Several years ago, well four to be exact, I was in the process of reading the book Julie and Julia. It was about Julie Powell’s efforts to cook her way through Julia Child’s book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” My goal at the time was to cook my way through the newly released cookbook by Alex Guarnaschelli. That did not go so well for a number of reasons.
This morning I was reminded it was Julia Child Birthday and it got me thinking how fun it would be to pick a Vegan cookbook and work my way through it. Unlike most people, I do not read cookbooks for the recipes. I read them for the wisdom and the spiritual lessons they offer. So now I am reviewing a list of vegan cookbooks. Not sure which one I will choose yet. If you have a recommendation from the list below, please share your comments or if you know of one I should definitely consider let me know about that cookbook as well.
Unlike Julia Powell, I am not setting a time limit, although my kitchen is not much better than the one she appeared to have in the movie. So what will I learn? Perhaps I will learn lessons about timelessness, senses, simplicity, integrity, adventure, and technique. Time will only tell.
Cookbooks under consideration are: Read more
I always love it when my friends call me and tell me they found someone who thinks the same way I do about food and cooking. Recently, this came about in a video someone shared with me about how to cut an onion. What Cynthia Lair, the speaker in this video, discussed was not so much about how to cut an onion, although she physically demonstrates that as well. What she talked about was the importance of being present when you are cooking. Given that this is our theme for this month, I knew I had to write about this. Read more
When I was in seminary, my homiletics (fancy word for preaching) professor, Dr Gail Ricciuti, taught us how to exegete a periscope. In other words, how to critically analyze and understand a scripture. One of the first steps, she said, was to forget everything you have ever heard about how to interpret a scripture. She taught us that by holding on to what we thought we knew, we would be blinded to the new revelations that the scripture could reveal to us. In retrospect, it seems that she was teaching us a similar lesson to Matsuo Basho, a Japanese Haiku poet, who once wrote,
When journeying upon the path of wisdom, do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. Seek the meaning behind their footsteps, and not upon the steps themselves. For in seeking the footsteps you shall be glancing only upon the next footprint. And you’re sure to stumble upon an unforeseen obstacle. But in seeking the meaning behind their footsteps you’re sure to see ahead; comparable to looking up while walking. Thus allowing you to easily maneuver around the hurdles on the path you walk. …And if you walk like this long enough, you’ll one day, to your surprise, find yourself among the wise. Read more
Maybe it is because Chopped is the last thing I watch on
Tuesday night, but I generally find myself inspired by something from the show.
Last night was no different. This week the theme for all the baskets was
wasted; they contained products that would normally be wasted and thrown away.
This included things such as parmesan rinds, wilted carrots, potatoes with eyes,
meat trimmings, etc. While I was impressed by some of what the cheftestants
created, it was similar to a special the Food Network had created before where
the team of Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli competed against Bobby Flay and
Michael Simon. The show served two purposes. It was a documentary about the
food wasted in our country because it does not fit the “appearance” standards
of the American consumer. It was also a challenge to them to collect these “wasted”
foods from farms, markets, and even the trash outside of grocery stores with
which to prepare a gourmet meal. Read more
Alex’s love affair with food began in the kitchen of her
childhood as did mine, but for completely different reasons. Alex tells the
story about sitting in her parent’s kitchen kneading bread while her mother
made this amazing cheese soufflé, which included an entire wheel of Camembert
cheese. Watching her mother prepare this was mesmerizing and when this gift
from the heavens was finally in the oven, she would sit in this chair like a
security guard protecting a fine piece of art in a museum. Eventually, this soufflé
would be unveiled and presented to the family and at some level, with the first
bite of this creation, something within her changed forever. Eating this soufflé
was a multisensory experience, like listening to a finely tuned quartet. Read more
Ever since first
watching Alex Guarnaschelli on the Food Network, I have undergone a
transformation. I am not sure I can explain it, but there is something about
the way she speaks, her facial and body posture, and the energy around her when she
is cooking that draws me in to her every word. It is as if she has transcended
to another realm when she is cooking. She appears to have this clear vision and
then commits to bringing her vision to life to share with others. Read more
While my passion for Iron Chef America has waned over the last few years, I am for various reasons amazed by the Next Iron Chef American competition and glad that Alex Guarnaschelli is doing so well again this season (go Team Alex). What has inspired me this week were two things: the chairman’s challenge for this past week of innovation and my friend Warren Caterson’s post on Facebook about this being Wacky Wednesday. Personally, I think he created this day, but I can always use a “reason” to be wacky.
For those of you who did not watch this episode, there were three global street foods, tacos, falafel, and bahn mi’s. The chefs were assigned one of these three street foods and then told to be innovative and create a new approach to it. While Chef Faulkner’s bahn mi pasta did not appease the palettes of the judges, her idea reminded me of bruschetta pasta I had made once that was really quite good. Read more
I have this fascination with cookbooks, not so much for the recipes, but for the information and wisdom in the explanations and the stories. Sometimes what makes me want to read a cookbook is listening to how a chef speaks about their food. Ever since I began watching the food network, one chef who has fascinated me is Alex Guarnaschelli. While I have never tasted her cooking, there has always been something mystical and spiritual for me about the way she talks about food. Then there is the look on her face and the way her whole body seems to be experiencing what the offering she is experiencing. I have long felt as if her cookbook would be one I could curl up in bed with and read and savor for the wisdom poured into the pages. Read more
For those of you who know me, or have been reading my writing for a while, it is no secret that I admire the cooking and wisdom of Alex Guarnaschelli. In an interview, with Robert Stolank of the New York Times, she discussed her relationship with her husband Brandon Clark and told a story in only a way Alex could tell it. Stolank reported,
As they were closing up one evening he confided in her about a problem he had with a school assignment on potato-crusted black sea bass. He was galvanized by the private tutorial she gave him. Read more