At 6.30am this morning, I pulled a Spice Oracle Card with a prayer for all beings everywhere. This was the exact time (Pacific Time) of the 2020 Autumnal Equinox. Magic happens at such an hour on such a Celestial occasion and so I suppose, although enchanted, I was not very surprised when I pulled the Sesame card.
SESAME SEED IS YOUR MEDICINE
Ground yourself in meditation. This is your message and your medicine. Plant the seeds of deep understanding by connecting to the cosmic energy, the giver of all life.
Here you will find true nourishment.
Sesame spice-medicine has a very aligned message and some serious magic for us at this auspicious time in our human evolution, and also in the seasonal shift we are experiencing now in the Northern Hemisphere. You see, Autumn or Fall, however you name this season, is when the Vata elements of Air and Ether are presiding and in order to remain grounded, stable, and sane, we need Sesame. And other Vata-pacifying food and lifestyle practices.
If you understand the effects of Vata and the Doshas, you will already be noticing the elevated qualities of this ethereal, mobile, light, quick, dry, cold, erratic force of nature. Vata is VAYU which means Wind. The Sanskrit word Vata literally means ‘blown’ and Vayu, ‘blower.’ So we have the blown and the blower, and this is what can knock us off our course, derange our thoughts, unsettle our hearts, and make us feel as if we are flying wildly and without direction, in an uncontrollable vaccuum of fear, anxiety, exhaustion, and confusion, especially during the Fall season.
So Sesame Medicine is true nourishment. The kind that comes from the deep and consistent practice of meditation. What a perfect Spice Oracle for this day, this season, this human life. Rather than being blown about by the winds of change, we can find ever-present, unchangeable peace and serenity by tuning in every day to the Giver of all life through a daily meditation practice.
Sesame tells us to chew our life experiences well, to grind our seeds of practice into a nourishing life habit. When you chew well on the seeds, you can properly absorb the myriad vitamins and minerals it provides. When you patiently grind sesame seeds, you make tahini, a creamy paste that is easy to digest, tastes delicious, and feels nourishing. We also produce a sublime substance with similar qualities, through our meditation practice, it is called SOMA, the nectar of bliss-awakening.
Ah, I am on a path of sharing profound wisdom this morning, bestowed on me by my aromatic spice companions. I also realized that pulling the Sesame Oracle Card, was synchronistic with the just-launched Autumn issue of Maple Magazine.My Ayurvedic article in there for the season was all about, ya you guessed it, Sesame!
In the article I talk about how tila or sesame seeds are named in the Vedas, as seeds of immortality. In Ayurveda, this refers to the rich and fortifying nutrition, and life-giving qualities of the food and oil that comes from the seed. They boost our ojas or immunity, and bless us with longevity. They are a rasayana, a sacred restorative food.
Through external oiling of the body with sesame oil, and internal nutrition of the seed as a spice, we gain double-benefits for our healthy state of being, body, mind and soul.
Sesame is loaded with calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and a high level of plant protein. How do you include this in your daily diet? Gently toast and blend the seeds with other spices and sprinkle lavishly on warming grains, soups, stews, and kitchari. Spread the paste on earthy whole-grain bread or make a dressing/sauce for your sweet roasted root veggies.
Thank you Sesame for blessing us all with your message today, and with your grounding nourishment every day. My lovely friends, I wish you the true Nourishment of the season, and steadfast mojo for your Fall meditations.
Fragrant Blessings, Your Spice Mistress, Glynnis xo
Namaste Beautiful Spice-Lovers. Have you met Pippali, Long Pepper? (not at all related to Pippi Long Stocking!). Pippali is actually the Sanskrit word for this close relative of the somewhat less-spicy better known, black pepper, both from the Piperacea family.
The gorgeously fascinating and aromatically elegant long fruit of this flowering vine, is dried and used as a spice, but more so as a spice-medicine with roots in Ayurveda, dating back thousands of years. Not surprising. This pepper plant is special. It has a unique gift of boosting the potency of other herbs and spices when taken together. This generous act is known in Ayurveda as Yoga Vahi, where the assimilation, metabolism, and absorption of substances are enhanced in the body by another special botanical. Turmeric bio-availability is a good example, we have heard of black pepper making this anti-inflammatory spice-marvel more easily assimilated in the system, but Long Pepper takes it up a notch.
