Wednesday, September 07, 2011
The 5% challenge is all about moving more and for me, I move a lot more around the house, as well along natureís path. Today, I had lunch on campus with friends. This is both my alma mater, as well as the place I was employed at for twenty years. The campus is alive and well with a flurry of students attending their first day of classes. The new academic offices in Swenson Hall are nearly in full operation. I was most grateful for a table of traffic aides while the signage to find offices was lacking.
Sundquist Hall will soon be no more as it is scheduled for demolition having originally begun itís life as a two-story college dormitory. Itís not often I can take a picture quick enough to capture a cricket. Hereís one last look at and around Sundquist Hall.
While home, this is my first summer with so many yellow finches at my bird feeder enjoying sunflower chips. Normally, I see a lot more sparrows, pine siskins, nut hatches, chickadees, blue jays and wood peckers.
Hope youíre enjoying our transition into Fall.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Experts have now defined a fifth element that our taste buds can detect to now decipher sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. When I first heard the news earlier this year, the only word I could visualize -- in order to remember this relatively new discovery -- was Ooh-Mommie! Wikipedia.org is a great resource for further study about umami.
I know there are a lot of people who cannot tolerate ďmonosodium glutamate.Ē However, MSG is a natural occurring ingredient that gets a bad rap, similar to salt. Natural doesnít mean good . . . we already know that too much salt is not a good thing.
Many foods that may be consumed daily are rich in umami. Naturally occurring glutamate can be found in meats and vegetables; whereas inosinate comes primarily from meats and guanylate from vegetables. Thus, umami taste is common to foods that contain high levels of L-glutamate, IMP and GMP, most notably in fish, shellfish, cured meats, vegetables (ie mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, etc) or green tea, and fermented and aged products (ie cheeses, shrimp pastes, soy sauce, etc).[Wikipedia Source: Ninomiya K (1998). "Natural Occurance". Food Reviews International 14 (2&3): 177Ė211. doi:10.1080/87559129809541157]
Wow . . . these are all foods I enjoy big time! I now know what it is about Pho and Asian cooking that I love so. They are loaded with a savory flavor that comes from foods rich in umami.
My Vietnamese Pho (rice noodle soup) has fish sauce in it. It doesnít take much, and if you made if for a friend -- and didnít have to tell them it had fish in it -- they probably wouldnít even know it. Look at the ingredients in fish sauce and youíll probably see anchovies or sardines. I have a few pho recipes that I make, depending on my mood. Iím even tweaking a vegetarian style pho, as most pho dishes are made using a beef stock.
Tonight, I made a version of Pho using the dried black mushrooms I bought at the Asian grocery. Double umami -- Yum! Ė and it made a whole quart!
My Sri Lankan Coconut Pol Sambal has some dried Maldive fish chips lovingly kneaded into the chili, onion, tomato, and unsweetened coconut mixture.
While picnicking at Split Rock Light House, most of my curries have red ripe tomatoes and I have sambal (a spicy and savory garnish for Indian-style curries) in the snack ziplock bag that tops all my curries.
My partner loves those chicken wings that come with a rich and savory oyster sauce on it. Now if only this savory additive wasnít so dependent upon salt! Like salt, itís what often makes soups have you coming back asking for more!
When I grew up in the sixties and seventies, I cringed when I heard the word anchovy. Anchovies were associated with a pizza ingredient and then it was one of those ingredients most of us avoided like the plague! The way I see it, we bipedal, carbon-based life forms (sorry, the Trekkie is coming out in me again) can be so fickle when our brain says one thing (Yuk!), yet our taste buds may say something to the contrary (Yum!).
How do you honor umami? Might you have a new respect for seafood products? Will you leave yourself open to adding a fish sauce to a broth-based soup?
Monday, September 05, 2011
Yesterday, a very special friend of mine celebrated a very special birthday! Her name is Susan. She shares with me and those who visit her page, the very essence of her life, her joy, and her spark just by sharing the way she does through these very vibrant SparkPages!
Susan lives a life that I strive to model. Her priorities are in order: Faith, Family and Friends! Because of our frailties, we often fall short in maintaining the richness and abundance of life that comes with a quality and abiding faith life. It is then that we learn to forgive and come back strong.
Susan is my role model today! She is one of many who have blessed my life with the gift to encourage me to be my best. Thank you for being an exemplary individual in loving so many people within the SparkCommunity Ė you bless us in ways you may never fully know. Even in person you radiate a great beauty that is beyond words.
Being the visual person I am, the amateur photographer in me would like to share with you some pictures I took while on a recent walk. Nature also has a unique way to reenergize me (including a young deer that is barely visible in the woods):
Okay, I have a confession (as if you already donít know it). Iím a world class SAP! I can watch the last five minutes of ďTouched by an AngelĒ (TV Series 1994Ė2003) and find tears of joy falling from my eyes. Iíve come to accept it as both a blessing and a curse that comes with having a creative side: We do things differently (have different cars, build very different swing sets, take very different vacations, and the list goes on and on) than those who are more social-, action-, or business-oriented. I celebrate our diversity, as this world would be all too boring if we all liked the same thing. If I werenít so introverted, I could probably lead a seminar on our wonderful differences. Ah yes, having a thirst for life-time learning, means taking a wide array of self-discovery tests like that of the Myers Briggs, or simply reading self-help books.
Today, Iíd like to remind you that you are a very powerful person! Your words, how you think, and your actions are more powerful than you can imagine! I have found that some days Iím amazed at the power these SparkPages have to education, motivate, and move us. I give thanks to your gifts and talents through your friendship, team, and moving challenges! The Spark difference is stark! Whatever you do, please do not take these pages or your personal power for granted. While sometimes your words may literally fall on deaf ears, you may never know the impact your words may have on that one person who needs a little extra encouragement today!
The power to be just that spark to get our fires going, is evident through my many SparkTeam challenges. To my many SparkFriends and teammates who challenge me beyond my personal best, I say ďThank you.Ē One of Susanís quotes featured on her page touched me today: "At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." - Albert Schweitzer. Thank you, Mo! Thank you, Ceri! Thank you, Mimi! Thank you, Jennifer! Thank you, Linda! Thank you, Mary! Thank you, Jacki! Thank you, Carley! Thank you, Janet! Thank you, Lise! Thank you, Leona! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Just when I think Iím invisible to the world, your power touches me!
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