Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Cooking-class tip from exec: Add right spice, get blood boilin'

THERE ARE people who love to cook.

And then there are those who see cooking as a form of foreplay.

Shari Stern, by day the director of natural and organic products at Haddon House, conducts couples cooking classes-with a twist.

Bulletin: Dessert may be served in the boudoir.

Starting as a fill-in for another chef in 2003, Ms. Stern conducted a couples cooking class, and one thing led to another. "At the time I was reading 'In the Devil's Garden' by Stewart Lee Allen, which contains history and folklore on aphrodisiacs. I thought it would be a relevant topic. … It was a success, and word of mouth spread, and soon I was getting called to do the classes for private parties.

"It wasn't long before a certain spice began being referred to as 'naughty nutmeg' in my classes. It's a heat-producing spice … gets the blood moving."

Class participants are encouraged to bring a sense of humor to the front burner. "I once did a class called 'Latkes With Libido' where I took traditional foods for the Hanukkah holiday and made them sexier. I made Latkes With Libido [potato pancakes] with a ginger curry coconut sauce, Let's Get It On Kugel [a noodle pudding stuffed with goat cheese, rosemary and honey-soaked figs] and Tooty My Fruity Jewish Apple Cake [traditional Jewish apple cake with brandy and cardamom-soaked apples]."

It's not like this is new ground, the 32-year-old foodie said. "I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to culinary history and nutrition. I always have been.

"As I started to look more into aphrodisiacs, there are cultures all over the world that linked food to fertility, sex and love.

"I do believe that aphrodisiacs had a place in history. In the days before Viagra, fertility drugs … people had to seek out foods that had nutritional properties beneficial for reproduction. Or they may have needed a stimulus to get them in the mood. We know today that infertility is a common problem. … If you've been on a diet of potatoes and onions, how likely are you going to conceive a healthy child?"

Beyond her cooking classes at the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, Ms. Stern also conducts classes in homes.

"I bring a four-course meal. Luckily, the trend is big, open kitchens that lead into another room with no separating wall, which makes cooking demonstrations easy.

"In between each course, I talk about the aphrodisiac properties and talk about how the foods were prepared. Everyone gets to take home recipes. This way has been working well because I find that people attend mostly for the food and the fun aphrodisiac stories."

Ms. Stern related the story of a dessert called A Little Less Conversation-bananas with chocolate rum sauce. One participant, "a guy in his 70s, who had been devoted to the bottle of wine he brought along, explained he and his wife had actually signed up for a Mexican cooking class but somehow ended up at the aphrodisiac class instead.

"Then he said something he probably shouldn't have: 'I'm not sure about these aphrodisiacs, because at my age you just use hope.'

"The class laughed hysterically, but his wife shot him a glare and elbowed him. … He'd be spending the night on the couch."

Ms. Stern recommends small portions and lots of color.

"Mixing colors and flavors … and sharing off a common plate is good," she noted. "I prepare a sexy Ceviche, which I serve in a champagne glass topped with lime wedges and tortilla chips.

"The colors of seafood and bright vegetables, burst of citrus and heat from peppers is very invigorating," Ms. Stern noted with a wink.

• Devoted to a worthy cause? Found a great summer hideaway? If you have a fascinating Off Hours activity, describe your passion in an e-mail to Mike Ryan at mryan@crain.com.

Shari Stern
Director of natural and organic products, Haddon House

A recipe that will make you feel good all over:
Pasta: 1 lb. fresh or frozen fettuccini
Cook according to instructions, al dente
1/2 cup strawberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
Five fresh basil leaves and three for garnish
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Salt to taste

By: Ryan, Mike, Advertising Age, 8/28/2006

A fair assessment of captors

Jill Carroll's account of her ordeal is riveting. As someone who just returned from seven years of teaching in Egypt, I appreciate the accuracy of her details in verbally illustrating her captors. While I found many people in Egypt virulently against American government policies, I felt that their political views did not taint the way they treated me personally.

I appreciate Jill's fairness in her ability to recognize this quality in her captors (despite going through such a horrendous ordeal) and to write so honestly about her experience. What she points out is the paradox between what her captors believe is "doing right" for their country and "following God's will" in their cause, and what they know to be right - as their culture and religion dictate - in how they should treat another human being, particularly a woman.

Marrin Robinson
Marlboro, Vt.
Jill's journalism: personal, informative

I want to thank you for publishing this very important story. Often extreme stories like this can be told to gain readership. I am a journalism major in my senior year in college. Jill's account of her experience is one that is not only personal but informative, giving the reader insight into a world we only see on television. Her intellect, spirit, and bravery set an example for humanity.

