Vivo: I am Alive!
by Cynthia Briscoe
Many times, I am grateful for macrobiotic knowledge and the subsequent healing power waiting to be activated from a macrobiotic kitchen. Daily macrobiotic practice builds a strong foundation for health – and sometimes that same knowledge can prove vital in an emergency life-and-death situation. Such was the case beginning six days ago when an unexpected visitor surrendered himself on our front porch.
Flattened, looking not unlike a wet gray flannel shirt flung onto the cement. I took a second look, because the “shirt” had ears. I kneeled down for closer examination to discover the sickliest young cat I had ever seen. He appeared to have collapsed after expending an effort to make it up the three shallow steps onto the porch. I know he was weak and exhausted because he did not lift his head when I approached him. Only his eyes rolled in their sockets toward me. He was a frail skeleton draped in lint-textured cat fur. His nose and mouth were masked behind crusted layers of mattered discharge imbedded with leaves, twigs, dirt and other debris.
I carefully scooped him up, calling out to David to grab some old towels and a clean washcloth. Chunks of brittle debris gradually succumbed to the warm wet washcloth, patient soaking and slightly firm scrubbing. He breathed a little easier. Either he knew I was trying to help him or else he was simply too weak to protest. He presented himself as a compliant, grateful, and also desperate patient.
Once the debris was cleaned from his face, it became obvious that he had an abscess on the side of his face. I knew it needed to be opened and drained, and soon! I put in a call to our daughter, Ana, to see if she would be willing to lance the abscess. I figured she had more medical experience than I, as she works for a podiatrist and has performed similar duties on people’s feet with sharp tools.
We wrapped him securely in a towel and she attempted to lance the abscess. However, his hide was very tough and the abscess had hardened inside. The blade simply glanced off the abscess. It was painful for him, so I determined to take him to PAWS first thing in the morning to get professional veterinary treatment…if he lasted through the night.
He was thin as a rail and severely dehydrated. I scrambled to make a dashi broth for him. Dashi is a soup broth made from a base of kombu and dried shitake mushrooms, to which I added a handful of iriko (small dried anchovies). Often with a severely dehydrated animal, just giving plain water animal is not effective because the water cannot be absorbed. The minerals in the kombu encourage the cells and tissue to accept water through osmosis. Also beneficial, is that seaweed has a softening effect on hard deposits in the body plus the shitake has a yin expanding quality that he needed in his highly contracted condition. Iriko are highly nutritious because they are whole tiny fish, including the tiny bones which are rich in calcium. Iriko contain protein and are one of the most reliable sources of B12.
The cat was unable to drink the broth on his own. All I had was an eyedropper as a means to give him the broth. So I would fill the eyedropper, tilt his head back with a firm grasp on the scruff of his neck, insert the eyedropper through his teeth and inject a few drops of broth at a time. The first two or three droppers-full of broth were necessary simply to moisten his mouth. He was so dry that his saliva had sealed his mouth closed. Gradually he began to swallow the broth a few drops at a time.
To the next dashi broth, I added a piece of white meat fish, some dried nettles and mullein leaf. Nettles are a very nutritious green plant. He needed all the concentrated nutrients I could squeeze into him. Also mullein is very helpful for bronchial dilation and sinus congestion. According to the Doctrine of Signatures, the tiny fuzzy hairs on the mullein leaf are comparable in form to the tiny hair-like structures in the respiratory tract. Mullein helps to break up mucous and clear the tiny cilia in the lungs. I gave him as much broth as possible and went to bed. Honestly, I prepared myself to the grave possibility that he likely would not make it through the night.
However, when morning came he was still alive. I readied the cat carrier and waited anxiously until PAWS opened at 8AM. When we got there, it was closed. We waited for 30 minutes, but no one showed up to open the facility. Already the temperature was moving toward triple digits, so I took the cat back home to be more comfortable with the plan to return later in hopes that an employee showed up.
I called PAWS every half hour to see if it had opened, but only got the recorded message. Maybe they were simply busy and could not answer the phone. So the cat and I went back at 10. This time there was a note on the door saying that they would be closed from June 29th until July 5. My heart dropped, as I knew the cat would not last that long without medical treatment.
The SPCA said I could bring the cat there and surrender it, but they offered no medical services and a cat in such condition would surely be euthanized. I called all animal services in the area as well as veterinarians. No vets offered services at a lower cost. Many did not even call back. A $600-$1200 vet bill was unaffordable.
Poor kitty. What to do? So I returned to the kitchen and made an albi plaster to administer to the abscess in hopes it might open up on it’s own. An albi plaster is a macrobiotic home remedy used to draw out toxins, cysts or even small tumors through the skin. The albi, also known as taro potato, is grated and mixed with a little white flour to hold it together, a pinch of salt and a little grated ginger root. The mixture is applied directly on the skin and covered with a bandage to hold it in place. The plaster is changed every 4-6 hours.
In kitty’s case, I omitted the ginger as he had a high fever from fighting the infection, and ginger is warming. I also opted to wrap the plaster in a single layer of cheesecloth so it would not get imbedded in his fur as the plaster dried. He let me tie the plaster around his head and did not try to remove it! The albi plasters continued for the next 24 hours. The abscess did not burst as I had hoped, but it did get softer and the kitty made it through another night.
