As I sit here sucking down another 28 ounces of water flavored with slices of lemons and limes, it was obvious the focus of my blog was going to be water. It was not just my being intentional about drinking half my body weight in water, which inspired this week’s blog, but also the messages about water I received from my spiritual addiction to the Food Network and Cooking Channel. So many things we do in the kitchen and in the preparation of food include water. We use water to cleanse our dishes and cooking utensils whether it is in a dishwasher or when washing them by hand. We use water to wash fruits and vegetables. We use water to soak beans, to rinse grains such as quinoa, or to rinse the liquid off canned beans. We use water to cook so many things including potatoes, rice, quinoa, pasta, beans and so much more. We use water to make ice cubes for drinks or to shock vegetables or seafood after blanching or precooking them. We use water in making simple syrups and in making a wide diversity of beverages, especially those that might cool us off on a hot summer day (lemonade, iced tea, iced coffee, etc.). There is not a meal prepared in the kitchen, which does not include water, yet rarely do we give water much thought or consideration.
This past week I received two important messages about water. The first came from Anne Burrell who talked about how one of the biggest mistakes people make is that they fail to season or under season the water in which they are cooking things. It is during this time that foods such as pasta, potatoes, grains, and even beans have an opportunity to soak up the flavors present in the water. I remembered learning this when watching Giada DeLaurentis make mashed potatoes. She suggested putting whole cloves in garlic in the water while boiling the potatoes, as they would absorb the flavor from the garlic. I remembered this lesson when I made a Greek quinoa salad and reminded myself to season the water with salt and pepper. The quinoa not only soaked up the water while it cooked, but the seasoning as well.
Water and emotions also have a unique and interesting relationship. Our emotions are like seasoning, they affect the water we drink. According to studies conducted by Dr. Masaru Emoto a Japanese scientist, our thoughts and emotions can influence water’s molecular structure. He analyzed water crystals exposed to thoughts and feelings of love and positive emotions and found them to have beautiful snowflake like structures. In contrast, water crystals influenced by negative thoughts and emotions appeared to have jagged, misshapen and ugly looking shapes. So “season” your water with love, joy, happiness, peace, and positive energy.
The other important message was to make sure your water is at the temperature that you need. Water is used to poach, simmer, and boil. Poaching is the process of cooking an item by submerging it in a liquid that is barely simmering. It is a very gentle technique and is used for foods that are delicate, such as eggs, fish, fruit, and some organ meats. Some foods, such as some meats, are a bit tougher and require longer time and so are simmered and create their own stock. Boiling is the process of cooking food in a boiling liquid, usually water. You can tell water is boiling when bubbles come from the bottom to the surface and is usually used for grains, starchy vegetables, and pastas. Sometimes we boil other vegetables, but only for a moment so that they do not lose their color or texture and then shock them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
We, like the foods we eat, are comprised mostly of water. We cannot survive more than 3 days in even the best of conditions without drinking water. Most of us are dehydrated because we do not drink enough water in our lives. It is not only important that we drink enough water to keep ourselves hydrated, but also that we be mindful of the ways we are seasoned and prepared in our lives.
Water and spirituality seem to go hand in hand. Many religions and spiritual practices include the use of water. Even being near a river, lake or ocean seems to invoke a spiritual experience, soothing the body, mind and soul. Water is an extremely powerful element that has the potential to heal on many levels, particularly spiritual and emotional.
Water is, in most faith traditions, portrayed as a great giver of life in many beliefs and is considered sacred. The Ganges River in India for example is deemed sacred to Hindus. Many Hindu pilgrims bathe in the river to wash away sins and the faithful often spread ashes of the departed into the river, helping them reach nirvana. Christians rely on the spiritually healing waters of baptism for redemption, cleansing, renewal and rebirth of the soul. Catholics employ the use of holy water for blessing themselves and their homes.
Some of us need to be “poached”, others “simmered” and some of us need to be “boiled.” The process, regardless of what it is, prepares us for the next step in our journey of personal and spiritual transformation. Think about what is happening in and for you every time you ingest or interact with water.