Peninsula Macrobiotic Network Newsletter  
Number 117 April / May 2006 Peninsula Macrobiotic Community

to the
of the
Peninsula Macrobiotic Community
in Palo Alto,

For information on our organization, click on About Us.

green onions
     Trio of servers
Get a great meal, join the fun, and make new friends at the Gourmet Vegetarian Dinners in Palo Alto, with nifty people like John Burns, Brian Bershader, and Kate Latham!
How do I attend the Gourmet Vegetarian Dinners?
Chef Gary Alinder, since 1987
Every Monday, 6:30 PM
First Baptist Church, Palo Alto
305 North California Avenue
at Bryant
1/4 mile East of Alma
Sit Down or Take-out, $13
Reservations Required:
Call 650 599-3320 by
Monday 9:30 AM.
Open to everyone. Communal seating--new people easily integrate into our friendly group, which includes many singles. Make new friends on Mondays!

Coming Events
Monday, April 24
Denise Johnson-Kula speaks on Chloramine in Our Water Supply.
Monday, May 8
19th Anniversary Celebration and Program!
Monday, May 15
Patricia Becker and Gerard Lum host The Magic and Mystery of Macrobiotics: Sharing and Questions.
News and Announcements
Help publicize the Monday Dinners! An easy way to spread the word about our weekly community gathering is to click on the Tell-A-Friend link in the upper left of this page. Just fill out the form with the email addresses of up to two friends, along with any personal comments you'd like to add, and click Submit--this emails your comments along with pre-written details of the Dinners and a link to this website! Make a date with someone you haven't seen in a while! All it takes is a few seconds, and you, your friends and the Monday Dinners will benefit--everyone wins!

On May 11, 1987, Chef Gary Alinder cooked a Gourmet Vegetarian Dinner for the Peninsula Macrobiotic Community, at St. Bede's Church in Menlo Park. That first cooking gig marked the start of a regular Monday Dinner event--along with its associated friendships, educational activities, and community--which has repeated reliably about 900 times. Join us on May 8 to celebrate our remarkable 19th Anniversary!

Current plans for the celebration include a performance of an original musical show by some of our more creative members. If other musicians, comedians, etc. would like to perform that evening, we will try to expand the program. The hall is equipped with a sound system with both a microphone and a CD player--it is possible to sing along with your favorite recorded artist, karaoke style.

Monthly Vegan Potlucks! On Sunday, April 30, 6:30 PM, Bob Griffin will host a potluck at his home in Palo Alto; call 650 493-2109 to let him know you're coming and to get directions. For information on the May potluck, contact Harold Stephenson at 650 856-1125 or visit To host a fun potluck, call Harold or Diane Wohler at 408 873-4141.

The environmental organization Acterra will host an Earth Day Decadent Dinner featuring locally grown, seasonal, organic, vegetarian cuisine, on Saturday, April 22, 6:30 PM, at a home in Palo Alto. Includes a silent and live auction for a Honda Civic Hybrid and other items. $50/members, $60/non-member, or $80 to also get a one year Acterra membership. RSVP to Chef Laura Stec (), 650 962-9876 x346.

Stephen Starkweather is organizing and hosting monthly macrobiotic potlucks in Santa Rosa. See the North Bay Macrobiotic Community website at

Natto is a fermented soybean product made with koji, the grain starter used in making miso, tamari soy sauce, and sake. It looks like baked beans connected by long, sticky strands, and is usually eaten as a side dish, mixed with mustard, soy sauce, and sliced scallions. The strands contain healthy enzymes, bacteria, and fungi. Natto is a potent digestive aid, helps regulate blood sugar, and is an excellent source of protein--if you can stand the strong odor. 50% love it, 50% hate it. Natto is available from Japanese stores like Nak's in Menlo Park, and Nijiya Market in Mountain View.

For authoritative and fascinating information on more than 1,000 foods, including unusual foods like natto, check out Rebecca Wood's New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.
19th Anniversary Celebration
May 8, 2006
Sparkling Fruit Punch

French Onion Soup with
Herbed Croutons

Neat Loaf with
Rich Mushroom Gravy

Mashed Potatoes with Chives

Braised Carrots with
Peas and Pearl Onions

Radicchio and Mixed Greens
Creamy Italian Dressing

Strawberry Pie with
Pink Tofu Cream

Selection of Teas


More Dinner Menus...

