Foie gras

It was a woman in Sarasota who e-mailed me a few years ago at the recommendation of someone else in Florida who made me aware of the problem with foie gras.

Essentially, it is the product of disease and torture, which is why its sale as well as its production is against the law in many countries. The disease is called hepatic lipidosis. Fatty liver disease. It is deliberately inflicted on geese and duck for the production of foie gras.

Many celebrities have spoken out against it and actively campaigned against it. The woman in Sarasota – not a celebrity – was campaigning to stop its use in local restaurants.

I made a (semi-mock) campaign for a course I was taking in 2010, and I also boycotted Amazon until Amazon banned its sales.

Since then, I’ve been boycotting eBay UK. Ebay is stubborn and still allows its sales, although it depends on the country. I’ve never seen foie gras offered from the Netherlands, but eBay.nl does accept offers from the UK, France and Germany.

Occasionally, sellers still try to sneak it in on Amazon by calling it a book, when they sell tins of the stuff packaged in cardboard, I later saw. When I spot it, I report it.

In Britain, Viva! is a very active campaigner against foie gras.

This Too Shall Pass

Eclipsed Words

“And this, too, shall pass.”

This is a proverb indicating that all material conditions, positive or negative, are temporary and time solves all problems.

I once read that the great Abraham Lincoln used to have a grand affinity for this proverb. On September 30, 1859, Abraham Lincoln included a similar story in an address before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society in Milwaukee. This is what he said;
“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.”

How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

When we are in trouble, we feel that we are the only person who is facing these mountains full of doubts…

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Feeding pigeons

“I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years. But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me.
I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.” – Nikola Tesla

Tortilla Española

One of my favorite foods. I love potatoes. All you need is eggs, onions, oil and potatoes.

Ingredients
3⁄4 cup Spanish olive oil
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
6 eggs

Instructions
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 10″ saute pan. Add potatoes and onions and cook, lifting and turning, until potatoes are soft but not brown, about 20 minutes.

Beat eggs in a large bowl until pale yellow. Transfer sauteed potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to beaten eggs. Reserve oil. Add the potato mixture while it’s hot enough to start cooking the eggs but not so hot as to souffle them.

Heat 1 tbsp. reserved oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add egg and potato mixture, spreading potatoes evenly in the pan. Cook uncovered until the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Gently shake pan so tortilla doesn’t stick, then slide a spatula along edges and underneath tortilla. Place a large plate over pan and quickly turn plate and pan over so tortilla falls onto plate. Add 1 tsp. reserved oil to pan, slide tortilla back in (uncooked side down), carefully tuck in sides with a fork, and continue cooking over medium heat until eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.

Ingredients:
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (see notes)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup onion, chopped
7 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Vegetable oil

Preparation:
Place the potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the paprika in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes evenly with the oil and seasonings.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring 3 or 4 times to ensure even cooking. Remove the cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the potatoes begin to develop some golden color. Add the onion, adjust the seasoning to taste, and continue to cook until the potatoes are lightly browned and tender, 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

While the potatoes cool, whisk the eggs together with the milk until slightly frothy. Stir in the cooled potatoes and combine well.

Film the bottom of a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the egg-potato mixture and cook for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the top of the tortilla is set (just slightly wet). Be sure to shake the pan from time to time to keep the tortilla moving freely while it cooks.

Once the egg-potato mixture appears to be set on top, place a large, flat plate upside down on top of the pan, then flip the tortilla onto the plate. Gently slide it back into the pan to finish cooking on the second side ~ about 2 minutes should do it. Transfer to a plate and cut into wedges.

Recipe Notes:
You can use just about any potato for this dish, but Yukon Gold is our preferred variety. Dice them into small cubes, about 3/8-inch, or slice them into 1/8-inch slices and be sure to season them well during the browning process.

 

Give your business a boost with Buddhism

What business can learn from buddhism

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Haley A Beer, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick and Edward Gamble, Montana State University

Millennials, we are told, have a different attitude to work than their elders. They want to work for organisations committed to values and ethics, where there is a higher purpose than simply making a profit.

