Fight-Frost-with-Fire Zen Soup or Ginger Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Fight-Frost-with-Fire Zen Soup or Ginger Wild Rice Chicken Soup

Winter has certainly dragged her huge feet on our Georgia front porch this year… For better or worse, this has inspired me to become a huge fan of soups. So I am experimenting and adding and subtracting and have basically been able to create about 20 different soups just by adding something or taking something out.
They have all turned delicious so far, so I am trying to keep a record of all of them so I can duplicate them, and of course, share them with friends.
So here is my Ginger Wild Rice Chicken soup in honor of the crazy catastrophic ice-storm that has paralyzed the South.

Ingredients for a large Dutch Oven pot
1 large onion
2 Organic free range chicken breasts
½ head of celery root
2 large parsnips
4 medium or 2 large Idaho potatoes (the ones you would use for mashed)
4-6 medium carrots
3-4 inch ginger root (depends on how much you like ginger)
1 stalk leek
2 small jalapeno peppers
4 boxes chicken broth (or 2 boxes chicken and 1 box veggie broth)
Spices:
Pink Himalayan salt to taste
Black Pepper
Turmeric
Curry
Cayenne (for later or while cooking IF everyone enjoys a little zing)
Coconut oil
Cook Separately:
½ cup of black wild rice in 3 – 4 cups of water
Optional:
1 cup mushrooms
¼ cup heavy cream
1-3 garlic cloves
Curry, salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes to serve:
1 bunch Parsley
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Or Lemon juice

How I do it:
I’m all about the Martha Stewart cut-up-your-ingredients-and-place-in-separate-bowls before I start. I just like the neatness of it, and the peace of mind, that I am not forgetting anything
So I start with the onions – chop the whole head finely (do not use a food processor! That thing mushes the onion into a paste… Put in a bowl and cover with a plate or clear wrap. Its vapors will flavor your kitchen, as opposed to your soup. Cover it to preserve taste, and aroma.
Chop in rugged tiny chunks the carrots and put in another big bowl. I like to take the carrot from its wider side, and cut a small diagonal piece off the end, then turn the carrot and cut again, and turn and cut… until it’s all done. That way they are not the boring perfect round circles and just give more chunkiness to the soup
If you haven’t used celery root before, you should. It’s much more flavorful than the stalks and doesn’t have the stringy texture. Peel and chop it like the carrots. Chop the potatoes and the parsnips. Peel and slice your ginger as well
Add all the ingredients from the carrots to the parsnips in the same bowl. You will dump them in the soup together, so no need to use more little bowls.
Put the ginger separately. You want to keep its flavor strong until you use it.
Use a paper towel to dry your chicken breasts and chop them into small bitesized chunks.

This is a good time to put your rice to cook. Just don’t forget to stir it every once in a while. Burned to the bottom of the pan rice tastes yuk! You don’t want to have this happen to you.

IF you have opted to add the mushrooms, clean and chop them in quarters and throw them in a pan with some melted coconut oil. Let them wilt, add the cream, spices. Keep a couple more minutes while stirring to let everything incorporate. Turn off heat and set aside.

The Main Event:
In your Dutch Oven, melt the coconut oil (or butter if you must) and drop the chicken chunks to brown on all sides. This is not to cook them thoroughly, but to give them a bit of a sautee before you cook them with the rest of the ingredients. After you have flipped them around a few times, take them out of the Dutch oven, one by one, and place into a bowl for later.
In the same oil that is now already hot, drop the chopped onions. Let them become translucent. Stir to incorporate the chicken fat into this.
As soon as they are soft and translucent, drop the bowl with all the root veggies (my experience shows, this is where you may find yourself needing a little more butter (try saying it with a English accent and it will make you feel less guilty – A li-uhle moh bu-her!)
After a few stirs, add your spices (good time for the salt as it will release the water in the veggies and the sautéing will be easier)
Now comes the time of the chicken stock and/or the veggie stock or broth. I like Pacific brand, but there are others that are equally organic and delicious. I don’t fill the Dutch oven all the way yet. I just pour enough stock to cover the veggies.
Cover the pan, and let it reach boiling. Once it does, reduce temp to say half or even less.
Take your handheld mixer and mash up some of the veggies at the bottom (this can be done as much or as little as you like – the point is to create a little thickness to the soup so you don’t have to use thickener, i.e. glutenous substances)
After you’ve reached the desired consistency, add the chicken, the rice (which by now should’ve cooked) and optionally – the mushrooms.
Stir well and cover. Leave everything to incorporate for at least another 10 minutes on low.
Prepare your plates (bowls) and garnishes (parsley and lemon juice)
SERVE HOT! Bon Appetit!

