So it has been a complete week now of vegan eating and unlike my previous times of eating vegetarian, we have found ourselves going through some changes I was not anticipating. Yes, menu planning is taking more time as I realize how much of our previous meal plan was meat, cheese and egg dependent. I have also come to realize how, with my hectic schedule, I had become dependent on 30 or less minute meals. This week I have learned to slow down, breathe, and take time to think things through.
Interestingly, one day this week I was reminded to take time to do nothing. It was during that “do nothing” time that I began to gain insights into how this change was going to affect every aspect of my life. Zoe who is normally minimally engaged in meal prep and planning, has begun helping me, which is an awesome surprise. The other day she helped me grate potatoes for potato pancakes and realized just how much time I sometimes put into meal preparation. Read More
Over the last 17 years, we have been through numerous dietary shifts in our life, including several years of vegetarian eating until Zoe went through chemo and then all she craved was meat. So back we came to the land of the meat eaters. We have been talking about returning to a vegetarian diet for a while, but after watching a documentary Forks Over Knives, we decided it was healthiest for us and our desire to lose weight and eventually be able to come off all our medication to go vegan.
It's been a slow journey, but like with anything we do, when we decide to do it, we just do it. So the past few days we have eaten as much of what we had that needed to be gotten rid of.
This morning, we started this next phase of our journey. It is not just about changing what we buy, how we prepare it, what we eat, but an inward journey to learn more about ourselves, think about what these new choices are doing for us and how much our life is going to change Read More
No recipes this week. I was talking to a friend of mine, trying to quiet my mind so I could hear what I was supposed to blog about. There have been days that my life has felt like a hot dish in a microwave, as I have tried to get through a rapidly increasing number of projects and tasks in a very short amount of time.
Sometimes managing your life can look much simpler then it is. As a friend of mine said this morning, “I cannot explain how hard it is to get a hot bowl over of the microwave. One day, I swear, I’m going to drop one.” We all have those phases in our life when what should be a simple thing, tend to become complicated, because our “dish” has become overheated with demands.
Maybe that is why the Microwave Grip Set spoke to me this morning. To use them all you have to do is slip them over your fingertips and thumbs before you take a hot dish out of the microwave. The raised bumps and ridges give you a secure hold, and your hands stay safe from the heat. The grips are easy to wipe clean, or you can run them through the dishwasher Read More
While i was doing some research on the Paleo diet, I came across this article on food and gratitude. Since that is our focus this month, I thought I would share it. It is not about the Paleo diet, but really about our attitude towards food and how food is something for us to be grateful for in our lives.
Sure, it’s easy to focus on everything that’s wrong with the modern food system. The corn subsidies that make Coke and Doritos cheaper than tea and apples. The junk food industry that advertises sugar-coated sugar to our kids for breakfast. The research sponsored by food and beverage giants like Pepsi Co. All those things are serious problems. But keep it in perspective: we have plenty to be grateful for. Read More
Have you ever seen a commercial that just sticks with you because it is making a message that transcends the product it is selling, or attempting to sell to consumers? I have a few, but one of them for me is a commercial for Wolf stoves, a top of the line appliance company. Years ago, I saw this commercial, where this “spirit,” was watching a woman prepare an ambitious meal in her apparently new Wolf stove. He was trying to place doubts in her mind that she could prepare what they wanted one to believe was a challenging dish to prepare. Eventually, her faith in herself and her confidence in her abilities caused him to leave and she continued on with the preparation of her meal. Read More
Just eating? This morning I was looking for inspiration for my blog. I was having a hard time thinking about faith and cooking. Then I stumbled upon this simple question which was the framework for a whole program on practicing faith in our eating, and eating is one of those things that I sometimes forget to think about when writing this blog. Just eating? While this phrase could mean only eating, the word, just, also means “being honorable and fair in one’s dealings.” Eating is something we can do with minimal to no thought or reflection or it can become an opportunity to practice our faith and our beliefs about justice. Eating is also a space in which we can be mindful of what we are doing and who we are with. Read More
This morning I was seeking inspiration and came across this blog about dogs who are not enthusiastic eaters. I had to laugh because the only time I had known a dog who did not eat with enthusiasm was when they were sick. However, as I read this piece I realized that a lot of her advice had to do with people as well personally and spiritually. So today, I am trying something a bit different and my responses to her are in italics.
