Monthly Archives: February 2014

New wine enthusiasts… or old compulsive drinkers ;)

Here’s a back-to-basics post on wine appreciation — how to learn to appreciate and enjoy it more!

untitledIt all begins with your nose. Yep — your nose, not your tongue and mouth. For longtime drinkers, who start gulping their wine as soon as it is poured into a glass, STOP!… You might as well be drinking any other alcoholic drink, if this is what you’re doing! Wine needs gentle handling and deserves love and appreciation by slowing down and following a few steps outlined here…

* FIRST SNIFF — pour a bit of wine, then put your nose into the glass and sniff. R-e-a-l-l-y sniff, and try and identify what aromas you can smell. Why this is important is because the full taste of anything includes its smells…this is true of everything we eat and drink.

* THEN SWIRL the glass, helping to release more aromas and smells. Now back to the nose in the glass, to identify still more smells. Look for fruit smells, woody smells, earthy smells or any other ‘unknowns’ — don’t worry if you find nothing… it may take some practice.

* NOW SIP — slowly partially filling your mouth and…

* SWILL the wine around in the mouth, gently, ladies may do so delicately ;)…this will bring the experience of the full taste of the wine, and help you decide if you like it or now!

Do be careful not to judge hastily because sometimes it takes a few sips to decide. Also, food that you’re eating will affect the taste. For pure tasting, it’s best to cut up a baguette and eat that as you taste wine. Take your time… and enjoy! Cheers! 🙂

 

Foods as medicine (1) — Turmeric

2014-02-16 11_49_01Being of Indian origin, I took the use of turmeric in food as granted. In every part of India, ‘haldi’ (its name in Hindi) is added to almost every savory dish. We always knew it had antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory properties, which cured and healed the body, but as researchers started investigating its benefits, wonderful new information came out on what a powerhouse this spice is — no wonder Indians have used it in their food for over two thousand years. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. perhaps that’s why in French this spice is called ‘curcuma’.

Research has revealed that turmeric is a natural wonder, proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions from cancer to Alzheimer’s.

Here are 12 health benefits of turmeric:

1. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.

2. When combined with cauliflower, it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.

3. May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to commit suicide.

4. Is a natural liver detoxifier.

5. May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain.

6. May prevent metastases from occurring in many different forms of cancer.

7. It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects. Because of these properties it is a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

8. May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight management.

9. Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression.

10. Boosts the effects of chemo drug paclitaxel and reduces its side effects.

11. Has been shown to stop the growth of new blood vessels in tumors.

12. Speeds up wound healing and assists in remodeling of damaged skin.

Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family. The dark yellow powder form we see it and use it in, is its powdered, dried root.

For people unfamiliar with its use in food, turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form. It is available in pill form in most health food stores, usually in 250-500mg capsules (I would recommend the powder in capsules). Once you start using turmeric on a regular basis, it’s fun to find new ways to use it in recipes. One could even add a pinch of it to egg salad, soups, broths, and in fact just sprinkle a quarter teaspoon on any savory dish.

But as someone who likes to experiment with food, I just got the idea to add it to sweet tasting food too, which has historically not been done in India. Turmeric chocolate, anyone ;)? I must confess I’m getting very carried away by the idea… ‘Haldi Chocolate’…sounds like Healthy Chocolate, which it would be ;)!

 

Chocolate for breakfast ;)

2014-02-15 10_47_17Someone pointed out to me yesterday that since Valentine’s was on a Friday this year, it should be called Valentine Weekend not Day…and who am I to argue with such a good idea!!! Working on my book till very late last night, and waking up late this morning, I noticed that the chocolate slab I bought as a special treat for myself was lying here on the table, unopened and forgotten — quelle horreur…how simply awful!…this beautiful dark chocolate with dried raspberries, just forgotten?! Oh no, how could THAT happen? But, happen it did, and so, to make amends, I decided to show my respect, open it immediately, make a nice cup of strong Colombian coffee and savor the two slowly and languorously* ;)… so good for the soul…

Thus divinely transported, I’m back in the spirit of the weekend :)! As I’m eating my chocolate, I realize how perfect the match is, between raspberries and dark chocolate. And interestingly enough, as I bite into the raspberries and chew on their seeds, the flavor that explodes in the mouth is that of a mix of fruit and green tea, more matcha** than ordinary green tea. What a discovery!

