Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I have never made idlies from scratch and therefore don't have a 'from scratch' recipe to share. But, I have used the boxed packages that you can easily get from any local Indian/South Asian grocery store. One of the most common brands is Gits. You will have to get an Idli Maker, but that too can be found at a local India/South Asian store. You just put it inside any large pot you have. Idlies are steamed to cook.
The most important thing when mixing up the contents of the box with the water is to NOT over stir as this can cause the idlies to be more dense/flat. But the trick is to stir enough so you don't have too many big clumps of doughy idly mix.
Serve Idlies with hot sambar (see Sathya's Sambar recipe) or just eat with melted butter, non-hydrogenated butter substitute (I like Earth Balance) or the 'sinful' but delightful ghee!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
For those who know me, you know I love peppermint tea! This fresh and invigorating herb is not only one of the most delightful to drink as a tea but it also has wonderful medicinal properties. The most prominent medicinal use is to help reduce nausea or upset stomach. Some have found drinking peppermint tea to reduce gas or ease irritable bowel syndrome. I found some interesting information at womens-health-symmetry.com. I also find peppermint helps increase my energy if I'm feeling low.
If you have a cold or sinus infection, peppermint oil is also a great remedy. You can boil a small amount of water in a pot and add a few drops of peppermint oil. Cover your head with a towel, putting it over the pot and take several deep breaths. You should not only feel the stimulating effects of the peppermint, but your congestion should also be relieved.
What's in it:
- organic canola oil
- 3 medium organic onions
- 2 large organic eggplants
- 2 big organic green peppers
- 1 cup cooked masur dhal
- 1 pre-cooked potato
- 10-15 washed and dried curry leaves
- 1 to 1 1/2 mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp Tamcon
- 1 heaping tsp sambar powder
- 7 - 10 tbsp coriander powder
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup water
- salt to taste
- Boil 1 cup of masur dhal in 2 cups of water, set aside
- Steam 1 potato, set aside
- Chop the onion into big cubes
- Chop the eggplant and green pepper into big pieces
- Put vegetable into a big pot
- Mix the tamcon with approximately 1/2 cup of warm water and mix until dissolved
- Add dissolved tamcon to veggies
- Add sambar powder
- Put the pot of veggies on the stove on high until boiling then turn down to med-low
- Add the potato, cut into chunks
- While the veggies cook down
- roast the coriander and cinnamon in a small cast iron pan (if you have it, if not any pan will work) on a low heat
- Make sure to keep the heat low, so you don't burn the spices
- add the roasted coriander and cinnamon to the veggie
- Add the cup of pre-cooked dhal.
- Let mixture simmer
- Clean your pan and heat 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
- Add mustard seeds and let heat until they pop
- Add curry leaves
- Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves to the pot.
- Add salt to taste.
- Let simmer until all the veggies are soft.
- You can use a masher to mash the veggies to your desired consistency.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
You can basically prepare each of these greens in the same ways - or use in any recipe where you normally use spinach, try one of the others. Some of my favorites are
- Simply steam the washed and chopped greens briefly (5 -7 minutes, the less the better to maintain all the nutrients) and you favorite salad dressing. I really like Annie's Goddess Dressing Steaming the greens is a nice alternative to salads in the winter - for those who like warm food
- Add washed and chopped greens to soups - you don't need to cook these greens very long and can even add them after you've take the pot off the heat.
- Juice washed greens with apples, cucumbers, ginger or any other of your favorite juice-able fruits and veggies
- Stir fry the greens with other veggies (zucchini, yellow summer squash, snow peas, carrots) and season with grated ginger, pressed garlic, bragg's liquid aminos/tamari sauce
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Total Prep and Assembly time - 30-35 minutes
What's in it:
- 2-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 bunches of Fresh Organic Basil
- 3-5 Fresh Organic Tomatoes
- 1/2 - 1 cup of Frozen Organic Corn
- 1 medium Organic Onion
- 6-12 Cloves of Organic Garlic
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cayenne (optional)
- Chop the Onion into "cubed" pieces or into strips - whatever your preference
- Mince the garlic or puree in a food processor
- Wash and Cut the tomatoes into quarters (you can also just halve them if you want)
- Wash the Basil and pick the leaves off of the stems (I usually do the picking off part right before adding into the mix)
- Sautee the Onion and Garlic in the olive oil on a Medium heat until the Onion turns clear
- Add the Tomatoes and let simmer until the tomatoes cook down into a saucey consistency.
