Ganoderma and Camping

Miner's TentWhen camping in the wilderness, it is best not to eat random mushrooms one finds in the forest.  Indeed, some of these toadstools are not fun guys at all, causing anything from stomach cramps to death if ingested.  Since I’d rather avoid death, I tend not to eat mushrooms when embracing nature.  Unless you count the ones in my coffee.  It sounds odd, I know, but recently my friend Kari introduced me to a flavorful company called Organo Gold.  All of their products, including their coffee varieties, have a secret ingredient in them called ganoderma.  Ganoderma is a flat, table-like mushroom that grows on wood.  This beneficial chanterelle is known for it various health properties, including the control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation, relief of fatigue, and bolstering of the immune system.  China, Japan, and other Asian countries have known about ganoderma for centuries.

Brown and Cream Mushroom

I was quite pleased when my friend Kari became a distributor for Organo Gold.  Although ganoderma is available from a variety of sources, no other company has been able to make it taste as tempting as the good people of Organo.   Coffee, in itself, brings a wonderful earth element to the table, with its rich brown hues and terrene aroma.   It is mostly a yin beverage, but I feel this also depends on how sweet one makes it – yin is sugary, whereas yang is more savory, from a sweetness standpoint.  There’s also the argument that it’s stimulating effect is more yang in its origins.  Personally, as someone who has chosen coffee as a lifestyle choice (not an addition), I would be lost without my two cups in the morning.  So, I would say it’s more yang in its energies due to the caffeine.   Also, coffee drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 Diabetes, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.  I tried two of the impressive Organo beverages, and was astounded to say the least.

The most popular of their products, their Black Coffee has a distinct nutty taste to it, almost like hazelnut.  This is what I like to call the Frangelico Aspect.   The nuttiness flavor stems from the ganoderma extract in the brew.  Very, very tasty.

Organo Gold’s Black Coffee in Cafe Latte form.  Already sweetened with cream and sugar, this is just like having a latte ready at one’s fingertips.  The Frangelico Aspect is here as well.  Perfect for those who love hazelnut lattes.

Another reason I praise Organo is that all of their beverages need only one additional ingredient:  boiling water.  As a mircobrew, the coffee comes prepackaged in individual servings, with each box having multiple packets.  This is the ideal product to take with you when your coffee maker isn’t close at hand.  It is especially perfect to enjoy while relaxing on some seafaring vessel – or when one is camping in the wilds of nature (I prefer Cabrillo State Beach above Malibu).  Kari’s website for Organo Gold is below, and if you have any questions about the coffee, feel free to email her at     I am looking forward to having their hot chocolate this winter, perhaps by a roaring fire…

Update:  Due to some incredible and positive career changes, Kari is no longer selling Oregano Gold.  To find a distributor near you, please refer to their website:

The Feng Shui of a Burger

In Ancient Egypt, the onion was highly revered as a perennial icon.  The people of that time believed that the many layers, rings, and orbicular shape of the onion symbolized eternity and longevity.  Part of this was probably due to the face that onions were one of the few foods that did not spoil during colder months.  And of all the vegetables to be recreated in various precious metals by Egyptian artisans, the only one ever  to be made out of gold was the onion.  My own personal love of onions came out about when I was a kid, in the deep fried form of onion rings.   Those golden circles of deliciousness were so good (especially at Carl’s Jr.).  I also remember dried onions atop the ever-popular green bean casserole.  Yum.

Earlier in the week, I visited the Toluca Lake location of The Counter, an international burger chain.  Unlike other burger establishments, The Counter lets patrons custom design the sandwich of their dreams.  From fried eggs to Gruyere cheese, the multitude of different combinations is astounding.  And it’s very easy to do – The Counter provides a check sheet, and patrons mark off what they want on their sandwich.  Being able to create a burger to one’s exact specifications is an excellent feng shui experience – you create the ideal burger for the environment of your stomach and taste buds.   Some locations offer different toppings than others, including what they call their MP Selections, which differ from location to location.  Here’s what I went with:

  • Multigrain Bun
  • 1/3 Beef Patty, cooked Medium
  • Brie Cheese
  • Burmuda Red Onion
  • Lettuce Blend
  • Grilled Onions (Did I mention I love onions?)
  • Roasted Green Chiles
  • Basil Pesto

The sauce selection is also served on the side, because sometimes burgers can be too dry or too moist.  My creation was absolutely ambrosial in its taste, and cooked to perfection.  But how is this burger feng shui?  Well, first, lets look at the colors, and how they represent the five elements.  The brown shades of the meat itself and the multigrain bun are very earthy.  The purple of the Burmuda onion is fiery.  The grilled onions have a slight metallic sheen to them.  The brie would also be metal, because it’s white.  Then there is the lettuce, roasted chiles, and basil pesto, all of which symbolize wood in their green hues.  Color-wise, water is not represented.  However, I had a glass of water with my meal, so I wasn’t completely without the water element.

