Sunday, January 28, 2007

Like Chocolate for Cornbread

One of my favorite movies is Like Water for Chocolate. If you take food seriously, as in eating to live (not the other way around), see this movie. In it, the main character Tita pours her soul into her cooking, which causes the people who taste it to experience what she feels.

When we were little, my cousins and I knew this to be true, and would not eat the food our aunties cooked if they were in a bad mood. We were suspicious and superstitious little shits, and we still believe we were right.

To this day, cooking is my way of coming to terms with my life, and setting me back on my path. Through food as my physical and spiritual medicine, those around me taste what it's like to be me. Obeying my first commandment "do no harm", what they most always feel is joy and abandon, or else they starve as I will not cook if I am not balanced and centered. Sometimes though the black and crispy parts of my soul do show through. The taste is bitter sweet. When I put together the Tastewheel this is the stealth program determining what matches when and why.

I think everyone's cooking is like Tita's, meaning, whatever mood you are in comes through in some way. If your sense of taste is acute, you know what I mean. What I think is destroying us, physically and mentally, causing so many food based physical and mental diseases - the soulless cooking of mass produced food.

Anyway, I use mole in cooking when I feel like flying. Here it is, Oh Solee Molee Cornbread.

Solee Molee Cornbread
(A word of caution, all these entries and recipes are copyrighted, so if you want to use any part of them, you have to give credit, and if you use it and change e.g., 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp, you still have to give credit).

Mole paste has some form of nuts and seeds in it. You will find cheap US knockoffs doing a Reese's peanut butter cup imitation by dumping peanut butter and candy store chocolate in the paste recipe. Run far away!

Basic mole paste has these ingredients, more or less, depends on if you want to add tomatillos, onions, garlic, tortillas and chocolate now or later when making the mole sauce from the paste. Since this is for a bread, not for a sauce and the rest of the poblano drill, I use a paste which already has:

  • Chilies: Anchos, Pasilla, Mulato
  • Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, Sesame Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds (pepitos)
  • Dried Fruits: Raisins
  • Spices: Canela (Mexican soft bark cinammon), Cloves, Peppercorns, Oregano, Mexican Chocolate
  • A few Tblspn of Oil
That's just to point you in the right direction. Authentic regional variations pastes can only be appreciated by starting off with the basics. Variations add Anise Seed, tomato, onion, garlic to this and one US variation adds a bit of raw peanuts in small quantities. That's just because they couldn't get the Sunflower seeds which is a required ingredient in some regional variations.
  • A word about the chocolate: If you really want authentic try doing the roasted carenero andsur del lago/maracaibo cacao beans.
  • A word about the spices: Some variations add cumin, nutmeg or thyme. I always add cumin.
  • A word about the chilies: chilhuacle chiles if you can find, else substitute the more easy to find anchos.
Unless I've prepared this paste ahead of time, I'm going to be using store-bought mole paste that's been sitting around for a while, either in my refrigerator or a Mexican market. Here's the important part. Take a bit of the mole paste and TASTE it, raw. Dense, dark, earthy, sweet, thick, grainy, hot.... and this was meant to go with poultry to balance it. However, there's going to be no chicken in this recipe, how do we balance it, what strange item oft overlooked in the food closet makes this work into cornbread to fly for?

Cornbread Recipe
(Oh wait, I've entered this into a contest so you'll have to wait til after the contest - sorry those are the rules!)

Solano Cornbread

Traditional Mexican "fiesta" style cornbread has no flour. It's very savory, goes well with chicken dishes, especially coconut chicken. The other cornbread (with flour) goes better with red meat dishes.

We get a lot of good Mexican style salsa casera (picante) in these parts, and I replace the usual jalapeno peppers with this. Some recipes call for onions, but I dice a few spring onions really fine, add to the salsa, and kick it all up with the local chipotle pepper mix. This is the place I threw caution to the winds, and had fun with mole paste and bitter chocolate powder. I call that one Oh Solee Molee Cornbread and I just might put the recipe up one day.

1 C cornmeal
14.5 oz. can whole kernel corn
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup regular milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter melted and cooled
2 heads spring onions finely diced
2 Tbl salsa casera picante
1 tsp chipotle pepper mix
1 cup shredded cheddar or jalapeno cheese

Mix the salsa with onions and pepper
Mix the wet ingredients and add salsa mix to it
Mix the dry ingredients, make a well
Add the wet to the dry mixing thoroughly
Pour into a greased 8x8 pan
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake at 350 for 45 mins.

This recipe creates a very rich crumbly cornbread. Sometimes, I add a half to one cup of flour, another egg, and a 1/2 tsp of baking powder or so to give it a more textured body.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cold and Flu Nutraceuticals

We're gonna get nutraceutical. I got this from a website I call Grandma Crystal's website, who posted some healing recipes. This one was posted by Di Anna as opposed to me Mono Anna, and was under a section for Bath Salts, Lip Balm & Other Healing Recipes.

I like it's simplicity, but it is a bit harsh and only half the solution. I have a thing to say about cold-flu remedies. You're feeling crappy enough so why can't there be something more appealing that works. I have one, it's after Dianna's. Dianna says this one is an old Norwegian recipe and I guarantee you it would work up to a point. It is missing a few things, but it is a nice short term solution.

