JT at Tanglewood

August 30, 2009

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My husband and I, along with 22,000 fans, just attended a fabulous James Taylor concert at Tanglewood, the music festival in the Berkshires which is the summer home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The tickets were Bill’s birthday gift from the kids. The concert opened with JT playing with subtle and tasteful backup from a large band, including sax and trumpet, drums and percussion, and more, as well as 4 and occasionally 5 (his wife, Kim) backup singers. T is such a generous and relaxed performer. He clearly had a wonderful time. He spent the entire intermission signing autographs at the edge of the stage. It was a very blissful and feel good first set and I could have gone home after that totally fulfilled. Second set included several very sweet duets with Yo-Yo Ma accompanying JT. Then, more! with Yo-Yo Ma and both JT and Sheryl Crow who surprised me with her thoughtful song called  Wildflower. Although I find her to be a bit of screechy singer, the melodic beauty of the song, accompaniment and the lyrics really has made me an admirer. The end of the concert got a bit loud for me and we left before it was over, listening to the final songs float out over the beautiful Tanglewood grounds and through the fields as we escaped before the crowds for our long drive home. Here is a nice review of the concert on Friday night and another.

Great gift, boys! Next year you come with us!

The post-script is that today I read that he is donating his take for his 5 nights of concerts back to Tanglewood- a whopping $500,000 to support classical music and the music festival. What a guy.

(photo by Hillary Scott, from BerkshireFineArts.com)

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Safe Water is Our Right

August 28, 2009

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A new documentary, Tapped , is being shown for a week in NYC at the IFC Center starting today. Made by the director and producers who brought us Who Killed the Electric Car, this film takes a look at the history of bottled water and the strange path it has taken more recently including the unregulated and quality of water issues and the political and ownership battles over water.

Frightening and sadly true facts are presented like only 20 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States are recycled, and far too many of the rest probably end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch (a floating island of plastic waste the size of Rhode Island and growing). Not only does bottled water create physical waste, but also causes the waste of consumer dollars. Many are paying more than the price of gasoline for water that’s marketed as “pure,” but in reality is largely unregulated, full of harmful toxins like BPA, and far less safe for drinking than free tap water.

According to Claire Thompson’s article from August 3 in Grist Magazine: the film  “succeeds at making the industry reps look like total jerks. A few too many mid-interview cutaways to Soechtig looking concerned came off as a little journalistically self-important, but Tapped does a solid job of covering every aspect of this damaging industry and inspiring more outrage than despair. It features interviews with the likes of Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), not to mention some footage of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) tearing into an FDA rep at a government hearing.”

So, does this film preach to the converted? Will enough people see this and be moved to NEVER buy bottled water again? It is very sad that so many people feel trapped; they will not drink the water that is provided by our government because although it will not make you sick (because it is bacteriologically safe), it can make you sick other ways so what else can they do but buy a bottle of water! Which do you do when faced with that choice? Clearly a point of use filtration system in our homes is key. What do you do when you run out of water in your stainless steel water bottle?

It is raining, and I know that even the water falling from the sky may not be safe to drink.

Via: Organic Consumers

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I have been lucky enough to eat at a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Spain: Akelare. What a treat- an amazing voyage in taste sensations. But even more of a treat was the Gluten-Free and Vegan Tiramisu that Greta made for New Year’s Eve and again for Bill’s birthday party.  She has finally revealed her recipe on www.gretaguide.com, thanks, Greta; and here it is:

First we make the “lady fingers”.

Preheat the oven to 350. Measure out all the dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking powder) in a large bowl. Create a small hallowed “bowl” in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients from around the outside of this hollowed bowl, until everything is evenly mixed in. Using a rubber spatula, transfer into a greased (with grapeseed oil) glass baking dish (9 x 13 inches) and place in the middle of the oven on the center rack. Bake for 25 minutes. After baking, place on a cooling rack and loosen the edges. After it has cooled for about 15 minutes flip the cake over onto a cutting board and like a grid cut into one inch by three inch pieces. And you have lady fingers!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup brown rice flour
  2. 1 cup tapioca flour
  3. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 1/2 cup agave
  6. 1/2 cup maple syrup
  7. 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  8. 1/3 cup apple sauce
  9. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  10. 3/4- 1 cup soy milk (unsweetened)

For the tofu cream, it is very important that you have either a food processor or blender to make sure it is mixed thoroughly. Drain the tofu and wrapping it in paper towel, squeeze off the excess moisture. Break into chunks and place it in the food processor. Whip until it is perfectly smooth- stopping and scrapping the sides occasionally. Add in almond butter, maple syrup, agave, vanilla, salt and coconut milk. Process again until it is smooth.

In a small sauce pan, dissolve the arrowroot in soy milk and over medium heat bring up in temperature until it begins to coagulate. (note: dissolve the arrowroot completely before putting it over the heat) Whisk the mixture continuously for 3-4 minutes until thick. Scrap into the tofu mixture in the food processor and process for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the tofu cream to a container to store in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (overnight is best).