Cooking and Classes
Chuck Collison, Assistant Chef of the Monday Dinners, is a personal chef and runs a meal service in Marin. Call 415 258-0528.

James Holloway, frequent Guest Chef at the Monday Dinners, does personal home cooking in Palo Alto, in macrobiotic and classical styles, call 650 852-9182.

Anne Mark does macrobiotic takeouts and life style recommendations in Palo Alto, call 650 843-0255.

Marin-based Holistic Nutritionist and Cookbook Author Meredith McCarty teaches a series of three Saturday cooking classes (2-4:30 PM) in Marin: April 15 (Italian Dinner Party), April 22 (Springtime Gourmet Cooking Class & Organic Wine Tasting), and April 29 (Sea Vegetable Cuisine). Menus and recipes are vegan and macrobiotic. $65/class or $150/series, at Homestead Valley Community Center, 315 Montford Ave., Mill Valley. Call 415 381-1735 or visit

Macrobiotic Counselor Michelle Nemer, based in El Cerrito, offers private in-home cooking/meal services, call 510 527-4367.

Carolyn Peters caters and teaches cooking classes in San Francisco. Call 415 810-3496.

After-Dinner Events
Speakers receive a gratuity from the audience; please show your support and appreciation with a donation ($5-10 suggested).

On April 24, Denise Johnson-Kula will speak on Chloramine In Our Water Supply. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) operates the regional water system that provides water to 2.4 million water bill payers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Chlorine and chloramine are two of several residual disinfectants approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Health Services (CaDHS).  
We never know
the worth of water
'til the well is dry.
English Proverb
Adversity is the first path
to truth.
George Gordon Byron
Nor shall derision
prove powerful against those
who listen to humanity
or those who follow
in the footsteps of divinity,
for they shall live forever.
Kahlil Gibran
Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right,
or doing it better.
John Updike
The most beautiful thing
we can experience
is the mysterious.
Albert Einstein
In February 2004, the SFPUC changed from chlorine to chloramine, to reduce the amount of potentially carcinogenic disinfection byproducts associated with chlorine, and to meet more stringent regulatory requirements of the EPA. Many water utilities had already converted to chloramine; the SFPUC was the last major Bay Area water utility to convert.

At the time of the change, Denise Johnson-Kula developed severe respiratory problems and asthmatic reactions when showering in her Menlo Park apartment. She had no previous history of asthma. These symptoms manifested themselves only when she was exposed to chloraminated water and did not occur when showering, bathing, or using tap water in cities that used chlorine only as their water disinfectant. As a result, her doctor documented her case as "chloramine mediated respiratory toxicity." After a newspaper covered her story, hundreds of people contacted her with respiratory, skin, and digestive symptoms. When Denise researched chloramine, she found that no studies had been done on skin and respiratory effects, and only limited studies on cancer.

The SFPUC's website has information on chloramine, including a comprehensive list of 50 questions and answers, some of which directly address these health issues, along with other effects on fish, kidney dialysis patients, and plumbing. Visit, then click on the following in sequence: "At your Service," "Water Quality," and "Chloramine." Also, the PMC website will have links to chloramine and related information on the SFPUC and other websites (click here).

Denise Johnson-Kula is President of the non-profit organization, Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC), founded in 2004. She has a background in biochemistry. Meet Denise, ask questions, and make your own judgments about chloramine in our water.

On May 15, former Dinner Manager Patricia Becker and current Newsletter Editor Gerard Lum will host The Magic and Mystery of Macrobiotics: Sharing and Questions. This event will have the same format as the lively and successful Health Show and Tell on March 6, with everyone introducing him/herself and participating. If you have experience with macrobiotics, we ask that you share something like a health benefit you've experienced, a tip that others would find useful, or a favorite recipe or book. If you are new to macrobiotics, you can ask questions, share the reason for your interest, or simply listen. The idea is to share our knowledge and experiences, draw upon the group wisdom, build connections within our community--and have fun!

Patricia Becker studied macrobiotics at the International Macrobiotic Institute in Kiental, Switzerland and is passionate about organic gardening and growing healthy food. Gerard Lum has been Newsletter Editor since 1990, sets up speakers and other activities of the PMC, maintains the website, and photographs for Macrobiotics Today magazine. (See a Flash presentation of Summer Camp photos, 1024x768 with sound, best with a high speed connection.)
Asian Red Bean Soup
Yields six servings.