Businesses wanting to attract the best millennial talent might therefore learn a few lessons from ancient spiritual teachings, such as those of Buddhism. The fourth largest religion in the world has been focused on attaining a higher meaning and following the path to moksha – liberation – since the sixth century.

Organisations, especially in the non-profit and charity sector, can re-energise their employees by aligning the way they measure performance with the principles of Buddhism. This could also improve productivity, an important measure of economic activity and living standards.

These were the findings of our research. We interviewed 63 executives from not-for-profit organisations and found that most had simply imported practices and strategic models from the business world to measure their performance. Unfortunately, this is a world driven by maximising profit, which goes against the underlying purposes of these organisations.

Engaged and energised

Many studies have established that most staff are not only motivated by money, while the carrot and stick approach, which mixes reward and punishment, is also outdated. Employee engagement is now the ultimate goal for managers and it involves more than just job satisfaction.

It might be that an individual is perfectly content with a job and yet not engaged in it. Instead, engagement is found where work is absorbing, and to which employees feel naturally dedicated; work that one gets wrapped up in and is energised by. Engaged employees are prepared to go beyond the call of duty and actually drive the business; they show up because they want to, not because they have to.

Employees and businesses benefit from an injection of spirituality.
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Some might think spirituality and business should not be mixed in together, but both play an important role in society and people’s lives. They should be seen as interdependent. Spiritual disciplines may very well offer insights into techniques for achieving lasting employee engagement that everyone is searching for. At the very least, ancient wisdom could offer some lessons for understanding what it means to seek and achieve higher meaning in your life.

A different focus

This is perhaps even more applicable in not-for-profit organisations. Many non-profits use standard performance measures, that have been tailored to help traditional organisations maximise revenues while reducing costs. The rationale provided for the use of performance measurement is also usually a commercial one, suggesting that measurement only supports efficiency and effectiveness.

This can obscure their ethical and benevolent dimensions. Focus instead is placed on understanding data like the number of products delivered, or what rating a service has in numerical terms. Employees are rewarded for their capacities to score highly on given criteria. Although none of this is inherently wrong, it means that discussions and attention are pushed towards money.

Meanwhile, rich social interactions, trust, and positive, but unquantifiable, stories go unnoticed and unrewarded. Employees would be better able to believe in their organisation if it’s clear that their performance measures drive social connectedness and create social value.

Our research found that spiritual philosophies can provide this. Buddhism, for example, teaches its followers to take greater personal responsibility for their actions, to have a healthy detachment where necessary, and embrace a wholesome view of their actions.

This can include how socially connected and conscious employees are, but also their entrepreneurial awareness. Risk-taking and innovation are core to many of these organisations so employees must have the mindfulness to evaluate and exploit opportunities when they arise.

It also applies to financial meaning – how money is spent, but also where it comes from. Spiritual rationales for goals and activities can complement commercial ones. Most employees in the non-profit sector want to help people and this is what motivates them to work in this industry, often for less money.

Evidence also suggests that embracing spirituality within organisations may lead to better decision-making, enhanced creativity, reduced absenteeism, and greater emotional control.

Buddhist principles are not just for not-for-profits, however. Spiritual principles such as higher meaning, awareness (of self and the environment) and connectedness (belonging to a community), are likely to be relevant in other sectors, particularly if corporations want to re-engage and re-energise their workforce.

The ConversationMany are already dabbling in this with corporate social responsibility programmes, corporate volunteering, and sustainability targets. Several large companies, such as Google and the retailer Target, are even already adopting spiritually-informed practices to reap some of these benefits. But management practices such as measuring performance have not caught up with the deeper desire that many employees might have. We are just scratching the surface of how we can find more meaning and more productivity from our work.

Haley A Beer, Assistant Professor of Performance and Responsibility, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick and Edward Gamble, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Montana State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Vegetable biryani

Last week, I saw a guy in India post on Twitter that he was about to make a wonderful jain organic vegetable biryani. I asked him for the recipe as I love a good vegetable biryani but it is hard to come by and I don’t know how to make it. He liked my request, but didn’t give me a recipe.