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From the Love Boat to a Courchevel Chalet

A new hot spot has emerged in Atlanta Georgia: St. Cecilia. Taking the place of the old tungsten lights, chrome and neon lights, fur coats and big hair glory days of BluePoint, St. Cecilia has gone through a dramatic makeover, that shows her age, but in a new fresh, kind of way. All the way down to her wood trimmed bar with beautiful sky high wall of wine and liquor, lean table styles with a variety of seating arrangments, heights and chair mismatches, to the soft color pallet, it indulges your Ohm senses without overpowering them, so your focus can be on the art of conversation.
St. Cecilia’s extensive wine list includes a good mix of old and new world choices, enough to satisfy the pretentious tastes, but not to overwhelm or intimidate vino novices (and first daters) with books the size of War and Peace.
The dinner menu features a good variety of dishes in primi and secondi piatti. I only tried the mushroom risotto and some of the salami selection and both were quite good, but I did hear friends complain about the overpriced and undersized hamachi. Two coin sized slices for $13? Yeah, I’d say…
As it was before when it was Bluepoint, St. Cecilia seems to attract an affluent crowd of 34 plus (give or take a few botox years) and maybe it should be a consideration of the owners that some of these paying customers, albeit looking like they are in their late 20s, are still human and are in need of reading aid when it comes to the menu. So, perhaps a little larger and less fancy fonts will do the trick and keep the guy who forgot his readers, but not his fat wallet… happy. Just a suggestion.

The ambiance is what will keep this place full especially in the winter months, as it has this cozy Courchevel chalet kind of feel. You can almost imagine the slopes on the other side of Peachtree road and the models turned snow bunnies flocking in straight from the runways of London and Paris (these are actually in abundance here)

The interior structure is very similar to the Bluepoint layout, so plan your bathroom breaks early. A couple of drinks later, climbing up dimly lit staircase all the way to the top in four inch heels, and getting into a corridor with no lights, can result in either a sprained ankle (God forbid!) or getting into the men’s room by mistake. They are so close together and at some point in the night going left or right may sound exactly the opposite to the ambidextrous, and mishaps can easily happen. Also, it’s a long way to the top of the mountain (staircase) and through the dark woods (corridors) to add an additional dextrality test – do we really need to wonder how to close these double doors with a little hook, only to find out that there is a gap between the them?

All in all the establishment at this point is at 4 stars: all perfect sans some kinks that we should attribute to being so young and still finding its perfect style. 20140118-120055.jpg20140118-120108.jpg20140118-120119.jpg

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Your Life in Movie Clips

Birth to Death as told by Cinema – A Life in Film Mashup 2013 HD Movie

Capturing the essence of a lifetime using movies was our personal challenge while creating this epic life long mashup. We hope you enjoy this cinematic bliss and share with your friends and family.

Music:

“Time to Run” by Dexter Britain http://goo.gl/OVlvIK

“Spring” by Max Ritchter http://goo.gl/YTxlqv

Source: Movieclips Mashups on YouTube.

BOOK REVIEW: The Power of Habit – by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit – by Charles Duhigg

ISBN: 1400069289
READ: 2012-03-01
RATING: 7/10

Go to Amazon

Great dissection and analysis of what creates habits, and the power of changing just one of three steps in the habit loop.

The Power of Habit - by Charles Duhigg | Derek Sivers

Habits aren’t destiny, even once they are rooted in our minds. We can choose our habits, once we know how. Everything we know about habits, from neurologists studying amnesiacs and organizational experts remaking companies, is that any of them can be changed, if you understand how they function.


Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom – and the responsibility – to remake them. Once you understand that habits can be rebuilt, the power of habit becomes easier to grasp, and the only option left is to get to work.

“Some thinkers hold that it is by nature that people become good, others that it is by habit, and others that it is by instruction.” For Aristotle, habits reigned supreme. The behaviors that occur unthinkingly are the evidence of our truest selves, he said. So “just as a piece of land has to be prepared beforehand if it is to nourish the seed, so the mind of the pupil has to be prepared in its habits if it is to enjoy and dislike the right things.”

Water is the most apt analogy for how a habit works. Water hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before.

Her self-pity gave way. She needed a goal in her life. Something to work toward. Over the next six months, she would replace smoking with jogging, and that, in turn, changed how she ate, worked, slept, saved money, scheduled her workdays, planned for the future, and so on. It wasn’t the trip to Cairo that had caused the shift, scientists were convinced, or the divorce or desert trek. It was that Lisa had focused on changing just one habit – smoking – at first. Everyone in the study had gone through a similar process.