This is not the aromatic spice’s only superpower. Pippali is good medicine for the respiratory system, particularly for the lungs. Not only does it restore lung tissue, it detoxifies accumulations in the lungs and relieves asthma. Beneficial to both Kapha and Vata constitutions with stimulating and warming actions. Pippali is a lung tonic of note, and we need to know about it. At this time when wild fires are burning and smoke fills the air, when flu season is upon us, and COVID-19 persists, the protection of our lungs is more than wise, its crucial. Long Pepper is a Rasayana, a plant of longevity, an alterative, breathing life into our lungs. And I’ll make this long pungent spice story, short and sweet…..get yourself some.
LONG PEPPER AS A SPICE-MEDICINE FOR THE FALL SEASON:
1. Add to a blend, equal parts ground Long Pepper, Ground Ginger, Ground Turmeric. Add a pinch to warm water or almond milk. Add to your chai with cardamom and cinnamon.
2. Add a pinch to warm milk with a drop of honey, drink as a morning tonic (rasayana).
3. Use as a spice for soups, kichari, and roasted grains and veggies, along with cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger. Found in the famous spice blend in Ras El Hanout.
4. Found in the classic Ayurvedic formula Trikatu, use for lung
Fragrant Blessings. Your Spice Mistress, Glynnis x
A note: Long Pepper is not for ongoing long-term use as a medicine. It is safe as a short term tonic and for acute respiratory and digestive issues. Used as a spice in a blend is a good way to incorporate a small amount into your diet.
known as “the strong-scented” Katukaphalah or Lavanga Your Sanskrit names vibrate with sensual power
and good Kapha medicine,
and aromatic stories well-travelled.
From Maluku Islands within the Banda Sea,
you have come.
Clove Bud you numb my pain,
making me forget, with your sweet spicy botanica
yet uniquely pungent.
The dried flower bud,
of the tropical evergreen. Syzygium Aromaticum
My love for you is eternal,
and true is yours for me.
Ahhhhhh yes another full moon, with two occurring in this month of March. It seems like we are blessed with Blue Moons galore in this power 2018 year. As I looked in my spice apothecary this morning to adorn my rye oats with something spicy for the almost-Spring damp day, the clove jar jumped off the shelf. Usually cloves are my third, fourth or fifth choice to go in my chai or maybe in something baked. I’ve chewed on a bud for relieving toothache.
But today I gave it a closer look, you know how you cannot ignore the plea of something to be acknowledged when it makes you pay attention. And so a new love affair with an old spice is born as I put the C in LOVE for this full moon.
I BIT IN WITH CURIOSITY TO A NEW RELATIONSHIP
Giving this familiar spice another chance to show its character made me feel grateful. All those things that are ‘just there’ that we take for granted, and yet they are so mystical, generous, exotic even, when we dig deeper and smell closer and taste with more attention. Always striving for the new, the glamorous, the exciting, sometimes we overlook those solid things and their secrets to happiness.
WHAT I REDISCOVERED
Clove is a visionary spice. Its strong smell and intense flavour literally numbs the mucous membranes, it is an analgesic, quieting pain so one can focus on higher things (like feeling good). I sprinkled some on my rye oats along with ginger and turmeric and blueberries and cashews with a splash of almond milk. Ohmigosh I could not believe the fireworks that went off in my brain. This is Kapha time of year and the spicy digestive activity started right in my mouth, allowing for easy digestion. Pulling away all things sticky that I wanted unstuck. It was delicious all this good spice medicine at breakfast time. And then I bit into a whole clove bud. I closed my eyes and chewed it. A world of flavours and sensations arose in me. I forgot the cliche’s of clove and saw this spice treasure in new light.
In addition to their unique, sweet and pungent aromatic flavor, cloves are revered for their potent medicinal properties. Studies have found that the compounds in cloves display multiple health benefits, including supporting liver health, helping stabilize blood sugar levels, as well as being antimicrobial and rich in antioxidants, and improving bone health. (Jaw-dropping!).
For sure I could go on with a long list of clinical benefits but those do not sing in the heart. In Ayurveda the wisest way to receive boons from the plant and spice medicines is to include them with reverence in moderation in your daily diet, perhaps even chanting their names as you invite them into your inner world.
HOW TO GET A DAILY DOSE
OF CLOVE MEDICINE FOR
• Sprinkle into your cereal, oats or atop scrambled eggs
• Adorn your eggs-and-avo toast
• Add to your chai
• Goes great in coffee!
• Make a spice blend with clove and sprinkle lavishly
• Add to your smoothie
• Drop one into your herbal tea
May you too discover new mysteries in old relationships for this full moon and all the cycles of your life.