Most dogs are eager eaters. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dog that actually knows how to chew.
However, there are some dogs who don’t eat well. Some are finicky about what foods they eat while others are just less than enthusiastic about the whole experience. There are temporary circumstances when your dog’s appetite may suffer and that includes vaccinations, illnesses, changes in the household, changes in his normal routine or travel. But these are usually short lived decreases in his appetite that will return to normal without much delay. Read More
For those who were expecting me to say that this week’s blog was inspired by my addiction to Chopped, I have to partially disappoint you. It was not my original source of inspiration. It was actually inspired by the reflection and meditation I have been doing the last few weeks about being present. Last week, I talked about being present while cooking, not just being present with the process, but with the ingredients and taking the time to let them speak to me through all my senses.
Last night, as I was finishing my blog on The Gift of Presence for my Inspiritual Reflection I realized this was why gathering around the kitchen table to share a meal is so important. It is not just a time to eat together. It is a time to be present with each other Read More
I had thought about writing about this a few weeks ago when I was reflecting on the letter F. however, since few people call hot dogs frankfurters, I chose to wait until I was working on H. I don’t know about you, but hot dogs have always been one of my favorite comfort foods. It was one of the few “meats” my mother could cook in a way, which did not taste like it was still mooing or shoe leather; it is hard to ruin a precooked meat.
Hot dogs, although originally developed in Frankfurt, Germany, are considered to as all American as baseball and apple pie. They are also considered to be a comfort food and today we have restaurants such as The Dawg House in Rochester, NY that sell nothing but the “dawg” and bloggers such as http://bombdiggitydogs.wordpress.com that write about nothing but hot dogs. Read More
We were packing up our table at a
healing and psychic fair when a couple, Jane and Charles, stopped by. I pulled
out information to share with them and that was the beginning of an enjoyable
and interesting conversation, which wound up with us talking about bagels, lox,
and cream cheese. As those of you who have been reading this blog for a while
know, lox and cream cheese, especially TempTee cream cheese holds a place near
and dear to my heart. Charles and I were talking about how hard it was to find
good lox in Rochester and how it inspired me to learn how to make it. “How do
you smoke it?’ he asked. “ I don’t, I brine it for three days.” I replied. “Oh,
so you’re a loxsmith,” he responded and the seed was planted as I found myself
staring at these beautiful wild Alaskan salmon fillets at the store the other
day, but knowing this was not the week where I would have the time to pull out
all those pin bones. I could have also gone with the farm-raised salmon, which
tend not to have the pin bones, but some things are worth paying a little bit
more for. Even paying more for the wild salmon is still considerably less then
what I would pay for the pre-packaged lox, so I would be saving money and
giving myself a special treat to enjoy for the week to come. Read More
A friend of
mine laughs at me and says I can find spiritual lessons in just about
everything. So when I offered to help a friend learn how to grill, it also got
me thinking about the qualities that are important when making food on the
One of the
things I began thinking about is that the quality of what comes off the grill
often depends on what is done before the food ever goes on the grill. This past
Memorial Day, like every other holiday, we had our potluck barbecue. A friend
called me the day before to let me know she was bringing some marinated chicken
and pork chops. By the time she arrived, the meats had been sitting in their
marinades for more then 24 hours. The marinades had soaked through the meats
and you know that every bite you took would be incredibly flavorful. Conversely,
another friend brought some chicken to cook, which was not seasoned or
marinated at all. She brushed some sauce on while it was cooking. While it
looked flavorful and tasty, it was dry and flavorless. The one that had been
marinating all night was moist and juicy and made you want to keep going back
for more; it was that good.
The other day, I shared with some of my friends on Facebook that I was starting work on my first book, Gastrospirituality. It will build off what I have been writing here in The Zenful Kitchen and be a blend of recipes, stories, and spiritual insights gained from the ingredients, preparation, and stories behind the food.