By focusing on one pattern – what is known as a “keystone habit” – Lisa had taught herself how to reprogram the other routines in her life, as well.

Habits as they are technically defined: the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day. At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink or when to go for a jog. Then we stopped making a choice, and the behavior became automatic. It’s a natural consequence of our neurology. And by understanding how it happens, you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you choose.

A community is a giant collection of habits occurring among thousands of people.

You want to fall asleep fast and wake up feeling good? Pay attention to your nighttime patterns and what you automatically do when you get up.
You want to make running easy? Create triggers to make it a routine.

The brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down.

A three-step loop:
1. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
2. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.
3. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future
THE HABIT LOOP
Over time, this loop – cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward – becomes more and more automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.

When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.

So unless you deliberately fight a habit – unless you find new routines – the pattern will unfold automatically.

It’s possible to learn and make unconscious choices without remembering anything about the lesson or decision making.

Every McDonald’s looks the same – the company deliberately tries to standardize stores’ architecture and what employees say to customers, so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines.

First, find a simple and obvious cue. Second, clearly define the rewards.

People who have successfully started new exercise routines show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as running as soon as they get home from work, and a clear reward, such as a beer or an evening of guilt-free television.

Why habits are so powerful: They create neurological cravings. Most of the time, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist, so we’re often blind to their influence. But as we associate cues with certain rewards, a subconscious craving emerges in our brains that starts the habit loop spinning.

This is how new habits are created: by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.

There are mechanisms that can help us ignore the temptations. But to overpower the habit, we must recognize which craving is driving the behavior.

Why people habitually exercise: “accomplishment” – they had come to crave a regular sense of triumph from tracking their performances, and that self-reward was enough to make the physical activity into a habit.

If you want to start running each morning, it’s essential that you choose a simple cue (like always lacing up your sneakers before breakfast or leaving your running clothes next to your bed) and a clear reward (such as a midday treat, a sense of accomplishment from recording your miles, or the endorphin rush you get from a jog).

But countless studies have shown that a cue and a reward, on their own, aren’t enough for a new habit to last. Only when your brain starts expecting the reward – craving the endorphins or sense of accomplishment – will it become automatic to lace up your jogging shoes each morning. The cue, in addition to triggering a routine, must also trigger a craving for the reward to come.

No one craves scentlessness. Lots of people crave a nice smell after they’ve spent thirty minutes cleaning.

Consumers need some kind of signal that a product is working. The tingling doesn’t make the toothpaste work any better. It just convinces people it’s doing the job.

“Foaming is a huge reward. Shampoo doesn’t have to foam, but we add foaming chemicals because people expect it. Same thing with laundry detergent. And toothpaste.”

Use this basic formula to create habits:

Want to exercise more? Choose a cue, such as going to the gym as soon as you wake up, and a reward, such as a smoothie after each workout. Then think about that smoothie, or about the endorphin rush you’ll feel.

Anticipate the reward. That craving will make it easier to push through the gym doors every day.

Most of the successful dieters also envisioned a specific reward for sticking with their diet – a bikini they wanted to wear or the sense of pride they felt when they stepped on the scale each day – something they chose carefully and really wanted. They focused on the craving for that reward. Their cravings for that reward, researchers found, crowded out the temptation to drop the diet. The craving drove the habit loop.

Dabbing a bit of sunscreen on your face each morning significantly lowers the odds of skin cancer.

Cravings are what drive habits. And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier.

Football : The key to winning was changing players’ habits. He wanted to get players to stop making so many decisions during a game, he said. He wanted them to react automatically, habitually. If he could instill the right habits, his team would win. Period. “Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

Habits are a three-step loop – the cue, the routine, and the reward – but Dungy only wanted to attack the middle step, the routine. He knew from experience that it was easier to convince someone to adopt a new behavior if there was something familiar at the beginning and end.

You can never truly extinguish bad habits. Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine. That’s the rule: If you use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and reward stay the same.

AA asks alcoholics to search for the rewards they get from alcohol. What cravings, the program asks, are driving your habit loop? Often, intoxication itself doesn’t make the list. Alcoholics crave a drink because it offers escape, relaxation, companionship, the blunting of anxieties, and an opportunity for emotional release. They might crave a cocktail to forget their worries. But they don’t necessarily crave feeling drunk. The physical effects of alcohol are often one of the least rewarding parts of drinking for addicts.

Asking patients to describe what triggers their habitual behavior is called awareness training, and like AA’s insistence on forcing alcoholics to recognize their cues, it’s the first step in habit reversal training.

Most people’s habits have occurred for so long they don’t pay attention to what causes it anymore.

