The Scarlet Letter

Apothic Logo

Due to some circumstances beyond my control, I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress over the past few weeks.  Stress of any kind attracts sha (negative energy) to an individual and/or space. Depending on the person, stress can cause a multitude of symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, skin issues, sexual performance problems, and a weakened immune system.  For me personally, I suffer from insomnia, and the resulting fatigue and lack of energy that comes along with it.  Unfortunately, stress is an inescapable part of life.  But, it can be reduced and dealt with accordingly.  One way I like to unwind is to pour myself a glass of wine, such as the red blend from Apothic Wines.

Apothic Echos

Created by winemaker Boyd Morrison in 2007, Apothic harvests its grapes from Lodi to make some of the most tantalizing blends I’ve ever had.  I was first introduced to it  on a weekend away in Big Bear a few years ago.  It was love at first taste.  The name Apothic comes from the word Apotheca;  a mysterious place where wine was created and stored in the 13th century.  The “ic” portion of the name comes from the word epic (which this wine definitely is).

Apothic Red

Apothic Red – A seductive blend of zinfandel, syrah, cabernet and merlot.  While this is definitely not a dessert wine, I found the bold and rich taste of chocolate to be highly prevalent (probably from the zinfandel grapes used).  Vanilla, blueberry, raspberry, and mocha flavors also permeate the libation.  An excellent choice for every wine lover’s palette.  Even if you’re not an aficionado of red wine, try this.  It’s impressive taste lingers upon the senses.  Unforgettable.

Apothic White

Apothic White – I had this recently at a dinner party, and the first taste to assuage my senses was honey.  Sweet honeysuckle, vanilla, and mellow pineapple bring forth images of hot summer days in tropical climates.  A friend suggested adding actual honey to the wine, which I am inclined to do for a more digestif appeal.  Best served chilled, although ours was not; we added a few ice shards instead.  Sultry and beguiling.

Apothic Rose

Apothic Rose – A limited edition released this year, this is a very stylish blush wine.  Strawberries with hints of cream, nutmeg, and watermelon are the dominant flavors.   This pairs amazingly well with Trader Joe’s Carrot Zucchini Bread.  Charming and sweet.

Apothic Wine Art

Wine Advertisement Art by Aurie Singletary of Cargo Collective.  See more of her incredible images at her site:  http://cargocollective.com/auriesingletary/Apothic-Wine

Apothic Red Pond and Trees

From a feng shui perspective, there are many ways to deal with stress.  Here are a few things I do to help relax and rejuvenate during stressful times:

  • Gaze at some art – Whether is be online or at a museum, spend some time browsing artists of various styles.  This helps to relieve the mind of worrisome thoughts, and let’s people focus their attention on an item of beauty.  Even if one doesn’t like a piece of art, it’s always thought-provoking.
  • Clear the clutter – Remove and reorganize any clutter in your environment – especially in the bedroom   Clutter also attracts sha, stressing people out the more and more it collects. Take a half hour or so to clear some of this away from you environment, or at the very least, remove it from the bedroom.
  • Get some fresh air – Open up all the windows and let fresh air into the space, for about an hour (weather and temperature permitting).   Air and breezes from outside help remove the stagnant, yin air of the area, attracting more fresh,yang energy inside.  Taking a nice stroll around a park or neighborhood also helps.
  • Take a bath – As opposed to showers, baths helps to relax the body rather than stimulate.    There are all sorts of various things one can add for the ultimate bath experience.  I like bubble bath, some essential oil (usually lavender or eucalyptus), bath salts, and apple cider vinegar.  Why the vinegar, you ask?  It’s a skin equalizer.  If you have dry skin, it helps to naturally moisturize.  If you have oily skin, it helps to draw out the unnecessary oils.
  • Aromatherapy – Lighting candles or incense is a very quick way to alter a space for the better.  For calming, I suggest vanilla, lavender, or sandalwood.
  • Calming music – Various kinds of music can help one to relax.  Studies have shown that classical music alters brain waves, slowing down heart rate and breathing to a more calming rhythm.  Soft jazz and new age music also have the same effect.  (Enya is awesome)
  • Unwind with wine – A glass of red wine a day is good for the body and improves memory.  It also helps to relax.  After my second glass, I feel much better.

These are but a few of the ways one can de-stress.  There are many others, and they’re different for everyone.  Some of my friends play video games, or go for a mile run, or do yoga, or meditate.  Find what works best for you.

Haunting Apothic Poster

Apothic has  a choice selection of luxurious products for sale on their website, like the beautiful poster pictured above.  They also have a new black, stemless wineglass I’m sort of in love with.  All of their products are here:  http://store.apothic.com/index.cfm?method=storeproducts.showlist

Opera Wine Quote

Apothic can be found at a variety of locations, including CVS, Target and Trader Joe’s.  Also, check your local supermarket, bodega, or liqueur store.  Many of them in the Los Angeles area carry Apothic, although the rose is much harder to find than the red or white.   There is also a store locator  on the Apothic site here:  http://www.apothic.com/where-to-buy.asp  The price for this relaxation in a bottle is around $9.00 – $11.00.   I would not recommend purchasing online, as the shipping costs from all available distributors seems grievously high.

