Matcha Crème Brûlée

2 cups heavy whipping cream
⅔ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
5 teaspoons matcha powder
1 cup soy milk
6 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 325° F. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup of the heavy whiping cream, ⅓ cup of the sugar, and the matcha powder; stir until the matcha and sugar are well blended. Add the remaining heavy whipping cream and the soy milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar.

Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Place 6 small (7 to 10 ounce) ramekins in a high-sided baking pan and divide the custard between them. Fill the baking dish with boiling water to reach most of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the custard is set (it should still jigglewhen shaken).

Remove the ramekins from the water bath and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.

Before serving, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and sprinkle each surface with a layer of sugar. Using a butane kitchen torch, melt the sugar until golden-brown all over.

Doyo no Ushi no Hi

Japanese Cultural Spotlight:

【Doyo no Ushi no Hi – The Ox day in midsummer】

In the traditional calendar, Doyo no Ushi no Hi occurs around the hottest period of the year. The humidity is also high at this time in mid-July. This is a time to take special care of one’s health by eating nourishing food, and folklore has it that grilled eel flavored with a sweet and salty teriyaki sauce will fit the bill.

When the fragrance of this delicacy wafts from small kaba-yaki outlets, you may see people lined up to buy. The custom of eating eel in mid-summer began in the 18th century, promoted by merchants eager to sell the day’s catch.

Nutrition & Mental Health

Amazingly, people often don’t seem to understand the connection between nutrition and mental health. Time and again people struggling with their mental health don’t eat breakfast, skip lunch, or don’t bother to eat until later in the day. Sometimes people simply forget to eat because they’re busy. Some people lose their appetite because of emotional distress, and others just can’t be bothered to eat properly. Whatever the reason, it’s imperative to understand the connection between poor eating habits and mood and anxiety, as this will underscore the importance of eating properly.

Everybody has heard the cliché you are what you eat, but for some reason many people don’t connect that adage with how they feel mentally and emotionally. What you eat doesn’t affect just physical health; it can also affect general mood on a day-to-day basis. In order for the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, it needs neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which are made from the nutrients in the foods we eat. Not eating enough, or not eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet, prevents the body from being able to create enough of these chemicals, and depression and anxiety can result.

Skipping meals can make blood sugar levels fall too low, and that eating starchy, sugary foods or simple carbohydrates can cause blood sugar levels to increase too much. These fluctuations in blood sugar levels can make a person irritable, forgetful, or sad. In addition, not eating enough can lead to emotional reactivity, higher stress levels, and an overall sense of reduced well-being. Research in children has shown that skipping breakfast has negative consequences on problem solving, short-term memory, and concentration, and that eating breakfast increases positive mood, contentment, and alertness.

Of course, if a person has anorexia or bulimia, this must be addressed in therapy, either by your therapist or by someone who has experience with eating disorders—and sooner rather than later due to the health risks these disorders present. Besides treating the eating disorder, make sure to see a medical doctor and declared physically healthy enough to do this kind of work.

Sources: DBT Made Easy

Bezoars

Bezoars are a mass of undigested fiber formed in the stomach of animals, and were once believed to be an antidote to poison. They have been found in the guts of cows and even elephants, but mostly they come from the “bezoar goat.” Bezoars were first introduced into medieval Europe by Arab physicians. Although doubts were sometimes cast over their properties, the demand continued well into the 18th century.

Wealthy collectors spent considerable sums to acquire the best “stones,” which were kept in elaborate cases. According to A Compleat History of Druggs, first published in French in 1694, the medicinal strength of the bezoar depended on the animal that produced it. “Bezoar Stones taken from Cows,” for instance, “have nothing near the good Qualities” of the true bezoar goat. On the other hand, a mere two grains of “the Bezoar that is found in Apes” will have a far greater effect than that of a mere goat.

Starting a Commune

What You Need:

  • A house, preferably with several outbuildings
  • A group of open-minded, perfectly matched people with complementary skills, goals, and life philosophies
  • A goat
  • A chore sign-up sheet
  • A casual relationship with the notion of privacy
  • “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill
  • The collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • A natural inclination toward egalitarianism
  • A belief in the inherent benefits of “intentional communities”
  1. Move into house.
  2. Get along.
  3. Garden.

Rules:

Rules are naturally a touchy subject.  If you are starting a commune, you’ll need some guidelines in order to prevent complete chaos, but it is best to keep them to a few, if only to avoid the several day-long house meetings required to decide which rules to make and how to follow them. The first you might consider “Everyone gives something, and everyone gets something back.” If you didn’t do your part (e.g., you refuse to help paint the porch) you’re asked to leave.

Television is generally discouraged in communes, mostly because the number of people makes it hard to decide what to watch. 

Once you accept that everyone has an equal responsibility to share in the commune chores, you can immediately begin trying to get out of them.

Gardening:

There is nothing better for a commune than a good-sized vegetable patch. A few tomato plants, some basil, and some rhubarb will keep you busy for the better part of a summer. Everyone can participate in the garden’s care and harvest. Because all residents are participating, the garden is truly a product of the community and a central element of commune life. Also, a bountiful garden can feed a bevy for several months—longer if produce is jarred or frozen.

Gua Sha

This practice of strategically “scraping” body surfaces is performed to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, increase circulation, and boost the immune system. Traditionally this is done with a small, flat jade stone with rounded edges, which can be used on the body, muscles, acupressure points, and/or meridians to release heat, toxins, and so on. You usually scrape in the direction of the meridians only until you see small red dots (called petechia). These red dots indicate that blood has been brought to the surface of the skin, where it is able to release the heat and toxins. Chinese medicine calls this “raising the sha,” which is said to eliminate stagnation and inflammation in the blood and protect the immune system for days or even weeks after the treatment. You can easily learn to do this at home for certain conditions, such as when you are feeling vulnerable to a cold, have tight or sore muscles, or are feeling inflamed in a particular part of your body. For chronic conditions such as cancer or autoimmune disease, or if there are lumps, cysts, or fibroids, I recommend working with a practitioner before performing gua sha.

Jade Facial Roller

This is a hand-held facial massage tool that is used to increase circulation in the face and neck, increase absorption of skin care products and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, under-eye swelling, and dark circles. It works by supporting lymphatic drainage away from the face. The roller is typically made with two smooth jade stones, one at each end. Depending on the size of the area you are working on, you can use either the small or large end. To use, simply massage your favorite skin cream or oil onto your face and neck and, using the roller, make small sweeping motions from the center of your face, out toward your hairline or down toward your neck. Do this for about five minutes each morning. If you tend to have puffiness under your eyes or red, irritated skin, you can put the roller into the freezer overnight and use it cold the next morning.

Pennyroyal (menthe pulegium)

Pennyroyal (menthe pulegium)

A small member of the mint family, but less pleasant in aroma and containing the toxic compound pulegone that is notorious for causing abortion; for years the plant has been used for ridding the home of fleas. Two thousand years ago, pennyroyal was the herb used to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Dr Art Tucker, author of The Big Book of Herbs explains that pennyroyal induces abortions by first damaging the mother’s liver: death sometimes follows. In modern times, most of the pennyroyal incidents involve the use of the plant’s essential oil (generally used for therapeutic or homeopathic purposes or as an insect repellent), which is so potent that it should be considered a poison. In the interest of safety, the advice should be never use pennyroyal essential oil for anything, not ever.

Magical propensities for physical strength and endurance. Worn to bring success to business or to rid the home of negative thoughts against you. Carry when dealing with negative vibrations of any kind.