So I decided to start hunting down recipes for myself so that one day, I’ll be able to make a really delicious one.

So here goes. First off, using organic ingredients makes it relatively eco-friendly and healthier for you. Second, I haven’t actually tried any of these yet.

This is the first one I found, at: https://www.tarladalal.com/Vegetable-Biryani-7553r

Preparation Time: 15 mins. Cooking Time: 40 mins. Total Time: 55 mins Serves 4.

Ingredients

For the rice
3 cups steamed rice
1/2 tsp saffron (kesar) strands
2 tbsp milk
4 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves (phudina)
salt to taste

For the gravy
1 cup boiled mixed vegetables
2 bayleaves (tejpatta)
4 black peppercorns (kalimirch)
4 cloves (laung / lavang)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander-cumin seeds (dhania-jeera) powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (jaiphal) powder
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 tsp cornflour mixed with 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh cream
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste

Method

For the rice
Warm the saffron, add a little water, rub it so the milk becomes yellow and add to the rice.
Mix in the rice, chopped mint leaves and salt and keep aside.

For the gravy
Heat the oil in a pan add bayleaves, peppercorns and cloves to it.Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli powder, coriander-cumin seed powder, asafoetida and nutmeg powder. Cook for a few minutes while mashing continuously till the oil separates from the mixture.
Add the tomato sauce and milk-corn flour mixture. Bring to a boil, add cream and mix well.
Mix the vegetables in the gravy and keep aside.

How to proceed

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a huge vessel make a layer by spreading 1/3 of the rice.
On it spread half the gravy and 1/3 of rice. Layer again with remaining half of the gravy and remaining 1/3 rice. Cover a lid and seal the edges with a dough.
Cook on a slow flame for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Here is the second biryani, from: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Jain-Dum-Biryani.html.

This is not really a vegetable biryani, I suppose, as it contains dairy products, but it sounds delicious and offers you plenty of suggestions for variations.

Prep Time : 26-30 minutes

Cook time : 31-40 minutes

Serves : 4

Level Of Cooking : Easy

Taste : Spicy
Ingredients for Jain Dum Biryani Recipe

Rice soaked and drained 2 cups
Paneer (cottage cheese) cubes ¼ cup
French beans cut into diamonds ¼ cup
Babycorn halved ¼ cup
Green peas boiled 2 tablespoons
Black peppercorns 6-8
Cloves 6-8
Bay leaf 1
Cinnamon 1 inch stick
Caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 1 teaspoon
Green cardamoms 3-4
Ghee 4 tablespoons
Salt to taste
Cashewnuts 4-5
Almonds 4-5
Yogurt 1 cup
Cornflour/ corn starch 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder ¼ teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 teaspoon
Biryani masala 1 tablespoon
Garam masala powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh mint leaves 1 tablespoon chopped + for garnishing
Fresh coriander leaves 1 tablespoon chopped + for garnishing
Butter 1 tablespoon
Fresh cream 2 tablespoons
Saffron (kesar) a few strands
dough made of atta to seal

Method
Step 1

Boil water in a deep non-stick pan, add some peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, caraway seeds, green cardamoms, salt and some ghee and bring to a boil. Add rice and cook till the rice is 34th done. Drain and keep aside
Step 2

Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a non-stick pan, add almonds and cashewnuts and sauté till lightly browned. Set aside.
Step 3
Add remaining peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, bay leaf to the same pan and sauté for half a minute. Add French beans, babycorn, green peas and sauté till soft.
Step 4
Mix yogurt and cornflour in a small bowl and add this to the pan.
Step 5
Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, biryani masala, garam masala powder and salt and mix well.
Step 6
Add fried nuts, paneer and mix well.
Step 7
Add mint leaves and coriander leaves to the gravy and mix well. Add some water and rice.
Step 8
Mix butter, fresh cream and saffron in a 2nd bowl.
Step 9
Put the cream mixture to the biryani.
Step 10
Cover the assembled biryani with a tight-fitting lid and seal the edges with atta (dough). Cook for 15-20 minutes.
Step 11
Serve hot garnished with coriander and mint leaves.

