Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Too Chai with L o v e

Swami Muktananda (personal) Chai Recipe from the Siddha's

Chai is a rich and complex beverage that has been savored for centuries in many parts of the world, especially India. Traditionally consumed hot and sweet. The sweetness is needed to bring out the full flavors of the spices.

Interestingly enough Chai is simply the word for “tea” in Hindi and several other Asian languages. The spicy, milky variety known in India as masala chai is simply called “chai” in the US.

What makes great chai? What makes it taste so good? Well, for a start, freshly selected and grounded ingredients, blended together and left to settle for several hours or sometimes overnight to 'ripen' add a dash of the l o v e of sharing tea with friends and family and stir, to make the perfectly delicious spicy chai experience many of us have come to love and enjoy over the years.

It is always challenging to write down a recipe which is never 'fixed'. My wife Erin says; best chai comes from 'the Heart'. She started with the recipe given to us by a dear friend (a Siddha who prepared this for Gurumai for many years and it was said to be Baba's favorite) and has evolved it to this (this baba's favorite ;) and now it is offered for you to experiment and as your confidence grows and it finds your own 'touch'. Making chai is fun; relax and enjoy this great eastern tradition. Never make it in a tense or hurried mood; work with love, respect and a light heart, and your 'chai' ( you could read 'life' here), will always be great. May the Chai welcome you too!

*4 Cups water
*handful of black tea (Darjeeling or Assam) or 6 bags
*dried or fresh ginger (i use both) tablespoon dried+shredded fresh ~ this is a good starting point and recommend experiment w/this to discover just how "spicy" you like it.
*1 cinnamon stick (2 if small)
*1 tablespoon black peppercorns (slightly cracked)
*1 1/2 tablespoon Cardamom seeds (slightly ground)
*15 whole Cloves
*2/3 cows milk or goat
*desired amount sugar

*bring water to a boil, with Cinnamon and ginger in pot.
*mix spices together and in a pre-heated sauce pan ~ dry fry the spices for 5-7 seconds stirring the whole time
*add spices to pot of water and let simmer for 20/30 minutes
*Add tea and let sit for 5 minutes, strain.
*Put back into pot and Add Sugar and Milk

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This Will Blow Your Mind...

Regenerative Medicine

When a hobby-store owner in Cincinnati sliced off his fingertip in 2005 while showing a customer why the motor on his model plane was dangerous, he went to the emergency room without the missing tip. He couldn't find it anywhere. The doctor bandaged the wound and recommended a skin graft to cover the top of his right-middle stub for cosmetic purposes, since nothing could be done to rebuild the finger.

Months later, he had regrown it, tissue, nerves, skin, fingernail and all.

This particular hobbyist happened to have a brother in the tissue-regeneration business, who told him to forego the skin graft and instead apply a powdered extract taken from pig's bladder to the raw finger tip. The extract, called extracellular matrix, lays the framework that cells use to generate any given body part. It's like a cellular scaffolding, and all animals have it. It holds the signals that direct cells to divide, differentiate and build themselves into a specific form.

Extracellular matrix is a component of body tissue that functions outside of the body's cells (thus the "extracellular" designation). It's made up mostly of collagen, a type of protein. So extracellular matrix extracted from the bladder of a pig does not actually have any of the pig's cells in it.

In human fetuses, the substance works in concert with stem cells to grow and regrow everything from heart aortas to toes. Fetuses can regrow almost anything that gets damaged while in the womb. Scientists have long believed that when a fetus reaches full development, this extracellular matrix stops functioning. But with evidence that applying extracellular matrix from a pig can initiate certain types of regeneration in humans, they're wondering if they can trigger human extracellular matrix to start working again. After all, according to regeneration researcher Dr. Stephen Badylak of the University of Pittsburgh, children up to the age of two have been known to regrow fingertips with no outside help.

Pig-extracted extracellular matrix is already used by veterinarians to help horses repair torn ligaments. In people, it's used to treat ulcers, closing a hole in the tissue that lines the stomach. It employs an entirely different process than the typical mammalian healing mechanism. Let's take the case of a person who loses the tip of a finger. When the finger is severed, the cells die, and their contents seep into the surrounding tissue. This alerts the immune system to a problem. The immune system's response to cell death is inflammation and scar tissue. The formation of scar tissue prevents any future cellular development in the area. That's why scars last -- cells are prevented from doing a repair job on that skin.

But when extracellular matrix is applied to a wound, it doesn't trigger an immune response. Instead, when it begins to break down into surrounding tissue, it causes the cells in that tissue to start repairing the damage the way they would in a developing fetus (or a salamander that loses a limb) -- they divide and rebuild, creating new, normal tissue, not scar tissue.

Combined with developments in stem-cell research, this extracellular matrix may work miracles in the area of regeneration science. As of early 2007, testing of the effects of extracellular matrix is being carried out on a military base in Texas. Scientists are using the powdered pig extract on Iraq War veterans whose hands were damaged in the war. They're opening the wounds and applying the component to finger stubs in an attempt to regrow them. The researchers conducting the study say they don't expect to regrow the entire finger, but are hoping to regrow enough of a finger to allow for some utility. They don't believe it will regenerate bone, but nothing is for sure right now. That man in Cincinnati had only lost his finger tip, at the lower part of the nail; he hadn't lost the entire finger.