And the brand of chocolate was a surprise too…Saxon Chocolates, a Toronto company (www.saxonchocolates.com). The Quebec books and music chain Archambault carries them…I don’t know about other places…the website would be a good place to find out. I have also tried their orange peel dipped in dark chocolate, and loved it! Chocolate for breakfast 😉 — ah sweet life! <3

*Lagurous means a lack of physical or mental energy; listlessness. lethargy, dreamy, lazy mood or quality, emotional softness or tenderness

**Matcha is finely powdered green tea, very popular nowadays

 

Happy Valentine’s :)

2013-10-13 22_40_58However you celebrate, I hope you DO do something to mark this day! If you’re single, go buy fresh cut flowers and change the energy in your home, or if you can think of something else to honor yourself, just go and do it. Whatever your status, don’t let the day go by uneventfully! <3

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Now, what are you still doing at this blog ;)? Go, and do something — get flowers, get wine, get chocolates, get a massage, plan a meal, go watch a movie, and have a wonderful time, Valentine 🙂

I’ll leave you all with a quote from the famous English poet John Keats: “Love is like the moon — when it is not increasing, it is decreasing!” So, if that love, for a child, a family member, a friend or a significant other, is important to you, feed it, feed it!!! <3

 

Valentine Countdown (6) — The Story of Valentine’s Day

untitledSaint Valentine’s Day, also known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 of each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world. Although it is not a holiday, I personally know many people who try and take the whole or a partial day off to celebrate with families or a loved one.

St. Valentine’s Day began as a celebration of an early Christian saint named Valentinus. A popular account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry as the Roman Emperor Claudius II didn’t believe that married men would make good soldiers. The second reason for his persecution was that he ministered to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages (11th, 12th and 13th centuries). In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionary and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid, the god of love. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

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Although Valentine’s was originally supposed to be a day of celebration between secret lovers, it has now gone mainstream and has become another day for people to celebrate — it’s timing too is perfect, coming as it does close to spring when winter-wearied people are ready for a change in the season.

Along with a few other popular gifts, chocolates seem to be the biggest gift item bought by people. In fact some people jokingly call Valentine’s the Chocolate Day :)!

 

Valentine Countdown (5) — Love starts with you :)

387111_426468624070962_1850619300_nIf you were broke, and I asked to borrow 10 bucks from you, would you be able to help me? Of course not! You may want to help me, but if you don’t have what I’m asking you for, you simply can’t give it to me. It’s the same with love…

If we don’t love ourselves, there’s not much of it we can give to others. On the contrary, the better we treat ourselves, the more abundant we are in it, and it spills out of us onto everyone around us! Isn’t that such a good reason then, to love ourselves FIRST?

No, there’s NOTHING selfish about caring for oneself. As explained, caring for ourselves percolates down to others in our life. But, wait a minute! What kind of ‘caring for myself’ am I talking about here? Well, I’m talking about self-care in the form of being a positive person. By being negative we insults ourselves — we insult our souls!

Why? Because when we’re negative, our bodies go into stress overdrive. Yes,  It is now proven that stress symptoms can affect our body, our thoughts and feelings, and our behavior. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to health problems, such as chronic pain, fatigue, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity. It affects our mood, by causing anxiety, sadness, irritability, and all their variants. Lastly, it also affects our behavior causing eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use and even social withdrawal. Wouldn’t you agree then, that being negative is a form of self-hatred?

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So, let’s take a Valentine’s Day vow to love ourselves more, and walk the love-path :)! Here is a simple suggestion to start the process: From the moment you read this post, make a promise to yourself that each time you want to say something negative, or a negative thought crosses your mind, or you realize that stress is building up in you, JUST SMILE! WHAT — just smile, you ask??? Yes, quite simply, stretch your lips from side to side in a smile, even if you don’t feel like smiling ;)! Try it — you will see that a big ‘pretend smile’ will soon give your heart such a lift that you will involuntarily take a deep breath and smile for real :)! The world will not seem like such a bad place ;), and the stress in your body will vamoose…it will disappear! Now THIS would be a very good way to start loving yourself! N’est-ce pas? Don’t you agree?

May your path be strewn with rose petals 🙂

 

Valentine Countdown (4) — nothing says it like roses :)

thumbKI9MRCL3Roses are the flower associated with Valentine’s. And not just any roses, but red ones! A red rose is a lover’s rose. You may offer any number of roses in a bouquet but this link here will tell you the significance of the numbers — it’s a very interesting read, so if you have a little time on your hands you may click on this link:

http://www.roseforlove.com/rose-number-meanings-ezp-46 !