  • 2 c. cooked red beans
  • 6 c. vegetable stock
  • 1" knob of ginger, sliced
  • 6" stalk of lemon grass, chopped
  • 2" piece of kombu
  • 4 medium shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 of a sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 small carrot, small diced
  • 2-3 T. mirin
  • salt and soy sauce to taste
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish
1. In a soup pot, bring the vegetable stock to a simmer, add the ginger, lemon grass, kombu and shiitakes and simmer for 20 minutes. Then strain, discarding all the solid ingredients except the shiitakes. Cut off and discard shiitake stems, and thinly slice the rest.

2. Return the soup pot to the burner, and sauté the sweet potato, leek, carrot and shiitakes for 5 minutes, then add back the soup stock and a pinch of salt and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are very tender.

3. Add the beans, mirin and 2 T. soy sauce, and simmer 5 minutes.

4. Check seasoning, adding additional soy sauce to taste.

5. Serve, garnished with thinly sliced green onions.

  recipe by Gary Alinder
Community Connection
Gerard Lum
I have a certain quiet temperament which makes it possible for me to tune into things which come across in the photos. (Photo by Denise)
  You Can Really
 Fly with It
  An Interview with
    Gerard Lum
Guest Editor:  Ken Becker    

Gerard Lum has attended the Monday Night Dinners since the beginning and has been on the Peninsula Macrobiotic Community (PMC) Board of Directors since 1989. He puts in countless hours arranging after-dinner events ranging from a presentation on the China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, to a performance by the Red Panda Chinese Acrobats. Gerard handles all aspects of the PMC newsletter, including writing, editing, production and distribution. He also maintains the PMC website. Gerard currently works as a website designer, often combining his outstanding photography with his writing and computer skills. Considered an unsung hero by those who know of his contributions, I convinced Gerard to share about himself.

Denise Huajardo Springer (DHS): Do you want people to know you went to MIT as an undergraduate and Stanford for a Masters?

Gerard Lum (GL): It's appropriate in some situations, not needed in others. When you mention schools like that, you can create expectations. One of the things that I've dealt with is to live up to what an MIT graduate is supposed to be rather than who Gerard Lum is supposed to be. One person even commented, "You don't look like you went to MIT!" I think she was expecting me to be seven feet tall and weigh three hundred pounds and have a very commanding presence rather than be the quiet, courteous guy that I am.
DHS: You are quite a quiet guy, but you do so much for the Community.

GL: They're just things that I think are appropriate. When I see that I can do something which would benefit the group--it's a way for me to try out various things for myself, as well, like learning to plan, organize, and follow-through on all details of a complex project. For this group, I can operate individually and do things that I think are right as opposed to having someone ask me to do it, or being an anonymous member of a team.

DHS: You're so intelligent. Does that make it difficult to take direction from others?

GL: Some people really know what they're doing, and are real pleasures to work with. On the other hand, I'm at a point in my life where I have great difficulty working on things I know are not going to work. In the beginning, you don't really know what you can do, so you go along with things. Now if you know from the start that, "This doesn't feel right," it's best to avoid getting involved and becoming unhappy.

DHS: That's how I've felt about work. My fear is that no place would fit.

GL: I'm dealing with that now. A traditional job in an organization can be constraining. It's well worth exploring other work options, if they are available to you.

DHS: In your roles at the PMC, do you take much direction from others?

GL: The PMC is run largely by volunteers; if someone is interested enough to try to develop the organization, then you almost have no competition. If you have some wits about you then you can really fly with it. When working on something, I'll often ask the Board and others in the group for their opinions and suggestions. Sometimes they respond, sometimes they don't. What is exciting about the PMC is that it attracts people who are motivated by themselves; they all recognize the value of what we're doing, and many are talented and dedicated. That's really exciting for me. What I've done for this organization is probably the most rewarding work I've done anywhere.
DHS: How did you first come to the PMC?

GL: It all happened because my father, in 1985, went into the hospital for a bypass operation. While he was recovering, some complications developed that eventually caused a cardiac arrest. Over a ten-day period, we first felt very hopeful but then we watched him slowly deteriorate and eventually die, which was pretty horrible to watch.

