Posted in Daily, Food

Basics, Creativity and Flour

“Your bread assumes the shape of the pan you use to bake your flour. Therefore stand still and know that you can’t use a rounded pan and ever get squared bread. Change the pan and change the shape of the bread!” Israelmore Ayivor

One of the items landing a place on the “weekly shopping list” is flour and the like. Whether the principal cereal we take be cassava or wheat, rice, corn or chickpea; flour is the necessity of any home cooking or kitchen experimentation.

While the earliest archaeological evidence for wheat seeds crushed between simple millstones to make flour dates to 6000 BC; other types of flour have been in use in various countries. With the Industrial Revolution, mills as well preservation techniques of flour were drastically modified and improved. As flour began to be enriched and trade and transport options increased; flour trading became prosperous. Throw in the green revolution and flour of all types began to be available in any places.

“I love using rice as a flour; I’ll grind roasted rice and dip fish in that. It gives a beautiful, crunchy texture.” Marcus Samuelsson

Being in the National Flour month (as per most foodimentarians), for those of us with gluten problems can resort to rice flour, chickpea flour as well as banana flour. There are many replacements for wheat in the recipes. More fascinating aspects is that non cereal flours like soybean, arrowroot, quinoa are other options to look into. And flour doesn’t restrict itself to being in the meal or as desserts but can also be a part of the gravy as well. With all varieties being available in most supermarkets and groceries; trying new recipes ( all time favourite of rice flour vadais or besan laddoos) can be fun for family, friends as well as a break from the busy world of work, entertainment and schedules.

Gravy is the simplest, tastiest, most memory-laden dish I know how to make: a little flour, salt and pepper, crispy bits of whatever meat anchored the meal, a couple of cups of water or milk and slow stirring to break up lumps.” Dorothy Allison

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Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Echoes In Us

“A boy and a girl were playing together. The boy had a collection of beautiful marbles. The girl had some candies with her. The boy offered to give the girl all his marbles in exchange for all her candies. The girl agreed. The boy gave all the marbles to the girl, but secretly kept the biggest and the most beautiful marble for himself. The girl gave him all her candies as she had promised. That night, the girl slept peacefully. But the boy couldn’t sleep as he kept wondering if the girl had hidden some more tasty candies from him the way he had hidden his best marble.”

Although this is a childhood tale; at some time in our lives, we would have behaved a little like the boy or the girl. For those of us who remember those moments, the niggling sense of unease fills us all, disturbing our inner peace and quiet. On occasions like these when one looks back, what comes forefront to mind is that, “Was the holding back worth it or would the peace brought by honesty made our day more beautiful instead ?”

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson

As we grow older and mature with age, we realize that there are many things in life that are more worth when shared than kept hidden. There would be occasions that would call for an honest response on one hand, but would cause unrest and distress on the other hand. Dealing with an honest attitude is like stepping into murky waters sometimes. Brute honesty while well appreciated can cause more hurt when delivered in a thoughtless and tactless manner. Being honest isn’t confined to being brute. Instead one can be honest with a heavy dose of kindness laced with gentleness. The endpoint is the clarity of the conscience. There is nothing more disturbing that having a niggling thought intruding the mind, like a pesky buzz near the ear. As we strive to make sure that the conscience is always at ease, life becomes simple, better and sweet.

“A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” Tagalog (Filipino) saying

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Fruitful but Maligned

Somethings Never Change.

Returning from the workplace last evening, felt like a scene back from the high school days; with the immense relief felt when escaping the hurtful environment of words, snide comments and remarks, done on the pretext “good-natured” ribbing.

“Some people won’t be happy until they’ve pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away.” Donna Schoenrock

Fast forwarding from school days to college and university and then on to the work area, these things still keep happening. Ironically while today often grievous insults and behaviours come to front; in a very large scale, bullying is still been done in a very silent manner. As children, initially when related to parents and teachers; most of the time one is told to take things in stride or to deal with it in a quiet manner. Once when things get out of hand, authorities are involved. Though by then, most damage is done. This same cycle, involving the bully, bully-victim and victim continues on through the lives of the involved.

Breaking this trend is never easy. The first start is through education both at home and school grounds, followed by neighbourhood and community. As children, the streak of cruelty and bullying varies depending on temperament, environment and influence; though school is the place where they exercise it very often. Curbing these tends and making them understand the harm caused is important.