With CLOVE and Fragrant Blessings,
Spice Mistress Glynnis xox
The celestial bodies are blessing us with an auspicious occasion in the early part of the year. This morning, Wednesday January 31, 2018 the first Super Blue Blood Moon and full Lunar eclipse since 1844 graced the sky. You may, like me find yourself in a heightened state of creative euphoria – nothing that unusual as the full moon tends to affect some people that way – but this feels extra-Cosmic and deeply spiritual. The words of George Harrison’s powerful song-prayer ‘Give me Love’ have been running through my mind and it feels like a healing nectar being poured sweetly over the whole universe.
Give me love Give me love Give me peace on earth. Give me light Give me life, Keep me free from birth. Give me hope. Help me cope, with this heavy load. Trying to touch and reach you with Heart and soul. Om mmmmmmmm. Mmmm my Lord. Please take hold of my hand, that I might understand you. Wont you please Oh won’t you.
In the last few days I have listened to this song repeatedly (ummm a thousand times). It’s like chanting a never ending mantra and I’ve noticed it stirring up feelings of beauty, love, peace, and devotion and oh-so-mystically aligning with this lunar event of the Super Blue Blood Moon.
A so-called blood moon occurs during a lunar eclipse when the moon, in the Earth’s shadow, takes on a reddish tint due to sunlight reflected by the atmosphere. A blue moon is when there are two full moons in one month and when these events occur together it is quite rare and magical. Apart from my desire to go deeper into the ecstasy of prayer, chanting, and devotional practice I was inspired to draw a Cosmic comparison to a fun coincidence in the kitchen with some colour magic. It was no surprise that I saw the earthly expression of the blue-blood moon manifesting in my teacup when I poured myself a very special alchemical flower elixir that I had bought over the holidays at an amazing new tea shop in my hood.
This marvellous flower (Clitoria ternatea) has become a bit of a tea trend and for really good reason. Butterfly Pea-Flower makes a transformative cup of tea, going from a pale blue to Indigo to purple depending on the PH balance of what is added to it. The PH balance of the tea is sensitive to change and acts like a mood ring, changing colours according to that shift. Add limes, lemons or any other citrus-botanical and a myriad of warm colours change before your eyes. I made a concentrated ginger-honey-lime syrup and as I added this to the steeped tea it bloomed from a violet-indigo blue moon to a purple-red blood moon in seconds. Nature!
Tangy and sweet, the ginger lime syrup gave the otherwise earthy woodsy taste of the flower tea a delicious feisty zing. Not only fun and very light to sip on but also satisfying and full of antioxidant benefits equivalent to that of green tea.
Geez talk about satisfying the artist’s aromatic soul!
RECIPE FOR ONCE-IN-A BLUE-MOON-CHAI
2 inch sliced fresh ginger
1 TBSP Honey
Juice 1/2 fresh lime
2 TBSP dried Butterfly Pea flowers
3/4 cup water
2 cups boiling water
Add sliced ginger to 3/4 cup water in a small pot and bring to boil. Simmer half covered for 10 minutes to reduce liquid to 1/2 cup. Add honey and lime juice and stir until blended.
Steep pea flowers in 2 cups boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Pour into glass. Enjoy the blue colour and add the ginger lime syrup to tea. Watch the magic as it changes to a purply-red colour. Experiment with other botanicals such as hibiscus, fresh grapefruit, lemon or orange juice. Sip under a blue blood moon : )
Happy Celestial Magic Moon and Fragrant Blessings as always,
Glynnis xox Your Spice Mistress
Some good places to buy Butterfly Pea Flower tea and other fun links.
The last couple of months have been a mandala of madness. A stunning trip to Iceland, the launch of the first Spice Lounge, and my teaching schedule starting up again, along with some surfacing of stuff I imagined already resolved. And then there is the enduring thread of empathy with the suffering of others in the world. But the real madness has been in the mind. There have been days of digging into the terrifying darkness while simultaneously reaching with great hope for the light. It has been nourishing and painfully heartbreaking all at once while the to-do list looms as a provocative reminder that I will never get it done.
All around me I observe my close community experiencing this too. With years of embracing Ayurvedic self-care rituals, it is comforting to know that devotion to feeling good through these practices pays off. They soothe and help navigate us through dark moments. My go-to soothers (surprise!) are the spices and aromatic plant medicines. Grinding out resistance to change, embedded habits, or anger with a family issue really works! Try grinding down big chunks of dried orange peel or powdering whole star anise or tenacious juniper berries with your mortar and pestle. It’s a workout!
