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breathing

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Breathing and Baking

At the beginning of February, I started the second half of my 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training at YogaWorks. The timing was perfect, having been teaching in studios for about 6 months, I was excited to return to learning so I could learn and execute simultaneously. 

I learn best by doing. Having spent 10 years in a corporate environment (I do use the term corporate very loosely and yes I realize 10 years is not that long) I was never one to be shown how to do something. I need to have a tactile experience, doing, touching feeling while someone guides me. It's the only way I'll (hopefully) remember anything five seconds later. 

The 300 hour is just that. Three hundred hours of doing, touching, feeling, executing, and I'm extremely tired. And questioning ... everything. It's been a long time since I've made a life changing choice. And deciding to choose this path of a teacher is just that. Everything is changing and with the constant learning, the constant trial and error my confidence is wavering. 

But that's what the yoga practice is for no? There are times where it's necessary to return to the practice, on and off of our mats. Return to the breath. Turn in. Tune out. Listen only to the breath. And then we can see what kind of song is being sung. It's only when we are truly quiet can we hear the truth. And for me, I'm happy that  when all the dirt and debris of my thoughts are wiped clear, the truth that I hear is one without judgement and without question... Letting me know that the only person getting in my way is myself. 

And for a prime example of getting into ones way please check out the time consuming choice I made last Friday night below.

I would not recommend this cake for a quick and easy cake for a forgotten birthday. While not wholly complicated, the steps, from blanching, peeling and then toasting the almonds to making a jammy caramel to baking 6 individual cookies can be utterly time consuming. While I was in denial about the amount of free time I actually had last week, I’m glad I tackled this beast on Friday night. It was freaking delicious. An almond-y tart, flakey and sweet hit every craving I had this weekend. And the leftover scraps I had after trimming my cookies? Got rolled into a tiny 4 layered cookie slathered with nutella. Yum Yum. 

I selected this recipe for a local cookbook club I just joined. This month they chose Smitten Kitchen to tackle and as always her recipes didn’t disappoint. I’m a fan of her older posts where she highlights more classic recipes. This recipe was originally from “Lost Desserts” by Gail Monaghan. You can see the recipe here or in this great article from the New York Times

Neapolitan Cake

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 ½ cups jam, raspberry, apricot, strawberry or peach

Half of a vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped (I used 1 tsp of vanilla extract)

Salt

½ tablespoon lemon juice (I accidentally used 1 full tablespoon - totally fine.)

1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted (I missed the toasting step. Although totally fine, next time I will toast just to see.)

3 cups flour, sifted (Didn't sift, also, totally fine.)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon orange-flower water (optional but would add a nice nuance.)

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted.

1. Place 1/4 cup of the sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until all the sugar turns caramel. Tilt pan to distribute caramel. Lower the heat and carefully whisk in the jam, the scraped vanilla bean and seeds, 1 tablespoon of water, a pinch of salt and the lemon juice. (The caramel will bubble violently.) Simmer, stirring, until the caramel dissolves into the jam. Remove from heat.

2. In a food processor, pulverize the whole almonds with 2 tablespoons of the flour.

3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, remaining sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the zests until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the pulverized almonds until combined. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, and then add the almond extract and orange-flower water. Mix in the remaining flour.

4. Divide the dough into six equal balls. Place each ball between two sheets of plastic wrap and press into an 8-inch circle, using the inside of a pie pan as a guide. Chill the dough rounds in the refrigerator for 2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap, place a dough round on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining rounds.

6. Lay a round in the center of a serving plate. Spread with 3 to 4 tablespoons of jam to just before the edge. Continue to layer the rounds, spreading jam between each. Spread a thin layer of jam over the top and cover with sliced almonds. The cake can be served immediately, but tastes even better, and is easier to cut, if tightly wrapped and served 1 or 2 days later. 