Garlic and Onion are the feature attractions, while and Honey and Nutmeg are backup singers in this old Bumping and Dumping act. They bump up the immune system and dump antiseptics into the bod. But what about rebalancing the bod? Getting colds and flus is about your immune system taking a hike on you. This means your own bod is out of balance. We have to add a good Thumping to straighten that out, and that's presented later.

Bump and Dump Cold/Flu remedy
In Juicer blend:
1 med.size onion
4 fresh garlic sections
(use juice only)

Add to juice:
2 tbsp. melted honey
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Chug a lug. Were I a bug, I'd chug my lug and leave you too.

Here's a more evolved though somewhat involved idea, and it does involve whiskey, and I caution you that means in your flue-ey state, it comes with a Black and Crispy Clause which goes like this. "Caution, do not confuse an open fire with a place to toss-about negligently with alcohol; the resultant explosion will likely leave your place of abode, not to mention you, your drawer strings and hair in a black and crispy condition, which will lead to invitations for you to move to Red Cross shelters, cold hospital rooms, and be followed with headaches of legal hassles and recriminations, not to mention date-canceling, and your reputation in flames on neighborhood bathroom walls, take my word for it, it isn't worth it."

The Thumper: Po-Ja Inspired Flu remedy

Po-ja also called "Po-be ja" and is a Tibetan word for well, Tibetan tea, as the land of Tibet is know as Po, which is pronounced as a cross between a B and a P, trust me you gotta hear it to believe it. The Ja is like the Indian Cha for Chai.

Tibetan tea is churned with butter. Not Yak butter. A word about that later.

These people - the Tibs - and others like them - have made a living for millenia above the tree line. "Can you hear me now, veggie-box people"? Above the tree line. That would be above where the green and leafy grow. I suppose one answer could be "let them eat dirt." But, forgive them, that's not what they did.

They lived around their revered Yak. yes, they planted barley and mustard seeds and flowers and anything that would grow in the short growing season up in the high cold Tibetan plateau. Yes they did, and they came to know the medicinal properties of anything that eked a life up there: plant, animal or mineral. Yes, stones are considered living in their tradition. Thank you Pema Wangyal I finally got it. Life hung in the balance in this harsh cold barren region, people developed a great respect for the sanctity of live. They also knew a basic tenet on this planet, that for anything to live, something must die, be it bug, plant or animal.

Back to the Yak

Yak Milk, and Yak Butter. NO such thing. The Yak is male and hence does not give milk. It is the Dro, the female which gives milk. There is precedence in the West: Bulls give Shit and Cows give Milk, right? In Asia, it's Dro Milk.

In a pot on the stove top:

3 black tea bags some water to brew it
1 tsp ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 cup fresh Ginger grated
1/2 stick Butter (cow or dro, clarified as ghee or whatever greases your fancy)
1/2 cup Whiskey (be good now, it's an ingredient, not the main course)
1/2 cup jaggery or honey
1/2 cup lime juice

A word about whiskey and alcohol in general: this has nothing to do with morality, it's to do with understanding the natural laws of the universe. Everything has a place and time.

"Alcohol is a powerful substance that has dangers that should not be taken lightly. Ayurveda, contains clearly defined views on the use alcohol. Alcohol as a solvent for extracting the active ingredients of certain herbs. Tinctures are used in western herbalism in the same way. Ayurveda also prepares special herbal wines for a weak digestion and as relaxants for stress. Certain alcoholic beverages (like wine) can have health benefits, like improving digestion or circulation, but only taken in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause or contribute to physical or psychological diseases. Excess alcohol can damage the liver, make the blood toxic, and overheat the brain. Alcohol can impair our mental judgment as well as our sensory coordination. "

I put the whiskey in there because you want the effect on circulation with the black pepper to speed up the elimination of the excess doshas. You will pee and sweat it out. Oh right this is a food blog and there I go again talking about the other end. Just not done is it? Well keep it between us.

You know what to do next. Make the tea with the ginger, hot and strong, add butter and stir, (churn if you can) add honey/jaggery and stir, add lime and stir, and the spices, stir the crap out of it, turn off the flame add the whiskey and as soon as it is cool enough to swallow, down it all in one fell swoop.

Wrap yourself up in dry blankets and don't move until they are wet. If that didn't start your perspiration engine on your terms, go back, and do it again, increasing the hot things...

So what happened to the onions and garlic?

You probably know this: you get sick because your body is out of balance. You get out of balance because you're not eating the right things for your constitution and living context. You are not eating the right things because you stopped listening to your body, or your sense of taste needs adjusting. When you eat the wrong things for your constitution, your liver and kidneys are the first to know about it.

Right, so when you have a cold/flu you have an excess of wind/heat. You want to reduce the Wind and Heat. How to rebalance underlying unbalanced constitution? Not with Onions and Garlic as the primary tonic. "Considering that the object is to give thedigestive and nervous system as much of a rest as possible, it isadvised to eat as lightly as your particular constitutionwill endure. " Citation. Onions and garlic are not light. The lovely tridoshic rice porridge is.


