Summer, or the heat in any event is here in full force now, but that’s not the only reason I’m sweating. In 7 out of the past 8 days, I’ve gotten my sweat through honest toil – doing Yoga with friends, Brooke and Belle. Brooke started it, bringing Belle over to my place last Saturday for some stretching. Tw0 days later we popped my yoga DVD in and since then we’ve been at it, mixing up intense routines with easy ones, but only really letting up once in the whole week. And even in a single week, I can feel the muscles strengthen and becoming more capable of doing more work. Am sore in different spots each day, but these are good sorenesses.  I must say, having buddies to to these things with is definitely inspirational.  I’ve had the tapes for so long, and half -heartedly pull them them out once or twice every week or so intending to “be more diligent about doing the exercises more regularly,” but it’s just too easy, when by myself to simply “not” do it. But when Belle rings (sorry bad pun) I change and join her.

An additional benefit is the increased inventiveness in the kitchen. In case folks haven’t guessed this about me already, I like to play to an audience, the more appreciative the better. My acting skills are not much to speak of and neither is my singing, (although the lack of talent doesn’t always deter me from bursting spontaneously into song) but my obsession with food has made me a good cook. Yoga seems to have stimulated a new avenue of creativity in libations. With the weather as hot as it’s now, the drinks we gulp after our session are cool, usually iced versions of infusions from the day before. Here are various variations I’ve tried:

Boil together fresh ginger root (or even just the peel if you want to use the insides for cooking) and several twigs of lemon grass. When water comes to a boil, add fresh mint leaves and turn off the heat to let the leaves steep. If using dried mint, add to the boiling water. Warm this is a reat non-caffienated, after-dinner or bed-time drink. In the hot season, cool the mixture, squeeze a lemon or lime into it seeds, pulp and all, and strain into a pitcher to refrigerate. You can add more water to the herbs and bring to a boil once more to get as much as you can out of the herbs. Serve ice cold sweetened or not, according to taste.

Hibiscus, known as karkady here in Egypt also makes for a great infusion, eather hot or cold. Tangy in it’s own right, it needs no additional lime or lemon. Bring water to a boil with some sticks of cinnamon. Add a handful of dried blossoms and turn of heat and allow to steep until water cools. Strain and chill. Sugar/sweetener optional

Green tea and fresh mint also make a great combination. Best to boil water and pour over a combo of tea leaves and mint leaves and allow to steep. Add the juice of a lemon or lime and then strain and chill. YUM!!!!

What does the quinoa in the title have to do with any of this, you may wonder. There is the healthy-food-and-drink angle. But mostly the grain appears here here because in Belle brought some over. Yesterday I cooked it, making a variation on khichidi, one of the quintessential Indian comfort foods I’ve mentioned in my food blog. Served it with kadi (a classic combo) made with left-over tamaiyas (falafels). Yum pairing, as it turned out. Here my recipe for Quinoa khichidi:

Chop some garlic and onion and begin to saute. Add some chopped veges such as bell peoppers, carrots, beans, and cauliflower (yesterday’s version was without any)  and continue to saute. Wash a cup of quinoa grains to remove the bitter powder coating it. Drain well and add to the saute pan. Stir and roast for a few more minutes adding extra oil of needed. Season with salt and a pinch of turmeric. Add boiling water to the mixture (about twice the volume of quinoa plus an additional cup)  and add half a cup of mung dal that has been previously washed as well. Bring to a boil once, turn the heat down to simmer, and cook covered until the water is absorbed and the grains are cooked. Serve with kadi (buttermilk soup) and some Indian pickles.