It seems ridiculously simple, but once you’re aware of how your habit works, once you recognize the cues and rewards, you’re halfway to changing it.

Say you want to stop snacking at work. Is the reward you’re seeking to satisfy your hunger? Or is it to interrupt boredom?

For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.

If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and your odds of success go up dramatically when you commit to changing as part of a group. Belief is essential, and it grows out of a communal experience, even if that community is only as large as two people.

A physical addiction to nicotine, for instance, lasts only as long as the chemical is in a smoker’s bloodstream – about one hundred hours after the last cigarette. Many of the lingering urges that we think of as nicotine’s addictive twinges are really behavioral habits asserting themselves – we crave a cigarette at breakfast a month later not because we physically need it, but because we remember so fondly the rush it once provided each morning. Attacking the behaviors we think of as addictions by modifying the habits surrounding them has been shown, in clinical studies, to be one of the most effective modes of treatment.

THE FRAMEWORK:
• Identify the routine
• Experiment with rewards
• Isolate the cue
• Have a plan

How do you start diagnosing and then changing this behavior? By figuring out the habit loop. And the first step is to identify the routine.

with most habits – the routine is the most obvious aspect: It’s the behavior you want to change.

Next, some less obvious questions: What’s the cue for this routine?

Is it hunger? Boredom? Low blood sugar? That you need a break before plunging into another task? And what’s the reward? The cookie itself? The change of scenery? The temporary distraction? Socializing with colleagues? Or the burst of energy that comes from that blast of sugar? To figure this out, you’ll need to do a little experimentation.

Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings. But we’re often not conscious of the cravings that drive our behaviors.

Test different hypotheses to determine which craving is driving your routine.

As you test four or five different rewards, you can use an old trick to look for patterns: After each activity, jot down on a piece of paper the first three things that come to mind when you get back to your desk.

Then, set an alarm on your watch or computer for fifteen minutes. When it goes off, ask yourself: Do you still feel the urge for that cookie? The reason why it’s important to write down three things – even if they are meaningless words – is twofold. First, it forces a momentary awareness of what you are thinking or feeling.

Force her into awareness of her habitual urges, so writing three words forces a moment of attention. What’s more, studies show that writing down a few words helps in later recalling what you were thinking at that moment. At the end of the experiment, when you review your notes, it will be much easier to remember what you were thinking and feeling at that precise instant, because your scribbled words will trigger a wave of recollection. And why the fifteen-minute alarm? Because the point of these tests is to determine the reward you’re craving. If, fifteen minutes after eating a donut, you still feel an urge to get up and go to the cafeteria, then your habit isn’t motivated by a sugar craving. If, after gossiping at a colleague’s desk, you still want a cookie, then the need for human contact isn’t what’s driving your behavior.

By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving, which is essential in redesigning the habit.

The reason why it is so hard to identify the cues that trigger our habits is because there is too much information bombarding us as our behaviors unfold.

To identify a cue amid the noise, we can use the same system as the psychologist: Identify categories of behaviors ahead of time to scrutinize in order to see patterns. Luckily, science offers some help in this regard. Experiments have shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories: Location Time Emotional state Other people Immediately preceding action

To re-engineer that formula, we need to begin making choices again. And the easiest way to do this, according to study after study, is to have a plan. Within psychology, these plans are known as “implementation intentions.”

via Sivers.org

The Power of Habit

 

How does spring smell?

How does spring smell?

Interview with Dr. Joachim Mensing, fragrance psychologist

Q: What is the reason for our wish to use fragrance?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “Fragrance and perfumes are offers for personal transformation, indented to bring us from our ACTUAL SELF – how we feel, closer to our IDEAL SELF – how we would like to feel. Behind them is the secret wish to transform our selves unconsciously to give us for example, a more feminine, more sensual, more dynamic or self-confident appearance than what we really feel. They also create a certain atmosphere and emotional setting.”

Q: How do women select their perfumes and what are their preferences?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “To choose a perfume is a very complex situation that we can only explain to a certain degree. The reason is that we smell with our emotional centre in the brain and have associations with our long-term memory. I encounter this phenomenon everyday myself. The decision seems to be somehow irrational and is taken spontaneously and connected with the remembrances and feelings that we had and would like to re-experience again. They seem to appear out of the blue. The fascination for a certain fragrance is hidden in our subconscious and linked with desires and moods that are difficult to articulate. Of course there is no doubt that there are more and very important factors for the decision
to a certain fragrance like the image, the sympathy, the packaging, advertising but also recommendations and word of mouth. Exciting is, that certain wishes and moods come up more intense in spring, e.g. the wish for change, for spontaneity and to enjoy oneself are overwhelming. We want to live a more playful and frivolous life, we want to live our fantasies, be creative and also be provocative. In the U.S. there is a definitive higher preference for fruity floral fragrance family during this time of the year.
Perfumes that seem to express this spring-feeling are e.g.
Just me, Paris Hilton
Life, Esprit
Orange Tonic, Azzaro
Daisy, Marc Jacobs Chance, Chanel”

