"Like a Jolt of Good Java"

Over 85% of Americans (and I would guess this percentage is quite consistent in most western-world countries such as Australia) use significant amounts of caffeine on a daily basis, but very few know much about this freely available psychoactive substance. Yet there is a complex, confusing and apparently contradictory array of claims about its effects on human health.

coffee:

The British Medical Journal stated in an editorial in 1976:

“What is it in man’s devious make-up that makes him round on the seemingly more wholesome and pleasurable aspects of his environment and suspect them of being causes of his misfortunes? Whatever it is, stimulants of all kinds (and especially coffee and caffeine) maintain a high position on the list of suspicion, despite a continuing lack of real evidence of any hazard to health”

Siegried Heyden in his “Coffee and Cardiovascular Disease” said:

“Coffee and caffeine have long been supected of causing illnesses ranging from myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, herpertension, hyperlipidemia, gout, and anxiety, to fybrocystic breast disease, various cancers and birth defects, and osteoporosis. No other agent in the human environment has been as frequently associated with such a variety of chronic-degenerative, even malignant diseases”.

Yet despite numerous disturbing claims of this mood-altering drug’s effects on the body, caffeine shows no sign of surrendering its sovereign position in the hierarchy of humanity’s drugs of choice.

More tomorrow.

Caffeine

caffeine:

I’m reading an excellent book at the moment – “The World of Caffeine -The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug”, by Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer.

I’ll keep you posted with some quotes and excerpts over the next few days.

Constructive Criticism

Anyone out there who knows me personally will not be surprised to hear that I like this quote.

“No one appreciates the value of constructive criticism more
thoroughly than the one who’s giving it.”

– Hal Chadwick

Birthday Sunrise Meditations

sunrise:

The sun rises over Perth, Western Australia, and I remember that today is my birthday. I’ll ‘celebrate’ it quietly. A few choice verses come to mind, in no particular order:

“And you run and you run to catch up with the sun,

but it’s sinking

And racing around to come up behind you again.

The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older,

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.”
– Pink Floyd

udita tapana hoile asta,

dina gelo boli’ hoibe byasta,

tabe keno ebe alasa hoy,

na bhaja hrdoya-raje

“With every rising and setting of the sun, a day passes and is lost. Why then do you remain idle and not serve the Lord of the heart?”

– Arunodaya-kirtana, songs to be sung at dawn, from Gitavali by Bhaktivinoda Thakur

ayur harati vai pumsam

udyann astan ca yann asau

tasyarte yat-ksano nita

uttama-sloka-vartaya

“Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.”
– Srimad Bhagavatam

yac-caksur esa savita sakala-grahanam

raja samasta-sura-murtir ashesa-tejah

yasyajnaya bhramati sambhrita-kala-chakro

govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

“The sun, full of infinite effulgence, is the king of all the planets and the image of the good soul. The sun is like the eye of the Supreme Lord. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, in pursuance of whose order the sun performs his journey, mounting the wheel of time.”

-Sri Brahma Samhita

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama

Rama Rama Hare Hare

-The Great Mantra, my constant friend this lifetime.

Another Christmas Recipe

Here’s a last minute Christmas menu idea – especially good for meat-eaters!

Succulent Eggplant & Panir Cheese in Spicy Tomato Glaze

An opulent dish that showcases the incredible meatiness of fried panir cheese. Serve with plenty of rice or bread to mop up the rich juices. Serves 6

ghee for deep-frying

1½ teaspoons black mustard seeds

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon minced fresh green chili

¼ teaspoon yellow asafetida powder

2 cups tomato puree

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

panir cheese from 2½ litres milk, pressed and cut into 1.5 cm cubes, (recipe follows)

1 large eggplant, cut into 1.5 cm cubes

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 teaspoon brown sugar

1½ teaspoons salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a large frying pan over moderate heat. When the ghee is hot, sprinkle in the mustard seeds and fry them until they crackle. Add the minced ginger and chilies, and fry them until aromatic. Sprinkle in the yellow asafetida powder, saute briefly, and pour in the tomato puree. Stir in the turmeric powder and ground coriander.

Cook the sauce, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until a little reduced.

Heat ghee for deep-frying in a wok or pan over moderate heat. When fairly hot, deep-fry the cubes of panir cheese in batches until they are a light golden brown. Remove the fried panir from the ghee, and set it aside to drain.

Deep-fry the cubes of eggplant in batches in the hot ghee until golden brown and tender, and set them aside to drain in a colander lined with paper towels.

Fold the garam masala, sugar and salt, the fried panir cubes and eggplant into the tomato sauce. Serve hot, with fluffy rice or crusty bread.

eggplant panir:

Making Homemade Curd Cheese (Panir)

You need little by way of equipment to make curd cheese: a 2

Polenta

Want another great Christmas lunch idea? Try using polenta, a very versatile grain. It can be used in many ways, it’s hearty and filling, and easy to handle. If you haven’t used it before, here’s a delicious recipe.

Italian Fried Corn-Bread (Polenta)

Polenta is a yellow maize or cornmeal popular in northern Italy. Regarded there as a staple food, it can be used in many ways after it has been prepared as a rather thick porridge. Here in Australia, polenta is prepared from a special strain of corn grown in Queensland known as Yellow Dent.

Plain boiled polenta can be grilled, baked, or, as in this recipe, fried. Served with a homemade tomato sauce and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, it makes a delicious side dish. Serves 6-8 persons.

2 litres water

2 teaspoons salt

3½ cups cornmeal (polenta)

90g butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

fresh, herbed tomato puree to serve

parmesan cheese to serve

polenta:

Bring to the boil the water and salt in a 6-litre/quart saucepan over full heat. Gradually sprinkle the cornmeal over the water, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Make sure that there are no lumps of cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low. Continue to stir the polenta mixture until it is very thick (approximately 10 minutes).

Leave the polenta over low heat for about another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will be ready to remove from the heat when a wooden spoon will stand upright in the centre of the mixture and not drop to the side of the pan.

Spoon the mixture into an oiled 28 cm x 18 cm dish. Smooth out the mixture and leave to cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours.

Carefully turn out the slab of polenta from the tin and cut it in half lengthways. Cut each half into seven slices crossways, each one 4 cm wide.

Heat the butter and oil together in a heavy frying pan. When hot, add about 6 slabs of polenta to the frying pan and reduce the heat to low. Fry gently until the polenta is dark golden brown on each side.

Serve the polenta on a serving dish topped with fresh tomato sauce and gratings of Parmesan cheese.

World's Easiest Quiz?

World’s Easiest Quiz (Passing requires 4 correct answers)

quiz:

1) How long did the Hundred Years War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel’s hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI’s first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

All done? Check your answers…