- Add the Basil and let simmer for approximately 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Once the mixture has a nice Basil taste and aroma, add the Frozen Corn.
- Remove from heat once corn is heated to desired temp (i.e. not frozen anymore)
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- If you like it spicy, add some Cayenne
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Communication can be slippery, messy, unpredictable and often times difficult, especially when dealing with conflict, differences of opinion or our own feelings and vulnerability. And when different cultures come into contact with one another communication can be even more difficult.
It can be very scary when interacting with someone whose style of communication is so different from our own that we literally may feel like running away, shutting down internally or just not wanting to deal, and very understandably so. But something I try to remind myself is that there are cycles in all aspects of our lives, including how we process our feelings and how we communicate; if we slowly allow ourselves to learn, pay attention to and try to understand our own style of communication as well as the other's (whether from a different culture or not) then we can slowly begin to find some peace within ourselves. The important thing is to not shut down entirely and as a result not communicate but rather to try to communicate gently.
Thich Nhat Hanh has beautiful ideas of communicating with our loved ones. He suggests to communicate once the intense negative feelings inside us have passed, to speak from a point of view of how we feel in reaction to how someone has acted or what someone has said. Instead of saying, "You made me feel stupid," say "I felt stupid when you said...." I believe that by in engaging in dialog we should be able to come to a deeper understanding of why someone did or said something and it can give them an opportunity to see how they've affected us and hopefully explain themselves. Of course we're human and we make mistakes. Or we just not going to like everyone all the time nor are we 'perfect' so we have to remember that we can sometimes hurt others just as they've hurt us.
And it may take time for us to be ready to admit we've done wrong (I know I have my sometimes long process) but the important thing is to recognize within ourselves our process so that we can begin to be mindful of our own feelings and how we affect others instead of ignoring or pushing these things away.I see even in my own family the intense impact of how different personal and cultural communication styles can create conflict, cause confusion and fuel other unresolved personal dynamics. I've been guilty of being the cause to some of this but I have also felt the impact of these dynamics. I have had to turn inward and not communicate because of extremely intense feeling I've had towards friends and family until I could internally calm myself - but I know that I mustn't ignore the feelings or pretend their gone - that communicating with the other is an important step. But I also recognize the importance of not wallowing in my feelings to the point that I won't let them go. Again, we have to become completely familiar with our own process and accept our own process, but we MUST process our feelings. A lack of process, is not a process.
So, back to cultural influences. I found the excerpt below interesting, informative and insightful. It's by Michelle LeBaron and if you like what she has to say you can read more at http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/culture_conflict/
Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives and relationships, giving us messages that shape our perceptions, attributions, judgments, and ideas of self and other. Though cultures are powerful, they are often unconscious, influencing conflict and attempts to resolve conflict in imperceptible ways.
Cultures are more than language, dress, and food customs. Cultural groups may share race, ethnicity, or nationality, but they also arise from cleavages of generation, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, ability and disability, political and religious affiliation, language, and gender -- to name only a few.
Two things are essential to remember about cultures: they are always changing, and they relate to the symbolic dimension of life. The symbolic dimension is the place where we are constantly making meaning and enacting our identities. Cultural messages from the groups we belong to give us information about what is meaningful or important, and who we are in the world and in relation to others -- our identities.
Cultural messages, simply, are what everyone in a group knows that outsiders do not know. They are the water fish swim in, unaware of its effect on their vision. They are a series of lenses that shape what we see and don't see, how we perceive and interpret, and where we draw boundaries. In shaping our values, cultures contain starting points and currencies. Starting points are those places it is natural to begin, whether with individual or group concerns, with the big picture or particularities. Currencies are those things we care about that influence and shape our interactions with others.