ROSANNA’S NEWS AND VIEWS©
January 28, 1999
This month finds us returned from a successful and interesting trip to Italy. It was a pleasure to be with family and friends for the holiday and to complete some business with respect to Rosanna’s hotel and our future plans for this business. Shopping and sightseeing in Rome was a delight [ed. note, Rosanna really knows her way around!] While we were away from the computer and the Internet for some time, that was refreshing too and gave us time to come up with a few new ideas, one of which we would like to share with you now.
We have been gratified by the response to our newsletter and we are quite amazed by the quality of our subscribers. Listed among our new friends are chefs, doctors, macrobiotic consultants, nurses, nutritionists and many other health workers. We are also quite surprised at how spread out around the globe our readership is. Many of us are practicing these principles in relative isolation and many have written with questions ranging from beginners to those who are well accomplished and wished Rosanna to participate in their consultations.
It occurred to us that it might be beneficial to create an open forum where we could discuss and share ideas, recipes, etc. with one another. This could be accomplished by forming a discussion group among our readers. We have already done this with our Sufi friends, where we have a group that is focused on a specific topic.
On our return from Italy, this Email awaited us and we have selected it as inspiration for our main topic of discussion for this issue.
Thank you for your letter and please accept our apology for responding slowly. Your letter arrived as we were rushing to pack for a trip to Italy and we are only now returned and catching up on Email. We are very happy that you have subscribed to our Newsletter and we hope it does give you some insight into macrobiotic cooking and balance, which lies at the heart of good health.
While we don’t claim to have all the answers, we do observe in our own and in our clients’, friends’ and family’s behavior that there is a strong influence on the attitude and mental health that is caused by food. We are not medical practitioners, yet we do hold strong beliefs about mental and physical health, which we will happily share with you.
The concept of inherited disease is hard for us to accept. Yes, there are cases, no doubt, that support this theory, and there may be some gene transmission that does foretell a high probability of suffering a disease. We feel we are in the gene pool like the fish is in the water and it’s up to us to swim in the way that is most effective for our health and well being. By this we mean it is possible to improve any condition by diet and mental practices that have proven to be very effective for centuries, especially if one has been somewhat unconscious about these matters in the past.
One who is subject to intense swings in mood and perception should be particularly careful to stay balanced and to eat strictly macrobiotic until the condition is normalized. It is also wise to practice meditation under a sure teacher to help with this condition. There are many who can help in this realm and they are widely dispersed around the world. One should be very careful when selecting a guide for this kind of work. We follow the Universal Sufi tradition, along with the macrobiotic way, in these matters.
In our experience, most unpredictable mood swings and uncontrollable thoughts have some stimulant or depressant at the root of the problem. The chief offenders in this category are meat, sugar, baked flour products and caffeine. These items are in most diets of those who are having problems and because of prolonged heavy use, those who are afflicted have lost all sensitivity to the affect of these sometimes toxic substances. Most users of these products have lost the ability to balance and have even lost their sensitivity to this delicate balance. For many of us these items have been a mainstay since childhood and radical action is required to reset the system and redevelop sensitivity to balance.
By radical action we mean a complete change in lifestyle and you have already reached the important first step of realizing you can benefit from trying this approach. In previous newsletters we have talked about the importance of this delicate balance and we recommend staying near the center of the balance beam, especially when fighting any illness. This is accomplished by being very conscious of what we are preparing and eating and how it fits into the scale that has meat and salt on one end of the beam and sugar and fruit on the opposite end.
In the middle we have rice and grains, beans and vegetables, seaweed and various condiments. Eating strictly macrobiotic for at least three months will place you squarely in the center and will give your body time to make changes at the cellular level. After this passage of time, it will become easier to perceive the positive effect of this radical change. The first few months are not always pleasant and there may be side effects, for example discharges in the form of pimples, frequent urination and all manner of other irritants as your body gives up the toxins it was unable to eliminate as you ate unconsciously.
All the main meals that are detailed in our newsletters (this one included) are balanced. By now we have enough to keep you busy for quite a while and you could repeat them without becoming too bored, we hope. One must keep in mind that whole grains are the most important element in the macrobiotic diet. People who are resistant to whole grain and prefer baked flour products should realize why whole grains are so important and why they are superior to bread, pasta and other refined flour products.
The whole grain contains everything that is required by nature to provide life. The husk, germ, seed and various elements are all contained in the kernel which needs only water to bring it to life. This natural order is assimilated when one consumes whole grains and it is only logical that this will lead to a more complete outlook on life. When grain has the husk removed, is milled and polished, has chemicals added and preservatives, it is only logical that a negative effect will be produced as this inferior fuel is taken to feed our thought process. There is no doubt that each individual is unique in his/her reaction and that some are more deeply affected by these products. Here it is not unreasonable, we believe, to make the association with genes, inheritance, etc.. We have seen many of these so-called inherited problems vanish when people start to eat in a healthier way than their well-meaning parents taught them.
