The Long and Winding Road

wauchope train: Not my train to Wauchope

Today I’ll be catching a train to Wauchope (pronounced war-hope). It’s a seven-hour train journey from Sydney, due North.

The tourist blurb says:

“On the Hastings River about 19km due west of Port Macquarie on NSW

Seize the Day

the sun:

“Pass, therefore, not today in vain,

For it will never come again”

(Omar Khayyám)

“What is the value of a prolonged life which is wasted, inexperienced by years in this world? Better a moment of full consciousness, because that gives one a start in searching after his supreme interest.”

(Sukadeva Gosvami, Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto II, “The Cosmic Manifestation”)

Chocolate, and the Search for Pleasure

The Vedas enjoin that all living beings are pleasure-seekers. That is our natural constitution. The actual aphorism of Vedanta Sutra is ‘anandamayo ‘byasat’. The sanskrit word ‘ananda’ means ‘pleasure’.

I’ve never forgotten that one of the active ingredients in chocolate is called Anandamide. This always brings me back to thoughts of Vedanta Sutra.

“…active Anandamide, like other neurotransmitters, is broken down quickly after it’s produced. Piomelli and his team found other chemicals in chocolate which may inhibit the natural breakdown of anadamide. This means that natural anandamide (or introduced anandamide) may stick around longer, making us feel good longer, when we eat chocolate.”

choc:

“One of the most pleasant effects of eating chocolate is the “good feeling”
that many people experience after indulging. Chocolate contains more than
300 known chemicals. Scientists have been working on isolating specific
chemicals and chemical combinations which may explain some of the
pleasurable effects of consuming chocolate…”


Read lots more….

Mercy

saved:

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath.

It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown;

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;”

spoken by Portia, from The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare

Travel Diary Update

istanbul:

My son Caitanya returns to Perth today after a week staying with me and my father here in Sydney. We ate heavily last night and I tossed and turned; so I got up and updated my website Travel Diary section.

Bakirkoy grocer:

Interestingly, my first letter of the day was from a fellow blogger professing an attraction to Turkey and asking ‘do you have a link to posts from your Turkey travels?”

zmsa crew:

Well I had just completed the Slovenia, Turkey & Croatia, July-August 2006 section of my Travel Diary, so now you can read all about it. (scroll down when you get there).

Kurma in the Raw

Margaret from Ulladulla, New South Wales. Australia writes:

Kurma, hello! Your blog is so interesting. I was meaning to ask you about raw foods. What is your perspective on this diet?

My Reply:

Hello Margaret! Someone asked me this very same question a while back, so here’s what I had to say:

Chris from (sorry can’t remember where) sent this letter:

‘It seems that the next significant milestone in dietary
evolutionary is ‘raw’. What is your take on a strictly raw food diet,
wouldn’t it be even more in the mode of goodness?’

raw:

My answer: Hello Chris. I am not a firm follower of so-called dietary evolution. My philosphy is that very scientific dietary laws have already been conceived thousands of years ago in the Ayurveda, and modern science is occasionally catching up, usually deviating, and always speculating.

If raw food works for you, fine. Different body types need more or less raw food. Actually for some, raw food is HARDER to digest than cooked foods.

So it is a decision based on knowledge of ones bodily constitution, his body-type according to the science of Vata, Kapha and Pitta and his personal needs and taste. No one rule for all, it is highly personal.

Raw foods and juices can be cleansing and energizing. Sprouts are especially wonderful because they contain large amounts of enzymes and nourishment which help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Some of the spicier sprouts help to destroy and eliminate toxins in the system (known as ama in Ayurveda).

But in general, raw food is very cold and hard to digest in the sense that it releases its Prana, or nourishing life giving energy, in the upper portion of the body between the mouth and the stomach. This gives quick, short-term energy, but not long-term tissue building nourishment. This is good for pittas, and some raw foods are good for kaphas, but this is not very good for vatas.

According to Ayurveda, the main advantage of well cooked grains, beans, and vegetables is that they release their Prana in the colon. This provides long-term tissue building energy. However, these energies cannot be released from complex carbohydrates without the assistance of enzymes. A clean intestinal tract is also essential for proper absorption.

This coincides with two of the modern holistic health theories of colon cleansing and enzyme consumption. But the Ayurvedic approach again is practical and individualized.

This is my perspective. Hope it helps.

Cutting Boards – Wooden or Plastic?

cuttingboards:

I was asked yesterday whether I preferred wooden or plastic cutting boards. I blogged this topic last year. Here it is again – an oldie but goldie:

Tony Ng from Melbourne sent me a letter:

“My chef friends and I have been arguing over what is safer to use – wooden or plastic cutting boards. What do you use Kurma?”

My reply: Hello Tony! I always use wooden cutting boards. I detest plastic. I searched my old files and found a news item from 10 years ago. Then I looked up the topic on the internet. It seems that there has been a debate for quite a while over this, but the plastic lobby seems to have won.

10 years ago research leaned towards wood. In essence, it was found that over 99% of bacteria died on wooden cutting boards, whereas the bacteria actually multiplied on the plastic boards.

wooden:

For the tests, researchers purposely contaminated wood and plastic boards with common bacteria that cause food poisoning – salmonella, listeria, and escherichia coli.

They tested boards made from seven types of wood and four types of plastic, and at different temperatures and humidity levels.

Although their premise had always been that plastic was safer, to their astonishment they discovered that over 99% of all the bacteria on the wooden boards disappeared after only 3 minutes. In the same time, none of the bacteria on the plastic boards disappeared.

plastic:

Over the years of teaching and cooking in professional kitchens around the world I have noticed that now – almost exclusively – only plastic boards are used. Many powerful chemical cleaning products are on tap, and I can’t help wondering if the plastic and chemical companies have finally been successful in convincing the kitchen managements in their favour.

the woods:

These days, if you look this topic up on the internet, off-the-record personal opinions still seem to quietly favour wood, but big ‘movers and shakers’ like the US Food and Drug Administration have wooed many around the world back to plastic. But I am not convinced, and will never use plastic as my board of choice.

Here’s some dialogue on the subject…

Have More Fun

my house:

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive
double-pane energy-efficient kind.

Yesterday, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was
complaining that the windows had been installed a whole year ago and I hadn’t
paid for them yet.

Now just because I’m blonde doesn’t mean that I am automatically stupid. So
I
told him just exactly what his fast-talking sales guy had told me last year,
namely, that in just one year these windows would pay for themselves!

“Helllooooo!!!” I told him, “It’s been a year!”

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung
up, and he hasn’t called back. He was probably too embarrassed about
forgetting the guarantee they made me.

Bet he won’t under-estimate my intelligence again!

The Daily Mail

pencil:

P from Glendale, Arizona USA writes:

Dear Chef Kurma Dasa,

I came across your Web site (www.kurma.net) and must say I’m impressed by you
openly sharing your recipes with visitors. I’m equally impressed with the
recipes themselves and your caring and willingness to educate your readers on
the background of the different dishes.

I’m an avid cook and can pretty much tell if a recipe will be successful just
by reading its ingredients and cooking techniques/methods. This is the reason
I’ve always purchased recipe books from local stores for the past 34 years.

The information on your Web site goes far more into depths than reading a
recipe book at a book store. My hat’s off to you.

I can now say I made my first on-line purchase of a recipe book, the “Cooking
with Kurma.” I can’t wait to receive it from Amazon.com

Many thanks for sharing your cooking delights and knowledge with us. Sincerely, P.