OK. It was essential that the abscess be drained. If it was going to happen, I would have to do it myself. I went to the hardware store and purchased brand new X-acto blades. I sterilized the new blade, wrapped the cat in a towel and this time, a single incision opened the wound. About a quarter cup of pus and foul smelling discharge came out. By massaging the area with a warm wet wash cloth, more came out until the discharge contained a small amount of blood. I was able to squeeze a little Betadine into the wound.
The cat rested and I went to Petco to purchase a larger feeding syringe to deliver a larger volume of liquid into him. He desperately needed hydration and antibiotics. I asked the clerk at Petco if she knew of anyone or any service that could help with medical attention. She handed me a flyer for a woman named Julie here in Oroville who has a cat ranch and sanctuary. She takes in abandoned cats, sick cats, injured cats and feral cats. She cares for them, gives them rehabilitation, medical attention and socialization, spaying and neutering and readies them for adoption.
I called her as soon as I got in the car. She said to bring the cat to her place at 4:30. What a miracle! Julie hooked him up to a hydration drip bag and gave him an injection of antibiotics.
Having worked caring for cats the past 25 years, Julie assessed that the cat was near death and in the process of dying. He smelled deathly foul. Greenish discharge issued not only from his nose and mouth, but also from his ears. He was a bony bag of infection. She said from her experience, that a cat in such poor condition typically was in the final stages of feline leukemia and feline HIV. Her recommendation was that the most humane thing was to put him down. She comforted me a bit by saying that at least the cat knew he was loved and cared for.
She tried to draw blood to test him for the leukemia/HIV, but the poor little guy was so dehydrated she could not find a vein open enough to draw blood. She sent us home with a small baby food jar of antibiotics. I was deeply saddened, but felt that under the circumstances, euthanizing would be the most humane action. I made him comfortable that night, gave him his broth and administered the antibiotics.
The next morning was Saturday and the SPCA did not open until eleven. I got at face level with the cat and had “The Big Talk” with him, telling him he was a good kitty, a brave kitty, but so very sick. I told him what was going to happen and that he would “go home” and not suffer any more.
This time when I tried to put him in the cat carrier, he resisted by bracing his 4 bony legs spread-eagle on the outside of the carrier opening. I managed to get him inside and then the tears began to flow. The cat began to meow for the first time. I don’t know if cats cry, but I swear his eyes watered up the same time as mine did.
This broke my steely determined trip to “The Pound” and the thought popped into my head, “I wonder if he will eat. If he will eat, maybe there is still a glimmer of hope. If he will eat, I will put this off.”
I got some wet cat food and put a smidgen on my finger and tucked the food into his cheek pocket. It took a moment, but then he swallowed. I did this twice more. It must have been like priming a pump, because then he began to eat on his own!
Somehow, the little cat understood perfectly our heart-to-heart conversation. He suddenly jumped from the floor onto the back of the sofa, then ran to the door and tried his best to pass through the lower windows on the door. This cat was telling me he wanted to live.
And then there was this nagging, unsettled question mark floating in my brain. He had not tested positive for the Feline Leukemia/HIV because we were unable to draw blood. I needed to exhaust that possibility.
I put away the cat carrier and called Julie, the cat lady. She was astonished that he was eating on his own. I asked her if she would test him for the feline leukemia and HIV virus. She agreed to test him the following day. Now that he was more hydrated, perhaps she could draw enough blood to perform the test.
On Sunday, the cat was crated up once again. This time he did not resist going into the carrier. Julie was able to draw enough blood this time to test him.
We waited for the blue dots to show… and there were none. To our amazement, he tested NEGATIVE! We were both ecstatic!
I gave David the good news when we got home. I hadn’t realized how much the little cat’s struggles had emotionally impacted him. He was quite emotional and said he had come up with a name for him: Vivo. Vivo means, I am alive. What a perfect name! Already he is responding to his new moniker.
He continues to improve. This morning he had his first normal kitty poop. His appetite is ravenous and he is beginning to explore. He is talking quite a bit and walking his bony little body between my feet as I move about the house. He loves to lay across David’s legs and be vigorously scratched and massaged. David is very skilled at palm healing and Vivo greedily accepts.
I am so grateful for the macrobiotic knowledge and home remedies that kept him alive. I am equally grateful to Julie for her love, care and dedication to the feline race. I know Vivo would not have recovered without her intervention.
If there are any animal lovers out there amongst our macro friends, especially cat lovers, please help support Julie’s work by sending a donation to P.O.U.N.C.E., an acronym for Pet Organization Urging Neutering Care and Education. Her service is paid for by donation, which always falls short of needed funds. The estimated expenses for one year are:
$4500 – FOOD
$2000 – LITTER
$8500 – MEDICAL SUPPLIES AND VETERINARY SERVICES
She gives amazing care for the 100+ cats at her sanctuary, which is also her personal home. Abandoned, sick and injured cats are given medical treatment, spayed or neutered. The cats are rehabilitated physically and socially to prepare them for adoption into a loving home.
I’m writing this story to remind friends that there is quite a bit one can offer with macrobiotic understanding and commonsense home remedies to affect healing. The caveat is that food takes time to create healing. In emergency situations where time is of essence, seek necessary immediate medical intervention. Also, weave all this together with trust and respect for your own intuitive guidance.
