast coffee.
i think a little raw sugar strengthens the pleasant toasty flavor. . .the body was good for a central in the vac pot.
if you like centrals for breakfast, check this one out! but as you drink it, consider the plight of the people in atitlan. . .we are connected to them by the coffee, our shared passion.
dougie, who visited this area not so long ago, has a beautiful post today on this issue.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
regional yoga culture, part i?
". . . more young chinese men are joining in the activity. 20-something xiao gang, first dragged to the yoga course by his girlfriend, hopes that the self-proclaimed computer-addicted could lose some weight doing yoga.
now, xiao gang has become a real yoga goer himself. he also successfully lost 2.5 kilograms in a 3-month exercise. xiao gang says yoga has changed his lifestyle."
long-time readers are familiar with my "regional coffee culture" series, which shows how the specialty coffee passion has ignited around the globe. after this article, i suppose i can no longer ignore how yoga is going the same route. . .
i also find it another amusing rebuttal to the "yoga doesn't burn fat; you can't lose weight with yoga" crowd. everyone i know reports that in time they have lost some weight doing yoga; and often, only a few pounds lost are all that is needed to prevent the onset of pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, you know?
obesity among all age groups is global health threat nowadays in a majority of countries, as the western sedentary lifestyle spreads worldwide. a challenging yoga practice can help make a difference!
many people find yoga more enjoyable and relaxing than the crowded, screaming gym. and that's the key: to turn people onto physical activities they enjoy in the long-term.
speaking of enjoyable things: don schoenholt's fair-trade and organic guatemalan atitlan (see dougie's blog for the most awesome pix of atitlan and his whole guatemala coffee trip!) from gillies. i'll be talking more about this tomorrow.
and in response to email requests, the recipe for the kuhn rikon fruit compote. i always make a whole bunch and eat it for breakfast for days and days.
it has no added sugar, period, and uses only low-glycemic-type ingredients, so i guess it's low-carb and low-glycemic too:
6 cooking pears (anjou or better, bosc)
6 cooking apples (mix types for best flavor)
20 dried plums, unsweetened and unsulphured (optional)
20 dried apricots, unsweetened and unsulphured (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries, unsweetened and unsulphured (optional)
1 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 cup port, wine, or marsala (optional but flavorful)
1 good quality large cinnamon stick
spice mix of your choice. . .consider, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 20 black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 2 inches chopped fresh ginger, 1 or 2 sliced lemongrass stalks, etc. (i actually used all of the above)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 or 2 teaspoons lemon rind, grated fine (optional - i actually used 1/4 teaspoon fiori di scilia!)
place water, alcohol, cinnamon, and other spices in the bottom of the pressure cooker. peel and slice apples and pears into 1/8th. if you like, you can chunk those in half cross-wise. add dried fruits if using (i think they raise the glycemic thing, tho' so you might want to check that out).
so now all that's in the cooker. put on the lid, and cook at high pressure for 1-3 mins., depending on how ripe the pears are. if the pears drip when you peel them, go for 1-2 mins. if you cook longer some of the pear will dissolve into the sauce, which is actually nice as it gives the dish a thicker body without having to add sugar for a syrup.
quick release the pressure. taste the "syrup" and see if you'd like to adjust the spices -- you might want to add more cardamom, etc. while the sauce is still warm, stir in the lemon rind and vanilla gently.
be careful not to mash up the fruit too much! let sit overnight.
this can be eaten cold for breakfast (try a 1/2 cup) or re-heated to serve with a pork, chicken, veal, or game entree (try 1/4 cup as a garnish).
Monday, October 17, 2005
" 'the best gift you can give me is the promise that you will do yoga every day.' "
a very touching article with more info on bks iyengar's recent nyc visit.
and i think it's the time of year to make more fruit compote in the kuhn-rikon, don't you?
Sunday, October 16, 2005
mme de guermantes et moi
"in the house to which we had moved, the aristocratic lady at the end of the courtyard was a duchesse, elegant and still young. her name was mme de guermantes, and, thanks to françoise, it was not long before I came to know something about her household."
i haven't re-read my proust in a good decade -- i used to re-read it every 3 years -- and thus i can no longer recall exactly where mme de guermantes eats the stuffed agen prunes. i asked a very literate lady in my yoga class if she could remember, and she furrowed her brow: "hmm, i think you are mixing her up with mme. de sevigne. . ."
this could be. however, i myself had to get a little tin of pruneaux d'agen fourres by favols when i saw them. (foodsection loves favols products, as do i!) don't wrinkle your nose, because these things are delightful, not like prunes-as-you-understand-them at all.
alas, i have no armagnac. but they are pretty yummy with the right coffee -- you have to find a coffee that will complement a strong vanilla and fruit component. . .they can also be excellent with cheese.
they are incredibly old-fashioned, i admit, but then, you know i have been known to wear jicky and l'heure bleue as well. . .in another fit of retro-frankishness, i also bought a kilo of goose fat.
hey, they had a good price! and it's so healthy for you, comparatively. . .if you've sworn off butter and sometimes tire of olive oil, consider goose fat, i kid you not.
(in moderation, this is said to be another one of those "french secret weapons". . .)
but you know, the next thing that will happen is i'll be making some kind of stew with chestnuts and complete the entire picture of the ancien regime or something.
thank god i'm making pizza today as usual. and as soon as i'm finished with this post, more huehue in the vac pot.