Below is a YouTube video and recipe no. 3, from: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/Recipe/Vegetable-Biryani-KhaanaKhazana.html

Prep Time : 16-20 minutes

Cook time : 26-30 minutes

Serves : 4

Level Of Cooking : Moderate

Taste : Mild

Ingredients for Vegetable Biryani Recipe

Basmati Rice 1 1/2 cups
Carrots 2 medium
Carrots 1/2 inch pieces 2 medium
French beans 1/2 inch pieces 15
Cauliflower 10-12 florets
Green peas shelled 1 cup
Salt to taste
Green cardamons 8
Black cardamom 1
Cloves 15
Cinnamon 1/2 inch stick
Bay leaf 1
Caraway seeds (shahi jeera) 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger-garlic paste 1 1/2 tablespoons
Turmeric powder 1 teaspoon
Red chilli powder 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder 1 tablespoon
Yogurt 1/2 cup
Rose water 1/2 teaspoon
Saffron (kesar) a few strands
Fresh tomato puree 1 cup
Garam masala powder 1 teaspoon
Fresh coriander leaves chopped 2 tablespoons
Fresh mint leaves chopped 2 tablespoons

Method
Step 1

Boil rice in four cups of salted boiling water with two green cardamoms, one black cardamom, five cloves, half inch stick of cinnamon, until three-fourth done. Drain excess water and set aside. Heat a non-stick pan. Add the remaining green cardamoms, cloves, black cardamom and cinnamon along with bay leaf and caraway seeds and roast. Add onions, carrot, French beans, cauliflower florets and green peas.
Step 2
Sprinkle salt, cover and cook on medium heat for two minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste mixed with a little water and stir. Cover and cook for two minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and coriander powder and cook.Whisk yogurt with rose water and saffron. Add a little water or milk and whisk well. Add tomato puree to the vegetables along with half teaspoon garam masala powder and mix well. Simmer for two minutes. Take a microwave safe deep bowl.
Step 3
Arrange a layer of rice at the bottom. Over that arrange half the cooked vegetables followed by another layer of rice. Sprinkle half of the remaining garam masala powder, half the coriander leaves, half the mint leaves and half the yogurt mixture. Arrange the remaining vegetables followed by the remaining rice.Sprinkle the remaining garam masala powder, remaining coriander leaves, remaining mint leaves and the remaining yogurt mixture. Cover with a silicon lid and cook in the microwave oven for four to five minutes on HIGH (100%). Let it stand for five minutes. Serve hot.

Number 4 comes from this page: http://www.jeyashriskitchen.com/2009/09/vegetable-biryani-and-awards.html

Preparation Time: 10 mins | Cooking Time: 20 Minutes | Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS:
TO GRIND :
GINGER 1 INCH
GREEN CHILLI 2 NO
MINT LEAVES FEW
FENNEL SEEDS 1/2 TSP
CLOVE 2
CARDAMOM 1
TOMATO(optional) 1 SMALL SIZE

VEGETABLES U NEED

CARROT 1 NO
BEANS 100 GMS
GREEN PEAS(FROZEN) 1 FISTFUL
CAULIFLOWER 5-6 FLORETS
CAPSICUM 1/2 NO
AND FINALLY BASMATI RICE 1 CUP.

METHOD:
Wash and soak the basmati rice in 1and 1/2 cups of water for 20 mins.
Grind the ingredients in the table no.1 into a fine paste. Cut the onions(optional) and capsicum into long thin slices.
In a kadai , put 2 tsp of oil and saute the capsicum till it emits a nice aroma and keep it separately Then add the cauliflower florets and saute by adding little salt till it cooks and gives a golden brown color This will take 7-10 mins. Keep this also separately.
Then again put a tsp of oil and add the thinly sliced onions to it and saute till golden brown . Now add the masala paste. Fry till the raw smell gets rid off.
Cut all the veggies, except peas ,into cubes and add it to the paste.
Let it gets nicely coated with the veggies.
Now add the rice keeping the water aside. Fry for 2 more mins. Then transfer everything to a rice cooker or a pressure cooker and add the water.
Add salt and a tsp of oil.
If using pressure cooker cook till 1 whistles and simmer it for 10 minutes . Finally add the capsicum and cauliflower.