Sito Paladi In India, the vegetarian Hindus use a revered Ayurvedic preparationcalled Sito Paladi Churna for colds. This preparation depends on theuse of certain herbs mixed with raw brown sugar to supplementnutritional energy. Most of the herbs in sito paladi are readilyavailable and consists of the following: raw brown sugar, bamboomanna, pippli long pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. It is a primary anti-kapha or anti-mucus remedy especially good for internal coldness with accompanying clear or whitish mucus.

Bamboo manna (phylostachys nigra) is the inner sap of bamboo. It iscalled zhu li in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is similarlyused to clear inflammation and phlegm from the lungs. Pippli (piperlongum) called bi ba in TCM, along with the other ingredients insito paladi are hot and counterbalance the cooling energy of bamboomanna. Although, not as preferred, one can substitute black pepper forpippli in this formula. These herbs tend to stimulate circulation andraise the body's resistance to external cold pathogens.

A simplification of this combination is readily made by combiningpowdered black pepper, cardamom, echinacea root (either purpurea orangustifolia) and, if available, adding kudzu starch powder.

Onions is "hot", eliminates phlegm, is a stimulator, causes the formation of urine, increases appetite and the supreme destroyer of wind humor. It is beneficial in eliminating all the three excessive humors i.e. phlegm, wind and bile. However, onions in order to eliminate phlegm must be crushed and boiled not merely juiced. Although raw onion juice is marvelous for the nervous system, and gives great strength making it a tactical approach, it's not specific to the imbalance inviting colds and flus.

Tilapia Migas - Indian Austrian Mexican Style

Once every two weeks, I make a point to use up all the vegetables left over in the refrigerator. I usually start guilt tripping about the 10 day mark, and develop a fine fear of looking to see how far the left-over vegetables have gone.

Work always gets in the way of an overly ambitious cooking schedule. I invite vegetable cutting boy to come by. He pulls everything out, half filled bags of chard, mustard leaves, bok choy, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, green peppers, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots, onions, spring onions, shallots, garlic, small red potatoes - he says it's not bad at all, there's nothing to throw away but you have to cook these now.

So he weans, preens, lops, chops, slices and dices; soon a rainbow of vegetables look up expectantly. The first thing I do is open a can of Mexican salsa verdes in vinegar toss a good bit over each of the vegetables, over the fish marinade. But, not the potatoes: the potatoes will be cooked "dry" in Indian spices and onions.

Then I select the spices - a range of masala ingredients - and a container of nutritional yeast. That's the Austrian part you see.

Nutritional yeast is not quite brewer's yeast, but it supplies B-12. The corporate yeast monopoli-nistas like to enroll vegans that only their version has their holy grail B-12.

While we're on this subject, what did vegetarians do before the advent of "Korporatische"? Vitamin B-12 must be supplemented by those on strictly vegetarian diets, as well as other amino acids, which raises all kinds of interesting Darwin-esque questions about people inside their veggie-only box...

"Nutritional yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a food yeast, grown on a molasses solution, and comes in powder or flake form. It has a pleasant-tasting, cheesy flavor and can be used directly on vegetables, baked potatoes, popcorn and other foods as a condiment. It is different from brewer's yeast or torula yeast. It can often be used by those sensitive to other yeasts. Yeasts are not animals! Yeasts are part of the group fungii. They were originally considered to be plants even though they do not produce chlorophyll, now they have their own kingdom. "

"Natural nutritional yeast has been recognized as an excellent source of essential nutritional elements. One heaping tablespoon provides more protein, with all the essential amino acids, than most common foods. nutritional yeast provides all the B-vitamins, including choline and inositol, RNA and DNA, and all the important mineral and trace elements natural to yeast. Nutritional yeast tastes good because it is a primary yeast grown specifically as a food supplement."

I had a feeling that the yeast business got serious in Germany, France and Austria - them thar places that were the Western birthplaces of BEER und VIN. Und indeed, we find zat is zo! The Lesaffre Yeast Corporation is "leading the world in yeast research and technology" and at their fine site we read about their GREAT STEP FORWARD.

"In 1871 the Austrian Baron Max von Springer, owner of an excellent distillery at Maisons-Alfort, introduced from Vienna the idea of extracting yeast from the grain fermentation wort and selling it to bakers. Up until that time, the bakers had used their own sourdough, sometimes accompanied by residual brewery yeast. The following year, Lesaffre and Bonduele developed the process of manufacturing fresh yeast at Marcq-en-Baroeul, with the operation being housed in a former mill. The Societe Industrielle Lesaffre grew from this site. This company gradually emerged as the driving force and the platform for the industrial and commercial expansion of the yeast branch of the Group."

Well, there you go. Out of the grain wort sprang yeasty Austrians... and a century plus later:

"In February, 2001, Lesaffre Yeast Corporation further expanded its presence in the US yeast industry with the purchase of Red Star Yeast from Sensient Technologies Corporation. The Red Star family featured a consumer yeast brand as well as commercial products for the wholesale, bakery, foodservice and nutritional yeast industry. This merger continued to increase SAF’s leadership position in the U.S. yeast industry and gave the resulting company a strong national network of plants delivering quality yeast products to bakery, food, agriculture and nutriceutical markets.

