March 2016


Purchased some sage the other day and was thinking of ways to use it before it wilted like an old lizard’s skin.  Googled vegetarian recipes with sage.  Search suggested a whole bunch of recipes with pumpkin and butternut.  Here is my adaptation of a pumpkin risotto recipe.

1. Boil water.  Dissolve vegetable stock cube.  Roast small cubes of pumpkin in oven with a little oil.

2. Pan fry risotto/arboreo rice in butter, with asafoetida until light brown.

3. Add stock water to rice, a couple of centimetres above rice.  Boil on high heat.  Keep adding water to rice, as water evaporates.  Add pumpkin and finely chopped celery when  rice is 3/4 cooked.  Add crushed pepper and Himalayan/sea salt.  Add lemon rind and finely chopped sage. Pinch of paprika.  Add butter or extra virgin olive oil.

4. Remove from heat when rice is soft.  Nice with rennet-free parmesan cheese.

 

‘Animal welfare groups cannot persist simply in order to continue to persist.  There must be a governmental voice against the hellish and archaic social injustice to animals in the United Kingdom simply because those animals do not speak English, otherwise millions of very caring citizens are greatly concerned about issues that non one is able to do anything about.  What animal protectionists need to say is very well worth saying and well worth hearing.  But we cannot sit around waiting for establishment enlightenment.  The sanctimonious disaster of animal agriculture cannot be allowed to go on forever, because its widespread impact is hellish. Animals in dairy farms and abattoirs are very eager not to die, yet their bodies are torn apart whilst still alive as they are strapped beneath a blade.  No outcome can justify this, and we cannot be happy with a society that allows it to happen, because such a society without compassion goes nowhere.  The abattoir is the modern continuation of the Nazi concentration camp, and if you are a part of the milk-drinking population, then you condone systems of torture.  There is no such thing as humane slaughter, and if you believe that there is, then why not experience it for yourself?  If animal serial killer Jamie Oliver feels so passionate about including ‘kid meat’ (young goat) into the human diet, would he consider putting forth one of his own kids (children) for general consumption?  If not, why not?  What makes such people have absolutely no forgiveness towards animals?  What hate drives them? The meat industry, after all, shows no compassion towards the planet, towards climate change, towards animals, towards human health.  It is diabolically contrived and is the world’s number one problem.  It is also the number one issue stifled from any political debate, which, if anything, highlights its importance.  The slaughterhouse effectively means that none of us are safe.  Just investigate the appalling effects of meat production on our climate, environment, fields, forests, lakes, streams, seas, air and space. Your eyes will pop.  No bigger global disaster could possibly be devised.  Social justice for animals is not much to demand, because we are only asking humans to think rationally and with heart, even if being unable to hunt foxes and shoot birds would leave the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family with nothing else to do’.  Morrissey, http://true-to-you.net, (4 March 2016)

The town of Govardhana is named after Govardhana Hill.  Govardhana Hill is the sacred hill Krishna lifted on His baby finger to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavan from lord Indra’s wrath. Indra, the king of heaven, resented the brijbasi’s  adoration of Krishna.  He summoned his samvartaka clouds, ordinarily invoked at the time of universal destruction, to destroy Krishna’s brijbasis.  It is said Lord Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill ‘like a mushroom’ – an action commemorated by the  Govardhana anakhuta festival or Govardhana puja (puja means ‘worship’).  The pastime called Govardhana-lila is depicted on gaudy cloths and paintings in the homes of pious Hindus all over the world.  I arrived in Govardhana at midday amidst a swirl of tuk-tuks (diesel taxis), dust and mendicants.

A grimy, wiry youth with a red-and-white checked gamcha wrapped around his forehead approached me as I slid off the metal back-bar of the autoriksha. The boy was holding a basket which he pushed towards me with his outstretched arms. I remembered yesterday’s feast at Govardhana Palace.  Rice, dal, spicy Indian sabjis, sweet rice and Giriraja saonpapri – lovingly served by Russian devotees from circular straw baskets. Saonpapri is produced by repeatedly adding syrup to a mixture of channa (chickpea) flour and ghee, heated in a kadai or wok.  The golden-yellow mixture is removed from the kadai, twisted into sticky strands and beaten over a marble slab.  Saonpapri is the light-brown, buttery result of this labour of love. Saonpapri melts in your mouth, like a blend of compacted sugarcane and biscuit.

The boy ceremoniously opened his basket.  There were no heavenly confections inside; only the brown, scaly coils of a lethargic Indian cobra!  Snake charmers starve their snakes to keep them docile and manageable.  I watched the boy’s hand slide over the snake’s neck, in a light caress, a meter from where I stood.  I stepped back.  My craving for Giriraja saonpapri vanished at the thought of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s story, ‘The Frog and the Lily-pad’. The frog sits poised on a lily-pad, waiting for a fly.  The frog is unaware that the black serpent of time is hovering over him with open jaws.  Like the frog, we are also unaware of our mortality.  We think we are going to live forever and, in our foolishness, seek sensual enjoyments.  We do not realise the “snake” of death is waiting for us with wide open jaws. The ancient Sanskrit adage goes: Padam padam vipadam na tesam.  There is ‘danger at every step’.  Why?  Because we are subject to birth, disease, old age and death. The seriousness of my visit to Varsana now dawned on me.   I hailed another autoriksha, skipped my visit to Giriraja Sweet Shop and prepared my mind for the next stop – Radharani’s palace.  The afternoon was slipping by.