Ingredients:

  1. 4 teaspoons arrowroot
  2. 6 tablespoons soy milk
  3. 2 containers of extra firm silken tofu
  4. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  5. 1/3 cup almond butter
  6. 1/3 maple syrup
  7. 1/3 cup agave
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  9. pinch of sea salt

Now for the non-alcoholic and non- caffeinated sauce! I concocted a sort of spiced tea to soak the lady fingers in. In a small saucepan over medium heat bring water to a boil with 3 bags of HoneyBush tea, fresh cloves and fresh ground nutmeg. Add in a bit of agave to make it sweeter if you like. Turn down and let simmer for about 15- 20 minutes on a low heat to really release the flavours. Strain through a fine strainer into a wide and shallow bowl. Set aside.

Ingredients:

  1. 3 tea bags of Numi HoneyBush tea
  2. 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  3. 1/2 teaspoon whole nutmeg crushed slightly to release the flavour
  4. 2 1/2 cups water (add more if it evaporates too quickly)
  5. Cinnamon- you can add in just a dash or two of cinnamon if you like
  6. 2 teaspoons agave
  7. coco powder- try to find a dark coco mix that is sugar free (reserve this for the final dusting of the cake!)

Assembly! I never said this was an easy dessert to make- but it is so worth all of your loving energy! Use the same glass baking dish to create your tiramisu. Dip the lady fingers into the sweet tea sauce and let it soak up the moisture for a couple of seconds. Layer these in the bottom of the dish until the entire base is covered. Take your tofu cream, and using a rubber spatula spread the mixture evenly over the lady finger base. Next use that fine strainer to tap and shake coco powder over the top- completely covering it with a 1/4 inch layer.

There you have it- the most delicious healthy dessert you have ever made! You can garnish with fresh pansies in the summer to make it a little special. 😉

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It is hot and humid and I am sleep-challenged in weather like this. I have looked all through the internet to find out the biological connections and have not come up with many reasons for my wakefulness except I can’t sleep when it’s hot. Even on my Nikken sleep system.

According to Dr. Jonathan Fleming, co-director of the sleep program at University of B.C. Hospital, controlling your environment is crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. In an article in The Province, Fleming goes on to say that even those who sleep well will not get optimal rest in the heat. People have less Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is associated with memory and cognition. They also experience more unconscious awakenings, he said. Unconscious awakenings? What the heck are those? I can’t find anything in that category anywhere on the internet- I have to assume that means when we wake up but aren’t really aware of it – like when we change positions, roll over, fluff the pillow, whatever and do not remember doing so.

But Fleming added that people shouldn’t be too concerned about lost sleep during the heat wave. Temperature-related wakefulness only accounts for half an hour of lost sleep per night. Then why did I toss and turn ALL NIGHT- finally falling unconscious when the sun came up?

There are only a few nights in the summer when I find it hard to sleep. We do not use air conditioners in our bedroom- it usually cools down at night in the foothills of the Berkshires. But we have just purchased a “swamp cooler”- a fan that blows air over a reservoir of cold water- will let you know if it helps- But some other helpful things to do to cool down at bed time include taking a cool shower, putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan, opening windows at night to cool down the house and closing the house, pulling shades in the morning to keep the cool air in. Try putting a damp towel in the freezer for a few minutes and wearing on your head or around your neck for awhile, having a spritzer bottle of water to spray over the bed every once in awhile. Any other suggestions besides checking into a motel for a few nights, let me know.

Otters Holding Hands

August 17, 2009

This is the sweetest thing. Maybe you’ve seen this video along with over 12,892,000 others. Worth seeing again.

Love makes the world go ’round.

Recipes for Muffins

August 15, 2009

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My friend Teresa makes delicious gluten free muffins and recently she made some for Bill’s birthday. People raved about them and asked for the recipe and she wouldn’t divulge it because she is thinking about going into business making yummy cupcakes. I think she is afraid no one will buy her scrumptious desserts and they will make their own. I don’t think so….Most people are too lazy to make cupcakes and they will most definitely buy T’s.  Sharing healthy and yummy recipes is crucial to world peace; happy healthy world = peaceful world. So for those of you who would like to take the time to make some healthy, gluten free cupcakes, try this recipe adapted from Nance Petit:

Millet Gluten Free Muffins

1/2 cup rice flour, ½ cup fava or garbanzo  flour, 1-cup millet flour, ½ cup quinoa or amaranth flour, 1/3 cup whole millet

OR: a bit more than 2 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1  1/4 cup rice, soy or almond milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil- grapeseed works well

1/2 cup honey, rice syrup or agave

1 teas xanthum gum

OPTIONAL: blueberries, chocolate chips, banana slices about 1/2 cup

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 16 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mix the  flours, baking powder, baking soda, xanthum gum and salt, add berries or chips now, too. In a separate bowl, mix the liquid with  egg, vegetable oil and sweetener. Stir liquid mixture into the flour mixture just until evenly moist. Transfer batter to the prepared muffin cups. They will be very thick but ended up light and fluffy.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Gaiam Go To Yoga Guide

August 14, 2009

contribFantastic resource:

  • Styles & Poses: Know your vinyasa from your ashtanga, watch how-to clips, learn pose names and benefits
  • Yoga FAQ: From “Do I have to be flexible?” to “What if I do it wrong?”
  • Beginners Guide: How to choose a class, practice at home, and gear up
  • Yoga for Sports: Cross-train, find poses for specific sports, help prevent injuries
  • Yoga as Medicine: Find poses, props, variations and DVDs by condition or injury
  • How to Advance: Learn advanced poses, add meditation, go to a new level, and become a happier, better person

Check it out.