“Words have great power that could make or break others…so please be care with them.” Timothy Pina

Recently one teacher decided to share her experience in a similar situation. Her method was very successful, so she decided to talk about it in one of the social networks; which has been posted below.

“Once, before starting classes, I went to the store and bought two apples. They were almost the same: the same color, about the same size … At the very beginning of the classroom hour I asked the children: “What is the difference between these apples?”. They were silent, because there was not really much difference between the fruits. Then I took one of the apples and, turning to him, said: “I don’t like you! You are a nasty apple! ” After that, I threw the fruit on the floor. The disciples looked at me as if they were crazy. Then I handed the apple to one of them and said: “Find something in it that you don’t like and throw it on the ground too”. The disciple obediently fulfilled the request. After that I asked to transfer the apple further. I must say that children easily found some flaws in the apple: “I don’t like your tail! You have a nasty skin! Yes, there are only worms in you! ”They said, and each time they threw an apple on the ground.
When the fruit came back to me, I again asked if the children saw any difference between this apple and the second one, which all this time was lying on my table. They were again confused, because, despite the fact that we regularly threw an apple on the floor, it did not receive any serious external damage and looked almost the same as the second one. Then I cut both apples. The one that lay on the table was snow-white inside, everyone liked it very much. The children agreed that they would have eaten it with pleasure. But the second was inside brown, covered with bruises, which we set for him. Nobody wanted to eat it. Then I said: “Guys, but this is because we made him that way! This is our fault! ”
In the class there was a deathly silence. A minute later, I continued: “The same happens with people when we insult or call them names. Outwardly, this practically does not affect them, but we inflict a huge amount of internal wounds!” Before my children, nothing ever came so quickly. Everyone began to share their life experiences, how unpleasant they were when they were called names. We all cried one by one, and then laughed together,” the teacher told her story.

“With ignorance comes fear- from fear comes bigotry. Education is the key to acceptance.” Kathleen Patel

Posted in Daily, Food

Delights of “Oreo”daphne

The first week of March is awaited by foodimentarians globally, from peanut butter to banana cream pie and ending with pound cake, cheese doodles, Oreo and cereal; there is absolutely nothing better to start and end the week with. At least one favourite of each person is there to indulge in, as part of observing the food holidays.

“Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better.” Robert Redford

One of the most favored foods (for comfort or mini-sized treats) Nabisco’s “Oreo” have taken the world by storm. Interestingly, the origin of the word “oreo” (cookies or biscuits) can be traced to the French word “or” (means gold) or “ωραίο” from Greek meaning tasty, beautiful, nice or well done. Or from the Latin Oreodaphne, a genus of the laurel family evidenced by the design of “the laurel wreath” on the cookies, as noted by food writer Stella Parks.

From the on, Oreo biscuits to pancakes, cakes, sandwiches and ice-cream have been on the food trends, landing its’ own special place on the table, ranging from breakfast, snacks to desserts.

For an interesting “kid or adult” twist to the routine, add oreo crumbs and cheese doodles to pancake batter, cereal or cake, ice-cream or simply milk and enjoy a “foodimentarian” week of desserts or mini-treats and splurge.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Cleaning the House

With the season of spring soon approaching, it would be time to give the house a thorough clean up from top to bottom sorting out the old and the new, the torn and the goo as well as removing the dirty and useless articles. The entire act of “spring cleaning” takes time to bring in the final finish of being fresh, new and neat.

“The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.” St. Jerome

While many of us may engage in “cleaning the house” , few of us actually invovlve ourselves in the spiritual, mental and emotional cleaning. While these latter aspects are difficult to do and hence avoided, doing them would give us a fresher outlook on life.

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Buddha

It is in these moments that I recall to mind, a story forwarded in my social network pages. It has been translated, yet the essence is “cleaning should be the best where it is the least visible”.

I remember how quite as a child I had first washed the floor in my grandmother’s village house. I had tried very hard and washed out till the boards shone in the sun. After I had completed, I had called my grandmother. Grandma came, looked and then silently went to the bed, raised the bedspread, which almost hung to the floor, knelt down and quietly called me. I walked over, sank down beside her and wondering, peering under the bed. There, among the fluffy clumps of dust and dried blades of grass, from a newly dried clover, lay my sock lost a couple of days ago.
“If you clean, always clean so that where it was not visible cleaner than anything! Good?” she asked softly.
– OK, Grandma.
Many years have passed since then and today there is no grandmother next to me. The village house is abandoned. But still, remembering my grandmother’s words, I often think of the “dark corners” of our souls and the “brilliant surfaces” of our lives, exposed. In those moments a quiet, gentle and strict voice as an audible, unearthly echo comes like my grandmother’s voice, “Well?”