To unwind from the day tonight, I plan on having some Apothic Rose as I lounge in a warm bath courtesy of that amazing gentleman, Mr. Bubble.

http://www.apothic.com/

*Uncredited Apothic images provided courtesy of Apothic Wines.

A Feng Shui Cookbook!

One of my favorite things to do is browse used bookstores.  I could do this for hours, and have – literally.  Or, if I don’t feel so inclined to leave the house, I do it online.  When browsing the plethora of books available on the world-wide web, I stumbled upon an intriguing and thought-provoking book called Feng Shui Food.  This cookbook is a collaborative effort between feng shui consultant Simon Brown,  and restaurant chef Steven Saunders.  Simon Brown has been a feng shui consultant since 1993, and operates Chi Energy, a holistic health institute in London.  He was also one of the first practitioners to bring feng shui classes to the United Kingdom.  Steve Saunders is a highly acclaimed chef.  Having worked on many televised cooking shows (including his own), he is the co-director of the Aspire Group, a restaurant company that has dining establishments all over the United Kingdom, as well as a few exotic locales.  Both gentlemen have authored numerous books, but this is their only joint venture.  So I purchased Feng Shui Food, and awaited its hasty arrival.

The book gives an intriguing, fresh perspective to cooking along feng shui guidelines.   Divided into five separate sections, the first chapter deals with feng shui basics, yin and yang theory, the five elements, as well as what things attract healthy chi to a kitchen.  The second chapter is nearly all recipes for appetizers and soups, entrees, side dishes, and desserts.  These are organized by yin and yang, with more yin items on the left side of the page, and yang items situated on the right.  Also, the two British authors give corresponding commentary about each dish, both from culinary and feng shui perspectives.

The third chapter, titled Menus for Success, looks at ways to create a certain kind of atmosphere, depending on what one is attempting to achieve.  From a romantic dinner for two, to a children’s lunch, to a meal for reconciliation.  In addition to even more recipes, this section also has a wide variety of tips and suggestions.  The fourth chapter goes into this further, for specific special events, such at weddings or Christmas dinner.  The fifth chapter is all about dining outside of the home.  They include ideas about selecting the right kind of environment for dining depending on the occasion.  An appendix is also located at the back, with even further recipes for oils, sauces, breads, desserts, and a few other items (some of which are required for recipes located elsewhere in the book).  Nearly all of the recipes in Feng Shui Food are vegetarian or pescatarean in nature.   Energy, or chi,  is in our food as well, and when one consumes animal flesh or animal products (dairy or eggs), we take in the energy of that creature.  A certain amount of “dead energy” comes with eating meat, hence why most of the recipes in this book are vegetable or fish based.  Although I support the vegetarian lifestyle completely, I am definitely a carnivore.  But, when I crave a hamburger or New York steak, I tend to look for more organic and humane options.  The book suggests – and I agree – that organic is the best way to go for all food items, when possible.

Many of the informative tidbits s in Feng Shui Food are highly valuable, especially when it comes to attaining a balanced meal from a feng shui perspective.  And all of the recipes are simply mouthwatering.   But then came the difficult part – which recipe do I start with?  I decided to go with Petit Pois a la Francaise, located on page 54 of the book.   I selected this side dish because I liked all of the ingredients, and it seemed rather easy to make.  Although I did play with some of the components.

2 pounds of fresh or frozen peas are the main act in this dish.  I opted for the frozen sweet peas from a fine French store I frequent known as Target  (Their Market Pantry selection of generic food items are very high quality – especially their instant oatmeal).  Rather than use the required shallots, I used finely diced scallions.  I also didn’t have any vegetable broth.  Since I had no present desire to my own, so I took a shortcut by way of beef bouillon.  I also neglected to purchase fresh mint,   so I opted for rosemary as a substitute.

One thing I loved about these peas is they use honey to add a distinct sweet flavor.  Although it requires only one tablespoon, I added a little over two.   I was also concerned about the heavy cream required.  I was expecting it to be cream laden, but the ratio of cream to peas is pretty sparse, so calorie-wise, it isn’t too bad.  Tahini can also be substituted for the cream.

Other than my few alterations, I followed the recipe exactly.  The final product is pictured above.  The recipe states that it’s for four people (nearly all of the recipes in the book are for a party of four).  Here, I disagree.  This amount would easily serve anywhere between six to eight individuals.   While I enjoyed the rosemary, I feel the mint would have complimented the honey on the vegetables much better.  Element wise, I love how wood-based this meal is, with the greenery and fresh herbs.  Simon Brown also indicates this dish is great for wanting to be more creative or more inspired, and I agree completely.  I’ve been adding these peas to Chinese fried rice, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, or leaving as is as the perfect side dish.

Where is the best place to get this wondrous book?  Published in the UK in 1999, and United States in 2000, one’s best bet would be online.  I’ve compiled a list of the most affordable places to order Feng Shui Food below:

This book is sensational, and I highly recommend it to any novice or experienced chef.  As for my further culinary adventures with Feng Shui Food, I plan on making their Lemon Oil and Basil Oil (or perhaps combining the two), Honey and Raspberry Fool, Fried Lentil Cakes with Cumin, and  Lasagna of Spinach Pasta and Wild Mushrooms.  I better get started cooking…

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.