Well that explains a comment at a veggie site: " might conclude that Red Star T-6635+ nutritional yeast, and probably no other variety, is a reliable dietary source of B12 at this time."

Oh puh-leeeeeze. Corporate jingle jangle. Merdekopf-ische. That's French-Austrian for "shit for brains". More on "neutriceutical" monopolies later, but I have to dig up Linda Ronstadt's "Lets get physical" for that one.

Back to the fish and veggies. A multiplicity of veggies works well with blander tasting fish, so I always make sure I have Tilapia (and real Tortillas) on hand and I set out four pans for a fish and veggie dinner that always garners a vow never to cook anything else again.

  • Fish
  • Potatoes
  • Green and Leafy only
  • Celery/Mushroom/Peppers - everyone else
These should be thinly sliced. In a saucepan with olive and sesame oil, add the onions, and cook until soft, then add "masala" components: cumin, tumeric, coriander, fenugreek, salt, red pepper, ginger powder, garlic powder and bring it to the point the spices begin to turn in the pot, stirring. Now add the sliced raw potatoes, and cover. Let the potatoes get really brown on one side, then turn, and cover again. Keep doing this until the spuds are done. Keep the heat to medium low, more low.

Remove, set aside and cover.

Green and leafy vegetables
In a wok style pot, place some olive oil then add the chard and other green and leafy cut small. It will look fairly mountainous and will cook down to only a few handfuls. Sprinkle soy and your leafy green spices over the mountain - tumeric, cumin, chili pepper together with a good dose of nutritional yeast. Note, I did not cook these spices in the oil. This is considered a crime in some Indian cooking circles, and I laugh defiantly at them.

Cut the tilapia into stew sized pieces, put lemon juice over, and marinate in a bit of rice wine vinegar and soy. In a pan heat some sesame seed oil with a bit of olive and very slowly fry a finely diced mix of the onions: spring and shallots etc. When half way to translucent, add cumin, coriander, ginger powder, red pepper powder and garlic powder. When cooked to where the onions are ready, add tilapia with marinade. Sprinkle some dried tarragon over this.

Cook about 5-6 minutes stirring gently once or twice. Remove from pan, put aside.

Celery Mushrooms Peppers etc.
Olive oil now, heat and add celery, mushrooms, peppers and anything else that doesn't fall into the other categories. Add soy, sprinkle the "hard vegetable" curry spice mix over, and stir. Now add a heavy sprinkle of nutritional (brewer's) yeast, two turns of the pot.

On low heat, cover and let cook til done. Use your judgment, you're in control.

Tortillas (optional)
In one of the pans I place a bit of oil, and place whole tortillas and cook til crisp, placing on a paper towel to absorb the oil. I do this for as many people as are sitting for dinner, or else for a simpler meal, I serve the fish over spuds, and the veggies around that.

Otherwise, I place the tortilla in a place, the fish in the middle, and the spuds and veggies in a circle around the fish. The tortilla is eaten when it has soaked up the amazing juices, and are easy to cut. You will have happy tummies set aglow with the exotic spices and the fish is delish.

Disclaimer: No vegans were harmed in the preparation or consumation of this dish.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Sourcream Coconut Cornbread

Oops I did it again. Another insult to the South. I put flour in a cornbread recipe. Not only that, I used baking powder and baking soda. Good god, I can see the Dixie Mafia foodies on corporate food blogs burning a cross for me as I write this. I confess, I did think "cream-style corn" in a can they like so much, but thank god it was fleeting.

Instead, I turned to fresh corn and creamed it myself. Creaming corn according to XYZ taste wheel methods goes like this:

Coconut Creamed Corn
8 oz petite sweet corn niblets, fresh or frozen
1 cup evap milk
1 - 2 Tb Molasses
Coriander, Cumin, Chili Powder, Coffee
[1/2 tsp of the spices and 1/5 cup strong black coffee]
2 Tb Coconut Cream
1/3 cup Coconut flakes unsweetened

If you want, add 1/3 cup raisins drowned in cognac. This will change the straight-up savory earthy flavor which counterpoints well with an apple-carrot-celery winter soup or an Irish stew. Or else, add 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, or a few cones of piloncillo/jaggery melted in hot water.

Put it all in a pot, stir well, and put on real low heat for a while. Do NOT slime it up with corn syrup and corn starch please.

Here's the recipe for what is actually known as 6-C cornbread in my kitchen - Coriander, Cumin, Chili Powder, Coffee, Corn, Coconut.

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking POWDER
1 tsp baking SODA
(Note there is no added sugar in this recipe because the corn has that)

Wet Ingredients:
1 Cup Sour Cream
3 eggs
1 stick butter, melted.
1 can's (14-16oz) worth coconut cream style corn as above

The usual cornbread drill: Mix dry well, make a well, mix wet well, add to the well, mix the mix well. Pour in an 8 by 8 buttered pan.