In addition, hers represents the kind of journalism that should be practiced by all news media. Thank you again for not exploiting her story and presenting it in a way that honors her strength and courage.

Leslie Carleton
Jupiter, Fla.
Warm wishes from a marine

I just wanted to contact you as a man, a father, an American, and a marine to let you know how moving the Monitor's series on Jill Carroll's captivity is. I met Ms. Carroll briefly in Husaybah, Iraq, as a combat correspondent attached to the 6th Civil Affairs Group. It is here that Ms. Carroll had the conversation with the platoon commander in Part 3 of the series, where he said a platoon of marines would come for her were she ever captured. While we could not effect her rescue, it was, in fact, a company of marines who eventually captured some of her abductors. That was somewhat satisfying.

It was a punch in the gut seeing Jill's face on screen while I was eating at a chow hall in Al Asad - safely in the rear area, eating a warm meal while this woman I had only briefly interacted with was pleading for her life.

I wish her all the best of luck and my deepest and most sincere wishes that she is able to recover from her protracted captivity and the death of her friend and interpreter, Alan Enwiya. As a father, I also extend to her parents the relief I feel at her safe return. God bless you, Jill! You showed courage and strength I only hope I possess.

Stephen M. DeBoard
Jacksonville, N.C.
2nd Marine Division, Public Affairs

Will the series affect other hostages?

I have been following Ms. Carroll's story chapter by chapter. I appreciate the reporting of her story. But I wonder if she has considered, by reporting the fact that she felt mistreated (even though her captors went out of their way to make her a sympathetic victim), that it would influence the treatment of current hostages?

I understand that hostages have been tortured and killed before Ms. Carroll's ordeal, and I am by no means putting this on her. It is just something that is in the back of my mind when I read this. I think she is very, very brave, along with this paper's staff, to report this.

Theresa Russell
San Diego
Grace in handling the critics

Dear Jill: After an ordeal as wrenching as your kidnapping, your ability to present the complexities of the region as clearly and as fairly as you have speaks volumes to your intellect and talent as a journalist.

While watching the interviews of you responding to e-mails from the public, I was enraged by the person who labeled you a fraud and a traitor.

My heart went out to you as you struggled to respond, and then, with a grace and aplomb that I would never have managed myself, you presented one of the most eloquent and magnificent defenses I have ever heard of the free press.

And you respectfully but firmly reminded us all of the responsibility we have to seek out knowledge to inform our decisions.

You have said that you are not a hero. Ms. Carroll, I most respectfully disagree. You are a shining example of the best aspects of the human spirit.

Hans Utz
San Francisco
Keep correspondents from harm

War correspondents have taken risks and risked their lives for decades. Danger does go with the territory. That said, I think the current trend toward putting correspondents in harm's way, be it hurricanes or terrorists, is a bit overboard. We could manage with less coverage, or less in-depth coverage, and save a few lives.

News organizations that choose to do otherwise should be willing to pony up the dollars to hire security and be sure that their employees are safe.

Please inform Jill Carroll that my family and I prayed for her every day of her captivity, and I urged the group of senior citizens whom I pastor to do the same. She was never far from our thoughts during those weeks of captivity.

Michael Ross
Forest Grove, Ore.
Was the media blackout a good idea?

While I can certainly see why the Monitor felt a news blackout would help ensure Jill Carroll's safety, and why other news agencies voluntarily went along with it for a time, I think it was wrong.

People must know the news that they are given is as complete, as accurate, and as objective as possible. Any reason for a weakening of that bond of trust, even a reason like this one, is not reason enough to break the faith journalists have with the public.

It's not an easy issue, and I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision. Nonetheless, I want my news untampered with; in fact, I depend on that.

Don't limit the facts I'm told for my own (or someone else's) good; that's not your decision to make.

Janet Margul
Plano, Texas

I'm glad the media did black out the news in the first hours. It is absolutely the right thing to do if it might save a life. I just wonder if the media would have been as cooperative if the hostage had not been a journalist, one of their own.

Jim Allison
Naperville, Ill.
How to counter religious fanaticism

I just read the first five parts of the Jill Carroll story and was prompted to offer my thanks and congratulations first and foremost for Jill's safe return, and, second, to all involved in this poignant and worthwhile read.

The juxtaposition of the brutality of the murder of Jill's translator with the sentiment one of the captives showed in trying to console her while she was crying illustrates something quite foreign to me as an American reader.

But it comes as no surprise that there is humanity in even the most ruthless of killers, and it is this appeal to a person's humanity that will eventually win the war on religious extremism at home and abroad.

