Christopher and the Peppers of the New World

Christopher and the Peppers of the New World

Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, Christopher Columbus ships

Santa Maria was Christopher Columbus ship on his first voyage. Nina and Pinta accompanied him.

After five weeks at sea, October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus, for the first time, reached the shores of what he thought was Asia. He had estimated that a westward route from Spain to India would be shorter than the overland trade route through Arabia. Spain wanted to take part in the lucrative spice trade, which at the time being was dominated by the Italians and the Arabs, and Columbus meant he had found the solution for how Spain could participate by going west.  He went four times.

Map showing Christopher Colombus four voyages to the New world

Map of the routes of the four voyages of Christopher Columbus. Made by Phirosiberia

Portrait of Christopher Columbus

Portrait of Christopher Columbus. Detail of the painting Virgen de los Navegantes (in the Sala de los Almirantes, Royal Alcazar, Seville). A painting by Alejo Fernández between 1505 and 1536. It is the only state sponsored portrait of the First Admiral of the Indias called Don Cristoval Colon known today as Christopher Columbus.

 

As we all know, Christopher Columbus was wrong about his assumptions about his landing-place. He was far away from India.

Anyway, among many other unknown vegetables growing in the New World, the various bell peppers were brought back to Europe by Columbus. They were given the misleading name pepper by him.

The fruit of Piper nigrum, which we know as peppercorns, and which is an unrelated plant to bell peppers, were highly valued, and the name “pepper” was at that time applied in Europe to all known spices with a hot and pungent taste, and so naturally extended to the newly discovered vegetable from the New World, a vegetable that comes in a great variety of hotness, from the sweet and mild bell peppers to the hot and pungent chili peppers.

 

Today the sweet bell pepper is a beloved vegetable, and I find it delicious grilled or roasted.

Grilled or roasted sweet bell peppers

Grilled or Roasted Sweet Bell Peppers

 

  • Sweet bell peppers, any color you like
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Balsamico vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Wash the peppers, dry them and coat them evenly with olive oil. Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet and place the sheet under the grill, or on the highest rack in your oven if you roast them. Keep a watchful eye on the grilling/roasting process. When the peppers get dark splotches turn the peppers over. Use a tong for this so you don’t get burned! The peppers get very hot.

When the peppers are evenly grilled/roasted, remove them from the oven and let them cool as you make the dressing.
Mix 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamico vinegar. Add some crushed garlic. Sprinkle the dressing over the lukewarm peppers and use sea salt and freshly ground pepper on top.

Enjoy!

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An Ancient Remedy for Curing Cold

An Ancient Remedy for Curing Cold

Ancient Egypt is famous for its medical knowledge and use of organic products as herbs and spices for treatments.  It has been found a wine jar from the tomb of one of Egypt’s first pharaohs, Scorpion I, which was steeped with herbs including balm, coriander, mint and sage, as well as pine tree resin.

 

The German egyptologist Georg Moritz Ebers spent the winter season of 1873-74 in Luxor. There he made an important discovery. One day he bought an old papyrus from an antique-shop for the large amount of 350 English pounds. At the time this represented forty monthly salaries for professor Ebers.
Ebers was told that the papyrus was found by tomb robbers between the legs of a mummy, but which tomb it was, or where it was situated, the antique dealer wouldn’t tell.
The papyrus turned out to be a medical papyrus, dating from ca 1550 BC, and one of the most important ancient medical Egyptian papyri ever found. Actually it is one of the oldest preserved medical documents anywhere.
The papyrus is named after its discoverer, and we know it today as the Ebers Papyrus.
The library of the University of Leipzig  in Germany is the current keeper of the papyrus.

 

The papyrus is ca 19 meters long, 30 cm wide, has 108 columns, numbered from 1 to 110   (no. 28/29 is missing), and consists of 879 texts, which mostly tell about remedies and magic formulas for healing. Some texts are anatomical descriptions, especially of the human heart.
Scientist believe that large parts of the texts are much older than the actual papyrus, and that they are copied from texts of the Old and Middle kingdom of ancient Egypt, some texts dating as far back as 3400 BC.

 

The ancient Egyptians used a lot of different herbs to improve health and cure different ailments, and as said above this is a tradition that is over 5000 years old.

This is an example for a recipe for a remedy for curing cold.

