Night Sky: Orion the Hunter

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it: a simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

A ‘constellation’ is a group of stars that appear to form a picture. Modern astronomers world-wide recognize 88 constellations, each occupying a designated area in the sky. The constellations seen from the northern hemisphere are the ones that inhabit mythologies from Europe and North America. Constellations seen from the southern hemisphere are ‘man-made’ — that is, astronomers who did not know their names [if they had any], created the names and the pictures that they formed during the 1600s and 1700s. One of the oldest, largest, and best known constellation is Orion. I say ‘oldest’ because a representation of it was carved into ivory 32,000 years ago; ‘largest’ because it is the 26th biggest constellation; and ‘best-known’ because both the Europeans and First Nations of the Americas recognized it as being a Giant or a Hunter. The Greeks had two legends to explain how a prominent hunter got into the night sky, and this is the one that I like.

Orion was a mortal man who loved to hunt. He was good at his craft and didn’t mind telling you that no animal could escape him — neither the wild bulls, nor the boars, nor the deer, nor the lions, nor the bears — and on and on. The Earth Goddess Gaia became very annoyed by this — by the slaughter of her animals and by his braggadocio. She sent a lowly Scorpion on a mission to assassinate the Hunter. And so it was that one day, while Orion was pontificating on his magnificence, the Scorpion stung him on the heel and the Hunter died. The Gods placed him in the Winter sky to remind men not to boast. Orion is seen facing us, with a bow [some say a shield] in his left arm and his right arm up-raised. Three stars form a belt at his waist, from which hangs a sword. He is accompanied by his two dogs, Sirius and Procyon who are on his right. All Winter long, he strides from East to West across the sky. In the Spring, when Orion is disappearing into the West, the constellation Scorpio rises in the East to chase him out of the sky.

Orion contains some famous stars. His right shoulder is the star Betelguese [‘armpit of the warrior’ in Arabic]. His left shoulder is Bellatrix [‘woman warrior’ in Greek]. His left knee is Rigel, one of the brightest stars in the sky. I would tell my students to look at those three stars closely and to compare them: Betelgeuse is a red star, Bellatrix is a white star, and Rigel is a blue star. The colors tell the temperature of the star as codified by Annie Jump Cannon. I am always happy to see Orion for the first time in the late Fall, and I greet him like an old friend. Throughout the winter, he keeps me company as I go out to the barn at night. And when he begins to settle into the West for his Summertime rest, I know that Spring is close at hand. To find Orion, look in the Southern sky, about half-way up. You will probably see his Belt first, then look up for his shoulders and down for his knees. He covers a lot of sky! If you are reading this from the Southern Hemisphere, you will see Orion in the Northern sky and he will be up-side-down compared to how he appears to us in the North. [Of course, that would look normal and right-side-up to you.] If it is coming on to Winter where you live, go out and see if you can find Orion in the night sky. Look up and marvel at the beauty of the stars on a clear night and about how a boastful hunter ended up in the sky.

Hunting does not always involve shooting animals. In the Summer we love to hunt for mushrooms to bake into eggs. When near the sea, we enjoy hunting for mussels at low tide which can be cooked into a delicious gratin.

Mushroom Bake: 145 calories 6.6 g fat 1 g fiber 10 g protein 9.5 g carbs 102 mg Calcium   NB: The food values given above are for the egg bake and fruit only, not the optional beverages. PB GF  Goodness has everything to do with this delicious meal.

1 two-oz egg 1 Tablespoon ricotta 1 oz chantrelle/cepe or other ‘wild’ mushrooms 1½ tsp Parmesan cheese, grated 0.1 oz chopped prosciutto 1 oz pear or apple  Optional:  5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 caloriesOptional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water

Spritz a ramekin [for 2 people, Dear Husband prefers to use a 4×6” oval casserole] with oil or non-stick spray and set the toaster oven at 350F degrees. Chop the mushrooms and proscuitto. Stir the cheeses together and combine with the mushrooms and prosciutto. Whisk the eggs into the mushroom/cheeses and pour into the container. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Add a beverage and fruit, and you are ready for a bounteous day.

Leek & Mussel Gratin:  278 calories 10 g fat 5 g fiber 17.5 g protein 29 g carbs 240 mg Calcium   PB GF  All the components of this meal are typical of Wales, UK. And — these fine ingredients make for a fine meal. If you are lucky, you might find a Welsh cheese.  HINT: The following recipe serves 2 [two].

5 oz /114 g mussels*, weighed after removing from the shells ½ oz/15 g/2 Tbsp oat bran ¼ cup/ 118 ml whole milk 6 oz leeks, trimmed, cleaned 1 oz Cheddar cheese [or the Welsh cheese Penbryn], grated Celtic Sea salt   per serving: 3 oz carrots, sliced as coins  OR  ¼ oz Cheddar, grated   *You could use oysters.

If starting with mussels in their shells, cook them briefly [5 minutes] in 1 inch of simmering water then cool and remove from shells. [Save the mussel broth for chowder.] Measure out milk and stir in oat bran. Do this early so it can sit for a bit. Slice the leeks cross-wise in ¼” slices. Steam them in a little water until limp. Drain and put in a saucepan with the mussels, milk-oat, cheese, and salt to taste. Stir to blend and heat over low. Spoon equally into two scallop shells – real or porcelain – or ramekins which have been spritzed with cooking spray. Top with the additional cheese. Bake at 375F for 15 minutes, until hot and the cheese on top is melted and browning. Meanwhile, prepare the carrots. Plate it all and let your mind go wool-gathering to the mountains of Wales.

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