Paying a Price for Loving Red Meat

NY Times:

By JANE E. BRODY

April 27, 2009

“There was a time when red meat was a luxury for ordinary Americans, or was at least something special: cooking a roast for Sunday dinner, ordering a steak at a restaurant. Not anymore. Meat consumption has more than doubled in the United States in the last 50 years.

Now a new study of more than 500,000 Americans has provided the best evidence yet that our affinity for red meat has exacted a hefty price on our health and limited our longevity…”
Read the full article…

Meet The Boys

Here’s a few shots of my sons taken on last weekend’s teaching trip to Perth.

the boys 1:

That’s Nitai aged 12 and Caitanya aged 23.

boys 2:

Nitai wagered me that I couldn’t grow a beard (perhaps he thought I was like a ‘Mexican Hairless’ or something), so I proved him wrong. (I shaved it all off straight after he told me I looked like Abraham Lincoln).

Kurma and Sons:

Auditioning for the “The Itchy and Scratchy Show”.

Meet the Happy Dacks

Whoa! It’s been way too long since I blogged. Remember those good ol’ obsessive/compulsive days when I published at least once every twenty-four hours?
Life is a bit too busy lately to stick to that intense writing schedule, though I do plan to get back to that happy place some day soon.

happy dacks:

What’s new in my world? I spent a great weekend back in Perth teaching two back-to-back cookery classes. The photo report will be coming to a computer screen near you soon.

Oh, and this morning I received a nice letter from a happy client who has published fond memories of our class together on her new blog:

Meet The Happy Dacks.

One Living Being is Food for Another

carrot girl:

M from Canada writes:

“Someone asked me why I am a vegetarian. They said
that plants make noise when trimming or pulling them and even though animals
have life they said that even greens and vegetables have life too. So they
ask why don’t I stop eating greens and vegetables as well. What kind of answer would you give this person? I want to see if its close to
my answer.”

Kurma replies:

Yes, vegetables are alive, and despite the fact that they have no central nervous system, if you kill the whole plant then you have murdered. “Jivo Jivasya Jivanam”: One living entity is food for another in this cruel world, so the thoughtful, compassionate, wise and sensitive man/woman learns to minimise the killing as far as practical.

Visit a slaughter house, listen for the gushing blood, smell the terror, see the animals writhing in pain, and hear the screams. Then go pick some carrots in the bright sun.

Compare the experience.

This type of question is posed by argumentative, narrow-minded meat-loving people who have no intention of being convinced by you, so there is hardly any point in arguing with them. Best wishes, Kurma

Warm Plum Crostata

In my freezer are individual ziplock packets of homemade pizza dough, lying in stasis, awaiting only warm air to bring them back to life again.

warm plum crostata:

One pack of dough was quietly expanding in it’s little plastic cocoon on my benchtop when inspiration struck. I’ll make a sweet pizza! I remember reading a recipe a day or two ago for a plum crostata – essentially a round of sweet butter pastry wrapped over plums and baked: ultra-simple comfort food.

I lightly oiled a pizza tray, roughly spread out the dough into a disc, and thickly sprinkled almond meal (freshly ground) and sugar in its centre, leaving a two-inch border. Five large red plums were halved. I packed the sweet, nutty centrepiece with the firm but ripe fruit, splashed on a few drops of pure almond extract and a generous sprinkle of raw sugar, and folded in the sides of the dough.

Into a preheated 180 degree C oven for about 40 minutes or more – I lost count – and when it was golden and bubbly, out it came. It tasted as astonishingly good as it looks. The almond meal soaked up the gushy essence of the hot fruits and held it in a thick, firm, sweet jammy plum coulis. So simple and elegant.

Cook with Kurma this Fourth of July

big day:

Saturday The Fourth of July 2009 is, of course, American Independence Day. I won’t be in the US, but I will be in Melbourne. I have a free day on my calendar. If you live in Melbourne, Australia, or anywhere in Victoria, and want to book a class at your place, this day is yours. Contact me now.

Circle of Life #13: A Garden Reverie

Maybe all that capsaicin has affected my brain, but while I was chanting peacefully in the garden this afternoon I could have sworn my plants were trying to communicate with me.

Marjorie Marjoram rustled her leaves indignantly in the breeze as if to complain, “Hmmmff! Those bigshot chilies are always the centre of attention.”

Call me Marj:

Chào anh!” whispered the handsome pointy-leaved Vietnamese Mint, perhaps to remind me he was still there. The famous laksa herb had almost dried up in envy until a good dose of TLC and plant food revived him from death’s door a few weeks ago.

Vietnamese Mint:

The closely-knit silverbeet community (swiss chard) creaked their crunchy red and white stalks as if to capture my attention. “Yes I know”, I whispered re-assuringly, “I haven’t forgotten you. You’re on the menu tomorrow with chickpeas and fresh panir”.

Eat your greens:

All the while, a smug quartet of late-blooming Red Savina’s swayed ever-so-slightly, confident that their offspring would soon make headline news on Kurma’s Blog. “No qué usted sabe“, they seemed to say just loud enough to be heard by all the other plants, “pero quién usted sabe.”

late bloomers:

Circle of Life #12: Body Parts

Freddy from Santa Fe, New Mexico writes:

“Hey there Kurma, love your chili story! Have been following it from when those were little seedlings. I love growing chilies, and New Mexico is a great place to do it. Red Savinas rock!”

Nice for a little feedback. You may be wondering what I am planning to do with all those magnificent chilies, being that no-one else in the house can eat much chili, and even if they could, I reckon one Red Savina could spice up a dish for 100 people. Remember, Red Savinas are 65 times hotter than jalapenos.

Well, the four I picked and halved the other day have been recycled for spare parts.

Body Parts:

The seeds: I put on double rubber gloves, scraped out their innards (the seeds + placental tissue) and popped that on an uncovered saucer in the fridge. Refrigerators do a great job of drying out things. In a week or so I’ll be able to rub off the seeds, wrap them in paper towel, dessicate them a little more before placing them in a sealed labelled envelope, ready for planting next season.

The chili flesh: After taking out the insides of the chilies, I placed the flesh on some foil on a pizza tray in a 50 degree C oven and held them there for 14 hours. The results, as you can see, were pretty perfect. Still good colour, dry crisp flesh and – wow – so much concentrated heat! I tried the smallest possible little crumb I could physically cut off with a knife (pinhead amount) and it was mouth numbing.

I’ll dry them in batches, as they come to ripeness, and nothing will be wasted. I was also thinking of making some chili oil. I’ll give pepper spray a miss.

Circle of Life #11: Red Savinas Reincarnated

Damn Hot Red Savinas:

The circle of life is almost complete. I received one of these Red Savina* chilies last year, I dried it, removed the seeds, and planted 5 seeds in Spring. These are the fruits of that planting, and now they are again being dried and re-planted.

All glories to the divine cycle of life perpetuated by the seed-giving Father Sri Krishna, God himself, who impregnates Mother Nature and allows all living things to perpetuate.

*By the way, the oil produced by this chilli is used in the manufacture of Pepper Spray. Don’t mess with the Kurma.