As I finish writing this article. Vivo jumped up beside me and began washing himself – another good sign.
“Me-you,” he says,
“My name is Vivo and I am alive!”
If you would like to support this grassroots, effective cat rescue ranch,
please send a check to the following:
P.O.U.N.C.E Cat Rescue and Sanctuary
P.O. Box 641
Oroville, CA 95965
Online credit card and PayPal donations accepted at pouncecats.org
Phone 530-589-2843 ask for Julie Olsen, Founder
POUNCE also compassionately cares for the many feral cats who call the Oroville riverbanks home. The cats are caught, neutered and returned to their feline colonies. Pounce provides feeding stations for these wild “river cats”.
There’s a tiny spark, a potent intelligence that lies dormant, indestructible, despite all logic. It lies patiently coiled until the awakened moment when the serpent springs forth. I witnessed this phenomenon this spring – a lesson taught firsthand by an umeboshi.
Late winter-early spring 2017 erupted in chaos as the teeter-totter of extremes rebalanced. The past 5 years here in Northern California have been a period of extreme drought. Lake Oroville, that normally holds 3 ½ million cubic acres of water, had wasted to practically nothing. Then the drought ended with record rainfall. The 800-foot deep lake swelled to overfull, and the world’s 2nd largest earthen dam (2nd only to the Aswan Dam in Egypt) became compromised. The force of water released at 100,00 cubic feet per second tore loose the lower half of the aged main spillway. The lake filled beyond capacity and water gushed over a second, auxiliary, spillway (a non-reinforced hillside), washing away soil and threatening to unleash a 60-foot wall of water over the town below where we live.
Mandatory evacuation was ordered. Folks had a frantic one-hour notice to locate family members, load up pets, valuables and emergency supplies. Evacuation routes were clogged with crawling traffic. Some poor souls were walking, carrying a few belongings in plastic grocery bags. No government plan was in place to assist elderly or disabled persons to leave. Emergency information was disorganized, unreliable and incomplete. The town once full of activity emptied. There was a palpable, eerie atmosphere of apocalyptic abandonment. A few bewildered cats left behind meowed in alleyways. Even the sound of birds was silenced. Folks clung to any local news conferences for information as to whether their homes would be safe or not. You could leave town, but not return, as incoming roads were blocked. It was an atmosphere of fear and shock.
Unbeknownst to me, at the same time we were all caught up in the evacuation, a contrasting story of nature’s order and quiet strength was at play. Amid all the chaos, umeboshi pits were calmly swelling and sprouting, breaking free from their hard shells, in our backyard garden. These were no ordinary seeds. They had been pickled in 18% salt by weight and preserved since 1999!
…to be continued in part 2
The Seed of a Seed, Part 2
Life lessons taught by an umeboshi pit
by Cynthia Briscoe
For those readers who have never heard of an umeboshi, let me briefly explain. Umeboshi is the very salty, very sour pickled fruit from an ume tree. Ume trees are highly respected and cherished in Eastern cultures. The trees flowering in spring are celebrated with the same admiration as we view the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC.
The small apricot-looking fruit never becomes juicy or sweet. Even at its ripest, ume fruit remains very sour. Ume is harvested while still green, before it turns a blushing yellow. To make umeboshi, the fruit is layered with a whopping proportion of 18% sea salt to ume by weight for a minimum of 2 years.
The resulting pickle, called umeboshi, holds great healing power. I sometimes refer to it as a “macrobiotic medicine cabinet”, as umeboshi remedies such a broad spectrum of ailments such as indigestion, diarrhea, hangovers, arthritis, headaches, shortens cold and flu cycles, sore throats, bladder infection, insomnia – the list goes on and on. George Ohsawa called the umeboshi “the King of Alkaline” and that perhaps is one of the main chemistry factors of an umeboshi’s outstanding healing capability.
At the Vega Study Center, we had an u
me orchard. Every year Cornellia Aihara and the staff would pickle a hundred pounds or so of umeboshi. At two stages in the two-year process of making umeboshi, the umeboshi are removed from the crock and spread single layer across flat baskets or bamboo mats for three days. Each individual umeboshi is hand-turned daily to further dry and concentrate the salt before returning to the crock. If some of the fruit used was a little overripe, the umeboshi meat slides off the pit. Those pits were discarded into the garden. Even though these pits were heavily salted for anywhere from 3 months to a year, we had umeboshi seedlings coming up around the perimeter of the property that escaped the lawnmower.
Cornellia told me that these seedlings had grown from the discarded umeboshi pits. I was skeptical and cautiously withheld amazement. Was this really possible for the salty pits to sti
ll be viable? Experience has proved this to be true on two additional occasions.
I dug one of the Vega saplings and planted it at our home to honor the birth of our youngest daughter, Ana, in 1991. Cornellia told me that an ume tree grown from seed would take 15 years to bear fruit, while a grafted tree would take 8 years. I waited patiently as the years passed. The tree produced beautiful dark pink blossoms each year in early January, but has only produced a single ume fruit in 26 years.
In 2008, I began making my own umeboshi. I too, discarded the salty pits from damaged umeboshi into the compost bin. The next year after distributing the compost in various flower beds and flowerpots, many ume seedlings began to grow. Even though I had my doubts whether any of these saplings would ever produce fruit, however I gave them free reign to grow wherever they chose. This was the second time I had witnessed pickled umeboshi pits sprouting.
