Yoke or yolk?

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The yellow center of an egg is its yolk. The link that holds two draft animals together is a yoke. Also a wooden device across the shoulders that enables a person to carry buckets hanging from each end.

Pumpkin curry

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Pumpkin is a highly nutritious, low-fat, low-calorie, rich in fiber, and versatile product. Here is an easy pumpkin curry:

  • 500 g cubed pumpkin (or butternut squash)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 green chilli (at least – to taste), sliced
  • 2,5 cm cube ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder or a knob of fresh turmeric, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh coriander

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add mustard and cumin seeds till they sizzle.

Add green chilli, stir.

Add the pumpkin, turmeric, ginger and coriander seeds, and a little water if it seems necessary. Stir, cover and simmer slowly till the pumpkin is tender and the water has disappeared.

Just before serving, sprinkle with a handful of fresh coriander leaves.

Exercise while travelling

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We are constantly told of the importance of muscle maintenance as we age, both in other to prevent osteoporosis and to aid weight control. I for my part want to be able to keep travelling and carrying my own suitcase for as long as possible, but I don’t necessarily want to stay in hotels with fitness rooms. So, other than by carting a suitcase around, and using water bottles as handweights, how to keep those biceps alive on very little floor space? I have discovered the use of exercise bands, also known as thera bands, dyna bands, flexi-bands, and workout resistance bands, and now keep one permanently in my suitcase. It weighs next to nothing, takes up no space, and the possibilities to keep those biceps and other muscles alive even on very little floor space are endless. Instructions can be found in places such as Youtube, or on DVDs at amazon.

My favourite hotel in Berlin

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This is the hotel I use most often: Derag Großer Kurfürst, Neue Roßstraße 11-12, 10179, http://www.deraghotels.de/hotels-berlin/hotel-grosser-kurfuerst-berlin.html. It is in a quiet area just a few steps from U-Bahn Märkisches Museum (U2) and bus 147 to the Hauptbahnhof, a ten-minute walk south of Museum Island, located on the bank of the Spree, there is an Indian restaurant across the street and numerous other cafés and restaurants in the area. They also have different sizes of serviced apartments. Internet is free for one hour each day, the rest of the time at reasonable rates, although of course WiFi ought to be free everywhere all the time. Get good room rates on sites such as www.booking.com.

My favourite painting

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Here is a very bad photo of my favourite painting. The artist is Moritz Schleime. He is represented in Berlin by Wendt + Friedmann Gallery and in Copenhagen by LARM Gallery.

The annual contemporary art fairs in Berlin

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This weekend, the four art fairs ABC, Liste, Stroke and Preview are taking place in Berlin. If you would like to join an international group of people visiting Preview at the historic Tempelhof Airport on Sunday 16 September, sign up for my activity on InterNations: http://www.internations.org/activity-group/276/activity/30328 (sign in and look for InterNations Berlin Arts & Music Enthusiasts). If there is time, we will visit Stroke Urban Art Fair afterwards. Unless we just go out for a meal in stead.

Its or it’s?

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My own homespun way to remember is that it’s = it is, but: his, hers, and – by the same token: its.

Rye bread

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I am trying to avoid white bread and have developed this rye bread which contains very little wheat flour but is full of rye flour and healthy seeds. I also add some form of dried, chopped sea greens.

Day 1:

Dissolve 2 dl sourdough in 1,5 l lukewarm water. Add 1 kg of broken rye kernels, 300 g coarse rye flour and 150 g wheat flour and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave to raise for 12-24 hours.

Day 2:

Add 6,6 dl dark beer, for example stout, and 400 g rye flour and mix well. Put 2 dl of the dough in a small container, cover with 4 tsp salt and a lid, and refrigerate to use as sour dough next time. Then add 200 g coarse barley flour, 300 g coarse oats, a total of 500 g mixed seeds such as for example sunflower, sesame, buckwheat and chia seeds, and two handfuls dried sea greens. Mix well, place in two baking tins of 3 litres each, baste with olive oil, cover with cling film and leave to raise for four to six hours or more if needed.

Bake for 30 minutes at 100 C, then at 180 C for 1,5 hours or until the breads can be easily turned out of the tins. Then bake the breads, bottom up, for another half hour, switch off the oven and leave the breads inside to cool off.

Keep wrapped in baking paper in plastic bags. I usually halve the breads and freeze them.


Sea greens

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Sea greens is an underutilised source of important vitamins and minerals and healthy fats. Dried seagreens can easily be incorporated into the daily diet, for example by adding it to casseroles, salads and home-baked bread.

Meditation is the new black

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Much is being said and written about mindfulness and meditation these days, and there are many books and CDs on the subject. Look for names such as Bodhipaksa and Jon Kabat-Zinn and websites such as www.wildmind.org. Meditation is said to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, maintain equanimity (clear the ‘clutter’ of unruly thoughts and aid positive thinking and decision making), and aid concentration and creativity. Personally, I find – after having tried to meditate daily for a while – that it improves my quality of sleep – not that I had problems sleeping but I seem to need a little less sleep and wake up less groggy in the morning. I also find that it regulates my appetite and controls those annoying mid-morning and late-afternoon food cravings.

Here is how to get started: Sit comfortably, but as upright as possible, either cross-legged or on a dining chair in a place where you will not be disturbed. It does not have to be completely quiet, since the trick is to learn to acknowledge noises around you and let them be. Take a few slow, deep breaths and imagine that you are relaxing every fibre of your body from the crown of your head to the tip of your toes. Two tricks: Imagine you are in a place that usually gives you a sense of complete wellbeing, and try to relax your eye sockets. This may sound strange, but it really heps me to focus on relaxing the area behind my eyes. Then turn your attention to your breath and the sensation of breathing in and out without controlling the breath. When other thoughts arise, which they will, acknowledge them and let them go. If it helps, count your outbreaths from one to ten and then start over.

Sit like this for at least ten minutes once a day. You may want to use a stopwatch with a not too agressive tone, or download a gong timer. If you find it difficult to stop racing thoughts, try counting each outbreath until you get to ten, and then start over. Another method is to count to one while breathing in, then hold your breath while counting to four, and breathe out while counting to two. Ideally for 15 to 20 minutes at least once each day.

Stress counselling. Proofreading. Photography. Cooking.