Bake at 380 for 35 minutes, and 400 for 5 minutes. Or 385 for 40 minutes. Depends on whether you have added the raisins or not. Without the coconut its 375 for 40. A stick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

The coconut flakes add a subtle crunch and satisfying texture. It looks like cake, but tastes like rich savory bread, pure corn bread. It has deep, earthy tones; it is moist with a good solid crumb around the corn niblets.

The molasses provides a springboard for the other spices. You can also serve this with those very spicy chili recipes you do for chili contests. It has not a whit of sweet, and you don't want to sugar it up, instead you might just want to do the raisin version.

Tridoshic Trump Cards

There are only a few magical food substances that balance all three constitutional types. The constitutions are called "doshas" so these things are called tridoshic. This means no matter who or what you are, these things will center your body back to the natural state for your exquisitely particular and specific body type, and of course, regardless of what you've done to it all your life so far, which makes it so exquisitely and preciously yours.

Kind of magic huh? Sort of what god would have had in mind, strafing the desert wandering Israelites with manna from heaven? As a kid going to Catholic school, I thought surely some religious food magic was in the communion wafer we got at mass. In fact, we all were led to believe the manna from heaven were likely communion wafers. First time I got up there the priest mumbled "Body of Christ" and I almost choked. "Too late, they got me! another church trick!" I stumbled back wondering if I had been double-crossed into cannibalism; I swear I almost puked. I mean in catechism they said it was to "represent the body of Christ" - but that's not what HE said, he said it like it was the real deal. He fervently meant it. Back in the pew I considered whether I should spit or swallow. As it stayed in my mouth dissolving I had to makeup my mind whether I ditched God by spitting him out or not in full view of the nuns. Could have been then the rumors started about kids disappearing to make the wafers. I had nothing to do with that. I swear.

Definitely not tridoshic, and not body nor mind balancing for me.

Well, just as a taste test, which of the following food substances do you think has the magical tridoshic triple-witchy-whammy?

  1. Adzuki Beans
  2. Asparagus
  3. Beets
  4. Black Pepper
  5. Cardamom
  6. Carrot
  7. Coriander
  8. Fennel
  9. Green Beans
  10. Gooseberry
  11. Mung Beans
  12. Rice
  13. Saffron
  14. Zucchini
Interestingly, all of them.

The most famous balancing act in the kitchen is the rice dish called Kitcheree. It's quite the healing dish. My mom used to put coconut in it, and since ghee in small quantities is tridoshic also, I'm going to illegally add coconut oil, almond butter and ghee in small quantities to my list. Just because.

There is another secret ingredient. It IS the real manna the Israelites appeared to be strafed with, from heaven no less, and when you have it and add it to the above, and change the method a bit, the results are miraculous. So miraculous I would be excommunicated from this planet much less the Roman Catholic church. So I can't write it down here, but it you pay attention to this blog (and hence, don't have a life, you'll figure it out in a bit).

You can create recipes that end up with a tridoshic hit, with a recipe that uses a lot of the trisdoshic ingredients. Here's a few of them, starting with Kitcheree.

Trisdoshic Manna

You will need a large sturdy pot.

1 cup Brown Rice - washed
1 cup Mung Beans - washed
10 cups Holy Water
1 TBspn lemon juice

Toss both rice and beans into the pot, bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. You must stir frequently because the beans will tend to stick to the bottom of the pot.

In the mean time, mix:
1 onion, diced
1/2 head garlic fined diced
1 large or 2 small carrots diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 Tblspn ghee, and if you don't have that, try olive, sesame or coconut, or even butter heated and strained, which is what ghee is.
2Tblspoon soy sauce, or more to taste

To the above add, more or less:
1 tsp black pepper
1 tblspn turmeric
1.2 tsp cayenne
1-2 tspn or more coriander - this will give it an earthy taste and some don't like
1 tsp fennel
If you have saffron, gosh yes! add it!

Now add the spiced veggies to the rice-mung bean mix and simmer for another 30 minutes. You must stir frequently. This makes a large quantity equivalent to at least 10,000 communion wafers. Put into double meal sized containers and freeze - voila! readily available tridoshic trump cards that the Vatican will have you hung for, under Blackfriars Bridge no less, on your next London vacation.

No more "rice-rocket" pots

Aren't you tired of all those rice recipes, really instructions on laminating your pot-bottoms with black carbohydrate polymers that look like space shuttle heat tiles after re-entry?

I know. Buy a rice cooker and be done with it. And I might just do that, but I cannot bring a rice cooker with me on real camping trips. And, I cannot bring a rice cooker with me in any real Emergency in which FEMA intervenes, because you know (you may not, but I do) their appearance on scene transforms dire, urgent, serious but human-manageable emergencies into a "get the hell out of town now cluster-fuck!". In other words, in an emergency, rice is a great food to bring along, because it is easy to pack, also medicinal, but not so the rice cooker.

If you know how to use Rice the way they do in Ayurvedic Asia, then you know that rice is a food and a medicine. This is good to know especially in situations where the water supply is questionable, or the state of health and hygiene of the dishwasher, cook, waiter, manager at your local 5 star restaurant is questionable. Did anyone say "norovirus"?

So here's the scoop on really, really and truly, how to cook rice, and it isn't in any Western cook book, or on those corporate food racketeering blogs. Also a baseline XYZ note on "bio-medicine" and bio-medicinal uses of rice.