This year, to my great excitement, one of these 9 year-old trees flowered for the first time: a dancing petticoat of abundant white blossoms. I marveled and then forgot about it as the urgency of a flood evacuation took my attention away from ume blossoms.
Sometime after returning home, I passed by the ume tree. It was now bare of blossoms. Wait! What? Can it be true? Yes! Tiny ume fruit had formed! I was beside myself after waiting 26 years for “Ana’s ume tree” to set fruit. Yet here it was. Finally I had my own fruit-bearing ume tree. Somehow, even with all the constant rain, the bees had managed to pollinate the flowers and at last there were fruit!
I bubbled, danced and immediately called David, who was working in Texas. I sent pictures as proof. I texted group announcements to our kids like a proud parent who had just given birth, as if I had anything to do with it.
Then I noticed something else. What was that? Is it possible?
There were about a dozen baby ume sprouts. To me, they looked strong and very proud of themselves. In my imagination they were ‘flexing their muscles’ after laboring to crack open the thick, hard shell in order to be born. Half shell casings littered the ground around the small trees. The smooth interiors of their half cradles now lay like empty sockets looking up to the sky. Each tiny tree stood with half an almond-like ‘placenta’ still attached on either side like saddlebags on a Harley.
Then it dawned on me. These seedlings hatched from umeboshi made by Cornellia in 1999! Those were the only umeboshi we had eaten for the past 6 years. Someone had tossed the contents of the kitchen compost bucket over the garden fence rather than walking a few extra steps to empty the bucket into the main compost bin. This area of the garden had not been turned or worked for a few years. These particular umeboshi pits had sunbathed and baked in the hot sun during the drought.
How could it be that 18-year old umeboshi pits hold their vitality and still sprout? What is the potency of a “seed within a seed” that brings forth new life?
To be continued in Part 3.
The Seed of a Seed, Part 3
Life lessons taught by an umeboshi pit
by Cynthia Briscoe
If you have ever cracked open the hard pit from an umeboshi and eaten the small almond-like kernel inside, you know the kernel tastes salty. The salt does penetrate the hard shell casing. Evidently salt does not inhibit the fertility of the seed as these pickled pits still birthed baby ume trees.
Once Cornellia and I were in the Vega Study Center basement, arm-deep in a 20-gallon crock, coaxing out umeboshi to transport to the kitchen. This task took some care and patience as the umeboshi were pressed tightly together. One had to “tickle” them out of the crock such that the individual umeboshi remained unbroken.
Cornellia held one umeboshi up to admire it. She stated in a half whisper, “The Education God lives inside the ume pit.” For that reason, or perhaps out of respect, she advised, “That’s why we don’t eat the kernel inside the pit”.
“Oops!” I thought to myself, “Uh oh. I have cannibalized the Education God many times!”
Often I had cracked through the pit, purposefully to unlock the treasure chest secreting the tasty little jewel inside. (Which by the way, I don’t advise just for the practical reason that the shell may be harder than your tooth and you might crack a tooth!) “Besides,” I had reasoned, “Eating the pit followed Cornellia’s Golden Rule of ‘no wasting’.” So even though I had not become a close acquaintance of the Education God, I now had been introduced. Just to be on the safe side, I stopped eating the inside of the umeboshi pit.
Cornellia offered no further explanation regarding the Education God. She was never one to waste anything, including words. However, most likely at this moment, speech was impossible because the fat umeboshi she’d popped into her mouth blocked all word flow. Her puckered lips fought determinably to dam the swelling pool of saliva that a sour umeboshi draws forth. She promptly returned to fishing out more umeboshi.
What? Huh? Education God? It made absolutely no sense to me, but it did pique my curiosity. Who was this guy living inside an umeboshi pit? Why would he want to live there? And how did he get in there?
An Education God living inside an umeboshi pit was a foreign concept washed up on foreign soil. There was no match in my native cultural files. So I asked my Japanese friend, Keiko, if she knew anything about this Education God. She did a little research and said, “Yes, there is something, but I’m not sure.”
I assessed that Cornellia was certainly sincere in her statement. The intensity on her face and the focused reverent way she handled the umeboshi housing the Education God, left me with a question mark that I filed in my memory bank for pondering later.
Then this spring when I discovered the tiny ume tree sprouted in the back yard from 18-year old umeboshi pits, I met the Education God face-to-face. I shook his hand when I touched the newborn leaves. It was an experience similar to staring at a newborn baby, being captivated by the simple rhythm of its breath, and marveling at the miracle of its pure existence.
“Ah!” I said, “Finally. It’s so nice to meet you!”
And then the question mark that had been stored in my brain, not unlike the living force encapsulated within an ume pit, began to shake and rumble and split.
One big thought wave crested and then broke upon the shore. As the water pulled back to sea, there was an inundation of memory debris cast upon the beach: Cornellia’s face and her voice, baskets of umeboshi drying, salt and pickle crocks, white blossoms and fallen-petal-snowy-ground, cracked umeboshi pit casings, tiny green fruit and the sound of children running through the ume orchard during picking time. There was an inundation of memory debris cast widely upon the beach.