Another [medicine]:
1/64  frankincense
1/16  juniper berries
1/16  Lower Egyptian jbw-plant, (an unidentified plant)
1/16  jbxj-liquid, (an unspecified liquid)
1/16  celery of the desert
1/16  celery of the North
1/16  pSnt-Mineral, (mineral not specifically designated)
1/16 tjam-plant, (an unidentified plant)
1/16  Rush
1/16 xbw-plant, (an unidentified plant)
1/16  Swt-Nmtj-plant, (creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans)? Beard grass?)
1/32  white six-row barley
1/16  six-row barley green
5 ro  conifer turpentine
1/16 gyt plant (a plant – the same as gjw – purple nutsedge)
5 ro  psD (an unspecified fruit)-mineral
1/16  rwD mineral (a not-designated mineral)
1/8    xt-ds-plant (Myrtle (Myrtus communis)?
1/32  Honey
Dress or bandage with it

The Ebers Papyrus is an excellent site about the papyrus (in German).

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Potage de St. Germain or St. Germain’s Soup

Potage de St. Germain, or St. Germain’s Soup

This is a recipe for a soup that many people claim belongs to the list of the top ten soups in the world.
It is said it is named after the count de St. Germain due to his respectable age, of which I have written about in a previous post.
This soup was his favorite – the content of sage helped him obtain his longevity.

There exist numerous recipes for this soup, some quite complicated, but this version is fairly easy to make. It only needs time, but as St. Germain claimed: It also gives you more time.

St. Germain's Soup

For 4 servings you will need:

  • 900 g fresh (or frozen) peas
  • 100 g bacon, in one piece
  • 2  finely chopped carrots
  • 1 big chopped white onion
  • 1 tbsp. dried thyme
  • A handful dried sage (a lot!)
  • Chicken broth
  • 250 ml whipping cream cream
  • Sherry to taste

Put all the ingredients, except the chicken broth, the whipping cream and the sherry, in a big pot, and fill up with water to cover it all.
Let it reach cooking point, and turn the heat down to low.
Let it brew for at least 3 hours, until the whole mixture looks like mash. Refill water during this time. The peas and the dried herbs need a lot of liquid.

In the beginning the smell of the herbs can be quite overwhelming, but just wait, suddenly the heavy smell is gone. It is transformed into something seductive and indescribable.

At this point, discard the piece of bacon and process the soup through a blender until smooth.

Put the mixture back into the pot and add chicken broth. The soup should be somewhat thick. Whip the cream and stir it carefully in.
Taste with sherry, or serve sherry as a shot besides so everyone can put it in the soup according to taste.

If you have eaten this soup once, you will always remember.
It is extremely important that the soup is allowed to brew for at least three hours, if it doesn’t the herbs could overwhelm you.
But allowed the sufficient cooking time you will experience a taste that is of a higher order, and you might even live as long as St. Germain.

 

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Mnemosyne and Rosemary

Mnemosyne and Rosemary

Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne (1881), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation of the titaness by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

I have been here before,                  But when or how I cannot tell:          I know the grass beyond the door,   The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore…
Sudden Light,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1854

You smell, and suddenly you remember. Research has shown that memory recall at least doubles when a past event is associated with a smell.

Rosemary is known for being helpful for increasing memory, concentration, and even creativity. Rosemarys distinctive aroma is contained in the essential oil extracted of the herb. Some say that if you inhale the essential oil of rosemary when you are studying, all you have to do to recall all you have read, is to smell the same scent. The scent will stimulate and help delivering a higher amount of oxygen-rich blood into your brain. Furthermore modern research has shown that rosemarys carnosic acid actively protects the brain from free radical damage.
Rosemary oil is extracted from the fresh flowering tops by steam distillation. The oil has a clear, powerful refreshing herbal smell, is clear in color and watery in viscosity.

 

Rosemary has long been associated with remembrance and memory.  In puritan New England during the 1600s this was rosemary’s primary function, to help people remember.

In Europe, it has been a tradition since ancient times for mourners to throw rosemary into the grave of their loved ones.