Help from pigs aside, many wonder if the extracellular matrix in humans is unable to function or is simply in a latent state, awaiting some sort of trigger. Do humans in fact have the same regenerative capacity as salamanders, which can regrow an entire limb, and researchers just haven't found a way to activate the mechanism? It's not just amphibians that can regrow body parts: Deer regularly regrow lost antlers, composed of bone, tissue, cartilage and skin -- the same things that make up human limbs. Could there possibly be an internal switch that would reactivate the regeneration capacity that humans possess in the womb? Regenerative medicine is actively pursuing answers to these questions. And in the meantime, if applying powdered pig extract to a snipped finger can in fact facilitate regrowth, the possibilities for medicine are startling. Spinal injuries, amputated limbs and damaged organs could all be coaxed back into a complete, healthy state if science finds the right combination of treatments.

A Plant's Eye~view

Michael Pollan is the author of The Botany Of Desire+Omnivore’s Dilemma and his latest In Defense Of food. In all of which he explains how our food not only affects our health but has far-reaching political, economic, and environmental implications. Few writers approach their subjects with such rigor, passion and perspective. Whereas most humans think we are Darwin’s most accomplished species, Pollan convincingly argues that plants — even our own front lawns — have evolved to use us as much as we use them.

A Plant's Eye-View Michael Pollan Speaks at TED 2007

Local Harvest...Real food+Real farmers+Real community

Community Supported Agriculture

"Food. There's plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it?" Asks Michael Pollan Author of Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto

Because most of what we're consuming today is not food, and how we're consuming it -- in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone -- is not really eating. Instead of food, we're consuming "edible foodlike substances" -- no longer the products of nature but of food science. Many of them come packaged with health claims that should be our first clue they are anything but healthy. In the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become.

But if real food -- the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognize as food -- stands in need of defense, from whom does it need defending? From the food industry on one side and nutritional science on the other. Both stand to gain much from widespread confusion about what to eat, a question that for most of human history people have been able to answer without expert help. Yet the professionalization of eating has failed to make Americans healthier. Thirty years of official nutritional advice has only made us sicker and fatter while ruining countless numbers of meals."

Pollan proposes a new (and very old) answer to the question of what we should eat that comes down to seven simple but liberating words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By urging us to once again eat food, he challenges the prevailing nutrient-by-nutrient approach -- what he calls nutritionism -- and proposes an alternative way of eating that is informed by the traditions and ecology of real, well-grown, unprocessed food. Our personal health, he argues, cannot be divorced from the health of the food chains of which we are part.

In Defense of Food shows us how, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context -- out of the car and back to the table. Michael Pollan's bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

Here in Encinitas, CA. where we live like many local communities farms offer produce subscriptions, where buyers receive a weekly or monthly basket of produce, flowers, fruits, eggs, milk, meats, or any sort of different farm products. A CSA, (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become "members" (or "shareholders," or "subscribers") of the CSA.

This has become a fun and creative way to feel connected, not only to our community, to our food source, but most of all to ourselves. For my wife Erin and I, it is a surprise we look forward to each week and with it comes the promise of a new idea for a meal, a natural introduction to a new combination of flavors and delight, as you never quite know what you will get. And it fits well with my definition for sustainable, which is the ability to sustain. Besides supporting local farmer's just feels good!

A CSA season typically runs from late spring through early fall. The number of CSAs in the United States was estimated at 50 in 1990, and has since grown to over 2200.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Simple+Inspiring+Empowering or is it just hoping my moonshine street cred would skyrocket.

I love Mason Jars. You might say it's a fetish, I just love there elegance and simplicity. I use them for everything. It probably all started watching my grandmother who never seemed to waste anything, she just had a very matter of fact way of making use of things and making them last. I don't know if it was actually Mason Jars per se', but they seem to embody her spirit and allow me to feel good about re-purposing something. It's amazing how many times I solve a challenge with a glass Mason Jar. They are like duct tape. Not to mention funky and fun. It's inevitable that some time in the course of a day out and about either drinking or eating from one that I get a random smile or pleasant conversation from there presence. And one out of three folks inevitably asks me if it's moonshine ;~)
The jars seem to symbolize something obvious and intelligent ~ a message in a bottle. Anyhoo, here's a few creative uses. Tell me how you use your mason jars?

• Use as a drinking glass
• Pen/Pencil holder
• Utincel holder
• Bulk food containers storing them in glass instead of the flimsy plastic bags or Tupperware etc.
• Storing leftover food
• Loose change container
• Hold plant clippings you are rooting
• Candle holder
• Flower vase
• Sorter/holder for loose screws, nuts, etc
• Store extra buttons
• Holds gifts like dried cookie mixes or homemade bath salts
• Bird feeders

In addition to above, with a few simple adapter kits, you can find uses for them all over the home, including making a lotion/soap pump, an electric lamp.

(for some reason these links below are not going live so if you are interested in checking out either of these kits simply cut and paste one of these into your browser)


All these wonderful uses for them and they are made from glass so you don't have to worry about toxins in plastic or any of the other issues with plastic. Everything tastes and feels better.