|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 8, Issue 01, Tuesday, January 01, 2013 ||
LOVING AND LIVING WITH PLANTS
Getting fresh herbs for your kitchens
By Laila Karim
I am writing this piece in response to a Star Lifestyle reader who is keen on this particularly important area of gardening. Although use of herbs in Bengali cuisine is not a new issue, the importance of using fresh herbs is gaining popularity day by day in the kitchens around the world. Nowadays herbs rule the Western, European and East Asian cuisines. Besides their usage in food, herbs are used in drinks too. For example, having tea with dried mint leaves (popular in middle eastern countries) or using fresh mint in hot water to make 'fresh mint tea' during cold winter mornings is not only fashionable, but it also has health benefits. Herbs not only have special roles in making Italian dishes like pizza, salad or pasta, or in roasting chicken/beef etc., or in popular Chinese dishes in Bangladeshi traditional food and drink, herb pastes are used in abundance (for example, in making borhani). From the days of our great grand dadimas/nanimas , herbs have been used as home-remedies for the common cold and cuts.
The word herb comes from the Latin word 'herba' meaning grass and refers to the plants “with leaves, seeds or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume or parts of such a plant as used in cooking' ( The new Oxford American Dictionary). While herb garden planters are more interested in culinary uses (spices provide flavour and taste rather than nutritional substance , e.g. thyme, parsley, bay, coriander, mustered, mint, pepper, onion, garlic, etc.), spices are also used for medicinal and beauty treatment/products such as aloe vera, ginger, basil, spinach, barley, etc. Spiritual or sacred herbs are used in many religious rituals (holy basil or tulsi ) from ancient times.
Herbs can be grown in kitchen gardens or in simple pots, plastic containers/packing boxes, or even in dish-like-pots. Positioning your plants for maximum effect and utilisation of sunlight is important -- maximum sunlight can be utilised by placing the plants according to size, i.e. bigger/taller plants at the back and the smaller ones in the front. Many plants like cilantro, parsley, mint, can be grown in hanging pots too. Look at some popular herbs that can be grown happily in your garden in different seasons.
Cilantro/coriander of the parsley family are grown for it's aromatic leaves (dhone pata) and dried seeds (shukna dhonia) which are used commonly in Bengali cooking. They can grow about two feet high, are cultivated in rows about 18 inches apart, generally from seeds sown in early spring. The seed heads which ripen about midsummer are gathered and dried. Then the dry coriander seeds are preserved for sowing or used to prepare curry.
There are few varieties of coriander/cilantro now available in the markets, (like Vietnamese Cilantro or 'Bilati dhone pata') which have straight long sharp leaves, with a stronger aroma/flavour. You can grow these by using the leftover roots/stalks in any planting pot and have a supply of fresh herbs.
The Bengali name of mint is 'pudina', very common in food recipes, especially for its strong, fresh smell and taste. There is always a need for a supply of fresh mint in the kitchen, specially during Ramadan and while preparing 'borhani'. For both cilantro and mint, after using the leaves, the small branches with roots can be saved for replanting. Carefully pruned stalks and roots will grow successfully in your kitchen garden pots or even from the hanging pots of your apartment balcony.
Onion / garlic/ginger:
The same is true of ginger. This essential herb used both fresh and dried can be planted in a pot using with the almost dried part in the soil, which will gradually pop up straight with long green leaves.
Another common Bengali herb is 'Thankuni pata' or centella, which is widely used in South and South-east Asia, mainly for medicinal purpose. The herb is mostly used as a digestive element, cooked as light gravy curry or mashed (bhorta) to cure an upset stomach. Centella is now available in supermarkets.
Now get ready for a herb garden and have a pleasant time.
Herbs like basil, oregano, tarragon, dill, rosemary, thyme, sage, etc. are commonly grown and used in Western countries, but some of these can be found in dried form in Bangladeshi supermarkets too. Basil, oregano, tarragon are used in pizzas, while rosemary, thyme, sage are used for roasting chicken, etc. These herbs grow in Mediterranean climates, so they can be grown in Bangladesh too.
Please feel free to send me emails to share your thoughts, feedback, and photos of your garden, or to tell your story; or ask a question on the issues of gardening. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAN TO MAN
Introduction to 'manconceptions'
Men are easily one of the most misunderstood bunch in the entire world, second only to aliens. Today we turn this misunderstanding into man-understanding to get you more comfortable with your masculinity. Let's turn our attention to some of the misconceptions and clear the air with the first lesson in Manconceptions 101.
Direct line to the grapevine
Well, you can rest assured; men do gossip. The idea that men don't is probably a conspiracy to keep us from learning the truth and always finding ourselves at the receiving end of every accusation because we just didn't check out the armoury.
Now, you are more than free to gossip. Men gossip, if not as much, then almost the same as women, except our gossip is more humourous and banter-like. Men don't slander, unless we really have to. Indulging in gossip isn't feminine but rather an excellent way to strengthen bonds and remain in the loop. Men start the gossip fire and women add the fuel; no wonder we don't get burned often.
No woman, no cry
We will not shed tears about what someone said about us or when you did not notice our haircut but we will cry when we are very hurt. Men are sensitive like that. Even the hardest and most vicious men cry; consider 2pac, Hitler or even the little cry-baby Tolstoy.