The Education God participated in my thoughts. With even less words than Cornellia, in fact with no words at all, he taught. He paused my student mind to simply breathe – to arrest thought in a single inhalation of awe followed by a single exhalation of gratitude.
The Education God was my only witness as I stood rooted to the ground. The earth’s generosity swelled upward, reaching upward toward cloud barges floating above, laden with sunlight and rain. The two forces danced together.
The Education God was chuckling inside and outside at the cognizance of Intelligent Movement. I smiled back into the face of this Intelligent Being, the same who directed the encoded life spark within an 18-year-old umeboshi pit to awaken in perfect communication with the elements.
Education God, you have well-studied that invisible spark, the seed within a seed; that life force that weathers difficulty and quietly perseveres, resting within life’s cycles. Such Wisdom remains steady and fearless amid human chaos. Its patience weathers drought years, flooding and evacuation only to ignite and burst forth according to a timely intelligent plan.
Education God, you rested collecting strength from many cycles of seasons and elemental forces: the wind, the rain, the sun, soil and water all having nourished your will to express life as you travel from the infinite to my back yard. You have gained wisdom during your travels and from the generations of your ‘ume people’.
Thank you for your lesson.
Since writing this article, an updated internet search revealed the historic origin of the ‘Education God’. Sugawara no Michizane lived from 845-903AD . He died in exile. He is revered as a renowned scholar, poet, teacher and politician who was politically maligned and thus fell out of favor with the emperor and was stripped of his titles.
He is associated with the ume tree through poetry and legend. It is said that his favorite ume tree uprooted itself and flew to him in exile. Upon his death, his body was being transported by oxcart to Kyoto and the ox stopped at Tsukushi (now Hakata), refusing to travel further. This was taken as a sign that he desired to be buried there. A shrine was erected at this location to honor him as a Shinto kami, or deity, also known as Tenjin. Many students petition him for success in their studies and to pass exams.
Goma Wakame Saved Me From a Dumb Mistake!
By Cynthia Briscoe
When Cornellia Aihara taught students how to make miso soup, she always explained the significant protection of wakame in miso soup. Wakame has the ability to chelate or bind with heavy metals and remove them safely from the body. Remembering her lesson helped me recover from an unwitting mistake.
This occurred perhaps 12 years ago. I enjoy repairing things around our home, a lovely solid Craftsman Style house constructed in 1924. The window screens and their original wooden frames sorely needed refurbishing. I bought this great little orbital sander to buzz off the peeling paint from the wood frames rather than messy stripping. I marveled at the many layers of paint. In my imagination I made up a history of the aproned women who chose yellow, apple green, peach or standard white. I pictured how they must have dressed or what color hair they had as I happily buzzed off layers of history back down to the bare wood with many changes of sandpaper.
I completed the project, but then started feeling very weak, so very tired to the point I could barely get out of bed as well as flu-like symptoms such as headache, nausea and abdominal pain. A more seasoned repairman friend brought up the fact that I most likely had inhaled and ingested a great deal of lead paint dust due to the age of the house and the fact that lead based paint was used until 1978.
Who knew? I hadn’t known or I certainly would have worn a mask!
I thought, “How am I going to get myself out of this one?” Then Cornellia’s voice came into my head, “Wakame protects against lead poisoning, radiation exposure and other toxic pollutants we are exposed to every day.”
Thank you Cornellia!
I got busy and poured on the wakame – wakame in miso soup, baked wakame onion casserole, and goma wakame. Goma wakame afforded a concentrated amount of wakame that I could sprinkle on just about anything edible. I used it heavily on my breakfast porridge. It tasted great, so I knew my body needed it. After 5 days, I felt stronger. After 2 weeks I was fully recovered.
That’s the beauty of macrobiotics: the cure often lies in your kitchen. I would like to share with you a recipe for Goma Wakame (see below). It is delicious and rich in minerals. It is suitable for children or people who wish to reduce sodium, as contains less sodium than Gomashio or sesame salt. It builds strong bones and teeth and is highly alkalizing. Best of all, it can save you if you are dumb enough to sand lead paint without proper protection!
Powdered Wakame and Toasted Sesame Seed Condiment
1/2 cup sesame seeds
12 inches of dried wakame
5. Drain the seeds in the strainer.
6. Dry the sesame seeds before roasting. Place in a skillet over a medium flame. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon, drying until the seeds no longer stick to the wooden spoon.
7. Heat a stainless steel frying pan over a medium flame.
8. Cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of seeds.
9. Place a lid on the pan. Shake the seeds in the pan in a back and forward motion similar to popping corn. The seeds are done when you can crush a few seeds easily between the thumb and fourth finger.
11. Pour the finished seeds into the suribachi with the powdered wakame. Continue roasting the seeds as described above until all the seeds are roasted.
11. Grind the seeds in the suribachi with the powdered wakame until about 2/3 of the sesame seed are crushed.
12. Serve a sprinkling on grains as a condiment. Goma wakame may be stored in an airtight jar for about two weeks for maximum flavor and freshness or store in the refrigerator to keep the oil in the seeds fresh.
Raspberry Sorbet & Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookiess
3 cups frozen raspberries
a small pinch of lemon zest
1 1/2 cups brown rice syrup (or 1 cup amber agave syrup)
1/2 cup water
(if using the 1 cup of agave, use 1 cup water)
(Prepare your ice cream maker in advance.)