The ancient Greeks and Romans associated roses with Aphrodite and Venus, goddesses of love. Used for hundreds of years to convey messages without words, roses also represent confidentiality. (In fact, the Latin expression “sub rosa” (literally, “under the rose”) means something told in secret, and in ancient Rome, a wild rose was placed on the door to a room where confidential matters were being discussed.)

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While offering someone roses, do be mindful of the different meanings symbolized by different colors. Each color has a distinct meaning: Red, the lover’s rose, signifies enduring passion; White, humility and innocence; Yellow, expressing friendship and joy — be careful because Yellow may also signify ‘jealousy’; Pink roses express gratitude, appreciation and admiration; Orange, enthusiasm and desire; White, Lilac and Purple roses represent enchantment and love at first sight. If interested to know more, I’m adding this link here for you — enjoy! 🙂

http://www.roseforlove.com/the-meanings-of-rose-colors-ezp-22

 

Valentine Countdown (3) — M is for music :)

thumbNow that we’ve given a thought to the gifts, the theme cooking, the cards, let’s turn our attention to the next very important aspect of Valentine’s — and that is music and songs! If you saw my blog post from Feb. 7, you saw my confession about being a ‘hopeless romantic’ :)…and that is something one doesn’t become overnight. It’s something in our genes — or not! I clearly remember, from around the age of 9 or 10, I collected song books, with the words of my favorite songs. If I didn’t find the right books I’d just write the words down as I heard them on the radio — this was before the internet and google, and everything was harder to do.

In the beginning these were songs from Hindi movies, and very soon after, I got introduced to singers like Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Cliff Richard, Dean Martin etc., followed by the bands of the 70s and pop, rock and blues became my passion. This went on for several years until philosophical and spiritual interests took up all my time and music took a back seat.

thumbFor this post, I thought I’ll create a list of some of the most popular love songs of the era but quickly realized that it would be a herculean task, and I might still not have your favorites covered, since people’s choices are so varied. So, I looked at some of my favorites and then randomly picked a few soft and sentimental ones to post here. I hope these youtube links will trigger memories of your personal favorites for you, and then you can search them out. So, here goes:

* Can’t Help Falling in Love With You – Elvis Presley http://youtu.be/o126OwOzViI

* Baby I’m A Want You – Bread http://youtu.be/MRXMdHEZt-s

* Al Di La – Emilio Pericoli http://youtu.be/U90wXVA9eFk (this is an Italian song – very romantic, meaning ‘Beyond the Beyond’, which I heard in the Hollywood movie ‘Rome Adventure’ and learnt to sing, in Italian.)

Please note, all songs are in the ‘lyrics version’ — if you want to sing them the words are there :)! Enjoy… and I’ll be back with Countdown (4) tomorrow 🙂

 

Valentine Countdown (2) — for families :)

1891114_10152198829191327_731493973_nIt’s a fun thing that Valentine’s today is celebrated by everyone! The reason may have been commercial but stores are filled with red-colored and heart-shaped products for people of every age, and I just love it! Last week, I saw a grandmother in a store with her young grandchild, helping the child choose surprise gifts for her parents. I heard the grandmother say to the child: “On Valentine’s, we give gifts to people we love.” How nice to be taught early to not just receive but give too!

untitledSome fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s at home with children is to do theme cooking, using heart shaped molds — everything from pancakes, to fried eggs, and cakes and chocolates etc. Just use your imagination :)!

Another interesting project can be to buy card-making kits with appropriate stickers, red-hearts of course! Be as creative as you can, and help children make Valentine Cards at home for people in their life… and for adult children, perhaps drop hints about sending cards out! 😉

 

Valentintine Countdown* (1) – Original Valentine Gifts :)

Fresh-Beautiful-Bouquet-Pink-Roses-StillOver the years I’ve heard many stories from people about how they celebrated Valentine’s Day with a loved one. One of my favorites was from a man who, over a regular ‘romantic dinner for two’ offered his sweetheart twelve sealed envelopes — with a plan for a special outing each month, inside each envelope, making it twelve different special outings in the year to follow. His wife was to pick an envelope each month and discover her surprise!

The reason I thought it was such a great gift was the obvious sentiment behind it — of making an effort to celebrate one’s relationship on goingly, and not just on one special day in the year.

Some may argue that they already do so much with their significant other that they don’t see why 12 of those outings have to be considered special. Well, just think about it? There’s a difference between asking her or him to throw their coat on and have a meal outside, and pulling this plan out of a secret envelope and then planning it as special!

*Valentine Countdown – This is related to yesterday’s post on my declaration that on this Blog, Valentine’s is going to last a whole week 🙂 — today is therefore, Day 1 🙂