This conflict that claimed the life of Alan - and nearly the life of Jill - cannot, will not be won through strength of arms, but by the soundness of our morality and our unwavering commitment to it.

Russell Claus
Lewisville, Ohio

To overcome religious extremism, religious leaders throughout the world need to promote the ideals of tolerance of other beliefs. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all branches of the same form of monotheism, and all follow the golden rule.

They need to promote the concept that religious beliefs are personal and are not something that becomes a divisive force in their relations with other human beings.

John Hodgkins
A chaplain's gratitude for Jill's release

My unit was blessed to have Jill Carroll spend a number of weeks with us last fall. Her professionalism and dedication to her calling impressed not only this chaplain, but every member of 3rd battalion, 6th Marines.

I am so thankful for the successful end to her captivity and for this message she is now able to communicate to the world.

Praise the Lord for Jill, her family, and the Monitor family who stood by her. Thank God for His love and answered prayer.

Bryan Crittendon
Virginia Beach, Va.

Source: Christian Science Monitor, 8/28/2006

Chenga's Last Comp

"If you build it they will
come…" To hell with Kevin Costner and baseball. That phrase is the best possible way I can describe the legacy known as Chenga World Skatepark. There was NO scene in Ohio in the mid 90s. Dave Shafer and Scott Powell changed all that. Two goofy flatlanders saved their money from doing shows at Sea World all summer and dumped it into a filthy building in North Ridgeville, Ohio. Ten years later riders from alt over the country came to pay last respects to a park that changed BMX. The very last Chenga contest went down on December 4th and 5th and it was quite an event. Old-school rock stars like Adam Banton, Jamey Spritzer, and Jeff Harrington were seen riding along with the new-school kids like Dustin Bauer, Shanton Wilson, and Morgan Wade. I didn't get that "contest" vibe the whole weekend. It was more like an awesomejam where everybody was going off.

It was awesome to see so many people that Chenga has helped nurture. Riders like Mike "Hollywood" Brancato, Jason "Dorito" Perz, Shanton Wilson, and Bryon Striker. We are forever grateful to the Mecca known as Chenga World for changing our lives. That place was "the first park" for thousands of people. Friends were made, tricks were learned, and our love for this crazy thing called BMX grew deeper. The contest was sick, with Chenga local Dorito taking the win with lines you can only find after countless hours of riding Chenga. Hollywood won Pro Mini. He is another classic case of what riding Chenga every day will do to you.

The contest was amazing, Morgan did a nosewheelie-to-barspin over the box. Joey Hill won best trick with a barspin-to-fuf-to-barspin on the infamous Chenga sub. Dorito 720'd the box long ways, hit his head on the ceiling, and still pulled it. It wasn't about tricks, though. It wasn't about the 1,400 smackers for first place. It was about making that trip to Chenga one more time for good friends, great riding, and amazing times. Thanks go out to Scott and Dave for making Chenga a reality, Mate Wessel building paradise, and all the people behind the scenes at Chenga (Kerry, Afro Pat, Chuck, Dominic, Cico. Doll, Jeff ), and most importantly, all of the riders out there for supporting a rider-owned park that gave us all ten years of the best memories ever.

results PRO PARK
Jason Pen
Morgan Wade
Shanton Wilson
Dustin Bauer
Ben Hittle
Tony Cardona
Tony Hamlin
Dane Wild
Jaimy Spreitzer
Mark Potocsny
Jaimy Spreitzer
Jeff Harrington
Nick Bonner
Zack Warden
Kris Kumhiro
Nathan Powell
Billy Howard
Kris Marcum
Joel Barnett
Joey Hill (barspin-to-fufanu-to-bar spin on a sub)

Andy Chapman
Brandon Dosch
Eric Doll
Jeff Sylvain
Steven Blake
Scott Carlson
Brett Robinson
Chris Bansemre
Chris Chambelan
Tony Smith
Kyle Dailey
Jimmy Barnicle

By: Yankush, Zack "Catfish", Ride BMX

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Funny Situation

Funny Situation (Photo)
Funny Situation (Photo)
Funny Situation (Photo)
Funny Situation (Photo)

9 SILLY Pet Tricks


Swinging through the trees? Leave that to Tarzan. Momoko the macaque seems more at home water-skiing! Standing on a four-foot-long board with handlebars, this playful primate zips across the water of the Setonai Sea as she's pulled by a boat going nearly 20 miles an hour. Owner Katsumi Nakashima brought home baby Momoko from a local shelter and introduced her to the water during boating trips. Nakashima gently towed Momoko as she stood on the board, then gradually increased the speed. Soon the macaque could ski faster than most humans. And speed is important: If the boat moves too slowly, gets bored!

