Saturday, March 29, 2003
it's true -- my flour order from king arthur has been mysteriously delayed. normally, you order on monday, it arrives friday. no sweat.
but without flour, the sunday pizza tradition here at bccy seems imperiled. will ups come through this afternoon?
mr. right gazes at the sidewalk anxiously. . .
Friday, March 28, 2003
roastin' n grindin'!
and today finds a nice plain-english overview of coffee roasting.
but i think the article of the day is this one on the ritual of the morning espresso, kindly sent along by a bccy regular. however, i am going to disagree with it in an important respect: grinding your fresh beans is crucial for the perfect cup.
while as the author says, the italians do have grinding to science, pre-ground coffee is stale by the time you buy it from the store and make a cup the next day. real snobs argue that coffee begins to noticeably lose some of its delicious aroma as little as 4 minutes after grinding.
grinding your own isn't difficult; all it takes is a quality grinder and a little practice. you don't have to freak out and buy a mazzer, as i have done (altho' i highly recommend the mazzer mini!); there are more affordable grinders that will do.
but if nothing else, do try the article's recipe for chocolate-covered espresso beans. . .
Thursday, March 27, 2003
chocolate fish, human swimming
an amusing article in the new york times on the intricacies of molding chocolate for easter. the writer discovers that it's not really as easy as jacques torres makes it look!
but at least the author meets (log your own bad selves in: use bccy1 in both fields) the important category of so-called decorators or confectioners chocolate.
and since swimming's the theme, we can't overlook olympic athlete ian thorpe, an australian who's determined to take a world championship prize. again. to help him do so, he's added yoga to his training routine.
the article quotes the australian team's coach: "it's very easy when you're at that level to sit back and, the next thing you know, the rest of the world is passing you by. they're trying to do things to take his swimming to a new level."
ok, swimfans. i guess we'll see if yoga takes thorpe over the top at the world contest in barcelona in july. . . .
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
buy shoes, get lattes
so-called "affiliate" credit cards have long been a factor in the u.s.a. get a special card with a logo for some cause or organization and get a donation to the charity based on what you charge, or for airline affiliate cards, get frequent flier miles.
with this in mind, starbucks is beginning an affiliate card all its own. "in addition to allowing customers to charge purchases as usual, customers will receive a rebate based on their monthly spending -- which is automatically credited to their card for buying lattes, coffee beans and other products at starbucks stores."
this is a stroke of brilliance, much better than their current pre-paid card system, i think.
on another note, anti-yoga articles like this mystify me. the author clearly confuses yoga with hinduism; she does not see -- and her yoga instructor didn't seem to mention -- that any connection you may feel with any divinity while doing yoga is a personal connection with your own "still small voice" inside. whoever (or not) that may be for you.
if the author had just found yoga boring, hey, that's different. . .i mean, the yoga teacher isn't forcing durga or anything upon you. to feel, as the author does, that touching your toes and doing basically some push-ups is leading her to worship the sun seems rather to me like saying, "well, if i pray with a string of beads, i must be catholic."
when in fact several religions use beads as part of the personal prayer ritual. it's not the beads per se that make you one religion or another, but what or to whom you're praying. . .how you've directed yourself, not the outward form alone. . .
this continual confusion of yoga with hinduism is becoming a problem, i think. many under-educated yoga teachers mistakenly foster this association. we can't deny that yoga came to us in the west from an indian cultural context. but that doesn't mean it is inseparable from that context. yoga really is for everyone.
i wish more yoga authorities would speak clearly about yoga's pre-hindu roots, as professor of indology georg feuerstein has done. yoga is merely a means to consolidate your own authentic harmony, whatever that may be.
for the christian, that could be the experience of jesus. indeed, christian yoga is still a popular topic on amazon (here and here).
clearly yoga and christianity are not in some kind of struggle or opposition. for, as any student of st. theresa of avila, hildegard von bingen, or other classic christian mystic will tell you, the experiences of christian mysticism and those often attributed to yoga are often in alignment.
as st. theresa said: "christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which christ's compassion looks out on the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now."
if you are christian, it seems to me that a meditative yoga practice would only serve to intensify your personal emotional experience of st. theresa's insight.
likewise, hildegard wrote: "the body is the garment of the soul and it is the soul which gives life to the voice. that's why the body must raise its voice in harmony with the soul for the praise of god . . . . for all the arts serving human desires and needs are derived from the breath that god sent into the human body."
thus a breath-focused yoga practice, with chanting and poses performed as moving meditation, would seem truly in the spirit of both these christian women. . .
but hey, even if buddha, oshun, or planck's constant speak more clearly to your heart, there's still a yoga practice you can create for your own benefit. . .
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
creamy goodness, or climbing everest with pranayama
the slitti 62% lattenero arrived today. . .and it is a marvel of a dark milk chocolate, something rare here in these united states!
i had feared it would be similar to the flyer chocolate i've mentioned before. . but no. the slitti has an intense semi-sweet chocolate flavor reminiscient of say a 58%, but with an ultra-creamy mouthfeel really not so far from valrhona's le lacte, tho' of course the slitti has its own unique flavor. you could live on this stuff.
even tho' the milk seems to cut down on the dark chocolate intensity, i think this lattenero's an amazing milk chocolate. and i dislike milk chocolate a lot. . .the bar qualities are fine -- nice finish, clean break, loud snap, no grittiness, a light and dreamy aroma. just all good.
the downside is that the packaging might expose the bar to too much light, and it's hard to re-seal securely. so i'm sorry to say you have to eat the whole thing at one sitting. you and someone you really like.
long-time readers know that all kinds of pro players -- even in such interesting sports as snooker and poker -- are into yoga. now comes news that a daredevil irishman seeking to climb the difficult north side of everest without oxygen has turned to yoga as well.
he says he intends to use yogic breathing (pranayama) and concentration to aid him in this dangerous quest. (remember, people die attempting everest.) "i’ve been training flat out, practicing deep breathing and yoga,” terrence bannon says. "there is a real psychological element to it and you have to be prepared for it.”
it's clear that bannon is one intense guy. all you can do is wish his expedition, which leaves in april, good luck. personally, i was skeptical that pranayama was going to be much help when it comes to such endeavors.
however, a noted yoga teacher told me that similar things have been done before -- he noted that several deep-diving records have been set (and here with picture of pipin ferraras in my favorite yoga pose, astavakrasana, or folded in 8 places) without oxygen.
the divers intensely practice yogic breathing as part of the training. it seems all so-called free-divers practice pranayama and yoga seriously.
Monday, March 24, 2003
lemme briefly deviate -- sort of -- to the subject of pasta. long-time readers know i ordered an attachment for my much-beloved kitchen aid stand mixer to roll out and cut pasta. and they might remember that there's a small problem with those metal flakes. . .
anyway, today i ordered from king arthur flour two interesting pasta item in my quest to finally banish those darn metal flakes and get going on the object of this quest, spinach cannelloni.
first, i decided to try their pasta blend flour instead of just using the durum flour or my italian 00 flour. and second -- although i may regret this -- on the advice of a person with much pasta experience, i also ordered their all-natural spinach essence. since as this expert said, "the spinach will drive you to suicide."
ok! that's a piece of advice i'll try to profit from. hopefully there'll be time next weekend to crank through the metal flakes and get this long-delayed pasta project re-started. i hope to attempt spinach cannelloni with a ricotta-swiss-chard filling flecked with prosciutto. . .