Heart-Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookies
There are dozens of vegan cookie recipes on the internet, including chocolate chip ones. Just shape each into a heart before baking.
Here is one of our chocolate chip cookie favorites, with a shout out of thanks to Christina Pirello….
Fermentation + Macrobiotic Principles =
Eat “Local & Seasonal Microbes”
by Cynthia Briscoe
Macrobiotic guidelines are founded upon natural order. One such guideline is to eat local and seasonal foods. The premise is that food produced in the area in which you live is inherently synchronized with the climate zone, weather patterns and soil matrix. By ingesting local foods, we align our health with these particulars. To me, there is additional unsung benefit of eating locally and seasonally grown foods: We also partake of the indigenous microbes of the region.
The majority of food consumed is a jumble of cross-country products shipped east to west, north to south, and from different hemispheres. The modern profit-drive food industry entices everyone to join in the grab-bag chaos of processed convenience foods, mass produced sterile foods, fragments from whole foods, and even so-called “frankenfood” chemically constructed in laboratories. Unwittingly, people are constructing their cells, tissue and organs from this food removed from its natural origins. From these deconstructed foods, we attempt to put back the missing pieces with supplements and repair the damage with pharmaceuticals. Also damaged within the chain of modern food supply are health-giving microbes.
Within the last 15 years, technological advancements in DNA sequencing have exploded microbe identification and the mapping of the human microbiome (the composition, diversity, and ecology of microbes in and on the human body) previously not possible. The relationship of our health to the health of our human microbiome is unfolding as this unseen world is now being observed. Microbiologists believe that of the 100 trillion cells that compose our body, only 10% of those cells are human. The rest is all microbes! It only seems logical that that the healthy ecology of our personal microbes would benefit our individual health.
Who are we really if 90% of our DNA is microbial DNA? How does the health and diversity of our microbe community affect our health? This is certainly an interesting question. The microbe mapping is well underway, but the relationship of the human microbiome to human health is yet in the frontier stage of data collection and interpretation. Down the road, science hopes to connect the dots between diet and a healthy human microbiome. In the future, scientists predict that when we go for a medical checkup, instead of drawing blood, we will have our microbiome analyzed and adjusted.
Regardless of where you live, what nationality, or occupation, if you compare yourself to another human, you share 99.9% of your human genetic DNA. However, if you compare yourself to another human in terms of your microbiome, you share only 10% of your microbes respectively. As individual members of the human race, we are practically identical in our DNA composition. However, perhaps our unique individual identity lies within the composition of microbes that we host. Respectively that composition is greatly influenced by what kinds of food we choose to eat and how and where that food was produced.
Family members that live together and eat together share greater commonality in their microbiome. The air in our home, touching the food while preparing it, and even our pets contribute to the unique collective microbial ecology that family members share. By cooking together and eating together we may be sharing a whole lot more than conversation.
One significant way to increase your microbe health and diversity is to prepare your own fermented foods, in your own kitchen, from local organic produce. How much more “local and seasonal” can that be? Regular consumption of these naturally fermented foods, paired with a whole food diet can reverse a plethora of current health patterns such as inflammation, gluten sensitivity, heart disease, diabetes, depression, arthritis, diabetes…the list goes on and on.
Watch for the new online version of our “Make Your Own Fermented Foods Course” coming soon! If you’d like to be notified when this online course is available, email us at email@example.com.
“Peach-boshi” (Part 2) by Cynthia Briscoe
In a previous post, we discussed the idea of substituting green peaches to replace the ume fruit traditionally used to make umeboshi. Not too many folks have an ume tree growing in their yard, but they might have access to an apricot tree or a peach tree. A few Japanese-specific grocers may sell fresh ume fruit in June, but again, this proves to be an exceptional find and is most likely not organic.
When David and I lived in Kansas City, I ordered three ume trees from a nursery in Washington. The Midwest is actually not conducive to growing ume, but in my youthful enthusiasm, I planted them regardless. The trees will live, but very rarely do they bear fruit. Late frosts, common to the region, freeze the blossoms and consequently, no fruit will be produced that year. I found a good rule of thumb before planting an ume tree is to find out whether apricots grow locally, since apricots are the closest relative to ume. Also check with your Agricultural Extension Service concerning the growing success for apricots. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that in Kansas City, apricot trees bear fruit once every 7 to 11 years! So much for growing and making my own umeboshi in Kansas! Perhaps though, if I had been more creative, I could have made “peach-boshi”.
Here in California, our ume tree blooms in January. Our peach tree blooms later in the spring. It has never failed to produce fruit, but even here, the ume blossoms sometimes receive frost. Often the ume blossom time here corresponds with many solid days of rain, making it impossible for the bees to get out and pollinate.
Due to my love of summer peaches, it seems a little sacrilegious to pick all the peaches green. So I plan to pick some of the peaches while they are still green to make “peach-boshi”, and leave the rest to mature and ripen. Then I can enjoy “peach-boshi” and fresh sweet peaches, too!
Another necessary component in making umeboshi or “peach-boshi” is an herb called shiso. Shiso is also known as perilla or beefsteak. The purple shiso is the variety used to impart the red color to umeboshi. Shiso is very rich in iron and calcium. It also boasts anti-bacterial properties. Traditionally, fresh shiso leaves are served as a garnish with sushi containing raw fish, as it protects against fish poisoning, just in case the fish is tainted.