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Pranayama and Pasta

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Pranayama and Pasta

Hello and welcome to the launch of Emily’s Yoga Blog! Here’s we’ll talk about yoga, life, food and how they all fit together. I hope you enjoy the first post “Pranayama and Pasta”! 

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The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you have to have a what-the-hell attitude. – Julia Child

Last week I experienced what most surveys would call a “major life event.”

Deep belly breathe in.

I realized immediately I had two paths I could go down - one of anger and one of excitement.  Turns out, I created a third path that is wavering back and forth down the middle. My heart and soul live the sweet relief and excitement, while my ego whimpers. Crushed and in the dark moments of the day, my ego rears it’s ugly head.

Exhale it all out.

The reality is that this “major life event” is an opportunity for me to do what I’ve been dreaming about. Teaching yoga. Freelancing. Writing again. Being able to cook and to bake things that take a long detailed amount of time. To actually be able to clean my house.

And yes, to breathe.

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“The word pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit words: prana (life force) and yama (control). By controlling the breath, you can influence every aspect of your life. You can train yourself to breathe in a way that has a positive influence on your health.” Chopra.com

And with that I move forward. The ego is always there. Deep breaths calm that shit down. Going into the unknown is scary and I know that my brief and sporadic outbursts are not only related to said “major life event” but also moving into something that I know very little about. But as the Julia Child’s quote above says “ The only real stumbling block is fear of failure.” Thank you Julia.

And now we make pasta

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Making pasta is one of the most amazing things you can do. And it always makes me feel infinitely better about myself. Yes, the first bite, fresh out of the boiling water, covered with fresh tomatoes and a sprinkle of Parmesan, is hands down, one of the best things in the world.

But it's more than that. Pasta, any kind of dough really, is about recognizing where the flour is at that certain day. Like us, it's often always different. The weather, the water, the temperature of our hands... it all affects the outcome of the end product. 

And as yogis, it's easy to respect that. Everyday our bodies are different. We have to recognize the space we're in to properly adjust our recipe for the our days. 

I have worked with several recipes and have found, obviously, that the easiest pasta to bring together has the most eggs. My standbys are any of Lidia’s recipes, which you can see here. It is good, not a massive amount of eggs, which makes me, feel much better about myself.

The downside is that it is hard to bring it together, needing several small additions of water and a heavy amount of kneading. Her fettuccine recipe is a different story with 6 fat eggs. It comes together like a dream and rolls out even better. But if you and your other can often eat a whole pound in the blink of an eye, the eggs can start to weigh on you. And your hips.

Last week I dove into“Pasta – Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome.” It’s the third in a series of cookbooks and it has a variety of sauces and pastas organized from easiest to hardest.

Because I was itching for some eggplant ravioli, I flipped ahead to the “Filled Pasta” section, which recommended a wetter pasta dough to that it doesn’t dry out or becomes brittle when you are filling and sealing each piece. I went with the “wet egg pasta” recipe eschewing the rest with promises that I would get back to the “ricotta ravioli with tomato confit’ very, very soon.

The “Wet Egg Pasta” recipe below. I used this recipe for both regular spaghetti and ravioli. See Lidia for instructions on how to roll our your pasta. Don't forget to seal your ravioli! I might have... 

 

Ingredients

1lb (454g) all-purpose flour (00)

4 eggs

½ tsp salt

 

 

 

 

Directions

Weight ingredients and sift the flour

Make a well in the flour with the salt

Break the eggs in a small bowl and add to flour.

Gradually add the flour from the sides into the middle with a fork until it all starts to come together. Form the dough into a ball and use the back of your hand to start to knead the dough. The end result is a smooth, elastic ball with uniform color and springs back to the touch. This can take 8-10 minutes.

Please note - I did have to add a few tablespoons of water to bring it all together. Another egg may have worked. You will know if it’s not coming together if there is flour all over your kitchen that refuses to be put into the haphazard looking ball of dough in front of you. Slowly add a tablespoon of water by tablespoon until it all comes together and you have an elastic, smooth ball.   Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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