Healthy Way to Cook Brown Rice - SOAKING

Note: Rice is always BROWN as in BRAN BROWN.
SOAK the rice in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes.

(Dear me, what an obvious concept, especially if you've ever cooked beans, or anything hard and dried; who took the soaking out of rice cooking - and what happens when you don't soak? Therein lies the answer as to why corporate recipe-heads took the soaking out).

The point of this soaking is so the rice grains can absorb some water. Long, pointy grains need more soaking. Now drain off this soak water, and let the rice breathe for about 10-15 minutes. This is an easy-going way to do things, because right about now you're preparing the other stuff for your rice dish.

The rice just isn't going to get mushy or burnt this way, which is more often the result with the ubiquitous corporate recipes: "bring to a boil, stir once, and leave undisturbed for 30,40 or 50 minutes". Here are pictures of how this method ends up, even with my spiffy All Clad top of the line cookware. (have to post pictures)

NOW combine the soaked, drained, aired rice with fresh water, salt and lemon juice. Why the lemon juice? It prevents oxidation yes, but also prevents sticking, so no butter or oil please. Fats change the pure taste and health values of the rice. Lemon juice synergizes health benefits of the rice. Rice is healthy for your intestines; the lemon juice aids digestion. Rice specifically soothes inflammation left by e.g., undigested food festering in your alimentary canal. I know it's not "done" to talk about what happens to your food once it leaves one set of expensive China on the table on it's way to the other expensive China on the floor. But hey, it's me. It's what I do.

Lemon juice just might do something for acid reflux. This makes sense because the detox program that save my life - part of the process used vinegar mixed with apple cider to cure our stomach problems, including acid reflux. I haven't done the research with lemons, but here's what I'm going on. An extreme version of acid reflux, which is a sort of "stomach acid regurgitation" is called "rumination". It's sad because severely developmentally disabled children can suffer from this, where bits of food are constantly regurgitated.

...Long-standing rumination in a profoundly retarded girl was treated using lemon juice as a consequence of the rumination. Rumination was nearly eliminated and weight was increased as a function of the use of lemon juice while the child was in a daycare center. "...

The lemon, malum medicum or the "medicinal fruit", was originally cultivated "in the hot, semi-arid Deccan Plateau in Central India". In the book, Back to Eden, Jethro Kloss writes, "The medicinal value of the lemon is as follows: It is an antiseptic, or is an agent that prevents sepsis [the presence of pathogenic bacteria] or putrefaction [decomposition of tissue]. It is also anti-scorbutic, a term meaning a remedy which will prevent disease and assist in cleansing the system of impurities.” Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently thus controlling constipation and diarrhea.

Seems that rice and lemons were always meant to "go together", ask every healthy inch of your alimentary canal. So, what do you eat with meat to enhance complete digestion? Veggies or rice? Food combining requires a little more thought than "separate carbs and meat", though there is a time and place for that.

Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Test for done-ness because you're close, depending on the type of rice. Lower the heat and simmer for 5, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the grain of rice. See chart.

Note: there are three stages. 1. Soak and drain 2. Boil 3. Simmer.

Three different stages, three different heat settings, plus lemon juice. Does this make it more difficult, no, it makes it easier. What if you left it soaking for an hour, not a big deal! What if you left it airing for an hour? Not a big deal. And when you boil and simmer, it will likely be for a mere 10 - 30 minutes at most even with the hardest grains of rice. No more rice-rocket pots.

Healthy Way to Cook Brown Rice - TOASTING
Rice: Fluid about 3 :1 depending on the type of grain

Heat a heavy skillet over a moderate flame.
Add 2 cups rice and toast lightly.

In a separate pot, bring 2 cups water and 1 cup tomato puree to a boil. Or 2 cups water, 1 cup coconut milk, or 1 cup water, 2 cups broth, even 2 cups of water and 1 cup of pure lemon juice - with something to take the edge off, I don't know, coconut and honey? Am I making myself clear? The corporate food nazis will scream "chemistry", "you need a PhD in chemistry and a license from us before we let you near your stove". I say, bugger off, this is personal body alchemy.

Pour all liquid over the rice.

Mix in the amounts your heart desires from this list: minced fresh garlic, medium chopped onions, minced cilantro.

Cover, turn heat to very low and cook for about 25 or 30 up to 50 minutes depending on the type of rice grain.

The term Bio-Medicinal and the Bio-Medicinal properties of Rice
I've invented the word "bio-medicinal" to distinguish from the "corporate-medicinal" world as legislated by the Corporate FDA. Oh, did you say FDA was a Government Agency? Well, never mind, you'll get over it, but here's the real scoop: there's no difference.

Now, with the word "bio-medicinal", I'm not in their world, and they're not in mine. Their corporate FDA world treats my body and your body as their legal entities, and have succeeded in legislating over our social security bodies as though it were their property. Through insurance companies of course.

Here's the point at which I'm supposed to put a disclaimer. You know, you see all these "holistic medicine" Internet sites, and articles and books, with the required disclaimer "This is not REALLY good medical advice; for that, you have to check with your legally FDA sanctified physician for proper corporate medicine, the only intervention the government allows you to take for your corporate body with a corporately recognized malady".