Shiso is easy to grow your own shiso in any climate. Seeds can be ordered online. Once you establish a patch of shiso, it reseeds itself and will return year after year. Plant in the spring and it will be ready to harvest in August.
This simple qigong exercise can be done at home. It’s can cool down an over-heated heart on a hot day.
Through macrobiotics you can take daily steps to transform your life into a celebration and an adventure, doing what you want to do, on a stable foundation of physical health and mental clarity. For the one who really wants an adventurous life, macrobiotics awaits you.
There are five steps we want to suggest as follows:
1. Study macrobiotic principles to see if they make sense to you and if they are something you want to use freely and creatively in your own life.
2. Supply your kitchen with macrobiotic food.
3. Prepare macrobiotic meals daily.
4. Eat your macrobiotic meals with appreciation while also practicing good chewing.
5. Live the life you want, creatively, adventurously, with gusto and without hesitation, using macrobiotic principles as your guide.
The above five are the foundation of a macrobiotic practice.
We arrived in Melbourne on Sunday, June 20. What friendly people the Australians are! Our sponosor and friend, Susanna, fixed a wonderful macrobiotic meal for us. Macrobiotic food is so dlecious and full of life. How lucky we are! Best wishes to all, including our Facebook fans and other friends back home and around the world!
Here’s a pic of Cynthia at the airport with our plane, that we were on fir 14 hrs(!), behind her.
Ira Briscoe loved his young friends and wanted all the best for them.
On August 14, 2004, Ira died from injuries received during an accident while with his parents, David and Cynthia, at The Kushi Macrobiotic Summer Conference in Vermont.
At the young age of 18 Ira was already known as a true human being who was sought by his friends for advice on life, who inspired them to finish high school, and who was appreciated as a genuine friend who could be turned to in times of heartache or trouble without fear of betrayal or judgement.
One night during the Summer Conference, Ira told his mother, “I’ve never felt more alive in my life.” He loved the new macrobiotic adventure he had found for himself, and he was looking forward to starting a campus macrobiotic program upon his return to California and his first year at California State University-Chico. Ira was always sharing his bounding enthusiasm for macrobiotics with his young friends, loaning them his books, inviting them for meals, and discussing with them his views on life and freedom that were transforming through his study of George Ohsawa’s writings and the writings of many others, including Henry David Thoreau.
Ira’s generous spirit of hope for humanity inspires and energizes all that we do at Macrobiotics America.
For the extraordinary blessing of his 18 yrs with us we are truly grateful. In his soaring life of the spirit now we cheer him on, our eyes wide with wonder at the beauty that is forever Ira.
“May all beings and all the earth be healthy and happy.”
The Briscoes: David, Cynthia, Justin, Nora, Iris, Ana and Rio
Personal responsibility for one’s health and life is essential to macrobiotic practice. We at Macrobiotics America also believe in being engaged with the wider world beyond our individual health concerns and personal daily life.
We are an inseparable part of the whole of life, including the society and natural environment of the entire planet. It does not matter to us how others eat, what religion they embrace, what race they are, or what traditions they live by. We are all one human family, and when there is suffering in our family, we naturally respond. Our theories of what has caused the suffering or what will stop the suffering, doesn’t do much to alleviate the suffering right now, this moment. All that matters to us is that someone in our family is suffering.
In order to respond to our human brothers and sisters in ways that compliment our teaching and sharing of macrobiotics, we at Macrobiotics America ask you to join us by involving yourself in local activities and programs that reach out to our common human family in its immediate moment of need. And/or you can join us in supporting the following organizations:
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
National Center for Exploited and Missing Children
International Justice Mission
Hmong International Human Rights Watch
The beautiful and life-sustaining natural environment also needs our help and protection. Please consider getting involved in local environmental organizations and/or joining us in supporting the following:
Please contact us with information about humanitarian and environmental causes for possible posting here.
In the early days of macrobiotics in the USA, students studied in small groups at the home or “study house” of experienced teachers. It was a strong, personal and friendly atmosphere for learning. Many respected teachers and some of longest-practicing macrobiotic people in America today, received their macrobiotic foundation from the study-house style of learning. When macrobiotic schools with large classes opened in the 1970’s, study houses unfortunately disappeared. Recently, David & Cynthia Briscoe opened their home in the study house tradition, once more affording students this unique opportunity. Students from around the world come there to benefit from this legendary way of learning and developing a macrobiotic practice.
The personal study-house way of learning is not presented in an institutional, medical, or fancy setting. It is in our humble, relaxed and welcoming home in a friendly, middle class neighborhood of Northern California. Students attending classes are in a small group of no more than 6, learning in down-to-earth, family-style surroundings. This opportunity for learning, in such a small group and in such a personal way, with David and Cynthia, macrobiotic teachers who have taught all over the world for more than 30 years, is a rare and unique offering.
The Macrobiotics America Study House also hosts community gatherings, including monthly potlucks, “Ira Briscoe Memorial” Sponsored Classes for Young People, and serves as a macrobiotic resource for the surrounding community.
Please come and visit soon.
