This was published in the Copperas Cove Herald on July 10, 2015 as "Intention, Resolve some of tools needed for Yoga-based practices"),
An activity that I find particularly calming, satisfying and nourishing is clarifying butter. Before I started working with my own wellness consultant, I was already familiar with the process of clarifying butter for a favorite cookie recipe. But I did not make the effort of storing this for uses other than baking this one particular recipe. My wellness consultant recommended using clarified butter instead of ordinary butter and making this myself has become a welcome ritual.
I have taken the liberty of sharing instructions from a popular website on how to clarify butter: "Place butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring butter to boil. This takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium. The butter will form foam that will disappear. Ghee is done when a second foam forms on top of butter, and the butter turns golden. Approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Brown milk solids will be in bottom of pan. Gently pour into heatproof container through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Store in airtight container being sure to keep free from moisture. Ghee does not need refrigeration and will keep in airtight container for up to 1 month."(Source: Alton Brown,Ghee recipe, Foodnetwork.com website)
In the Indian subcontinent, clarified butter is commonly called “ghee”, and traditionally involves steps other then rendering butter (ghee can also be ‘cultured’). It is beyond the scope of my expertise to tout the detailed benefits of ghee from the perspective of ancient and traditional Indian medical science or from any current dietary/nutritional approaches (that are not my own). So what would the process of clarifying butter have anything to do with my being a teacher of yoga-based practices?
When I decide to make my own ghee, I make an intention to do so, and resolve to make the effort to go through with the process. As I skim the foam away from the boiling butter, I am removing that which I do not need. As I filter out the milk solids from the rendered butter, I am removing particles that used to weigh down the butter. The end result is a fairly clear, amber, pure, aromatic substance and essence from butter, a product that I made the effort to arrive at. This process takes only a few minutes of my time. It surely does not take as long as what some of us set aside (or plan for) as far as a chosen aerobic activity, planning for a project, catching up on reading, or executing other household or professional task.
But intention, resolve, getting rid of what weighs one down, and working to obtain what one desires – those are tools and goals that we can all relate to. And those are essential tools that are part of all yoga-based practices.
I have always wondered how cultured ghee tastes like. Just because I like clarifying butter myself doesn’t mean I refuse to taste and try what I can buy at a store. I will probably try it one of these days, but for now, I am more than happy opening the bottle of my homemade ghee and breathing in its nutty, caramel-like aroma and knowing that this was the result of my own efforts. And my son, who loves ghee over toasted sourdough bread from our local German bakery, couldn’t be any happier as well.