Right, what I have isn't corporate medical advice. Duh, hardly anything that makes common sense is, now is it? We shall publish the disclaimer with pride and in words we the people understand: "Not the sort of propaganda you'll get from those numb-nuts".

Rice as Medicine
An ancient food, rice cultivated 10,000 years ago too. The oft-overlooked humble rice bowl. “Archaeological findings of the Indus civilisation reveals that wild rice was eaten in advanced Mesolithic or pre-Neolithic (c 8080 plus/minus 115 B.C.) period Prolific use of rice husk and chaff as pottery temper ... 5440 plus/minus240 B.C ..."

Rice Water cures intestinal maladies
A decoction of rice, which we call Rice Water is used to re-balance your intestinal activity. A long time ago and so very far away I was in the foothills of the Himalayas on my 11th sequential giardia attack. Stubborn as always, I was going to teach my intestines a thing or two about adjusting to the local diet, as I was going to be there for a year, and did not have the time or inclination, to be a full time American Princess foreigner for that year.

Taking pity on my state and total ignorance at how to manage the wondrous biosphere known as "my own gut", my hosts whipped me up a decoction of rice water. Where those blue, liver-destroying pills had failed, the rice water worked in 10 minutes. Grate some apples (yes, with the deadly skin washed in the same deadly water too) and put in the rice water. I was eating, better yet successfully drinking lots of water again, within the hour.

(Blue, liver-destroying pills: Flagyl, prescribed ahead of time by my corporate doctor among other prescriptive items I had spent a few thousand dollars on, just in case).

What else is Rice good for? Everything!

"In Ayurveda the medicinal values of rice have been described: rice is considered to be acrid, oleaginous, tonic, aphrodisiac, fattening, diuretic and useful in biliousness (Caius 1986)...Rice water is recommended as an excellent demulcent, refrigerant drink in febrile and inflammation diseases and also in dysuria. " [Febrile means fever].

Rice has cooling properties and is used to soothe all kinds of tissue inflammation. Do you hear me, "all kinds" from the deep internal to the external.

Rice and their sprouted greens are used as an eye tonic. Dried, powdered rice is used on many kinds of skin flare-ups. Again, rice sprouts are used to cure a wide variety of digestive ailments of course, because indigestion and weak alimentary canals are usually due to crud, left-over, undigested, rotting and festering bio-substances, unwisely combined; eventually our intestines become sewers, gassy, bilious, fatty, eventually spilling and toxifying our systems, leading to degenerative diseases.

What specific type of rice do you get if you need to be serious about this? Njavara. Or red rices.

“These researchers too mention about the medicinal properties of not only the Njavara variety but also Cbhmennelu and Rakhtashali saying that “it is believed that the Njavara variety, which matures in sixty days, has the medicinal property of redressing tridosha (the Ayurvedic term for imbalance in body humors) the root cause of body ailments. This rice has the unique capability to enrich body elements, to exclude toxic metabolites, to strengthen, regenerate and energise body, to regulate blood pressure and to prevent skin diseases and premature ageing…

That be said, you've got to these people who have put out this web site, and work so very hard to bring this to the rest of the world.

Saffron also has tridoshic properties, which makes saffron rice pretty special if you know what you're doing. Speaking of tridoshic trump cards in another entry, I should mention here, that...

1/4 teaspoon dry ginger plus 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom a tridoshic mix. Hence the raison d'etre of X+Y+Z recipes. When you make your saffron rice, add those spices in those combinations and that's the rice rocket that will help you balance your system. A balanced body experiences those much sought after mind miracles. Happy space travels.

Taste Values:

Health Values:

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Nectar of the Gods - Krupnikas

I have been fascinated with heavily spiced liqueurs that call for saffron. This one appears to be as complex as any medicinal tonic and it is referred to as nectar of the gods. Make it, and tell me it isn't so.

The way I got to this recipe was through the Coal Region's (the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania) recipe for Boilo. The Boilo recipe struck a note with me, because I came across a medicinal tonic in the Himalayas with the same idea.

Sooner or "afterlater", as they say in coal country, I found the recipe that may have inspired Boilo. Here it is. Thank you CoalRegion - though I'm worried about yiz'll (youz?) winning for the most roadkill deer in any State from New York to California, a cross-country metric from two years ago.
Posted by someone named LAIMA. Thank YOU Laima!
(Gosh darn it, check out my recipes and tell me this isn't the way I cook!)

2 teaspoons caraway seed
10 whole cloves
10 whole allspice
4 sticks cinnamon
2 sticks vanilla
2 pieces yellow ginger
2 pieces white ginger
10 cardamom seeds
1/2 nutmeg
3 strips orange rind
3 strips lemon rind
1 pinch saffron
4 cups water
2 lbs honey
1 quart grain alcohol

Crack cardamon seeds and nutmeg. Boil spices, rind and water in a covered pot until liquid is reduced to about 2 cups. Strain.

In a pot large enough to hold the spiced liquid, alcohol and honey, bring honey to a boil. Skim off the foam. Pour spiced liquid into honey and stir. Remove from heat.