Cynthia Briscoe is one of America’s most respected macrobiotic cooking instructors. In 2012 she was honored by Michio Kushi and The Kushi Institute International with the prestigious Aveline Award.
Her cooking is as delicious as it gets. She co-founded and co-directed The Macrobiotic Center of Kansas City during the 1980’s. Cynthia was the co-owner and head chef of The Amber Waves Café, the award-winning macrobiotic restaurant in Kansas City, and one of the most successful and longest-running macrobiotic restaurants in North America.
David Briscoe was honored in 2012 by Michio Kushi and Kushi Institute International with a prestigious Aveline Kushi Award, regarded by many as “the Oscar of macrobiotics, ” for his decades of dedication to macrobiotic education and counseling.
David is one of the most experienced macrobiotic teachers and counselors in the world today. Since 1972 he has gained expertise in every facet of macrobiotics, including personal practice, philosophy, healing principles, teaching, counseling, private healing chef service, restaurant ownership and educational center development.
He is widely considered one of the finest of macrobiotic chefs, having prepared countless delicious meals, including gourmet Hollywood buffets and ethnic international macrobiotic cuisine for large groups and events, and strengthening healing meals for health recovery for private individuals.
Through his 30+ years of cooking classes, chef-training programs, executive chef experience, co-owner of the award-winning Amber Waves Café, and world-wide travels, he has taught innumerable students the creative joy of healthy macrobiotic cooking. His private macrobiotic chef services are highly sought after and available to a limited number of selected clients.
David also provides consultant services to restaurants, professional chefs, macrobiotic business start-ups, web site creators, multi-media elearning authors, online course developers, and the natural foods industry.
One of the most experienced and respected public speakers in the world of macrobiotics, David now offers private public speaking training and mentorship to those wishing to develop their skill and confidence in this area.
In 1975 he was given the honor of being one of the few one-on-one macrobiotic apprentices to the late macrobiotic master, Noboru Muramoto, author of Healing Ourselves. In 1983 he was among the first to be certified by the Kushi Institute’s premier macrobiotic counselor accreditation program. During the 70’s and 80’s, David established macrobiotic education programs and centers throughout the U.S.
He has appeared on national TV programs and radio shows, including Dr. John McDougall’s radio show and numerous other live radio shows, ABC News, PBS, and the HBO® Special, “Six Months to Live.” He is the co-author of A Personal Peace, contributing author to The Whole Mind and a regular columnist for Macrobiotics Today, the world’s leading macrobiotic magazine.
David has developed macrobiotic curriculum and instruction programs for various educational organizations, applying his experience as a former secondary school teacher and as a trainer of teachers at the University of Kansas. He is a macrobiotic education visionary who first made use of the power of the internet for macrobiotic teaching and counseling, and has become the leader in developing online multi-media macrobiotic courses and training, starting over 15 years ago.
David is well known for his skilled and personal approach to private macrobiotic counseling. He is highly regarded for his vast experience in the areas of macrobiotic healing diet, home remedies and lifestyle re-balancing, and he is considered one of the world’s leading trainers of macrobiotic counselors and cooking teachers.
In 1990 the late macrobiotic master, Herman Aihara, invited David to be his administrative, teaching and counseling associate at The Vega Study Center in California, and from 1991-1998 David worked closely with Herman. After Herman’s passing, David co-founded Macrobiotics America and Macrobiotics Global, the first macrobiotic organization to offer multi-media distance learning courses via the internet (www.macroamerica.com), beginning in 1999.
David travels and teaches throughout North America and overseas, speaking to medical and lay audiences and as a featured presenter at the major macrobiotic camps and conferences, including The Kushi Institute Summer Conference, French Meadows Summer Camp, The Fall Health Classic, and The Whole World Summer School in Belgium.
He has also served as a guest faculty member at the world-famous Kushi Institute in Becket, MA. David holds the honorary position of being a macrobiotic counselor for The George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation of Chico, CA, the oldest macrobiotic education and publishing organization in North America. David was recently invited by Texas A&M University to participate in the design of a residential program to help patients recover from bowel conditions, such as IBS, through a macrobiotic diet.
David experienced personal healing through his implementation of macrobiotics, beginning in 1972 at age 22. He recovered from supposedly incurable emotional/psychological illness and dependence on medication that he was told he would have to take for the rest of his life. His story is recounted in the book, A Personal Peace, written by David and his mother, Charlotte Mahoney-Briscoe. This wonderful experience of “impossible” healing lead to David becoming the main advocate for the application of macrobiotics to psychological healing, and the most referred to macrobiotic consultant by organizations and doctors seeking macrobiotic healing support for patients in need of emotional and psychological healing. Additionally, through macrobiotics, David recovered from many physical health problems that had dogged him since childhood.
A love of written words led David to begin writing poetry and short stories at the age of 8. He is a published poet and non-fiction author. David was awarded a grant for poetry publishing by The National Endowment for the Humanities. He has taught classes in creative writing and writing for healing. His exploration of other artistic expression has taken him into the world of multi-media art, with numerous accolades for his work. He has been invited to present a series of on-going West Coast exhibitions and “poetry performance evenings” throughout 2016.
David lives in Northen California with his wife, Cynthia, and children, Justin, Nora, Iris, Ana and Rio, and nearby his grandchildren David, Micah, Gracie, Ella and Ava.