Two of his brothers had died of heart attacks; they all grew up eating a lot of meat and eggs and chicken and pork and hardly any vegetables--a lot of very rich Chinese food. When my father died, I was 32 and he was 64. That was a real shock to me because it's like my life is half over and what do I have to show for it? I was trying to make an engineering career, but not necessarily getting anywhere. It put a lot of questions into my head. I started reading a lot about macrobiotics. It's not just eating but it's higher living. I started doing macrobiotics on my own. Then one day, I spotted a flier for Gourmet Vegetarian Dinners at St. Bede's Church in Menlo Park, sponsored by the PMC. I said, "Wow, look at this, there are other people in this area who are into this crazy stuff." The flier was advertising the first dinner that Gary cooked, on May 11th, 1987. I went to that first dinner, 18-1/2 years ago. I've been going regularly ever since.

DHS: At what point did you get involved?

GL: There was an opening on the Board of Directors and they asked me to join it. Then, Grayce Yamamoto, who started the original newsletter, passed away in 1990. In my loudmouthed way, I had told people that I had written articles for a newsletter before and so it fell to me. I've had it ever since. Recently I took over the PMC website when our webmistress Robin Silberling moved to Texas; I redid it with an entirely new look. Out of the tragedy of my father's death, I got into these Monday dinners and I've crossed paths with hundreds of different people--maybe even more--and it's enriched my life.

DHS: And now you do photography and design web sites instead of...

GL: I was in a job and we all thought that the company was doing well, when in fact there were many problems. One day they called us into a meeting room and told us that the company was declaring bankruptcy and ceasing operations.
After the bankruptcy, I went to French Meadows Summer Camp and took a bunch of pictures of people having fun. I started taking courses at Foothill College on how to create web sites, something I've always wanted to do. For the final project of the first course, I put together a website for Summer Camp, incorporating many of the photos. It turned out very well so I emailed Carl (Ferré) who organizes the Camp and I said, "Hey, I've got this website. Are you interested in it?" After seeing it, he said, "Of course!" I've been maintaining it ever since. Each year I go to camp and add a bunch of new photographs. People have been discovering the camp--and macrobiotics--on the internet and those who come have the time of their lives.

A well-designed website is a really powerful way to advertise and provide information, whether for a summer camp or a business, to anyone in the world with internet access. It's rewarding work for me, especially when using my own photos to create something you might even call aesthetic. But I've also got to be realistic about earning a living.

Denise Huajardo Springer
(photo by Gerard)

DHS: I looked at your own website. It's beautiful; the photographs capture people profoundly.

GL: I have a certain quiet temperament which makes it possible for me to tune into things which come across in the photos. It's not necessarily good in a business setting because you can become effectively invisible, but it's that quality of invisibility which probably makes me a good photographer.

DHS: Being independent requires being able to sell oneself.

GL: Absolutely. Which is something I'm dealing with now. Some people are naturally entrepreneurial and naturally sales people. Lots for me to learn, or get help with.

DHS: Who knows what will happen?

GL: Yeah. A lot of people in the macrobiotic community know me and so there is some security in that. This year will be a turning point. Challenging times force you to grow.

DHS: Maybe the article will help.

GL: It might because I'm not good at publicizing myself and now that you've coerced me, cornered me [smiles]...

DHS: Forced you to share your wonderful gifts. I've had similar struggles.

GL: We're all connected.

Denise Huajardo Springer is a freelance writer who attends the Monday Dinners with her husband, Kim, and young son, Nathan.
From The Editor
Email Notification of Newsletter: To receive an email notification each time the Newsletter and Dinner Menus are published on this site (every two months), .
Mailing List Policy: To get a printed copy of the Newsletter and Dinner Menus delivered by postal mail, or call the phone number below. To offset the expense of producing the Newsletter and Menus, we suggest a contribution of $10/year or more. The date and amount of your last newsletter contribution appears on your mailing label. Write checks to "Peninsula Macrobiotic Community", and mail to Gerard Lum, 101 E. Middlefield Road #9, Mountain View, CA 94043, 650 903-0447.

We periodically review our mailing list. Those who have not made a recent contribution are subject to removal.

Tax-Deductible Contributions: We welcome and can use additional contributions to the Peninsula Macrobiotic Community, as income from the Dinners does not pay all of our expenses. We are a nonprofit organization, so additional contributions are fully tax-deductible. Send contributions to the address in Mailing List Policy above.

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