I recently wrote of how my year and a half of doing Raja Yoga has made significant changes in my life, not the least of which has been in my physical body. Without making any other changes in my eating habits or my diet I’ve lost weight, I’ve gained muscle and become stronger and more flexible, and best of all, the chronic back pain I’ve had since I was bucked off a horse at age 19 is gone (I am now 53).
For the last several months, though, I have had a pain in my elbow that massage and heat and specific yoga moves could not seem to cure. So one night on the Internet, my husband comes across a growing body of research into the health benefits of turmeric, a spice grown and used around the world for thousands of years. If you’ve ever had a curry or Indian spiced food, you’ve probably had turmeric, which sort of tastes like a mild form of cumin. It’s very yellow in color and is sometimes used to color (as well as flavor) rice or potatoes.
Greenmedinfo.com, after reviewing thousands of studies of turmeric and its primary component, curcumin, lists these properties and possible health benefits:
- Destroying Multi-Drug Resistant Cancer
- Destroying Cancer Stem Cells (arguably, the root of all cancer)
- Protecting Against Radiation-Induced Damage
- Reducing Unhealthy Levels of Inflammation
- Protecting Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
- Preventing and Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease Associated Pathologies
Since the pain in my elbow seemed to be inflammation-related, we decided to use that can of turmeric in the spice cabinet, the one that had been sitting in there, unused, for a very long time. How long? Well, it’s one of those little French’s tins with its price stamped into the metal on the bottom of the tin: 69 cents for one and a half ounces. I just bought a fresh bottle of the McCormick brand: 2 ounces for almost $5. That’s how old.
Anyhow, after doing a little research of my own on how turmeric is used and what kinds of dishes to use it in (besides curry), I began putting it in all kinds of dishes. I make a Mexican omelet about once a week: two eggs beaten with lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, cumin and oregano, pour into a hot oiled cast-iron skillet till set, add cheddar cheese and salsa on one side of the omelet, flip the other side on top of the filling, serve. There was already cumin in this so I thought, turmeric will work too, and it did, and tasted so good that I began adding it to our scrambled eggs as well.
Next up was an Indian Curry made with okra, tomatoes and peppers, with extra turmeric added, served over rice, flavored and colored with even more turmeric. Add olive oil to a hot cast-iron skillet, saute the okra and peppers, turn down the heat and add chopped tomatoes, simmer it all with curry spice, garlic, and, of course, the turmeric. You can actually make this with all kinds of veggies, like eggplants, zucchini, green beans…add some veg stock for added sauce and pour it over the rice to let the rice soak up all that goodness.
And then this variation of Green Tomato Rice: prepare white rice, I make mine in a rice cooker. As it cooks, saute chopped green tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic until soft. Season with turmeric, thyme, lemon pepper seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Combine the rice with the green tomato mix, add bacon bits (I use the fake ones) and some grated cheddar cheese. I usually serve this with steamed greens on the side: collards, kale, wild mustard or spinach.
Within three days of this barrage of turmeric (I even added it to our homemade pumpkin bread), the pain in my elbow was gone. I believe it was the turmeric, but even if that was just coincidence, if the studies prove true, by adding turmeric to our diet, we may be gaining protection from cancer, Alzheimer’s, radiation, free radicals, etc. And since it tastes so good and goes so well with so many things, why not add it? I encourage you to do your own research and try out a couple of these recipes while you’re at it. Unlike the drugs folks take for aches and pains, there are no side effects to using turmeric in your food, unless it’s so good that you eat too much. Then you get the full belly effect.
November 18. The Anniversary of Marcel Proust’s death day in 1922. In Honor of Remembrance of Things Past, here are two madeleine recipes:
2 large eggs
½ cup sugar
5 T. butter, melted & cooled slightly
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
Grated zest of ½ lemon
¼ t. vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk or blend the eggs and sugar until frothy. Add the cooled melted butter, blending well. On low speed or with the whisk, add the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and vanilla until blended. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375*. Butter and flour the madeleine molds. Whisk the batter for a moment to remix, then spoon the batter lightly into the molds, filling them three-quarters full. Bake until the cakes are risen and golden, 10 or 11 minutes. If the madeleines start to brown before the crown has risen, open the oven door slightly and continue to bake until they have risen.
As soon as the madeleines are done, carefully remove them from the tins onto a wire rack. Serve immediately. The madeleines can also be cooled on a rack and stored for several days in an airtight container.
Makes about 15 madeleines (25 minis).
From Paris Boulangerie Patisserie: Recipes from Thirteen Outstanding French Bakeries, page 74
½ cup sugar
¼ t. vanilla
6 T. butter, melted & slightly cooled
3/8 cup of flour (the mark just above 1/3)
¼ cup cocoa
- Melt the butter & allow to cool slightly.
- Whisk eggs & sugar until thick & lemon-colored. Add the vanilla & salt.
- Fold in the flour & cocoa, then the melted butter.
