Saturday, February 17, 2018

Year of The Earth Dog


The Year of the Earth Dog officially began on February 16, 2018. It will end on February 4, 2019. 


In Chinese astrology zodiac signs are combined with the Five Elements. Each animal sign appears every twelve years, but only every sixty years in each of its elements. The Five Elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth determine a special quality of each zodiac sign for a particular year. The current year is dominated by the earth element, hence the Earth Dog. The Dog will return again in twelve years, but we will have to wait another sixty years for the next Earth Dog. It will return in 2078!

Chinese horoscopes are very complex. To simplify matters we can say that the Chinese believe that both, the zodiac sign and the element, affect destiny and personality of a person born under them. The predictions for the year to come also depend on this unique combination. 

In Chinese culture Dog is considered to be a luck bringing animal. Dogs are honest, loyal, caring, protective, and faithful, and will never abandon their masters. This quality of the zodiac animal carries a promise for a good and prosperous year. Earth elements is associated with mountains, real estate, agriculture, minerals, and earthquakes. Earth element adds some stability, may also represent barrier or obstacle blocking our view.

If you had difficult time holding on to your fortune during the Fire Cycle, your luck may change a bit for the better in the year of the Earth Dog, but be careful, dogs are very playful! Don't gamble your fortune away and remember that nothing comes without work. The earth element might add some difficulties which means that you will have to put a little more effort to get to your destination, or work a little harder and smarter to conquer possible obstacles. If you lack diligence and determination, you might miss many opportunities. Year of the Earth Dog is good for completing unfinished projects, especially if they apply to the source of your income. Fortunes can be augmented, but the Earth Dog suggests that saving money is a good idea.

In Chinese culture, people born under the sign of the Dog are considered to be honest, loyal, amiable, kind, industrious but also cautious and prudent. They are ambitious and outgoing, are great friends and faithful spouses. They are resourceful and make good doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, politicians, and civil servants.

Unfortunately, the Year of the Dog is usually very bad for people born in the Dog year. The destiny of everybody else depends on their own birth year and how their personal zodiac animal interacts with the dog. Very complex birth charts are used by an Chinese astrologers or geomancers to determine individual horoscopes and predict a fortune.

No matter what your birth sign, we hope that you will have a very good year. Remember, that no matter what the predictions are, you and only you are the true master of your fortune. And if you like dogs, 2018 is a good year to get or adopt a dog.

Wishing everyone Happy Chinese New Year
and a very prosperous Year of the Earth Dog!
Dominique Allmon

恭喜發財 

Dominique Allmon©2018 

Image: Year of the Dog Greeting Cards by Jimmo Designs. To purchase a card please click HERE

    

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Sensual Cook



There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful 
woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves. - Tom Wolfe

The opposite is also true! Women love watching their men preparing delicious breakfasts or dinners.

There is always that secret ingredient lovers add to their concoctions and many meals created with love are only a prelude to something even more sensual and exciting. The very fact that your lover prepared his or hers favorite dish for you is exciting in itself.

Throughout the ages lovers in many cultures used certain foods and spices to enhance their dishes and reach the heart of a lover literally through his or her stomach. Such foods were known as aphrodisiacs. They were believed to have the potential to increase libido, lust and potency, and to improve fertility. They would excite the eater and make him or her more available for romance.

Some of the aphrodisiacs, like oysters, bananas, or avocados, were used because they resembled human sexual organs. Others, like black pepper or hot chili peppers, helped increase the blood circulation.


Modern research shows that some foods contain nutrients and substances such as essential fatty acids, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, C, B complex, and E, or citrulline, L-arginine, that can indeed improve libido and balance sexual hormones.

Foods that are regarded as aphrodisiacs:
  • oysters
  • caviar
  • eggs
  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • arugula
  • Perigord truffles
  • dark chocolate
  • almonds and nuts
  • ginger
  • nutmeg
  • cloves
  • maca 
  • chili peppers
  • real vanilla bean
  • watermelon
  • pomegranate
  • figs
  • bananas
  • raspberries
  • strawberries 
There is much to choose from. You can easily create a five course menu to celebrate love. Remember that texture, color, scent, presentation, are the important elements of any dish, but even more so if the dish is supposed to be sensual.