On the mental side, it is often a matter of teaching our minds how to grab a little respite from the cares of the world. We are constantly under mental pressure and even when sleeping, our minds never get a rest as we are engaged in dreaming. If we are taught how to consciously relax, even for a few minutes, it is amazingly restorative to a tired mind. The question becomes how to go about it.
The process begins with learning intense concentration. The teacher usually gives the student an object on which to concentrate and then the student attempts to duplicate it in the mind’s eye. Strangely, this concentration is difficult to do at first, yet it does produce a certain feeling of rest for the mind as it is in fact restful to concentrate on one thing, rather than allowing our minds to flit from one thought to another as they are wont to do. It is also important in this early stage to develop control of the and to do it quite consciously.
Mastery of this phase will lead one to de-concentration, the next step, and finally to meditation and contemplation. Dedication of a few minutes a day to this work will almost certainly improve mental health, much as exercise improves the physical organism. Yoga, of course, works hand in hand with this approach and if that is difficult for some westerners, there are many other approaches that have proven effective. We practice and Rosanna is a teacher, taking private students only.
10 Cups Spring Water
½ Cauliflower with leaves, cut into small pieces
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Parsnip, diced
3 inch piece Wakame Seaweed, soaked for a few minutes and diced
1 ½ Tbsp. Barley Miso
Bring water to a boil and add all ingredients except Miso. When it returns to a boil, reduce flame and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Dilute Barley Miso with a little of the broth and add it to the soup. Keep the heat low and simmer for 2 minutes. Serve.
4 cups dried Corn (this is more than you will need for a meal, but we will tell you how to use the excess to make Tortillas in a future letter.
1 ½ cups hardwood ashes (from fireplace or stove)
Spring Water as needed
1 sheet Nori Seaweed, torn into tiny pieces as garnish
Put ashes in cheesecloth and tie (to contain them in the water) and place them in cooking pot with Corn and 10 cups of Spring Water. Rosanna uses a pressure cooker for this job, although it can be done without it. Bring to pressure, reduce flame and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Release pressure and wash so skins of grain come off. If the skin does not come off readily, it wasn’t cooked enough. Continue to wash until the water is clear and the skins have all been removed. [note: a chemical reaction is caused by the ashes that makes the otherwise indigestible coating fall away]
Return to pressure cooker and add enough water to cover. Bring to pressure again, reduce flame and cook for another hour. Top with Nori and serve.
BLACK SOY BEANS
1 cup Black Soybeans soaked overnight
1 Tbsp. Barley Malt
1 inch piece Kombu Seaweed (soaked for about 10 minutes)
Place Kombu in bottom of bean pot and add soaked Beans and enough spring water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour at least, or until Beans are soft and the water is almost all gone. Add a few drops of Soy Sauce and the Barley Malt. Don’t mix with a spoon, rather just shake the pot. This will make the Beans very shiny and attractive. Serve.
1 bunch Red Radishes, sliced thinly
1 bunch Endive, torn into 1 inch pieces
1 Fennel Bulb, cut into small pieces
1 stalk Celery, cut diagonally
1 Tbsp. Umeboshi Vinegar
Wash all ingredients before cutting. Mix with 1 or two Tbsp. Salt and place into container with plate on top and large stone or other weight to press for one hour.
Wash well to remove salt and add Umeboshi vinegar.
BROCCOLI RABE (some call this Italian Bitter Broccoli)
2 Bunches Broccoli, washed well and cut. Cut the flower and the first leaf and stem, then cut the next node of the stem with the next leaf and so on to the bottom. If the stem is hard and white inside at the bottom, discard it and keep the bottom leaves (if they are not yellow). If the inside of the bottom of the stem is not white, one can peel it and include it with the rest.
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic, pressed with the thumb until it just gives a little, but doesn’t break the skin. Leave the skin on.
1 pinch Salt
Heat iron skillet to high temperature. Add Oil and Garlic and simmer until the Garlic is blonde. Work it around so it doesn’t burn and cooks evenly (about 1 minute). Add Broccoli, stir well into oil and reduce heat to medium – medium low. Simmer until tender and bright in color. Add salt, stir again lightly and serve.
1 Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit Cut Squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and place in baking pan, cut side down. Bake for ½ hour, or until it feels soft when pressing with a finger (we call Rosanna fire-fingers). Turn Squash right side up and sprinkle with a little Soy Sauce. Not too much! Return to oven, this time cut side up, and bake another 5 minutes. Serve.
ROSANNA and JAMES
| PONDERINGS forwarded by our dear friend,
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty.”