 

Mnemosyne was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. She was a titaness and the daughter of Gaia and Uranus.  She and Zeus were the parents of the nine Muses:

The Nine Muses and Apollo

Apollo Dancing with the Muses by Francesco Bartolozzi (1725-1815)

 

Calliope – the Muse of Epic Poetry
Clio – the Muse of History
Erato – the Muse of Love Poetry
Euterpe – the Muse of Music
Melpomene – the Muse of Tragedy
Polyhymnia – the Muse of Hymns
Terpsichore – the Muse of Dance
Thalia – the Muse of Comedy
Urania – the Muse of Astronomy

 

Hesiod writes in his Theogony that kings and poets receive their powers of authoritative speech from their possession of Mnemosyne, and their special relationship with the Muses.
Mnemosyne also represents the counterpart to Lethe, which was the river of forgetfulness. A pool in Hades, the underworld, was Mnemosynes domain. Dead, but initiated souls had to drink from the pool of Mnemosyne so they could remember their past lives for their next incarnation. Non-initiates drank water from Lethe and forgot everything.

Minerva and the Nine Muses by Hendrik van Balen (1575–1632)

Minerva and the Nine Muses by Hendrik van Balen (1575–1632)

 

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How to Sight the Fairies

How to Sight the Fairies

Sometimes between  1590  and  1596  Shakespeare wrote in A Midsummer Night’s Dream II, 2 :

“I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows;
Quite over canopied with lush woodbine,
With sweet musk roses and with Eglantine”

This describes where action takes place: ..a bank wheron the wild thyme blows.

 

Here we meet the Fairies: Oberon, the king, and Titiana, the queen, with her fairy servants Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth and Mustardseed.

Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania by Sir Joseph Noel Paton, c. 1849

 

The wild thyme is the absolute favorite of the Fairies, and we humans will be able to sight the Fairies if we pick the flowers of thyme, especially of thyme that grows on Fairie Mounds, and then lay the picked flowers on our eyes.

 

Another sure method to see the Fairies, according to a  recipe from 1600, found in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England is:

To Enable One to See Faeries
[Take] a pint of sallet oyle and put it into a vial glasse and first wash it with rose-water and marygold [Calendula officinalis] water, the flowers to be gathered towards the east. Wash it till the oyle becomes white, then put into the glasse, and then put thereto the budds of hollyhocke, the flowers of marygolde, the flowers or toppes of wild thyme, the buds of young hazle, and the thyme must be gathered near the side of a hill where faeries used to be and take the grasse of a faerie throne then all these put into the oyle in the glasse and sette it to dissolve three dayes in the sunne and keep it for thy use.”


If we want to invite the Fairies into our homes it is easily done by sprinkling dried thyme on our windowsills and doorways.

Frances and the Leaping Fairy, the third of the five Cottingley Fairy photographs,1920 by Elsie Wright

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe one of these methods was what the cousins Elsie Wright (1901-1988) and Frances Griffiths used for inviting the Fairies to model in their photographs?
The images are known as the Cottingley Fairy photographs, and they very much impressed the famous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used them to illustrate an article he wrote about fairies. Sir Arthur truly believed the photographs to be genuine proof of visible evidence of psychic phenomena.

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Minthe – After Dinner Mint

Minthe – After Dinner Mint

Traditionally when you hear the words After Dinner Mint you think of a thin dark chocolate with a mint filling, at least that is what first pops into my mind.
I have composed a recipe for a dessert flavored with fresh mint leaves and dark chocolate, which I would like to call Minthe in honor of the beautiful young nymph, who is the source of the name of the used herb – Mentha or Mint

Pluto the ruler of the underworld fell in love with Minthe, and when Pluto’s wife Persephone found out, she cursed Minthe and transformed her into a common green plant. Pluto cried – he was not able to reverse the transformation, but at least he could give Minthe a gift to lessen the curse:            When someone tread upon her she gave away a sweet and fresh smell that grew in strength all the more she was downtrodden.      Thereby humans and other creatures learned that she could be useful in a thousand ways. Pluto consoled himself that he had ensured her a sense of immortality by providing her with the smell, and he himself would -at least- always be able to enjoy her fresh and lovely fragrance.