One of my friends asked if I needed intestinal testimonies. I was not quite sure what he meant by that. I wasn’t sure whether he was asking if I needed people to taste and evaluate the recipes or whether I was wanting to know about how one’s intestines were responding to the food. His response was “We want it to sell, not smell.” Read More
A fellow food blogger, Warren Caterson, whose sense of humor, I love wrote a piece called Excuse Me While I Chill Some Wine and Take a Few Moments to Tebow. In it he started by talking about Tim Tebow and how when he does well on the field, he drops down to one knee and prays. After talking about football for a moment, he brought it to a place I could relate to on a personal level. He said, “For me, culinary expertise is a gift just like any talent. The ability to taste, to tweak, to cook is all on loan.” I could not agree more. I know that everything I learn about food, every gift I have in the kitchen, every smell that comes alive, the aroma that fills the air, the way the foods change textures as I work with them. All of these things are a gift from the Infinite. Warren jokingly said, “So if my next meal pleases the palates of my guests? Perhaps you just might catch a glimpse of me "Tebowing" in the darkness of my pantry. Because being thankful for whatever talent I might have is something I will strive for.” Read More
Back in the 70’s, two of my favorite singers, Meg Christian and Chris Williamson, had a line in one of their albums. They asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer was, “practice, practice, practice.” When I first started my reflections here, it was because of a series of dreams I had about being The Next Food Network Star. In my dreams, I kept advancing to the next round until I ultimately won. Having the confidence to apply to the show would be my getting to Carnegie Hall. So how am I going to get to that place, the same answer, “practice, practice, practice.”
Watching the show the last few seasons, I have come to realize that one of my strengths would be that I have this clear point of view to my cooking. Read More
I was starting to read the next chapter in Deborah Madison’s book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, when I found myself unable to move past the first page of her chapter The Foundations of Flavor. It was not that the rest of the chapter had nothing to offer, it did. However, it was a comment she made about herbs and spices that resonated with my spirit. She wrote “Even more then vegetables themselves, it’s these small intensely flavored ingredients and how they’re combined, that give a culture’s food it’s unique stamp” (p. 27). It is these small intensely flavored ingredients, these herbs and spices, which in combination with other ingredients can transport me to another place and time. I began to think about how lemon and oregano when used to marinate my tempeh, along with some garlic, olive oil, and soy sauce allow me to experience the flavors of Greek in my vegetarian Greek Tempeh Salad or in my Greek Tempeh Pita Wraps. I think about how it is the fresh dill when combined with some Greek yogurt and cucumbers creates an amazing Tzatiki. Or I can think about ancho chili powder, cumin, and coriander and how in combination with just about anything they enable you to experience the flavors of Mexico. Read More
It can be a bit of a challenge to curl up anywhere to read a 700 plus page book. Yet this is what I found myself doing today as I began reading Deborah Madison’s book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. As I looked at this book for a moment, I had this wave of feelings that went through me as I wondered, for a moment, what I had just committed to doing this year as I cook my way through her book, seeking to develop a deeper relationship with the plant offerings I eat, developing my culinary skills, seeking to modify them when needed to be diabetic friendly, and inspire me to create new dishes. At the same time, there was this wave of excitement. This cookbook about vegetarian cooking has been compared to Julia Child’s cookbook on French cooking. So until I am done cooking the over 1400 recipes in this book, it will be Sharon and Deborah, just like it was Julie and Julia. Then the journey began and like Bastian in The Never Ending Story, I opened the book and began reading the Introduction to my new culinary and spiritual adventure Read More
It is amazing the things that you can learn from a single meal. My wife’s favorite dish, which I have been commanded to make weekly, is my cabbage casserole. A dear friend of ours, who is staying with us for a few weeks, loves it as well. The best part about making this casserole, which by the way is not my favorite, is the look on their faces. Sometimes it looks like they are having orgasms in their mouth. I know that look because I have had that experience as well. My guess is that you know that experience as well. You develop an emotional reaction and relationship to this dish that surpasses description. I have several, but one of mine would be a jalapeno bagel with lox and cream cheese. But that is another reflection, back to the cabbage casserole.
Watching them last night as the two of them nearly finished off a casserole that was supposed to serve 6-8 (lol); I had a series of epiphanies. Read More
Several months ago, I began having this series of dreams about being on the Next Food Network Star. My culinary point of view is that being in the kitchen does not have to be stressful; it can be zenful. The name of my show in my dream was going to be The Zenful Kitchen. Over the last several months, I have had this same dream. The only difference being that, like the show, there was a decreasing number of people against whom I was cooking each week. This past week, I had the dream one last time and the focus group and the judges all selected The Zenful Kitchen as the winner of the Next Food network Star.
I thought the dream was neat for a couple of reasons. Read More