Also remember that ambience is just as important as the meal you are serving. Candlelight, music, and red roses are perfect to create romantic mood. A little wine or champagne can help break the ice, but keep in mind that too much alcohol may have an opposite effect and numb your senses.

~ Wishing everyone a spectacular and incredibly sensual St. Valentine's Day! ~

Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon©2018

    

*Information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or cure a disease.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Anzac Biscuits Recipe



Have you ever tried Anzac bikkies? I visited Australia many times, but had never tried these biscuits that are so popular Down Under. 

Last Christmas, Kate, a dear friend from New Zealand, presented us with a box of this delicacy. Delicious they were! We devoured them in no time and felt we needed more. My husband James decided to try out the recipe and bake his own since we could not impose on Kate for the immediate supply. He did some research and decided, that a recipe from Australian magazine Taste was the best. He got all the ingredients and set out to work on the Dark & Crunchy version. His cookies turned out magnificent! Kate still has to try them, but we are both quite confident that his bikkies are perfect. Here is the recipe. It makes two dozen delicious Anzac biscuits.


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (150g)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (90g)
  • 1 cup desiccated, non-sweeten coconut flakes (85g)
  • 3/4 firmly packed brown sugar (155g)
  • 1 stick butter or 1/2 unsalted butter (125g)
  • 2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda


Method:
  • Line out two baking sheets (pans) with parchment.
  • Preheat oven to 320°F (160°C).
  • Toss flour, oats, coconut flakes, and brown sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir well until all ingredients are well combined. 
  • In a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add Golden Syrup and water, and mix well until mixture is smooth and creamy. Add baking soda and mix again. It will foam.
  • Transfer the melted butter mixture into your mixing bowl. Mix well until you get a nicely firm dough.  
  • Using a 1 1/2 inch cookie dough scoop, portion out the dough. Pack the dough tightly. Drop each cookie dough ball on a parchment and flatten it into a round cookie a little less than 0,4" thick (about 1cm) leaving about 2 inches (5cm) wide space between each cookie. The cookies will rise and expand during baking.
  • Bake for 18 minutes at 320°F (160°C).
  • Once bikkies are nicely golden, remove baking sheets from the oven and set them aside for 10 minutes, before you transfer them onto wired cooling racks. Allow to cool completely. 
  • Once you bikkies have cooled off, enjoy them in good company!


Tip: James is a very practical man. He used his super cool Kitchenaid stand mixer and there is no reason you shouldn't too, if you own one.

To people in Australia and New Zealand Anzac biscuits have a very special meaning. They are associated with the Australian And New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) formed in World War I. Women groups and wives of the deployed men baked the cookies and sent them to ANZAC troops. The cookies were perfect because they did not spoil and kept well during the ocean journey that had to make.

In 1917 an Anzac Biscuits recipe appeared in "War Chest Cookery Book" that was published in Sydney, Australia. The published recipe, however, was different form the one used today. The prototype was known as a Rolled Oates Biscuit and was named an Anzac Biscuit sometime around 1921. Because of their historical connection to the ANZAC forces and ANZAC Day, these cookies are still used to raise funds for the veterans in New Zealand and Australia.

"These biscuits pay homage to our troops that died in World War 1, a war where we we were sent to the slaughter. Keep the honor of the thousand of dead troops alive by not messing with the recipe !!!" - Kirk Muddle in a comment on the recipe published online by Taste magazine.

Substitutes do not always work. For instance, the golden agave syrup is not the Golden Syrup you need for this recipe. It has a very different consistency, viscosity, and taste.  If you want to make cookies that taste like the original ones, you have to use the right ingredients. They are easily obtainable in specialized stores or online. If you do not quite know how the cookies are supposed to look and taste, you can always order a box. Once you tasted them, you can bake your own without a fear of spoiling the recipe.

By Dominique Allmon

Dominique Allmon ©2018