 

For two servings you will need:

  • 250 g Ricotta
  • 10 g  Dark Chocolate, preferably 70 % cocoa or darker
  • Sweetener of choice
  • ca. 10 fresh leaves of Mint
  • 1 drop of Mint Oil (optional)
  • Cocoa for topping

Chop the chocolate and the mint leaves and mix all of it with the ricotta, sweetener and, if wished, the drop of mint oil.
Put the mixture into two pretty small bowls, top with a thin layer of cocoa, and let the dessert cool in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Put a mint leave on top just before serving.

 

 

Nutritional information:
100 g ricotta  has 165 cal,  7,6 g protein,  3,6 g carbs,  13,3 g fat
10 g dark chocolate (the one I used) has 48 cal,  1 g protein,  4 g carbs,  4 g fat
I used a mixture of Splenda and erythritol as sweeteners so the total nutritional value depends on your choice of sweetener.
The nutritional value of mint in the used amount is insignificant.

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How to live for 2000 years

How to Live for 2000 Years

The famous count de St. Germain claimed he knew the secret, and that he himself had reached this respectable age, and even had become ageless.
Around 1750 he was the protege of Madame Pompadour, and traveled the world as a diplomat for the French rulers.
The theosophist Annie Besant said she met him in 1896, her colleague C. W. Leadbeater claimed to have met him in Rome in 1926.
Nowadays, Dorothy Leon, who is a living author, claims to have had several encounters with St.Germain.

What was his secret? Or did he have several secrets?

St. Germain explained he had obtained  the recipe for the Species ad Longam Vitam, an “Elixir of Life”, during one of his many journeys to India.
The rumor of this treasure reached all corners of the world, and several governments sent emissaries to persuade him to sell the recipe.
He sold it with huge profit, among others to the Danish government, and in the Scandinavian countries, for over a hundred years, it was the              most used universal medicine, called                       “Saint-Germain-Te” – the Tea of St. Germain.

As far as I have researched the tea is made of a mixture of fennel-seeds, anise-seeds, tartrate crystals, tartaric acid crystals, senna and elderflower.

Can this tea prolong life? Why was it expensive?

The German MD Michael Brandner writes:

“When the tea is made of senna leaves, why is it expensive?
An elixir cannot be a tea. Although this tea, that is made of the above-mentioned ingredients, can’t be an elixir of life, it is true, at least, that St. Germain refers to this specialty as a life-prolonging agent, “Species longam ad vitam”. It is of course easy to make fun of the claim that a laxative (senna) is to be life-prolonging – if you do not know the medical context.                                                                                                           The claim to this effect is not unwarranted, as the “St. Germain-tea is a metabolism-improving agent for acute and chronic” deposition diseases (rheumatism, gout, gall and kidney stones). It not only acts as a laxative, but is also cooling (temperature-lowering and anti-inflammatory), regulates digestion, sweat, urine and bile driving. If this tea is properly prescribed – for  example for acute febrile rheumatism, or for obesity, or for gallstones – it may well be life prolonging. One knew and used the effects that certain laxatives also have on other organ systems.   E.g. the senna in the St. Germain-tea , is not only laxative, but is also gall-and period-driving.
Looking at the composition of this specialty, you can immediately see that St. Germain was a connoisseur and expert in this field. For example, the heating effect of senna has been offset by cooling salts, which are connected in an original way with the seeds. Through the tartaric acid crystals, the tea will also have the effect of a fever lemonade. Considering then the many variations of this specialty, which arose later in Europe, we see even more how much intelligence and artistry that lies in this tea mixture..”

This little essay tries to explore one of St. Germain’s secrets. I know he had more, which I will write about in a later post.