Posted in Christian, Daily, Life, Quotes, Stories Around the World

As the Facade Crumbles

“I was like a chocolate in a box, looking well behaved and perfect in place, all the while harboring a secret center.” Deb Caletti

One of the defaults of living in the modern era is to encounter the “art of donning a facade”. As communication, travel and opportunities have evolved, so have interactions and relationships. Consequently at some point of time we all put on a front depending on the scenario, time and situation. The purpose behind this is individual to each one, ranging from self protection, self-preservation to self-glorification or of good intentions versus the bad.

“The unconscious mind is decidedly simple, unaffected, straightforward and honest. It hasn’t got all of this facade, this veneer of what we call adult culture. It’s rather simple, rather childish. It is direct and free.” Milton H. Erickson

As a rule, facades are dangerous; for the revelations once they are unmasked would blight the work done till that point. Yet at times we are forced to put on facades to survive especially at work and in the community. While we mayn’t be able to control these situations, what we could do is to modulate the facade that we put on. As we evolve and mature through time, we discover that facades that we put on once were unreal and tiring. The underlying principle of “Primum non cere” or “do no harm” would help us find our way out of the chaos.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

As narrated by various incidents commonly read on the social sites, while one day we would all be unmasked for who we really; meanwhile living our life by the inner conscience of truth, kindness and tact would help us face these eventual disclosures with quiet grace.

“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Posted in Daily, Food

Beyond the “C”

What connects Camellia sinensis, Coffea seeds, Kola nuts as well as the yaupon holly leaves, Amazonian holly guayusa leaves. The common factor is a simple but bitter, white crystalline purine, a methylxanthine alkaloid compound popularly consumed globally as “Caffeine”. The growing role of “caffeine” related beverages is evidenced by the celebration of March as the National Caffeine Awareness Month” by foodimentarians globally.

Like the two sides of a coin, caffeine has its’ own merits and demerits. Primarily playing its’ role as a central nervous stimulant as well as inhibitor of two major enzymes, phophodiesterase and adenosine; caffeine of coffee, tea as well as the medically available pure form has its’ indicated uses and merits.

From treating to preventing major diseases in neonates (like bronchopulmonary dysplasia, apnea of prematurity) as well aiding asthmatics in reducing their exacerbation; caffeine aids in reducing fatigue, drowsiness and improving coordination and reaction time. Imagine the endless night shifts, cramming before exams, pulling all nighters before the term exams in university and aiding to stay awake during classes after late night events; caffeine was always a life saver. In moderation, caffeine aids in reducing depressive symptoms as well as suicide idealizations.

“It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.” Ernest Hemingway

Not just students or night shift workers, for the gym goers, caffeine helps in improving their endurance, aids weight loss as well as increase the training or exercise volume. Moderate consumption of caffeine reduces dementia and Alzheimer’s risk, neuroprotective for Parkinson’s patients, reduces liver fibrosis and cirrhosis as well decreases risk of throat, mouth, colon and skin cancer.

On the other hand, more than 400 milligrams of caffeine intake has been associated with health risks ( Health Canada limitations) while toxic doses are in the range of ten grams or more of caffeine (50 -100 coffee cups with 80-175 mgs of caffeine per cup). Adverse effects of caffeine have a physical as well as psychological manifestation. In the former group would include raised blood pressure, headaches, increase gastrointestinal motility, increase bone loss in postmenopausal women, stained teeth, increased eye pressure in glaucoma patients, loss of essential minerals like iron and calcium as well as decreasing collagen synthesis i.e. more wrinkles.

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

From a psychological viewpoint, increase caffeine can lead to addiction, mood swings, dependency, anxiety disorders, tremors as well as irritability and sleep less nights. For the pregnant women, balancing the daily intake to two or less cups of coffee ( less than 200mg ) helps to reduce the caffeine induced pregnancy complications.

Caffeine consumption, highly depends on the way and reason we take it. From a simple homemade coffee to the “calorie laden coke” (laced with additional compounds) or the simple morning and evening ritual of tea, caffeine intake can be regulated. The more carefully we regulate the caffeine intake, the longer we can enjoy the merits than be affected by their demerits.

“Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee even better.” Justina Chen, North of Beautiful