Q: To what kind of fragrance family do these typical spring fragrances belong?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “If you take all prestige perfumes of the U.S. market that are categorized into the six big international fragrance families:
Citrus Green,
Floral Aldehydic,
Fruity-Floral,
Floriental,
Oriental and
Chypre,
the dominance of the Florals in the U.S. is clear to see.
The US market is characterized (like the English) by the spectrum of beautiful floral notes, which come in all kinds of facets and crossovers, ranging from fresh-fruity to Aldehyde-brilliant, to the cozy warm interpretations of the so called Florientals. Over 70% of all fragrances belong to one or the
other Floral family. Year around the Floral –Aldeydic fragrances are dominating with a market share of close to 30%, but every spring, the fresh-fruity floral become the favorites of all Florals. The refreshing, flowery fragrance Happy perfume by Clinique is a good example.”

Q: What are the differences between a spring and a winter fragrance?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “A typical spring fragrance smells mostly of fresh notes that belong to the type Citrus Green. Their market-share in the U.S. is about 15%. But in the latin countries like Italy, Spain and Brazil, they have around 18-25 % share. The citrus green fragrances reach out to a more extrovert personality who wants to feel more dynamic and energetic. They hate the idea of professional routine and don’t want to be bored. They set a signal with these refreshing and stimulating citrus- green-aqua notes like:
Eau de Lancôme, Lancôme
Escale à Portofino, Dior
Energizing Fragrance, Shiseido
Concentré d’Orange verte, Hermès
On the contrary, a typical autumn/winter-fragrance shows the longing for romantic sensuality. It is the wish for more emotion, tenderness and comfort. It is also the expectation to be spoiled and to be cosseted. This emotional setting is covered best by the Floriental fragrances that have a market share of about 10% in the U.S. for the whole year. Even more
important for this time of the year are the Orientals in the US, with a market share of over 12% for the whole year. The Orientals express with their depth, spiciness’, warmth and mystery (many of these fragrances are loaded with intoxicating and intensive ingredients such as musk, vanilla, exotic resins and wood), which we especially cherish in the winter month.”

Q: Do spring scents contain extracts of spring flowers?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “Indeed, a lot of the citrus green family have the smell of young leaves and plants. The combination with hesperidic notes like grapefruit, lemon, orange, lime and modern aqua notes creates a sensation of fresh, ozone and southern which our long-term memory associates pre-dominantly with Mediterranean climate sensation.”

Q: Do we respectively to our nose smell different during spring time?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “This is also a fact, because we are more open to all environmental stimuli and more curious. Our awareness is more differentiated and our nose reacts more sensitive. We smell with our emotional centre in the brain, which is the circuit of hormone production.”

Q: Which fragrances would you recommend for Easter, Passover and what would be the best Mother’s Day choice?
Dr. Joachim Mensing: “Easter was in earlier times a celebration of fertility and in the Christian believes, it is a time for transformation. The same is true for Passover. So fragrances that express a joy of life and new beginning fit perfectly. Most of the people are surprised about their feelings and discover a new joy of life. They want to live more intense and cherish their way of life, Fruity Floral notes like
Pretty Nina, Nina Ricci
Cherie, Miss Dior
Inspiration, Lacoste
are just the perfect fit for this kind of mood. Mother’s Day on the contrary is thankfulness, honor and homage. To show this we instinctively search for most precious gifts. Here, the Floral Aldehydic notes are defined from elegant, sophisticated and expressive top notes that show a brilliance and pureness of petals. The loved ones will be honored by an aura of respect, confidence and utter appreciation. Examples of this classic, elegant fragrance family are:
No.5 Eau Premier, Chanel
J’adore, Dior
Caleche, Hermés”

source: beautypress.com

Who are you? Who are you not?!

You yourself, as much as anybody else in the Universe, deserve your love and affection. –Buddha, Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

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Siesta

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Life would just slow down to a pleasant slow motion and soon to a freeze frame… The noises of kids playing on the street would subside, the aroma of the slow cocking minestrone in the kitchen would tickle your nose, mixed with the gardenias and the lemon tree blossoms, a Don Giovani aria would slowly lull you in a pleasant afternoon siesta…