- Allow the batter to rest for 1 hour.
- Heat the oven to 425*.
- Butter the madeleine pans then spoon in the batter to 3/4ths full.
- Bake the madeleines about 7-9 minutes; immediately turn out of molds onto cooling racks.
“And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings, when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea…And as soon as I had recognized the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in the decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me, immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set…and with the house the town….the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine…the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking shape and solidity, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.”
(Adapted from Swann’s Way, In Search of Lost Time, by Marcel Proust)
When I was still working at the Post Office on Knotts Island, in early 2011, a man came in and walked up to the counter and requested information on getting his mailing address changed. I nearly fell off my postal perch for two reasons; but before I tell them to you, let me tell you a little about Knotts Island, North Carolina., population at last census approximately 1800-2000. It’s a small island, and despite the past years’ influx of folks who work in Virginia Beach and Norfolk and Chesapeake, but sleep on the island and therefore need to build houses here to sleep in, the island retains its rural character and its complement of rural “characters”. Folks here are overwhelmingly white and Christian, many still fish or crab in the spring and summer and hunt deer and ducks in the fall and winter. Non-whites who show up in the Post Office are usually tourists on their way to the Outer Banks, which is sad because 1) they are lost, and 2) we could use some diversity here.
Which brings me back to my two reasons: First, this man who turns up in the Post Office is dressed like the Ninjas you see in karate movies, or like Mr. Miyagi in the movie The Karate Kid. All in black, with the wide-legged pants, barefoot with sandals and short kimono-style wrap top tied with what looks like the belt you get when you have completed a level of your karate training. And second, he is Asian, and like I said before, on this island, that’s pretty unusual. So of course, he must be lost, but no, he has bought a house here, and a large piece of property, and oh, by the way, he’s going to be starting yoga classes HERE on the island, and do I want to come? Wait, give me a minute to…YES.
So in May of 2012, I began taking classes in Raja Yoga with Master Adam, every Thursday afternoon at 4pm, here on Knotts Island. Over time, I learned things about Master Adam: he is Vietnamese, he’s been doing Raja yoga for 56 years, he also teaches classes at Wareing’s Gym in Virginia Beach (he actually began their yoga program there), he has taught yoga to Navy SEALS and to Hollywood film makers…I could go on, but if you want to know more, click here.
Raja (or Royal, or King) yoga is not as well known as some forms of yoga, and it is very different,
“Raja Yoga is very intense; it is rigorous and strenuous, yet it is also very balanced, with invigoration done the right way and a lot of rejuvenation. Done correctly, as taught by a Master, there would be no stress or strain involved or pressure. The Master encourages the student to pace themselves, to do the poses with ease and to slow down or take a break when needed. To stop if you have any doubts or perceive that what you are doing is posing a danger to your body.”
“Do all good. Do not do bad. Cleanse your mind, purify your heart. Practice wisdom and compassion. This is the Way. “
The words seem easy, but the practice is hard, as is the practice of this intense form of yoga. But for me, at least, it has been worth the effort. I’m more peaceful, more accepting and less judgmental, more able to deal with the vicissitudes of life…and I’m stronger, thinner, and more disciplined. And Knotts Island has a little more diversity.
Knotts Island Peach Festival
June 22nd & 23rd, 2013
176 Brumley Road
Knotts Island, NC
10am to 5pm
Saturday and Sunday
Children under age twelve get free admission
Saturday, June 22nd, 2013
11am-1pm The Dallas Band featuring Stephanie Poole
1:30pm-3:30pm Tee Meroney plays country music
Sunday, June 23rd, 2013
11am-1pm Jack Bateman sings an hour of gospel then an hour of country and rock
1:30pm-3:30pm Bob Radford and the Classic Country band with Garland Abbott, Jerry Hayes and Bill Wasarhaley
Antique and Classic Cars, Crafts, Food, Live Music, and Family Fun. And Peaches.
Click on over to my Madeleine Moments blog and read about the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s first novel, the 6th year anniversary of my blog, and leave a comment to possibly win prizes, including a signed copy of my novel, Parisian by Heart, which features Marcel Proust himself.
To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment here, or on the Madeleine Moments blog, or like my Parisian by Heart Facebook page. Contest ends Feb. 18th, 2013.
(Now that the contest is over, find the winners here.)
Like her counterpart the Virgin Mary, Quan Am, the Boddhisattva of Compassion, hears the heartfelt prayers of the people and responds with compassion and aid.
In keeping with the principles of Buddhism, she brings this blessing: “May all Living Beings be Well, Happy, Peaceful and Secure.”
Originally from India, known there as Avalokitesvara, Quan Am is her Vietnamese name. She is also known in China as Kuan Yin and Kannon in Japan.
This statue, made in Vietnam, now resides in the Perfect Wisdom and Great Compassion Zen Garden at what will be Master Adam Nguyen’s International Yoga Institute on Parker Lane, Knotts Island, NC. All are welcome.