These pets like doing tricks, but your pet may not. Never force your pet to do a trick it does not want to do.

Talk about toeing the line: Zoe the tuxedo cat can pad across two side-by-side wires suspended four and a half feet in the air--and she hasn't fallen yet. "We taught Zoe the trick by placing her on the same end of the wires where her treat was," says one of Zoe's trainers, Rob Bloch. "Then we slowly moved her farther and farther away from the reward." That way, the cat had to walk across the wires toward her favorite snack, usually chicken- or beef-flavored baby food. "We try to stay away from turkey" Bloch says. "That makes her too sleepy!"

Sabrina the English bulldog hasn't earned her driver's license, but she can certainly cruise around on four wheels! After watching kids ride a skateboard one day, sporty Sabrina ran after the board and pounced on top of it. But even more amazing was that the pooch stayed on the board as she zipped down the block. "Sabrina rides just like a person," says owner Jeanette Chaidez. "She puts one or two of her paws on the ground and pushes off to build up momentum" She can even fly down a six foot-long skateboarding ramp at a local park. There's just one problem: "She'd skate all day if we let her," Chaidez says. "So sometimes we have to hide her skateboard!"

Ms. Prissy the Chihuahua never takes a "paws" when it comes to this trick. The tiny pup performs a one-pawed handstand in owner Gary Noel's palm. "I'd hold her back legs while she was in a handstand position to build up her front muscles," he says. It wasn't long before Prissy learned to life up her left leg and perch in this paw stand. Now she can hold the move for more than five seconds--and that's pretty much the only time she's not yapping. "Even though she's the smallest of our dogs, she thinks she's the biggest and the baddest," Noel says. She barks louder and acts tougher than dogs ten times her size!"

Maybe he's just wearing four very lucky horseshoes, but Hotshot the horse has no problem hoofing it onto a seesaw. Trainer Gerald Easley built the 1,200-pound horse's first seesaw by placing a sturdy wooden board on top of a metal pole lying on the ground. "I coaxed Hotshot on top of the board so that he was balanced in the middle, he says. Once Hotshot found his footing, Easley raised the board 16 inches off the ground with a new metal support (left), and the horse moved the seesaw up and down by gently nodding his head. Some animals might say "neigh" to this tough trick, but for Hotshot, it's merely horseplay.

Most cats avoid water, but Ice Breaker the bengal house cat can't get enough of the wet stuff. This H20-friendly feline surfs small waves along the South Florida coastline. Ice Breaker revealed his talent when he was just a kitten. "We put him on a boogie board in the pool and pulled him around," says owner Jackie Essa. "It was raining, but he loved it." Soon Essa brought Ice Breaker to the beach, where he rode real waves atop a bigger boogie board. But even when the cat isn't at the beach, he still finds a way to play near the water. "All I have to do is turn on the shower," Essa says. "He comes running!"

If Kiri the Congo African gray parrot ever gets tired of flying, she can skate wherever she needs to go. To learn the trick, Kiri first stood on the roller skates, just to get comfortable. "I put blocks in front of Kiri's feet so the skates wouldn't move;' says trainer Tani Robar. Then Robar used a foot-long rod attached to the front of each skate to gently pull Kiri forward, one skate at a time. Soon Kiri could push off and move her feet without Robar's help. The bird can even skate in a full circle! Her reward? A little bite of a peanut. Guess you could say she's one nutty bird!

When he travels by car, Striker the border collie always insists on getting the window seat. That's because this clever canine can roll down a car window! Striker learned the trick after owner Francis Gadassi accidentally locked the dog--and the keys--inside a car. Using words that Striker recognized, such as "paw" and "nose," Gadassi prompted the pooch to push the hand crank up with his nose and down with his paw. It took Striker 15 minutes to open the glass a few inches so Gadassi could rescue him, but now the dog can lower an entire window in just under 12 seconds. This dog's really on a roll!

He may not be a famous pop star. but Dinky the dingo sure can belt out a tune! After innkeeper Jim Cotterill helped rescue young Dinky from a trap in the Australian outback, he noticed that his new pet liked to "sing" along with the piano. When guests would play a song, Dinky would hop on top of the keys and howl a tune to match the notes. "A group of musicians told me that Dinky actually has pretty good pitch" Cotterill says. "When the notes go higher, so does Dinky's voice."

By: Pressner, Amanda, National Geographic Kids