Orchids

photos of orchids in bloom

Kent Orchids is a photo collection that has special meaning for me on several levels. The obvious thing is my undying fascination with orchids. Love ’em. Nuff said.

These flowers were bred and raised by Joan and Mark who own Orchidaceae.com. I took these shots when their collection was in Kent WA not far from my home. I would spend several hours on Saturdays documenting their stunning collection.

They have since relocated to Walla Walla WA and I don’t have the opportunity to spend sumptuous hours with them and their collection.

I miss them. And their flowers. I recently had a chance to visit them. 3,000 sq ft of orchid madness. When I win the lottery I know how I’m going to spend my winnings.

Homemade Ice Cream

mmmmmm…

Acme-Ice-Cream

Ice cream is one thing. Homemade ice cream is something else. The same goes for sorbet and other frozen desserts too. Gone are the days of handcranked ice cream makers that need both ice and salt.

I use a Donvier ice cream maker. You have to put the inner metal container in your freezer beforehand. It acts as a heat sink and cooling your ice cream mixture quickly. All you do is turn the handle a couple times every few minutes. No ice, no salt, no problem.

The difference between ice cream and sorbet? The amount of butterfat. Milk and or cream, and it’s ice cream. No dairy and it’s sorbet. There’s a time and a place for both. Below is a basic, generic recipe that I use as a starting point. You can add flavorings, modify the liquid (juice, milk, cream, etc.), and improvise all you want.

The sweeetener can be sugar, honey, agave syrup, or simple syrup. The latter adds a silky texture and IMHO is worth the extra step.

Now if you look at most ice cream recipes you’ll see that they’re variations of the above. Yes, the butterfat in heavy cream beats milk let alone sorbet. Consider the calories and cholesterol.

Chill the ingredients before putting them into the ice cream maker. The colder they are, the less time it takes to make.

Many people use egg yolks to improve the texture. Others use corn starch. a.) you can do without either in most cases and b.) guar gum does the same thing without eggs.

Guar gum adds that smooth mouth feel. All you need is 1/2 teaspoon in the recipe above. Add more and it gets “chewy” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you want.

Coffee

no, the other java

I live in Seattle so you know I love coffee. And I don’t mean Starbucks. Soy latte thank you very much, though chai is my hot beverage of choice.

First things first: let’s explore some so called coffee hacks.

Some may want to reduce their coffee consumption. Not something I understand but here’s tips for detoxing from coffee. Good luck. For those of you who can’t or won’t quit, here are additional coffee ideas besides brewing and drinking it. Maple syrup or malted milk anyone?

Coffee myths debunked and why cold or frozen coffee beans may taste better. In fact here’s a list of tips for lazy people. What could be easier?

Coffee-Physics
Coffee Physics, Seattle WA

confessions of a modern dharma bum

Buddhism & Meditation

The 3 Jewels Buddha Dharma SanghaI’m an American Buddhist in the Tibetan school. Gelugpa to be exact because I’m a follower of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I meditate, strive to adhere to The Five Precepts, and live as a simple householder. I’ve taken Refuge. I’m still Dad to my three sons, Lisa’s husband, LeBlanc CNE’s President & CEO, Carmel’s son, etc.

Being non-theistic sidesteps questions surrounding the nature of God. Yet it provides the same comforting constructs, moral and ethical backbone, and guide to the spiritual path as God-centric religions. One does end up with a religion without having to dance around an illogical creation myth.

I struggle like everyone else. I enjoy meditation but I can be as lazy as the next person. I enjoy reading books on Buddhism but not the western magazines about it. What I really love is attending teachings given by His Holiness around the country. Hey, some guys go to Vegas or NASCAR races. I study Buddhism with HHDL.

Buddhist sense of humorOne of the things I’m aware of is how Buddhism is being shaped by America at the same time as America being shaped by Buddhism. I’m drawn to the tradition, lineage, ritual, and conservatism of the Gelugpa school. Funny because most who know me wouldn’t call me staid, button-down, or formal. As old as it is I think Tibetan Buddhism is beginnig to see a fast evolution as it melds into the modern world. Listen to HHDL, read between the lines. To paraphrase Olsmobile, this is not your father’s Buddhism. Even His Holiness knows it.

Tibetan Buddhism has been male dominent. That ain’t gonna fly in the West. How about gays? The heirarchy isn’t a top down org chart nor is there a voting body to lobby. Something else bugs me: if incarnation is integral to continuing lineage, how about incarnating in Iowa or Argentina or my kids? Spread it around boys.

My mala

I studied and practiced acupuncture in Boston in the 80s. Traditional Chinese medicine changed the minite it hit our shores. Yes there’s yin and yang, and the five elements, and the twelve organs, the pulse, and all the points but man did it morph. The differences in frequency of treatment, the use of needles without herbs, acupuncutre being part of an integrated approach using different therapies and treatments. The same thing will happen to Buddist practices. Stop and ponder the implications of a Buddhist community that isn’t based on monasteries. Local dharma centers, DVDs and webcasts, and dare I say the Dalai Lama’s celebrity status are changing Buddhism and Buddhism spreads its influence internationally.

Elements of my practice are expressed in these pages. There are also links to others who are on a parallel track. Nothing here is meant to be flip or pop or irreverant. Contemporary Buddhists live in the modern world. The dharma is growing as we grow with the dharma.