The Uplifting Perfume of Hope
By sticking with the process…poof…’suddenly’ you have a workable, edible, easy-to-digest ingredient for your spice blend. Easy to swallow. And divinely aromatic. On releasing the volatile aromatic molecules you have breathed in the good medicine. It’s alchemical. The same goes for working through a difficult problem or emotion. Process allows release of anger, doubt, pain, and stinky thoughts. It releases the volatile aromatic molecules of light and allows you to inhale the uplifting perfume of hope. What a relief to release our balled-up essence and then pray. In deep meditation and prayer we can take the goodies that have come up through process and transmute them into love in the hands of the Divine.
Spice Lounge attracts those who understand the benefit of community and have caught a whiff of the sweet nourishment of process. We grind, meld, blend, laugh, share stories, recipes, and feelings as the spices, seeds, and aromatic oils wave magic over our gathering. Together we create a phenomenal spice blend to use in the month ahead and most likely work out some serious sticky stuff in a delicious way. The spice oracles encourage us with food for thought and our journey home after feels lighter, inspired, and a lot less insane.
The Wise Counsel of an Enchanting Spice Blend
My inspiration for Spice Lounge came out of both the dark and the light. The medium of aromatic botanical wisdom propels me with great passion into the kitchen to witness the magnificence of the creative process. Perhaps I will whip up a batch of something wild to share with the tribe of seekers who love the wise counsel of an enchanting spice blend and the simple therapy of a sweet ‘n spicy chai.
Cheeky earth-red seeds ripen into becoming. Bird-beaked in form, colour dangerous. Why discover you now? With so much prickly pain outside this primal pod. Are you ready to share your secrets?
This Summer I became obsessed with Annatto seeds as I recalled a certain soup. Late Summer corn. Recipe by my best friend Myra Kornfeld in her first cookbook, “The Voluptuous Vegan”
It was sooooo VOLUPTUOUS.
Roasted corn with a sexy sofrito infused with the hue of this prehistoric-looking spice.
I made it again and again, the colours, flavours, and scent memories of friends gathered.
After I moved from New York and then Seattle, those feasts with best friends over the border became like rubies, precious and rare. Until one trip to the spice market where I rediscovered this jewel. Oh the happiness. Infusing oils, sauces, soups and ecstatic spice blends. I cannot even tell you how these beauties will make you feel.
When I step into my kitchen knowing they are there, I feel like a traveller, never lonely, free to go off on some adventure or another deep into my world of colours, aromas, and wild imaginings.
While playing with my new spice friends in a whole new way I created this tangy spice masala and I’m using it like crazy on my Late Summer corn on the cob with plenty ghee. Definitely a blend for adding to veggies like cauliflower and potatoes, as well as to various types of white fish. Its citrusy, slightly sweet and a little bit of spicy.
ANNATTO LEMON ZEST RUB
2 TBSP Annatto seeds Zest of 2 medium lemons 3 TBSP Coriander seeds 1 TBSP Whole Black pepper 1 tsp salt
Toast the coriander and black pepper and grind to a rough consistency. Grind the annatto seeds until roughly powdered. Zest lemon skins. Add salt and meld all together.
Use as an aromatic rub directly on corn, tofu, poultry, fish, root veggies.I hope you enjoy making this rub, so easy and fresh and a really really great way to enjoy the Summers corn bounty!
NOTE: Annatto lends a deep crimson colour to dishes either as an infused oil, rub or marinade traditionally for meat and fish but is definitely a gorgeous rub. The seed’s rich pigment infuses oils and vinegars with its golden-red hue imparting not only colour but a subtle citrus flavour to foods. Kitchens around the world use annatto to add its yellow-red colour to foods. The peppery, citrusy and earthy flavour of annatto, best ground raw or infused whole into oils, enhances and pairs well with most spices especially coriander, lemon/orange zest, black pepper, cumin, ginger, and cocoa.
As an Ayurvedic spice benefit, annatto assists liver and kidney function and strengthens bone tissue.
MYTH, MAGIC, & SACRED MEDICINE
I love that this stunningly vibrant seed was originally used as a ceremonial pigment and that nearly all Mayan scriptures were written in its red-staining ink. The Mayans and Aztecs considered this juice sacred and revered it as a symbol for blood in their rituals. These early civilizations went on to use annatto in foods ranging from spicy stews to powerful ritual chocolate drinks. Due to its rich hue, annatto was also valued as a pigment for war paint and is still used for colour in cosmetics (mostly lipstick), food and fabric dye.
Known as an aphrodisiac for women, annatto is imbued with the fire element and provokes desire. Mmmmm I must say just cooking with this amazing spice makes me feel totally luscious. So satisfying. With all this and its many health benefits, I implore you my darlings to go find some and try it.
Love and Fragrant Blessings, Glynnis, Your Spice Mistress xox