Men are much more sensitive but we don't keep our emotions right on the surface. If it was acceptable for us to cry in society, we'd be bawling our eyes out over everything. Therefore, if you cried during the Pursuit of Happiness or whilst watching 7 Pounds or even Lion King, trust us, you aren't alone. It's ok to let go sometimes.
The cuddle muddle
Sure, it can be quite difficult and awkward for us and our idea of romance may not be the same as others, but we always do try. Men are notorious for running away from intimacy but that's just propaganda really; men demand intimacy. There is no shame in revelling in the feeling of being held or holding onto someone you love.
Of course, there is a time and place for everything and we tend to remember that far too often. Apart from that, having found the right person, even Batman will give in and cuddle. There is nothing wrong with that.
Not sick of chick-flicks
Men don't like admitting, but that doesn't mean we don't do it. Come on guys, level with me on this one. Most men have watched movies like Made of Honour, A Walk to Remember, A Lot like Love, etc. And even our most adrenaline-fuelled movies have a little love tossed in and it isn't just to draw the fairer sex. Rambo, Scarface, The Godfather, Donnie Brasco, Scent of a Woman, etc. all had a lot to do with love. Women in those films did not only serve as eye-candy; they made the men on the silver-screen appear more real. So, if you find yourself caught up in the intricate plotlines of Tangled or He's Just Not That Into You, don't question yourself because you are one of us.
What's on your mind?
Let these primary teasers tide you over. Get comfortable with your masculinity, don't overstate and don't even let someone tell you how your identity should be. Manconceptions is the real deal; get with it.
By Osama Rahman
Menopause: What you need to know about it
As a woman you have to go through a lot of physiological changes in life. First, it starts with the scare from your first period, where you feared that you had cancer and went crying to your mom; then you eventually get used to it being a part of life with the occasional hormonal splurge and moodiness and tantrums; then you grow older and eventually bear the immense pain of carrying another human being. And, despite all the blood and the mess and the pain, all of this is a central part of every woman's life but at one point it all ends. For some the ending process is short, not much of a big deal while for others it is a long, cumbersome process which is hard to deal with. It is different for each woman; good or bad, whichever it may be it is an inevitable part of being a woman.
Researching this topic I came across a quote by an American singer of yesteryears, Kate Smith, “I don't think a lot of people talk about it (menopause)”. This quote was made many decades ago but in this part of the world menopause is not given much importance even today. It is something that is bound to happen, much like your period or having a baby, and that is how people consider it and most do not appreciate the fact that this is a condition, has symptoms and consequences and that it can be difficult for many women.
Just like it is necessary to make a young girl heading towards the onset of menstruation understand the process and what comes with it and what can be done to deal with it, it is also necessary for that girl, when she becomes a woman heading towards the middle years of her life and towards menopause, to be aware of what is to be expected with the commencement or gradual progression towards it and what can be done to alleviate any distress.
Dr. Khaleda Yeasmin Mirza gives us some insight on the entire issue of menopause and the measures that can be taken to make it a part of life.
What is menopause?
Menopause is not a sudden phenomenon; it arrives gradually through some changes in the bodily processes. There are various symptoms and consequences, the intensity, pattern or time length of which is unique to each individual. Symptoms for menopause in majority of cases lasts for 2-3years however, in some cases it can last for as long as up to 5years.
Dealing with menopause
To prevent the onset of osteoporosis women should start taking calcium supplements after 40 and increase exposure to sunlight. For those who smoke or consume alcohol, the habit should be let go of. Women should make the habit of doing light exercises to be healthy and normal after menopause. Intake of water, fruits, vegetables and vitamins should be increased once the symptoms of menopause hit.
Women, for whom the symptoms are very severe, doctors recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Nowadays, HRTs are advised for shorter lengths of time such as the first 2 years after commencement after which the symptoms gradual tone down. HRT is only recommended for those who have excessive symptoms in order to assist them to adjust and cope with the situation. However, there are some prerequisites for being eligible for HRT. Those with heart disease, liver, disease or other complications are usually not allowed to take an HRT. These individuals have to take the general measures.
For a woman to get through menopause with minimum effort team work is required. Cooperation from family members is a must. Family members need to understand that these are the symptoms attributable to this condition and any irritability regarding petty matters or change in behaviour is a part of this. The biggest support that is necessary during this time is the husband's support. A husband needs to be extremely cooperative about the fact that the woman will be going through physical changes both in terms of appearance and sexual desire. General measures and awareness regarding solving consequential sexual crises and dialogue between the couple can help keep problems and disappointment at bay.
If you are dealing with menopause or fearing its onset, a visit to your gynecologist will help you understand and face it a lot better and with much more confidence. It is a part of life and it does not necessarily have to be as unpleasant as it sounds. It only requires a bit of effort and preparation from your side and from your loved ones.
By Karishma Ameen
What the stars have in store
The use of toothpaste does not end with dental care, toothpaste use can also prove to be a great beauty solution. Pimples: The first toothpaste use for beauty is for pimple cure. Toothpaste has a substance called triclosan.
The triclosan substance in toothpaste has antibacterial properties which help in treating the pimples. Apply a small amount of toothpaste on the pimple at bed time. The cure is expected within few days.
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