Serve hot with onion raitha or any other raita of ur choice.

Finally, number 5 which comes from: http://pratibhajain.org/vegetable-biryani-vegetarian/

Ingredients for Vegetable Biryani:

Basmati rice – 1 kg
Oil – 300 ml
Cinnamon – 2 (1-inch pieces)
Cloves – 4
Cardamom – 2
Onions – 250 gms
Ginger – 100 gms
Garlic – 100 gms
Potatoes – 200 gms
Carrots – 250 gms
Beans – 100 gms
Fresh peas – 100 gms, shelled
Tomatoes – 300 gms
Coriander leaves – ½ bunch
Mint leaves – ¼ bunch
Green chillies – 2-4, stem removed
Fresh yogurt – ½ cup
Red chilli powder – 2 heaped teaspoons
Salt – to taste

Method:

1. Wash the rice and soak for half-an-hour in 1.5 litres of water. 2. Wash all the vegetables. Slice the onions thinly. Chop the potatoes, carrots, beans and tomatoes into medium-sized pieces. Peel and grind the ginger and garlic into a fine paste. Chop the coriander and mint leaves finely.
3. Heat the oil in a wok and add the cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms.
4. Lower the flame to medium heat, add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent.
5. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the aroma rises.
6. Add all the vegetables including the tomatoes, coriander and mint leaves. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
7. Add the green chillies, yogurt, chilli powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Allow to cook until the potatoes are tender (but not overcooked).
8. Now transfer the cooked gravy into a rice cooker or pressure cooker.
9. Add the soaked rice along with the water and add some more salt, as required. If the gravy does not have any liquid in it, you may need to add another half-a-litre of water.
10. Allow to cook until the water has evaporated and each grain of rice is cooked. In the pressure cooker, you can cook for up to 2 whistles. Take care not to overcook since each grain of the rice must be separate.

Serve hot with any raita of your choice.

Enjoy!

Reblogged: Buddhism and decision-making

Reblogged wisdom about making decisions:

“Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” ~Buddha

“The unwise wait for a lucky day but every day is a lucky day for a diligent man.” ~Buddha

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” ~Buddha

“You will always be getting praise and blame, but do not let either affect the poise of the mind.” ~Buddha

“What comes to you, comes from you.” ~Buddha

“Cast off pretense and self-deception and see yourself as you really are.” ~Buddha

Struggling with Meaninglessness

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It has been 5 years since the day I started studying Buddhism philosophy. Buddha is not a divine being. Like you and me, Buddha is just a human being, a mere mortal.

Buddha became enlightened after many years of searching for the meaning of life. Buddha knew the in and out of how human mind and the environment work. In Buddha’s world, there’s no magic, no miracle, no divine power but all can be explained by using logic, common sense and wisdom.

Even after 2,500 years, his wisdom is still applicable in many area of our life. Buddha’s words always make sense to me. It might sound audacious, but I strongly believe Buddhism philosophy played and will continue to play a huge part to advance and evolve our mind.

For this little meaningless anniversary, I dedicate this essay, on how Buddhism philosophy can be applied to something we do everyday…

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When Buddhism goes haywire

Yesterday, I looked into Buddhist violence in Burma. That may sound like a contradiction to you, but there is a group of violent Buddhists in Burma (Myanmar) and there is one in Sri Lanka too.

If you want to read up on it, follow these links:

understandingArticle in Time: How an Extremist Buddhist Network Is Sowing Hatred Across Asia

Article in the New York Times: Sri Lanka’s Violent Buddhists

Article in BBC News: The darker side of Buddhism

Article on Al Jazeera America: Myanmar’s Buddhist terrorism problem

Article on the CNN site: Dalai Lama to Myanmar, Sri Lanka Buddhists: Stop violence against Muslims

Article in Time: Burma’s Hard-Line Buddhists Are Waging a Campaign of Hate That Nobody Can Stop