Communication is so important.
I talk a lot to people (my clients) about the importance of communication. When I started my business I had no idea that a lot of my work would be about how to hold meaningful conversations. Even if I had recognised the need, I would not have embraced that as something that I could do. But over the years, I have become fascinated with this topic and overwhelmed by the need in organisations. And in life.
I was reminded about the importance of communication in my own life today, by two separate occurrences. One was a comment that had a definite energy that I was not used to. The second was the need to have a break-through conversation with someone close to me.
I am trying to read every day. So far, so good. When the weather is fine enough, I sit outside with my coffee (or yogi tea) at my new little table. I love the morning and the autumn sunshine. In my reading this morning I read about the need to raise our consciousness when dealing with issues and problems. You know, if we can change our thinking, lift it from the negative and reactive, make it more positive, as positive as possible, then our actions and our reactions are very very different. The way we deal with the problem or issue is so very much better, and brings about a much different result.
I thought about this a lot today. I realised that raising our thinking detaches us from the issue or problem. It removes our emotional engagement with it. It is the difference between “how dare they” and “I understand where they are coming from, and what has led to this action, even though I might not like the action.” Sometimes a person’s whole life experiences can be seen in one sentence. If you are aware. If you look for it. If you read it in the words.
I am a lot more aware now that I am on holidays. About all sorts of things. The way the light is in Autumn in Adelaide. Shade. Light. Pauses in music. How the silence is just as important as the notes. The gold of the leaves on Frome Road. How the light sparkles through the trees in Light Square. The need of all people for love. How good my new table and chair looks. The skin of a pomegranate and the fuzz on a quince. The bird that baths every afternoon, quite late, in my large water bowl. How when we breathe there is a pause at the top of our breath, and at the bottom. And sometimes the pause is more important than the breath. Silence.
Yeah, so I knew some of those things before. But it is about reconnecting with them. Being aware of them again. Relaxing into them.
I thought a lot about my guru’s admonishment about communication.
“Think before you speak, and speak only that which is true, kind, helpful and necessary.”
That is a hard benchmark. And just to raise the bar a little, my own rule that I add to that is, “and speak it with love.” I don’t always measure up. Sometimes I don’t often measure up. It is a journey. With lovely rewards.
Only two communication challenges today. Given that we spend about 16 hours a day talking, that is not too bad.
I remembered today that I used to make my own Creme Fraiche regularly, but haven’t made it in quite some time. It is a wonderful alternative to either cream (adding a little amount of soureness) and sour cream. Wikipedia says:
It is a heavy cream slightly soured with bacterial culture, but not as sour or as thick as sour cream. Originally a French product, today it is available throughout the rest of the world. Creme fraiche is produced by a process similar to that of sour cream, with the exception that no ingredients are added. Each processing step requires attention to producing and maintaining high viscosity. Commercially it is commonly fermented to an end pH around 4.5. Crème fraîche can be made at home by adding a small amount of cultured buttermilk or sour cream to normal heavy cream, and allowing to stand for several hours at room temperature until the bacterial cultures act on the cream. Because crème fraîche has a higher fat content and lower viscosity, it has several advantages. Unlike sour cream, crème fraîche can be mixed with air to form whipped cream. And, the higher lipid content (and lower protein content) of crème fraîche allow it to be cooked without curdling.
In the North of India this is also made and is called Khatte Malai. Often made with buffalo milk, the cow’s milk version is milder in taste.
So I made some to quieten the mind and comfort the body.
Crème Fraîche / Khatte Malai
Source : The Hows and Whys of French Cooking – from my old Food_Matters web site.
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 8 hours or overnight
200g whipping cream
2 Tblspn plain yoghurt, buttermilk or sour cream
Pour the cream into a jar. Add the yoghurt. Mix well and set into a pilot-heated oven for 8 hours, or overnight. It can be done in water maintained at about 50C. Next morning, stir and refrigerate. Once cold, it will thicken.
When down to the last 2 or 3 tablespoons crème fraîche, add another 200g of whipping cream, stir, keep warm for 8 hours and then refrigerate. The last few tablespoons of crème fraîche thus become a starter for more.
If there is a secret to French Cooking, it is to be found in crème fraîche. Never be without it. The higher the butterfat content of the cream, the better and thicker the resulting crème fraîche. Experiment until you find the right cream. Aim for around 50%.
Never substitute sour cream for crème fraîche in any recipe; sour cream has a butterfat content of 10 to 18 percent, which is not enough to stop it from curdling when added to hot foods. Thickened cream has 30 to 37 percent, and can be substituted for crème fraîche, but it lacks the sour taste.
The cream and yoghurt mixture must be maintained at around 40 – 45 C for 8 hours. This really quite a low temperature. It can be done in a pilot light-lit oven, or in water maintained at that temperature. I use a crockpot on low, with the lid off, to maintain water at this temperature. How very 60’s of me! :-) Really, it is the best use of a crockpot that I have ever found. Except for cooking pears…..
[UPDATE: Nov 2009: I made a batch of creme fraiche by bringing the cream to the boil (300ml), cooled it until it reached approx 45C, added 4Tblspn buttermilk, and then placed in a pre-warmed thermos. It is a little easier than using the crockpot and also gives great results.]
Crème fraîche can be frozen in 3 tablespoon amounts, and then you always have a starter.
Read some more:
- Making fromage fraiche from Cannelle et Vanille.
- Making Mascarpone Cheese
- Sweet potato wedges with lemongrass creme fraiche (herestheveg.blogspot.com)
Recent uses of Creme Fraiche in my kitchen:
- Over fruit salad. Use a pear, a nachi pear, an apple, an orange and some passionfruit. Roughly chop them. Pour over creme fraiche. Add some mint leaves. If it is for breakfast, add some muesli too.
- Mixed with yoghurt for a delicious topping to fruit, cereal, soups.
- Swirl into soups.
- In Potato Gratin - peel and thinly slice potatoes. Layer in baking dish with salt and pepper. You can add thinly sliced onion, garlic and /or grated hard cheese in between the layers. Pour over creme fraiche, cream or half milk and half cream, till about 1/2 the way up the dish. Top with grated parmesan. Bake for 45 mins or more (depends on the size of the dish) until potatoes are cooked and the top is brown.
The Holiday Series
- Mint Paneer: A recipe
- Srikand: A recipe
- Creme Fraiche: How to make
- Thick Thick Yogurt (Yogurt Cheese): How to make
- Yogi Tea: A recipe
- Roasted Rosemary Pears: A Recipe
- Pomodori Gratinati (Baked Tomatoes with Cheese): A recipe
- Ginger Garlic Lentil Soup: A recipe
- Oven Baked Chickpeas: A recipe