Let’s look at the yin and yang of the ingredients of the burger.   I’ve mentioned yin and yang theory before, which is the belief that opposite components interact within and opposite each other in a complimentary way, and cannot exist without their opposite counterpart.   This theory presents itself all the time in life, especially in food.  In this sandwich, the thick yin of the burger mingles well with the sharp yang of the Burmuda onion.  The yin of the melted brie gently opposes the yang of the basil pesto.  These flavorsome combinations are evident in all cuisines.  Yin and yang can also be attributed to how food is prepared.  My burger is very much yang, as it was fried, the onions grilled, and the chiles roasted – all of which are yang food preparations for yang foods.  Also, look at the texture of the ingredients.  If the food is soft in consistency, it is yin.  But if it is hard or crunchy, than it is more yang.  I would say the burger is much more yin in its texture, as everything in the burger except the Burmuda onion was soft.  The Burmuda onion wasn’t exactly hard, but it had more of a crispness to it, making it more yang in its structure.

And of course, a burger needs a side dish.  Upon my server’s suggestion, I went with the Parmesan Cheese Fries.  Fine shreds of Parmesan  and garlic aioli completely transform the common potato to Pharaoh status.  Although they are fries, I suggest using a fork with them rather than ones hands, as the aioli brings a greasy goodness to the dish.  Fresh rosemary adds a wonderful, savory wood element  as well, adding a yang touch to a yin food.  For my beverage, I selected the Menage a Trois Blend.  A fantastic red combination with hints of raspberry and blackberry.  I’m not sure on the year, but I think it’s a 2009.   The wine accompanied the meal flawlessly.

One  thing that I really like about this branch of The Counter are the pictures on the walls.  Photographs of a rock band and their instruments hang on the Eastern wall.  I love the creative fire energy this brings to the metal-dominated interior.  My favorite of the display is pictured above.  My server, Pamela, was absolutely golden in her service.   Personable and charming, she took care of my every need to ensure that I had a great dining experience, including walking me through the burger checklist.   Should you be visiting this specific location, I advise sitting in her section.  Parking options abound in Toluca Lake, but I usually find free parking on some of the residential streets – just check the signs for restrictions.  On my next journey here, I plan on trying The Counter Cobb, and perhaps the yin energy of a chocolate malt.

The Counter Toluca Lake

10123 Riverside Drive, Suite A, North Hollywood CA 91602

Hours:  Sunday – Thursday 11:00 – 10:00,  Friday – Saturday 11:00 – 11:00

The Power of Pumpkin

I made the most amazing dish in my kitchen the other night – Pumpkin Pasta. I love anything pumpkin, and eat it not just in autumn months, but all year long. In feng shui folklore, the pumpkin has a very unique and rich history. A symbol of prosperity and wealth, the pumpkin was favored by the housewives of ancient China. They believed that this golden fruit would bring luck and abundance to all those that lived in the home, especially when placed in the Southeast area of a room or dwelling.

In modern times, the pumpkin is a universal symbol for Thanksgiving and All Hallows Eve. But the pumpkin also has amazing health benefits as well. Loaded with fiber, vitamins A and C, magnesium, and potassium, this golden wonder fruit is also very low in calories. The seeds have all of these benefits as well, and possess essential fatty acids good for brain activity and healthy skin. The flesh of the pumpkin also contains L-tryptophan, a natural chemical that stimulates feelings of happiness and contentment – helping to rid one of depressive and negative feelings

Some feng shui practitioners will suggest using pumpkin boxes filled with certain items to attract wealth. Personally, I feel pumpkin shaped boxes are just pretty to look at, and useful for storage. They would make great additions to a kitchen or dining area to conceal spices, toothpicks, or other small items.

Gold Pumpkin Box

To make the Pumpkin Pasta Sauce, take equal parts pumpkin puree and tomato-based pasta sauce. The puree and sauce can both be made from scratch, if desired, but I usually get the canned pureed pumpkin from the supermarket (along with a store-bought pasta sauce).  But the final ingredient that I feel makes this a well-balanced dish is red wine. Depending on how much I’m making, I usually add half a cup of wine to the mix, or more if making a substantial amount of sauce. The yin of the pumpkin and tomato co-habitat well with the yang energy of the red wine.  Spice it up the way you like.  Some things I’ve added in the past are diced tomatoes, peas, minced garlic, garlic powder, sea salt, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pieces of chicken breast.  Experiment and have fun.Pumpkin Card Seed Packet