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The Love of Basil

The Love of Basil

Once upon a time there was a king who lived in the middle of an enormous forest populated with a lot of wild animals and other dangerous creatures. He had to defend his kingdom and engaged a great army. His soldiers were very proud to serve the king, and the king took his pride of them. The soldiers all had to be tall, athletic and light haired. The positions as soldiers were considered very attractive, and a lot of young men from all around the world sought to join the king’s army. To reach the kingdom the candidates had to cross the surrounding forest. This was a journey of three days and three nights by horse – if you made no breaks. Everybody was told in no way to make any stops, a lot of young men had disappeared during this dangerous crossing. One day a young man called Kalya decided to join the proud army, and started the crossing of the dark forest. He had his beloved horse with him, and told his frightened mother to relax. ” I will not have problems, you know me. I am strong and courageous.” His mother followed him to the border of the forest and saw him, with tears in her eyes, disappear between the tall and dark trees. He had ridden two days and two nights when suddenly a delicious smell caught his nose. Surprised he stopped his horse and sat as mesmerized in his saddle. “I have never smelled anything like this”, he whispered to his horse, “what a wonderful smell, and what a song.” He heard soft sounds that slowly grew louder and louder, and he sensed the heavenly tones were asking him to come closer. He couldn’t resist and all the warnings he had received about not stopping disappeared as the delicious smell and the beautiful song grew stronger and stronger. He rode for a long time, drove his horse harder and harder till  suddenly it threw him out of the saddle. The horse stopped for a short second and with frightening eyes turned around and disappeared. Kalya didn’t care – now he saw her. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. “Come, my strange friend, I will help you”, she said. She took his hand and led him to a sunny opening with a small cottage. “This is my home.”  She smiled and stroke the leaves of one of the many basil plants that grew everywhere around her humble cottage. ” You must be hungry. Come let me feed you.” Inside the cottage was a large pot filled with soup. Kalya was intoxicated with the smell and of the woman. They ate and made love, ate and made love – this went on for days and nights until the pot was completely empty. ” I now feed you the last spoonful”, she said. He opened his mouth and gazed deeply into the woman’s green eyes and saw her transform into a great green plant. The smell overwhelmed him and he let it happen. She twined herself around him and placed them both in the empty pot. The sky grew dark, the rain fell heavy and filled the pot, which began its new cooking, and from the mist of the brew a beautiful green lady materialized and started chanting. Basil. Basil. Basil.

 

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Saltimbocca alla Romana

Saltimbocca alla Romana

This is a map of downtown Rome during the Roman Empire. Seeing this it made me think of Saltimbocca alla Romana. Don’t ask me why. Maybe I remembered a sunny day in a Roman trattoria a long time ago?
Anyway – saltimbocca literally means jump in the mouth. It is a  really tasty dish, and maybe the jumping part is the reason that it is the only Italian dish that has an officially approved recipe?
The recipe was agreed upon and  written down in Venice by a panel of cooks in 1962.

 

Actually it is a simple dish to make. For 4 servings you need:

150 g prosciutto, preferably Parma ham
600 g veal escalopes (4 pieces)
8 fresh sage leaves
50 g butter
100 ml dry white wine
Capers optional
Salt & pepper

 

 

 

Place the ham on the four escalopes and put the sage leaves on top. Roll the escalopes and fasten the end with toothpicks (unflavored).
Melt the butter and cook the meat over high heat until all sides are brown. Season with salt and some pepper, and pour the wine into the pan.
Ask if anyone wants capers.

Serve and enjoy!

The combination of veal, ham and sage is delicious. If you wish you can read more about sage on a page found under the heading Herbs.

 

Nutritional information per serving:
Protein:     43g
Fat:           21g
Carbs:         2g

Calories:  360

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Lemon Mousse

Lemon Mousse

This is a delicious and simple to make dessert.
4 servings

  • 250 g mascarpone
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • Sweetener of choice
  • Pinch of salt

Remove the mascarpone from the fridge to let it soften.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites, and put the yolks into a bowl and mix them thoroughly with the mascarpone.
Add the sweetener of choice to the  yolk/mascarpone mixture.  As I live a low carb lifestyle I usually use a mixture of Splenda and the sugar alcohol erythritol, but you can of course use whatever sweetener you prefer.
How much sweetener depends on the lemon. Press the lemon for the juice, add to mixture, and additionally use a bit of grated lemon peel in the mixture. The oil of the peel boosts the lemony taste.
Taste to reach your preferred sweetness.
Beat the egg whites stiff – add a pinch of salt before you start.
Mix the stiff egg whites carefully with the mixture.
Spread the mousse into four small bowls, and let them rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Enjoy and think of sunshine and summer!

Nutritional information:
If you make this with a  low carb sweetener, it is the perfect low carb dessert.
250 g mascarpone has 877 cal, 89 g fat, 15 g protein, 5 g carbs
2 eggs have 200 cal, 14 g fat, 16 g protein, 2 g carbs
15 ml  lemon juice has 3 cal, 0 g fat, 0 g protein, 1 g carbs

The low carb version yields 2-3 carbs pr serving.

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