Food and Coffins

There are a variety of different schools of thought when it comes to feng shui.  I practice Compass School Feng Shui, which is directly connected to the compass directions of the earth.  Under the Compass School, there are two kinds of feng shui.  I am certified in Yang House Feng Shui, which is feng shui for the living.  But there is also what is known as Yin House Feng Shui; feng shui for the deceased.   Consultants certified in Yin House work primarily with funeral homes and cemeteries in planning the ideal environment for rest of the dead, as well as creating a serene place for the living to deal with the departure and separation of loved ones. This also includes finding the right coffin for the individual, as this is the main environment for the deceased’s body.

There are many cultures and individuals who have very distinct plans for the type of coffin they would like.  On my recent trip to San Francisco, I visited the De Young Museum and was astounded by what I saw around a corner:  A coffin in the shape of a cocoa pod.   Beginning in the 1950’s in the Accra section of Ghana, an artist and craftsman by the name of Seth Kane Kwei began making custom coffins, each specified to the wishes of its future occupant.  The cocoa pod below was commissioned from Kwei in 1970, when Ghana was one of the world’s leading cocoa distributors.   The one pictured below is on permanent display at the De Young.

Each one is made using various soft woods native to Ghana, and then formed into a cylinder-canoe shape.  Artisans then craft the vessel using European furniture construction techniques to the client’s specifications, taking sometimes three months to complete.  Each coffin is upholstered inside, usually with satin or velvet.  And many of these coffins are food or food-related items, the most popular being onions, cocoa pods, fish, chickens and boats.   The Southbank Centre in London has many of these unique coffins on display, although some are of British origin.   On display is a replica of a yet-to-be-used coffin, commissioned by a woman who wants to spend eternity inside an egg.   I love the symbolism of rebirth and purity that both the egg and the cocoa pod represent.   Unlike most of its counterparts, this one is made of elm.

Below is another version of the cocoa pod coffin, but in shades of yellow and green.  I love the symbolism that each of these caskets offers.  For example, the onion (pictured at top) was revered by the ancient Egyptians.  They believed that the various layers of the onion symbolized eternal life, sometimes burying Pharaohs and other royals with the revered vegetable.

Photos Courtesy of the Southbank Centre, London

For the wine connoisseur, this a large cork coffin, complete with a wine opener sticking out.  This was commissioned by the County of  Cork in Ireland.

This next  model looks pretty traditional from the outside, but it was the inside that moved me.  While I do not condone having coffins in one’s home under normal feng shui guidelines, I couldn’t help but be enamored with the Vinters Vessel.  Made by The Old Pine Box Company of Edgewood, New Mexico, they offer a beautiful all pine coffin with a wine rack inside.  The lower two-thirds of the box houses nineteen bottles of wine, and top third used as storage space for glasses.  When needed as a funerary box, the inside framework can be removed to create a free standing wine rack, so that one’s wine collection may be displayed.  Each casket comes with a hand-painted emblem with grapes and the Latin phrase  Sono Meus Vita, meaning Celebrate My Life.  This coffin retails for about $1400.00.   For more information, please check out their website http://www.theoldpinebox.com/vintner.html   If  one wants to place this beautiful box inside their home, I suggest either a wine cellar or library, but make sure that it’s always filled with wine, and kept free of dust.

The Vinter’s Vessel.  Photo Courtesy of The Old Pine Box Company

As for myself, I’m not sure what kind of coffin – if any – I’ll be acquiring yet.  But if I had to select a food-shaped one, I would probably go with a man-sized bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais,  mostly due to the delicious taste of the wine and the prettiness of the label.

My Ninja, My Love…

Red Lego Ninja

My friend Kristin, a successful actress and model,  moved to France.  As models are sometimes apt to do, she moved to Paris for work, leaving me the sole custody of her Ninja.  No, it’s not a cat, dog, or turtle – but a blender.   I’ve had torn relationships with blenders in the past.  They always make promises to accomplish goals, then barely put in any effort to get them done.   Sometimes they refuse to do anything at all, and just sit there glaring at me as they repose on the formica.  The current blender I have has been exiled to the pantry – after it protested to blend ice for margaritas.   But then Kristin introduced me to the Ninja.  And other friends of mine had mentioned the Ninja as well; how it creates these dream-like smoothies and fantastic sauces.  Was this indeed an appliance I could count on?  So Kristin left the country and I got the blender.

The model I have is the Ninja Pulse.  Pictured above, it comes with everything displayed, as well as a cookbook and instruction manual.  I felt immediately at ease with this appliance.  And then the experiments began.  Pasta sauces, smoothies, and soups are the main things I use it for; although it can also be used as a coffee bean grinder and mixer.  I also use it to dice onions and other vegetables into smaller morsels.  The key here is not to blend it too much, or it becomes more liquified than desired.  However, because of a very happy accident, I created an amazing sandwich spread:  pureed onion.  I was attempting to dice two white onions, and I blended it a little too heavily.   I decided to make the most of my mistake, added a little water, and processed it some more.  A smooth, low-calorie spread was born!  Not only is it good on sandwiches, it can also be used at a thickener for soups and sauces, and as a topping for potatoes.  One could add spices or Parmesan cheese to it as well, but I kept mine pure and basic.  Take a look at the finished product below.

Another recipe I invented was Creamy Curry Soup.  I took two broccoli stalks (sans the florets) and half a white onion.  I pureed both together until it was a nice thick paste.  Then, I heated up a can of cream of chicken soup.  Added to this was my broccoli paste, fresh spinach leaves, two sliced avocados, a myriad of spices, and yellow curry powder.  I like it spicy, so I added a lot of yellow curry, as well as cumin, chili powder, and dried cilantro.  Phenomenal was the word that sprang to mind as I savored the first taste of this creation.  This could also be made vegetarian easily, just substitute cream of mushroom or cream of celery for the soup.  Or one could go the other direction and add chicken breast to the brew.  I had mine with some fresh bread, but it would be equally good served over rice.

One smoothie recipe I love involves a banana, about a cup of frozen strawberries, six or so ice cubes, and cranberry juice.  Pulsed until liquid form, this can either be consumed right away as a beverage, or put in the freezer as a chilled dessert.  I haven’t done so yet, but it would be amazing with vodka or tequila added to it as well.  The finished product is pictured above.

How, exactly, this is blender feng shui?  Well, it falls into many categories.  For one, is a multifaceted kitchen machine, so it can perform a variety of tasks.  It also takes up very little space in the kitchen, thus avoiding clutter.  Also, the more healthy and taste-filled food and beverages are, the more abundant and auspicious they become.  It also makes eating healthy a lot easier.  If I’m not in the mood to eat more nutritious  items, I just chop and puree them down, and then add them to things.  My vegetable intake has tripled since the Ninja came to live with me.  Also, it adds a beneficial metal element to the kitchen, in both color and material.  However, most kitchens are usually brimming with metal energy due to the  other main fixtures in the room, such as the stove, refrigerator, and sink.

Because it is such an incredible product, the Ninja Pulse can be a little pricey.  I have searched the web, and here are the best places to capture this ninja online:

I have many activities planned for The Ninja and myself.   I foresee a long and blissful array of cookie dough combinations, home-made mashed potatoes, shredded zucchini browns, and dark chocolate raspberry pudding.   My Ninja, you are truly a one-in-a-million appliance.

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

http://www.thecounterburger.com/Toluca_Lake_CA/