(And, they have a Black and Crispy clause - how perfect is that!)
Place far away from heat to prevent flare-up or explosion of alcohol. Slowly, and very carefully, pour in alcohol. Replace pot on LOW heat. Heat, being careful not to simmer or boil, for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool in the same covered pot overnight. Following day, pour into bottles and allow to settle (about 2 weeks). The longer it sits, the clearer it becomes and the better it tastes.

Note: When I make this, I let it settle for a week. Pour off the clear liquid into a separate bottle, being careful not to disturb the sediment. Filter the sedimented portion (through a coffee filter) into a separate bottle. Do this several times over the next month. You will end up with a clear liqueur that is akin to the nectar of the gods. Good Luck and Enjoy!

Boilo - Yuletide drink of the Coal Region

I was reading the Drudge Retort, which is considered an attempt at countering the madness found at the Drudge Report. The Drudge Report is a political news machine. Their prime value proposition is a goal, using information and social engineering, of making medieval war behavior the New American Century's prime American cultural directive. Although many websites do just that, Drudge Report's specialty is in the rape and pillage aspects of said war-mongering. Does Iraq make more sense now? Anyway, at Drudge Retort, I found an interesting political commentary that ended with a recipe for something called Boilo.

It reminded me of my New Years Nog, and was pleased to see sensible and lavish use of spices and fruit. I repeat this recipe entirely from a most interesting site,, from the Anthracite Coal region of Pennsylvania. There we find recipes for not only Boilo, but City Chicken (not chicken) and coal candy (hard chunks of black licorice). This from there:

"City chicken: During the depression, chicken was more expensive than pork. So pork and veal were substituted for and "passed off" as chicken. The pork and veal are alternated on a wooden skewer such that it resembles a chicken leg." -

We are informed that "A really big to-do will feature both filling AND stuffing (filling is made from potatoes, stuffing from bread)."

A word of Boilo advice: the name is misleading as you do NOT want to boil this. They say: "Boilo is traditionally made during the Christmas and New Year's holiday. It's great on those cold winter nights. Beware, this can knock you for a loop! Cheers!"

Boilo recipe #1: Crock pot style

2 oranges (med-large size)
2 lemons
1 small box raisins (about 1 1/2 ounces)
8 oz honey
12 oz whiskey (or more, to taste). Use Four Roses, or Seagrams 7, or something similar. At least 80 proof (40% alcohol). I understand they use 150 proof.
1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of any or all of these spices: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Caraway seed, Anise seed

Make this in a crock pot. It's easier than cooking on the stove and much less likely to overcook or scorch. For the quantities shown here, a small (1.5 quart) crock pot will do.

Peel the oranges and lemons. Cut up the fruit and squeeze them into the crock pot. A garlic press works, or you can use some kind of juicer or fruit squeezer if you have one. Put the remaining fruit pulp into the crock pot as well.

Add the raisins, honey, and spices. Stir.

NOTE: do not add whiskey yet!

Start the crock pot and let the mixture cook for about 2-4 hours. Stir occasionally. It's done when the fruit pulp gets "cooked-down".

Strain into a pitcher. Mash down the fruit in the strainer to get all the liquid. NOW add the whiskey to the pitcher and stir. If you cook the whiskey, even for a short time, the alcohol will start to evaporate (and who wants that to happen??). Taste, and add more whiskey to your liking.

Serve hot in shot glasses, espresso cups, or coffee mugs. After the first round, each individual serving can be heated in the microwave.

This recipe makes about 12 ounces of "virgin" boilo. Add 12 ounces of whiskey to this and you get 24 ounces of coal region nectar, enough for 12-18 servings.

Boilo recipe #2: Stovetop style

1 bottle whiskey (any relatively cheap, blended whiskey will do)
Several oranges. Quantity depends on how much you wish to make. Use at least 4.
Same number of lemons
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups of honey
2 cinnamon sticks

Peel the oranges and lemons and cut into quarters. Squeeze the fruit into a pot, then throw in the remaining fruit pulp. Add some water (some people use ginger ale). Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the whiskey.

Cook everything at a slow simmer, stirring constantly. This will take about 15-20 minutes. If necessary, add orange juice and a bit more water. The color should be a yellow-orange.

They have a Black and Crispy Clause: Don't overcook; the name is misleading. You don't want to boil this. Then slowly stir in the whiskey. Be careful - this can catch fire if splashed on the stove. Keep adding whiskey to taste.

It's not uncommon to use the whole bottle. (I bet it's not uncommon for there to be no reason to continue to the next steps either).

Simmer for just a few more minutes once the whiskey is added. Strain and serve hot in shot glasses (a regular glass may crack). The "No Guzzling This Is For Company Clause": Drink in sips. Individual servings (what's THAT?) can warmed later in a microwave. (XYZ says, please don't Mwave!) Everyone's recipe uses pretty much the same ingredients, but the quantities on each vary greatly. You'll have to experiment to find what suits your taste. See also a traditional Lithuanian recipe.

Boilo apparently was derived from a version of an old Lithuanian Honey Liqueur called KRUPNIKAS, which is the real deal. See next recipe.

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